At a time when the Gujarat election fever pervades India, the timing of meeting between some Indian stalwarts and Pakistanis in New Delhi is intriguing. The Indians comprised a former Vice President, former PM, former Cabinet Minister, former diplomats, former Army Chief and journalists. One common trait or proclivity of most Indian stalwarts in attendance in the seminar and later at the dinner in the house of a former junior diplomat and Cabinet Minister, known for his intemperate acerbic English tongue, is the hostility, rather enmity towards the incumbent Prime Minister. This diplomat-politician must take inspiration from his senior colleague Mr Natwar Singh’s, assessment of Pakistani diplomats. Mr Singh who also attended the dinner writes in his book ‘’One Life Is Not Enough:’’ The quality of Pakistani diplomats cannot be questioned…For some Pakistani diplomats, the foreign service was both a cause and a career and for handful, it was a crusade… Keeping the Kashmir question alive on the international agenda for so long needed determination and skill. Even greater was their achievement in maintaining excellent relations with China and US, at India’s expense.’’ Sadly most of the said Indian stalwarts have also thrived on political and diplomatic capital of Pakistan and at India’s expense.
One of the gang, the former junior diplomat and cabinet minister on a visit to Pakistan publicly asked his hosts for help towards dislodging the incumbent Indian Prime Minister. How can Pakistan be of any help except by the only tool it is adept at wielding i.e. terrorism?
The Pakistani side amongst others had the former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and significantly the present High Commissioner, Sohail Mahmood. The post-event posturing of the participants neither inspires confidence nor reassurance, whether the meeting was to labour for peace between the two countries or wreck peace in India. That the meeting was attended by two highly regarded nationalists does not insulate it from machinations of anti-India Indo- Pak collaborators. At a seminar in Lucknow, which I was invited, another participant a Kashmiri youth leader utilized the occasion to elope with Basit, the then Pak High Commissioner, and together reappeared only at the very end. In fact seminars and dinners such as these are perfect ruse for Intelligence operatives. Considering the composition of the invitees, it is beyond doubt, it was in pursuance of an Intelligence operation of grave imperative and concern to the two sides. I can say this with experience.
As far as the Indian participants are concerned, were not some of these people feverishly advocating de-militarization of Siachen thereby suggesting that India withdraw troops from there? They did not even care to know that there are no Pak troops on the glacier, they are deployed on the other side of the Saltoro ridge. One amongst the gang, the former junior diplomat and cabinet minister on a visit to Pakistan publicly asked his hosts for help towards dislodging the incumbent Indian Prime Minister. How can Pakistan be of any help except by the only tool it is adept at wielding i.e. terrorism? After all, it is through the Indian Mujahedeen, an affiliate of Lashkar-e-Taiba, that Pakistan tried to eliminate the present Indian Prime Minister in Patna Gandhi Maidan in 2014.This author was very much present on the venue as the bombs went off. Was it another Pakistani attempt to influence politics in India?
Dismissing the steadfast conclusion of US Government, and even David Headley’s wife, some of the Indian participants at the seminar and dinner were mysteriously desperate to absolve Pakistan from the Samjhauta blasts and exerted to prove that it was a handiwork of so called Hindu terrorists. The former PM’s government ignored the Narco tests of SIMI activist Safdar Nagori, which revealed the identity of the two Pakistanis who had crossed the border to carry out Samjhauta blasts. Lest they ruined the script of Hindu terror, these two culprits were deliberately let off and dispatched to Pakistan. In the wake of Samjhauta blasts, Kasuri arrived in India on 21 Feb 2007. In his book ‘Neither Hawk Nor Dove’ he pontificates: “The attack on Samjhauta proves that terrorism has no religion.’’
When was the last time when Hindu terrorists from India struck Pakistan Mr Kasuri? Then, as on now were you playing a fixed match with some Indians? Just because the trajectory of global jihad has gone out of Pakistan’s control, do not create such binaries. No other religion except Islam has concept of Ummah, Caliphate, Shariat, Jihad and Gazwai-Hind.
When was the last time when Hindu terrorists from India struck Pakistan Mr Kasuri? Then, as on now were you playing a fixed match with some Indians?
These are the same very people whose heart beat for Ishrat Jahan, an Indian LeT operative. She was recruited to eliminate the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who is now the PM. Her end at the hands of security establishment of Gujarat, rattled the players in the government in Delhi so much that it pitted one Intelligence agency against another. It humiliated the Intelligence Bureau by subverting and unleashing another agency. It happened under the close watch of the same former PM who now has demanded apology for insinuating ‘subversion’ against him. It is another matter that he subverted the spirit of the constitution by accepting an arrangement by which he forfeited his right to choose his cabinet to an unconstitutional authority. Such an arrangement is inherently weak on integrity and is an invitation to subversion and blackmail by external powers.
The use of Pakistan and its leverages like Dawood Ibrahim and jihadi tanzeems like LeT has become a feature of Indian politics. It is this compulsion that makes some Indian politicians, like Pakistani politicians, to suffix honorific ‘Sahab’ to Hafeez Saeed. Pakistan’s ISI has been physically eliminating politicians like Benazir Bhutto. It makes civilian government capitulate whenever it deviates from the military determined foreign policy security path by use of mullahs and fundamentalists. The mullah-military partnership is intrinsic to Pakistan since creation of the country. The recent brokering of deal by a Maj Gen of ISI between the govt and the Barelvi fundamentalists, Tehreek -e- Labaik, whose 5000 cadres had blocked Islamabad –Peshawar road junction for three weeks was brazen display of manipulative power and capability of the military-intelligence establishment with regards to the politics of the country. The same it seems is being extended to India at the behest of anti-national parties and politicians.
He subverted the spirit of the constitution by accepting an arrangement by which he forfeited his right to choose his cabinet to an unconstitutional authority. Such an arrangement is inherently weak on integrity and is an invitation to subversion.
The tryst of Kashmiri Jihadis and Maoists in JNU was effected by ISI operatives in Pakistan High Commission. ISI has been desperately trying to destabilize UP through railway sabotage. Two recent acts of sabotage are glaring. On 10 August this year 77 Pandrol clips, used for fastening tracks were removed near Bareilly. On 03 Dec again 150 Pandrol clips were removed near Lucknow to cause derailment. The series of railway sabotage in UP began with the derailment of Patna-Indore Express near Kanpur in Nov 2016 which a toll of 150 lives. The attack was planned by ISI operative Mohd Shafi Sheikh who roped in a Nepalese citizen Shamshul Hoda. This was carried out to discredit the central government in run -up to the UP elections. So Pakistan has been trying to influence politics in India in different ways.
I was part of Track-II India-Pakistan meeting in Singapore. The seminar was a formal affair. I was asked to present a paper on Balochistan. The copies of the paper were distributed amongst Indian and Pakistani delegates well in advance. I presented my own perception of Balochistan, much to the dislike of the Pakistani delegates. There is thus no informality about such meets, and even if it is touted as one, national interests reign supreme.
There is never a Track-II at former PM and former Vice-President level, and that too in an atmosphere vitiated by hostile political overtones, as betrayed by the dinner’s host. Which side of the Indian political divide does this foul-mouthed former diplomat and politician wants the Pakistanis to weigh? Well this gentleman, as a student in UK weighed on the Chinese side during the 62 War. He collected funds on the behalf of Chinese. Most Indian invitees at the dinnner are known for their hostility rather enmity towards the present PM. One of them before demitting powers and privileges of high office for years commented that people of his community are not safe in India, another, known as accidental PM said that minorities had the first right over resources in India, and is also remembered for his subverted role at Sharm-al- Shaikh. What these stalwarts wished to achieve from their Pakistani counterparts which they could not otherwise in their long careers, they must tell the nation.
Track-II and informal outreach can only be allowed if it must complements and supplements the efforts of the government. Otherwise, such exercises, that are in abusive disregard of the government of the day constitutes an act of sedition.
If the intention of the stalwarts was the good of India, they could have kept the present government in loop. In this regard they must take cue from Kasuri’s patriotism. In his book’ Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove’ he describes his meeting with influential Americans in the wake of 26/11 i.e. Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham and Richard Hoolbrooke in Lahore after he ceased to be Foreign Minister of Pakistan in Nov 2007: “ My experience told me that this was as high powered delegation as it could be…..I instinctively understood that there must be something important… They said they were coming from India and there was a feeling of outrage and something needed to be done to release the pressure…… To my consternation, Senator McCain wanted to know from me, in view of my experience…what the reaction of the Pakistan Army and the public at large would be, if there was limited air raid on Murdike, the headquarters of Lashkar-e-Taiba…I was horrified at the mere suggestion….such a suggestion could not have come without their sounding out people at the highest level in India before their visit to Pakistan. After lunch was over, …I immediately rang General Hamid Javed, the liaison officer between the army and entire presidency during my tenure,—- I also rang General Kayani (DG ISI) directly.’’
In the process of writing the book ‘The Unmaking of Nepal’ I met the top hierarchy of Nepal several times before arriving at my assessment. Immediately on arrival at India I gave a talk at Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS). A representative of MEA was invited. Subsequently, I, on my own initiative briefed the JS (Nepal) at the MEA.
The Indian stalwarts therefore must realize that no dividends can be extruded from Track-II or informal outreach without involvement of the government of the day. Track-II and informal outreach can only be allowed if it complements and supplements the efforts of the government. Otherwise, such exercises, that are in abusive disregard of the government of the day constitutes an act of sedition.
By RSN Singh