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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Turning a deaf ear

Thursday , Sep 17, 2009 at 0351 hrs
Gandhiji’s rules
As usual, Gandhiji’s rules, sprinkled throughout his writings, speeches, letters, are an excellent guide, even though for us pygmies, trying to abide by them taxes one to the limit.

“I do not read newspapers as a rule, but look at the enclosed in The Leader...” writes Gandhiji answering a series of letters from C.F. Andrews against the Khilafat movement that Gandhiji has launched. Those first few words — “I do not read newspapers as a rule.. .” — are the gem that should be our first rule! For one thing, it is not just that the rule is much easier to follow than the others, it is something to which the media itself pushes us these days. In Gandhiji’s case the reason, of course, was that the newspapers dealt with matters so ephemeral that they had little bearing on his quest — of freedom for India, of the inner search. Today, obsessed with the “breaking news” of the moment; obsessed with any and everything that they can inflate into the sensation of the moment, the media deals in even more evanescent flickers.

Second, as for calumny, Gandhiji never answered it, his rule being, “Public men who wish to work honestly can only rely upon the approbation of their own conscience. No other certificate is worth anything for them. . .”

Third, as for criticism, a letter from him to Rabindranath Tagore at the height of the agitation against the Rowlatt Acts has a typical gem. It was well known that Tagore had not been well disposed towards the new methods that Gandhiji was introducing into Indian public life. Tagore had not been well. But Gandhiji had just learnt that he was giving lectures at Benares. Hence the letter requesting a message: “...I venture to ask you for a message from you — a message of hope and inspiration for those who have to go through the fire. I do so because you have been good enough to send me your blessings when I embarked upon the struggle. The forces arrayed against me are, as you know, enormous. I do not dread them for I have an unwavering belief that they are all supporting untruth and that if we have sufficient faith in truth it will enable us to overpower them. But all forces work through human agency. I am, therefore, anxious to gather around this mighty struggle the ennobling assistance of those who approve it. I will not be happy until I have received your considered opinion in regard to this struggle which endeavours to purify the political life of this country. If you have seen anything to alter your first opinion of it you will not hesitate to make it known to me. I value even adverse opinions from friends for though they may not make me change my course, they serve the purpose of so many light-houses to give me warnings of danger lying in the stormy paths of life. . .”

As for misrepresentation, Gandhiji’s rule is prudence itself. “I am used to misrepresentation all my life,” he writes in Young India in a typical passage. “It is the lot of every public worker. He has to have a tough hide” — and then the operational rule: “Life would be burdensome if every misrepresentation has to be answered and cleared. It is a rule of life with me never to explain misrepresentations except when the cause required correction. This rule has saved much time and worry.”

Insulating circumstances

Given what we might call their “status”, the party spokesmen must have been mighty thrilled at the strong words they were launching. As the words I have used in the preceding part — “swine,” for instance — themselves indicate, I am as yet far from adhering to Gandhiji’s rules. Even so, the pejoratives of the spokesmen had absolutely no effect. And that for a reason. Since I began writing in India thirty-five years ago, at every turn, smears have been hurled at my associates and me: the result is that I no longer care for them. But it isn’t just that I have become used to them.

To begin with, I wear two thick layers of insulation.

The first insulation — the impenetrable one — is that very child; and his love which has made him the centre of so many lives; and his laughter which you can hear three houses away. I lose a job? I have but to compare my circumstance with that of our son — and I at once see the occurrence to be a trifling one in comparison. Someone hurls abuse? I have but to ask, “Does it affect this child’s love for all of us? Will it dim his laughter?”

Second, because of our circumstances, my wife, our relatives, and I lead cloistered lives. We get next to no magazines. As for Indian newspapers, we get just two, and we just about skim through them. We don’t, therefore, get to hear of or read most of what commentators and others have said. On occasion, some well-wisher will ring up and say, “Have you seen the vicious piece X has written about you? You really should read it.” But why should I? I am not looking for a job that I should worry about what prospective employers may think after they have read the piece. One of the greatest beings of our times, the Dalai Lama provides an excellent example even in so mundane a matter. In his instructive book, The Wise Heart, the American Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield narrates:

“A reporter once pressed the Dalai Lama about his oft-quoted statement that he does not hate the Chinese communists, in spite of their systematic destruction of Tibet. In reply, the Dalai Lama explained, ‘They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?’...”

When the Dalai Lama will not let even the Chinese communists rob his peace of mind even after the horrors they have inflicted, why should we let mere mouthpieces ruffle us with mere adjectives?

Mention of the Dalai Lama, of what has been done, and is being done to his people and culture and religion leads one to the next antidote: a sense of proportion, of humility. Recall for a moment the lives of the Buddha, of the Lokmanya, of Gandhiji, of Solzhenitsyn, of Mandela, of others who stood up. The worst kind of smears were hurled at the Buddha: those whose grip was being loosened by his teachings even got a young girl to say that the Buddha had made her pregnant; at least two attempts were made to kill him. The Lokmanya was not just traduced and reviled, he was sent off to Mandalay to spend six long years in solitary confinement, years that broke his health — so much so that when at long last he reached his abode, the watchman would not let him in, so unrecognisable had he become. The years and years that Solzhenitsyn and Mandela spent in prison, in the former case in deathly labour camps. Jesus and Gandhiji were not just reviled, they were killed. When this is what has been done to these giants, who are we ants to complain, and that too just because some adjectives have been flung in our direction?

A bit of conceit also helps! As the pejoratives are hurled one’s way, we are bound to ask, “Who are these persons who are saying all this?” Are they the Seervais of their field, of any field? That is, are they scholarly authorities so that one has to take their opinion seriously? Is a Baba Amte saying, “No, this was not expected of you?” — for then one would naturally have to reflect on one’s conduct. Quite the contrary. So many of them are lawyers — who will argue either side of the case, if the reward is right! Most of them are official spokesmen for political parties — they take it to be their duty, ex officio, to twist facts and turn out opinions that the party’s convenience requires. And when parties make lawyers their spokesmen? We are entitled to feel doubly secure!!

This time round, their mettle was put on display sooner than I could have expected, for they had but to hurl their epithets, and the unexpected happened! Shri Mohan Bhagwat, the sarsanghchalak of the RSS, came to Delhi. The BJP was reeling from the aftermath of Jaswant Singh’s expulsion and the ban on his book. My interview with Shekhar Gupta had been broadcast. Newspapers predicted “strong action” against me; some forecast expulsion from the party. The RSS office announced that Shri Bhagwat would address the press. Hosts of journalists from TV channels and newspapers were present. It was one of the most widely watched press conferences. In my case, Mohanji was asked as part of a question, “. . .do you think it was appropriate for a senior leader of any party to speak in the language that he used against his colleagues?” The expectation — in several quarters that I know! — was that the sarsanghchalak would express strong disapproval, and that would give grounds for the leadership to act. To their great confusion, the head of the RSS pronounced, “You see, Arun Shourie is a very respected, senior intellectual. So I don’t want to comment on what he has said about others, he should think about that.” That certainly was not what the spokesman had been anticipating. Hence, their resolve to give me the opportunity for martyrdom, suddenly deferred! Should we be in awe of men with such stern resolve?!

There are two further facts that give one heart. First, people do not go by a single deed, and most certainly not by the single smear. If, after decades of work, the credibility of a writer is so fragile that a sudden smear can shatter it, then it isn’t worth worrying about in any case. On the other side, can the smearing of the one who has revealed the facts, suddenly burnish the image of ones whose misdeeds have been in the public eye for decades, the consequences of whose negligence are before everyone at that very moment? Second, even in a society like ours — one in which so many want to believe the worst about everyone else; one in which the media broadcast anything anyone says about anyone — people must at some stage see that smears do not refute facts.

For all these reasons, smears have little effect. I have come to conclude that, till we can learn to follow rules such as the ones Gandhiji prescribed, the best response to smears is the one that I was once told was the stock answer of a Marathi writer to his detractors’ vituperations: Believe every vile thing that they are saying about me, he would say; believe the worst about me, the very worst they say, the very worst you can imagine about me — but what about the facts?

Hence, to begin with, we must be right on the facts. Second, we must have that thick hide so that we are not distracted by calumny. Third, as the ones we are exposing are definitely going to strike back — on the count of my friend, S. Gurumurthy the number of cases, inquiries, raids, prosecutions, actions of various kinds that Rajiv Gandhi’s government instituted against The Indian Express exceeded three hundred and twenty — our conduct must be, it must for decades have been, immaculate. And the reason is not just that the Empire will strike back. The even more vital reason is that the issue will be decided in the public mind not so much by the minutiae of evidence as of the relative reputation of the writer and the ones he has written about. That is why we should always bear in mind Vinoba’s warning: “A single hole makes the pitcher unfit for holding water.”

But there is an even more significant positive reason also.

(To be continued)

The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP

A few lessons

Source: Indian Express
Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009 at 0232 hrs
“Arun Shourie has attacked the Chief Minister, A.R. Antulay because the latter has opposed America’s decision to give arms to Pakistan... Arun Shourie’s well-known connections with the American CIA... He was got a job at the World Bank... Since his return to India, he has been using the pretext of his son’s illness to regularly visit his bosses abroad. . .”

Across the top of the page was a photograph of our helpless little son laughing away in my arms.

Though twenty-seven years have gone by, I still remember the smear that a glossy magazine put out when I wrote the series that led Mrs Gandhi to eventually have Antulay resign. That was a load of nonsense, of course. It constituted no answer to the facts that had been printed. Even that bit about the CIA was of no consequence. After all, it was a conventional slur in those days — Mrs Gandhi herself had insinuated that a “foreign hand” had been behind even as saintly a person as JP and his movement. It was that bit about “using the pretext of his son’s illness to regularly visit his bosses abroad” that infuriated me no end. The least of it was that I had scarcely been abroad since I had returned during the Emergency — only once after our child had been reduced to a handkerchief by the sedatives he was fed by doctors here and we were told to urgently take him to London. It was the pretext business.

Pretext? PRETEXT? My head screamed. Our son could not walk: thirty-four now, he still cannot. He could not stand: he still cannot. He could not use his right hand and arm: he still cannot. He could see only as if through a tunnel: that is still the limit of his vision today. He could barely speak: he still speaks syllable by syllable. And here were some swine who said his illness was a pretext that I was using.

I sued the magazine for defamation. Through its lawyer — quite a famous man in Bombay at the time, and, I am sure, a very highly priced one — the magazine ensured one adjournment after another. Eventually, it filed an affidavit: through this sworn document and its famous lawyer, the magazine said we hold Arun Shourie in the highest esteem; indeed, he has blazed new trails in Indian journalism; far from having proof for what we published, we do not believe a word of what was printed, it swore; we only wanted to alert our readers to the kind of things that are being said even about such a person in our society. . .

“They can drag the case on forever. . .” I was advised. “In the end, you will have to settle for an apology. . . They are prepared to print straightaway the apology you draft. . . Why not settle the matter? Why not draft the apology you want printed? They will print it promptly. . .”

I drafted an abject text for the apology. They printed it — conspicuously. For all I know, gleefully. That I succumbed to the advice burns my heart to this day.

This time round also, there has been the usual crop. “These have been the pampered boys of the BJP. . . They came to the party only for cream. As the party, having lost the elections, cannot give them any cream now, they are hurling these accusations. . . He is doing this only for publicity. He wants to be a political martyr. We will give him the opportunity. . . He is saying all this only because he got to know that he will not be given a third-term in the Rajya Sabha. . .”

Nor was I the only one who had such pejoratives flung at him. Jaswant Singh had written a letter asking the party leadership to hold those who had been responsible for the electoral campaign and defeat “only because he was upset that he would be losing a room in Parliament”! Yashwant Sinha too had demanded that the party make an honest and open assessment of the shortcomings that had led to its defeat. He had himself won the Lok Sabha poll, and handsomely. But he was dubbed “a frustrated politician” in the stories that were planted.

Mr Advani had been maintaining that he had not known about various aspects of the Kandahar exchange of terrorists for hostages. Jaswant Singh disclosed facts that put Mr Advani’s account in question. Brajesh Mishra set out further facts. Yashwant Sinha endorsed what Mishra had stated. With these statements, four members of the cabinet committee on security, excluding Mr Vajpayee all four other than Mr Advani, had called Mr Advani’s version in question — for George Fernandes had already said that Mr Advani had perhaps forgotten that he had been in, and participated in, the meetings at which each of the decisions had been taken. There must have been a way to set the doubts at rest. But what did the spokesman do?

“Mr Mishra’s statements are unfounded, unfortunate and politically motivated,” declared one of the current spokesmen of the BJP. “He is not a member of the BJP.”

What had the veracity or otherwise of Mishra’s statements to do with his being or not being a member of the BJP? He was the national security advisor at the time as well as the principal secretary to the prime minister. He had participated in every single meeting and decision relating to Kandahar. Neither the spokesman-of-the-moment nor others holding party offices at the time could claim to have known first hand anything at all about what had transpired then. Nor were they producing or even pointing towards any documentary record to show that Mishra was wrong. Did those formulaic words — “unfounded, unfortunate” — prove the facts to be otherwise?

Just as important is another question, indeed from the point of view of the media, an even more important one: Is there another country in which such words are taken to be ‘“refutations”? Is there one in which they are even reported as they are here?

As for “politically motivated”, not one, but two things stand out each time the words are flung. Everyone has a motive, it seems, except them! Second, in the reckoning of our politicians, the most devastating abuse is that the other fellow is “politically motivated”!

(To be continued)

The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP

Master strategies

Source: Indian Express
Thursday , Aug 27, 2009 at 0530 hrs

Here we are breaking each other’s heads over Partition when the man who presided over it has already assumed responsibility for so much that happened. Here is what we find in Stanley Wolpert’s Shameful Exit, (Oxford University Press, New York, 2006, p. 2):

“When asked how he felt about his Indian viceroyalty eighteen years ago after Partition, Mountbatten himself admitted to BBC’s John Osman, when they sat next to each other at dinner shortly after the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, that he had got things wrong. Osman felt sympathy for the remorseful sixty-five-year-old ex-viceroy and tried to cheer him, but to no avail. Thirty-nine years after the meeting he recalled: ‘Mountbatten was not to be consoled. To this day his own judgment on how he had performed in India rings in my ears and in my memory. As one who dislikes the tasteless use in writing of... ‘vulgar slang’... I shall permit myself an exception this time because it is the only honest way of reporting accurately what the last viceroy of India thought about the way he had done his job: ‘I f***ed it up.’”

Just like us, isn’t it, that we should be expelling each other, and breaking our heads over what others had done!

But that is master strategy!

The Red Queen strategy

“The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, began screaming, ‘Off with her head! Off with her...,’” when Alice couldn’t say who the gardeners she didn’t know, were...

“Off with their heads,” said the Red Queen as she saw the gardeners hastily painting the roses...

“...in a very short time,” into the crocquet game, “the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting, ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ about once a minute...”

“Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen any minute, ‘and then,’ thought she, ‘what would become of me?’ They’re dreadfully fond of beheading people here: the great wonder is, that there’s anyone left alive!’”

You see, as we know from Through the Looking Glass, “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small: ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.....”

That is the way to mete out justice. But in doing so, you must strictly follow the Red Queen in procedure too:

• The sentence must be executed before it is pronounced.

• The sentence must be pronounced before the verdict is settled.

• The verdict must be settled before the arguments are commenced.

• The arguments must be concluded before the evidence is examined.

• The evidence must be examined before it is collected.

And so, “Off with his head!”

The Cheshire Cat strategy

But what when they all lose because of you, and they bay for your head?

“But how have we lost?” you must demand. “We had X. We expected to gain an additional Y. That would have made us X+Y. All that has happened is that, instead of gaining Y, we have come short by Y. We are now X-Y. Our projections turned out correct. Just the sign played mischief. Where is the question of defeat?”

In fact, “The result places us in a position that is even better than in 2004. Then, we were just one of the Opposition parties — the Communists, the SP..... They have all been wiped out. The entire Opposition space is now ours.... And this is the fulfillment of our vision. Thirty years ago, we had set out to end the monopoly of the Congress. With the victory of the Congress, with our not winning, and the defeat of the rest, we have succeeded in creating a bi-polar polity. Where is the question of defeatism?”

Hence, as there has been no defeat, there is no reason for any inquiry-shinquiry into so-called reasons for so-called defeat.

Next: in fact we have already constituted a committee to inquire into the reasons for defeat. But the names are being kept secret.

Next: we have already sent selected persons to seek views of our state units as to the reasons for defeat. And our respected colleague......will collate their observations in a report.

Next: no, he shall not collate their observations. He shall prepare a report on the basis of their observations.

Next: no, he shall not prepare a report on the basis of those observations for they are about the past. He shall prepare a report on “The Way Ahead.”

Next: no, he shall not prepare any report on any “Way Ahead.” He shall prepare a paper listing suggestions that have emerged for “The Way Ahead.”

Next: no, he shall not write the suggestions down at all. To start the discussion, he shall mention a few points — briefly — about “The Way Ahead.”

Hence, no report was tabled. Firstly, there was no report. Secondly, there was no table. What the media are reporting is an imaginary document.

...’How do you like the Queen?’ said the Cat in a low voice.

‘Not at all,’ said Alice: ‘she’s so extremely...’ — just then she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening — so she went on, ‘...likely to win, that it’s hardly worth while finishing the game.’

The Queen smiled and passed on.

‘Who are you talking to?’ said the King, going up to Alice, and looking at the Cat’s head with great curiosity.

‘It’s a friend of mine — a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice: ‘allow me to introduce it.’ [As you remember, this cat was exactly like the report: she could have her head appear, as it did now, without the rest of her body.]

‘I don’t like the look of it at all,’ said the King, ‘however, it may kiss my hand if it likes.’

‘I’d rather not,’ the Cat remarked.

‘Don’t be impertinent,’ said the King, ‘and don’t look at me like that!’ He got behind Alice as he spoke.

‘A cat may look at a king,’ said Alice. ‘I’ve read that in some book, but I don’t remember where.’

‘Well, it must be removed,’ said the King very decidedly, and he called the Queen, who was passing at the moment, ‘My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!’

‘I’ll fetch the executioner myself,’ said the King eagerly, and he hurried off.

Alice thought she might as well go back, and see how the game was going on, as she heard the Queen’s voice in the distance, screaming with passion...

When she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable.

The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard indeed to make out exactly what they said.

The executioner’s argument was, that you couldn’t cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn’t going to begin at his time of life.

The King’s argument was, that anything that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren’t to talk nonsense.

The Queen’s argument was, that if something wasn’t done about it in less than no time she’d have everybody executed, all round. (It was this last remark that had made the whole party look so grave and anxious)...

But what are you to do when the Queen turns on you?

The legal eagle strategy

“But after quoting Jinnah’s singular — ‘We are going to be a secular State’ — speech, did you not say, ‘I believe that this is the ideal that India, Pakistan as well as Bangladesh... should follow’?” the cussed demand. “Did you not yourself write, ‘There are many people who leave an inerasable mark on history. But there are a few who actually create history. Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual.... My respectful homage to that great man.’ How then are you less liable than the one you have executed?”

When faced with such cussedness, field the resident lawyers.

“My Lords, when my client said ‘India’, he did not mean India as we know it. But Akhand Bharat. Now, as my Lords know, Akhand Bharat includes Pakistan. And my Lords, in that expression, ‘includes Pakistan’, the word ‘includes’ is manifestly and intentionally redundant. Hence, my Lords, when my client said ‘India’, he meant ‘includes Pakistan’, and when he said ‘includes Pakistan’ he meant Pakistan. What he said therefore reads, ‘The Qaid-e-Azam’s formulation is an ideal for Pakistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

“But what about paying ‘homage’? Did he not say, ‘My respectful homage to this great man’? Has the noted inquisitor, Karan Thapar, not pointed out that according to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘homage’ means ‘acknowledgement of superiority, dutiful reverence’? Where has the condemned man expressed anything equivalent to ‘dutiful reverence’?”

“That is the problem, my Lords, these people read too much, and too superficially. The cleverness, the tactical strategy, if I may say so, is right there, in that very word, ‘homage’. You see, this cussed assaulter himself has quoted the meaning of ‘homage’ as ‘acknowledgement of superiority’. In paying ‘homage’ my client was not acknowledging the Qaid-e-Azam’s superiority, but his own. Moreover, my Lords, these words were written for purely tactical reasons. They were written to disorient the Pakistanis so that we may vanquish them that much more easily.”

But how can words be twisted like this? How can “India” mean “Pakistan”? How can acknowledging the superiority of the other become affirming one’s own superiority?

Aren’t there 364 unbirthdays in a year, and only one birthday? Humpty Dumpty demands. So, you have 364 days for unbirthday presents in a year,

“And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,’” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

But will the lawyers go so far as to advance such arguments for a client? Will they not worry that doing so may affect their credibility?

When they do so for the Ketan Parekhs day in and day out, and that, far from diminishing their credibility, is what leads people to call them “among the country’s foremost legal brains,” why will they not do so for the higher cause?

Enforce principle, uphold ideology

“The lower down leaders must resign owning moral responsibility for the defeat in their states.”

But on that principle, why should the top leaders not resign?

“Why should we resign when we have already accepted moral responsibility?”

“And be it noted, whether we win or lose elections, we shall never depart from our core ideology of Hindutva.”

But what is Hindutva?

“As the Supreme Court has itself said, it is ‘a way of life.’”

But isn’t Islam also “a way of life”? Isn’t Christianity? Indeed, isn’t the drug addiction of the hippie “a way of life”?

Binding strategy

Your chieftains are at each other? Make them commit a crime collectively. Let them stab one of their own in each other’s presence. Each will know that everyone has seen him drive the knife in. That is what will bind them. And no one will accuse the other, to boot, lest his own deed be brought to light.

After all, events are moving so fast. High time you convert the Mutual Projection Society into the Mutual Protection Society.

The dead horse strategy

The final strategy is spelled out in the latest issue of The Other Side, George Fernandes’ Journal of Socialist Thought and Action, and requires the littlest adaptation for our context — I will transcribe it almost literally. “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse,” the journal reminds us, “the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse.” However, in our political parties more advanced strategies are employed:

1. On the authority of the Gita, declare the horse as “Not dead” — for, does the scripture not teach us?, “What is real is the soul, not the body; and the soul was never born, it never dies.”

2. Buy a stronger whip.

3. Wield it on anyone who says the horse is dead in spite of the Gita — for obviously, he who doubts the Gita has repudiated our core ideology.

4. Declare, firmly, that the horse is not dead, and, therefore, nothing needs to be done.

5. Pressed, announce that a committee shall circumambulate the horse, and, if necessary, suggest potions to revive it; but, so as not to disturb the horse, ensure that the committee remains secret.

6. Launch a study of our ancient scriptures to see how our revered ancestors rode dead horses. Anyone who doubts that they did, has obviously repudiated our core ideology, and, so, for him, the whip as in (3) above.

7. Wait for the next breeze — as it sways the horse’s mane, even the negativists shall see that the horse is alive and well.

8. Harness several dead horses to accelerate the speed.

9. Locate younger jockeys.

10. Coach them that they shall ride the horses, not jockey.

11. He who points out that the younger jockeys also happen to be the heavier ones, is obviously out to discourage the horses, and distract the jockeys. So, for him, the whip as in (3) above.

12. Calculate and show that, as the dead horses do not require any diet, much less geriatric supplements, to energise and motivate them, their net contribution is not just positive, it is incalculable — zero divided by zero, as Aryabhatt would have proven, if only he had been asked, is incalculable, hence infinite.

13. Redefine “running and winning races” — for, obviously, the horse that lies unmoved in the midst of the world’s frenzy and bustle, is the real sthith pragyan, and, as our scriptures have so clearly proclaimed, the sthith pragyan is the real victor.

14. Finally, of course, promote the dead horses to supervisory positions.

15. He who now entertains a doubt about them has not just repudiated our core ideology — for that is reverence for our leaders — he has repudiated our leadership. Hence, for him, not the whip as in (3) above. For him, expulsion.

That is what will prove that the horses are not dead. They can throw a kick.

(Concluded)

The writer is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sa

A few extracts from the book

Source: Indian Express
Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0529 hrs

Now, it so happens that I profoundly disagree with Mr. Jaswant Singh’s assessment of Jinnah. Ever since I read the multi-volume Jinnah Papers — brought out by the National Archives of Pakistan; the two-volume, Foundations of Pakistan, edited by Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada; and the four-volume History of Partition of India, edited by the Pakistani historian, K.K. Aziz, Jinnah has seemed to me a pinched, narrow-minded, diabolic schemer — one who used and was used by the British to divide India. To use his words, he ‘forged a pistol’, the armed thugs shoring up the Muslim League. He unleashed them in his ‘Direct Action’ against Hindus. He paralysed the Interim Government through Liaquat Ali. From 1937 onwards, he worked stealthily and continuously with the British to thwart every scheme that might have preserved a united India. His contemptuous characterisations of India, of Hindus, of our national movement and its leaders, make one’s blood boil to this day. That he talked Islam and drank whiskey, ate ham, and the rest, that he hardly knew the Quran to say nothing of living by it, do not prove his secularism to me, they make him out to be a hypocrite. In a word, far from being ‘attracted’ by Jinnah, as my senior Jaswant Singh is, I am repelled by him.

And book after book that I have read regarding those decades since I wrote about him and his stratagems twenty-five years ago has etched that image even deeper. My perspective also differs for another reason from the one that informs Jaswant Singh’s book, and that, if I may add, of those who still dream of a ‘grand confederation of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh’, of those who still talk of Akhand Bharat. Having waded through the writings of Islamic leaders and clerics of the period, and seeing the direction in which Pakistan and Bangladesh have evolved — have inevitably evolved, given the principles on which they were founded, principles that Jinnah articulated and insisted upon incessantly — I have come to realise that Girilal Jain was the one who was right. You are dead wrong, he told me, after reading what I had written about Jinnah. The best thing that has happened for us is the Partition. It has given us breathing time, a little time to resurrect and save our pluralist culture and religions. Had it not happened, we would have been bullied and thrashed and swamped by Islamic fundamentalists. So, my lament is the opposite of Jaswant Singh’s today. And it also so happens that I am an adorer of Sardar Patel as of the Lokmanya, and a worshipper of Gandhiji.

But first the book, and a few extracts.

A glimpse of the contents

A chapter, ‘Compromise on national symbols’ — not by the British nor by Jinnah, but by the Congress leaders. By Congress leaders does the author mean, ‘Sardar Patel’, or even “Congress leaders, in particular Sardar Patel”?

A chapter, ‘Boost to Jinnah by Congress’.

A sub-heading: ‘Azad shocks Gandhi’ — when Maulana Azad, then Congress President, conveyed acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan, in particular of excluding non-League Muslims from the Cabinet, and his assurance to the British that he would carry the Congress with him, that they need not worry about any misgivings that some, including Gandhiji might have. All this without telling either the Congress or Gandhiji, and he ‘mis-stated’ the facts, to boot, to Gandhiji’s face, till he was confronted with the letter he had sent. The author sets out the ‘devastating effect’ of the episode on Gandhiji.

Citations from Sardar Patel

He recalls how the Congress Working Committee, in spite of the strenuous, indeed broken-hearted opposition of Gandhiji, accepted the British proposal to divide Punjab and Bengal. He quotes the letter that Sardar Patel wrote to a member of the Working Committee, and points out how very unrealistic the Sardar was in this case:

“If the League insists on Pakistan,” the Sardar wrote, “the only alternative is the division of the Punjab and Bengal... I do not think that the British Government will agree to division. In the end, they will see the wisdom of handing over the reins of Government to the strongest party. Even if they do not, it will not matter. A strong Centre with the whole of India — except East Bengal and part of the Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan — enjoying full autonomy under the Centre will be so powerful that the remaining portions will eventually come in.” The author remarks,

“Both Nehru and Patel surmised that by this counter-strategy Jinnah would be paid in his own coin; he would be made to realise that his argument would be turned against him; that what would be left to him ultimately was the ‘truncated, mutilated, moth-eaten Pakistan’ which he had scornfully refused to look at some years ago.”

Recounting subsequent events, the book records, “Patel was so fed up with the League’s tactics inside the Interim Government that he saw nothing but endless intrigue and troubles ahead in any kind of working with the League; it was better to have a clean separation rather than have pinpricks every day. Nehru too had lost all hopes of joint action with the Muslim League in any kind of arrangement; the League would never see eye to eye with the Congress on any of the issues. He felt, despairingly, that there was no way out except Partition. Rajendra Prasad came out with the same explanation: ‘It was the Working Committee, and particularly such of its members as were represented on the Central Cabinet, which had agreed to the scheme of Partition... (They) did so because they had become disgusted with the situation then obtaining in the country. They saw that riots had become a thing of everyday occurrence and would continue to be so; and that the Government... was incapable of preventing them because the Muslim League Ministers would cause obstruction everywhere... It had thus become impossible to carry on the administration.’”

“With Nehru and Patel finally acquiescing to the demand for Pakistan, the atmosphere, especially in the north, began to hot up as never before”, the book records, and elaborates what followed.

‘Benumbed mental state of Congress’

The book turns to what it calls “Benumbed Mental State of Congress”, and cites Acharya Kripalani’s admission to nail it. Kripalani, then the president of the Congress, wrote about the crucial meeting in which, unknown to Gandhiji, the Working Committee met, and endorsed the Partition Plan: “The Working Committee met in a tense atmosphere. Everybody felt depressed at the prospect of the Partition of the country. The Viceroy’s proposals were accepted without much discussion. As a matter of fact, Jawaharlal and Vallabhbhai were already committed to the acceptance of the proposals. There was no critical examination...” Kripalani noted the manifest infirmities in the Plan that had been drawn up, and which the CWC approved, and wrote, “It was quite natural for our foreign masters to ignore all these inconsistencies in order to favour the League; one cannot understand why we of the Working Committee did not even draw their attention to these important details.”

The Plan had been accepted behind Gandhiji’s back. He was dead-set against it even after Panditji and Patel told him that they had already agreed to it in their meeting with the Viceroy, and had already got the Working Committee to endorse it. Gandhiji was torn — telling his closest associates one moment that he would put up a last fight, telling them the next that he was helpless. At the crucial moment, he told Congressmen that, as their leaders had already accepted the Partition Plan, they should do so also. The book quotes Panditji sort of placing the responsibility on this falling in line by Gandhiji! Panditji told Leonard Mosley, “But, if Gandhiji had told us not to accept Partition, we would have gone on fighting and waiting.”

The book records that, given the extent to which it had been weakened by the Second War, the British had come to realise that their time was up, that there was no way they could impose their conditions on the Indians. So, they set about their fallback option — to divide India so that they would have a strategic foothold in Pakistan. Having documented the mirages and miasmas of the Congress leaders, the book remarks, “the Pakistan demand assumed prestige mainly because of the Congress vacillation on that issue and pampering of the League...”

The book shows how the rationalisation the Congress leaders advanced — that the only alternative to Partition was civil war — is blown by the massacres that followed. It recalls Panditji telling a New York audience two years later, that if they had known the terrible consequences of Partition in the shape of killings etc., they would have resisted the division of India. It recalls, Rajendra Prasad exclaiming, “If only we had known!” “As for Acharya Kripalani,” the book records, “his choicest epithets in later years were reserved for those in the Congress High Command on whom he put the entire responsibility for Partition — so far had his own mind traveled from the position he had taken (of defending the June 3 Plan) in that fateful session of the AICC meeting in June 1947.”

The book records Pyarelal’s telling assessment: “Pandit Nehru’s speech revealed — what had all along been suspected — that it was the Interim Government’s helplessness, owing to sabotage from within by the League members in the Government and retention of control by the British, to cope with the spreading anarchy that had driven the Congress High Command to desperation, so that they were glad to escape from the intolerable situation they found themselves in, even by paying the price of Partition. The Congress leaders were past the prime of their lives. After a quarter of a century of wandering in the wilderness they had come within sight of the Promised Land. They were doughty warriors and were not afraid, if necessary, to take the plunge once more. But they were afraid that it might not be given them to see another successful fight through, and the fruit of their struggle and the countless sacrifices of a whole generation of fighters for freedom might slip through their fingers when it seemed almost within their grasp. If the hour of decision had come earlier when the Congress was in the wilderness, when they were young and before their experience in the Interim Government and the exercise of power had coloured their thinking and outlook, their choice might have been different.”

But that was not just Pyarelal’s assessment. Panditji’s own assessment was harsher. The book records what he told Leonard Mosley in 1960: “The truth is that we were tired men, and we were getting on in years too. Few of us could stand the prospect of going to prison again, and if we had stood out for a United India as we wished it, prison obviously awaited us. We saw the fires burning in the Punjab and heard every day of the killings. The plan for Partition offered a way out, and we took it.”

A few questions

I can go on reproducing extracts, but the main theme of the book’s thesis will be evident. According to the book, while the British had the manifest design to partition India; while Jinnah and his Muslim League subordinates were manifestly working for Pakistan, neither of the two would have succeeded but for the vacillations, mistakes and compromises of the Congress leaders.

To assess the anger that the Gujarat government has worked up, ask three questions:

• Is it just this book alone that asserts that mistakes by Congress leaders contributed to the outcome? Was that fact not acknowledged by the Congress leaders themselves?

• When the book speaks of the vacillations, mistakes and compromises of the Congress leaders does it mean, “the vacillations, mistakes and compromises of the Congress leaders - excluding Sardar Patel”?

Manifestly not. So, is the author guilty of insulting Sardar Patel or not? Should the Gujarat government not, therefore, ban the book? And so, the final question:

• Whose book are we talking about?

The book is The Tragedy of Partition by one of the longest-serving and most revered pillars of the RSS, H.V. Seshadri. It is the standard text of the RSS on the Partition. It is sold at every RSS bookshop, and read, its message is internalised, by every RSS swayam sevak.

Now that the Gujarat government knows the name of the author, two further questions:

• Is there one passage in Jaswant Singh’s book, even one passage that casts the Sardar’s role into graver doubt than Seshadri’s book?

• Is the Sardar’s reputation, in the view of those prancing about to shield it, so fragile that such references as there are in Jaswant Singh’s book or Seshadri’s will undermine it?

Nor is Seshadri’s book alone in documenting the lapses of the Congress leaders. Professor R.C. Majumdar nailed the lapses extensively in lectures that the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan published. He nailed them in his three-volume study, History of the Freedom Movement in India. The lapses are nailed even more firmly in Struggle for Freedom, which forms Volume XI of the great series, The History and Culture of the People of India, ‘prepared under the direction of’, as the cover of each volume says, that other distinguished son of Gujarat, K.M. Munshi — one of the closest associates of the Sardar himself. And they are nailed — not as lapses, but as inexcusable blunders — in the work on the Partition of India of the greatest constitutional scholar we have had since Independence, H.M. Seervai. The self-serving speeches of the Congress leaders are available in Mitra’s Annual Register. The anguish of Gandhiji, his torment at what Congress leaders, in particular the two closest to him, Panditji and the Sardar, had done is recorded from day to day in his addresses at the daily prayer meetings and in Pyarelal’s searing volumes, The Last Phase — “The purity of my striving will be put to the test only now,” Pyarelal records him saying as he lay in bed, having awakened earlier than he was meant to. “Today I find myself all alone. Even the Sardar and Jawaharlal think that my reading of the situation is wrong and peace is sure to return if Partition is agreed upon...They wonder if I have not deteriorated with age... Nevertheless, I must speak as I feel if I am a true and loyal friend to the Congress and to the British people as I claim to be...”

As all these books, as well as many more, can be stretched to cast the same doubts on the role of the Sardar, as one of the principal leaders of the Congress, how many of them will the Gujarat government ban?

(To be continued)

The writer is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha

“Either diplomacy or war”

Source: Indian Express
Thursday , Aug 13, 2009 at 2353 hrs New Delhi:

“Trust but verify,” the Prime Minister says, invoking Ronald Reagan. Of course, Reagan did not just stop at enunciating a maxim. He worked to, and succeeded in helping dismember “the Evil Empire.” One does not have to even ask whether the Prime Minister will do anything of the sort.

But take the maxim itself that the Prime Minister says he believes in following. Has all verification not already shown that Pakistan has not just been organizing terror-strikes against India, it has conducted a proxy-war continuously, unrelentingly for three decades? Evidence apart, haven’t the highest authorities of Pakistan acknowledged as much? Did Musharraf not proclaim, “Jihad is an instrument of State policy”? Has Zardari not said just a fortnight ago that, indeed, Pakistan spawned terrorists? Has our Army not said just a few weeks ago that infiltration into Kashmir has been stepped up again?

The Prime Minister’s reason for going on trusting is belief, it is faith in the current leadership of Pakistan. He told Parliament on 29 July, “I sincerely believe that it is as much in Pakistan’s interest as it is in ours to strive to make peace. Pakistan must defeat terrorism before being consumed by it. I believe the current there understands that. It may not be very strong, but the impression that I have is that the current leadership understands the need for action. [What “may not be very strong”? The current leadership of Pakistan? The understanding that the current leadership of Pakistan has about the need to fight terrorism? Or the impression that the Prime Minister has formed of the understanding that the current leadership of Pakistan has about fighting terrorism?] I was told by their parliamentarians who accompanied Prime Minister Gilani that there is now a political consensus in Pakistan against terrorism. That should strengthen the hands of its leadership in taking the hard decisions that will be needed to destroy terrorism and its sponsors in their country.”

Last time the faith was in George Bush – “The people of India love you, deeply.” Will we never learn? When Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister, we were told, “No, no, you don’t understand. She and Rajivji have excellent rapport. You see, they were at Cambridge at the same time” – as Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Bhutto had been at Oxford in their time! When Nawaz Sharif replaced Benazir, we were told, “No, no, you don’t understand. He is a businessman. He is a practical wheeler-dealer. We can cut a deal with him.” When Musharraf ousted him, we were told, “No, no, you don’t understand. He is going to be there for years, in any case. It is with him that we have to strike a deal.” When he weakened, the argument became the opposite: “You don’t understand. We have to be generous and come to an agreement that he can present to the Pakis as a victory. Don’t you see, the alternative to him are the mullahs? We have to trust him. We can trust him. You see, he has learnt from Kargil.”

Now that Zardari and Gilani have replaced him, “I believe the current leadership there understands that.” Advocates in the Rajya Sabha added the tested argument: “Don’t you see, whenever there has been democracy in Pakistan, relations with India have been better? If we don’t reach out, these current leaders will weaken. The Army will be back, and relations with India will worsen once again.”

Trust apart, are Zardari and Gilani the “current leadership”? Is it not that collective – the Army, the ISI, and the organizations they have spawned, the LeT/JuD, and the like? On the one hand, the Prime Minister asks us to trust the new realization among the current leaders. On the other, in the same statement to Parliament, he reports that both Zardari and Gilani told him that “Mumbai was the work of non-State actors.” Anyone who is prepared to swallow that does not know a fig about, or is deliberating shutting his eyes to the pervasive presence and role of the Army-ISI and allied agencies in Pakistan’s State and society. But even if that assertion is taken at face value, what does it establish? That Zardari and Gilani may be the “current leadership”, they are not in control. How then can a new realization among them – on which also the only evidence we have is the Prime Minister’s gut feeling, “I believe the current leadership understands that…” – be the basis of policy?

And what precisely is this current leadership prepared to “seriously address”? After the Taliban had reached within 100 miles of Islamabad itself; after the Americans had put the fear of a complete rupture into them, these “current leaders” began an offensive against the Taliban. Only against the Taliban in its western provinces. Indeed, even in that region, only against those sections of the Taliban that have gone out of the control of the ISI-Army.

Neither the “current leadership”, nor, of course, the Army-ISI have raised a little finger against the terrorists and organizations they have reared in the East for assaults on India. Quite the contrary, as we shall see.

The moral is what it has always been: do not go by your assessments of “current leaders”. Go by the nature of Pakistan’s State and society. Go by the attitude of that State and society towards – not Pakistan; not the world; not the US, but – our country. And in that, go by their attitude to what they have made into their obsession regarding our country – that is, Kashmir. Is there the slightest evidence that the basic attitude towards India, and towards what they insist is “the core issue” has changed in any way?

“But we cannot change geography,” the argument goes. “Pakistan is our neighbour. It will always be so.” For seven months, the PM says, we have used all bilateral and multilateral instruments. It is only after doing so that the new course embodied in the Sharm-el-Sheikh Joint Declaration has been charted. Actually, the only things that have been done are two: plead with the US and others to do something; and go on talking to Pakistan at different levels. Naturally, this could not and has not yielded anything.

Pakistan will not desist from what it has for three decades been successfully inflicting on us for the simple reason that we are not able to, and manifestly do not have the nerve to inflict any cost on the ones who are orchestrating the assaults.

But it is diplomacy or war, says the Prime Minister, and the Congressmen echo him in chorus. There is no third alternative.

But even in one element – dialogue – of one of these alternatives, diplomacy – there are two alternatives! Dialogue after the preconditions you have laid down are fulfilled. Or dialogue irrespective of whether what you said were preconditions are fulfilled or not. To get the answer to the question whether the choice is only the binary one that the PM posits –“diplomacy or war” – consider two questions:

• How is it that Pakistan has been able to use a third option against us for 30 years? The option, namely, to inflict, and go on inflicting violence on us, but always do so at a level below the threshold that would trigger a full-scale war?

• How is it that Dawood Ibrahim is able to live in style in Karachi and go on orchestrating operations against India? How is it that Paresh Barua and other leaders of ULFA are able to hide in plain sight in Dacca and go on killing people in Assam?

The answer is obvious: Pakistan has built the requisite capacities, and we have not. After every assault, therefore, we are left in the same quandary: “Either diplomacy or war.” And “diplomacy” here means just going from one capital to the next requesting others to do our work for us.

But things obviously don’t stop there. There is the further lemma: “And as no sane person wants to go to war, the only way is dialogue.” And then the lemma after that: “As Pakistan has shown that it will not fulfill the pledge it had made of not allowing the territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, there is no alternative to giving up the precondition…”

And so we recommence dialogue – confident that the next assault will make us forget the last one.

Foretold

In the wake of the attacks in Mumbai, the Prime Minister and others in Government laid down two conditions for the resumption of talks and the “peace process”: that Pakistan must bring to book the ones who had planned, controlled and directed the operations from Pakistan; second, that it must dismantle the infrastructure and groups that it had built up for terrorist assaults against India.

These two conditions were reiterated again and again in the months that followed. S.M. Krishna emphasized them as the new Parliament commenced. I said and wrote then that the Government would be compelled to abandon these conditions and resume the so-called dialogue without any conditions whatsoever.

That required no astrology! The reason was simplicity itself. Americans are desperate to get out of Afghanistan. To do so while retaining the pretext that they have accomplished their objectives, they have to be able to claim that they have restored “normalcy”. For that they are dependent on Pakistan. They will, therefore, have to do Pakistan’s bidding. And that bidding will be, “Get us concessions from India.” They will, therefore, force the Government to make concessions. And the modality for that has to be resumption of “dialogue”.

The Government would have to do all this, I said, as it has become perilously dependent on the US.

How much more “composite”?

That is exactly what has happened. The Prime Minister has had a meeting with the Pakistani President. He has had a two-hour meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister. As The Hindu has reported, and as the Prime Minister has subsequently acknowledged, the head of the ISI, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has met Military Attaches in our embassy in Islamabad. There have been meetings at other levels – the “formal Track-II”, so to say. In the Sharm-el-Sheikh Joint Statement the roadmap for further talks has been set out: Foreign Secretaries will meet “as often as necessary,” the Foreign Ministers will meet during the forthcoming UN General Assembly session – which, incidentally, begins in just three weeks.

And the talks that have already started cover everything. The Joint Statement says that the two Prime Ministers “considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations…” Not just that. Our PM has pledged that “India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues” – the last two words being a euphemism for Kashmir.

The Government makes out that the “composite dialogue” shall actually be kept in abeyance till, as the PM put it in the Lok Sabha, “Pakistan fulfils, in letter and spirit, its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India.” Yet, as we have seen, the talks are taking place. The roadmap for further talks has been set out. The agenda is to cover everything.

A vital substitution

Several other aspects in regard to this sleight of words should be noted. Twice in his statement in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister; and then on the 31st July, S.M. Krishna in the Rajya Sabha laid down as the condition that “Pakistan fulfill, in letter and spirit, its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India.” Ostensibly this is the commitment that it had made in the Joint Declaration of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Musharraf in February 2004.

Do you notice the change the PM and Krishna have made? In the Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration the words had been carefully chosen: Pakistan shall not allow the territory “under its control” to be used for terrorist attacks against India – that meant the territory of Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Replacing “territory under its control” by “its territory”, as Manmohan Singh and Krishna have begun doing, means either of two things: either that we now recognize POK as Pakistani territory, something that the Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration specifically did not do; or that Pakistan does not have to do anything in regard to groups and infrastructure that it has created in POK and is using against India.

Another bit of bad drafting?

Furthermore, as “all issues, including outstanding issues” are on the table, has Parliament been told; have even the leaders of other political parties been taken into confidence; I dare ask, have other members of even the Cabinet Committee on Security been taken into confidence about the contours of the “solution” to Kashmir that the Government is prepared to arrive at with Pakistan?

Apart from the intrinsic importance of the issue of Kashmir, there are two reasons why the question is important. First, as we saw in the Nuclear Deal, and as we have now seen in the abandoning of preconditions to which the Prime Minister had committed himself and his Government, Manmohan Singh’s stratagem is to present everyone with a fait accompli. Second, the Resolution that the Parliament passed unanimously on Kashmir and which stands unaltered to this day is that the only unfinished business in regard to Kashmir is for India to get back the portion illegally occupied by Pakistan. Does the Government stand by that Resolution or not?

Foolhardiness to foolishness

Foolhardiness crosses all limits in two subsequent clauses of the Joint Statement. First, “Both Prime Ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed” – an expression that gives, to use the expression much favoured by the Prime Minister, a clean waiver to Pakistan from the commitment it had undertaken in the Vajpayee-Musharraf Joint Declaration.

Nor can this be put to bad drafting. For it faithfully reinforces what Manmohan Singh had agreed to in the statement he signed with Musharraf in April 2005. The peace process is “irreversible”, the two proclaimed. Further, the two “pledged that they would not allow terrorism to impede the peace process.” What was the result? Musharraf’s Army and ISI continued to execute their murderous operations against India; and the onus to keep these from impeding the peace process fell on India! The consequence of the new Statement will be exactly that.

The next provision raises foolhardiness to foolishness: “Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats.” Imagine this pledge had been signed earlier. The equivalent of Zaradari and Gilani in Pakistan receive information that the Indian Embassy in Kabul is going to be blown up. You think they will pass the information to India? Remember that even the friendly American agencies were constrained to say that the ISI had planned the assault. Or look at it the other way: we get to know that terrorists have captured Kuber, and are moving in to attack Taj, the Railway Station, Oberoi in Mumbai; should we give that information to the Pakistani Government so that its agencies and the handlers may alert the terrorists?

Will we never learn? In July 2006, there were a series of blasts in trains across Mumbai. Two hundred were killed. What was the creative response of our Government? Within two months, in another act of faith, it set up a “Joint Mechanism” with Pakistan for fighting terror! This was presented as the great breakthrough, the result of out-of-the-box thinking – “For the first time Pakistan has agreed to cooperate in curbing terrorism. No earlier Government has been able get Pakistan to do this.” If you count only the major strikes by Islamic groups and only from six months after the Mechanism was formed, giving it time to get functional, so to say, and excluding all the strikes in J&K and the entire Northeast, you bump into the explosions on 19 February 2007 near Diwana in Haryana: 68 killed; in Hyderabad on 18 May 2007: 11 killed; in Hyderabad again on 25 August: 44 killed; in Ajmer on 11 October: 3 killed; near simultaneous blasts in Varanasi, Faizabad, Lucknow: 15 killed; in Rampur on 1 January 2008: 8 killed; 8 blasts in Jaipur on 13 May 2008: 80 killed; 8 blasts in Bangalore on 25 July 2008; 17 blasts in Ahmedabad on 26 July 2008: 53 killed; 5 blasts across Delhi on 13 September, and again on 27 September 2008: 27 killed; 26 to 29 November 2008: assaults at multiple locations in Mumbai: 166 killed. In between, there was the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July 2008. And, of course, the attacks across Kashmir, and the Northeast… [For an authentic, regularly updated enumeration, see the outstanding South Asia Terrorism Portal, www.satp.org]

And all through the Joint Mechanism was holding meetings. Of course now, it will not just hold meetings. The Prime Ministers have pledged that it will also pass on or be furnished “real time, credible and actionable information”!

Narrowing even the single condition

That enumeration is a cruel reminder of another facet of our collective psychology: convenient amnesia. We allow, in fact, we almost use every assault to erase from our minds the memory of previous assaults. Of no one is this truer than of our governments. In the Joint Statement that our Prime Minister has signed, the demand that Pakistan dismantle and destroy the infrastructure and groups which it has set up to attack India, of course, finds no mention. But nor does any assault except the attack on 26/11 in Mumbai. The Indian demand has now been reduced to the minimum – that is, that Pakistan bring the organizers and directors of that attack to book.

And notice what the Pakistani Prime Minister has pledged to do even in regard to this minimal demand. In the Joint Statement we are told, “Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistani will do everything in its power in this regard.” And now see how things work out to the convenience of the perpetrators and organisers. Under pressure from countries across the world, Pakistan put the head of the LeT/JuD, Hafeez Sayeed, under house arrest. In the judgement which the Lahore High Court delivered on 6 June 2009, the High Court released Hafeez Sayeed even from the minor inconvenience of remaining in his own house, recording that not a single document had been brought on record that the Dawa or Sayeed or his associates were involved in the Mumbai incident. It also recorded that no evidence had been adduced to establish that Sayeed or any of his associates had any links with Al Qaeda or any other terrorist movement. Indeed, the court went on to say that “the security and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan are silent on Al Qaeda being a terrorist organisation.” When the case came up before the Pakistan Supreme Court, the position was no different. The oral remarks that fell from the Chief Justice were along the same lines. Sayeed has, therefore, been set free even from having to remain in his own house.

How very convenient! To make a show of doing something, you ask the man to stay in his house. At the hearings, you produce no evidence. The Court frees the man even from that minor inconvenience. And you claim that you have done everything you had pledged to do. Recall that the Pakistan Prime Minister has pledged Pakistan to do “everything in its power in this regard.” Surely, now the Pakistani authorities can say, “What can we do? Our courts have set the man free. Doing anything more about him or his associates is not in our power.”

In fact, what more evidence is required for proceeding against a person like Hafeez Sayeed or Sallauddin who operates to this day out of Muzzafarabad in POK? Their speeches are available on tapes by the hundreds. The literature recording their hate-filled words and the murderous declarations of their organisations against India and Indians are available in piles and piles of publications. But, to the convenience of all concerned, the court insists on “specific evidence”; the Government produces none; the court sets the man free to work his evil. The commitment enshrined in the Joint Declaration is fulfilled!

The perpetrator as Judge

Nor is that the end of this predictable tale. The Joint Statement goes on to record, “He [ the Prime Minister of Pakistan] said that Pakistan had provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information/evidence. Prime Minister Singh said that the dossier is being reviewed.” That is exactly what I had warned would happen. Soon after the Mumbai carnage, the Government announced that it would give detailed evidence and information to Pakistan. At that very time, I warned of the consequence of doing so: you will be installing Pakistan on the seat of the Judge; the authorities there, the controllers of those authorities – the very ones who would have sanctioned and planned these attacks – will now be pronouncing on whether the evidence you have given them is sufficient and credible or not. Even the Home Minister, P. Chidambram, has since been compelled to say that furnishing evidence to Pakistan has become an endless exercise – they just keep asking for more. As The Indian Express reported the other day, now Pakistan has asked for a sample of the “pink foam” taken on board MV Kuber; a statement from the Indian magistrate who recorded the confessional statement of Kasab; the testimony of experts who conducted the forensic examination of the GPS device; the testimony of experts that establishes that the terrorists were in touch with handlers in Pakistan; the interrogation reports of others who were first arrested, and so on. As for what we will do now, the Joint Statement records our Prime Minister assuring the PM of Pakistan, “the dossier is being reviewed”!

But through this dossier Pakistan has admitted that persons of and from Pakistan have been responsible for terrorist attacks on India, the PM says. This is the first time that Pakistan has made such an admission. The NDA Government was never able to get the Pakistan Government to admit as much… With Kasab in our hands, with his having made a detailed confession, admitting to the role of Pakistanis is the least that the Pakistan Government could have done.

I become the cause!

Then there is the howler regarding “Baluchistan and other areas.” Apropos of nothing, the Joint Statement records, “Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistani has some information on threats in Baluchistan and other areas.”

Pressed to put up some sort of defence, Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that this was just the unilateral view of the Pakistan Government. Is a Joint Statement of two Prime Ministers the place in which one of them records his unilateral assessment of some internal problem that is on his mind? And just see what the Prime Minister of Pakistan said immediately after the Sharm El Sheikh Statement was put out: “The Joint Statement underlines our concerns over India’s interference in Baluchistan and other areas of Pakistan.” The Interior Minister of Pakistan, the Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army have all been asserting that India is behind the troubles, and not just in Baluchistan. Pakistan has blamed the troubles in Swat, the explosions at the Police Academy in Lahore, even the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers on India. And here is our Prime Minister signing a Joint Statement incorporating this “unilateral view”.

The Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha that he had categorically told the Prime Minister of Pakistan that India had nothing to do with the troubles in Baluchistan, etc. As that was the case, what was the difficulty in adding one sentence after that “unilateral view” of the Pakistan Prime Minister? Why could just a few words not have been added to record, “In response, the Prime Minister of India said that India had nothing to do with the troubles in Baluchistan or any other areas of Pakistan”?

But the Government and its backers were not done. In both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, they invoked me to explain the reference to “Baluchistan and other areas” in the Joint Statement! Had I not said in Parliament, they demanded, had I not written that Pakistan will desist only when we acquire the capacity to do a Kashmir to Pakistan in Pakistan? Had I not said that Pakistan itself was presenting us opportunities in Baluchistan, Baltistan, POK, etc.? Had I not said, they asked, “Not an eye for an eye, not a tooth for a tooth. For an eye, both eyes. For a tooth, the whole jaw”? How can you now object to the reference to Baluchistan in the Statement? they demanded.

What importance these spokesmen confer on me! That two Prime Ministers should be moved to make a reference to matters just because of what I had said. I might as well say all that again. After all, that is exactly the view I hold. And may be, by my saying it again, in the next Joint Statement they will refer to me by name!!

Faithful drafting

To attribute all these things to “bad drafting” is worse than disingenuous. No official, certainly not a Foreign Secretary who has served the country with great distinction in the most delicate assignments for decades, would have slipped up on a document as important as a Joint Statement of two Prime Ministers. Quite obviously, someone whose command he could not disregard would have told him to agree to the words which we now find in the Joint Statement.

Moreover, the words faithfully reflect the convictions on which the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has been proceeding all these years. When the Joint Statement puts the victim of Pakistan’s terrorism – that is, India – at par with the perpetrator of that terrorism – that is, Pakistan – it does so in furtherance of his oft-expressed view that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. When this Joint Statement records, “Both Prime Ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed,” the Statement does no more than once again reaffirm what Dr. Manmohan Singh pledged in the statement he signed with President Musharraf in April 2005, namely that the two of them “would not allow terrorism to impede the peace process.”

Characteristic

But red herrings are the well-practiced device. The Government has signed the End Use Monitoring Agreement with the US. It maintains, with the same disingenuousness, that, in fact, the Agreement precludes the United States from unilateral inspections of equipment it supplies – that the venue and timing of the inspections shall be determined by India. This is how the Prime Minister put it in the Lok Sabha: “There is no provision – I repeat, there is no provision – for any unilateral action by the United States side with regard to inspection or related matters. India has the sovereign right to jointly decide, including through joint consultations, the verification procedure. Any verification has to follow a request; it has to be on a mutually-acceptable date and at a mutually acceptable venue. There is no provision for on-site inspections or granting of access to any military site or sensitive areas.”

The US supplies F-16 fighters. What will we do? Bring them for display for display and inspection to the India Gate? The US supplies some optical devices for our Air Force’s aircraft. What will we do? Take them out of the aircraft for them to be inspected at some civilian venue?

The fact is that American officials – Condoleezza Rice, Nicholas Burns, and others – had repeatedly assured the US Congress that the Administration would ensure, what they called fall-back safeguards. That is, if the US was not satisfied with the inspections that were carried out by the IAEA, the agreements to be signed with India would ensure that India would give access to US inspectors to inspect the equipment and materials which had come from the US. And the 123 Agreement specifically provided for this – all that it did was to replace the word “inspectors” by the word “experts”. India pledged under that Agreement to “facilitate” the visits of those “experts”.

The End Use Monitoring Agreement merely operationalizes that pledge, and enlarges it to cover all sensitive supplies from the US. That is how the US Assistant Secretary of State, Philip Crawley said that this new Agreement is part of the understandings arrived at during the negotiations of the Nuclear Deal. But we are to swallow, “mutually acceptable date and venue.”

The device is even more evident in regard to the Prime Minister’s new observation in regard to the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Throughout the discussions on the Nuclear Deal, when persons like me read out specific provisions of the 1954 US Act, of the Hyde Act, Government spokesman maintained, “But those are laws of the US. We are not bound by them.” The question was: “Is the US Government bound by them? Will US companies that will be exporting materials and reactors and technologies to India be bound by them?”

Persons like me read out the specific provisions of US laws as well as the repeated affirmations of President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and others in which they pledged that India would not be given the processing and enrichment technologies, and that the US Government would work with other members of the NSG to ensure that they also would not make such technologies available to India. But, “No, we are not bound by US laws or what US officials say… ‘Full” means full…”

And now see what the Prime Minister has slipped in. Responding to the concerns which members had expressed about restrictions that seem likely on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to India, the Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha:

“…our Government is fully committed to the achievement of full international civil nuclear co-operation. Consistent with this objective in September last year, India has secured a clean, and I repeat we secured a clean exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, one that was India specific. At that time also, there were attempts to make a distinction but we got a clean exemption which means that the Nuclear Suppliers Group consisting of 45 countries has agreed to transfer all technologies which are consistent with their national law.”

Did you notice the last seven words -- “which are consistent with their national law”? But, exactly as persons like me had pointed out at the time, the US laws – the 1954 Act, the Hyde Act, the new Act passed in October 2008 approving the 123 Agreement – prohibit the US from transferring such technologies and they bind the US Government to work with other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to ensure that they also refrain from transferring such technologies.

That is the device: do what you will; present everyone with a fait accompli; and slip in a few words every now and then to establish that you have done nothing which you have not already said you would do!

Just the trailer

Each step is leading to the next one. The Joint Statement which the Prime Minister has signed with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the disastrous concessions which he has made through it, are not a case of bad drafting. They are what the conductor – the US – finds convenient. We should, therefore, open our eyes to what is coming: pressures to withdraw over troops from Siachin; pressures to grant “autonomy” to Kashmir… All this simply because the US, dependent as it is on Pakistan today, has, to get Pakistan to curb the terrorists along its Afghan border, to deliver to Pakistan what the latter has not been will to get on its own.

Open your eyes now. No use wailing after the deeds are done.

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