Shourie is brilliant. But…

Grit and determination, indeed, is what should be expected from the government

Arun Shourie rounds off a brilliant series on Pakistan with a conclusion that most realists will find it difficult to disagree with:

Till then, let us be clear, the best possible outcome for us, one for which we can do little, is that a discredited and besieged Musharraf continues in office — so that the fount of decisions remains preoccupied with his own problems. And that the Pakistan army remains encoiled in protracted and bloody hostilities with the extremists that it and ISI, and so on, have reared — so that the trust and working alliance between them is ruptured. If prayers are to be the only policy we are capable of, pray for these, not for democracy! [IE]

In the first part of the series Shourie essentially summarises The Acorn’s position:

When he has been facing difficulties, the same concessions have been urged on the ground, “he is our best bet.” Such specious reasoning has almost prevailed when we have had, as we have now, a weak and delusional government, a government that does not have the grit to stay the course; when we have a government over which suggestions from abroad have sway of the kind they have today; when we have a government the higher reaches of which are as bereft of experience in national security affairs as in the government today. We must never sacrifice a national interest in the delusion that someone is the ‘best bet’ — he will soon be gone, and our interest would have been sacrificed in perpetuity. Nor should we ever sacrifice an interest in the delusion that doing so will assuage that ruler, country or ‘movement’. [IE]

Almost all of this is exactly on the ball. But even Arun Shourie should not get away with calling the current government “a government that does not have the grit to stay the course” without being reminded of the NDA government’s craven submission to the hijackers of IC-814. That too contributed to India’s projection of weakness. No, we must never sacrifice an interest in the delusion that doing so will assuage that ruler, country, or ‘movement’. Or, for that matter, the surrender monkeys among our own countrymen. As Albus Dumbledore said after awarding the decisive points to Neville Longbottom “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies. But a great deal more, to stand up to your friends”.

8 thoughts on “Shourie is brilliant. But…”

  1. Whatever Nitin. This is an untimely argument and disappointing to see coming from you. Its not like Shourie et al. are proud of it and will do the same if they faced that situation.

  2. I pray too that Pakistan gets bogged down in the frontier like the British and Soviet before them. It will give them a taste of their own medicine after tying down a bulk of the Indian army in Kashmir by supporting jihadi groups.

  3. Ouch,Nitin don’t remind us of things we don’t ever want to be reminded of. Nothing the NDA government did before or after can excuse Kandahar.

  4. Nitin, I blogged about the same article (the first one) and pointed out that the same attitude towards stitched up washington solutions to India-LoP problems was with BJP too and more specifically with Jaswant Singh. I doubt Shourie or Advani would fall under your description. I think the whole cabinet voted and Atalji didn’t over rule them, both with regards to hijacking and operation parakram.

  5. Taking partisan politics to an extreme, the media wanted to target the BJP on the hijack issue during the Kandahar crisis. And in its zeal to embarrass the government, the media repeatedly played up the distress of the victims’ relatives. This left a beleagured government with little room for maneuver.

    This is not to exonerate the government for its culpability in the eventual outcome. But let us not paper over the media’s contribution to this denouement.

  6. Manu—it’s not at all untimely. There cannot be any sympathy for anyone who had a part in making India a “soft-state”. As Chandra says, we’d be amiss if we were not to point this out.

    As for the IC-814 being a cabinet decision and being influenced by the media, that’s true of course. My point is about the NDA government’s action, not Arun Shourie’s personal position in that matter. The media, as Oldtimer, says might have influenced the decision: hence my reference to not assuaging surrender monkeys and Dumbledore’s sage remarks to young Neville.

  7. I am sure there was a Pakistani Arun Shourie who thought the very same in the 80s about Afghanistan hoping that a country rapidly becoming a failed state is better than a stable Afghanistan that might be in a stronger position to sit across the table and renegotiate the borders.

    The problem with failed states is that they tend to export their problems in other countries. We are already seeing the very beginnings of it in India. Earlier, the militancy was totally controlled by Pakistan with the militants being confined to activities in Punjab and Kashmir with incidents outside these states also being organized to the minutest details from Pakistan. This no longer seems to be the case with militant organizations going out of the control of the Pakistani government and their activities spreading to UP, Hyderabad etc.

    The earlier Pakistan becomes stable, its army loses power and negotiations start, the better for India. The last time the negotiations bore some fruits was when Pakistan was ruled by a true politician (albeit corrupt) Nawaz Sharif. But the efforts were immediately sabotaged by the Pakistani Army with Musharraf himself leading the effort.

    A stable and truly democratic Pakistan is in the interests of India though it might not be in the interest of the western countries who would lose their ability to manipulate that country. Western interests are not always the same as Indian interests.

    Pakistan under Musharraf will become a failed state very soon. The western countries don’t mind this as long as they can control the armed forces. That is all they care about. But it is different for India. Pakistan is neighbour and the failed state syndrome will next move into India.

  8. Whatsup,

    Indeed. The realist position is that what matters is how stable the balance of power is, not who rules in Pakistan. So while I wouldn’t put too much stock in Nawaz Sharif’s tenure being ‘fruitful’ (see my tit-for-tat breakdown post) I agree that this position doesn’t take into consideration state failure.

    So we can’t sit back and be agnostic over who rules Pakistan if Pakistan itself becomes a failed state. And inductively, we can’t be agnostic to who rules Pakistan if that determines whether Pakistan will fail or not.

    The chain of induction doesn’t lead to us preferring a democratic politician, but one who can prevent state failure, and ensure stability. Musharraf, as you put it, is not that man.

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