Thursday, February 18, 2010


It is a marvel – and almost a miracle – that Jihadis took 14 months after 26/11 to strike again at a soft target; this time the German Bakery in Pune. And it can happen only in India! The week before the blast, even as the Jihadis were making their final preparations, virtually the whole of Maharashtra was obsessed with a Shah Rukh Khan movie! And in typically Indian fashion, there is a cacophony of voices arguing about the efficacy of any talks between India and Pakistan. That is expected in a democracy like India; there will always be a set of Indians who will think that love and brotherhood will ultimately defeat the hatred and mayhem unleashed by the Jihadis and there will always be a set of Indians who think that it is pointless to have any dialogue of any form with Pakistan.

I don’t think it really matters much whether India talks to Pakistan or not; at least when it comes to Jihadi attacks. Why, even a full fl edged all-out war against Pakistan will not stop the Jihadi attacks. The terror strikes will stop only if the Establishment in Pakistan stops defining its raison d etre in terms of permanent enmity with India. There is really nothing much India can do about that except hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. What is more worrisome is the manner in which India is dealing with its ‘strategic ally’ and partner United States. Ever since the nuclear deal was signed, there is this lingeringly naïve belief that America will always come out in support of India – both overtly and covertly – when it comes to tensions, disagreements and worse with China and Pakistan. This belief persists despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Of course, there are periodic bouts of ‘Et Tu Brutus’ agonising when India is given a wakeup call by America that pursues its own strategic interests; consequences for India be damned.

Just look at the scenario unfolding in the Af-Pak region. The ‘allies’ led by the armed forces of America have launched an all-out assault on the strongholds of Taliban. Uncle Sam is very worried that like in 2001, the Taliban fighters will melt away in Western Pakistan where they will find safe havens and the Jihadi version of steroids. It is very important for Pakistan not to allow that to happen. But why should Pakistan obey American dictates if there is nothing in the deal for it? Voila, let both terror and Kashmir be on the agenda of more talks between India and Pakistan. Voila, self important leaders and diplomats from the West start preaching to India about the importance of talking to Pakistan. And it is astonishing how many Indians are fooled, swayed and misled by this nonsense. I don’t know if talking to Pakistan will help India in any way or not. But I know for sure it will help America. I still recall 2003 when influential sections of India – both in the government and the media – were aggressively asking for India to send troops to Iraq to help the new ‘ally’ America. Thank God Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not allow that folly. Can Manmohan Singh draw some lessons?


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