INDIAN ‘MUNICH’ AT HAVANA?

By

Anil Athale

 

 

"Human blunders…usually do more to shape history

  than human wickedness." A.J.P. Taylor

 

Roughly around the same time when Mumbai Police were unravelling the 7/11 train blasts case and pointing out the clear leads to Pakistan came the bolt from the blue in terms of Indo-Pak agreement to establish a joint mechanism to fight terror. Terror that is being unleashed by Pakistani establishment against India since 1980s, ie for 26 years. First it was the pre-text of Khalistan and later Kashmir. With one stroke Indians have managed to equate the victims of terrorism with the principal originator of this scourge.

 

 Appeasement policy of last several years ( under rule of different parties) is responsible for the terrorism is instinctively understood by most Indians. Our leaders have been offering concessions, at the expense of Indian citizens life.  Have we realized that we are dealing with a state with a insatiable territorial appetite. Appeasement is being packaged as a sensible "middle   ground" that would be a highly sensible foreign policy in the light of India's economic problems. With the arrival of present UPA govt. fear of nuclear war seems to have given way to the desire to avoid conflict or violence altogether. While military inadequacy is often cited as justification, little effort seems to be going in the direction of creation of appropriate capability to deal with a rouge neighbour. 

 

The Indian people are  perceived as totally war weary and generally   pacifists. Examples are various TV  debate, Peace Ballot and various elections in which this is not an issue  at all. Indian indifference towards various terrorist acts, all the crowds at Sonia Gandhi’s meetings , politicians have the impression that "the country would not allow us to take drastic action in what they regard as a global problem." Hence they geared their foreign and  defence policy towards their perceived sense of public opinion.

 

Such conclusions are debatable. TV debates are openly rigged by leftist and pseudo Peaceniks. Most opinion polls show that the people would support a strong line against terrorism. .

 

Mystery behind the Havana Declaration

 

 

Most security analysts in India were mystified by the sudden about turn of our PM on the issue of Pak sponsored terrorism in India. Just as the gory details of Pakistani involvement in 1993 Mumbai blasts were being proved in court of law, the police and intelligence agency had found definite leads to 7/11 train blasts that led to Pakistan. At this stage  the Indian PM agreed to have a joint mechanism with Pakistan to tackle terror. But Musharraf capers in the US has solved that mystery. First is the PM’s rather cautious tone at the CM’s conclave in Nainital shows that he himself does not believe that much would come out of this initiative. As a starter, India would ask for Dawood and Azhar Mehmood ( the Jaish E Mohammad chief) and Pakistan has already refused, even without us asking. But the Havana declaration did have a salutary effect in Pakistan.

 

Prior to Havana, Musharraf was under tremendous domestic pressure after the killing of Akbar Ahmed Bugti, failure to amend ‘Hudood law’ ( that punishes rape victim for adultery unless she can produce four male Muslims as eyewitness) and opposition getting together. The life line thrown by Indian PM has certainly bolstered his position in Pakistan, for there is now a genuine peace constituency there. Musharraf wasted no time in claiming it as a diplomatic victory of sorts. But our PM was obviously aware of pitfalls and Musharraf’s game plan in US, for despite being at virtual doorstep of US, he skipped the UN General Assembly session. Then why did a sceptical Prime Minister do a ‘Munich’ at Havana? ( Munich Sep 1938 when Hitler outmanoeuvred Neville Chamberlain).

 

The answer to this ‘mystery’ is to be found in the fact that today the Americans desperately need Musharraf. With enough on their plate in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly Iran, the US has no stomach for facing another front in Pakistan. Over the years Musharraf has succeeded in selling the idea that only he can prevent  Talibanisation of Pakistan.

 

This was witnessed by me and Lt. General Eric Vas even in April 2000. During our discussions with chief advisor on South Asia, he constantly brought up the point that New Delhi must help Musharraf consolidate his power and he is the only chance to stop radicalisation of Pakistan. Interestingly at that very time, in another room, this same person was having a pow-wow  with Lt. Gen Mehamood ( the then ISI chief who was later sacked due to his alleged links to Al Quiada) for he would every now and then would flit in and out of the room. The US establishment regards Musharraf as ‘their’ man  in Pakistan. With the Havana agreement, the Indian PM has probably collected an IOU from the Americans to be en-cashed elsewhere, may be on nuclear deal?

 

There is a precedent to this kind of real politik. Readers may recall that post nuclear tests in June 1998 Pakistan was in dire economic straits. India ( despite false dooms day predictions by some economic writers) on the other hand had been able to ride the storm of economic sanctions and actually got greater inflow of foreign exchange through the ‘Resurgent India Bonds’. At this time Mr. Vajpayee bailed out Pakistan by importing sugar worth $200 million. 

 

The real question is will India also pay as heavy a price for the ‘Munich’ as the British did?