Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who is talking to Pakistan – India or INC?

The recent visit by Congress MP and former Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs, Sri Sashi Tharoor offers an interesting insight into the dynamics of Indo-Pakistan dialogue process. To a student of Foreign Relations, it doesn't appear like a dialogue between two independent and sovereign nations but a dialogue between a dynasty (separated from its people) and a troublesome satrap. While it may satisfy the egos of some misguided nationalists, in reality such approach doesn't offer any realistic solutions to problems that matter and might result in unintended harm to Indian core Interests.
As part of his visit, Sri Tharoor gave multiple speeches and participated in talk shows. They are too long to reproduce/quote here. Some of his articles and debates (that are basis for this post) are:
Following are the key aspects of that deliberation and let us see what is said and what point of view (India’s or Indian National Congress Party’s) is presented.

1. Pakistan’s Civil-Military relationship
The whole world knows about the relationship between Pakistani civil-military relationships. If not for Pakistan evolving into the world’s capital of Islamic Terrorism, this is completely an internal matter of Pakistan society and India or any other country has no business talking about it.
One should distinguish between a civil Pakistani government and military Pakistan government if and only if there is a significant difference between these models on the use of Terrorism as a Foreign Policy tool.
The below graphic illustrates and the reader can clearly see that the Civilian governments in Pakistan are no different from their military counterparts when it comes to their “terrorism as instrument of state policy” concerning India.

Note: Blue = Civilian Govt Yellow = Sustained Terrorist programs (Punjab & JK) Red = Major terrorist events or wars
Combined with the on-going tussle between the current UPA2 administration and the nation’s armed forces leader Sri VK Singh one can understand the true purpose of Sri Tharoor’ s comments.
2. Cross-Border terror emanating from Pakistan in to India
Here Sri Tharoor admits that the people who believe that peace is possible between India and Pakistan are in minority. Yet he tries to present the minority opinion as Indian Foreign Relations objective.
Then he gives the longest rope to Pakistan by admitting that terrorist groups cannot be turned off like a tap; thus making the whole issue of “cross-border terrorism” meaningless.
What is important to India; stopping cross-border terrorism or free-trade/educational-exchange with Pakistan?
The root of this convoluted logic in Foreign Policy lies in INC’s need to recapture the Muslim vote-bank in India proper. Since it lost the Muslim vote bank to regional parties, post 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, INC failed to come to power on its own strength in Delhi. INC has tried many political tricks to bring this significant vote bank (15% vote share – that can influence >100 parliament constituencies) under its fold by witch hunting Post-Godhra riots and Saffron-Terrorism etc to no avail.
In its eagerness to solve this issue before 2014 elections, INC seems to have resorted to Paki-logic; by associating Indian Muslim community with better relations with Pakistan; giving Pakistan (sic) say in sub-continental Muslim affairs.
3. Peace talks between Govts of India and Pakistan
Sri Tharoor points out the lack of clarity on who in Pakistan, Civil Govt or Military, guarantees the agreements signed between the two nations and if the agreement signed by one party is honored by the other power center.
This is a basic challenge involved in solving in any multi-party negotiation problem. A simple approach would have been to request that both civil and military representatives are part of the negotiations.
4. Pakistani paranoia on Indian intentions
Sri Tharoor makes few assertions on this point.
  • India is totally reconciled to Pakistan’s existence as an independent state
  • A strong and stable Pakistan was in India’s interest
  • India is a “status quo-ist” power and there could be peace between the two sides if they agreed on “mutually acceptable parameters”.
The inherent contradiction in these assertions is - would India still want a “Strong and Stable” Pakistan even when there are no “mutually acceptable parameters” that are foundation for peace between these two nations, and would India still accept Pakistan’s existence under those circumstances?
5. Pakistani national obsession to dismember India
Sri Tharoor reminds us Pakistan’s long sponsored terrorism as part of its policy meant to “bleed India” and its efforts to wrest Kashmir from India and concludes that such policy is yielding negative results to Pakistani society and military as the chickens are coming home to roost.
Does it mean Pakistani terrorist policy is an acceptable instrument of foreign policy if it were to contain those jihadi terrorist outfits to India-centric operations only? Would this elder brotherly advice resonate in Pakistani strategic and military community? After all the whole Pakistani existence is based up on its Islamic identity and its military strategy is based on Jihad in the name of Allah. Would there be any need for Pakistan’s existence if it starts behaving like a mini-India?
6. Siachin conflict
Sri Tharoor says that “Indian political leadership is agreeable to vacating Siachin glacier region as a confidence building measure; but Indian Armed forces are not comfortable with this measure given Pakistani betrayal in Kargil in 1998 and Pakistani unwillingness to mark these positions electronically.”
This is the second most irresponsible assertion Sri Tharoor made in this spate of articles and discussions he had in Pakistan. With this single statement Sri Tharoor unwisely implies that
  • That there are two disparate assessments on Siachin issue within India
  • Indian political decision making is devoid of inputs from its military leadership
  • That Indian military must accept the agenda of political leadership even if it is inimical to Indian Interests (After all he was preaching Pakistan the same thing)
7. Life of Indian Muslims
That brings us to the most irresponsible assertion by Sri Tharoor in his Pakistan trip.
Instead of politely but firmly reminding his Pakistani hosts that Pakistan is not a representative of Indian Muslims, Sri Tharoor not only entertains such line of thought but also makes ludicrous excuses to his Pakistani hosts to suite his party’s political agenda.
When questioned by his Pakistani counterparts on the so-called (sic) Gujrat-Pogram, Sri Tharoor admits that this is a shameful event and squarely blames BJP government for these religious riots, well in sync with his party position and subsequent witch hunting by successive Congress governments.
In his eagerness to wash his (sic) secular dirty laundry in Pakistan (a religious state) Sri Tharoor forgets that
  • The sub-continent history is full of Hindu-Muslim religious clashes starting from the days the Islamic hoards pillaged peaceful Hindu subcontinent
  • The founding fathers (JL Nehru and MK Gandhi) of his political party did much-worse than Sri Narendra Modi in stopping the worst religious riots in 1947 resulting hundreds of thousands of Hindu and Muslim deaths
  • There have been more than 50 religious riots since 1947 under INC’s leadership, often triggered for Congress’s own political moves
These are just few examples. A careful analysis of INC’s strategy, thru Sri Tharoor’s words, towards Pakistan reveals two fundamental objectives
  1. That INC doesn’t want to make India’s vision as its political vision but instead want to make its vision India’s vision
  2. That INC doesn’t mind using its foreign policy to benefit its internal fortunes instead of making India’s fortunes as the primary goal of Indian foreign policy

In other words Sri Tharoor wants us to believe that “INC is India”!

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