Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whom is the PM batting for?

Manmohan Singh's long-winded intervention on the Sharm el-Sheikh India-Pakistan joint statement debate in Lok Sabha has not answered important questions. Instead, it has left people confused.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a rather long-winded, and convoluted, intervention during Wednesday’s debate on foreign policy in the Lok Sabha. A careful scrutiny of his speech will show that he has not said anything remarkably different from what he told Parliament on July 17, a day after the debacle at Sharm el-Sheikh where he met Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The joint statement issued after the meeting made four substantive points: Placing Pakistan, the perpetrator of jihadi terrorism, at par with India, the victim of jihadi terrorism; delinking action on terrorism from the composite dialogue process (which includes the ‘Kashmir issue’); transforming Baluchi nationalism/separatism from a purely internal affair of Pakistan into a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, with India portrayed as the promoter of Baluchi violence; and, exchanging real time, actionable intelligence on terrorism with Pakistan. Together, they add up to abject capitulation by Singh, as I have explained in my previous two entries.

According to Ahmed Rashid and other commentators in Pakistani media, the inclusion of Baluchistan in the joint statement followed Gilani handing over a dossier to Singh, containing ‘evidence’ of India’s involvement in fomenting trouble in Baluchistan through its consulates in Afghanistan, and India’s assistance to Baitullah Mehsud and his Tehrik-e-Taliban or Pakistani Taliban.

Singh has denied receiving any such dossier. However, he has confirmed receiving a 34-page dossier from Pakistan, containing details of steps taken by Gilani’s Government to bring to book the perpetrators of the 26/11 outrage in Mumbai. Interestingly, XP Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, which is pro-active in denying stories or issuing contradictions, has not officially refuted media reports on the so-called ‘Baluchi dossier’. The Foreign Office in Islamabad has neither confirmed nor denied stories, but has actively briefed local and foreign journalists as well as diplomats posted in Islamabad on the ‘Baluchistan dossier’ and its contents.]

Back to the debate on Wednesday. The Opposition mounted a strong attack on the Prime Minister and the Government for the sell-out in Sharm el-Sheikh. Yashwant Sinha of BJP, who initiated the debate, was scathing. He made three main points: First, the Prime Minister has walked not “half the way” (to quote Singh) but “all the way to the Pakistani camp”; India’s Pakistan policy (act on terror or no talks) has been turned on its head thus breaching cross-party consensus; and, Singh has fetched trouble for India by agreeing to the inclusion of Baluchistan in the joint statement. In sum, the Opposition described the Sharm encounter as a sell-out.

The Prime Minister spoke at length, often meandering from point to point and seeking to obfuscate the real issues raised by the Opposition. His response was prepared in advance and in anticipation of questions being raised in the Lok Sabha. Yet, it was stilted, shorn of sincerity and lacking in purposefulness.

Singh played at five levels in his usual crafty manner, slyly attacking the BJP/NDA’s Pakistan policy while appropriating a misplaced claim of success.

Obviously at the behest of the Congress, which senses popular disquiet over the shameful surrender at Sharm and has not been enthusiastic in backing Singh, he tried to play to the domestic gallery by repeatedly referring to national sentiment and national position, and how people are opposed to talking to an unrepentant, callous Pakistan. To them his message was: Don’t worry, we are not going to talk to Pakistan. Even if the joint statement mentions ‘composite dialogue’, this shall not happen till there is verifiable evidence of Pakistan acting against terrorism. Intention: Calm frayed nerves and pander to public opinion at home.

He told the Opposition that other countries affected by terrorism emanating from Pakistan were talking to Islamabad, so no reason why India should not do so. He also recalled Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s peace initiatives and tried to place himself at par with his predecessor – ‘he was a statesman, so am I’ – which is truly audacious of him. Intention: He is not alone in treading the path to unmitigated disaster; others are also talking to and appeasing Pakistan.

He played to the Pakistani gallery by talking about the need for ‘peace’ and how ‘dialogue and engagement are the only way forward’. He also praised Pakistan for acting against the 26/11 masterminds, although he was cautious enough to say that more needs to be done. He spoke of ‘trust but verify’, which controverts his assertion that action taken by Pakistan and promises orally communicated to him are impressive and convincing. Intention: He has not abandoned his ‘younger Punjabi brother’, Gilani.

He pandered to his fan club, the lib-left intelligentsia and drum-beaters in media, by saying that war is the only option to no-talks. And since war is ‘not a solution’ between two nuclear powers (‘fear a nuclear holocaust unless we talk to Pakistan’) India must talk to Pakistan. Intention: Get his admirers to portray him as a grand strategist, a peace-maker, a statesman, who is the real winner of Sharm el-Sheikh despite being such a terrible loser.

And, he has let his friends and patrons in America know that he has taken the lead from the US. If Washington is willing to talk to Tehran, betraying the interests of its steadfast allies in West Asia, then there is no reason why New Delhi should not talk to Islamabad. Intention: Let America know he takes his cue from Washington, DC.

I have four questions.

First, the intervention makes little sense, unless it is meant to confuse the nation and confound the Opposition. Are we going to talk, or not talk to Pakistan? Will it be meaningful talks or casual tittle-tattle?

Does delinking Pakistani terrorism from composite dialogue mean a) the composite dialogue will resume even if Pakistan fails to act against terror emanating from territory under its control, as the joint statement says; b) Pakistan cannot make action against terrorism conditional to resuming the composite dialogue, as Singh says; or, c) India must resume the composite dialogue irrespective of whether or not Pakistan acts against anti-India terrorism, as Gilani interprets it? There is no clarity even after Wednesday’s ‘clarification’ by the Prime Minister.

Second, what was the compulsion to include Baluchistan in the joint statement? The Prime Minister’s bunkum about keeping an ‘open book’ means nothing.

Third, why is there this sudden turnaround in policy and at whose behest? This question needs to be answered conclusively.

Fourth, have no lessons been learned from the disastrous experience of trying to set up a Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism with Pakistan? Why have we agreed to share real time, actionable intelligence?

A last point: The Prime Minister waxed eloquent about the “shared future” of India and Pakistan. I don’t think secular and democratic India has any ‘shared future’ with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Why indulge in such bogus rhetoric? Or does the Prime Minister really believe that a terror-sponsoring Islamic state and an open, plural, free society share a common destiny?

This is neither ‘grand strategy’ nor ‘bad drafting’. It is part of a larger game plan hatched somewhere else. The Prime Minister’s tactics remind me of his repeatedly misleading Parliament and the nation on the nuclear deal with the US. What finally emerged had no resemblance to what he had told Parliament.

Are we headed for a similar denouement?


Baloch View said...

Weakening of our national security by two Punjabi PMs, IKG and MMS.

Hope India listens less to western nations. A free Gedrosia will bring great stability to the region. Our role is to liberate the Baloch, no matter what other nations say.

Swabhimaan said...

What the PM said is: we don't talk to Pak while talking to it. What sense does this make?

MMS need not refer to BJP's policies. People were equally angry with it for getting Musharraf here.

MMS is not a jack of all trades. Someone needs to tell him that foreign poliy, nuclear technology and deals are not his domain..he should keep out of these things and consult experts.

The next 5 years are not going to be easy for India. Now that the whole world knows what kind of PM we have (I respect him for his contribution to the economy though), other countries will try to ink the maximum no. of deals where India will be the sole loser and the PM will keep thinking that he has been so smart.

Swabhimaan said...

We have another foreign policy expert Madame Sonia issuing statements now - she backs MMS!!!

shail said...

Damn right sir, i hope the ignorant indian public realises their grave folly in electing the usa stooge as pur pm. Well we get what we deserve is all i can say.

That man does not deserve to be the pm and the nation cannot trust him to govern the country.Manmohan and congress hae once again proved they are not fit to run this country and dont have nation's interest at heart.

Sudhir said...

He is gloating over this - "The reality is that this is far more than the NDA government was ever able to extract from Pakistan during its entire tenure despite all their tall talk.".

I would have given full marks to that statement had he achieved this same result in the EXACT same circumstances that NDA government functioned under. Had he been able to extract this confession without so many terror attacks, all of us would have every reason to be proud about the "achievement".

What still beats me is the fact that he is dispaying a huge sense of urgency to talk to Pak! It's as if he in a race, trying to win. Just that we don't know who he is running against!!

I wrote an open letter to him on my blog.

- Sudhir

M. Patil said...

Now that Sonia has oficially blessed MMS. BJP should take this betrayal to the people. They should say "this Sonia-MMS govt does not have the interests of victims and Martyrs of Mumbai at all".

I think BJP should propose a act which requires that all the foreign policy decisions must have the approval of Parliment to become law.


M. Patil said...

Swabhimaan said ...

"(I respect him for his contribution to the economy though), "

His contribution to economy is a myth of ELM if you exclude his performance under PVNR. And PVNR gets no credit.

He was a planning comission chairman under Rajiv Gandhi. Nothing much to write about his performance during that period.

His previous administration saw fiscal deficit rise to a present 12%. A disaster waiting to happen coupled with the failure of monsoons in several parts of the country.


Jaideep said...

@Swabhimaan: Manmohan Singhs contribution to economy? Please educate me on that. I cant see any contribution he has made to the Indian economic reform process.

Swabhimaan said...

ok..the economic reform is stalled today and the fiscal deficit is high but that does not take credit away from the reforms introduced during Narasimha's Rao time. The PM's record may not have been good earlier..but then he wasn't at the helm.

Let us criticize when a person deserves criticism, let us also appreciate him when he deserves appreciation.

For the time being let us focus on the Sharm-al-Sheikh debate.

Just watched Times Now debate..Vinod Mehta sounded crazy. Pak has admitted that terrorists used it territory. So, what does that get for India? Hafeez is a free man, Dawood is free but we should be happy that Pak has admitted! Ok some progress was made...but is this enough for the PM to become so friendly with Pak again? What about the state actors? The BJP made is that the justification Vinod is giving for the PM to make the same mistakes?

And yes there is always this stupid question from viewers(and the host Arnab). Why is this being politicized? Arun Jaitley's reply was superb and Arnab should think before posing such a question again. Why do the viewers not come forward and question the PM, Sonia and the Congress? If they cannot do this they should let the opposition do its job, which it is doing well now.

Sudhir said...

@Swabhimaan - excellent point there - questioning the government is being termed politicizing!

You should have seen Sagarika last night on face the nation - happily using all kinds of superlatives to describe the opposition. She actually used the word "sabre rattling" while asking Ravi Shankar Prasad to comment! I wonder when her show will be regulated!

Swabhimaan said...

That reminds me of the tiny pot heads (pun intended)!

Sudhir said...


If you are interested, I wrote a full piece on her chat about the frisking topic.

Anonymous said...

off topic but I think important - what are the provisions under which the supreme court can appoint a special investigation team? what are the jurisdictions of such SIT ? Which provisions in criminal law or constitution provide for such SIT appointed by court?

Also, what are the provisions under which CBI can take over an investigation?

Isn't law and order normally a state subject, with the state police/public prosecutors as the prosecutor of criminal cases? If there are exceptions, which exactly are those and where are they provided for?

Communal said...

Malegaon case: MCOCA charge against Sadhvi, Purohit dropped

This news will not be reported by our main stream media. Hence I request you to give it the necessary coverage.

Anonymous said...

Call me a pessimist, but I am feeling that Uncle Sam had decided that India should give away kashmir, and nothing can be done to alter that.
However my worry is, will we atleast get something in return?
Here is my wishlist in the order of reducing plausibility.
1. Uniform civil code, removal of haj subsidies etc
2. Devolution of more power from center to states
3. Ram temple at ayodhya
4. at the risk of sounding preposterously optimistic - UNSC permanent membership.

Putting aside the wishlist, do we get any relief from the parasitic Kashmiri muslims. The kashmir valley population is less than 1 crore. And just compare the amount of news coverage and international attention given to the so called plight of Kashmiri muslims when we have many poorer suffering in BiMaRU, Orissa and west bengal states.
I suspect even if India gives away Kashmir, some pragmatic and intelligent Kashmiri muslims may try to jump into Jammu. But they may not be secular muslims. They know that they will be made 2nd class citizens by Pakistani Punjabi muslims who will try to colonize Kashmir just as they did to PoK and Balochistan whereas they can always leech on Hindus of India with the help of Communists, pseudo-secularists and bleeding heart liberals. Already many such kashmiri muslims occupied jammu lands. And they breed a lot.
By the way do we still have Abdullas and Ghulam Nabi Azad managing our national affairs? My blood boils whenever Ghulam Nabi Azad comes to southern states to manage national and state affairs of congress. It is truly kafkaesque that we can’t even travel to kashmir valley even as an economy boosting tourist safely, but kashmiri muslims can migrate and prosper anywhere in India and even become national cabinet ministers etc still we remain the bad guys.

Arjun said...

My comment on PM talking about Vajpayee:

Vajpayee is great because his heart was amongst the indian people, he felt their pulse and could empathize with them. That's why Manmohan Singh can never be a great leader. No amount of bureaucratic intellect can substitute for politlcal instinct honed by a 50 year career. Manmohan Singh is trying to be something that is not in his DNA and he is certainly out of his league in trying to equate his efforts with those of Vajpayee.

mpanj said...

@I, Me, Myself ! said...

I saw that 'Face the Nation' discussion.

The glee and gloating these channels experience in is simply amazing.

SG keeps using her unscientific SMS poll to justify her position.

Also, when that poll is going against the congress she points out that it is unscientific and when it is going in their favor - a big smile appears.

Also, BJP continues to sadden me. What is the point of Chandan Mitra and others going on these channels and fight a 4 Vs. 1 battle like they did last night.

Look at the line up.

Chandan Mitra Vs. SG, Vinod sharma (this guy needs to tatoo Sonia's name on his cheek), Vinod Mehta (he has already tatooed it on his hidden cheek) and Lord Desai (that sorry brown sahib).

They equated the RSS and BJP to Jamat-e-islami, equated BJP to the terrorists across the border.

WTH.........lambs to a slaughter...every single BJP member.

Stay the heck away. Dont give IBN and NDTV the legitimacy BJP's presence brings to these anti-national, pro-pakistan shows.

Will someone please slap these BJP idiots out of their slumber.

M. Patil said...

mpanj Said

"Stay the heck away. Dont give IBN and NDTV the legitimacy BJP's presence brings to these anti-national, pro-pakistan shows.

Will someone please slap these BJP idiots out of their slumber."

I concurr 100%. Why do BJP walas keep repeating their mistakes? Chandan Mitra is a journalist he should no better than going to the the panel loaded againtst him.

Why should BJP wallas give fig leaf of legitimacy to BJP baiters like NDTV and CNN-IBN?

If BJP wants to get its point across it should

(i) Write OP-EDs in neutral English papers.

(ii) Translate their opeds and publish them in vernacular press like Eenadu. Eenadu has a bigger circulation than 'The Hindu'.

(iii) have selected reginal leaders speak to vernacular press (electronic included).

(iv) Have press releases and press conferences, where they can control discourse.

All the above options are preferable to sitting in the studios of NDTV and CNN-IBN looking like m*r*ns.

Lets not forget appearances are everything on Electronic media.


Indian Nationalist said...

Dear Kanchan,

When I was a kid studying in school, I used to read the History books where British rule in India for 330 years and Islamic rule in India for 650 years were mentioned.

I used to wonder then and even now as to how could a small minority (for british 0.1%) and for Muslims (about 1%) can subjugate an entire nation and the entire population!. I used to think about it and get bewildered !!.

But after 2004 election results. I finally got the answers to my questions.

When we have people like Manmohan Singh in power then it is very easy for Foreigners like Sonia Maino (Born Antonia Maino) from Italy to subjugate an entire population of 1.3 billion people!.

All blame should not go to MMS to be fair, The rest of the Indian population also like to be slaves as before since servility has been the Indian tradition since 550 AD since the fall of the Gupta Empire.

Indian Nationalist said...

Following things are pretty obvious

a. A definitely dubious 2009 General elections and a partly dubious 2004 elections scripted by the CIA and FBI.
(Remember the countless CIA/FBI chiefs visit to India during the last UPA regime?. plus the American ambassador running furiously across the length and breadth of the country 2 days before the 2009 Election results-There were signs that the UPA govt would be routed).

b. The greater control of the USA on the Indian republic from the year 2004 onwards. Sadly, ironically it was the BJP which hit the stick on its own head by aligning with USA during the NDA rule. The BJP thought it was befriending a rabbit but little it thought it was befriending a deadly snake which will bite you and not even throw the venom out !.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter at all what he thinks and does not think. He is simply taking orders from his masters. The question of the hour is what is the game plan of his master/mentor and, how he is going to execute it. India is destined to be doomed under the current foreign rule.

psudo said...

The best solution for BJP:
1.To bring Modi in center , I feel he is only capable leader left, rest of the guys either not connected to people or have lost there vigor.
2. To create a parallel media with help of RSS and other nationalist.
3. Deliver country on something important like pressurize govt for price rice, people actually see who dose what.
4. For god sake get rid of corruption that's biggest culprit for BJPs fall much more important than "Hindutava".
5. And when next time you get chance to power do what can do(then) so that people dont say/feel why the hell we chose them for?

Unknown said...

India’s relationship with Pakistan is very emotive especially when it comes to bilateral dialogue. There is a strongly held view that there is a lack of political will to solve the issues either through dialogue or militarily and very circular reasons are given why we must not engage in peace talks with them. Admittedly Pakistan has been the hub of state sponsored terrorism for several decades and India has borne most of the brunt. For as far as I can remember the peace process has never taken off because Pakistan has not denounced terrorism. In the same vein India has always resisted from turning over a new leaf. Pakistan is like a mentally subnormal neighbour who has struggled to take control and responsibilities for its own actions. The fact is that as long as we keep shying away from constructive talks, it will suit the fascist forces across the border. The very fact that there have been countless dead and maimed cries out for initiation of a meaningful peace process. If Manmohan Singh has dared to take this bold step the opposition is at his throat. This is what I guess the opposition is paid to do.

Swabhimaan said...

"For as far as I can remember the peace process never took off because Pakistan has not denounced terrorism"

- with multiple centers of control and a belligerent Pak army, this has remained a distant dream and is likely to remain so. Do not forget the continued monetary and military support that Pak gets from the US. Talks without results is wasting our time. Even the US had to introduce conditions for helping Pak is only then that it responded. On the Indian side - we don't have such baits. The opposition did its job well. This is what the people of India have been asking for a long time but their voices have always been ignored.

Anonymous said...

what more can you expect from a government which is happy to crawl when asked to bend before the USA. Obama praises MMS out of courtsey and the Congress party goes gung-ho. To please hillary clinton to ensure success of her visit the government works overnight.
The UPA government desperately needs some sane minds and average copywriters...

Manish Maheshwari said...

The diplomatic disaster brought upon our nation by Maha Moorkh Singh (fka Man Mohan Singh) and his moronic mandarins is a fait accompli. Nothing can change that. But why are we tying ourselves up in knots. Let's deal with this communique issued jointly Pakistanis the way they have dealt with the India-Pak treaties/accords that didn't suit them -- do that Pakistanis ever care for the 1971 Shimla Declaration or the Lahore Declaration of Vajpayee-Musharraf? Let's also actively work to dilute/disown this document which is inconvenient to ourselves. शठे शाठ्यम समाचरेत ! High time we realised that diplomacy is not just making high-falutin statements but it is about doing all it takes to protect and advance our national interests. Is it too much to ask of a nation fed on Gandhian and Nehruvian humbug?

Anonymous said...

Sardar Patel had charged RSS with spreading "communal poison", resulting in assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948.

"As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji," Patel wrote to RSS chief MS Golwalkar on September 11, 1948.

"Even an iota of sympathy of the government or of the people no more remains for the RSS. The opposition [to the RSS] turned more severe when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji's death," Patel wrote.

Defending the government's decision to ban the RSS, Patel said that in these conditions it had become inevitable for the government to take action against the RSS.

Patel said speeches of RSS leaders were full of communal poison and it was not necessary to spread poison to protect and organise Hindus.