Why did he come ? He came ostensibly to operationalize the liberalized visa regime that India and Pakistan have agreed to lately. Could that have been the sole reason ? It is now obvious that it certainly was not.
He came possibly for three reasons. I state them in no particular order.
One, of course, the Americans are pushing both India and Pakistan to engage with each other extensively by meeting more frequently whether there is a need or not. There was absolutely no need for Rehman Malik to come to India to operationalize the new visa regime which was a routine matter at official level and yet he insisted on coming here so that his visit would add one to the count of the number of meetings and convince the Americans of the sincerity of Pakistani intent.
Two, Zardari saheb has not yet given up hopes of a visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan before the caretaker government takes charge ahead of the elections there. The Indian PM continues to talk tantalizingly of his intention to visit while the MEA officials, without identifying themselves, give a few reasons as to why a visit was not in the offing. It might be a good cop-bad cop technique, but Pakistan is too clever to dissect that and continue plugging away at softening Man Mohan Singh as it did at Sharm-el-Sheikh two years back. That episode must have encouraged Pakistan to entertain a glimmer of hope on the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan. They have sorted out the Indian leaders (of all political parties). All that they have to do is to make impossible promises which would allow an Indian leader an excuse to offer concessions to Pakistan. They know that Indian leaders generally do not hold their Pakistani counterpart's feet to the fire on the unkept promises.
Three, Pakistani leaders always want to come to India, abuse our hospitality, sow seeds of dissension among communities, fly some kites to assess Indian reactions and mouth inanities such as how friendship can lead to economic development etc to lull India into complacency and hide their evil actions and designs even while planning for the same are going on in Pakistan. There are too many instances of these. Two of the recent instances would suffice for example. The Pakistani Army planned Kargil even as Vajpayee was visiting Pakistan on a peace mission. Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mohammed Qureshi was visiting Ajmer sharif when 26/11 broke out.
In this post, I will not go into the first two reasons cited above. However, the third one needs some elaboration. Let us jog our memory back to circa 1972 when the then Pakistani Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, came to Shimla for a summit meet with Mrs. Indira Gandhi to get back lost territory (14500 Sq. Kms.) and retrieve the 93000 Prisoners-of-War (PoWs) held captive by India. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was an inveterate India hater as his vow of a thousand-years war with India (which he announced grandly in the United Nations) and a determination to even let his people eat grass if only he could get nuclear weapons, prove. His quest for nuclear weapons, at all costs, which started after the massive defeat of 1971 goes to prove how much he wanted to destroy India because Pakistan never looked up to nukes as deterrent, but as offensive weapons to be used against India at the earliest opportunity, despite pious protestations to the contrary.
But, even at the time he came to India as head of the Pakistani State in c. 1972 to negotiate with Mrs. Indira Gandhi an honourable exit from a very difficult situation, his deep hatred for Hindu India (Bhutto's characterization of India) must have been known to Indian leaders who were advising Mrs. Gandhi. Just six months before coming to Shimla, this son of a Hindu mother, had already convened a meeting of Pakistani nuclear scientists at Multan and asked them to build nukes. It was this effort that eventually forced Ms. Indira Gandhi to order the Smiling Buddha test at Pokhran in c. 1974. He, as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, was the one to precipitate the 1965 war through wrong advice to Ayub Khan. This wily character then accused Ayub Khan after the Tashkent Agreement and turned tables against him to remain unscathed from the massive failure. He was the architect of the border concession with China just so that Pakistan could forge friendship with its arch-enemy's enemy. As a Foreign Minister, he was known for his constant vitriolic attacks on India. He called Sheikh Mujibur Rehman as an agent of Hindu India and a person devoid of any Islamic character out to wreck Islamism in Pakistan All these were known to India by the time he came on a charm trip to negotiate the fate of lost territory and captured prisoners.
Of course, we came to know much more about him later. For example, he secretly advised Ayub Khan to not only yank the State of Jammu & Kashmir from India (through Op. Gibraltar), but also North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh) with assistance from China. His initiation of measures for greater solidarity among Islamic countries was not benign but was directed at India as he used this platform to launch political and diplomatic manoeuvres against India and further polarize communities within India on religious lines. Bhutto agreed with Ms. Indira Gandhi to make the de facto Cease Fire Line (CFL) which was thenceforth to be called Line of Control (LoC) as de jure International Boundary (IB) once the situation stabilized but pleaded with Ms. Gandhi not to include any of this as part of the Agreement as it would lead to complications for himself within Pakistan. He knew that a generous India would agree and so it did. Once he consolidated his position after returning victoriously from Shimla, he resiled from his promise made at Shimla.
So, it was to this man, by the name of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, that India surrendered without demurring at Shimla in July, 1972. He mouthed all the inanities and sweet-nothings that we continue to hear to this day from Pakistani leaders, opinion-makers and analysts. He told the Indian delegation as to how the two nations could improve the lot of the millions of the poor people if only they eschewed their enmity and diverted the funds for social development. He said how enmity was not the way forward, how the new LoC would become LoP (Line of Peace), how India needed to support a fledgeling democracy in Pakistan, how there was only the Army rule if he went back empty-handed from Shimla (the-after-me-deluge threat that all successive Pakistani leaders have successfully used) etc. Haven't we heard these arguments repeatedly from Pakistan ever since then and even now during Rehman Malik saheb's latest visit ? For their part, the Indian interlocutors at Shimla (especially Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul, and D.P.Dhar) were idealistic and wanted to see the 'larger picture' of 'durable peace' and the 'historic opportunity' and did not wish to 'impose harsh terms' upon Pakistan. These two gentlemen should bear the cross for meekly surrendering all our cards without gaining anything in return and squandering away the greatest opportunity till date of settling the issues between us and them. Haven't Indian interlocutors (and a vociferous liberal section of voices) been mouthing the same useless arguments ever since ?
India's concessions at Shimla were aimed at 'removing the mistrust', end the cycle of 'enduring hostility' and to 'create conditions for long-term peace and cooperation''. But, those were not Pakistan's intentions. They wanted to recover lost territory and men and prepare to fight India another day. We miserably failed to read what was clearly written on the wall that even a visually challenged person (no offence to them and with all due respect) would have read. The two contrasting intentions converged only on two points, exchange of territory and PoWs. True to his colours, Z.A. Bhutto simply forgot the Shimla Agreement after he achieved his goals and redoubled his efforts to destroy India. It was naive on our part to have hoped that a man who was furious after the Tashkent Agreement in c. 1965 would now implement the Shimla Agreement.
What have Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shimla got to do with Rehman Malik ? Rehman Malik is the personification of Z.A.Bhutto and his sugar-and-honey promise on 26/11 is the equivalent of the Shimla Agreement. Similarly, we have some lofty objectives for the implementation of the liberalized visa regime, which is to further people-to-people contact, improve trade, remove mistrust, and encourage cultural exchange. But, Pakistan has none of these. They want to make it easy for Pakistanis to visit India only for their own nefarious advantage. The stalled grant of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India belies their tactics. The point is that Rehman Malik will go back and do exactly the opposite of whatever pious words he uttered in New Delhi, like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of 1972.
Now, what did Rehman Malik saheb do upon arrival in India ? He decided to follow a three-pronged approach to achive the three objectives that he was entrusted with. First and foremost, protect Pakistan's interests which required going on the offensive from the moment he landed in New Delhi. He equated the demolition of Babri Mosque with 26/11. He knew that this would stir a hornet's nest but that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted to dominate the narrative in India while he was here. He knows that the Indians have an enormous forbearance for insults heaped on them and he tested the extremities. He proceeded to do so without wasting much time.
In fact, he carefully chose Babri Mosque because he wanted the insult to connote three different sub-texts. He wants to kindle communal tension, open raw wounds and draw support for his position from those liberal sections of the Indian society waiting in the wings to pick up on the issue of the so-called oppression of minorities in India. There was another sub-text to this reference to Babri Mosque which was to implicitly equate India with Pakistan on the question of ill-treating minorities. Rehman Malik made it explicit when, while explaining his intention for referring to Babri Mosque, he said that his reference was in the context of killing of Shias in Pakistan. (In fact, he cleverly included the killing of Sunnis also in Karachi in that list. But, Sunnis in Karachi are getting killed not by Shias but in intra-Sunni sectarian violence and ethnic violnce among the Pashtuns, Mohajirs and native Sindhis) He thus made it very clear that his intention was equating the state of wahhabi/salafi/Deobandi anarchy in Pakistan with India. The third sub-text was to assert the very long-standing Pakistani claim that anything Islamic in Hindu India naturally belongs to Pakistan and Pakistan alone is the protector of Muslim rights in Hindu India. This goes back to the days of Jinnah when he said that the minorities in the two nations were guarantors of peace, which later resulted in a foolish (foolish on the part of Nehru, not Liaquat Ali Khan) Nehru-Liaquat Ali Khan Pact after horrendous massacre of Hindus in East Pakistan post Partition and Independence.
The second approach was to simultaneously deflect any critical questioning by his Indian counterpart, Sushil Kumar Shinde, on the progress of the 26/11 case in Pakistan. Of course, he came well prepared. He charmed his Indian interlocutors by promising things that he has no control over such as completing the case within three months after the second Pakistani judicial commission visited India.
The third and the most important approach was to cajole the Indian Prime Minister into visiting Pakistan as soon as possible, before the PPP government bowed out ahead of the upcoming elections. There are two important reasons why Pakistan is desperately trying to get the Indian Prime Minister to go across the border. The ruling PPP (Pakistan People's Party), which is in dire straits in the upcoming elections, would like to take advantage of the Indian Prime Minister's visit politically to bolster its chances. The other is that whenever an Indian Prime Minister met his Pakistani counterpart in a one-on-one session, the Indian leaders tended to concede a lot more than otherwise. The incumbent Indian Prime Minister had demonstrated that conclusively at Sharm-el-Sheikh two years back. One does not know what transpired in the meeting between the itching-to-visit-Pakistan Indian Prime Minister and the representative of Zardari from Pakistan. Time will tell.
During the three days of his stay here in India, Rehman Malik saheb created furore after furore and insulted Indian hospitality and intelligence to an extent that no other Pakistani leader before him had done so. Let us list them.
- Equating 26/11 with the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
- Claiming that the mutilation of Lt. Saurabh Kalia was either because of some wild animals (also known as Pakistani soldiers, perhaps ?) or inclement weather
- LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) could not have been behind 26/11 because it was already banned and its cadres had joined the TTP (Tehrik-Taliban-e-Pakistan)
- India had never given any solid evidence against Professor Hafiz Saeed; all the dossiers were mere information
- India should forget 26/11 and move on
- 26/11 happened because of Indian intelligence failure and Pakistan cannot be faulted (He probably meant that the jihadis should also not be blamed because it is the sacred duty of the jihadis to attack kafir land. Only the kafir should be careful and prevent it.)
- Had India allowed the judicial commission earlier, the case would have been wrapped up by now
- Abu Jundal was an Indian R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) agent who went 'rogue' just like David Coleman Headley
- There is no infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan across the border into India. It is simply migration as happens between Mexico and the US. It cannot be stopped
Then, of course, were his promises. He promised to give then and there a copy of the 26/11 charge sheet filed in the Adiala Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) and asked one of the Secretaries of his Interior Ministry who actually filed the charge sheet in ATC, to do so, only to be told by him that he did not carry a copy of the same. Malik saheb also promised, during the meeting with Sushil Kumar Shinde, to give details on call details, IP addresses and bank account details of the terrorists who are now jailed, but the accompanying delegation feigned complete ignorance on these. He promised to allow the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) sleuths to interrogate the jailed terrorists in Adiala and even offered to take them with him in the same plane, knowing fully well that such a flight of fancy (pun intended) was impossible.
- Now, Shinde has told the Parliament that perusing the documents handed over by Rehman Malik on the charge sheets filed against Professor Hafiz Saeed saheb, it was clear that they pertained to something else (probably nuisance to public law and order) and not related to the conspiracy angle in the 26/11 case. So, Pakistani perfidy (and, of course, Rehman Malik's own) stands out once again clearly. So, they never used material furnished in the Indian dossiers and never cared to gather, on their own, more evidence based on these, but continue to fraudulently claim that Indian evidence against Professor saheb could not stand in a court of law.
So, Rehman Malik saheb came here for no official reason at all (the new visa regime would have come into force in any case), enjoyed our wonderful hospitality, abused us all and our collective intelligence roundly, floated his conspiracy theories (for which Pakistan is justly famous), disabused us of any hope that Pakistan may indeed pursue its relationship with India more seriously, flew some kites such as his vision of Pakistanis being able to drive into India in their own cars (perhaps laden with suicide bombers and tonnes of explosives) and freely visit any part of India without having to report to the police etc. It begs the question as to why arch-enemy kafir Hindu India should roll-out red carpet to jihadi terrorists from Pakistan when the rest of the world has tightened their visa rules and entry procedures at border checkpoints as far as Pakistanis are concerned.
But, who knows ? A dhimmi India might just as well accede to these incredible demands from Rehman Malik saheb and dig its own grave even deeper.