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?

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