Saturday 31 July 1999

The soldiers have won the war; will the politicians lose the peace? (Rediff)

A friend in the airline business once revealed that for each airline, the worst service was on the sectors to and from India. The reason? Indians never complain. They accept standards far below that acceptable to citizens of other countries that pay the same fares. Watching the ecstatic reactions about Kargil, one is reminded of this observation.

First, the brilliant diplomacy that saw the entire 'international community' on India's side. In unipolarspeak, 'international community' is shorthand for the United States and its most loyal satellite, the United Kingdom, with the other European Union countries forming the second tier. It is precisely in such a restricted context that Indian spokespersons have these days been using this word.

Thanks partly to inattention by a prime minister's office obsessed with Washington and Brussels, hardly any expressions of support came India's way from Africa, Latin America and Asia. Despite the consequences to themselves if other countries in the region were to adopt the Pakistan policy of disregarding settled borders, our SAARC neighbours were embarrassingly silent. Despite all this, they say, the entire world has supported India.

After Pokhran II as well, lack of timely and effective diplomacy led to the isolation of India in almost all international fora. That did not cost us much, just as the pro forma expressions of support from Washington and Brussels for the Line of Control did not result in a single extra intruder getting evicted. The fact is that it was the Indian army and air force that did the job. Had Tiger Hill and Tololing not fallen, Nawaz Jihadi would not have scurried to Washington for a face-saving bailout, which he got, thanks to an obliging New Delhi. Even after leaving the shores of the country which is the home of much of the wealth of the Jihadi elite, Sharief tried to open fresh fronts in Kargil. Only after all this was repulsed did the white flag go up.

Had New Delhi declined to follow the Brajesh Mishra line of appealing to the United States and the European Union to restrain Pakistan, and instead confined itself to giving information about the Pakistani intrusions, the real heroes of Kargil -- the armed forces of the republic -- would have walked away with the credit, instead of the political plagiarism that saw Bill Clinton claim credit for a withdrawal forced on Islamabad by military disaster. Thanks to this, Washington has now been emboldened to resume its agenda of trying to shore up (a doomed) Pakistan at the cost not of itself but of India.

It is always New Delhi that should make the concessions, turn not just the other but both cheeks. Let it not be forgotten that Jihad-lover Robin Raphel is a close friend of Madeleine Albright, and her advisor on Kashmir. Raphel has never hidden her desire to be the first American viceroy in a Kashmir separate from India.

Thanks to the diplomacy that editorial writers are raving about, New Delhi has effectively given up all its claims to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in exchange for zilch. In negotiations, the final compromise is arrived at only after bargaining. By effectively giving up its claim to a third of Kashmir, the Vajpayee government has severely eroded India's bargaining position. Today, the same 'international community' that the de facto prime minister is so obsequious to makes no demands on Pakistan over the territory it kept in 1948 thanks to Edwina Mountbatten's (well concealed) charms.

There is no demand that the people there should be given democracy, or that the Punjabi-speaking settlers (including Sharief Jihadi's family) who dominate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir should be sent back and the state revert to the Kashmiri-speaking people. It is only India and the territory that -- despite Nehru -- it controls that faces demands for 'accommodation' with a fanatic state ruled by throwbacks from the Dark Ages.

After having effectively revoked India's rights in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Brajesh Mishra has conceded American meditation in Kashmir. A rape is a rape, even if the assaulter keeps repeating that there is no assault. In the same way, just saying that intervention is not mediation does not dilute the fact that the United States has become the apex of an India-Pakistan triangle on Kashmir, with New Delhi entreating Clinton to see that Sharief kept the agreement he had with Washington.

Talking first to one and then the other, and then reconciling the differences, is very much mediation, just as much as allowing the intrusion to take place is a lapse that should have seen the resignations of the national security advisor and the army chief. However, both are likely to get promoted, just as Research & Analysis Wing chief Arvind Dave got a governorship for failing to detect the Pakistan gameplan.

Fortunately for Vajpayee, he has Sonia Gandhi as the Opposition leader, and she, poor thing, is at sea with anything a little more complicated than the eating of pasta. Cooking it is, of course, a bit beyond her.

If Jaswant Singh wanted to rescue India from the full effects of the Mishra disaster, he should have politely told Albright at Singapore that Kashmir is a matter between India and Pakistan, Thank you, and why not move on to other matters, such as the narcotics trade?

After the experience of 1948, 1965 and 1971, It would be criminal to adopt a soft political posture towards the terror machine that calls itself the Pakistan army. In Kargil, the troops that went across the Line of Control were almost entirely from the northern areas of Kashmir that have been illegally annexed by Islamabad. However, they were commanded only by Punjabi officers, as the rest of the Pakistani population are considered second-class citizens.

In the case of the Taliban Afghans, the position is even worse. These once-proud Pasthuns are slaves of the Punjabis, and follow orders blindly. This was the fate that was in store for the people of Kashmir that Lady Mountbatten allowed Nehru to retain in 1948.

Sadly, India never speaks about the atrocities committed by Islamabad on what are in fact its own citizens across the border of that vivisected state. It should demand the withdrawal of all Punjabi-speaking migrants from PoK and the granting of democratic rights there, including the freedom to escape from the slavery imposed on them by the Lahore Mafia.

If Pakistan is sincere in its support for self-determination for Kashmiris, it should first grant that right to the Kashmiri-speaking populations it controls (and by this does not mean the Hurriyat Conference and other Taliban-like slaves of Lahore). Thanks to repeated American commands for 'restraint', New Delhi has been extremely loathe to highlight the abuses in PoK and indeed in Pakistan itself. Such silence needs to end.

The school that favours bleeding the world's largest democracy to attempt to save a rogue state from the consequences of its own actions favour substantial Indian concessions to 'help create a stable and prosperous Pakistan, which is in India's interest'. The fact is Pakistan is beyond cure, and it will do no good to international stability for India to fall a victim to the same curse by tolerating ISI-inspired bleeding. Rather, a firm response needs to get fashioned to Pakistan's other war against India, the covert operations front. The response to this too has to be massive.

It was then prime minister Morarji Desai and then external affairs minister Vajpayee who gutted external operations, especially in Pakistan. With the weakening of both India's will and ability to launch covert operations in Pakistan, there has been a consequent increase in Islamabad's backing for terrorism in India. This little-league correspondent has himself been the recipient of threats, as have many others who have refused to follow the fashionable line of forgiving the Lahore transgressions.

India must provide substantial moral and material support to the forces in Pakistan who are seeking to end their subjugation to the Lahore Mafia. There is need for another movement for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, so that the Sindhis, Mohajirs, minorities, Seraikis, Baluchis and Pashtuns are given rights and representation on par with the Lahore ruling class. Only a democratised Pakistan freed of the mafia will live in peace with its giant eastern neighbour. Help needs to be funnelled to enable this vision to get actualised, just as the passing of the Zia era was.

In Afghanistan as well, as the forces fighting against the slaves of Lahore need to be given help to resist. A rupee spent in Afghanistan means at least five rupees saved in fighting the Taliban slaves as they come over to India after winning control of Afghanistan for their brutal masters. Pakistan has to be sucked into a quagmire in Afghanistan, just as the Russians were in the 1980s.

That -- and Oxygen to the democratic movement at home -- will divert them from their vicious war against the world's largest democracy. Any reticence on New Delhi's part to respond vigorously to the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency will lead to an expansion. Only hitting at the roots can snuff out the disease. India needs to borrow American responses, not adopt American advice that is based on a Cold War perception of the subcontinent.

India's soldiers have once again won the war. Now, once again, will the politicians lose the peace?

Thursday 29 July 1999

Drugs-Terror Nexus may Cause Undoing of Pakistan

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

Regulars at the tungri kabab sessions at the Pakistan High
Commission find it fashionable to repeat that Nawaz Sharif is a
'prisoner' of the Army and the ISI, which are ’blocking’ his desire
to make a realistic peace with India. They seem to have little
comprehension of the remote control that drives the Pakistan
Army and the ISI in its terrorist wars, This is the Asian drugs

Optimists predict that the intensity of cross-border support
for insurgencies in India will decline, now that the Pakistan
economy is sputtering. They forget that only a fraction of this
support comes from the regular budget.

The bulk of the funding comes from the profits of the drug
trade, which in a pan-Asian context is conservatively estimated
at $75 billion, of which around $20 billion goes to Pakistan-based
syndicates and around $40 billion annually to South East Asia-
based syndicates with linkages to China. Around $5 billion is
generated by India-based groups, many linked to the Chinese
and Pakistani syndicates.

Thanks to the drugs trade, many officers in the Pakistan
army — as well as similar structures in China — have accumulated

Their common interest in this profitable business is an
important reason for the close fraternal ties that bind Beijing to
Islamabad, apart from the common need to contain India. Think
tanks in the West seem to believe that if New Delhi were to
surrender Kashmir to Pakistan, tensions between the two powers
would subside.

In fact, Kashmir is just an excuse for the Pakistan army and
the ISI to keep alive the terrorism that acts as the internal
rationale for the drugs trade. There is no way the ISI and the
Army would surrender the milch cow that is the drugs trade.
Were Islamabad to get that unfortunate state, it would very
quickly come up with a new excuse for funding insurgency,
perhaps the need for 'self-determination' in the Northeast or
Tamil Nadu.

Despite its ponderous intelligence networks, Washington
seems to be blissfully unaware of the reach of the Chinese triads
and their fundamentalist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
During the late 1930s and well into World War II, there was a
similar 'ignorance’ over the fate of people professing the Jewish
faith in Nazi-controlled Europe. Hopefully, unlike in the case of
the Jews when it woke up only after millions belonging to that
faith had perished, the US will improve its intelligence-gathering
in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Canton, Peshawar and Lahore and join
with India in leading an anti·drugs war in Asia with the same
vigour with which it is being waged in South America.
Indeed, the Asian variety has even worse implications for
international security than the South American one, linked as it
is to fundamentalist terrorism.

New Delhi has been even more oblivious than Washington
about the effects of the drugs trade on regional security. Indeed,
one of the more successful Indian multinational corporations, the
'D’ Company headed by that benefactor of the film industry
Dawoodbhai Ibrahim, has become a media celebrity.
Laws against drug trafficking in India are much weaker than
those in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, and are
hardly enforced. Unless this booming industry is checked,
terrorism will continue its rampage over most parts of the

Similarly, rather than bleat about Kashmir, as the South Asia
bureau of the US State Department is wont to do, Washington
needs to push New Delhi towards firmer measures against
druglords operating in the country.

Simultaneously, the US needs to forget the sentimental
bonds linking it with Islamabad and the financial ones tying it
to China and prod both countries into policy tracks that do not
fuel the generation of drug money.

Tackling Myanmar and ignoring China while confronting
the drugs trade, or lecturing Iran and ignoring Pakistan and
Saudi Arabia while discussing the funding of terrorist networks,
is a little like swabbing the throat in a case of tuberculosis.
In the case of South Asia, the US has been part of the problem
in the region, thanks to the unreal expectations generated within
Pakistan of the American capacity to pressurise India. If not for
this illusion, Islamabad may perhaps have accepted the current
reality in Kashmir rather than huffing and puffing away in an
attempt to blow away the Indian security structures there.
Indeed, this ’Raphelite’ policy towards South Asia is also
part of the reason why the Pakistan army - backed by Nawaz
Sharif, who appears to have endorsed the demand of the ISI to
be given one more chance to grab Kashmir - has been repeatedly
firing on civilians in Kashmir.

The expectation is that such activity will lead to the collapse
of the bilateral track and open up the way for US intervention.
Quite apart from the US, this is why India needs to convey the
firm message to Islamabad that either there are bilateral talks, or

In a couple of years, despite all the kebabs so lovingly served
in the Pakistan embassy, Indian public opinion is likely to move
away from acceptance of the LoC as the border in Kashmir, and
to the view that a fourth and final war is inevitable.
The terrorism spawned by the drugs business may cost
Pakistan its existence in a few years time.

Tuesday 20 July 1999

No business as usual, please (Rediff)

If India has retained control of the Kashmir valley, the credit for that should go to Pakistan. In 1992-93, eager to bring the insurgency to a swift and victorious conclusion that would establish the valley as another breeding ground for the drugs-terror industry, Islamabad began pushing in large numbers of Punjabis and Afghans across the border. Historically, Kashmiris have always had unpleasant associations with these two groups, and it was not long before a reaction set in. In effect, many valley Sunnis who had till then supported Pakistan decided that the Indian kafirs were preferable to Afghans and Punjabis who once again grabbed the best houses and women. Soon, many Sunnis took up arms to fight these intruders, and the tide turned against Pakistan.

All Ajit Kumar, as defence secretary, was interested in was fighting the brass at the service headquarters, not the Pakistani threat. No doubt Brajesh Mishra, a great friend of Ajit Kumar and his charming wife, will ensure a fresh promotion for this officer, who has done much to hurt armed forces morale and preparedness. Just as the Vajpayee government is extra solicitous of the welfare of officers connected to 10, Janpath, so too are officers sabotaging the Indian first agenda.

An example is the effort to ensure that multinational companies can set up shop in the country over the objections of their Indian joint venture partners. In the Gulf, citizens of the GCC countries are given preference in employment, and it is mandatory to have local partners for most enterprises. In India, local business is discriminated against by a government that has, over five decades, ensured erratic water and power supply, poor transport and communications links, and miserable financial and other infrastructure.

The move to bypass Indian joint venture partners totally is part of the Sonia Agenda that the Vajpayee government is so religiously following. Both Brajesh Mishra and Ajit Kumar have been involved in this reversal of policy. For Brajesh, the step will earn him brownie points when he succeeds in getting what he has been angling for, exchanging US envoy Naresh Chandra's job with his own. As Indian ambassador to the US, Brajesh will be able to live closer to his two US-settled children.

Thanks to his efforts at building bridges to 10, Janpath, there is every reason to expect that he will not be disturbed should Sonia Gandhi take over as prime minister after the poll. Truly, planning on a methodical and long-range basis. One that the comments in his old confidential assessments fail to forecast.

While supporters of the Sonia ideology in the Vajpayee government may taste success in their efforts at wiping out much of the Indian corporate sector, their success in denying the armed forces the weapons needed to beat back Pakistan's religious fanatics may soon be over. Night vision goggles, snowshoes, assault rifles, light bullet-proof vests and helmets, laser designators, naphta flares for aircraft and much else that is needed in mountain war was denied to the troops. However, thanks to the public reaction to the Pakistani incursions in Kargil, no longer will it be possible to cripple the armed forces. Clearances will need to be issued, and essential equipment procured without waiting for the thousands of 'scientists' in the state defence labs to reinvent the wheel.

Had the DRDO concentrated on a few core items, it would have had a better record. Instead, it has spread its embrace so wide that the results are dismal. The DRDO needs to focus just on missiles and ultra-sophisticated items, and let private research labs take care of the rest. However, that would mean the retrenchment of hundreds of 'scientists', hence the unwillingness to prioritise defence research and applications.

Whenever bureaucrats wanted to stall the purchase of an essential item, they would get an obliging DRDO official to say that it can be done in-house. Needless to say, such promises are never intended to be kept, and are not. DRDO delays have played havoc with troop preparedness.

Kargil means this is no longer possible, and that the DRDO-will-do-it excuse will no longer wash. Again, thanks are due to Pakistan, just as it is the savage treatment of the captured soldiers that has put steel into the morale of India's airmen and soldiers, who are determined to eliminate such vermin from Indian soil. Clearly, Pakistan needs no RAW help to destroy the country. It is doing an excellent job.

In less than a decade, Pakistan can be expected to become a country of unbearable internal strife, till the Sindhis, Shias, Baluchis, Pathans, Quadianis and Seraikis are given the same right as the Sunni Punjabi ruling class. Only after this shift takes place can India relax her guard and permit such measures as open borders. So long as the present ruling regional-communal elite controls Islamabad, no amount of talks will change their fanatic determination to destroy India piece by piece, beginning with Kashmir.

Which is why it is disconcerting to hear the persistent wail of the Mishra government (poor Atal has little to do with it, thanks to his kidney and prostate problems, as friends of his know only too well) that India will resume talks with Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir just as soon as our troops remove the current infiltrators from Kargil.

No. Brajesh, it can NOT be business as usual.

Such a policy will only encourage fresh aggression by Islamabad, just as the follies of 1948, 1965, 1972 and 1998 have. New Delhi has to make clear that there will be no security dialogue with Pakistan until that country stops its narco-terror operations in India. At the same time, the WTO should be approached to ensure that the arbitrary and illegal restrictions on Indian goods in the Pakistan market get lifted.

Indeed, a veritable trade war needs to be waged against Islamabad. Steps should be taken to bring down the international prices of rice and cotton, so as to deny foreign exchange to that terrorist state. The cost of this will be far cheaper than the insurgency that a financially invigorated Pakistan can unleash. Indian goods should be allowed to flood across the borders without hindrance, if necessary with their origins concealed. Entities in Iran, the Gulf or the Maldives should be located for such trade. Only a ruthless policy designed to harm the interests of the Pakistan ruling class can divert them from their criminal actions. Not feeble bleats that all will revert to normal once the intruders are thrown out.

It is strange that the Vajpayee government has allowed itself to be hijacked by the ideological twins of Sonia Gandhi, so that there is today no difference between the two. This is what comes of not appointing genuinely competent individuals to man PMO posts.

Even today, despite his health, Vajpayee can make amends by replacing those responsible for the Kargil fiasco with others such as T R Satish Chandran or even former Karnataka chief secretary Sankaranarayanan

This columnist is an admirer of Vajpayee, who has done much to ensure that the BJP reconfigures itself to meet the needs of a modern country. Under Atal, the party has shed much of its Taliban image, and has given the minorities a security that they did not enjoy under the Congress. Had his kidney disease not come in the way, there is little doubt that the prime minister would have been able to prevent certain bureaucrats from hijacking and smothering his agenda. Vajpayee needs to go beyond personal likes and appoint a good team at the PMO, which is the fulcrum of the administration. Unless he does so, more disasters are inevitable.

An example of how some elements in the BJP ape the Taliban is provided by the Maharashtra Hindutva fanatics who want to stop women working after 8 pm. If they themselves keep off the streets, women will be safe in Maharashtra, a state with a glorious tradition of chivalry and valour.

Or to take another example, the effort to see that the AIR and DD newsreaders were 'properly covered, including the arms'. Why not hide them under a huge wicker basket? In this way, there is no doubt that no male would be enticed (at the sight of a talking basket), save the odd pervert who gets turned on by wicker, and who can be identified by hundreds of thousands of Saudi-style Moral Police, who peep through windows (curtains would, of course, be banned) to see whether anyone is getting frenetic when the news is on the air.

Such Taliban-style thinking by the spiritual cousins of the Lahore fanatics on India will truly lead to this country becoming a basket case. It was a breath of fresh air to see a photo of young Ms Advani -- in jeans. Only a tolerant society deserves to be known as a Sanatanist one.

Rather than become a clone of the Sonia set, the Vajpayee team needs to ensure that credible deterrents are put in place against Pakistani adventurism. The cost to Islamabad should be severe, else we will continue to firefight while the pyromaniacs roam free. The Indian navy should as part of this strategy intercept North Korean vessels on the high seas to ensure that they are not carrying missile parts to Pakistan. A Vishnu Bhagwat, and not an Ajit Kumar strategy, needs to be followed against the drugs-terror mafia before they convert India into another Pakistan.

The Sonia ideology champions within the Mishra government say that Nawaz Sharief is distinct from troublemakers, and that the poor fellow needs to be given help. Perhaps Sharief's legendary hospitality to Indians in transit to London or the Gulf has something to do with this wail. There was speculation that the chief of Pakistan's army, Pervez Musharraf, is a Sharief man, which was why this mediocrity replaced Jehangir Karamat. The fact is that Karamat was given marching orders because he tired to clear up his troops from contact with narcotics cartels. The obedient Nawaz meekly agreed to this, as he did to Kargil

Talks with such a group are doomed to disappointment. What is needed is to reciprocate evil with good. Specifically, the giving of moral and material support to the oppressed people in Pakistan. They should get the wherewithal to fight the domination of the Lahore mafia, and to campaign to make Pakistan a genuinely federal state. In the same way, the Taliban should be punished for acting as the servants of the Lahore mafia by helping genuine Pashtun patriots in Afghanistan and Pakistan to win the right of self-determination, together with Seraikis, Baluchis and Sindhis. The proud Pashtuns, in particular, have been cruelly colonised by the Lahore mafia, which is using them as human fodder in their adventures against India.

In 1948, 1965, 1972 and 1998 Pakistan was given the benefit of the doubt. It was assumed to be a civilised country, a rational one. This it will be only after the innocent people of that unhappy land are given human rights and freedoms. It is time for a jihad to liberate them from slavery to the narco-terror mafia. Should Vajpayee continue to follow a Sonia policy towards Pakistan, he will betray the voters who saw a difference between him and the Dynasty. It is time that the Mishra government gave way to a Vajpayee administration.

India's Geopolitical Options after the Tests

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

To save a few hundred crores of rupees on developing a strategic
arsenal in the 1960s, Jawaharlal Nehru set India on a course that
has thus far bled the country of thousands of crores as well as
lives. Its "soft" image has encouraged not merely China and
Pakistan but even Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Nepal to
connive at groups that commit terrorist acts in India.

Such disregard of India's security concerns is a consequence
of the policies followed by successive governments, including
those of non-Congress parties such as the ones led by Morarji
Desai and V. P. Singh. Apart from the 1977-79 Janata government
(that saw Pakistan gain entry into the Non-aligned group and re-
entry into the Commonwealth on India’s hacking), it was the
Narasimha Rao government that during 1991-93 made the greatest
compromises on national security in the post-Nehru family age.
For example, border forces were thinned on sensitive sectors of
the lndia-Pakistan border as a confidence building measure.
While New Delhi implemented such understandings, Islamabad
reneged after a short while, using the lower Indian deployment
to push in more terrorists.

It took the 1995 Hank Brown amendment—which rewarded
Pakistan for drug-running, terrorism and promotion of religious
extremism by gifting it a billion dollars worth of India specific
weaponry—that woke Narasimha Rao to the danger of relying
on Robin Raphel for India's security doctrine. Post-Brown,
critical programmes were once again unfrozen, though they
were speeded up only after the combative H. D. Deve Gowda
became Prime Minister in 1996. To his credit, Inder Kumar
Gujral too followed the dictum of soft talk with hard action,
refusing to heed the finance ministry's plea that India should
heed Washington's orders to cap and then roll back its missile
and bomb programme.

The other western power that consistently took an anti-India
position was the United Kingdom. As the creator of Pakistan,
Britain clearly felt a sentimental bond towards that country. As
a result, it has lost almost the whole of the goodwill that could
have been present in India for a democracy which has close
cultural connections with us. Even today, the BBC talks of an
imminent denial of high·technology items from the "civilised"
world, neglecting to inform its viewers that all such items from
the US and the EU have been frozen since 1974, even though they
flooded China, Japan as usual, has been content to tail behind the
western countries.

Should there be 'sanctions', it would be an indication that the
western powers and Japan are rejecting New Delhi's positive
stance on a strategic alliance. This would especially be the case
were the sanctions to cover private companies as well.

Paradoxically, such a move may leave India with little option
other than to develop the strategic alternative of an India-Russia-
China alliance that would challenge the western world across
four continents. Within both Russia and China, a growing school
of thought is emerging that sees the solidarity of the three
regional giants as essential to the dominance of Asia in the

Thus, in place of the old India-USSR pact, there would be a
New Delhi-Beijing-Moscow entente. Given the unreasonable
attitude of most western powers to India’s security concerns, and
the imposition of sanctions that may make the sale of strategic
technologies imperative to retain the 5 to 7 per cent growth rate
needed for social stability, this alternative scenario needs to be
put on track. Indian interests are paramount, and alliances hinge
on the conditions prevalent at the time. Although strategic
linkages with fellow democracies may have a higher comfort
level than those with authoritarian powers, New Delhi may be
left with no choice, should Washington and the EU (once again)
follow the Pakistani prescription on India.

Further, the purpose behind building a screen that includes
Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia would not be for
the containment of China. It would simply serve to deter any
future authoritarian regime there from using muscle-power to
achieve its territorial and economic objective. The aim of this
"friendship necklace" would be to preserve the peace in East
Asia. After a dozen years, when China will have the ability to
flatten the continental United States, any deterrent value based
on an alliance with Washington would be nil. The eastern Asian
powers will need to work out a defensive system that does not
rely on a power that is thousands of miles away, and which has
political constraints against expenditure of human life in Asia.

New Delhi is equally critical in both the Gulf and Central
Asia. As a status quo power in these regions, India would like
to buttress moderate regimes there, and help them prevent
extremist takeovers. It would like to ensure the free supply of
labour into the region, and the exit of oil at reasonable prices. In
defence of democratic strategic interests in the Gulf and Central
Asia, New Delhi can commit an enormous volume of armed
manpower untainted by fundamentalist rhetoric. As in the
Maldives a few years ago, such deployments would inevitably
take place only on the invitation of the lawful regimes of these

As for Pakistan, that country has long been touted by non-
proliferation "experts" as being on par with India in the
development of missile and bomb technology. How these analysts
believe that a country incapable of producing a decent lathe can
manufacture strategic equipment is unclear. Unless China gifts
a bomb to Pakistan—just as it did two missile systems—there is
no way Islamabad can detonate any device that is not essentially
a firecracker. Should China thus help Pakistan, any prospects of
future co-operation between India and Beijing would of course
go up in a mushroom cloud. However, Islamabad is likely to
make a virtue of its impotence by demanding goodies to exercise
a "restraint" that its own lack of technology has forced on it.
However, the armed forces in Pakistan ,can be expected to
significantly increase their share of the country’s budget, despite
the billions being earned through the drugs trade.

With its second round of nuclear testing, New Delhi has
made clear that it is among the World’s major powers. Its future
alliances will hinge on the response of the other major powers to
this uncharacteristic self-assertion, for which every citizen of this
country needs to thank the Vajpayee government.

Saturday 10 July 1999

Punish the guilty of Kargil (Rediff)

If words could deter, then the farrago of verbiage coming out of our leaders should lead to a hasty Pakistani retreat from Kargil. Even the prime minister -- the epitome of peace -- is talking tough, warning of dire consequences for the drugs mafia that runs that Sunni Punjabi (non-Seraiki) fiefdom.

What a pity that Brajesh Mishra had to kill the effect, by admitting on Star TV that all that was needed was for the Pakis to be pushed back across the LoC and India would discuss "anything" with them, including Kashmir. It was the dilution in the Indian stand on this state at Lahore that gave the Pakis the impetus to attempt a redrawing of the Line of Control by force. Each time an Indian official agrees to a discussion on changing the status quo in Kashmir, the Inter-Services Intelligence and its criminal gangs get fresh oxygen. The Lahore Declaration gave them a lot of hope.

For the first time since Jawaharlal Nehru left Lady Mountbatten's side to say that India was ready to hold a plebiscite in the state (thus opening a Pandora's Box), an Indian prime minister said in writing that the status quo in Kashmir was not sacrosanct, it could be altered.

An intelligent policy would have explicitly warned that no change unfavourable to India would be acceptable. The best Pakistan could expect would be what India is experiencing on the China border: a freezing of the dispute. This writer believes that good relations between India and China are so important to world stability that the Sino-Indian border dispute should be frozen for 999 years. It can be taken up after the expiry of this period, in 2998 AD. In the same way, an intelligent Pakistan would have realised that India is too big to defeat, and that the status quo on Kashmir is the only outcome both favourable and feasible for Pakistan.

However, the drugs mafia is hardly bothered about Pakistan. Most of their children are citizens of foreign countries, so havens are ready to escape to when the inevitable disintegration of Pakistan takes place. In less than ten years, there will be a virtual civil war in that country between the Sunni Punjabis (non-Seraikis) who rule it and the rest of the population. The drugs trade is controlled by this group, with the others -- chiefly Afghans and Pashtuns -- acting as mere couriers and hitmen.

There is no chance of Islamabad giving up its role as the breeding ground of international terrorism. It is such a country that China -- with the benign acquiescence of the United States -- equipped with nuclear weapons. It would be one of history's ironies were one of those devices to land on Xinjiang, where the ISI is hyperactive even while camouflaging its activity by using Tibetan fronts.

If Jayalalitha Jayaram, sitting in Chennai without access to the home or defence ministries, could learn in October 1998 that Osama bin Laden was actively training guerrillas for Kashmir, there is no excuse for the Vajpayee government. After the incursion is put down, there will need to be a reckoning to identify and punish the guilty of Kargil.

Apart from the civil servants in the prime minister's office, finance and defence ministries who ensured that the level of preparedness of the armed forces was decreasing steadily, we need in particular to find out just who gave the fatal orders in 1997 and 1998 to stop winter posts in that region. It is a lie that the area was "uninhabited."

The fact is that the posts and bunkers now being occupied by the Pakis were built by the Indians, and were used as winter shelters till a mysterious order was given to abandon them. Who gave this order? Let us remember that it was in 1997 when the Pakistan mafia first began planning the 1999 Kargil occupation. How was it aware that Indian troops would not return to the earlier practice of using the bunkers and posts in winter for observation purposes?

It is strange that a government in which Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the prime minister and L K Advani the home minister should be so lax in identifying the guilty men of Kargil. Or is it that Brajesh Mishra is protecting them?

It is well known -- as the case of Ajit Kumar -- that the principal secretary to the prime minister protects his friends and punishes his enemies, no matter that the former do harm to national interests and the latter do benefit.

So powerful is Brajesh that he can easily countermand an order of "Atal,'' his term for the prime minister. For example, very recently the prime minister wanted to appoint a friend of Jerusalem, Manohar Lal Sondhi, as envoy to Israel. As Brajesh detests Sondhi (who topped the Indian Foreign Service examination, thus confirming Brajesh in the view that Sondhi was useless), he blocked the appointment, as he does several of the prime minister's other requests.

After the post-Pokhran follies, when an anti-China missive was sent to Bill Clinton and promptly leaked by the White House, Brajesh once again outdid himself by once again drafting a letter for Vajpayee to sign, again to Clinton and Clinton alone. Clearly, the man has yet to hear that India does not endorse the unipolar world order.

Instead of sending letters to all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation states (except Pakistan), Association of South East Asian Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the European Union, the G-8, the P-5 and the Gulf states, besides major countries such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, New Delhi once again focussed only on Washington.

Even more pathetic is the slew of inspired reports that India has won a "major diplomatic victory" over Pakistan thanks to the G-8 communique. That document explicitly supports Islamabad's position that there should be an immediate cessation of hostilities, before -- and that word 'before' needs to be repeated -- Pakistani intruders are pushed back across the LoC. If this is a "victory", then defeat can only mean the complete Iraqisation of India. Thanks to the same giant brain that forced Vajpayee to sign a flawed accord at Lahore, India has moved perilously close to itself internationalising Kashmir.

Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee selected a competent principal secretary, he would probably not have had to witness the fall of his government. Politically, the blunders of the de facto prime minister, Brajesh Mishra, threaten to turn the electoral tide against the Bharatiya Janata Party. Already, voters are looking askance at a government that ate tandoori chicken in Lahore while Pakistani intruders came marching in.

Should the Kargil operation not get completed soon, then questions will be asked about the ability of this government to protect national interests. Thanks to Brajesh Mishra, India has adopted a military strategy that is very costly both in time and manpower.

Instead of diplomacy adjusting to military needs, the Vajpayee government has sacrificed military imperatives to a diplomacy that can only be described as a repeat of the famous "Walling Diplomacy" of Benazir Bhutto. India is begging the world to halt Pakistan, just as Benazir beseeched the world to force New Delhi to give up its operations against terrorists in Kashmir.

Should the Kargil conflict continue to September, and the United Nations General Assembly meet, then the Security Council will discuss the issue and give diktats that will not be palatable to New Delhi. Instead, India should have given the international community full facts about Pakistani involvement, while saying that it would do the job of eviction itself, thank you, and in its own way. This would have been infinitely preferable to begging the rich countries to use their influence to generate a Pak pullout. Since when have drug dealers and terrorists listened to chancelleries? All they listen to is force. Change that to Force, with a capital F.

When Papa D P Mishra looked on as R N Banerjee -- then Union Public Service Commission chief and previously home commissioner in the Central Provinces when the senior Mishra was home minister -- inducted dear Brajesh into the foreign service, he would not have realised the consequences to India. The IFS did, though, ensuring that Brajesh Mishra would never be considered for foreign secretary.

Good friend Virendar Dayal (Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General) got him an advisor's post in the UN headquarters in Brajesh's second favourite city, New York. In 1998, despite his record, despite the fact that he had never served in Delhi except as a junior, Atal Bihari Vajpayee sealed his own fate by appointing the man his principal secretary.

Today, Brajesh has imposed his own standards of competence and intellect on a foreign service that has arguably some of the best diplomats in the world. For those who like Vajpayee, it is sad to see him putting personal friendship above national need by refusing to remove an individual who has exposed his incompetence through Kargil.

Thankfully for Vajpayee, he has Sonia Gandhi as his main adversary. An individual who could not complete school, and who can speak only Italian with any fluency. That the poor lady does not know English became clear after the Congress Working Committee meeting in which Sangma, Pawar, Anwar and Pilot questioned her competence to be prime minister. She had told the CWC members to "speak frankly." When at least three members took her at her word, they were promptly expelled. Clearly, the lovely daughter of the Maino clan does not understand the meaning of "frank."

Sonia Maino has been hungering to become prime minister of India since 1995. It was when Narasimha Rao refused to step down after a single term that she set her hounds on the man. Every day of the mock-resignation drama, it was clear that Sonia was itching to return to the All India Congress Committee presidentship. The question before India is whether Vajpayee will succeed in making Maino the prime minister or Maino will succeed in giving a second (sorry, third) chance to Atal. It is indeed a race that is evenly matched.

Let this end with a Kashmir footnote. Several times we have heard politicians declaim that "Kashmir is an integral part of India." One wishes that some of them would add that "Kashmiris are an integral part of Indian society." To achieve the bonding of this unique people with their motherland will call for governments of a calibre different from what we have, and what we are in danger of getting after this totally unnecessary Lok Sabha poll.

Friday 2 July 1999

Follow a Pro-active strategy, Atalji (Rediff)

That Western journalists act as committed Stalinist "realists" whenever they feel the question of continued Western dominance is involved became clear from the reporting on Kosovo. No serious discussion took place on the ethics of invading a sovereign country. Few bothered to point out that the ethnic cleansing of that Yugoslav province (now a NATO protectorate) took place after the air assault by 19 countries against a puny Serbia. Thanks to such reporting, the Western powers are going to encounter a Vietnam in Europe as both the Serbs and the KLA round on the occupiers in the coming months. Only after the body bags begin to return will Western journalists rediscover their commitment to get the facts - rather than government propaganda - out.

Almost all the Western journalists based in Delhi are welcome guests to the residence of the Pakistani diplomats based in Delhi. Indeed, the bureau chiefs of both CNN and the BBC make it a point of going over for a generous lunch or dinner at the Pakistan high commissioner's residence on Tilak Marg before filing an "objective" report on the situation between their favoured country and India. Small wonder that while the Islamabad wings of both organisations give the Pakistan version of the conflict, so does the New Delhi side. Gurmukh Singh Aulakh, for example, must be very pleased at the "reporting" done by the CNN Delhi bureau on the Kargil crisis, as the basic thrust is to morally and militarily equate India with Pakistan. The correspondent, however, cannot be blamed, as he is presumably obeying corporate orders to ensure a pro-Pakistan tilt.

Thus far -- and it is patriotism to point this out, not to ignore it -- the war has gone Pakistan's way. India is taking far higher casualties than the drug-crazed savages who form the elite Special Section of the Pakistan army, the section that the current army chief, Parvez Musharaff, comes from. It was not by accident that the drug lobby that rules Pakistan got its puppet Nawaz Sharief to appoint a commando as the new army chief. That lobby was desperate to make the Kashmir valley a second base area for growing drugs, just as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has become.

While the Taliban sit on a cache of US $ 20 billion of heroin (street value in New York), there is pressure on Pakistan to "clean up" its operations in that tortured land, where the proud Pashtuns have become slaves of the Lahore mafia. Thus the drug lobby's search for an "autonomous" Kashmir to which they can move part of their expanding operations. Thus the Pakistan army's push for a fresh territorial settlement in Kashmir. By watching the needs of the drug lobby, it is easy to decipher what the Pakistan establishment will do next. Unfortunately, the Indian side relies more on the cocktail set of Lahore and Islamabad, thus failing to pick up information in time.

The Government of India has substantial information on the drugs lobby in Pakistan. Just as it has begun doing with cases of Pakistani atrocities, the MEA and the PIB need to release such data so that even the correspondents who are the recipients of Pakistan hospitality will flinch before once again certifying that country as a democracy. First India and then the world needs to be made aware that the 'Kashmir' conflict is in essence an attempt by the drugs lobby to carve up a second state controlled by it, Taliban Afghanistan being the first. Of course, in both cases, the actual directions would come from the headquarters of the Asian drugs mafia -- Lahore, just as it does to countless agents based in India and other countries.

Much, much more needs to be done against the drugs lobby, which is the strongest pro-Pakistan force in the subcontinent. A first step would be the release of documents that establish the linkage between the Pakistan army and the drugs trade. Hopefully the Vajpayee government will not spare the drugs lobby the way it has thus far protected Gopi Arora. Thanks to the lack of action against the former chief aide to Rajiv Gandhi, the real truth about Bofors may never be known. Until Arora is prosecuted, the final picture will not evolve. However, the man has several friends in the media, in politics and in the bureaucracy, and these are working overtime to save him.

Indeed, Gopi Arora is not the only official who needs a probe. The truth is that the Indian defence forces have been starved of essential supplies since 1985, although during the Rajiv Gandhi years this was partly obscured thanks to huge (and lucrative) defence purchases. The Bofors guns -- the subject of several inspired favourable reports in the Indian media in recent weeks -- have yet to silence the Pakistan commandos in Kargil. Had the Rajiv Gandhi government spent the same funds on missiles by now the intruders would have crossed not back into Pakistan but into the gates of Hell.

Since 1985 the strategic programmes of India have been scuttled by both the PMO as well as the ministries of defence and finance. The three have worked in tandem to ensure that the missile programme got underfunded, while essential purchases get deferred. In Kargil, the lack of direction finding and night vision equipment -- apart from modern guns and missiles -- is costing the army precious lives. The files will show that a handful of officers systematically blocked defence replenishment.

Apart from Gopi Arora, these officers (who need to be investigated) should include a former finance secretary, a former principal secretary to the prime minister and a former defence secretary. The files will show the attitude of these officers to crucial defence requirements, and how the army and the air force are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs thanks to the systematic neglect of defence requirements by a clique of officers. If the Vajpayee government does not order such an enquiry, it will indicate that it itself is under the influence of the pro-Pakistan lobby that has consciously and repeatedly starved the Indian armed forces of essential requisites since 1985.

A genuine nationalist government will ensure that those who damaged India's defence capabilities will pay a heavy price for them, rather than escape. Are you listening, Mr Advani?

In particular, attention needs to be focussed on the fate of the army's repeated cries for better rifles as well as snowmobiles, direction finding equipment and night vision goggles. Who were the bureaucrats who blocked such essential purchases, and were they doing so to ensure the success of the Pakistan army's Kargil adventure? George Fernandes needs to abandon his love affair with former defence secretary Ajit Kumar and get the facts out before his political career gets ruined.

What has happened to Fernandes is tragic. A brave figure, a brilliant mind, an individual with concern and love for his motherland. And yet, certain officials made him a pawn in their game, diverting him to the Bhagwat chase when he should have been concentrating on getting his troops the tools they needed to do their job. In true Yes Minister style, the defence minister had gone there five times in a year. During none of these visits was he told of the Pakistan army's open preparations for a forcible entry into the Indian side of the LoC. He was not told about the helipads and the new roads that were coming up on the Pakistan side. Had he known, George would have acted. However, he was clearly the last to know, with the result that his political career is as damaged as is the credibility of his ministry. If he takes steps to acknowledge past errors and fix the blame, Fernandes can yet redeem his record. Will he?

By meeting the foreign minister of the drugs cartel, Sartaj Aziz, Atal Bihari Vajpayee compounded the error he made in assuming that those who rule Pakistan are civilised human beings rather than savages. Thanks to the weak message that his actions have sent out, the prime minister of India has been responsible for encouraging Pakistan to believe it can get away with murder.

Instead, Vajpayee needs to give the Pakistanis 48 hours to withdraw fully from the Indian side of the LoC, followed by an all-out assault along the India-Pakistan border. This time the war must not stop until the Pakistan army is disarmed and the responsibility of the security of Pakistan's borders is given to the Indian army.

There should be no more Tashkents, Simlas or Lahores. In Pakistan, those forces who seek to escape the oppression of the Lahore mafia should be given moral and material support, then finally Pakistan should be a confederation of states where the Sindhis, Seraikis, Shias, Pashtuns and Baluchis will be given self-government, while Mohajirs and minorities will be fairly treated.

It is because Pakistan has been assured by friends of the Pakistan army such as the Steven Cohens and Robin Raphels of the United States, the Robin Cooks of the UK, and numerous agents of the drugs cartel in India that India will not take resolute action that Lahore has been emboldened to attack India so openly. By keeping the war localised to the 140-kilometre incurrsied of the Pakistan armed forces, all that is being done is to slow the process of expulsion, and raise the cost to India at minimum cost to Pakistan.

Naturally Bill Clinton -- who armed the drugs mafia in Pakistan to the eyeteeth thanks to the Brown amendment -- is happy at this wishy-washy strategy, just as Tony Blair -- whose Labour party has got huge funds from Pakistan-based groups in the UK -- is. What needs to be done is to give Pakistan 48 hours to clear out, followed by all-out war that should end only after the hapless people of Pakistan are freed from the control of the drugs mafia.

In case the pro-Pakistan elements in China try to intervene, immediate action needs to be taken on the Taiwan and Tibet fronts. Hopefully, saner elements in China will realise that it is far, far better for Beijing to generate an India-Russia-China alliance than to go on supporting a fanatic state controlled by a savage mafia. If China is keen on a future alliance with India, this can only come about if it stops the policy of helping Pakistan against India. There are several top individuals in Beijing unhappy with the Gorbachev-Kozyrev propensities of certain Chinese leaders, and they should see to it that the Pakistan tilt stops so that the 1950s dream of an alliance of the three major powers of Asia gets resurrected.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee has for too long followed the "Nehru" model. In the 1970s he tried to copy Congress populism, backing all the foolish economic schemes of Indira Gandhi. That did not help his party. Now he is trying to act like Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948 and Indira Gandhi in 1972. Just as George Fernandes was near-mortally wounded by his love for Ajit Kumar, so will Vajpayee be politically if he keeps up this Nehru fixation. Instead, he needs to show that he is as courageous as the nation and the valiant troops he commands, and implement a strategy that can take care of the Pakistan menace for all time. It is time to at least initiate action on both sides of the LoC, even if not yet all across the India-Pakistan border.

Pakistan must not be allowed to escape for much longer, just because it has a set of friends in Blair-Clinton and the drugs lobby in the PLA. India has a Monroe Doctrine. South Asia is our turf, and we will solve problems our own way, without interference.