It was wrong to leave Pakistani cricketers out

It is in India’s interests to be the subcontinent’s talent magnet

If you have been reading this blog for some time you might have noticed that The Acorn has consistently been against any measure that falsely conveys an impression that Pakistan is no longer a sponsor of international terrorism in general and proxy-war against India in particular. That is the reason why this blog has opposed using a cricket series in Pakistan to initiate a ‘peace process’. And that was the motivation behind the April 2005 online banner campaign against inviting General Musharraf for a cricket match.

No to Musharraf - April 2007 campaign
The "No to Musharraf" campaign - April 2005

India must resolutely work towards the dismantling and eventual destruction of the Pakistani military-jihadi complex. Well-meaning but strategically unsound moves—from officially contrived ‘peace processes’ to grotesque media campaigns—are counterproductive towards this end. Even serious diplomatic dialogue with the Pakistani government is unlikely to lead to anything productive, given the chronic powerlessness of the civilian government and the unremitting hostility of the military establishment.

But does this mean India should close its doors to individual Pakistanis who might wish to travel, trade, work or study in India? Not at all.

It is in India’s interests to be a magnet for the subcontinent—and the world’s—talent. This has historically been a source of India’s civilisational strength, and will continue to enrich the country in the future. Indeed, like it is for the United States, openness to foreigners can be a competitive advantage for India, because China will find it much harder to do so. Also India is the only nation that has the capability to remain open to victims of cultural illiberalism and persecution (even if competitive intolerance has diminished its capability to do so). Now, given the nature of the threat from Pakistan, there is good reason to be extremely careful in issuing visas, but it would be strategically counterproductive to close doors indiscriminately.

That is why it was wrong of Indian Premier League teams to drop all Pakistani players from the competition—if there was a risk of their not turning up due to bilateral tensions, then that risk could well have been reflected in the price during the auction. [Note: I am only interested in cricket when India wins by a large margin. But my INI co-blogger Dhruva Jaishankar is a genuine cricket fan. Read his take at Polaris]

Just as it is wishful thinking to believe that the Pakistani military-jihadi complex is interested in a settlement with India on anything other than its own terms, it is self-defeating to turn away influential and talented Pakistanis from developing vested interests in India’s success. Unilaterally dropping trade restrictions and unilaterally allowing Pakistani cricketers to play in India is entirely consistent with weakening the military-jihadi complex.

Return of the Taliban’s cheerleader

The Obama administration is demonstrating poor judgement in appointing Robin Raphel to a sensitive position

“Despite nearly universal misgivings about the Taliban movement,” said the senior US state department official, “it must be acknowledged as a significant factor in the Afghan equation and one that will not simply disappear anytime soon.

The Taliban control more than two-thirds of the country; they are Afghan, they are indigenous and, they have demonstrated staying power. The reasons they have succeeded so far have little to do with military prowess or outside military assistance. Indeed, when they have engaged in truly serious fighting, the Taliban have not fared so well.

The real source of their success has been the willingness of many Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, to tacitly trade the unending fighting and chaos for a measure of peace and security, even with severe social restrictions.” [US Embassy in Israel]

And towards the end of her speech, came the memorable line: “If we wish them to moderate their policies, we should engage with them.”

That was Robin Raphel speaking at the United Nations in November 1996. In a chapter in Fundamentalism Reborn, journalist Richard MacKenzie writes:

In a recent Newsweek report, Steve LeVine writes that until Kabul fell, the US administration seemed ‘unconcerned about the Taliban’s growth’. He added, ‘Some midlevel State Department officials applauded the movement’s campaign for law and order, despite the mullahs’ knuckle-dragging views on women’s rights’. Certainly what one staunch critic (in an interview with the author) called a ‘cabal’ at the State Department was not as enlightened as their brothers and sisters at the CIA. Assistant Secretary Robin Raphel and two of her staff gave good impressions of being at least occasional cheer leaders for the Taliban.”

Mr MacKenzie concludes that paragraph on Ms Raphel’s department with this: “In one encounter a few months before the Taliban entered Kabul, a mid-level bureaucrat at the State Department claimed to this writer that ‘You get to know them and you find they really have a great sense of humour’, apparently believing the words he was uttering.” [Fundamentalism Reborn]

“The entire chain of command in Afghanistan”, from Ms Raphel down to the Afghan desk officer, “all retired or were reassigned in the summer of 1997” after Madeleine Albright replaced Warren Christopher as Secretary of State in the second Clinton administration. By 1999, the US acknowledged that the “Taliban are the wrong horse to ride for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

You would have thought that the United States would have learnt its lessons—not least after the Taliban’s guests conducted some unannounced modifications to the urban landscape in Manhattan and Washington, DC in the autumn of 2001. Almost eight years after 9/11, it turns out that the Obama administration intends to ride the wrong horse again. The idea of engaging with the ‘moderate Taliban’ is back in vogue again.

The potential appointment of Ms Raphel as the special envoy’s special envoy to Af-Pak is ostensibly to monitor US financial assistance to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar plan. While it is sensible to assign the job to a Pakistanphile, the prudence of appointing a former lobbyist on Islamabad’s payroll, with a dubious attitude towards the Taliban, to a position that involves fiduciary responsibilities is, to put it mildly, questionable. American taxpayers and their elected representatives in the Senate must scrutinise this appointment. More so because her unstated portfolio might well be to, yet again, engage with the ‘moderate’ Taliban.

Ms Raphel’s anti-India positions (via Raman’s Strategic Analysis)on Jammu & Kashmir in the early 1990s has not endeared her to India. As long as Richard Holbrooke keeps her as far away from India as possible, her appointment need not directly concern New Delhi. If, on the other hand, the Obama administration decides to place her in any role involving relations with India, then it must be treated as an unfriendly move.

Delhi, its honest rulers and their foolish gambles

The strategic consequences of Manmohan Singh’s vulnerability

So he stood his ground, and didn’t make use of the lifelines that were created for him by the foreign ministry.

Whether he intended it or not, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made himself personally vulnerable. Whether he intended it or not, his Sharm-el-Sheikh lollipop is a gamble: if there is another Pakistan-originated terrorist attack during his tenure, Dr Singh will be thrown to the dogs by his own party; if there isn’t one, as the phrase goes, Singh is King. Since the only people who can prevent a Pakistan-originated terrorist attack are the powers that be in Pakistan—whether it is Asif Ali Zardari, Yousuf Raza Gilani or the military-jihadi complex—Dr Singh’s fate is effectively in the hands of his Pakistani adversaries. Another terrorist attack during the UPA government’s second innings will certainly hurt India; but it will (okay, okay, it might) end Dr Singh’s prime ministerial career.

And just what will Messrs Zardari, Gilani and Kayani do when they realise that they have Dr Singh by the, well, jugular? In addition to using the Balochistan reference to obfuscate their culpability in the Talibanisation of Pakistani society, first they’ll rub their hands in glee: they suddenly have more than just ‘mutual interdependency’ without even having to build a gas pipeline and then blackmail India over it.

Second, they can—with genuine or faux sincerity—suggest that unless India makes concessions over Jammu & Kashmir and a number of other bilateral issues, it will be very hard to rein in the jihadis. Dr Singh’s gamble leaves him ever more vulnerable to this old blackmail. It does not matter if Messrs Zardari & Gilani can or cannot actually do anything about the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and it does not matter if they do anything about it or not, they will still be able to ask India to make progress on the composite dialogue to keep the ‘peace process’ moving.

Third, should another terrorist attack occur, Messrs Zardari & Gilani can first deny, then offer to investigate, then admit that it originated in Pakistan. And anyway, what’s a little terrorism between dialogue partners? In New Delhi, like they sacked the incompetent Shivraj Patil after too much damage had already occurred, the Congress Party might be compelled to seek Dr Singh’s resignation.

The only way Singh can be King is when there is no major terrorist attack. Only major concessions by India might prevent those attacks from happening. Marammat muqaddar ki kar do Maula, mere Maula!

Manmohan Singh’s costly lollipop giveway

Reinforcing the Denial in Pakistani society is setback for India

Mirror-imaging is not uncommon in popular conceptions that Indians and Pakistanis have of each other. You hear it from Indian lofty-softies when they declare that Pakistanis are “people like us”. But while Indian mirror-imaging generally stops with an innocent notion of the nature of Pakistani society, Pakistani mirror-imaging extends to the nature of the state and its organs.

Nowhere is this most manifested than in the belief that India’s intelligence agencies play the same role their Pakistani counterparts. Accusing India’s RAW of involvement in any number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan—however illogical it might be—need not concern the Pakistani military-jihadi complex’s propaganda/psychological operations units anymore: for it is part of the Pakistani nation’s denial mechanism. It is far easier to believe that those devious Hindu-Bania-Indians did it rather than to go through the emotionally draining process of uncovering just why are jihadis killing their compatriots and co-religionists.

Even so reading the editorial in today’s Dawn should bring the coffee onto your clothes. On the matter of the dossier on RAW’s covert operations in Pakistan that Yusuf Raza Gilani supposedly handed over to Manmohan Singh at Sharm-el-Sheikh, it notes that “if they are rogue elements within RAW who are acting independently, they must be taken to task forthwith.” The good people on the editorial board of Dawn are generously—possibly sincerely—providing the Indian prime minister with the same escape route that US officials often provide the Pakistani government.

During a week when it was Pakistan which submitted a dossier of Indian misdeeds, and the Indian foreign ministry used the word “baseless”, Dawn’s editorial just completes the picture. As Coomi Kapoor puts it, India went to the “NAM summit as the (victim) of terror and came back with a document which seems to suggest that both countries are on a level playing field when it comes to sponsoring terror in the other’s backyard.”

Allowing Pakistan to insert the words that it “has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas” in a joint statement has reinforced popular Pakistani perceptions that Indian intelligence agencies are responsible for high-profile acts of terrorism like that attack on the police academy and the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. To the extent that these attacks had galvanised people against the Taliban, the “badly drafted” joint statement damaged the developing resolve against jihadi culture in Pakistani civil society.

The real implication of agreeing to the mention of Balochistan in the joint statement is its impact on Pakistani politics and society, and in turn, the effect this will have on India’s security. (And not so much the handle it gives Islamabad in bilateral negotiations, or indeed, casting itself as a victim of Indian covert operations. More on this in another post, here).

One man—and only one man—is responsible for this setback: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Blaming the foreign secretary and other underlings for the “bad drafting” is pointless. No one but the prime minister himself could have agreed to that reference. He should be held personally accountable for this decision.

Handing Mr Gilani (not even Asif Ali Zardari, and there’s a difference) this lollipop has already had perverse effects: in addition to damaging the prospects of Pakistani society turning against its Talibanisation, it has increased Mr Gilani’s stature vis-à-vis President Zardari. If at all a lollipop had to be given, it should have been to Mr Zardari who had been sounding conciliatory, and not to Mr Gilani who is trying to mask his insignificance as a popular leader by taking hardline positions against India. The decision to reward Mr Gilani and punish Mr Zardari is astonishing: it is either an act of strategic wisdom that ordinary mortals cannot fathom or a clearly discernible act of folly.

The acid test is the next Pakistan-originated terrorist attack: if there is one, Dr Singh must resign. If there isn’t one, or a major attack is averted with the assistance of the Pakistani government, then he deserves our praise.

Update: In his op-ed on July 31st, Pratap Bhanu Mehta echoes these arguments (in greater detail and style)

My op-ed in Mint: Why India must pull its troops back from the border

Let’s call Pakistan’s bluff with Operation Markarap

In today’s Mint, Sushant and I argue that moving our troops back will compel the Pakistan army to act against the Taliban; and because it is incapable of doing so, will cause the United States to realise that there is no alternative to dismantling the military-jihadi complex.

Sooner or later, the Obama administration will come to realise that it has no way to make the Pakistani military establishment seriously fight and defeat the jihadi groups, which includes the Taliban, al-Qaeda and outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba. When that moment comes, Barack Obama will need to choose between direct confrontation with the Pakistani military-jihadi complex and colossal strategic defeat—in the form of acceptance of a radical Islamist state with a well-developed nuclear weapons capability. It is in India’s interests that this point comes sooner rather than later. Needless to say, it is in India’s interests that the United States dismantle the military-jihadi complex. Clearly, this is far more important than merely putting some Lashkar-e-Taiba leader behind bars for carrying out the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.

Already, the Pakistani military establishment is under severe pressure from the United States to stop sponsoring jihadi militant groups on the one hand, and to actually join the fight against them on the other. Now, even in the unlikely event that the ISI decides to dismantle its jihadi connections, the army will still find it impossible to purposefully prosecute a counter-insurgency war against the Taliban. Why? Because the dominant belief among Pakistani military personnel—across the ranks—is that it is the United States that is the real enemy and the Taliban are righteous fighters for the Islamic cause. One only has to imagine what a brigade commander would say to his troops to motivate them to fight their compatriots to realise that the Pakistani army is incapable of fighting the Taliban. In a way, those who argue that the Pakistan army lacks the capacity to fight this war are right: but this is a lack of capacity that no amount of night-vision goggles and helicopter gunships can ameliorate. This unpalatable reality is obfuscated behind the India bogey—the pretence that the Pakistani army could do much better against the Taliban if only it didn’t have to defend itself from its much stronger adversary to its east.

If the ‘India threat’ were to recede, Pakistan—and for that matter the United States—will have no more excuses left to avoid having to do what is necessary. New Delhi should, therefore, call Pakistan’s bluff by mounting what we propose to call Operation Markarap.
Continue reading “My op-ed in Mint: Why India must pull its troops back from the border”

General Pasha will not see you now

Did he snub or was he scared?

In another sign of new strains in the relationship, the head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, refused to meet separately with Mr. Holbrooke and General Mullen, who had requested a meeting, according to Pakistani officials and an American official, who sought anonymity because he did not want to further damage relations.

General Pasha did attend a meeting with the two Americans and Pakistani military’s chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to a statement issued by the press arm of the Pakistani Army after Mr. Holbrooke and General Mullen left Islamabad for India on Tuesday night. [NYT]

Most news reports interpret General Pasha’s refusal to meet the two American big kahunas alone as a snub. That’s probably correct.

But could it be that General Pasha was not too keen to meet Messrs Holbrooke and Mullen without his boss around? It’s not as if they came all the way from Washington, DC to exchange pleasantries.

Snubbing may have been the less costly option. Who knows?

Pink, but not pretty

Calling out the Financial Times’ anti-India prejudices

The editors of Financial Times have timeandagain demonstrated an anti-India bias that is unfathomable. Or it is perhaps a ‘poison-pill strategy’ to prevent Anil Ambani or Vijay Mallya from buying over the paper and casting out the condescending snobs who sit on its editorial board. If these are strong words, they are only in response to an editorial that not indulges in crass moral equivalence but sees nothing wrong in using language that it probably considers taboo in other contexts.

It’s about David Miliband’s disastrous visit to Mumbai a few days ago. The newspaper is within its rights to find that Mr Miliband “was, of course, right” and that his only failing was being tin-eared and tactless. Given the context—Britain’s chief diplomat speaking at a sombre funereal occasion—that failing is the kind that should make decent Britons call for his resignation.

But the FT doesn’t leave it at that. It goes on:

More generally, the boyish Mr Miliband and Pranab Mukherjee, his septuagenarian Indian counterpart, do not seem to have hit it off. The studied informality of New Labour mateyness collided with official India’s Brahmin sense of decorum. Yet there is more than outrage in India’s over-reaction. [FT

Unless the FT’s editor’s think that “the studied informality of New Labour mateyness” has replaced a sense of decorum in the way the world conducts its diplomacy, shouldn’t it have called Mr Miliband out on this one? If indeed such chumminess is the new style in international politics, perhaps they should try that in Beijing or Moscow. “Hey Vladimir dude, can you extradite those mates of yours who go about our locals spiking drinks” is, shall we say, unlikely to impress those non-Brahmin Russians.

Which brings us to the “Brahmin sense of decorum”. The reference to caste was uncalled for, and is in gross bad taste. If Mr Miliband’s mateyness was of the New Labour kind, Mr Mukherjee’s decorum could well be the Old Congress kind. Does the FT equally drag in race and ethnic labels in other contexts?

There’s more:

First, the ruling Congress party is fighting desperately for re-election against the Bharatiya Janata party, Hindu supremacists who say the government is soft on terrorism and its causes: Kashmir and Pakistan.[FT

There’s a new odious label that the FT has invented for the BJP—“Hindu supremacists”. Now, the BJP can reasonably be approximated as “Hindu nationalist”, but it is gratuitous for the FT to describe it as a Hindu “supremacist” without justifying the label.

Second, kicking the former colonial power is a popular, almost cost-free way to send a message to Barack Obama. The new US president is believed to be considering a special envoy for south Asia, with Kashmir as part of the remit.[FT

Here the British editors of the FT claim undue importance. The truth is that far from being a favourite whipping boy, Britain is largely irrelevant. In fact that is implicit in the FT’s own argument: kicking Britain to send a message to America is cost-free because an uppity foreign secretary of an irrelevant country behaved improperly. And no, it’s not India’s fault that Britain is irrelevant.

Third, while Indian officials regard Kashmir as inalienable, much of the rest of the world sees a 20-year insurgency with 60,000 dead; that India refuses outside mediation or to call a plebiscite mandated by the United Nations after partition; and that New Delhi needs almost half its army to subdue 4m Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir.[FT

There they go again: the days when British editors could claim to speak for “much of the world” are long gone. One wonders how old the FT’s editors are, for their memory goes back only 20 years. If they were older, or had read their history, they would not have glossed over Britain’s own mala fides starting in the 1940s and 50s. India is still sorting out the mess Britain created.

And unless the FT thinks that all 4m Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir are terrorists and armed insurgents, it is baffling that it should claim that the Indian army’s job is to ‘subdue’ the population. First the FT indulges in moral equivalence between terrorists and their victims, and then again between Muslim terrorists and ordinary Muslims.

Indian officials talk windily of a “paradigm shift” in Kashmir following successful elections there this winter. But dozens of Kashmiris were shot down last summer in protests against Indian rule. This is a conflict that transcends regional boundaries. Pakistani support for the insurgents has helped spread jihadi extremism. And the religious right is influential in both India and Pakistan, which have twice been on the brink of war since they tested nuclear weapons in 1998. The Miliband storm was not in a teacup. [FT]

Mentioning the killings after the elections might make it appear that that was the order in which it occurred. But unless the FT does this, it can’t fit the facts to its conclusion. For just how can it sustain its argument if it were to truthfully say that an unprecedented number of people defied the calls of the separatists and turned out to vote, despite last summer’s killings?

The reference to the regional dimension, the religious right and nuclear weapons is the usual gratuitous garnish, it makes no substantial difference to the taste, but subtly adds to the smell.

Nothing stealthy, nothing personal

Overstating the power of Washington’s lobbyists

As headlines go, this one at ForeignPolicy.com scrapes the bottom. India’s opposition to President Obama’s plans to include the Kashmir brief in the special envoy’s portfolio was neither secret nor directed specifically against Richard Holbrooke. So to describe India’s actions as a “secret war on Holbrooke” is factually incorrect, demonstrates poor judgement and reeks of the kind of sensationalism that you would find in the tabloid press.

From the moment Mr Obama revealed his plan to TIME magazine’s Joe Klein, a number of Indians—from this humble blogger to the most respected voice in India’s strategic establishment—have openly and publicly pointed out what a bad idea that would be (see a roundup on Pragmatic Euphony). It is reasonable to expect that the Indian government would have also communicated its position through official channels. So yes, India had serious objections to the proposal. But it was only secret to the extent that such things usually are. And since these objections date back to the time Bill Clinton was considered for the position, and before Mr Holbrooke’s candidature was announced, it is absurd to suggest it was directed against the latter’s person.

Beyond that headline, the title and contents of Laura Rosen’s post suggest that “stealth lobbying” was instrumental in ensuring that Mr Holbrooke’s official remit was limited to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, lobbying is part of how Washington DC works, and India, like other countries, plays that game. But even the best lobbyists cannot convince the US government to swim against the current. Sure, lobbyists, journalists and pundits have a vested interest in portraying K Street firms as the behind-the-scenes arbiters of foreign policy, but that view is way too cynical and insults the intelligence and commitment of the real policy-makers.

In this case, it should be bleeding obvious to anyone who reads the news that without India’s co-operation the United States will find it more tedious, more expensive and more time-consuming to secure its objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Let’s give that much credit to the Obama team. And wish Mr Holbrooke success in his latest endeavour.

From India, with no love

India’s outrage over David Miliband’s gross insensitivity and atrocious behaviour was near universal. After a scathing critique of Mr Miliband’s words and antics, a Mint editorial held that "Miliband’s misadventure in India is unlikely to have any lasting impact on relations between India and his country; it will, however, leave a bad taste for some time to come."

As far as the sophisticated world of diplomacy goes, the Indian government has delivered the necessary rebuke. After official rebuffs and leaks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has supposedly written to his British counterpart and "conveyed India’s disappointment on his behaviour and comments." And it appears that verbal expressions of displeasure will continue for a while longer.

But that’s clearly not enough. While Mr Miliband might well be faulted for the manner in which he delivered the message, he was articulating the British government’s position. Now, if the British government believes that it need not necessarily fight the jihadis who attack Indian citizens, then it behooves India to reciprocate. Suspending intelligence and security co-operation is in order. Will this hurt Britain? It’s hard to say. But let Britain work that out.

Is Britain anything more than a nuisance?

David Miliband’s trip raises serious questions on Britain’s role in countering terrorism

Never in recent times has a visiting foreign minister been so flippant and so insensitive. The flippancy concerns a bizarre trip to Rahul Gandhi’s rural constituency, the purpose of which is unfathomable beyond cheap political theatre.

But the British foreign secretary’s speech at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai—just over a month ago the site of one of the worst terrorist attacks in India—sets a new low in terms of its sheer insensitivity. For here is a leader of a foreign country, speaking at the site of a terrorist attack, not only telling India to co-operate with a country that refused so much to acknowledge the bleedingly obvious fact that the terrorist attack was of Pakistani provenance, but went so far as to call attention “to be alive to the impact of our counter-terrorism strategies on minorities. As the Sachar Committee reported, India’s Muslims remain socially and economically disadvantaged.”

Mr Miliband’s claim that “we share your anguish, we admire your resolve, and we are determined to work in close collaboration to address the threats we face” seems hollow, empty and patently insincere. If he shared India’s anguish, he would not have taken a position that compromises India’s demands on Pakistan. If he admired India’s resolve he wouldn’t have ignored the fact that co-operation over the last half-decade neither prevented the Mumbai attacks (and others before it) nor cause the Pakistani government to act with sincerity after their occurrence.

Britain might be ready to work with close collaboration to address the threats “we” face, but Mr Miliband’s statements must give the Indian government pause for thought. His contention that different terrorist groups have nothing to do with each other is only partially true. Perhaps the LTTE and the Naxalites have nothing to do with Hezbollah. But to suggest that there is no international network of Islamist terrorism is to indulge in vacuous political correctness or, as Melanie Philips describes it, to demonstrate “astounding shallowness”. But if we accept Mr Miliband’s contention—that the jihadis that attack Mumbai are not quite the same as the ones who attack Britain—then why should India collaborate with Britain at all? Perhaps the British government should be left to ‘cooperate’ with Islamabad to address the 75% of terrorism cases that it claims (without credible evidence, come to think of it) can be tracked back to Pakistan.

Britain must ask itself whether it intends to be part of a solution or merely a nuisance in the war against jihadi terrorism, which for India is very real indeed. Mr Miliband’s newfound dislike for the “war on terror” in the last week of the Bush administration’s term is opportunistic and linked to Britain’s attempt to extricate its armed forces out of Afghanistan where they have not exactly covered themselves in glory. But it is wholly unnecessary for Britain to recommend a Partition (this time of Jammu & Kashmir) every time it retreats from the subcontinent.

Mr Miliband ostensibly came to India to ‘defuse tensions’ with Pakistan. He has succeeded in creating new ones—with Britain. India’s response to Mr Miliband’s comments must extend beyond rebutting his words. Some cooling of relations is in order.

Update: Richard Beeston, foreign editor of The Times calls David Miliband out; Siddharth Varadarajan reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee didn’t take Mr Miliband’s hectoring too kindly. They would do well to ensure that such acts are costly.