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Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Why India Should Not Hold Talks with Gen. Kayani

Last week, The Times of London reported startlingly that the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh had opened a back channel dialogue with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Pakistani Army (PA), Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in June 2010. It also reported that the US and the UK were 'encouraged' by the talks which they hoped will lead to a smoother peace process in Afghanistan and reduce tension between the two countries. The Indian Prime Minister's Office has denied the report. We do know however that the Indian embassy in Islamabad has been in touch with the PA and the ISI for sometime now. It is difficult to authenticate the latest report now but we will explore the implications assuming that the report was true.

At this point, it is not clear what is the structure of the talks between Government of India (GoI) and Gen. Kayani or what are the issues that are being discussed. From the pointed reference to Afghanistan in the report, one may assume that the talks are more focussed on the Afghan theatre as well as the demarcation of the Sir Creek and the demilitarization of the Siachen glacier. But, one never knows what else are being discussed because the current ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation acts more mysteriously and inexplicably in matters pertaining to Pakistan, than even God. The spate of overtures made by the current Indian prime Minister to Pakistan and even more, the many self-goals scored from Havana, to Thimphu, to Yekaterinburg to Sharm-el-Sheikh and latest at Mohali stare us at our face.

In Havana on September 19, 2006, Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh conceded to Pakistani President Gen. Musharraf, that terrorism was a common threat to India and Pakistan forgetting that terror attacks on India are carried out by Pakistani jihadis with the support of the Government of Pakistan (GoP), the ISI and the PA while terror attacks on Pakistan were by their own citizens on religious sectarian issues of who was a better Muslim over whom. This concession by India at Havana came barely within three months after one of the most devastating and coordinated terror attacks on seven commuter trains in Mumbai on July 11, 2006 which killed 207 people and injured and maimed 700 more. It still remains a mystery as to why an Indian Prime Minister should equate the two and agree to a Joint Anti Terrorism Mecahanism. Explaining this anti-terrorism mechanism to the bewildered Indian people, Dr. Singh said "It is a trial, we have to experiment, since we are not going to war with Pakistan,".

And, pray, what has this anti-terrorism mechanism achieved since then ? Zilch. This "trial" failed when the Samjhota Express was bombed in February 2007, it failed once again when there were coordinated bomb attacks in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat in July 2008 when 55 bombs were planted in a matter of 5 days and later in New Delhi in September 2008 on the eve of Diwali celebrations. The 'trial' also failed overseas when the Taliban, ISI and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) jointly attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008 killing 58 people including the Indian military attaché and a diplomat. On October 8, 2009, there was a second attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul killing 12 more people. This time too, the 'trial' failed as the joint anti-terrorism mechanism neither forewarned India nor investigated the incident later. The 'trial' failed most miserably on 26/11 when the PA, the ISI and the Islamist jihadists supported by them unleashed urban warfare for three days in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. After 26/11, Pakistan denied vehemently that their nationals were at all involved and finally when such denials no longer could be sustained in the face of mounting evidence especially as one of the terrorists was caught alive, it resorted to time wasting tactics by declaring every dossier of evidence given by India as worthless and ultimately launching a farce of a court process where after two years, the case is still in a pre-trial stage (and that too after chargesheets were framed and one witness was examined) and there is no hope of any progress amidst pious protestations from Yousuf Raza Gilani, Rehman Malik and others. See here for the on-going court drama at Rawalpindi. New evidences later surfaced in the form of a certain David Coleman Headley (also known as Daoud Gilani) and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, both Pakistanis, who have directly linked the PA and the ISI with the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Now, we know that 26/11 was approved by none other than the current Pakistani COAS, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who was then the ISI chief. It is with this person that India has opened a back channel dialogue. The 'trial' part therefore continues unabated even as the 'errors' by the Indian prime Minister are accumulating thick and fast. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

There was a period of low activity after the Havana somersault by India, as Pakistan slipped into serious domestic troubles with the imposition of Martial Law within Martial Law as Pakistan faced general elections and Gen. Musharraf faced Presidetial elections after resigning as the COAS of the PA. The Judges were dismissed, Ms. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and eventually Gen. Musharraf was exiled to the UK in circa 2008. After some political stability was achieved in Pakistan, India picked up the peace process yet again with Pakistan. The first meeting after the November 26, 2008 Pakistani carnage, came when Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting on June 16, 2009 at the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Here, Dr. Singh spoke candidly of his 'limited mandate to tell Mr. Zardari that the territory of Pakistan must not be used for terrorism'. This (false ?) bravado was to change dramatically within a month. This time the Indian Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, met at the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea on July 16, 2009. Here, Dr. Singh conceded a lot more to Pakistan through self goals. Two important concessions were that India de-linked terror from peace dialogue and also allowed Pakistan to mention terror in Balochistan in the joint statement. The de-linking of terror came within nine months after the most horrendous terror attack ever faced by India until then from Pakistan and in the face of stubborn refusal by Pakistan to acknowledge that the attacks were planned, manned and executed by Pakistanis, leave alone prosecute the terrorist masterminds roaming freely in Pakistan. The reference to Balochistan in the joint statement elevated Pakistan's frequent accusations without proof of Indian involvement in the insurgency of Balochistan, to the same level as Pakistan's involvement in Indian terror. The fact that Dr. Man Mohan Singh simply dictated the contents of the joint-statement to his Foreign Secretary, holds the Prime Minister alone responsible for this bungling. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

Then came the April 29, 2010 meeting at Thimphu between Dr. Man Mohan Singh and the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. It was an hour-long one-on-one meeting held without official note-takers from either side, just as it was at Sharm-el-Sheikh too. It was agreed by our Prime Minister Dr. Singh that it was needed to "build trust and confidence in the relationship and pave the way for substantive dialogue on all issues of mutual interest". It was Dr. Man Mohan Singh's assessment that Prime Minister Gilani had the mandate from all stakeholders within Pakistan (read PA and the ISI) to hold 'peace talks' and that Pakistan would 'deliver' on the 26/11 trial. From the report in The Times of London last week, it is clear that within a few weeks after the Thimphu meeting, Dr. Man Mohan Singh had to talk to Gen. Kayani to reinstate the dialogue. So much for his assessment that Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had all the mandate. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

All that bonhomie of Thimphu evaporated into thin air in mid-July 2010, barely two months later when the Indian Foreign Minister, the soft-spoken S.M.Krishna visited Islamabad to meet his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Quershi. Even before Mr. S.M. Krishna left Islamabad, Qureshi accused India of being 'inflexible' and the Indian Foreign Minister 'being directed during the talks by calls from Delhi'. It has since been revealed that after the first session, Gen. Kayani interfered with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and that changed the complexion of the talks in the second session. Qureshi's well-known proximity to Gen. Kayani as well as the inability of any Pakistani Prime Minister to resist the diktats of the COAS, are the only possible explanations for the rude behaviour and discourtesy extended to the Indian Foreign Minister by the hosts, as well as for the failure of the talks. After S.M. Krishna's return to India, we continued to invite Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi for talks in New Delhi, even as he deferred and demurred. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

Most recently came the meeting at Mohali, India when the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers met at the venue of the Semi Finals of the World Cup Cricket match between India and Pakistan. The invitation to witness the match at Mohali, it was said, was extended directly by Dr. Man Mohan Singh to both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Gilani, without consulting the Indian Foreign Ministry. In this respect, Dr. Man Mohan Singh has been behaving like India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who ran the Indian foreign policy as his personal fiefdom. At the Mohali meeting, it has been decided that the Composite Dialogue would be re-started forthwith and would be made 'uninterrupted and uninterruptible', thus completely divesting India of the leverage of using 'withdrawal from talks' as a threat against Pakistan's use of terror as a state policy, a demand that Pakistan has been making for a long time. Now, India should await the next terrorist attack with bated breath to know as to what would be GoI's reaction in such an unfortunate event. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

That the Pakistani Army has been a significant source of all evil emanating from Pakistan against India, is a no-brainer. It has been so since 1947 when it tried to grab J&K. After a series of defeats culminating in the massive and swift defeat of 1971, its hostility against India has assumed gargantuan proportions. The Pakistani Army therefore decided to bleed India to death with a thousand cuts. One of these 'cuts' was to redirect Afghanistan's Islamist jihadis towards India after c. 1989 though internecine war was still continuing there. While the Pashtuns - mainly the Ghilzais, and the Durranis - the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and the Hazaaras were fighting for supremacy, Pakistan let loose in J&K the Pakistani mujahideen initially and later the foreign jihadis like the Arabs as they were now unemployed. Starting with the Indian Punjab in the 80s and later J&K, Pakistan-inspired terrorism has spread today to far nooks and corners of India. The 26/11 urban warfare was directed by the Pakistani Army and approved directly by Gen. Kayani when he was the Chief of the ISI.

Since the days of Z.A. Bhutto as the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) first and then as Prime Minister, the Pakistani society has been radicalized to a large extent with official support by the State through laws, directives, textbooks and sustained state propaganda. Similar fate has befallen the Pakistani Army too as the Army is nothing but the microcosm of the society as in any other country. Apart from this, the PA has come under Islamist influence due to the deliberate policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. The puritanical wahhabi and salafi strains are overwhelming the largely Berelvi Pakistan today which is wilting under their onslaught. Gen. Kayani described these evil forces as 'strategic assets' in c. 2009. He is of the view that these evil forces do not pose a threat unlike India, which he describes as an 'existential threat' when in fact all wars and skirmishes between the two countries were started by a revisionist Pakistan, not a status-quoist India. By his own admission, he is the most India-centric of all Army Chiefs Pakistan had produced, which to say the least is something worrying because all of them from Ayub Khan downwards have always been hardened India haters. Today, the Pakistani Army has allowed the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy Line of Control (LoC) with India and also large parts of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). The Pakistani Army is furiously accumulating nuclear bombs and could possess the fourth largest arsenal in the world in the next few years. The reason why the Pakistani Army is not taking any action against Waziristan-based Taliban is because it is still hoping to re-establish its 'strategic depth' after the US & NATO forces leave that country soon. It is also for this reason they are vehemently opposing Indian presence in that country. The strategic depth is directed against India. Gen. Kayani therefore believes that he has all the aces and can negotiate with India from a position of strength. In 1972, with India holding 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners-of-War (PoWs) after the PA signed the surrender document at Dhaka, Pakistani Army's delusional demands, sent through Z.A. Bhutto to the Shimla talks, were nothing short of conditions normally imposed by the victors against the vanquished !

Lately, the Americans, who think world's problems will disappear if only India talks to Pakistan, have been saying that they understood Pakistan's paranoia vis-a-vis India. The US has also respected the Pakistani redlines against India. The US has been suggesting to India for sometime now to have talks with the PA, as it does itself. What it clearly fails to recognize is that the equation between it and Pakistan is vastly different from that between India and Pakistan. Pakistani Army feels emboldened by these American actions. One can therefore easily visualize how the talks with Gen. Kayani will proceed now. It is very clear therefore that Gen. Kayani is not looking to ease tensions with India and encourage peace. He is willing to talk to give an ultimatum to India in the same way Adolf Hitler did in his talks. After the talks, which will certainly end in failure, India would have burnt all the bridges with Pakistan.

No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

1 comment:

  1. It's a depressing to see Manmohan-Gandhi cabal selling off India for sake of some random peace prize.

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