Trust but verify, the Prime Minister says,invoking Ronald Reagan. Of course,Reagan did not just stop at enunciating a maxim. He worked to,and succeeded in helping dismember the Evil Empire. One does not have to even ask whether the Prime Minister will do anything of the sort.
But take the maxim itself that the Prime Minister says he believes in following. Has all verification not already shown that Pakistan has not just been organizing terror-strikes against India,it has conducted a proxy-war continuously,unrelentingly for three decades? Evidence apart,havent the highest authorities of Pakistan acknowledged as much? Did Musharraf not proclaim,Jihad is an instrument of State policy? Has Zardari not said just a fortnight ago that,indeed,Pakistan spawned terrorists? Has our Army not said just a few weeks ago that infiltration into Kashmir has been stepped up again?
The Prime Ministers reason for going on trusting is belief,it is faith in the current leadership of Pakistan. He told Parliament on 29 July,I sincerely believe that it is as much in Pakistans interest as it is in ours to strive to make peace. Pakistan must defeat terrorism before being consumed by it. I believe the current there understands that. It may not be very strong,but the impression that I have is that the current leadership understands the need for action. [What may not be very strong? The current leadership of Pakistan? The understanding that the current leadership of Pakistan has about the need to fight terrorism? Or the impression that the Prime Minister has formed of the understanding that the current leadership of Pakistan has about fighting terrorism? I was told by their parliamentarians who accompanied Prime Minister Gilani that there is now a political consensus in Pakistan against terrorism. That should strengthen the hands of its leadership in taking the hard decisions that will be needed to destroy terrorism and its sponsors in their country.
Last time the faith was in George Bush The people of India love you,deeply. Will we never learn? When Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister,we were told,No,no,you dont understand. She and Rajivji have excellent rapport. You see,they were at Cambridge at the same time as Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Bhutto had been at Oxford in their time! When Nawaz Sharif replaced Benazir,we were told,No,no,you dont understand. He is a businessman. He is a practical wheeler-dealer. We can cut a deal with him. When Musharraf ousted him,we were told,No,no,you dont understand. He is going to be there for years,in any case. It is with him that we have to strike a deal. When he weakened,the argument became the opposite: You dont understand. We have to be generous and come to an agreement that he can present to the Pakis as a victory. Dont you see,the alternative to him are the mullahs? We have to trust him. We can trust him. You see,he has learnt from Kargil.
Now that Zardari and Gilani have replaced him,I believe the current leadership there understands that. Advocates in the Rajya Sabha added the tested argument: Dont you see,whenever there has been democracy in Pakistan,relations with India have been better? If we dont reach out,these current leaders will weaken. The Army will be back,and relations with India will worsen once again.
Trust apart,are Zardari and Gilani the current leadership? Is it not that collective the Army,the ISI,and the organizations they have spawned,the LeT/JuD,and the like? On the one hand,the Prime Minister asks us to trust the new realization among the current leaders. On the other,in the same statement to Parliament,he reports that both Zardari and Gilani told him that Mumbai was the work of non-State actors. Anyone who is prepared to swallow that does not know a fig about,or is deliberating shutting his eyes to the pervasive presence and role of the Army-ISI and allied agencies in Pakistans State and society. But even if that assertion is taken at face value,what does it establish? That Zardari and Gilani may be the current leadership,they are not in control. How then can a new realization among them on which also the only evidence we have is the Prime Ministers gut feeling,I believe the current leadership understands that be the basis of policy?
And what precisely is this current leadership prepared to seriously address? After the Taliban had reached within 100 miles of Islamabad itself; after the Americans had put the fear of a complete rupture into them,these current leaders began an offensive against the Taliban. Only against the Taliban in its western provinces. Indeed,even in that region,only against those sections of the Taliban that have gone out of the control of the ISI-Army.
Neither the current leadership,nor,of course,the Army-ISI have raised a little finger against the terrorists and organizations they have reared in the East for assaults on India. Quite the contrary,as we shall see.
The moral is what it has always been: do not go by your assessments of current leaders. Go by the nature of Pakistans State and society. Go by the attitude of that State and society towards not Pakistan; not the world; not the US,but our country. And in that,go by their attitude to what they have made into their obsession regarding our country that is,Kashmir. Is there the slightest evidence that the basic attitude towards India,and towards what they insist is the core issue has changed in any way?
But we cannot change geography, the argument goes. Pakistan is our neighbour. It will always be so. For seven months,the PM says,we have used all bilateral and multilateral instruments. It is only after doing so that the new course embodied in the Sharm-el-Sheikh Joint Declaration has been charted. Actually,the only things that have been done are two: plead with the US and others to do something; and go on talking to Pakistan at different levels. Naturally,this could not and has not yielded anything.
Pakistan will not desist from what it has for three decades been successfully inflicting on us for the simple reason that we are not able to,and manifestly do not have the nerve to inflict any cost on the ones who are orchestrating the assaults.
But it is diplomacy or war,says the Prime Minister,and the Congressmen echo him in chorus. There is no third alternative.
But even in one element dialogue of one of these alternatives,diplomacy there are two alternatives! Dialogue after the preconditions you have laid down are fulfilled. Or dialogue irrespective of whether what you said were preconditions are fulfilled or not. To get the answer to the question whether the choice is only the binary one that the PM posits diplomacy or war consider two questions:
• How is it that Pakistan has been able to use a third option against us for 30 years? The option,namely,to inflict,and go on inflicting violence on us,but always do so at a level below the threshold that would trigger a full-scale war?
• How is it that Dawood Ibrahim is able to live in style in Karachi and go on orchestrating operations against India? How is it that Paresh Barua and other leaders of ULFA are able to hide in plain sight in Dacca and go on killing people in Assam?
The answer is obvious: Pakistan has built the requisite capacities,and we have not. After every assault,therefore,we are left in the same quandary: Either diplomacy or war. And diplomacy here means just going from one capital to the next requesting others to do our work for us.
But things obviously dont stop there. There is the further lemma: And as no sane person wants to go to war,the only way is dialogue. And then the lemma after that: As Pakistan has shown that it will not fulfill the pledge it had made of not allowing the territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India,there is no alternative to giving up the precondition
And so we recommence dialogue confident that the next assault will make us forget the last one.
In the wake of the attacks in Mumbai,the Prime Minister and others in Government laid down two conditions for the resumption of talks and the peace process: that Pakistan must bring to book the ones who had planned,controlled and directed the operations from Pakistan; second,that it must dismantle the infrastructure and groups that it had built up for terrorist assaults against India.
These two conditions were reiterated again and again in the months that followed. S.M. Krishna emphasized them as the new Parliament commenced. I said and wrote then that the Government would be compelled to abandon these conditions and resume the so-called dialogue without any conditions whatsoever.
That required no astrology! The reason was simplicity itself. Americans are desperate to get out of Afghanistan. To do so while retaining the pretext that they have accomplished their objectives,they have to be able to claim that they have restored normalcy. For that they are dependent on Pakistan. They will,therefore,have to do Pakistans bidding. And that bidding will be,Get us concessions from India. They will,therefore,force the Government to make concessions. And the modality for that has to be resumption of dialogue.
The Government would have to do all this,I said,as it has become perilously dependent on the US.
How much more composite?
That is exactly what has happened. The Prime Minister has had a meeting with the Pakistani President. He has had a two-hour meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister. As The Hindu has reported,and as the Prime Minister has subsequently acknowledged,the head of the ISI,Ahmed Shuja Pasha,has met Military Attaches in our embassy in Islamabad. There have been meetings at other levels the formal Track-II,so to say. In the Sharm-el-Sheikh Joint Statement the roadmap for further talks has been set out: Foreign Secretaries will meet as often as necessary, the Foreign Ministers will meet during the forthcoming UN General Assembly session which,incidentally,begins in just three weeks.
And the talks that have already started cover everything. The Joint Statement says that the two Prime Ministers considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations Not just that. Our PM has pledged that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan,including all outstanding issues the last two words being a euphemism for Kashmir.
The Government makes out that the composite dialogue shall actually be kept in abeyance till,as the PM put it in the Lok Sabha,Pakistan fulfils,in letter and spirit,its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India. Yet,as we have seen,the talks are taking place. The roadmap for further talks has been set out. The agenda is to cover everything.
A vital substitution
Several other aspects in regard to this sleight of words should be noted. Twice in his statement in the Lok Sabha,the Prime Minister; and then on the 31st July,S.M. Krishna in the Rajya Sabha laid down as the condition that Pakistan fulfill,in letter and spirit,its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India. Ostensibly this is the commitment that it had made in the Joint Declaration of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Musharraf in February 2004.
Do you notice the change the PM and Krishna have made? In the Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration the words had been carefully chosen: Pakistan shall not allow the territory under its control to be used for terrorist attacks against India that meant the territory of Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Replacing territory under its control by its territory,as Manmohan Singh and Krishna have begun doing,means either of two things: either that we now recognize POK as Pakistani territory,something that the Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration specifically did not do; or that Pakistan does not have to do anything in regard to groups and infrastructure that it has created in POK and is using against India.
Another bit of bad drafting?
Furthermore,as all issues,including outstanding issues are on the table,has Parliament been told; have even the leaders of other political parties been taken into confidence; I dare ask,have other members of even the Cabinet Committee on Security been taken into confidence about the contours of the solution to Kashmir that the Government is prepared to arrive at with Pakistan?
Apart from the intrinsic importance of the issue of Kashmir,there are two reasons why the question is important. First,as we saw in the Nuclear Deal,and as we have now seen in the abandoning of preconditions to which the Prime Minister had committed himself and his Government,Manmohan Singhs stratagem is to present everyone with a fait accompli. Second,the Resolution that the Parliament passed unanimously on Kashmir and which stands unaltered to this day is that the only unfinished business in regard to Kashmir is for India to get back the portion illegally occupied by Pakistan. Does the Government stand by that Resolution or not?
Foolhardiness to foolishness
Foolhardiness crosses all limits in two subsequent clauses of the Joint Statement. First,Both Prime Ministers recognized 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 an expression that gives,to use the expression much favoured by the Prime Minister,a clean waiver to Pakistan from the commitment it had undertaken in the Vajpayee-Musharraf Joint Declaration.
Nor can this be put to bad drafting. For it faithfully reinforces what Manmohan Singh had agreed to in the statement he signed with Musharraf in April 2005. The peace process is irreversible,the two proclaimed. Further,the two pledged that they would not allow terrorism to impede the peace process. What was the result? Musharrafs Army and ISI continued to execute their murderous operations against India; and the onus to keep these from impeding the peace process fell on India! The consequence of the new Statement will be exactly that.
The next provision raises foolhardiness to foolishness: Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time,credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats. Imagine this pledge had been signed earlier. The equivalent of Zaradari and Gilani in Pakistan receive information that the Indian Embassy in Kabul is going to be blown up. You think they will pass the information to India? Remember that even the friendly American agencies were constrained to say that the ISI had planned the assault. Or look at it the other way: we get to know that terrorists have captured Kuber,and are moving in to attack Taj,the Railway Station,Oberoi in Mumbai; should we give that information to the Pakistani Government so that its agencies and the handlers may alert the terrorists?
Will we never learn? In July 2006,there were a series of blasts in trains across Mumbai. Two hundred were killed. What was the creative response of our Government? Within two months,in another act of faith,it set up a Joint Mechanism with Pakistan for fighting terror! This was presented as the great breakthrough,the result of out-of-the-box thinking For the first time Pakistan has agreed to cooperate in curbing terrorism. No earlier Government has been able get Pakistan to do this. If you count only the major strikes by Islamic groups and only from six months after the Mechanism was formed,giving it time to get functional,so to say,and excluding all the strikes in J&K and the entire Northeast,you bump into the explosions on 19 February 2007 near Diwana in Haryana: 68 killed; in Hyderabad on 18 May 2007: 11 killed; in Hyderabad again on 25 August: 44 killed; in Ajmer on 11 October: 3 killed; near simultaneous blasts in Varanasi,Faizabad,Lucknow: 15 killed; in Rampur on 1 January 2008: 8 killed; 8 blasts in Jaipur on 13 May 2008: 80 killed; 8 blasts in Bangalore on 25 July 2008; 17 blasts in Ahmedabad on 26 July 2008: 53 killed; 5 blasts across Delhi on 13 September,and again on 27 September 2008: 27 killed; 26 to 29 November 2008: assaults at multiple locations in Mumbai: 166 killed. In between,there was the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July 2008. And,of course,the attacks across Kashmir,and the Northeast [For an authentic,regularly updated enumeration,see the outstanding South Asia Terrorism Portal,www.satp.org
And all through the Joint Mechanism was holding meetings. Of course now,it will not just hold meetings. The Prime Ministers have pledged that it will also pass on or be furnished real time,credible and actionable information!
Narrowing even the single condition
That enumeration is a cruel reminder of another facet of our collective psychology: convenient amnesia. We allow,in fact,we almost use every assault to erase from our minds the memory of previous assaults. Of no one is this truer than of our governments. In the Joint Statement that our Prime Minister has signed,the demand that Pakistan dismantle and destroy the infrastructure and groups which it has set up to attack India,of course,finds no mention. But nor does any assault except the attack on 26/11 in Mumbai. The Indian demand has now been reduced to the minimum that is,that Pakistan bring the organizers and directors of that attack to book.
And notice what the Pakistani Prime Minister has pledged to do even in regard to this minimal demand. In the Joint Statement we are told, Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistani will do everything in its power in this regard. And now see how things work out to the convenience of the perpetrators and organisers. Under pressure from countries across the world,Pakistan put the head of the LeT/JuD,Hafeez Sayeed,under house arrest. In the judgement which the Lahore High Court delivered on 6 June 2009,the High Court released Hafeez Sayeed even from the minor inconvenience of remaining in his own house,recording that not a single document had been brought on record that the Dawa or Sayeed or his associates were involved in the Mumbai incident. It also recorded that no evidence had been adduced to establish that Sayeed or any of his associates had any links with Al Qaeda or any other terrorist movement. Indeed,the court went on to say that the security and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan are silent on Al Qaeda being a terrorist organisation. When the case came up before the Pakistan Supreme Court,the position was no different. The oral remarks that fell from the Chief Justice were along the same lines. Sayeed has,therefore,been set free even from having to remain in his own house.
How very convenient! To make a show of doing something,you ask the man to stay in his house. At the hearings,you produce no evidence. The Court frees the man even from that minor inconvenience. And you claim that you have done everything you had pledged to do. Recall that the Pakistan Prime Minister has pledged Pakistan to do everything in its power in this regard. Surely,now the Pakistani authorities can say,What can we do? Our courts have set the man free. Doing anything more about him or his associates is not in our power.
In fact,what more evidence is required for proceeding against a person like Hafeez Sayeed or Sallauddin who operates to this day out of Muzzafarabad in POK? Their speeches are available on tapes by the hundreds. The literature recording their hate-filled words and the murderous declarations of their organisations against India and Indians are available in piles and piles of publications. But,to the convenience of all concerned,the court insists on specific evidence; the Government produces none; the court sets the man free to work his evil. The commitment enshrined in the Joint Declaration is fulfilled!
The perpetrator as Judge
Nor is that the end of this predictable tale. The Joint Statement goes on to record,He [ the Prime Minister of Pakistan said that Pakistan had provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information/evidence. Prime Minister Singh said that the dossier is being reviewed. That is exactly what I had warned would happen. Soon after the Mumbai carnage,the Government announced that it would give detailed evidence and information to Pakistan. At that very time,I warned of the consequence of doing so: you will be installing Pakistan on the seat of the Judge; the authorities there,the controllers of those authorities the very ones who would have sanctioned and planned these attacks will now be pronouncing on whether the evidence you have given them is sufficient and credible or not. Even the Home Minister,P. Chidambram,has since been compelled to say that furnishing evidence to Pakistan has become an endless exercise they just keep asking for more. As The Indian Express reported the other day,now Pakistan has asked for a sample of the pink foam taken on board MV Kuber; a statement from the Indian magistrate who recorded the confessional statement of Kasab; the testimony of experts who conducted the forensic examination of the GPS device; the testimony of experts that establishes that the terrorists were in touch with handlers in Pakistan; the interrogation reports of others who were first arrested,and so on. As for what we will do now,the Joint Statement records our Prime Minister assuring the PM of Pakistan,the dossier is being reviewed!
But through this dossier Pakistan has admitted that persons of and from Pakistan have been responsible for terrorist attacks on India,the PM says. This is the first time that Pakistan has made such an admission. The NDA Government was never able to get the Pakistan Government to admit as much With Kasab in our hands,with his having made a detailed confession,admitting to the role of Pakistanis is the least that the Pakistan Government could have done.
I become the cause!
Then there is the howler regarding Baluchistan and other areas. Apropos of nothing,the Joint Statement records,Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistani has some information on threats in Baluchistan and other areas.
Pressed to put up some sort of defence,Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that this was just the unilateral view of the Pakistan Government. Is a Joint Statement of two Prime Ministers the place in which one of them records his unilateral assessment of some internal problem that is on his mind? And just see what the Prime Minister of Pakistan said immediately after the Sharm El Sheikh Statement was put out: The Joint Statement underlines our concerns over Indias interference in Baluchistan and other areas of Pakistan. The Interior Minister of Pakistan,the Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army have all been asserting that India is behind the troubles,and not just in Baluchistan. Pakistan has blamed the troubles in Swat,the explosions at the Police Academy in Lahore,even the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers on India. And here is our Prime Minister signing a Joint Statement incorporating this unilateral view.
The Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha that he had categorically told the Prime Minister of Pakistan that India had nothing to do with the troubles in Baluchistan,etc. As that was the case,what was the difficulty in adding one sentence after that unilateral view of the Pakistan Prime Minister? Why could just a few words not have been added to record,In response,the Prime Minister of India said that India had nothing to do with the troubles in Baluchistan or any other areas of Pakistan?
But the Government and its backers were not done. In both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha,they invoked me to explain the reference to Baluchistan and other areas in the Joint Statement! Had I not said in Parliament,they demanded,had I not written that Pakistan will desist only when we acquire the capacity to do a Kashmir to Pakistan in Pakistan? Had I not said that Pakistan itself was presenting us opportunities in Baluchistan,Baltistan,POK,etc.? Had I not said,they asked,Not an eye for an eye,not a tooth for a tooth. For an eye,both eyes. For a tooth,the whole jaw? How can you now object to the reference to Baluchistan in the Statement? they demanded.
What importance these spokesmen confer on me! That two Prime Ministers should be moved to make a reference to matters just because of what I had said. I might as well say all that again. After all,that is exactly the view I hold. And may be,by my saying it again,in the next Joint Statement they will refer to me by name!!
To attribute all these things to bad drafting is worse than disingenuous. No official,certainly not a Foreign Secretary who has served the country with great distinction in the most delicate assignments for decades,would have slipped up on a document as important as a Joint Statement of two Prime Ministers. Quite obviously,someone whose command he could not disregard would have told him to agree to the words which we now find in the Joint Statement.
Moreover,the words faithfully reflect the convictions on which the Prime Minister,Dr. Manmohan Singh,has been proceeding all these years. When the Joint Statement puts the victim of Pakistans terrorism that is,India at par with the perpetrator of that terrorism that is,Pakistan it does so in furtherance of his oft-expressed view that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. When this Joint Statement records, Both Prime Ministers recognized 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, the Statement does no more than once again reaffirm what Dr. Manmohan Singh pledged in the statement he signed with President Musharraf in April 2005,namely that the two of them would not allow terrorism to impede the peace process.
But red herrings are the well-practiced device. The Government has signed the End Use Monitoring Agreement with the US. It maintains,with the same disingenuousness,that,in fact,the Agreement precludes the United States from unilateral inspections of equipment it supplies that the venue and timing of the inspections shall be determined by India. This is how the Prime Minister put it in the Lok Sabha: There is no provision I repeat,there is no provision for any unilateral action by the United States side with regard to inspection or related matters. India has the sovereign right to jointly decide,including through joint consultations,the verification procedure. Any verification has to follow a request; it has to be on a mutually-acceptable date and at a mutually acceptable venue. There is no provision for on-site inspections or granting of access to any military site or sensitive areas.
The US supplies F-16 fighters. What will we do? Bring them for display for display and inspection to the India Gate? The US supplies some optical devices for our Air Forces aircraft. What will we do? Take them out of the aircraft for them to be inspected at some civilian venue?
The fact is that American officials Condoleezza Rice,Nicholas Burns,and others had repeatedly assured the US Congress that the Administration would ensure,what they called fall-back safeguards. That is,if the US was not satisfied with the inspections that were carried out by the IAEA,the agreements to be signed with India would ensure that India would give access to US inspectors to inspect the equipment and materials which had come from the US. And the 123 Agreement specifically provided for this all that it did was to replace the word inspectors by the word experts. India pledged under that Agreement to facilitate the visits of those experts.
The End Use Monitoring Agreement merely operationalizes that pledge,and enlarges it to cover all sensitive supplies from the US. That is how the US Assistant Secretary of State,Philip Crawley said that this new Agreement is part of the understandings arrived at during the negotiations of the Nuclear Deal. But we are to swallow,mutually acceptable date and venue.
The device is even more evident in regard to the Prime Ministers new observation in regard to the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Throughout the discussions on the Nuclear Deal,when persons like me read out specific provisions of the 1954 US Act,of the Hyde Act,Government spokesman maintained,But those are laws of the US. We are not bound by them. The question was: Is the US Government bound by them? Will US companies that will be exporting materials and reactors and technologies to India be bound by them?
Persons like me read out the specific provisions of US laws as well as the repeated affirmations of President Bush,Condoleezza Rice and others in which they pledged that India would not be given the processing and enrichment technologies,and that the US Government would work with other members of the NSG to ensure that they also would not make such technologies available to India. But,No,we are not bound by US laws or what US officials say Full means full
And now see what the Prime Minister has slipped in. Responding to the concerns which members had expressed about restrictions that seem likely on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to India,the Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha:
our Government is fully committed to the achievement of full international civil nuclear co-operation. Consistent with this objective in September last year,India has secured a clean,and I repeat we secured a clean exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group,one that was India specific. At that time also,there were attempts to make a distinction but we got a clean exemption which means that the Nuclear Suppliers Group consisting of 45 countries has agreed to transfer all technologies which are consistent with their national law.
Did you notice the last seven words — which are consistent with their national law? But,exactly as persons like me had pointed out at the time,the US laws the 1954 Act,the Hyde Act,the new Act passed in October 2008 approving the 123 Agreement prohibit the US from transferring such technologies and they bind the US Government to work with other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to ensure that they also refrain from transferring such technologies.
That is the device: do what you will; present everyone with a fait accompli; and slip in a few words every now and then to establish that you have done nothing which you have not already said you would do!
Just the trailer
Each step is leading to the next one. The Joint Statement which the Prime Minister has signed with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the disastrous concessions which he has made through it,are not a case of bad drafting. They are what the conductor the US finds convenient. We should,therefore,open our eyes to what is coming: pressures to withdraw over troops from Siachin; pressures to grant autonomy to Kashmir All this simply because the US,dependent as it is on Pakistan today,has,to get Pakistan to curb the terrorists along its Afghan border,to deliver to Pakistan what the latter has not been will to get on its own.
Open your eyes now. No use wailing after the deeds are done.