The difference between Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh

Statesmanship and not

Much of the public debate over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s bad wager at Sharm-el-Sheikh as been framed wrongly. It is not about the need for India to diplomatically engage Pakistan (although presenting a binary choice between war and talks, and advocating talks suits the UPA government just fine).

It is about how. Shekhar Gupta’s op-ed today inadvertently demonstrates what exactly was wrong with Dr Singh’s approach:

“Everybody wants to go to war. The armed forces are so angry. But ek samasya hai (there is a problem). You can decide over when you start a war. But once started, when it will end, how it will end, nobody knows. That is a call leaders have to take,” (Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee) said (in December 2001, after the jihadi attack on the Indian parliament), focusing entirely on his soup. Once again it was a statesman speaking rather than an angry Indian.

After almost 16 months of stand-off on the borders and coercive diplomacy when, as disclosed by Brajesh Mishra in an interview with me on NDTV’s Walk the Talk, an all-out war nearly broke out on two occasions, Vajpayee again made a dramatic “turnaround”. Addressing a crowd in April 2003 in Srinagar, he made yet another unilateral peace offer, to his own Kashmiris as well as Pakistan, and it yielded the Islamabad Declaration after a summit with Musharraf in January 2004. [IE]

In a situation not unlike the present, Mr Vajpayee moved unilaterally. Doing so meant that he could do it on his own terms. Doing so meant that he didn’t have to agree to the ‘price’ his Pakistani counterpart would ask for in order a joint statement. In Dr Singh’s case, the price paid was not only high, it was paid unnecessarily.

Notwithstanding this blog’s criticism (see a representative post) of the content of the ‘peace process’ that followed the Islamabad summit in 2004, it is undeniable that Mr Vajpayee’s move was real statesmanship. For all its faults, the direction and pace of the 2004-2008 ‘peace process’ was in India’s hands. Dr Singh’s move, in comparison, was a poorly conceived, badly managed and dangerously risky gamble. His own fate is in Pakistan’s hands.

93 thoughts on “The difference between Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh”

  1. @ AP

    “Such an attitude seems to assume that the security environment for India will not get worse than it is today, which may or may not be true.”

    Security environment does not operate in a VACUUM. It is what you MAKE OF IT as well. Let’s not be too fatalistic.

    Anyways, here’s AN ARTICLE by Lt. Gen Talat Masood (retd.) whose views I generally respect. The last paragraph is a worthwhile read and IT BASICALLY RELATES TO THE VIEWPOINT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=191145

    Hopefully there will be a shift in Pak foreign policy. Because they are pretty vexed with the US as well and they should be. High time they learned the “art of hedging” instead of throwing all their eggs in 1 basket. We’ll see.

  2. A shift in Pakistani foreign policy, eh? I guess nothing wrong with hopes and dreams that Pakistanis will become kinder and gentler and start to deal with India…hope and dreams against past history and experience full of countless terrorist attacks on India. Why not. Such decisions must come lightly when one’s ass is covered from terrorist attacks with Z-category security.

  3. The last paragraph in that article you quote does not support your point of view that the Pakistanis will come around — that is just wishful thinking on your part.

    When the author of that article states:

    “Middle level powers like Pakistan have to defend their national integrity and interests through political stability, economic development, national cohesion, astute diplomacy and professionally dedicated military force. ”

    He means that Pakistan must challenge India AFTER it manages to strengthen itself sufficiently so that it can do so without causing itself any harm (because of better internal cohesion and governance in Pakistan). The article in no way reconciles with India as a greater power — it only argues for Pakistan to bide its time until it can mount a credible challenge to India.

    For example, the following sentence in the same paragraph belies your hope that India will no longer be considered at threat:

    “Prudence demands that we formulate domestic, foreign and defence policies that are commensurate with our power potential and based on well articulated national priorities. This does not imply that Pakistan should lower its security guard that could allow external powers to exploit. What is crucial is to balance resources between development and defence and take a more comprehensive approach towards security, keeping in mind that our immediate threat is internal. ”

    All of that article just seems to argue that Pakistan needs to focus on solving the internal problem to some extent before targeting India again. It says nothing about working with India cooperatively at all — it only speaks for a cessation in focussing on India for a period until pakistan manages to reclaim itself. Your claim that this Gen. Talat Masood is arguing for engaging positively with India is bogus and a misreading of what that General is euphemistically stating, which is no different than what the typical India-hating view.

  4. The parliamentary interventions by both the MEA and Hon. Minister Home were full of patronising banalities and cooked up platitudes – it can be called the classic response of the ancien regime that does not even have the capacity to think of unconventionel responses.

    Instead there was also repeated invocations of Nehru his ideas. That gent, long dead – led us to two severe disasters in 1948 and again in 1961. Keeping nehruvian ideas alive is like a man trying to infuse life into a skeleton by blowing hard into it through a bamboo. And quoting MK Gandhi would also not help stave off further attacks in this new kind of war.

    Even a fool would admit that when presented with a chance to cut up and quarter a determined enemy – one should take it with both hands. Indians had completely deserted the Balochis during the reign of zia ul haq and we need to make up for it now. There is a certain window period where you are presented with that chance – and if you dont take it, the enemy will turn the tables on you.

    Some effort was made by the NDA government to recover from the disasters of gujral doctrine by opening up seven new key installations in Afghanistan. But it does look like this UPA govt. has not pursued that proactive policy and embraced the pacifist ideas of the both MK Gandhi and Nehru.

    And one thing you also Never Ever do is to make a blanket statement like – We can’t go to war with pakistan.

    If this “present leadership” cant go to war – Can you Keep It a National Secret please. Proclaiming it to the entire world only exposes everything and will invite even more undercover attacks from a determined enemy.

    The good thing in all this mess is Baluchistan. Because it opens up a world of ideas and possibilities. It can – with some vision become the next great frontier where the Indo – US alliance can meet to pursue common goals.

    The Balochis are a repressed population – suffering the colonization of the punjabi muslims for decades. It is a good territory to be an entry point to Iran as well [Sorry Iran]. The americans would be very interested in this region. The only drawback is that the present ancien regime cannot implement this cut up plan and so we have to wait this out for someone like Mr. Modi or any future govt. that is not eyeing the islamic vote within.

    We absolutely must have a great deal to hide about Baluchistan in the coming years.

  5. “It is a good territory to be an entry point to Iran as well [Sorry Iran]. The americans would be very interested in this region. ”

    Yes, and they have outsourced their interests in Balochistan to the chinese. Have you seen the US making any moves to ensure that Gwadar does not come up? We will assume that the US is also interested in Balochistan for sure.

    No, the US allows Pakistan and China to run Balochistan (Pakistan can’t govern itself, so it is China that has a run of Balochistan under benign US watch.) Why?

    There is a possibility that the US will open a Baloch front just to mess with Iran, but Iran is India’s ally and so India cannot be part of that. India has to provide moral and diplomatic support to the Balochs under Pakistan’s repressive US-supported military regime.

  6. Since the US seems to have no problem with Pakistan’s nuclear program and is actively targeting India under Obama’s watch, why should India have a problem with Iran’s nuclear program? I ask, semi-rhetorically.

    Iran has always been on friendly terms with India and it is their right to develop nuclear weapons too. If they hate the US, that is the US’s fault for subverting democracy in Iran. An apology by Obama to the “muslim world” is not going to cut it for the Iranian people.

  7. @ AP

    “The article in no way reconciles with India as a greater power — it only argues for Pakistan to bide its time until it can mount a credible challenge to India.”

    Oh please. He has clearly realized that Pak CANNOT and more importantly SHOULD NOT match India. It is that realization that is the key. Cooperation comes later in the game. Anyways if you think Pak is jus gonna roll over and accept whatever India is gonna say tomorrow, THAT is not what I meant at all. You seem to think of the world in black and white. I think of it in terms of different shades of dark gray, light gray, dark brown and light brown.

    “It says nothing about working with India cooperatively at all — it only speaks for a cessation in focussing on India for a period until pakistan manages to reclaim itself.”

    Forget about Pak. Does even a pipsqueak like BD who India liberated always work cooperatively? Again it is not a 0-1 game. For me the realization has dawned on Pakis that they can never be equal to India (pretty late IMO but better late than never). It is that realization that will force them to change their behavior. 20 years back (not to mention 40 years back) Indian economy was in a pretty bad shape so the West and naturally Pakis too saw India in terms of Indo-Pak lens. Things have changed a lot since then. People now talk of “India and China”. So IMO past conditions alone cannot and should not be used to predict Pak’s behavior in the future.

    Anyways, I’ve my POV. You have yours. You seem to think that Pak, US and China all are out to get India and are actively working against Indian interests. I don’t. Yet you have no plan as to how that can be countered. You seem to yearn for Taleban rule in Pak. Knowing very well that there is absolutely no chance of that happening – reasons are US, China and PA + ISI. Now that is what I call wishful thinking. OTOH what I am saying is that with growing India’s economy and military prowess, India can directly engage with Pak from a position of strength and can at least partly fulfill the role of these “outside powers”. Furthermore, India should hedge its options with US, China and Russia according to what is in India’s intersts and not view one of them as an “enemy” or a “friend”. Enough said. I’m done here.

  8. @ AP

    “Since the US seems to have no problem with Pakistan’s nuclear program and is actively targeting India under Obama’s watch, why should India have a problem with Iran’s nuclear program?”

    Nope. And India should oppose it for the same reason Russians and Chinese oppose it. IT GIVES WAY TOO MUCH POWER TO IRAN IN THAT REGION! And that region, esply Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, is very important for India. A secondary reason is India’s great relationship with Israel.

  9. Arvind wrote:

    “Oh please. He has clearly realized that Pak CANNOT and more importantly SHOULD NOT match India. It is that realization that is the key”

    And you have read the Pakistani mind authenticated the truthfulness of this statement how exactly? Pakistan can always say that now and renege on it later. And what is India’s position going to be then? Same as now? Plead with Pakistan not to be that way? What is it that makes you so cocksure that Pakistan will strengthen itself and renege on their commitments? Which part of India’s history of interaction with Pakistan gives you that bit of wisdom? Pakistan has reneged on every commitment made to India when it had the oppurtunity to do so — the question is what makes you think that this under-the-Bodhi-tree moment for Pakistan is real? Did you notice that they released HAfiz Saeed just today…how do you reconcile that with a Pakistan of your fantasies that attends AA meetings and becomes a kinder and gentler Pakistan…you wish.

    Yes, I have my opinion and you have yours, except mine is based on accepting the reality of a hostile Pakistan that is bent on taking down India, while your view is based on the fantasy that Pakistan has turned a new leaf and is now turning a corner.

    There is no evidence on the ground to support your view, not even pakistan’s overt actions with respect to 26/11 supports your view (did I mention they released Hafiz Saeed and claimed India’s evidence was inadequate?), leading to the conclusion that your view mostly hinges on fantasy/wishful about Pakistan’s nature and intentions.

    Sure, if Pakistan turned over new leaf in reality, and that was indeed verifiable (such as turning over Dawood and Hafiz Saeed to India), then I would lean towards your view. But then that’s like saying, if my sturdy aunt grew a mustache and some gonads, she would make a really fine uncle.

    Pakistan has to verifiably close down all anti-India terrorist activity before our very eyes. Only after this can India resume any sort of useful dialogue with Pakistan. Not when they are still protecting these anti-India terrorists and just relased the chief terrorist of Lashkar-e-toiba go scott free.

  10. For example, let us say Pakistan suddenly wakes up and cleans up its act and 10 years down the line is a powerful modern state with a fantastic education system that produces a series of scientists and engineers. What would India’s reaction be to China arming Pakistan with thermonuclear weapons at that point with the plausibly deniable line that the technology is all Pakistani? Let us say India has a 20% annual growth rate at that point just to be liberal. How is that situation better than the situation today from the Indian POV?

  11. Quote after release of Hafiz Saeed:

    “Speaking to the media after Monday’s hearing, Dogar said, “He will continue as free man, he can do whatever he likes. He is doing his duties at the second most important mosque in the country. I tell the whole country, Saeed opened 160 schools from sources of JuD, 52 madrasaas and 4 universities. I am elated to hear recently that a girl from the JuD Girls’ High school, topped the list of all the boards.”

    Quote:

    “Sources said the move was apparently linked to the resignation of Punjab’s Advocate General Raza Farooq on Sunday, who was representing the provincial government in the hearings.”

  12. @ AP

    “For example, let us say Pakistan suddenly wakes up and cleans up its act and 10 years down the line is a powerful modern state with a fantastic education system that produces a series of scientists and engineers. ”

    LOLZ!! This would be the wildest of the dream even for the most optimistic Paki. On one hand you say Pakis are ALL getting Talebanized. OTOH u are coming up with this BS.Again shows ur extreme 0-1 thinking. Let’s get 1 thing clear. Pak is gonna be a rentier state begging for alms for a long time with PA in charge. I’m jus saying India should use this to her advantage.

  13. Arvind wrote:

    “This would be the wildest of the dream even for the most optimistic Paki. On one hand you say Pakis are ALL getting Talebanized. OTOH u are coming up with this BS.Again shows ur extreme 0-1 thinking”

    Yes, we all know the Pakis are not capable of such feats as governance. The point here is that they do not really have to be capable of such feats such as “education” in science and techonoly if their fair and tall friend, China, steps in to fill the gap in their ignorance. How is the direction you are taking with Pakistan preclude such an eventuality? It does not.

    I believe you are assuming that it is not possible for the Pakistanis to become more of a threat to India than they currently are, and that Pakistan can be “managed” by India which can fill in the vaccum of one of Pakistan’s benefactor nations. What you are ignoring is the kind of mischief Pakistan will lend itself (esp. if it continues to be a basketcase) to other richer countries which will continue to selectively proliferate weapons and techonology to Pakistan to keep India on the backfoot in its own neighbourhood.

  14. Just pretending that I am doing 0-1 logic and that you are doing more advanced logic does not cut it. You need to provide a more credible answer to why it is okay for Pakistan to become armed with more dangerous weapons than its current arsenal, because it is definitely a very possible outcome if you take the path of mollycoddling the Pakistani generals for the next decade as a solution to the Pakistan problem. The Pakistani generals are very likely to play us as they get moolah from China to start another joint program to transfer more lethal nuclear weapons than they are rumoured to currently have.

  15. There are people. who run “Indo-Pak peoples forum” and other such stunts. They write wonderful essays that win Outlook-Matador annual awards in poetry. A typical essay goes like this: “Abdul is a Pakistani. I heard his mellow voice on the phone, but never saw him before I met him at Bombay. We went to the beach. We talked. I looked into his eyes. Eyes just like mine. Eyes concealing the pain of mistrust. Eyes asking for nothing more than a little bit of understanding. At that moment, embarrassed by his probing eyes, I realized how alike we both are. It was an eye-opener. I must admit: they really are just people like us.”

    When it comes to Pakistan, the bozos who write essays like the above advocate what I call the Burqa Policy. Islamist scholars argue that woman must cover herself head to toe to protect her from the lustful gaze of predatory men. Meaning: men will always be men, they won’t change, nor should we persuade them to change. A woman that doesn’t put on the burqa is at fault for the consequences that may follow. And hence the bozos argue that the way India should protect its citizens from killing by PLUs from across the border is .. “intelligence”, “better policing”, “covert action”, “international pressure” etc; nebulous recommendations that come with no explanation except when the cops arrest a suspected terrorist or kill one (hint :eliminating terrorists is not “better policing”).

    I think it is Outlook-Picador, not Matador. Doesn’t matter. Go read. Lolz.

  16. @AP

    “How is the direction you are taking with Pakistan preclude such an eventuality? It does not.”

    That eventuality will be precluded by the direction against China not against Pak. Which I have kind of mentioned earlier.

    There are lots of logical inconsistencies in what u say. You say that ppl will anyways give Pak weapons capability to MATCH India even if they are a beggar nation. I disagree. But then u are also scared that if they become more “prosperous” then they will get better weapons and so you are afraid of India even managing Pak ignoring the fact that in this case India’s leverage against Pak will also be higher. The two don’t square off against each other. I’ve said before and will say it again – NO MATTER WHAT INDIA DOES OR PAK DOES FOR THAT MATTER (short of a nuclear war which I don’t think will happen), Pak’s military capability is gonna be much lower than that of India and this DIFFERENCE IS GONNA INCREASE OVER THE YEARS. So what are you so afraid of? If Pak upgrades their military capability, let them do it. We are anyways so much better that we don’t need to care. THAT IS THE POINT I’M MAKING. I think China’s role is over exaggerated. And if China flexes too much muscle, IT should be APPROPRIATELY countered and not Pak. And jus for the record, I don’t believe in Akhand Bharat or any such nonsense. Yes, “mollycoddling” of generals is fine but only as long as they can be “managed”.

  17. @Oldtimer

    “They write wonderful essays that win Outlook-Matador annual awards in poetry. A typical essay goes like this”

    Vinod Mehta should be sent back to Lahore. Or was it Peshawar? Wherever this idiot was born LOLZ.

  18. “You say that ppl will anyways give Pak weapons capability to MATCH India even if they are a beggar nation. I disagree.”

    The US has openly stated that it is “see to it that the money is used for civilian purposes”, but China will not do any such thing. The North Korean regime is in a way more precariuous position than Pakistan currently is, and they are able to acquire nuclear tech from China, even though the Chinese have created this with sufficient plausible deniability to claim they have nothing to do with the NoKo program. So while it may “make no sense” for countries like China to give weapons to a “beggar nation”, they will do so because it is in their interests to tie India down. Remember the whole “no friends or enemies, only permanent interests:” thing. China’s hegemonical mindset will not allow India to rise to be a peer competitor by a long shot, and whether they suddenly become all reasonable or not is a matter of speculation, but their intent and will to keep India tied down in its neighbourhood is a reality.

    ” But then u are also scared that if they become more “prosperous” then they will get better weapons and so you are afraid of India even managing Pak ignoring the fact that in this case India’s leverage against Pak will also be higher.””

    “Scared” has nothing to do with it — that is a silly way to analyze me instead of my ideas. You know nothing about me to claim that I am afraid or brave.

    I will just point out that you have continued to evade the question of “what are you going to do if China or some other benefactor arms Pakistan with more dangerous weapons than they possess right now?” How does India being economically strong at that point in time help with tackling a better armed Pakistan?

    Because, and correct me if I am wrong about this, your approach is predicated on providing Pakistan lifelines forever, so that they fall under Indian hegemony in due course. But “due course” could be enough time for the Pakistanis to come up with some new hare-brained plan to be a bigger nuisance to India than they currently are.

  19. Arvind wrote:
    “Pak’s military capability is gonna be much lower than that of India and this DIFFERENCE IS GONNA INCREASE OVER THE YEARS. So what are you so afraid of?”

    Arvind, But it has always been that way, wouldn’t you say? They have been no match for the Indian military even in the past decade, but that has not reduced their capacity to stir up trouble in India.

    Looking at difference in capabilities is not sufficient, absolute capabilities also matter, especially if you throw in nuclear weapon capabilities. If the Pakistanis claim to acquire a two-stage thermonuke by its usual method of begging, borrowing, or stealing, there is nothing India can do at that point except accept that Pakistan has managed to counter India’s larger size by coming up with a credible threat to the Indian union and that India’s position just got a lot weaker with respect to Pakistan.

  20. If the first step of the interaction is that Pakistan signs the NPT, then I am fully on board with Arvind’s ideas on handling Pakistan — that would be a litmus test of Pakistan’s intent.

    Pakistanis are clever enough to know that you can always switch intent in a microsecond but building capabilities requires breathing space and time.

  21. @ AP

    “Because, and correct me if I am wrong about this, your approach is predicated on providing Pakistan lifelines forever, so that they fall under Indian hegemony in due course.”

    Correct. Glad u finally got it.

    “But “due course” could be enough time for the Pakistanis to come up with some new hare-brained plan to be a bigger nuisance to India than they currently are.”

    I didn’t get that. Because my point is simple. If YOU don’t provide a LIFELINE someone else (China, US, maybe even Russia who knows?) is gonna do it. And India doesn’t (and WILL NOT IMO) have enough power to prevent them from doing it. So you doing it yourself atleast gives you a leverage over Pak. Take a simple example. Even after US has given 10,000,000,000 British are now saying there is evidence that some “elements” in PA & ISI are still double dealing with Taleban. Now we needn’t take everything British say at face value but I think both u and me can AGREE on this. Does this mean US and UK will now stop “dealing” with PA and ISI? Heck, no. My logic is pretty similar.

    ” If the Pakistanis claim to acquire a two-stage thermonuke by its…”

    This is quite a doomsday scenario. Not gonna happen. Chinese are not dumb. There’s a level to which they will go irrespective of what Pakis might say regarding their “taller than mountain” friend. Not to mention current problems in Xinjiang have increased friction between them.

    “The US has openly stated that it is “see to it that the money is used for civilian purposes”, but China will not do any such thing. ”

    Nice try. US also gives a lot of money in MILITARY AID. Plus money is fungible and more than 50% of “civilian” businesses in Pak is directly or indirectly owned by Pak. No use crying about Chinese “hegemony”. Heck in all these posts I’m ADVOCATING India’s “hegemony”. As I said before I don’t believe in “too much morality” in foreign policy. Again the only way you can “counter” China is for India to supply Brahmos to Vietnam and maybe Indonesia. And also elicit support from Russians regarding this because I’m sure they are worried about China as well.

    “If the first step of the interaction is that Pakistan signs the NPT, then I am fully on board with Arvind’s ideas on handling Pakistan — that would be a litmus test of Pakistan’s intent.”

    As an NWS? What will NPT accomplish considering Pakis already have nukes?

  22. Arvind wrote:
    “I didn’t get that. Because my point is simple. If YOU don’t provide a LIFELINE someone else (China, US, maybe even Russia who knows?) is gonna do it. And India doesn’t (and WILL NOT IMO) have enough power to prevent them from doing it. So you doing it yourself atleast gives you a leverage over Pak.”

    That is proper reasoning, though it depends on other powers not offering lifelines to Pakistan down the line, if it becomes less of a basket case (by some small chance). Your strategy of coopting the generals will only work if Pakistan itself disintegrates in the end (India can do that while coopting the generals, surely), not if Pakistan actually ends up more stable and prosperous. Because, at that point, Pakistan’s nuisance value will be back to the level of the 60s and 70s.

    That plan to provide Pakistan a lifeline will only work if Pakistan cannot play other powers against India…that is far from being a certainty, and I hope India make sure of that eventuality if it works to coopt these jihadi generals in the medium term.

  23. @ AP

    “If the Pakistanis claim to acquire a two-stage thermonuke by its usual method of begging, borrowing, or stealing…”

    Yeah right! Why not say China will give everything in its arsenal to Pak. In any case, India has to reduce military capability gap with China as well. AND THAT IS A SEPARATE ISSUE and does not involve Pak.

    NoKo is a different issue. I don’t think u should compare it to Pak. If Chinese proliferation is that well known why is America NOT DOING OR SAYING ANYTHING? The answer is simple. Because it CANNOT DO MUCH AGAINST CHINA. I think there is a lesson in that for India which is that “don’t raise an issue or give publicity to it if you cannot do anything about it”. So Chinese can supply the crappy Nodong or Podong missiles. Who cares when we have Brahmos and Agni?

  24. Arvind:

    “As an NWS? What will NPT accomplish considering Pakis already have nukes?”

    No, as a NNWS. It will signal to India that it is prepared to live side-by-side with India in the subcontinent. India, of course, will not be signing the NPT.

    There needs to be a guarantee that Pakistan will not ever get the oppurtunity to resume what it has been doing to India for decades using terrorism and nuclear blackmail as instruments of state policy, that is the central point.

  25. “Yeah right! Why not say China will give everything in its arsenal to Pak. In any case, India has to reduce military capability gap with China as well. AND THAT IS A SEPARATE ISSUE and does not involve Pak.”

    Stop switching tracks and stick to the point. China can proliferate to Pakistan sparingly without handing its arsenal to Pakistan. Cut the rhetoric if you do not have a point to make. China is fully capable of assisting Pakistan without necessarily handing over its strategic nuclear advantage vis-a-vis India. Let China disengage from Pakistan before we start believing in your fantasies of a china that will refuse to use Pakistan as a cat’s paw against India.

  26. “If Chinese proliferation is that well known why is America NOT DOING OR SAYING ANYTHING? The answer is simple. Because it CANNOT DO MUCH AGAINST CHINA. I think there is a lesson in that for India which is that “don’t raise an issue or give publicity to it if you cannot do anything about it””

    Well, I am not sure how you learnt that lesson, because the lesson I am learning from China is that it is a good strategy to have countries like Iran arm themselves and be a nuisance to the existing world powers.

    Why should India not give publicity to China’s violation of its non-proliferation commitments? What is the big idea there to assist china’s nuclear shenanigans?

  27. @ AP

    “That is proper reasoning, though it depends on other powers not offering lifelines to Pakistan down the line, if it becomes less of a basket case (by some small chance).”

    Not really. Because THEIR SHARE of TOTAL PIE becomes less. India’s current share is zero so it can only increase.

    “That plan to provide Pakistan a lifeline will only work if Pakistan cannot play other powers against India…that is far from being a certainty, and I hope India make sure of that eventuality if it works to coopt these jihadi generals in the medium term.”

    Which other powers? Dude if India cannot do even this, it is not even fit to be a REGIONAL POWER forget about a GLOBAL power.

    “Your strategy of coopting the generals will only work if Pakistan itself disintegrates in the end (India can do that while coopting the generals, surely), not if Pakistan actually ends up more stable and prosperous.”

    I am not against disintegration although I believe that my idea doesn’t need that for it to work. A PROLONGED (I mean never ending of course) insurgency is fine and probably suits India better. Yeah I don’t agree with the “stable and prosperous” theory either.

  28. The US is not doing or saying anything about Chinese proliferation because recognizing that China is violating proliferation laws means the US govt. will have to mandatorily put sanctions on Chinese companies. The US obviously is not in a position to do that, so it pretends that China makes no violations. Like the smuggling of Ring Magnets during BillClinton’s presidency.

  29. @ AP

    “Well, I am not sure how you learnt that lesson, because the lesson I am learning from China is that it is a good strategy to have countries like Iran arm themselves and be a nuisance to the existing world powers.”

    So why is the US mum?

    “Why should India not give publicity to China’s violation of its non-proliferation commitments? What is the big idea there to assist china’s nuclear shenanigans?”

    Sure I’m all for it. Even I’ve always wondered why India didn’t bring up China when ppl like Hilary Clinton talked loud about “non-proliferation”. But then again the question is “Why is US mum?” Because if NoKo’s stuff really threatens US (or even if threatens Japan or SoKo because these are unofficial US protectorates), it is in US interest to call out China, no?

  30. “Which other powers? Dude if India cannot do even this, it is not even fit to be a REGIONAL POWER forget about a GLOBAL power”

    Err…China comes to mind…I think I mentioned that a couple of times earlier. China has the capability to use Pakistan and still retains that capability — it is our good fortune that Pakistan is too stupid to more effectively use its relationship with China against India (the Pakis blew up Chinese engineers which obviously got them no love from China).

    Also, India is one of the main exporters to Pakistan, so India does have leverage, though such a leverage will not translate to good behaviour of Pakistani geenerals unless they are personally getting screwed if they mess with India.

  31. @ AP

    “The US is not doing or saying anything about Chinese proliferation because recognizing that China is violating proliferation laws means the US govt. will have to mandatorily put sanctions on Chinese companies.”

    That means the following people in the world are not gonna believe or ignore when India brings up China’s proliferation to Pak

    1. US (trade with China)
    2. EU, Australia and Canada (trade as well I’d suppose and unwilling to go against US on this)
    3. “Arab world”
    4. Other Muslim countries
    5. Africa (don’t care one way or other)
    6. South America (again don’t care)

    So pretty much the whole world. Maybe Russia would support us. But then again maybe not. Doesn’t matter. The “world’ wouldn’t believe India and will ingore her on this issue.

  32. Arvind:
    “So why is the US mum?”

    Explained earlier with reference to local US laws stopping them from recognizing that proliferation is going on.

    That situation is analogous to how US laws are stopping it from doing business with India even though the 123 agreement was agreed upon. Senator Obama (at that time) wrote in clauses linking the 123 agreement to the 1954 Atomic Energy Act and the 1978 Non-Prol act. So the US would be violating its laws by doing business with India, without India meeting certain “benchmarks”.

    Similarly, the US would be violating its own laws if it declared that China was violating the NPT. This is where the adage “If you cannot do much about it, shut up” applies to the USA. The US’s silence is based on its own selfish interests of coopting China.

  33. But I still think when Hillary yaps about non-proliferation to Indians, we should give an earful in private about Chinese proliferation to Pak.

  34. Arvind:”That means the following people in the world are not gonna believe or ignore when India brings up China’s proliferation to Pak”

    Exactamundo. The central point is that China’s proliferation to Pakistan will be deniable by China and supported by the rest of the planet, and all your fancy plans of coopting Pakistan generals will come to a grinding halt. Pakistani propensity to gain tactical advantage and then use it against India is not new, so what I am saying is that you have still not addressed what India will do in this scenario of a stronger, better-armed Pakistan down the line. There needs to be a way to stop things from going in that direction no matter what other approaches are used.

  35. @ AP

    “China has the capability to use Pakistan and still retains that capability — it is our good fortune that Pakistan is too stupid…”

    Nah I’d give GoI more credit than that. China is currently India’s largest trading partner. That may be not “much” for China in terms of overall exports but it is pretty significant when compared to India’s overall imports. I’m sure Chinese wouldn’t be willing to lose THAT MARKET.

  36. Arvind, I am with you on keeping Pakistan destabilized…I think we are mostly on the same page.

  37. @ AP

    “…and all your fancy plans of coopting Pakistan generals will come to a grinding halt.”

    You got a better plan? Your idea of “isolating” Pak more and more has not worked. And pushes them more against India.

    “…so what I am saying is that you have still not addressed what India will do in this scenario of a stronger, better-armed Pakistan down the line”

    India will be much better armed. Heck I’m talking about India almost matching China’s capability and you are again comparing Pak with India jus like the Pakis do LOL.

    “There needs to be a way to stop things from going in that direction no matter what other approaches are used.”

    How? War? I don’t want that. The only other long term option is to increase India’s economic leverage with Pak and make them dependent on India. Remember one thing: If Pak becomes so radicalized and a hellhole it is ultimately a problem for India. The “world” won’t care and would eagerly bankroll more money to Pak. This is what I mean when I say “India should shape reality in its neighborhood and should be proactive instead of reactive”.

  38. “You got a better plan? Your idea of “isolating” Pak more and more has not worked. And pushes them more against India.”

    That is not my plan, you ***ing imbecile. Clearly, reading is not one of your strong points. I am done with your cretinous nonsense.

  39. The main “argument” for saving Pakistan’s butt from the fire is by providing the false choice of either “at war with Pakistan” or “dialogue with Pakistan”, when the reality is that these are two extremes and there are clearly various positions India can take in between that are better than these two extremes.

    Pakistan can first gain India’s trust by quickly and honestly fulfilling various benchmarks for India…all the jokers who pretend that India is a great power and therefore can afford to “trust Pakistan’s intention to change” need to get their head examined. In that regard, this government’s “trust but verify” is a good line to take, as long as the verification part is followed strictly.

  40. Alagu Periaswamy & Arvind

    This has been an interesting discussion…but at 90 comments, it’s hard for other readers to keep track of the debate.

    I suggest you two do one concluding post each: summarise your key arguments and counter-arguments but do not bring in any new points.

    We can then close this chapter.

  41. Thanks, Nitin. You can delete some of my earlier posts if u want to reduce the clutter. My basic points are these:

    1. There is a clear recognition by Pakis that they CANNOT equal India. Neither militarily nor economically. Now this might have been true earlier but fact is THEY DID NOT GET IT. We can debate why they did not get it. My own view is that THIS GAP for different reasons was NOT BIG ENOUGH.

    2. Terrorism will probably continue to be a problem. But you have to handle that through better intelligence, policing and tit-for-tat covert ops. No other go. However IMO I think LeT inspired terrorism against India has lost its steam. Indian Army is one of the best forces in counterinsurgency and has been doing it for 60 years and these guys have figured out through hard ways that whatever they do in Kashmir, it aint gonna affect army or change GoI’s stance in Kashmir. Remember it started about 20 years ago towards the end of Afghan war. This is also the first time that a Paki (Kasab) has been openly caught while committing the terrorist act. So that had made Pak’s usual denials much more difficult. I think Pak is in for a PROLONGED INSURGENCY so terrorist attacks against India are gonna be reduced for some time. Also LeT is losing its steam and getting much more tired with India, their aspirations are now much more global esply UK.

    3. As India’s capabilities increase even more, it should engage with Pak. India should seek parity in its capabilities with China and Pak should be reduced to the status of Bangladesh in India’s relationship. Instead of viewing Pak as a “lost cause” and having US and China do whatever they please with it, India should engage with it esply Pak Army. Of course Pak is neither gonna cooperate nor agree to every thing that India says. But so what? Pak does not cooperate with US as well and double deals with Taleban. But still US engages it. Trade with Pak should also be increased so that India can use it as a “leverage” among other things if Pak gets out of line. Long term Pak should become economically dependent on India so that costs would be huge for sponsoring terror against India. This coupled with intelligence, policing and threat of reprisal would put an end to terrorism.

    All this of course presupposes Pak does not split. I’ve no problem with a disintegrated Pak (it probably will make things much better) but I don’t think GoI has or will have the capability to cleave Balochistan or Pashtunistan out of Pak. It can’t happen “naturally” either. Taleban rule in Pak (I don’t mean the Taleban inside ISI LOL) is a fantasy that is not going to happen.

  42. This “economic engagement with Pak” is the same tired “stragtegy” that has been tried with Pakistan for decades, and the Pakistanis have consistently refused to do trade with India in any real sense. Instead they have pumped heroin, fake currency, and terrorists etc. from borrowed money, an act they can continue to repeat down the line on borrowed money.

    All the Pakistanis need to do a few months from now is cut off all the trade deals made with India, and all these fanciful notions of economically engaging Pakistan will come crashing to the ground — this has happened a few times before (as one would if one really paid attention) and will happen again. Pakistanis have a fine sense of when they are about to “become unequal” to India and will put a stop to it.

    This retarded notion of “economically engaging Pakistan” works on the assumption that India tightening the economic screws on Pakistan makes the generals behave — if that was the case, all these years of no trade with Pakistan should have made a difference. But that has not happened simply because the generals and elite are not affected by any of the economic hardships resulting from India’s “economic war with Pakistan”. Any and all plans of “economically strangulating pakistan” must be posited on hurting the Army and the ISI — these generals bomb their own citizens, so they will not have moral issues with making the Pakistani aam aadmi face economic hardships (like they currently are).

    Also, the notion that China depends on trade with India is wrong and false. It is the other way around. The object lesson is not to pull out one’s “I am going to be a superpower” schlong and wave it around when one does not have the real capability to match such claims. Just basing one’s strategy on the assumption that “there will be 10% economic growth rate for a while” and pretending that all other concerns can be handled by this assumption is mighty silly and is completely ad hoc.

    Here is what the NSC has to say about India-China trade — unlike all the pretense here, India only exports raw materials to china, and India is not the only supplier of these materials to China. This “huge trade” with China is actually China killing our local industries and filling it up with chinese crap.

    NSC quote:

    “While decisions on issues discussed at the NSC will be taken in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the apex body was told that out of the $40-billion bilateral trade, China was exporting nearly $32 billion of finished goods to India while the latter was only exporting raw material. The finished goods, basic amenities included, could hit cottage and small scale industries, resulting in large scale unemployment.”

    China has India by the gonads, and is already conducting trade war on our cottage industries and poor citizenry, not the other way around.

    This means China can strengthen its hand even more by proliferating more dangerous nuclear weapons by knowledge and skill transfer to Pakistan (and NoKo and Myanmar). This means Pakistan CAN become more dangerous to India than it currently is, even if Pakistan never develops the ability to field scientific talent to field its own nuclear weapons designs (that will never happen). All the economic strength in the world cannot tackle a thermonuclear weapon in the hands of the same terrorist Pakistani army that hates India. Sanctions and all baniagiri will not work if Pakistan rises to the next level and claims it has matched India’s capability (does not matter if that is really true or not, as long as the perception created by the Pakistani army sticks).

    This has been the fallout of India’s so-called “Pakistan policy”. The Indian govt. pretended that dialogue and trade with Pakistan was going to fix things, until the Pakistanis claimed they had tested a nuclear bomb (even if they had only tested chinese maal).

    Pakistan’s capability to hurt India has continued to rise for the past three decades, becoming armed with more and more dangerous weapons and forcing India to keep up. The worthless and Indian response has been: “Let us talk and sort it out (so that you can and build your next bomb to threaten us better)”. All of this is a fallout of the same retarded ideas of “economically strangulating Pakistan” or “engaging Pakistan better” that is being touted out here as some sort of “brilliant and cunning plan” (not).

    This risk of Pakistan climbing up the ladder of being more of a nuisance to India than it currently is must be mitigated before considering any ideas of strengthening Pakistan economically and giving it breathing space. By this, I specifically mean proliferation of TN weapons designs from China to Pakistan in the short to medium term, which can happen while all the geniuses in charge of India are busy conducting baniagiri and “economically engaging Pakistan” exercises for the next decade.

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