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. 

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