India’s is sacrificing its long war against terrorism at the altar of the ‘peace process’
It has reduced itself into an ugly charade—a cynical game that India’s leaders play with their own citizens in order to mask their weakness of character, resolve and imagination. It is marked by the elevation of the ‘peace process’ to an end by itself. That the ‘peace process’ has attained the status of a political superstition is revealed by the lengths that Indian leaders go to strengthen it, while ignoring what was at the best of times its glaring disconnect, and is now its enormous contradiction, with peace.
India holds all the cards, many argue, so what’s the harm in talking to the Pakistanis? Well, it so happens that regardless of the diplomatese India manages to slip in, the rest of the world (including Pakistan) believes that this dialogue is basically about India discussing the settlement of a territorial dispute over Kashmir. The longer the dialogue continues without producing a map with new lines drawn on it, the more believable is Pakistan’s contention that India is only dragging its feet, and Musharraf, the good soul that he is, cannot be expected to hold down his jihadis unless India throws him some more carrots. And so India throws him some. And the rest is a slippery slope.
But has the peace process yielded any dividends? Haven’t they worked out some confidence-building measures to prevent accidental nuclear war? Well they have. But there was always a good chance that nuclear confidence-building measures would have been negotiated even if there was no peace process in place. That’s because the Pakistanis are rational people. Kashmir may be ‘in their blood’, but they don’t think it’s worth a nuclear war. In fact, in the Pakistani army’s view, the more stable the deterrence at the nuclear level, the more room they have to conduct operations at the proxy, low-intensity and other sub-conventional levels.
Hasn’t terrorism declined in Kashmir? Well, let’s take this statement at face value. Isn’t it also true that India has had to make major concessions to Pakistan and the Hurriyat to bring this about? Jihadi camps continue to exist in Pakistan. They may not be operating at their peak levels—owing in part due to America’s war on terror—but they are very much in business. However, even going by the most charitable view, the decline in levels of violence in Kashmir has been accompanied by a sharp increase in provocative terrorist incidents across India. The role of the Pakistani jihadi establishment, and by implication, Pakistan’s military establishment, is palpable. Nine in ten Indians believes this is so. [See also: Musharraf’s successor might well be planning the next backstab]
Well, what about the intangible stuff? Cricket, buses, trains and movie stars and all. Well meaning people—from Kuldip Nayar to Amit Varma—entertain hopes of changing hearts and minds in Pakistan, thereby loosening the hold of Pakistani military establishment, weakening the Islamists and eventually compelling the Pakistani government to change its policy towards India. Tall order, but it is unwise to dismiss hope, even when it triumphs over repeated experience. Unfortunately, the hopeful start from a very low base. Recently Pakistan’s Enlightened Moderates joined forces with Islamists to shoot down a bill to reform Pakistan’s infamous rape law that punish the victim. Musharraf gave up the half-hearted attempts to reform the madrassas. Pakistani civil society is too powerless, too unwilling to effect a change concerning its own affairs. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that people-to-people contacts are inconsequential for peace in India anytime soon. Meanwhile it will always be much easier Pakistani regimes to seek popular support and legitimacy by using the India bogey than it will be for the Pakistani people to change their government’s policy by pressing the peace with India button.
Despite there being no substantial success that can be attributed to the peace process, the one factor that characterises the series of India-Pakistan summits from Lahore to Havana is the gradual disappearance of cross-border terrorism from the official joint statements. Gone are the demands to hand over top terrorists living in Pakistan under official protection. The Havana statement promises a joint-mechanism to implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations. More official junkets for both sides perhaps, but it is fantastic to believe that Pakistan will allow this “mechanism” to get anywhere near the queen bees of jihadi firmament. The Americans have far better mechanisms with Pakistan and have had to settle for the small fry. Why should India do any better?
Indeed, the Havana statement has handed over some more ‘plausible deniability’ to Pakistan, for it provides Musharraf with additional boasting rights—see, he’s even co-operating with the Indians on terrorism. To India’s detriment—for he has another way out of the doghouse the next time there is a terrorist attack in India. Pakistani officials will add this to the boilerplate statements they issue when told to “do more” on countering terrorism.
Meanwhile, “back channels” are busy working through a solution—for settling the territorial dispute over Kashmir. It thus appears that all that talk about India not negotiating with a gun to its head was, well, just bluster. It is time to face the facts—the peace process is about weak-kneed Indian politicians attempting to find palatable ways to sell a territorial concession over Kashmir to the Indian people.
Related Link: Dr Singh suffers from Stockholm syndrome writes B Raman (via Sriram’s blog)
14 thoughts on “After the Havana appeasement”
“The peace process is about weak-kneed Indian politicians attempting to find palatable ways to sell a territorial concession over Kashmir to the Indian people.”
Exactly! They are trying their diplomatic “chanakyagiri” on the Indian people themselves rather than on the enemy.
Good question, but why didn’t they raise this on 7/11, before halting “the peace process”? What was the point of all that riling by the Indian Prime Minister against “business as usual”? What did Pakistan or its cronies in Kashmir concede to resume business as usual?
And fittingly or ironically this is happening in Havana, Cuba, a land ruled by a bloodthirsty tyrant and tinpot dictator for over 40 years. The spineless Congress leadership is trying to sell not only an appeasement package to the people, but also a very perverse version of democracy and accountability. With this latest gambit in Havana Indian foreign policy is back in the dogdays of the dark Nehruvian fifties. All bluster, pomp, sanctimony, and no substance whatsoever, and all for a little socialist/communist preening.
The betrayal has begun. Together with Manmohan view on the apparent artificiality of borders, cultures, and religions (blind euro-liberals will be all praise for Manmohan big sellout) it is the first step to enable Pak take over of Kashmir valley. With a small corrider to Ladhak the Chinese can take over north east J&K at will. J&K as a state is finished. Nehru is back indeed.
Why should it be “either or”, why not “both”. Why either peace talks or military offensive? Why not pursue both? The best way to deal with Pakistan is to build a huge military and deterrent capacity and then “offer peace” in our terms.
My earlier comment shows my naivety. As if the government is interested in solving the problem!! Like you said Nitin, “the peace process is about weak-kneed Indian politicians attempting to find palatable ways to sell a territorial concession over Kashmir to the Indian people.”
Perhaps the most pathetic statement is the Prime Minister’s plea that the ‘institutional’ counter-terrorism mechanism was the “…best…” he could get! It has the ring of weary defeat about it, I think. Even the PM realizes its emptiness, though he can count on his cheerleaders in the media to sugarcoat his dubious achievement.
Your assessment of this govt.’s intentions may well be on-target; see, e.g., the PM’s latest reiteraton that he wishes to find an out-of-the-box solution (how I loathe that phrase!) to resolve J&K. Perhaps Praveen Swami’s reportage about the PM’s intentions on J&K (soft-borders plus some cross-border cooperation on economic matters, etc.) was incorrect.
Still, even if the Indian govt. now hopes to peddle ‘de facto’ territorial concessions, the question remains whether the Indian people (in J&K and in other states) will buy it? I can only reiterate that such a concession will not ‘work’ in J&K, whatever the politicians and media elite think: There is simply no way, for example, that the majority of people in the Jammu district will allow Pakistan to have a say in their affairs. Short of partitioning the state along ethno-religious lines–and even the PM is not an advocate of that, at least not yet–the GOI will find that ‘de facto’ territorial concessions are simply unworkable. Even if the GOI wanted to give away the store to Pakistan, it will find out very quickly that it can’t do that.
That remains our best hope. On a similar note, even analysts like B Raman are now calling for victims’ rights organisations to get into the act.
“Short of partitioning the state along ethno-religious linesâ€“and even the PM is not an advocate of that, at least not yetâ€“the GOI will find that â€˜de factoâ€™ territorial concessions are simply unworkable”
Kumar, I think you underestimate the subversive nature of our leaders. With the commies supporting the present government, in the name of permanent peace, dividing J&K along ethnic lines and handing over Kashmir valley to pak (beginning with soft borders with POK) is not too far fetched. The only real force that can stop the subversion is the commander-in-chief, the president.
Comments are closed.