INDIA’s GOLIATHS


by Deepika Jaitley

The Indian Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh is respected for his rational thinking and careful statements. He took considerable flak from the hawks when he agreed to discuss Baluchistan with Pakistan at Sharm al Shaikh. Pakistan had complained of Indian interference in Pakistan’s south western province adjoining Afghanistan. There was nothing wrong with Mr Singh’s stance if India was not involved but those who knew better sensed danger. Now after the first talks between Foreign Secretaries after more than a year’s break he is the one who has said that dialogue is the only way to settle disputes and has also said that India is willing to ‘go the extra mile’ if Pakistan addresses terrorism. Pakistan is addressing terrorism but the point is that both sides have to accept the common threat and then evolve a mechanism for addressing the problem. Mr Singh does not slam doors shut—he leaves them ajar.

This is in sharp contrast to what senior military people in India are saying about matters that do not concern them. The retiring Indian Army Chief started the ball rolling with his talk of ‘cold start operations’, limited war under a ‘nuclear overhang’ and fighting a two front war with Pakistan and China. A former Indian Army Chief has now criticized Indian policies as being passive and has advocated the use of power in more aggressive policies. This is a first for India because the military in India does not venture into policy making domains nor do its senior military people criticize politicians. bureaucrats and policies publicly. No doubt there are others with similar ideas. They are focused on narrow issues and perhaps not aware of the vulnerabilities and domestic issues that India’s political leadership is addressing through diplomacy and economic policies. India’s political leadership and the bureaucracy in North and South Blocks should take note and nip a rising problem in the bud.

Most Track II gatherings of Indian and Pakistani experts end up with positive suggestions for reconciliation and conflict resolution. There are peace lobbies and peace constituencies in both countries. There are good confidence building measures in place. Of course there are problems, there is a trust deficit and there are outstanding issues. The answer is not in beating the drums of war but in pursuing tracks that lead to resolution and peace. By slamming doors in each others faces and closing options we are playing with the destiny of the people of the sub-continent. The past has to be used for learning lessons not for reliving it.  Regional harmony depends on the relations between India and Pakistan and their cooperation against terror and for stability in Afghanistan

There are people in Pakistan too who advocate standing up to India and policies of confrontation under the ‘nuclear overhang’—just like their counterparts in India. The leadership in Pakistan and those involved in Track II are showing maturity and restraint. Pakistan is moving towards political stability and has repeatedly said that it does not want an arms race with India—in fact Pakistan cannot afford such a race. If India has power and confidence then its diplomacy must reassure and create a climate for peace and conflict resolution. Brandishing power or using it for short term gains is not policy—it is folly—and those advocating it are not acting in India’s interests

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One Response to “INDIA’s GOLIATHS”

  1. Democratic Club and friends. Says:

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