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Opinion | Rajiv Dogra


No place for the meek


Nations have gone to extreme measures for lesser insults, but India is likely to carry the dialogue with Pakistan forward. Our patience is limitless, and our capacity to absorb shocks unparalleled
f reducing trust deficit was a principal objective of the Indo-Pak foreign ministerial talks then we couldnt have failed more completely. There was no need to employ a face reader; the faces themselves said it all. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sat grumpily in his chair, twisting his jaw this way and that. The only thing missing was a cane in his hand; otherwise he seemed ready to thrash the pupil who had dared to fall out of line. Our external affairs minister kept looking meekly away from the meat eating feudal sitting by his side. Occasionally when he did turn in the direction of the ferocious Qureshi, it was almost in the manner of a perplexed pupil wondering as to where he had erred. Pakistan had outmanoeuvred, outsmarted and outwitted us completely. To put it plainly, Pakistan had pulverised us. Our spin masters may want us to believe differently after the event; and they have been busy pedalling face saving constructs. But their efforts convince none, because the entire nation could see for itself the crude and crass manner in which Qureshi subjected our minister to humiliation. Nations have gone to extreme measures for lesser insults, but we are likely to carry the dialogue process forward. Our patience is limitless, and our capacity to absorb shocks unparalleled. It would be hard to find another example in the world of diplomacy where a nation has walked into a trap with its eyes wide open; not just once but twice and in quick succession. The disaster of Sharm elSheikh had barely been forgotten when Qureshi decided to queer the pitch again. In the run up to the ministerial talks we were smugly patting ourselves on the back for having separated the issue of terrorism from the overall dialogue. Nuancing one from the other was touted as a major new diplomatic trick. Our trump card being the Headley confession which we were going to use like a talisman to squeeze timebound compliance out of Pakistan. But, how nave can we get? Did we really believe that we would get cooperation of any sort, or in any defined time frame, from Pakistan? Did we seriously expect them to damn the ISI? And where was the need to agree to a joint press conference? It defies belief that we didnt consider the possibility that Pakistanis might fend off our verbal sallies

M o n d a y, J u l y 2 6 , 2 0 1 0

Shah brings the heat back on BJP

emesis seems to have caught up with former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah. His resignation became a fait accompli the moment the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) included his name in the chargesheet regarding the murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauserbi and witness Tulsiram Prajapati. That he refused to appear before the CBI despite two notices served on him shows he knew what was in store for him. The BJP was so peeved by the CBI notice to Shah that it even decided to boycott a luncheon meeting with the prime minister. It fears that once he is in the CBI net, it will not be long before his mentor and chief minister Narendra Modi is asked to explain his own conduct. While it is true that the CBI often acts at the behest of the ruling party in the present case, it , is at the instance of the Supreme Court that it is probing Sohrabuddins murder. The BJP spokesman, who blames the Manmohan Singh government for misusing the CBI to fix an innocent person, conveniently ignores this aspect of the investigation. It is the majesty of the law that was upheld when the apex court acted on a letter that the husband and wife, arrested by the police from a bus and taken to a guesthouse near Ahmedabad, were killed in cold blood five years ago. Prajapati, who was arrested along with them, was also killed as he was a witness to Sohrabuddins murder. Senior IPS officers like D G Vanzara and Abhay Chudasana, who were allegedly involved in the murder and the cover-up attempt, are already in jail facing murder charges. The large number of telephone calls Shah made as minister to the policemen involved in the case, immediately before and after the murders, show he was not just privy to what happened but had played an active role in the heinous act. The onus of proving Shah guilty is on the CBI but as a law-abiding citizen, it is his duty to cooperate with the agency and avail of all the legal recourse available to him. To argue that Sohrabuddin was a dreaded gangster and, therefore, deserved the end that came to him, as the BJP has done, is to argue against the very concept of the rule of law, under which nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands. Not even a minister of state for home as Amit Shah should have known.


The only constituency that matters in Pakistan is its army. The only way we can satisfy them is by pressing the self-destruct button, because the disintegration of India is their aim. If in doubt then please read the oath that each officer is required to take at the time of passing out of Pakistans defence academies
unanimously passed a resolution about it in 1994, and our maps have always shown the entire state of J&K as a part of India. Why then are we squeamish about stating our case? It is this reluctance on our part to put forward our case that the Pakistanis take advantage of. This generosity of our spirit in letting them get away with the illegal occupation of a large part of J&K is not the only self-deception we indulge in. Very often when critics point to the excess of generosity on part of Indian politicians and negotiators in dealing with Pakistan, the Indian spin masters advance the hypothesis that Pakistanis have to appear to be tough in dealing with India because of pressures from their domestic constituency. This is strange logic. And this must be a unique case where a nation worries more about promoting a bitter rivals dubious interests rather than protecting itself, and its citizens, from the depredations of that rival. Are we to believe that by bending over backwards we will actually satisfy the domestic constituency of the Pakistani rulers? Do we seriously think that any effort, however generous on our part, would influence any constituency in Pakistan? The blunt answer is that we are deluding ourselves, because the only constituency that matters in Pakistan is its army. And the only way we can satisfy that constituency is by pressing the self-destruct button, because the disintegration of India is their

deftly and strike back venomously. Sadly, we walked into a trap to be ambushed and thrashed publicly. In all this we also accepted mutely, and in full public view, the bad mouthing by Qureshi of a fine Indian home secretary who was only saying what must be said and repeated even more forcefully. Did the foreign ministers meet achieve anything? Well, as far as we are concerned, must we even try to answer that? Pakistan, however, must be overjoyed. It had the pleasure of pulverising us, and of grinding our face in dust gleefully. More concretely, it has brought the focus back on issues it wanted to be given priority. If reports are to be believed, it has introduced a time element to issues such as Kashmir and perhaps even water. It has also brought in Kashmir, all over again, as a core issue. We may protest and deny that such a thing has happened, but the fact is that at the press conference Qureshi asserted boldly Pakistans, and indeed the wider worlds, right to ask questions about developments in Kashmir. Our response that Kashmir is democratic, etc, may only confuse the viewers. What is the need to apologetically explain our case on an issue that we regard as our internal affair? Why cant we assert forcefully that the only part of Kashmir which India wishes to talk about is that under the illegal occupation of Pakistan? Isnt that our constitutional obligation? Our Parliament had

aim. If a doubt in their favour still persists in our trusting minds then please read the oath that each officer is required to take at the time of passing out of Pakistans defence academies. We have also been taken regularly for a ride by the Pakistanis who claim that concessions by India would help stabilise Pakistan. The reality is that no sacrifice, and India has been giving concessions repeatedly, however great on part of India can help stabilise a Pakistan that has perfected the destabilisation of others into an art form. The earlier we realise this basic truth the better it will be for our own stability. A growing number of people in India are beginning to ask that if Pakistan has a domestic constituency which its rulers worry about; what about us, why dont we figure as a factor? The Indian domestic constituency is starting to stir; the press conference in Pakistan left it puzzled. It seeks fundamental answers to some questions. What will we do in case of another 26/11? What will happen when USA withdraws from Afghanistan, easing the way for Pakistans proxies to return? What will we do in case Pakistan decides to actively push into India those Taliban who are found surplus to work in an Afghanistan run by them? How far can we get with appeasement as policy? Do we have an effective plan B? We are living in a tough world, where terrorism is rewriting many rules of state conduct. In this rough new construct only the tough get results; as Sri Lanka has shown recently and as Pakistan is demonstrating repeatedly. In this fundamentally changed space the meek are unlikely to inherit the earth

About the author: Rajiv Dogra is a former ambassador

In Kabul, reality is so depressing

resident Hamid Karzai is confident that Afghanistan will be able to take care of itself by 2014 and that there will be no need for a NATO shield to keep the Taliban at bay He said as much . at the recently concluded international conference on Afghanistan in Kabul. The participants, including the United States and Britain, have endorsed this statement but whether they believe it is another matter. Even Mr Micawber might not have shared their breezy optimism. Nine years ago, the allies took control from the Taliban/al-Qaeda combine. Things have gone steadily downhill since that high point. Today the Taliban are gaining strength and influence by the day, and they have a free run in most parts of the country. The International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO contingent is known, is showing a marked distaste for combat and many member countries are having second thoughts. As a result, the United States increasingly shoulders the military burden and it is clearly unwelcome in many parts of Afghanistan. From liberator to oppressor in the popular perception is a long step, but the US seems well on course to achieving it. The key question, however, is whether the Afghan forces will be ready for their herculean task, securing the country from the Taliban and holding it for the central government. Given the pace of training and recruitment it may be possible to get to the numbers in four years. But will this force be loyal to the central government, whether led by Karzai or another? The answer is not encouraging. Part of the problem is that Karzais writ is limited. According to some accounts it does not extend beyond Kabul. The real power rests with regional warlords, some of whom have entered into deals with local Taliban units. Poppy production is booming and everyone who can is busy cornering whatever they can of the huge flows of aid into the country As the newly mint. ed democracy descends into kleptocracy its brand new army is unlikely to stay above the fray Then there is Pakistan. The conference is . relying on it for a solution even though US intelligence identified Pakistan as part of the problem. If this sounds like Alice territory perhaps thats where we are because the reality is so depressing. The allies are preparing for a rush to the exits and they dont care who knows it.

Mike Mullen:
Chairman of the US joint chiefs of the staff

I worry a great deal about a repeat attack (of 26/11) or something like that. One of the things that struck me then, and is still of great concern, was how 10 terrorists could drive two nuclear-armed nations closer to conflict... Shah is innocent.... he will fight a legal battle. During the 2007 Assembly elections, the Congress had projected Sohrabuddin as a national hero. But the party was defeated very badly in the elections. The case (against Shah) is an attempt to take revenge by the Congress. Congress needs to learn that the more they try to scratch Narendra Modi, it will boomerang on them.

Narendra Modi:
Gujarat chief minister, on Amit Shah

Ravi Shankar Prasad:

BJP spokesman Letters to the editor

Mamatas paranoia is putting passengers at risk

Sir, Mamata Banerjee has blamed the CPI(M) for the recent Sainthia railway accident and she appears to be suffering from paranoia over that party. Her suspected paranoia is not a matter of concern but what is disturbing is this is affecting the safety of people using the railways S Rajagopalan, Chennai
Sherlock Banerjee
Sir, Hats off to Mamataji for her uncanny ability to decipher that the Sainthia accident for what it is: An act of sabotage. Apparently the driver of one train and the guard of the other train were in cahoots with each other: They must have been in touch continuously and orchestrated the accident; the guard must have been feeding the movements of his train and the driver adjusting the speed of his train to have the maximum impact. A wonderful piece of deductive reasoning making her worthy of being hailed as Sherlock Banerjee. Indira Chaganty, Secunderabad tri who quit the railway ministry after a single accident. Banerjee must resign gracefully and make way for an experienced leader who can devote his/her full time to the job. K R Srinivasan, Secunderabad ing (TNIE, July 21) clearly reveals the secret of successful propaganda to brainwash the aam aadmi. Perhaps Mayawati has watched very keenly Tamil Nadu politics. The happenings in UP now are a coincidence of history repeating itself of what happened in Tamil Nadu in 1960s. Karpoori Thakur to Kanshiram to Mayawati is similar to Periar to Anna to Kalaingar. Periar, who broke statues of god denouncing worship as a ploy by Brahmins to keep Dravidians from progressing, has statues in the state. If Mayawati succeeded it would turn out to be a successful testimony to an effective propaganda by the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu dethroning the Congress. R Nandakumar, Salem remarks that Hafiz Saeed is to New Delhi what Osama is to the US is apt, pertinent and well said. There has been undue reaction on the part of Indian leaders over the over-hyped Pakistani charges which should have actually been ignored. R Sampath, Chennai

Bihar for Nitish

Sir, Apropos Aditya Sinhas Rahul vs NaMo in Bihar (TNIE, July 24), Nitish has performed and uplifted Bihar in many areas, whereas Lalu and his wife are still in the grip of the dark ages and the ignominy of their 15-year rule. Chances are that Nitish will have the last laugh. Rahuls will be a case of also ran the race. G Ramalingam, Chennai

Firm hand required

Sir, There is no meaning in talking with Pakistan, whose de facto administrators are none other than the Taliban. Qureshi was correct when he advised India to deal with infiltrators firmly There is no other way to . deal with terrorism than to face it. But our leaders, misguided by US, are clapping in the air with one hand. S N Sundararaman, Tiruninravur

Unfilled railway posts

Sir, The Sainthia rail accident was tragic but the authorities should not have assumed powers of clairvoyance and made statements about the cause of the accident immediately after the accident. They should have waited for the investigation report. It is shocking that more than 90,000 posts could not be filled because of the absence of the railway minister. It is not clear why filling of lower posts requires a ministers approval. Mathew Gainneos, Thiruvanathapuram

Clueless Rahul
Sir, Apropos Aditya Sinhas Rahul vs NaMo in Bihar (TNIE, July 24), there is a quip: Dont be misled if a child sits quiet; he might be planning another mischief . However, Rahuls acting the Sphinx implies the opposite. He is plain clueless and right now has no plans. To credit a kid still wet behind the ears with the genius to solve political problems of the type even his great-grandfather could not effectively tackle is to indulge in daydreams. C Divakaran, Thiruvanathapuram

Undue reactions
Sir, This refers to V Sudarshans Krishna & Gopi: a new twist (TNIE, July 23). To brand Gopal Krishna Pillais remarks as something like albatross or millstone is preposterous. It is more so when one looks it in the context of the fusillade by Hillary Clinton right under the nose of the Pakistani authorities while she was in Pakistan alluding that Pakistan was still home to Osama bin Laden. The startling revelation of a murky and macabre anecdote including some conversations involving the families of Headley and Hafiz Saeed regarding 26/11 carnage clearly exposes the conspiracy and connivance aspects that went across terrorist dens. Sudarshans

Ignore Pakistan
Sir, I think India always over-engages itself with issues relating to Pakistan. The amount of interest and the number of attempts and steps taken to better its relationship with Pakistan have only been futile. Whereas half of these attempts if taken to resolve issues like Naxalism would have been fruitful. Today Naxalism is a great hurdle to Indias progress. India should pay equal attention to internal and external issues. Hara Mohan, e-mail
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Go, Mamata, go!

Sir, It is time Mamata Banerjee takes a leaf out of the book of the late Lal Bahadur Shas-

Mayas statue games

Sir, Shiv Visvanathans The game of nam-