All the water from the seven seas cannot wash away the shame of Sharm el Sheikh. Yashwant Sinha
There are cracks in the pillars of the foreign policy like the cracks in the pillars of Delhi Metro. Yashwant Sinha
Barely had the ink dried on the joint statement that Pakistan began accusing India of fomenting trouble in Balochistan. Yashwant Sinha
The country's prestige has been diminished. The Prime Minister broke the tradition of consensus and consultation. Yashwant Sinha
We win wars but lose on the diplomatic table. Mulayam Singh
The prime minister was weak in dealing with Pakistan. Mulayam Singh.
When the situation on ground did not change post 26/11 why did the prime minister change his stance. Sharad Yadav
Why mention Balochistan. Pak PM (Yusuf Raza) Gilani claims he has won. Sharad Yadav.
The prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was in the line of fire in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. His reply was quite like his performance at Sharm el Sheikh. Timid. Uninspiring. Weak.
WORD PLAY: TRUST BUT VERIFY
Sounds good - but trusting Pakistan is like trusting a rattle snake. Perhaps a rattle snake will be a tad more trustworthy. But Manmohan Singh and the blind men of South Block appear to be leading the country up a blind alley. Even now. Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar e Taiba is a case in point. Pakistan has officially admitted the Lashkar e Taiba was behind the 26/11 terror attacks. Zaki ur Rehman Lakvi (Saeed's right hand man and chief of operations) and Zarar Shah are involved, even according to Pakistan. Pakistan's Punjab province attorney general has said in court that LeT or Jamat ud Dawa have Al Qaeda links. And yet Pakistan claims there is no evidence to nail Saeed. Where is trust and what do we verify sir? Dr Manmohan Singh wants us to trust Pakistan. And Dr Manmohan Singh is an honourable man. The terror dossier that Pakistan submitted to India moved Dr Singh so much that he agreed to de link terror with talks and included reference to Balochistan in the Joint Statement.
That dossier is action taken against the foot soldiers and local commanders. But what about the main terror ideologue Hafiz Saeed. Foot soldiers can easily be replaced. It is the head that needs to be chopped. But Pakistan has repeatedly refused to take action against the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. And yet Dr Manmohan Singh wants India to trust Pakistan. What do we verify here sir? Whether the crew of Al Husseni the LeT boat were actually as guilty as Hafiz Saeed and the ISI officers who hatched the plan. How about insisting that step one to resume talks is concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim.
Once that is verified either by our diplomatic mission in Islamabad or by an independent agency we can resume talks. What about Colonel Sadaatullah of Pakistan Army's Signals Corps posted at Rawalpindi. He has been chargesheeted by the Mumbai police. How can we trust Pakistan when the dossier is silent on him.
VERIFY THEN TRUST
National interest should and must always be above tu-tu main-main of politics. There are no political browny points to be scored. While the prime minister quoted former US president Reagan's oft quoted TRUST BUT VERIFY line, perhaps in the context of Pakistan he needs to modify the statement. We first need to verify first and then trust Pakistan.
There is another lesson India needs to learn from the US. National interest is above party politics. Nation comes first. Post 9/11 US speaks in one voice on anti-terror action. We need to learn that.
BUILD BRIDGES BUT NOT OVER DEAD BODIES
It is nobody's case that India and Pakistan should not be friends. Build bridges of friendship but not over dead bodies of innocent civilians and brave soldiers. 527 brave soldiers died in Kargil, 200 innocent civilians in Mumbai train terror attacks last time and 180 died in the 26/11 terror attacks, 60 died in the Ahmedabad serial blasts directly linked to LeT in Pakistan. These are just a few examples of Pakistan's direct involvement in terror attacks in India. Pakistan's ISI and state funded terror organisations carefully plan terror attacks in India.
The Indian government claims to have evidence of Sirajuddin Haqqani and ISI's involvement in the Kabul Indian embassy blast that killed our defence attache, a diplomat and ITBP presonnel among several civilians. Has Pakistan taken any action against the accused. If no, then why are we changing our stance.
LEARN FROM VAJPAYEE'S EXPERIENCE
When former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpyee was travelling to Lahore, Pakistan army troops were strengthening their positions on our side of the line of control in Kargil. Then IC-814 hijacking, invitation to General Musharraf to visit Agra, the Agra fiasco, Parliament attack and Pakistan's 2004 pledge not to allow its territory to be used to spread terror in India. In Parliament Dr Manmohan Singh recounted each initiative and its ultimate result. Strange, Dr Singh has not learnt from history. A wise man learns from other's mistakes.... Dr Manmohan Singh said in Parliament that there is no alternative to engaging Pakistan. Other Pak terror affected countries are also engaging Pakistan, he insisted.
But what Dr Singh and the blind men of South Block do not appreciate is the fact that other countries are twisting Pakistan's tail forcing it to crack down on terror aimed that those countries. We are too timid to do that. The US is engaging Pakistan but US predators and hellfire missiles are bombing the living daylights out of al Qaeda and Taliban within Pakistan. Can Dr Singh dare to bomb LeT camps in PoK. If yes then go ahead and shake hands with Gilani, Zardari and go a step ahead - shake hands with Hafiz Saeed too. The nation will have no objections.
The US and UK talk to Pakistan from a position of strength. And Pakistan listens to them. Let's please not kow tow to Pakistan.
PM: PAK CRACKING DOWN ON TERROR
Another half truth, I am afraid Dr Singh. Pakistan is cracking down on terror on its western borders for two reasons. Under American pressure and because Pakistan's own existence is under threat. But Pakistan is certainly not cracking down on terror camps on its eastern flank. Terror that is aimed at India. If Pakistan has the genuine will to crack down even on terror that is aimed at India then the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar would be in solitary confinement in jail...and not either roaming free with multi layer terrorist and state security or under house arrest - and yet free to meet journalists and hardline leaders. The people in Pakistan too are sick of terror. But when it comes to terror aimed at India there is a sudden recovery. Why is the security establishment in Pakistan not under pressure from the civil society to close down the ISI dirty tricks department aimed at India. Dr Singh claims he has asked Pakistan to take the same steps on its eastern borders as re being taken on Pakistan's western borders. Great! You have trusted them. But what about verification Dr Singh. You have agreed to the two foreign secretaries meeting even without verifying whether Pakistan has actually taken even a single step to dismantle the terror infrastructure aimed at India. Where is the verification here sir ?
LET INITIATIVE COME FROM PAKISTAN
In the past 62 years every initiative for peace has come from India. Let for once initiative come from Pakistan. Let Pakistan take the first step. Dr Singh you spoke of either talks or war. Even a first year student of international affairs knows there is are several steps between the two extremes - talks and war. This giddiness comes because you are oscilating too fast between war and talks. Take a deep breath. Pause. Consider with a cool head if Pakistan has actually begun cracking down on terror. Don't just take Gilani and Zardari's claims at face value. Please verify, take the nation into confidence and then move forward.
TAKE THE NATION INTO CONFIDENCE
Every time there is a terror attack, we the people, are the worst sufferers. Perhaps 62 years down the line, it will be in order that you take the people into confidence. Instead of forcing so called peace down our throat, discuss, verify and take one step at a time. Take Parliament into confidence. Transparency on either side is the best mirror to reflect public opinion. Terror from Pakistan is a national issue. Take the opposition in the loop. Talk to them. Let the people decide if Pakistan has done enough or needs to do more before we remove our finger from the pause button. In Parliament the prime minister said the government did not need to learn foreign policy from the BJP. This is not a high school debate. This is the biggest security challenge the nation is facing. Both the government and the opposition need to bat on the same side. Both have to answer the same question - has Pakistan done enough to crack down on terror aimed at India. If at any point the answer is no - stop immediately. After all if it is in our interest to talk to Pakistan, it must all be in their interest to talk to us. Let them for once take the first step. Let us wait and watch. Let us not trust but first verify. At least once - in national interest.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The smell of burnt flesh, the sight of severed limbs and blood, charred remains of buildings, cars, buses, trains, innocent people....dead. Injured and the relatives wailing in hospitals at their helplessness.... Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Varanasi, Jammu and Kashmir, Bangalore, Assam....for decades its the same story. In a decade and a half as a journalist I've covered so many terror attacks that I still have nightmares about terrorists striking and killing innocent pople indiscriminately. With no remorse.
Had our prime minister or the political elite seen any of this at close quarters....had they stepped out for a moment without security and exprienced how vulnerable we as common citizens of this country feel every day, this sell out at Sharm el Sheikh would never have happened.
DE-LINKING TERROR AND TALKS
Mr Prime Minister you owe the nation an explanation. How could you de-link terror and talks. For a moment let's forget about the past and focus only on 26/11. What has Pakistan done on ground to give you hope they are serious about cracking down on terror. What transpired between you and Pakistan's prime minister Yusuf Raza Gillani. Because till just a day before this sell out at Sharm el Sheikh foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said talks can move forward only when Pakistan takes credible action against the 26/11 accused and dismantles the terror infrastructure in Pakistan. Till Just a few hours before your meeting with your Pakistani counterpart foreign minister S.M. Krishna reiterated India's stand.
And just a day before that defence minister A.K. Antony said in Parliament that the terror infrastructure still exists in Pakistan and there are still 48 terrorist training camps and launch pads aimed at India. The Pakistan government has still not ensured legal action is taken against Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar e Taiba. Maulana Masood Azhar is still in Pakistan and so is Dawood Ibrahim. Anti-India elements are flourishing in Pakistan so what was your desperation to de-link terror with talks.
WHAT WILL INDIA AND PAKISTAN TALK ABOUT ANYWAYS
God forbid the next terror attack happens! and it will given that the terror infrastructure in Pakistan is still intact. Both the UN and the US officials along with our own IB have repeatedly spoken of the Lashkar e Taiba terror threat and our inability to wake up to the threat - what will you do....Will you still talk to Pakistan about Siachen, Sir Creek, Jammu and Kashmir, terror and go through the whole process with innocents dying. if so sir...Why blame Pakistan alone....we too will have blood on our hands....
What has changed since 26/11 Mumbai attacks ? Or even more recently since Yaketarinburg, Russia where you met Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari ? Pakistan's attitude remains as negative as ever...Zardari even refused to come to Egypt after you told him about your mandate. Has your mandate changed Mr Prime Minister ?
You had said the two foreign secretaries will meet and the Pakistani foreign secretary will tell our foreign secretary about the progress on the 26/11 terror attacks and then the talks will progress further. Well What did Salman Bashir tell Shiv Shankar Menon that gave India the confidence Pakistan is cracking down on terror.
CUT OFF FROM GROUND REALITY
Mr prime minister please speak to the next of kin of those killed in terror attacks. Please find time to speak to those who have lost a limb - how lives have changed completely. Please speak to the real India and not just a group of men in air conditioned rooms flanked by armed security personnel. We want peace with Pakistan but not at the cost of our lives.
Pakistan has not even given an inch and taken away a mile.
WHY ARE WE DESPERATE TO TALK
It is not necessary that two neighbours have to be in love. There are many who don't see eye to eye. Maintain contact so that you know what is on the other side of the hill but six months after every terror attack you cannot just wish away the past and pretend things are back to normal. Indo-Pak relations have become more about pretence than actual relationship.
Please learn from our past mistakes. Every time we have trusted them they have stabbed us in the back. Your predecessor went to Lahore and they did a Kargil on us. While Vajpyee and the entire diplomatic machinery was celebrating in Lahore Pakistani troops were making deeper inroads into Kargil, Drass, Kaksar and Batalik.
Perhaps even as you were shaking hands in Sharm al Sheikh the Dirty Tricks Department of the Pakistan army was planning or even may be executing another plan to cut us...hurt us...maim us..
The security and intelligence community is aghast Balochistan creeped into the Joint Statement. Was our diplomatic team dozing...What was the need....Did we mention terror attacks and sleepre cells in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi....why Balochistan ? Why are we so desperate to give credibility to a state that sponsors terror. What I fail to understand is why do we lose every time on the negotiating table. Whether it is ceasefire in 1948, losing Haji Pir in 1965, returning 93,000 Pakistani prisoners or war in 1971 without getting an iota in return, Kargil and now in Sharm el Sheikh...
Let our diplomats do a crash course in tough negotiations. Let them get it in their heads that each meeting does not require a positive result. Let there be hundreds of rounds before one positive development rather than one meeting with so called positive developments that have no real meaning on ground.
India is upset...hurt...and bleeding....please let our wounds heal first. Please wait till Pakistan takes concrete steps...From Nehru to Vajpyee we've have great international leaders but let us please please for once have a great national leader who thinks of India first and an international image and a Noble Peace Prize later.
Lasting peace comes when there is a genuine desire for peace on both sides. When One side uses terror as part of state policy then signing the dotted line on a million papers is not even worth the paper it is scribbled on... let's never forget that