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India unsafe

India unsafe

Author: N.V.Subramanian
Publication: Newsinsight.net
Date: August 3, 2009
URL: http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=1867

The more Manmohan Singh covers up his Sharm-el-Sheikh blunder, the more he will be exposed, says N.V.Subramanian.

However prime minister Manmohan Singh clarifies in Parliament two days hence, it won't undo the damage caused by his joint statement with Pakistan's Syed Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh. The joint statement, rather than being badly drafted, as the PM's defenders are saying now, lucidly damns Manmohan Singh. The only way it can be read is this. India and Pakistan agree to examine India's alleged separatist role in Baluchistan. And two, the composite dialogue is firmly delinked from any irreversible measures Pakistan may or may not take against anti-India Pakistani terrorists and organizations. In one stroke Pakistani terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is equated with India's absent role in Baluchistan. And India would be forced to discuss Kashmir even if and even as Pakistani terrorism against India is stepped up. What possibly can Manmohan Singh say to defend himself against such sellout? It is now being put out that what Manmohan Singh meant was discussing the "internal" situation in Baluchistan. That is a lie. Independent news reports say that Gillani cornered Manmohan Singh on India's alleged role in Baluchistan, and that the PM, in his anxiety to show that Indian hands were clean, immediately agreed to discuss it. It is also clear from reports that the Baluchistan word entered the joint statement at Manmohan Singh's behest, and that the foreign office had no role in this. If the PM insists on the lie that all that was agreed was to discuss the "internal" Baluchistan situation -- that is, Pakistan central versus its largest, richest and most benighted province after NWFP -- then the lie risks a counter from Pakistan, putting the record straight on Gillani's discussions. The PM then will have nowhere to hide. The second issue pertains to delinking the composite dialogue from Pakistani measures to eliminate anti-India terrorism. The joint statement is crystal clear on this point. No spin is possible. The government has since gone back on the joint statement, saying there will be no composite dialogue till Pakistan meets benchmarks on moving against anti-India terror groups. But that should provide no escape to the PM for the Sharm-el-Sheikh blunder. His defenders have half-heartedly suggested he has made a bold move. (Bold and Manmohan Singh?) Then there are others who say the dialogue with Pakistan cannot be permanently frozen, and that India's rise is affected by this. This is rubbish at best and pusillanimous at worst. India rose through much of the Nineties until last winter despite Pakistani terrorism while Pakistan is down to begging for IMF bailouts even as its military prospers on US aid topping seven billion dollars in the last eight years. And what is there to talk to Pakistan about? There is a Parliament resolution that says J and K is integrally India's and seeks the part held by Pakistan. That is all that can be talked with Pakistan: give up PoK. And yes, that it ends anti-India terrorism. Talking to Pakistan won't end that terrorism. It calls for punitive military action that no Indian government -- UPA or NDA -- has the political will for. Now Manmohan Singh comes along with a new formulation. We will talk Kashmir and other things and Pakistan has to do nothing to curb anti-India terrorists. That is the straightest and most obvious interpretation of the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement. So what can Manmohan Singh say that can argue differently without at the same time portraying him (sorry for this) as a liar? Manmohan Singh's best course is to do what Barack Obama did (although he wasn't completely honest either) in the race row between a black Harvard professor and a white police officer. Obama said his words "stupid police action" were "ill-chosen". The PM can regret the adverse consequences of the ill-conceived, ill-meaning joint statement and formally disown it, say there is nothing to discuss about Baluchistan, and that the composite dialogue remains firmly linked to Pakistan's actions against anti-India terrorist groups. The more he tries to defend his actions, the further he will be exposed. Not much should be read into the fact that the Congress party did not back him immediately and fully on the Sharm-el-Sheikh blunder. Now if it stands solidly behind him (at least for public consumption) does not minimize Manmohan Singh's misjudgment. Twice Manmohan Singh has slipped up with Pakistan not to speak of his several surrenders to the United States. This is a prime minister who has astonishingly learnt nothing about strategy or statecraft in six years in office. The country is not the safest in his hands.

- N.V.Subramanian is Editor, NewsInsight.net.

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