Policy of Reconciliation

India has been trying very hard over the past couple of months to appease its “friendly” neighbour.

I mean, not China but Pakistan.

The Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has outstretched his hand towards the Pakistani Prime Minister on more occasions than one, the most famous being their joint attendance at the India – Pakistan World Cup Cricket Match at Mohali in Punjab.

This, after having failed repeatedly and consistently to get any commitment from Pakistani Government to bring the 26/11 perpetrators to justice in Pakistan. After having produced enormous evidence in multiple dossiers and submitted the same to the Pakistani Government. After agreeing to allow a Pakistani Investigative team to meet and interrogate the lone Pakistani terrorist captured during the 26/11 attacks.

So, what do we do ? We cannot launch a war on Pakistan today, as easily as we did in the past. We cannot use the U.S. to arm twist Pakistan, as the U.S. is perennially worried about losing control of Pakistan in uncertain times. We cannot also use only diplomacy. We cannot work with the Pakistanis.

And, what do we do ? We stretch our hands towards someone who we know for sure is not going to be faithful in any negotiations. Who is not true to his profession. Who is again led by sermons and sermonizing by the all-powerful Pakistani army and the dreaded ISI (the military intelligence unit of Pakistan).

Is this going to work ?

Surely not. Let us wait and watch and see for ourselves. There are only two things that India can do, which will affect Pakistan militarily (forcing them to spend more and more money every year on their military hardware in the context of a rather poor nation) and mentally. These are as follows: enhance our annual budget allocation for the armed forces to somewhere close to 5% of our GDP, which would work out to some USD 70B in FY11-12. This would come also closer to the amount being spent by the Chinese (atleast the publicly announced figures).

The second thing that we can do very effectively is to use a task force of experienced, savvy and knowledgeable diplomats to exercise “soft” power in the leading Capitals of the world, specifically the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, Germany, Brazil, some of the key African countries, and some of the key Asian countries, and build a consensus towards dismantling the terror network operating within Pakistan, making it legally and morally untenable in the eyes of the comity of nations and the U.N.

This would force Pakistan to change, however not by much. Diplomacy is a waste of time with Pakistan. But is there an alternative ? We need to constantly dialog with all key players and with China to ensure that Pakistan does not step out of the “expected” line.

We cannot choose our neighbours for sure. Neither can we ignore the part of the family which has split off from the main family and which is persistent in giving troubles to the parent family.

Reconciliation just for the sake of achieving some political and personal goals will never work, it has never worked anywhere. There is no basis.


Vijay Srinivasan
15th May 2011


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