What G K Pillai achieved

Highlighting the futility of engaging Pakistan’s civilian officials is a good thing

“(People) on the Indian side need to ask” writes Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu “what the home secretary hoped to achieve by saying the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate of the Pakistan army had been involved in 26/11 “from the beginning till the end.”” To Mr Varadarajan it is neither the outrageousness of the Pakistani negotiating line nor the obnoxiousness of the Pakistani foreign minister’s behaviour that is the problem—it is India’s refusal to set aside Pakistan’s complicity and stonewalling on 26/11 and “indulge Pakistan’s desire for official talks on Kashmir, Siachen and other ‘core issues’”.

It is generally a good thing that the Indian media has the space to present alternative viewpoints. That said, Mr Varadarajan’s criticism has a fundamental flaw. It is no longer tenable—as he contends—that talking to the motley bunch of smug, self-important men who occupy offices in Islamabad will somehow strengthen the “civilian government” of Pakistan. There was a time between the time when the PPP’s election victory in early 2008 and the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November 2008 when the argument would have made sense. But 26/11 was an effective coup against the Asif Ali Zardari’s seemingly conciliatory policies [See Kayani wins this round]. Since then it is the Pakistani army that controls the foreign & security policies—as evidenced by the fact that the United States directly deals with General Kayani on these subjects.

In the face of this reality, is Mr Varadarajan seriously saying that handing an odd, inconsequential lollipop to Shah Mahmood Qureshi will so much as make a dent in the military establishment’s hold on power? As a corollary, is strengthening Pakistan’s civilian government so much in India’s interests as to make substantive concessions on bilateral issues? Clearly, not.

Therein lies the answer to Mr Varadarajan’s question on what G K Pillai’s remarks achieved. Unless it is Mr Varadarajan’s case that talks between India & Pakistan must be held while keeping the Indian citizen in the dark, then Mr Pillai’s revelation had the important effect of tempering expectations. Had he remained silent on this vital bit of information, he would have been unfair to the External Affairs Minister who would have been expected to get Pakistan’s impotent civilian officials to take on people connected to the ISI. [See Please change the channel]

The genuineness of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s commitment to leave a legacy of improved relations with Pakistan is without doubt. The problem is he does not have a counterpart on the other side who shares the same vision. Given this objective reality, Dr Singh should pause and put his project in cold storage. For him to move forward in the face of a firmly entrenched military-jihadi complex is likely to result in an entirely different sort of legacy…one that he wouldn’t want to be associated with.

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29 Responses to What G K Pillai achieved

  1. Pankaj 17th July 2010 at 09:52 #

    Nothing better or worse can be expected from a fellow hacking for the Chindu.

    Qureshi is a thug in a suit. This crazed behavior of the pakis is more of a reflection of the changes that are taking place in Afghanistan and Middle East. The islamists seem to be sensing victory and a retreat by western forces in near future.

  2. Pankaj 17th July 2010 at 09:55 #

    There is an old hindi adage thats very relevant hear.

    Laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maante.

  3. trickey 17th July 2010 at 21:26 #

    Allegations of rationality against Pakistan are totally unfounded.
    Land of the Pure has no governance, no law and order, no economy, no institutions except the Army and certainly no control over it’s alleged territory. Indian government for some strange reason treats Pakistan as if it any better than a number 10(and that, after a promotion) on the failed states list.

  4. Raymond Turney 17th July 2010 at 22:12 #

    Hi,

    Meaning no disrespect, but the India-Pakistan negotiations strike me as mostly a show aimed at us Americans. Neither side wants to admit that it isn’t willing to offer anything close to what the other side wants to the Americans, who are under the delusion that solving Kashmir will solve Afghanistan. So the Pakistanis are trying to use the US to pry concessions on Kashmir out of India. The Indians, not surprisingly, want to appear enthusiastic but have no intention as best I can make out, of actually making the kind of concessions some people in Islamabad want.

    Personally, this strikes me as a waste of time by both sides. Washington doesn’t actually have the power to force India to make concessions on Kashmir. But it is probably better for India to appear to cooperate with Washington than to say no and live with the consequences of a Washington publiclly defied.

    What the US should be asking for is an independent commission to investigate the Indus River water issues. If they are real, they have the potential to cause a really big war that will kill a lot of people. If they’re just hype by the Pakistan army, the situation will become clearer if the hype is exposed. There’s no way to tell from here how much of the problem is real and how much is hype.

    Ray,

  5. Rao 18th July 2010 at 01:18 #

    Acorn,

    It is comical to discuss about Talks , when Headley revealed that Pasha met 26/11 handlers. This is an act of War from other side (gloves off) and needs to treated appropriately.Any attempt to gloss over this (as what Sid V seems to suggest) will further embolden the other side and put Indian lives further at risk for such attacks.
    btw I also heard Sid V’ on TV drawing a corollary between US working with Pak inspite of knowing that it supports Taliban which is killing American Soldiers. What an contrived arguement?
    Hasn’t he heard something National Interest??

  6. trickey 18th July 2010 at 02:27 #

    Rao,
    Pakistani delays and denials have a shelf life. The Pakistani courts are delaying the trial for reasons which only they can understand. India has enough cause to show that Pakistan is defending the perpetrators of 26/11. In due time, it will be called an act of war. Don’t think that this circus is being put up with, just to oblige the Americans.
    Indian military machinery was in no state to conduct war in 2008.
    By their foolish bravado, the Pakistanis will ensure that the perpetrators of 26/11 are still not punished when India decides to surprise them. That is why India has made it a single point agenda. When the time comes, the Pakis and the world will know why.

  7. Kaushal Kumar 18th July 2010 at 09:57 #

    There is nothing surprising about what Mr. Vardarajan and the Hindu have to say about India-Pakistan relationship. I have one request from the Hindu: Please change your name. Hindus may not be the best people in the world, but even they don’t deserve this. Call yourself by your real name for once:
    THE HAN.

  8. Nagarajan Sivakumar 18th July 2010 at 18:03 #

    @Ray Turney
    I was with you ALL the way until you said the following
    What the US should be asking for is an independent commission to investigate the Indus River water issues.
    Are you are some sort of neo Wilsonian interventionist ? Who the HELL are you to say that the US should be asking for an “independent” commision to investigate the Indus Water “issues”.?

    Pray, tell me what exactly are these issues ? Do you have a mind of your own that bothers to check the facts on what these “issues” are ? If Pakis cry wolf, are you going to believe them right away ?

    It might come as a relevation to you but the
    Indus Water Treaty was signed in 1960 to address just the kind “issues that you are so concerned about . Try to use Google once in a while even if you are so blatantly ignorant of Indo-Pakistani history.

    “If they are real, they have the potential to cause a really big war that will kill a lot of people. If they’re just hype by the Pakistan army, the situation will become clearer if the hype is exposed.”
    You sound like Chicken Little, “THE SKY IS FALLING RUN RUN RUN” when you come up with total cr***p like that. You once again show your profound IGNORANCE over what really are the root causes for India-Pakistan bitterness.

    If you think that this is really about disputed territories and resources, you again demonstrate how clueless you are. This may be a little too much over your head, but please read what the Pakistani Foreign minister ) has to say about the Indus river sharing “issues”

    Heard that Ray?? Pakis dont know how to fricking manage their OWN fricking water….that is not disputed. And this is what the Paki foreign minister says.. how about that ?

    Here is a Pakistani blog…which .. gasp… admits to the same mismanagement of water resources on the Pakistani side.

    About 200 Indians were killed like dogs on a November day in 2008 masterminded by the ISI with help from Americans like “David Headley” and if THAT does not drive India to war with Pakistan…. nothing else will.

    Raymond, you have no idea of how many Indians have died at the hands of Pakistani terrorist masterminds long before 26/11 – and yet you talk about the Indus Water “issues” with out knowing the first thing about it.

    Americans like you always have to open your mouths first, even before doing some basic research on a topic you have no idea about, dont you ?

    This is ACORN – a place for informed opinion. It is all well and dandy that Americans want to participate in this forum but do yourself and every one else on this blog a favor and try to be a little more informed of what you are talking about.

  9. Sri 19th July 2010 at 01:44 #

    Ray,”What the US should be asking for is an independent commission to investigate the Indus River water issues.”

    Mr Turner, The Indus Water Treaty has been ensuring fair use of the Indus waters — if that were not the case, you think Pakistan would not have used their evidence to good effect?

    If you check up the news, you will note that the Pakistanis have been wasting the time of Neutral Umpires under the Treaty for many years now — the most recent case just concluded a year or so ago.

    The Neutral Umpires (who are engineers qualified to judge on the technical issues of the disagreement) have always agreed that India is sticking to the letter of the fair use treaty. I fail to see the need for any new commissions or organizations for more oversight on this issue.

    It is a matter of poor water management in Pakistan — a problem India has repeatedly highlighted to them. Pakistan needs to ensure fair distribution of the waters it does receive under the treaty and also clean up the silt in their waterways which is causing them a lot of loss of water. Not to mention theft of water by the establishment itself — the same people who are creating this ruckus about water problems with India.

  10. Balaji 19th July 2010 at 08:23 #

    Did the Indian delegation have any credibility?

    I think one of the reasons the talks collapsed and the Pakistanis got pissed off could be the lack of authority on the part of S M Krishna and Nirupama Rao to engage in meaningful discussions.

    We know that foreign policy is handled by Manmohan Singh and Shiv Shankar Menon with Krishna/Nirupama acting merely as protocol officers.

    I mean, why wouldn’t Qureshi get frustrated if Indian delegation works on a “restricted mandate”, which was likely about discussing 26/11. What is there in it for Pakistan?

    And anyway, the talks were initiated by India to handle pressure from US to be seen improving relations with Pakistan. Pakistan is not interested in talks, they want concessions in Kashmir in lieu of support in their western sector.

  11. Oldtimer 19th July 2010 at 19:07 #

    Bringing up 26/11 in talks with Pakistan is tightly linked to the issue of justice for the victims of the carnage. It’s good that India has shown at least this much of concern for the victims. As for Gujarat riots crusaders’ finding of fault with the Indian stand on the matter, no surprises there. They generally do not dip into their vast reserves of “moral” indignation when the perpetrators of injustice happen to be driven by a particular kind of hate.

  12. trickey 20th July 2010 at 13:21 #

    Ray,
    The IWT is a technical treaty. It specifies inflows and outflows which any one with basic mathematical sense can verify. It is not a matter of political intrigue. Stop spouting garbage.

  13. trickey 20th July 2010 at 13:50 #

    Balaji,
    Don’t forget that Qureshi didn’t actually deny ISI involvement. There are serving officers who carried out 26/11. It is an act of war. Qureshi is being asked to explain why 26/11 should not be considered an act of war. Do you think he has any answers? Best to act like a petulant child and derail the summit.

  14. Raymond Turney 20th July 2010 at 14:04 #

    Hi,

    I am perfectly well aware that the IWT was signed in 1960, and that compliance with it is mostly a technical issue. The existing review system provided for in the treaty will do nicely. That said, it should be noted that India has recently started a fairly massive program of dam building, which has raised some concern in Pakistan. It is entirely possible that this concern is real, and will lead Pakistan’s army to do something rash. It seems reasonable for the US (and China) to want Pakistan’s allegations reviewed using the procedures in the treaty itself.

    Ray,

  15. SumneNeeve 20th July 2010 at 14:41 #

    Raymond Says:
    ” That said, it should be noted that India has recently started a fairly massive program of dam building, which has raised some concern in Pakistan. It is entirely possible that this concern is real, and will lead Pakistan’s army to do something rash. It seems reasonable for the US (and China) to want Pakistan’s allegations reviewed using the procedures in the treaty itself. ”

    The Pakistani Govt very simplistically has stated that its primary concern is that India will use Water to achieve political objectives even though no proof of that has ever existed. And as many have stated here, India has complied to the treaty down to the hilt. The only way to solve this problem once and for all is to make the Upper Riparian state (india) to be a lower reparian. Any suggestions?

    That the Pakistani army will do something rash is expected. Indus Water Treaty is just a reason. Pakistan raises objection on everything that India has done. Unless and until you understand the treaty, India,s past behavior and pakistan’s ridiculous scare-mongering techniques and demands, you will never understand why so many of us over here are getting our knickers in twist over your rather ignorant statement.

  16. SumneNeeve 20th July 2010 at 14:44 #

    Raymond says:
    “The existing review system provided for in the treaty will do nicely. That said, it should be noted that India has recently started a fairly massive program of dam building, which has raised some concern in Pakistan. ”

    I do not understand what you are trying to say. If Indian Govt is not in violation of the treaty, then why is it a concern to Pakistan. India is a sovereign country and has the ability to build a dam that it sees fit and in accordance with the provisions of the treaty.

    It would help, if you point out what exactly is it about the dam that you think Pakistan is so concerned with. Parroting the same ridiculous scare tactics that Pakistan uses as a state policy will get you only jeers from most folks who read this blog.

    My “2 Paisa”

    • jetlag 21st July 2010 at 21:55 #

      Ray,

      The pakis already have approx 80% of the waters already. Would you have us give them 100%.?

      Even if we do, the next paki problem is waiting just round the corner!

      It’s called salami slicing.

      What, pray do we owe the americans that we should lie down like a wet mat and let them walk all over us?

      JMT paise.

  17. Nitin 20th July 2010 at 15:01 #

    Raymond

    Indus waters is a red herring, and worse, if re-opened politically, will widen differences between the two countries. See my post the result of the arbitration and Dhruva’s on the general idea.

    Pakistan can be concerned about whatever it likes, but it’s not a good idea to allow its paranoia to rule over good sense. If we accept that both decisions made by technical experts, and treaty-based arbitration processes set aside, we only incentivise Pakistan to throw everything into a big basket of unresolved bilateral issues.

    Mrs Clinton was on firm ground when she advised Islamabad yesterday to get its own water management in order, and not behave like the penalty kicker.

  18. Kumar 20th July 2010 at 15:36 #

    The Indo-Pak relations is centred around Pakistani mind-set and behaviour and not issues. The creation of issues like Indus Water and converting it into a dispute is a typical Pakistani trait. So for donkeys years, India can keep addressing issues raised by Pakistan and Pakistan will keep inventing new issues. Unless this mind set undergoes a radical change, it is difficult to visualise any meaning ful bilateral relations between the two neighbours.

  19. Raymond Turney 20th July 2010 at 22:51 #

    Hi,

    Apologies for being unclear.

    My concern over the IWT is not related to the waters of the Indus. The waters of the Indu are, after all, none of my business and the IWT has been a reasonably amicable resolution of water issues between India and Pakistan since 1960.

    It is also not the result of a belief that the Pakistanis won’t invent some other issue.

    It is the result of a concern that Pakistan’s Army may decide that their best option is to unify Pakista behind them, and to end the intense internal disputes among Pakistanis by attacking India.

    The flap in the Pakistani press about the IWT was presumably inspired by sources. These sources presumably had their own agenda.

    This is coupled with the fact that the first time a dispute about the IWT had to go netural arbitration was in 2007, and another has been referred to neutral arbitration in 2010. So apparently tension is increasing.

    This is an issue for the US (and China) because if the Pakistan Army decides to go to war, the results of Kargil may persuade them not to go it alone next time. It is to the advantage of Pakistan to try to bring in the Chinese against India. It is to the advantage of Pakistan’s Army to get the US to blame India for the conflict, and try to get the US to impose sanctions on India.

    If this should happen, I would strongly prefer, as an advocate of peace, to have plenty of information about the Indus Waters situation available from neutral sources. If all we have is the positions of India and Pakistan, since senior US government officials started in the late 1970′s and 1980′s when Pakistan was doing what the US wanted and India wasn’t, there’s a very good chance we’d side with Pakistan.

    That’s all.

    In this regard, I find it ominous that India has postponed MRCA aircraft purchase while Pakistan has signed a deal to buy a lot of fighters from China. We could end up with a WWI like situation, where the balance of powe seems to favor Pakistan if it strikes now, but is seen by Pakistan’s army as moving against it if Pakistan does not strike soon.

    With any luck at all, the guy who called me Chicken Little is correct. On the other hand, it looked like Europe was pretty peaceful in Febuary 1814, and Europe was clearly not at peace in December 1914. If you’re too optimistic, usually you get away with it and every once in a while the sky falls. Peace is the result of looking for forces which promote war and countering them. Also,who knows, maybe the Pakistan army will have some problems coming up with another issue.

    You may reasonably disagree with this position. But these are the reasons behind my apparently off the wall crack about the IWT. In any event, I support Hillary’s decision to tell the Pakistanis that the US is not going to get involved in the IWT disputes between India and Pakistan. I’d just feel better, if this mess blows up in our faces, to have a British or Swedish report about the facts of the issue.

    Ray,

  20. trickey 21st July 2010 at 00:45 #

    Ray,
    Your fears have all been already realized. Where have you been man? India emerged pretty okay from those challenges.

    “It is the result of a concern that Pakistan’s Army may decide that their best option is to unify Pakista behind them, and to end the intense internal disputes among Pakistanis by attacking India.”
    PA has been at it for the last 63 years. Relentlessly.

    “This is an issue for the US (and China) because if the Pakistan Army decides to go to war, the results of Kargil may persuade them not to go it alone next time. It is to the advantage of Pakistan to try to bring in the Chinese against India. ”

    PA tried all of that in Kargil.

    “It is to the advantage of Pakistan’s Army to get the US to blame India for the conflict, and try to get the US to impose sanctions on India.”

    India suffered US Sanctions too after nuclear tests.

    ” If all we have is the positions of India and Pakistan, since senior US government officials started in the late 1970?s and 1980?s when Pakistan was doing what the US wanted and India wasn’t, there’s a very good chance we’d side with Pakistan.”

    The US did side with Pakistan in 1971. Even one of the worst genocides in history wasn’t enough to convince the US to part with their tight buddies.

  21. trickey 21st July 2010 at 01:05 #

    Ray,
    I didn’t realize how long your post was:

    “In this regard, I find it ominous that India has postponed MRCA aircraft purchase while Pakistan has signed a deal to buy a lot of fighters from China. We could end up with a WWI like situation, where the balance of powe seems to favor Pakistan if it strikes now, but is seen by Pakistan’s army as moving against it if Pakistan does not strike soon.”

    Well, every time PA gets into it’s head that it has achieved some level of parity, it doesn’t hesitate. It has nothing to do with reality.
    All major Pakistani urban centers are very close to the Indian border. Pakistan does not have the economy to fight a full-scale war for more than a week. It has no industry to sustain any sort of war. Its naval ports are extremely vulnerable to blockades. In truth, Pakistan’s external security situation is quite pitiable.

  22. SumneNeeve 21st July 2010 at 09:31 #

    Raymond Says:
    “So apparently tension is increasing.”

    Err, when has tension reduced between the two countries. The reason for Pakistans existence is hatred of India. Remove hatred and you will remove the causes belli for Pakistans existence. IWT is just another spanner in the works.

    “We could end up with a WWI like situation, where the balance of powe seems to favor Pakistan if it strikes now, but is seen by Pakistan’s army as moving against it if Pakistan does not strike soon. ”

    Good for them. No one can stop Pakistan from buying anything to arm themselves, but what is of concern is the hard-earned tax money of US citizens being wasted on purchasing tech from China :)

    ” I’d just feel better, if this mess blows up in our faces, to have a British or Swedish report about the facts of the issue. ”

    Why? What exactly was the neutral arbitrator doing all the while?

  23. Oldtimer 21st July 2010 at 09:42 #

    Finally an American jingoist that Indian commies would whole-heartedly approve of. Missing in action is Comrade Jai providing his smooth and reasonable counterpoint.

  24. Jai_C 21st July 2010 at 11:54 #

    New format looks a bit weird and harder to read as well (UNCLEAR reads as UNDEAR) but I’ll get used to it I guess. The 3-column short views on the top page are so abbreviated even the titles of the posts aren’t presented in full.

    -Jai

  25. Dara 21st July 2010 at 11:56 #

    I think it is time the PM smelt the coffee. No matter how good and pure his intentions, it takes two to tango. How much more time is needed for Dr MMS to grasp this simple fact? He is playing with fire and denting the Indian cause.

    One can understand the attitude of the Hindu, no surprises there, but more is expected from the PM of the country.

    Qureshi says he won’t come here on a jaunt. Well it may surprise him, when and if he does come – nobody will be holding the door open.

    • jetlag 21st July 2010 at 22:29 #

      Just withdraw the invitation to qureshi and extend it to that other moron malik.

      It will have a salutary effect.

      MMS’s initiatives are american owned and driven. There is no doubt about this as too many uncomfortable instances have come to light where MMS and some of his wanton actions like sharm el sheik bear out the truth of his “nobel prize” actions.

      Our PMs born across the border have always had the penchant for doing the maximum damage to India.

      Headley’s state actor connections in pakistan is now clearly out in the public domain and the gloves are off.

      The ISI connections to the Bombay attack which was always speculated upon in the official circles in New Delhi has just been carved in stone.

      We need to put these brazen paki liars in their place.

  26. Nagarajan Sivakumar 25th July 2010 at 13:24 #

    @Ray
    With any luck at all, the guy who called me Chicken Little is correct.
    Yep, that was me. I am always correct. After reading your lengthy post, your name warrants another appropriate alias – Rip Van Winkle.

    You must have been asleep atleast for the last 70 years to say that Pakistani paranoia about IWT is what is going to “unify them” behind the Pakistani army.

    Ray – the creation of Pakistan itself was a show of unity against India.Dont forget that. assuming you already knew that.

    On the other hand, it looked like Europe was pretty peaceful in Febuary 1814, and Europe was clearly not at peace in December 1914.
    It only goes to show that Europeans are pretty unpredictable. and stupid as well.

    If all we have is the positions of India and Pakistan, since senior US government officials started in the late 1970?s and 1980?s when Pakistan was doing what the US wanted and India wasn’t, there’s a very good chance we’d side with Pakistan
    Ray, Halloween is still a few months away and you are already scaring us to death…

    Newsflash: You ARE ALREADY SIDING WITH Pakistan… what exactly do you think persuaded the Indian Govt to talk with Pakistan even though the Indian AND US government FULLY KNOWS the culpability of Kiyani and the ISI for planning and executing 26/11 ?

    Why exactly do you think that Kiyani was offered a 3 year extension as COAS? Because the US Government wants it so.

    And as some one pointed out, you were ready to fight for Pakistan in 1971 when they were busy commiting one of the worst genocides in recorded human history… and suddenly you are now trying to scare us about taking sides with Pakistan ?? Gee… very scary stuff.

    We do appreciate the enormous concerns that you have for India, though.

    Peace is the result of looking for forces which promote war and countering them.
    Wrong. Thats EXACTLY the WRONG answer. Peace is the result when your enemy is afraid to attack you, knowing fully well what the risks of confrontation are, and when those risks far outweigh any benefits that confrontation may provide.

    Know your Kautilya.

    Peace today exists in the sub continent because India is afraid to attack Pakistan knowing fully well that the United States is its ally and when push comes to shove, it will not hesitate in supporting Pakistan towards attacking India – through military and economic means.

    The Pentagon has given lots of arms and money to Pakistan military knowing fully well that these weapons will be used against India.

    If you fell for the “Its for fighting the terrrists” cr**p, then I have a bridge to sell.

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