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. If you observe Shekar Gupta closely enough, you’ll notice that his well-honed technique for justifying anything that MMS or his government are under fire for is to draw a dubious equivalence with something allegedly similar that the NDA government did. Throw dirt in eyes and obfuscate the issue.

    When the tables are turned, there is a different argument: “but two wrongs don’t make a right!” etc.

    This is the Padma Bhushan school of logic.

    But the second argument is a good one :). My question to the award-winning editor is: that Vajpayee could have been stupid (the Lahore junket was definitely stupid) doesn’t mean that the award-giving PM is entitled to be twice as stupid, right? Once bitten etc. Precisely because Vajpayee scored a naught with all those good intentions etc is reason enough not to fall into a similar trap again.

  2. Unlike the larger part of Mr. Vajpayee’s era, when Pakistan and its dictator were being feted in world capitals for being a “FATWAT” and India’s sphinx-like peace overtures risked being misinterpreted as weakness, Pakistan is reeling now

    Recall that, as the IE article notes, Musharraf sauntered into Agra as though coming to a defeated nation. No one could ever confuse the pleading ways of Mr. Zardari and his prime minister as mirth-inducing triumphalism

    I’m not a “realist” but let me play one briefly to make a point

    We have taken heavy losses at Pakistani hands but clearly retain the higher ground and cannot be defeated. Pakistan has tried repeatedly to change the facts on the ground from an inferior (and steadily worsening) position. Realists would argue, India need to merely prolong the dynamic — the longer the two countries are on the wrestling matt, the weaker Pakistan gets. Why settle now when one can eventually settle with a far weaker adversary in the distant future?

    To make this work, of course, one needs to try and deflect the frustrated rage of the Pakistani establishment which it expresses through vicious terrorism. India is very poor at protecting its people, alas — but this is a fixable intelligence and police matter, not an element of strategy

    What if, however, circumstances arise where Pakistan is on the ropes — squirming under Holbrooke’s boot and IMF’s grip, enduring McChrystal’s drones and Baitullah’s deadenders, a basket case if ever there was one?

    Wouldn’t a realist at least try to press his advantage and offer a way out to the losers in Islamabad in return for acceptance of Delhi’s terms? The one moment in a long time when a peace overture can succeed (ok, ok, maybe has 5% chance of succeeding) is the one moment one needs to make a peace overture. Not as much in 2001 and 2003 but surely in 2009. How is this gambit not statesmanlike? If nothing changes, India has hardly lost its higher ground

    Could Dr. Singh have done this more smoothly without making unnecessary (but minor) concessions? Maybe. But criticizing him for small errors when he has (with some boldness) grasped the really big moment is inexlicable. Diplomatic smoothness should never be confused with strategic wisdom (as Gen. Musharraf’s example shows). Dr. Singh may not be a smooth operator, but he is a wiser man than he is being credited with

    Best regards

  3. primary red:
    <>

    No, that would be emulating the Prithviraj Chauhan school of strategy and warfare.

    A realist would use every advantage to take out the core group of people who make a living of creating hatred against India and put a bullet in their heads before continuing to make peace with the people of Pakistan. Take out the Pakistani Army/ISI and elite, not necessarily by over hostilities but by using circumstances to our advantage to crush them once and for all, so that they are never able to create hatred against India and cause turmoil and suffering contiuously in the Indian subcontinent.

    Is our older generation that is currently in charge of India really this poor with the instinct of self-preservation? How can you even extend this “hand of peace” unless you know you have taken out the cancer within? Secondly, if this hand of peace is not convenient to third parties like China and USA, they will not hesitate to use the situation to strengthen Pakistan’s position against India, rather than cooperate with India — guaranteed.

    (I think you are older than me).

  4. My quote of Primary Red’s post did not show up, so repost quote

    “Wouldn’t a realist at least try to press his advantage and offer a way out to the losers in Islamabad in return for acceptance of Delhi’s terms? The one moment in a long time when a peace overture can succeed (ok, ok, maybe has 5% chance of succeeding)”

    To be realistic, 5% c hance of is to too small to be even considered seriously as an option. If something has 70 or 80% chance of succeeding, that would be considered a winning plan.

    One would have to be a three-time darwin award winner to allow third parties to be involved in India’s interaction with the Pakis, and that too when their agenda with Pakistan contradicts India’s interests for the region, or even take Pakistan seriously. Pakistan’s establishment comprises of criminals, drug lords, religious demagogues, and some very evil men — time for the retards on the Indian side to understand that before they go around singing “Pakistanis are just like us onlee, so let us make peace with them”.

  5. To Mr. Periaswamy:

    I don’t suggest for one moment that Pakistanis are just like us — but that has nothing to do with matters of war and peace

    There is no 70% chance of success anywhere is sight, but 5% is surely better than nil

    Your proposed solution “Take out the Pakistani Army/ISI and elite, not necessarily by over hostilities but by using circumstances to our advantage to crush them once and for all, so that they are never able to create hatred against India and cause turmoil and suffering contiuously in the Indian subcontinent” is laudable but surprisingly short on specifics. If you were Prime Minster, what actionable instructions will you give to who to bring your approach to fruition?

    Best regards

  6. The worst Pakistan’s position is over time, the better it is for India. The day when this terrorist breeding ground called Pakistan ceases to exist will be the beginning of an era of peace in India and it’s neighbourhood.

  7. Sir Red,

    There is no 70% chance of success anywhere is sight, but 5% is surely better than nil

    But you forget that probablities only remain probablities until the event occurs…after that it is either 0 or 1. If it is 5%, the result will tend to 0 rather than 1, and there are no points for effort if you do not get a 1.

  8. “There is no 70% chance of success anywhere is sight, but 5% is surely better than nil” was Primary Red’s quote..unable to fix my previous post. Thanks.

  9. If this path of “peace with Pakistan” is not yielding 70% success, then without holding an advanced degree in pointing out the obvious, I can safely say that a path with greater than 70% chance of success of ensuring “Peace with Pakistan”, without Pakistan’s cooperation, is by ensuring that Pakistan ceases to exist.

  10. Sir Red says,

    “is laudable but surprisingly short on specifics. If you were Prime Minster, what actionable instructions will you give to who to bring your approach to fruition?”

    Okay, since you have already admitted that your very specific-heavy plan is doomed to failure, why not.

    1. Increase covert activity all over the region over time
    2. Create conditions and strengthen all the groups like Baitullah Mehsud and others who also want to take down the Pakistani army are strengthen via allies other than the USA — US and Indian interests do not coincide in Pakistan.
    3. Continue to talk peace and friendship like the PM currently is doing.
    4. Over time, allow Pakistan to disintegrate by whatever means necessary.

    As for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the uber-lord of non-proliferation seems to be sleeping soundly at night and is worried more about Iran than Pakistan.

  11. Primary red,

    You had me all the way until this

    ‘Wouldn’t a realist at least try to press his advantage and offer a way out to the losers in Islamabad in return for acceptance of Delhi’s terms?’

    There is no peace to be had with Pakistan. The aam Pakistani, post Zia has been brainwashed to hate Baniyas, Yehudis and Amrikis like a suicidal Jihadi Drone. So, a realist would hasten Pakistan’s eventual demise. Work for the deconstruction of the Land of the Pure, by erasing the durand line, freeing the baluchis & Sindhis, and once and for all denuclearizing and neutering the Punjabi-military-jihadi complex. Nothing but the complete economic, political and military destruction of present day Pakistan will bring about a semblance of peace in the Bharatavarsha. It would be much easier to contain a litter of post-pakistani islamic states like bangladesh.

  12. Aryan:

    That’s one exceedingly ambitious agenda you’ve outlined which, ipso facto, makes it less a realist approach than a neo-conservative one (which is entirely ok but a different game altogether)

    Best regards

  13. PR,

    The only problem is: Zardari-Gilani can take, but can’t give. Any concession made by India is permanent, because it’s made by a legitimate authority. Any concession offered by Zardari-Gilani is either a bouncy cheque or a repudiable one.

    The central challenge is that posed by the military-jihadi complex. It will use the Z-G types to the extent it suits its interests, not a moment more. Right now, they are waiting for 2010/11 when Mr O will have to “bring the troops home” in time for elections.

    Any idea how Dr Singh’s concessions will help dismantle this beast?

  14. Other than just seeing Pakistan break up into its constituent parts which can be enticed to be India friendly — the average pakistani suffering on the ground is not our enemy, it is the Pakistani Army/establishment and elite clans that hate India and would like to destroy India — these people are rich and influential and can make the USA behave to its whims, even if it means rampant usage of vaseline and other lubricants among Pakistani elite whenever they are visited by American army or political leaders, who come to see the progress made by their sepoy state, Pakistan.

    Also, other than Pakistan, the idea behind Pakistan has to be discredited in the eyes of Indians of all shades. It is also important that the jihadi,deobandi,maududi variant of islam that is practised in Pakistan be discredited in the eyes of the average pracctitioner of Islam in India, and the Indian islamic clergy must continue to support the Indian state in keeping divisive and murderous ideas off the agenda of all islamic clergy in India — these people are the easiest prey for the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the ISI and the handymen of Pakistan’s Army/ISI (they are all the same), and must not be allowed safe passage or harbour in other countries where they can preach hatred against India. The Indian government’s signing of extradition treaties with the gulf countries is laudable in this regard.

  15. Nitin:

    I concede the odds of success are small BUT:

    the jihadis are not in control of what happens next — the americans are

    whether they like it or not, there will be a war on the jihadis

    they probably think they can burrow deep and last this out — americans, in their view, play world domination with ADD

    there is a chance they are wrong in this calculation

    if Indian support can give cover to pakistani profiteers to go after pakistani jihadists with american guns, hey, why not

  16. PR,

    Ambitious? yes, Impossible? no! It doesnt need to be executed by India, just managed. The soldiers of God just need weapons, fake currencies and ‘moral and diplomatic support’. There is nothing we can teach them about brutal secessionism that they dont already know 🙂

    Anyone still in doubt about just how much Pakistanis have been brainwashed into making us their hated enemies..
    Curricula in Pakistan

  17. I still can’t understand why India, even in the current “free for all” environment in Pak, acting through RAW can’t put out a “supari” on Hafiz Saeed? Now I agree there are a lot of “rabid brainwashed jehadis” in LeT and fear of death probably wouldn’t change their behavior. However, the leadership is NOT THAT and uses terrorism as a tactical advantage. Unless India shapes the environment and reality in Pak (can’t count on the US to do this), this problem of terrorism will remain.

    Yes I agree to some extent that Vajpayee was a better statesman than current PM. But even he badly misjudged about imminent Kargil war not to mention not to mention Ext. Affairs Minister (I still don’t understand why a person at this level had to go and haven’t heard of a convincing reason) escorting terrorists to Kandahar. Some statesmanly move indeed!!

    I think this is the problem of septuagenarians and octogenarians running the country. They are like “What happens inside Pak is Pak’s business, we will not be hegemonic and so won’t interfere u see” instead of ACTING and shaping events and processes inside Pak. They simply do not wanna ENGAGE Pak and hence obviously have no LEVERAGE with Pak. That thinking has gotta go. We need leaders who can ACT instead of jus talk. God, when will India get a PM like IG (though I hate her economic policies and what happened during Emergency)??

  18. @PR

    “the jihadis are not in control of what happens next — the americans are”

    Too much oversimplification. Plus how sure are you that “jehadi” interests and American interests are totally opposed? After all, Americans don’t care much about terrorist groups east of Indus and that includes LeT at Muridke. Not to mention that Americans may even be soon talking to the “jehadis” west of Indus aka “good Taliban”.

    “whether they like it or not, there will be a war on the jihadis”

    You mean US waging a war against Pak? Aint gonna happen.

    “if Indian support can give cover to pakistani profiteers to go after pakistani jihadists with american guns, hey, why not”

    Yeah sure. Except that Pak “profiteers” are probably now gonna use the “lollipop” that India has given them in their talks with Americans and ask them to put pressure on Indians to stop interfering in Blowchistan and close consulates in Afg in return for Pak bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations. This seems to be the more plausible way of how the game will be played out. Because even considering the idea that “profiteers” NEED Indian support to go after jehadis sounds ridiculous LOLZ !

  19. “if Indian support can give cover to pakistani profiteers to go after pakistani jihadists with american guns, hey, why not”

    Sure they will but only anti-Paki jihadis. The ones that matter to us will get those american guns and come after us when things get back to normal.

    I don’t see an upside – not even 5% probability. Again, we need to clean our swamp. No one will help, especially we don’t help ourselves – not the way MMS is doing it.

  20. You are right, Chandra. The “good” Taliban are the anti-India taliban. The “bad” taliban are the anti-west/anti-US jihadis/talibam. India needs to assist the bad taliban without any credit for doing the same.

  21. There was once a doubt that 24 hours news channel can survive. Now, hundreds of them are alive and kicking. Pakistan- a fool’s province has survived and managed to be equal to India following their British and American masters’ agenda of neutralizing and engaging India in circle because of leaders like MMS from India’s inception. A hidden Pakistan as a mole is invisibly present in India’s eating, dresses, films, medias, language, government, songs, arts everywhere, where as Pakistan is neutralizing India’s all natural advantages with the help of stupid people in India.

  22. The Pakistanis are openly stating that they will cause a terrorist attack in India unless India “dialogues” with them — a true bunch of blackmailing, drug dealing thugs, the entire pakistani establishment.

    “what one can hope is that India will display an element of good sense and see the writing on the wall. A continuing military stand-off is not in India’s own interest. There is just so much elasticity in a rubber band. And a point has been reached when another terrorist attack will cause it to snap. Between now and when that almost inevitable attack occurs, India and Pakistan have an opportunity to so order their relations that they will be able to withstand its fall out and not allow their traditional antipathy to be manipulated by terrorists for their own ends. They fell into this trap after Mumbai and would be foolish to do so again.”

    Note how this Pakistani person Zafar Hilaly is pretending that “they fellingto this trap”…what trap? India has only asked Pakistan to cough up all the terroists and their handlers in the LeT and the extent of ISI’s involvement. Their ISI chief was asked to come to India post 26/11 and he basically refused to even respond to India’s plea. Now,every pakistani is pretending that India actually mobilized its troops against pakistan.

    Are these the kind of people India can “live in peace” with?

  23. Of course, “agreements” with Pakistan can be used as scrap paper because none of them have been adhered to by Pakistan. The same problem that Plagues such agreements as before.

    India signs an agreement with some entity like, say Bhutto (or Zardari or Gilani), and the concessions made by India to the civilian leader of the day remain set in stone because a legitimate government of India negotiated the agreement unlike the Pakistani side.

    The moment the agreement is signed, the Pakistani army plans to assassinate or execute officially (like they did to Bhutto) the “civilian leadership” that negotiated with India. The Pakistani army, after killing the civilian (or exiling him) proceeds to declare that all negotiations made by the Bhutto/Zardari/Gilani are now null-and-void but India should stick to all concessions made. The goddamn cretins in charge of India still do not seem to get this little trick Pakistan has been playing on India for decades and still go around whining “we hope to convince Pakistan be be friendly to India”. Worthless losers, these so-called “leaders” of ours (both BJP and UPA).

  24. As part of this loser mentality that pervades the Indian government with respect to pakistan seems to arise from the fact that Indian politicians usually put their party interests before the nation’s interests.

    Consider that India released 90000 soldiers and Pakistan reneged on accepting the status quo, and continued and escalated their terrorism in J&K. These self-serving politicians and bureaucrats (who typically enjoy Z-category security) who rule over us from New Delhi, typically conveniently forget such things because recognizing that Pakistan has a lot of leverage in India, like the hawala networks, and the organized islamic terror cells tied to various vote banks, and various politicians who have a personal stake in ensuring that they can continue to use black money/hawala money in all future elections, etc., means taking down black money networks, which means inconveniencing their party in the next election, so taking down Dawood Ibrahim’s hawala network that operates from the Gulf/Pakistan/allover will have to wait, see. Simple as that.

    That is about the level to which the brain of an Indian politician works, and this does not exclude the current “well-educated and extremely nice person” PM, who is also part of this charade, seeing as to how he is also responsible for putting a lid on getting all that money back to India — money that was stolen by politicians and bureaucrats and crooked businessmen from the Indian exchequer.

    Is India a democracy only in paper and a kleptocracy/kakistocracy in reality?
    Let us count all the ways in which these thieves in politics steal….they steal from the NREGA-type “pro-people” programs and pocket most of the proceeds, they scam on food distribution networks and keep millions of Indians hungry daily, they steal all the money hindus put as donations to temples (“minority religions” like islam and christianity are exempt from such state-sponsored theft because we do not want to anger the USA and Arab countries, see), they steal all the “foreign aid”, they steal all the “defense budgets”, and place all this money abroad…and none of us citizens are supposed question the lack of interest in the Indian govt. to get any of it back so that all the programs that have fallen due to corruption can be resumed. Instead, new loans are taken out from IMF, so that more wealth can be stolen by these scum in the Indian government. Goddamned thieves, the entire lot of them.

  25. @AP

    “The Pakistanis are openly stating that they will cause a terrorist attack in India unless India “dialogues” with them — a true bunch of blackmailing, drug dealing thugs, the entire pakistani establishment.”

    Hmmm. Interesting. I found a sense of desperation in his article for “peace” with India. Looks like this guy is genuinely frightened by India LOLZ. And as for his empty threats, barking dogs seldom bite. Finally Pak is coming to grips with the fact that they are not “equal” to India (this was even not true before but Pak’s main friends US, UK, France and China treated Pak as equal to India). The main reason for this “shift” is of course the growth of Indian economy to what it is today. It is also coupled with India’s military strength which has proved to be a “game changer”. Read this article esply last 2 paragraphs where he says Pak needs a different approach in its foreign policy toward India.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/encounter/time-to-be-pragmatic-in-relations-with-india-289

    Anyways last thing India needs is an open messy war with Pak. Yes Pak society is more radicalized and Pak as a country is bankrupt. But as much as the rabid jehadis might want it the elite in Pak, I don’t think, want a messy war either because they want to maintain their riches. Oh and the elite are not gonna lose power to the Taliban either. Though Taliban as an insurgency will fester for a long time I think. Because as Hamid Gul said “Taliban is a phenomenon”.

    India should try to grow the economy at a rapid clip so that disparity with Pak becomes even higher. Pak in the meantime will surely use the tried and tested terrorism. The only way to combat that is improve defenses, police force and covertly hitting back and causing pain to terrorist handlers.

  26. Arvind, His threat would be an empty threat only if Pakistan has lost all capability to create terrorism in India, i.e., zero sleeper cells. I really doubt that is the reality today, with myriad maoist groups cooperating with jihadi networks and the drug mafia, and last but not least, corrupt govt. officials who abuse govt. machinery for bribes….all of these groups play their role in allowing terrorism to fester in India. I must also say the Indian security forces are doing a commendable job keeping the lid on all of these insurgencies and violence in the past decade.

    OTOH, the bureaucrats and the politicians were the ones who caused these insurgencies to happen in the first place by completely falling on their job of having good governance reach the rural Indian peoples. Instead, under the excuse of “maintaining the culture of the native tribes”, the officials/politicians in the loop basically swallow all the funds meant for these tribes and allowed these tribes to wallow in backwardness, allowing the maoists to fill in the vaccum.

  27. Hamid Gul is the chief “Al Qaeda terrorist” and speaks for Al Qaeda unofficially, if you hear his views on Youtube. He has direct or indirect links with every terrorist group emanating from Pakistan, because he created the initial ones during the cold war. who sees the Taliban as a main tool to harrass the planet, so do not give much credence to his bilge. The Hamid Gul says “Taliban is a phenomenon”, he means “I will make sure it is one by sending Jamaat-e-islami/Lashkar-type people against the innocent local tribes”.

    It is the local Pashtun tribes that are being driven out of their homes so that Pakistani thugs (a.k.a. the “good taliban”) can take control and implement shariat over the lands they control. This is the same strategy Pakistan used to retain control of Afghanisthan by proxy until the World Trade Center attack in 2001.

    I think you are making an entirely too innocent reading of that murderous psychopath Hamid Gul’s statement.

  28. Arvind, I have not argued for war with Pakistan in any of my previous posts, so I am surprised that you claim I am doing so.

    I am arguing for REALLY fighting terrorism in India by removing all financial networks that fund politicial parties and Dawoods alike.

    How is it that Dawood has been able to run his criminal empire from Karachi for decades? How come his international piracy racket in Bollywood movies is still flourishing, not to mention his funding and extortion of Bollywood movie producers and stars? It is an open secret that he lives under the protection of the Pakistani Army in Karachi. Without the Hawala networks, Dawood would be unable to smoothly run his empire by remote control.

    Who has suffered by IK Gujral’s decision to remove ALL covert activity in Pakistan in an act of “statesmanship” during his watch? Not IK Gujral or his kith and kin, but the average Indian who finds his govt. without any leverage in Pakistan when such leverage is sorely needed. The authority and power of the Indian state is dissipated by these “statesmanly” freebies that the so-called Indian leaders repeatedly provide Pakistan.

  29. @ AP

    “I think you are making an entirely too innocent reading of that murderous psychopath Hamid Gul’s statement.”

    I am not innocent. Quite to the CONTRARY in fact LOLZ!! And I have no love lost for these Pashtun “tribals” (many of early Kashmiri jehadis were these so-called “tribals”). Plus I think the clear-cut separation that you make between “tribals” and “Taliban” is artificial. Take Baitullah Mehsud for instance. He is a pretty influential guy in the Mehsud tribe, someone equivalent of “tribal leader”. But he is also the leader of “Pakistani Taliban”.

    And I also don’t think the entire Taliban movement is backed by Pak jus for “taking control” of Tribal Areas. We wouldn’t be having suicide attacks in Lahore and Pindi if that were the case. Plus these areas were in any case under Pak. So why should they now wage a war to take back these areas?

    I don’t agree with everything that Hamid Gul says. But the struggle against “Taleban” is ideological at some level. And in that, he is RIGHT! Again, THAT DOES NOT MEAN govt. in Pak will be taken over by Taleban tomorrow. Nope. But combating it is going to be no small feat. And all THIS IS GREAT for India.

    “I am arguing for REALLY fighting terrorism in India by removing all financial networks that fund politicial parties and Dawoods alike.”

    Fair enough. But most of the money these days comes from Saudi Arabia and Gulf, the petrodollars and zakat money. The only way this can be prevented is for India to develop good relation with these countries and go after these guys. It has already started to happen with the “capture” of 2 guys in Oman by RAW personnel (with permission from Sultan Qaboos I suppose).

  30. Right now these are the “strategies” that Pak follows against India and US respectively.

    1. India: Threaten India with a gun or even worse shoot at India’s leg and then ask for concessions.

    2. US: Threaten by pointing a gun to its own head and saying if you don’t give me money I’ll commit suicide. That will affect the whole region and you as well.

    India should work in changing scenario 1 to 2. And for that, high economic growth is vital. Plus the current insurgency in Pak helps. One more thing. Even if the US leaves “AfPak” tomorrow and “good Taleban” take over Afg again (these are highly unlikely IMO), I think Pak cannot rewind the clock to how it was before 2000. It has crossed the “point of no return” in that sense. 3,000,000 IDPs are gonna have a huge impact on Pak. Let’s wait and watch the unfolding tamasha.

  31. Arvind:
    “I don’t agree with everything that Hamid Gul says. But the struggle against “Taleban” is ideological at some level. And in that, he is RIGHT! ”

    Boss, answer me this.

    What is the identifying point of the “Taliban” in the eyes of you and me? They enforce the shariat, i..e, they are a religious group exerting their influence on the local populace. Do you agree?

    Now, what is the Motto of the Pakistani Army, to which Hamid Gul belongs/belonged to? “Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah”. Translated into English, it means “Faith, Jihad, and Piety” in the path of God.

    So what is the difference between these two supposedly “more extreme” Taliban and “mostly moderate” Pakistani army?

  32. In my view, the only difference between these two groups is that Pakistani army is funded by US/China/etc. and the Taliban are not.

  33. arvind wrote:

    “1. India: Threaten India with a gun or even worse shoot at India’s leg and then ask for concessions.
    2. US: Threaten by pointing a gun to its own head and saying if you don’t give me money I’ll commit suicide. That will affect the whole region and you as well. India should work in changing scenario 1 to 2.”

    1 and 2 are happening at the same time, right? I see only one scenario here. Can you please re-state the two scenarios?

  34. Arvind, What I mean is, Pakistan is doing both of those actions at the same time, so what is the alternative behaviour you want to induce in Pakistan?(the one that needs us to focus on 8% economic growth, etc.)

    I am with you in that the Pakistanis are inherently self-defeating, but I disagree with the view that says that there is nothing wrong with providing concessions to Pakistan “because they are our neighbours in the long run”.

  35. @ AP

    “So what is the difference between these two supposedly “more extreme” Taliban and “mostly moderate” Pakistani army?”

    Whiskey sipping generals to be concise. Plus why has there been no SHARIA LAW in Pak even under military rule? So I think it is a gross exaggeration to say that there is no difference between PA and Taliban. They wouldn’t be fighting each other if there was none. Now I do think some of this fighting is a DOG AND PONY show to get more money from US. But surely not all or most of it. Pakistan Army has always used the NAME OF ISLAM to commit atrocities and recruit foot soldiers aka jehadis while it enjoyed the power and looted from ordinary folks. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The jehadis are saying “Pak should be a true Islamic state with Shariat”.

    “1 and 2 are happening at the same time, right? I see only one scenario here. Can you please re-state the two scenarios?”

    I want the scenario to change from 1 to 2 with regard to how Pak BEHAVES with INDIA. And that may already be happening slowly. But it can be taken to its fruition only WITH HIGHER ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POWER PROJECTION by India. Then India should also do its part to increase trade with Pak. Pak will resist for sometime but they will come around. They have to. The generals and politicians will need the money LOL. Plus they will realize “resistance” against India is futile. Might as well cooperate. High economic growth will also have another effect. Those “friends of Pak” (mainly US, China and France) who continue to arm it with better and better equipment and affect India’s interests can also be “economically punished”. This is why I like the “nuclear deal” as well because it gives us a “leverage” against the French.

  36. arvind wrote: “Whiskey sipping generals to be concise. ”

    Hamid Gul is one of these I believe. The problem with these US-friendly, whisky sipping generals is that these fellows only want to hurt India. They bend over for China and USA because they will not have any capability to hurt India without the largesse of China and USA.

    The Pashtuns who form a bulk of both “good” and “bad” taliban just want the freedom to rule themselves and do not want the military to rule them. The military treats these people brutally and bombs them out of their own homes and hearths.

    So again, it seems to me that the “whisky sipping generals” are worse enemies of India than the “Taliban”. The Taliban will stick to themselves and do not have the scientific werewithal to field a modern army, and so will be less of a threat to India. In the end, these whisky sipping generals appear to be the core reason for all the hatred and animosity in India’s neighbourhood, not just Pakistan and Afghanisthan.

  37. Arvind wrote:

    “I want the scenario to change from 1 to 2 with regard to how Pak BEHAVES with INDIA.”

    I am not sure this makes sense because Pakistan is doing both 1 and 2 now, except part of the interaction is that India has to make concessions to Pakistan so that the USA can have its way with the Pakistani Army. But I think I understand what you are saying.

    You are saying that Pakistan is currently directing all its jihadis at India (most of them anyway), and none directed against the USA, and that this needs to change so that the jihadis are less bothered about India than the west. I agree.

  38. @ AP

    “You are saying that Pakistan is currently directing all its jihadis at India (most of them anyway), and none directed against the USA, and that this needs to change so that the jihadis are less bothered about India than the west. I agree.”

    I agree but that’s not what I meant. What I meant is that Pak should be as begging and pleading to India as it is to the US. And THAT will happen only if India has the capability to provide some money directly or indirectly to Pak Army and people like 10%. I’ve no problems with that. Instead of US and China giving them this money, why not India? Of course this should also be coupled with a huge difference in military capability. Bottom line is “It should cost Pak so much economically and politically that they would think twice nay thrice before launching a terrorist attack against India”.

  39. Arvind wrote:

    ” And that may already be happening slowly. But it can be taken to its fruition only WITH HIGHER ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POWER PROJECTION by India. Then India should also do its part to increase trade with Pak. Pak will resist for sometime but they will come around. They have to. The generals and politicians will need the money LOL. ”

    That is a rather cavalier attitude to take with India’s security. I guess it does not matter if you are the kind of Indian who can hire your own security guards so that the Pakistani generals don’t light some explosives when I am shopping.

    Going by what you are saying, the Indian’s government’s so-called “strategy” towards these evil generals of Pakistan is to reward the Pakistani generals for their behaviour towards India. That is a very dangerous and ultimately self-defeating idea for India, no matter if we have 10% growth, and none of us can enjoy our daily life because it can be snuffed out by a terrorist attack by the very same generals that our worthless Indian govt. “does business” with. Never mind that the Pakistanis have NEVER reciprocated in terms actually starting trade between India and pakistan (trade outside of the black market that is).

    I will never understand this: What is this hesitation to allow Pakistan to completely implode by trotting out lame excuses for the continued survival of Pakistan. Again, this does not mean going to war with Pakistan, but our dear leaders seem to be afraid to even do something proactive to take these enemies of India down, and not wait for the mango to ripen and fall into their hands.

    They listen to US advice on Pakistan and repeat the same lines the US Secretary of State trots out about “a strong and stable Pakistan is in India’s interests”, (This PM Dr. MMS has repeated the same verse along with his colleagues in govt. many times over the past couple of years) rather than exhibiting their own independent line of thinking, even if it clashes with US interests with Pakistan.

  40. @ AP

    “So again, it seems to me that the “whisky sipping generals” are worse enemies of India than the “Taliban”. ”

    I don’t quite agree with this. Let me explain. Though these guys are the handler, the ordinary Pashtuns are the foot-soldiers (at least some of them because nowadays most of the terrorists esply in LeT are from Punjab). IMO both of them are to be equally blamed. So one FIGHTING off the other is the best scenario for India. Pashtuns being worker, India should give all moral support and maybe even covert assistance to Pashtuns.

    “The Taliban will stick to themselves and do not have the scientific werewithal to field a modern army, and so will be less of a threat to India.”

    That’s precisely why there won’t be any Taliban govt in Pak either. These guys are dumb as doorknobs, no offense to doorknobs. They couldn’t even hold Kabul for long in the 90s due to their stupidity. So it is a fantasy to thing that these guys could takeover Pindi. In any case, the point is irrelevant for India because “Does India have the capability to bring about a regime change in Pak and install Taleban”? I don’t think so.

  41. Arvind wrote:

    “I agree but that’s not what I meant. What I meant is that Pak should be as begging and pleading to India as it is to the US. And THAT will happen only if India has the capability to provide some money directly or indirectly to Pak Army and people like 10%. I’ve no problems with that. Instead of US and China giving them this money, why not India? ”

    Umm…because their entire existence depends on disproving the idea of India? They have not given up the “two nation theory” even if they pretend they have. If the Indian side is stupid enough to believe it, then more Indians will get killed over time as the risk that pakistan poses to India continues to escalate while it remains constant to the rest of the world. That is what the policies you have stated will produce, and I will not agree that this policy helps Indian interests one bit. It does help US interests a lot though, because all the terrorists remain focussed on hurting India alone.

    If that is not obvious to you at this point in India, and if you think these generals will let of their pigheaded notion of taking India down, I disagree. If you think they will take money from India rather than China/USA, that maybe wishful thinking, because it underestimates the level of animosity the average Pakistani has for India. US/China have far more goodies to hand to china no matter what lollipop India stretches for the Pakis. Not to mention, US/China have always pushed Pakistan to escalate their risky behaviour towards India, not reduce it. Pakistan will feel no need to change its behaviour towards India as long as its sugardaddies prop up the Pakistani Army.

  42. @ AP

    “Going by what you are saying, the Indian’s government’s so-called “strategy” towards these evil generals of Pakistan is to reward the Pakistani generals for their behaviour towards India.”

    Nope. Use reward and the incentive of future rewards to SHAPE and CHANGE their behavior.

    “That is a very dangerous and ultimately self-defeating idea for India, no matter if we have 10% growth, and none of us can enjoy our daily life because it can be snuffed out by a terrorist attack by the very same generals that our worthless Indian govt. “does business” with.”

    Let’s not get emotional here. Do you think India will be “plucking flowers” after a general does this? And what makes you think a general would risk the loss of future revenue over a terrorist attack when it’s not gonna affect India one bit? Not to mention the possibility of retaliation by India. That’s why there should be a big difference in capability, both economic and military. I’m talking 5-10 years here because Pak seems to be slipping fast.

    “Never mind that the Pakistanis have NEVER reciprocated in terms actually starting trade between India and pakistan ”

    Currently true. But give it some time. Pak will come around. They have to, like I said.

    “What is this hesitation to allow Pakistan to completely implode by trotting out lame excuses for the continued survival of Pakistan.”

    I’m fine with that as well. Except that India doesn’t have the capability to do this. Not to mention Balochistan which involves Iranians as well. Also it is not enough if India does this but it should have the capability to manage the unfolding ground situation to her advantage. Shouldn’t turn out to be like Bangladesh.

  43. Arvind, I agree that there is no point being emotional.

    Anyway, fortifying the International boundary in Gujarat and Rajasthan seems like a worthwhile thing, and I think that has already been done for the most part.

    What else is necessary to keep the taliban out of Indian territory? If there is a power vaccum, maybe the afghan government can take the lead in stabilizing the region as the Pakistani army falls to the jihadis.

  44. @ AP

    “If you think they will take money from India rather than China/USA, that maybe wishful thinking, because it underestimates the level of animosity the average Pakistani has for India.”

    There is huge animosity against US as well by these guys. So what? That hasn’t prevented the US from dealing with these elites. So I don’t think that should affect India as well if Pak gets a significant amount of money. Look at some of the statements which Zardari has made in that regard. I understand that Army is much more powerful but nonetheless his statement matters at least to some extent.

    “Pakistan will feel no need to change its behaviour towards India as long as its sugardaddies prop up the Pakistani Army.”

    These sugardaddies must also be able to MATCH Pak’s capability to that of India for what you said to be true. They don’t have the money or the capability to do this. They have already failed and this capability difference is only gonna increase in the coming years. India must use THAT ADVANTAGE to deal with Pak Army and ISI directly.

  45. Arvind, It is not the difference in money that makes a difference when it comes to India and Pakistan. Have you been following their most recent shenanigans about “water problem created by India” and ably assisted by India’s foes in the western media? There is no end to the kind of nonsense the Pakis can pull in order to prove they are better than us. I am afraid your attitude of “live and let live” with the Pakistani generals is highly risky in terms of third parties exploiting the situation to keep India down.

    More than money it is knowledge that is more important when it comes to Pakistan’s nuke capabilities. The Pakistani supposedly created their own cruise missile called “Barber” or “Stripper”, I forget, and everyone knows that it is the chinese who trained them on it. There was a rumour started by the CIA that Pakistan has started increasing its plutonium production to create its own thermonuclear missile…and all this when there has not been a single graduate of note from any of Pakistan’s science and engineering colleges. They have all succumbed to Talibanism. But my point here is that Pakistan’s real science and engineering capabilities do not matter as long as US and China have a Raj-Era-Sepoy like the Pakistani Army retains control of Pakistan — they will make sure that Pakistan’s nuisance value w.r.t. India will continue to increase as India’s value increases. This is a dangerous trend in my view since there is a very high likelyhood that India’s options will continue to be undercut by a deliberate arms race in the region that is triggered mainly due to US and China’s assistance to Pakistan. It is from this perspective that I believe it is necessary that India do what it can to help Taliban acquire control of Islamabad. At the very least, they will hate everyone equally, not just Indians, unlike these Pakistani generals.

  46. @ AP

    As I have said before, anyone who thinks Taleban are gonna take over Pak is living in la-la land. As if China or US not to mention Paki elite and feudals will let that happen. So Paki generals are here to STAY. But the “second best” option is possible and not so bad for India either IMO. That is a prolonged insurgency inside Pak and I agree India should do what it can to ensure this. But at the same time it has to engage with Pak generals as well because they hold the power in Pak. You also say:

    “I am afraid your attitude of “live and let live” with the Pakistani generals is highly risky in terms of third parties exploiting the situation to keep India down.”

    So isn’t this already happening anyways? I fail to understand how GoI, power center in India, ENGAGING with and influencing behavior of Paki generals, power center in Pak, is risky in terms of “third parties exploiting the situation”.

    “There is no end to the kind of nonsense the Pakis can pull in order to prove they are better than us.”

    They will STOP when they realize that THERE IS SIMPLY NO WAY THEY CAN MATCH INDIA irrespective of whatever they do.

    I think this “quibbling” about China doing this or that to help Pak in its defense makes India look helpless and pathetic. THAT HAS TO STOP. I also think these things are highly “exaggerated” in the sense that apart from all this, India’s capability far exceeds that of Pak. If need be, India should consider helping Vietnam and Indonesia with missile technologies. No use whining about China’s assistance to Pak.

  47. @ AP

    “Have you been following their most recent shenanigans about “water problem created by India” and ably assisted by India’s foes in the western media?”

    Why should I care about this when GoI and some Paki officials themselves have said this is nonsense? Why are we as a nation so focused on every tiny thing and nonsense that Pak says and give it unnecessary publicity?

  48. Arvind, I was just pointing out the nuisance value of Pakistan. Nothing more.

  49. Arvind wrote:

    “So isn’t this already happening anyways? I fail to understand how GoI, power center in India, ENGAGING with and influencing behavior of Paki generals, power center in Pak, is risky in terms of “third parties exploiting the situation”.

    Consider China and its assistance to Pakistan in WMD technology — the Pakistani generals can also continue to engage India as they increase their capability to be a nuisance.

    So while India is engaging Pakistan in the manner a squirrel engages a screwdriver in a “who will rust first” competition (as Pakistan gets more jihadized akin to a screwdriver rusting), Pakistan is also likely to respond by colluding with countries in India’s periphery. While I have no problems in general with a “if you look at the predicted rate of growth, we will have strong biceps and the ability to do one-arm pushups and then they must fear us” kind of attitude to dealing with Pakistan. 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.

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