So he compromises national interest; caves in to US arm-twisting; capitulates to Pakistani blackmail at Sharm el-Sheikh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a decent and honest man. His admirers would say he is an economist too. His detractors (a plague on their houses!) don’t quite see it that way and his critics (may they never escape the damnation of hell!) think he is a feckless man given to spinning webs of deceit to cover up his sins of omission and commission. So, there is no reason to doubt that when he met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (yes, it still exists) Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh last Thursday, Mr Singh did the tough-guys-don’t-cry act with him.
“I conveyed to him the strong sentiments of the people of India over the issue of terrorism, especially the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We are reviewing the dossier of investigations into these attacks which Pakistan has provided to us. I also conveyed to Prime Minister Gilani that sustained, effective and credible action needs to be taken not only to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice, but also to shut down the operations of terrorist groups so as to prevent any future attacks,” the Prime Minister told Parliament on Friday. Since he is a man of impeccable integrity, and because the Right to Information Act won’t allow us access to the ‘Record of Discussion’, we must believe that this is indeed what he told Mr Gilani.
And having read out the riot act, presumably in a stern though whiny voice and with an unsmiling face, the Prime Minister agreed to endorse a joint statement along with Mr Gilani, whose contents, in both letter and spirit, fly ruthlessly in the face of what he now claims to have said. Since 72 hours is a long time for public memory to remain fresh, it would be in order to quote the salient points of the joint statement:
“Both leaders agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries.”
“Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard.”
“Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats.”
“Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.”
“Both Prime Ministers recognised that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues.”
Here’s a commonsensical interpretation, which is not quite different from how diplomats with commonsense would interpret it, of the joint statement, based entirely on an understanding of what used to be the Queen’s language:
The Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorism India has to cope with, and pay for with the blood of innocent Indians, according to Mr Singh, is no different from the bloodletting in Pakistan caused by those jihadis who have turned rabid and begun to bite the hand that once lovingly fed them. Nothing distinguishes the victim, our saintly Prime Minister believes, from the perpetrator of macabre misdeeds. So, 10-year-old Devika Rotawan, whose right leg has been disabled after she was shot during last November’s fidayeen attack on Mumbai, should feel contrite for deposing against Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani who remorselessly crippled her and sat grinning in the court while she relived the horror of that night at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Our firm and not easily persuaded Prime Minister demanded Pakistan must bring those responsible for 26/11 to justice. Mr Gilani assured him everything is being done in this regard. We must believe Mr Gilani, because our wise Prime Minister trusts him. Never mind minor details like Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the chief terrorist of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba who operates under the cover of a bogus Islamic charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h, and the mastermind behind the carnage in Mumbai, being allowed to walk free and plot the next attack on India. Nor should we feel distraught if others ‘arrested’ in the case by Pakistani authorities are also set free on account of ‘insufficient evidence’.
The US, more specifically the CIA, wants us to share real time, credible and actionable intelligence with Pakistan. The Americans have been haranguing us on this score for some time now. We might as well give in and do Washington’s (or should it be Langley’s?) bidding. Why rub the Americans the wrong way, especially since they have us by our short and curly over our now compromised nuclear programme? And why upset the 300-million-strong middle class which aspires to see India become an American stooge? After all, they determined the outcome of this summer’s general election and ensured that we would continue to have a decent, honest and, not to forget, economist Prime Minister who oozes integrity. So, we shall pass on real time, credible and actionable intelligence to the Pakistanis and they shall rework their terror strategy accordingly so that our security agencies cannot pre-empt future jihadi attacks. No, there's no need to get upset about it. To cavil would be unpatriotic as all patriots are expected to back the Prime Minister who genuinely believes capitulation will “serve to further advance India’s interests”.
Pakistan, we are now told, has “some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas”. The sly reference to Balochi separatism in the joint statement need not shock us, even though this amounts to legitimising Pakistan’s absurd claim that Indian agencies, more specifically R&AW, have been fomenting trouble in Balochistan. The Prime Minister says there’s nothing to fear, ours is an “open book”. So, why feel apprehensive that this shall pave the way to Islamabad accusing New Delhi, and convincingly so, that India has been doing unto Pakistan what Pakistan has been doing unto India? The Prime Minister’s silence on the inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement when he spoke in Parliament need not intrigue us — he wasn’t being cunning or deceitful; that’s not what decent and honest men do; he was merely glossing over a minor detail whose consequences can be disastrous.
The Prime Minister sincerely believes “action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed”. He is also “ready to discuss”, as the US wants him to, “all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues”. However, this does not really mean what it means, or so we are told by the Prime Minister. What it really means, and I quote from his statement in Parliament, is that “action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process”.
Further comment would be tantamount to questioning the integrity of a decent and honest man, and lending credence to what the Prime Minister’s critics say, that he is a feckless man given to spinning webs of deceit.