The Pitch for Elusive Peace


I was reading the newspaper article on the meeting that happened recently at the Maldives between Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the media interview given by Dr Singh thereafter enroute to India.

While surely I liked some firm comments by Dr Singh on the Indo-Pak relationship, I was surprised (actually not surprised) to see his rather timid comment that another Mumbai-type terror attack (26/11 or the attack that killed 173 innocent people in Mumbai on 26th November 2008 by Pakistan-based terrorists) will be “a setback to the peace process”.

Can we be more shallow and timid than this kind of statement to the media ? The Indian Government has failed to extract any meaningful and reasonable actions from the Pakistani Government in the past 3 years, and could not even accelerate the execution of the lone Pakistani terrorist who is in a Mumbai jail awaiting resolution of his mercy petition. I would have expected Dr Singh to have been more emphatic (at least in front of the press !) and state clearly that India would not tolerate any terrorist action on Indian soil any more and would take decisive “military” action in response to the same, irrespective of any external pressures.

Well, we all know by now that Dr Singh is not given to such strong statements of the government’s unambiguous position (that does not exist). He has drawn much flak for describing Prime Minister Gilani as “a man of peace”, knowing rather well that democracy does not exist in Pakistan and major decisions (especially the ones involving India) are taken not by the government but by the military.

Dr Singh stated that Pakistan’s armed forces are fully on board with the peace process and the normalization of relations between the two countries – nothing could be farther from the truth and ground realities.

We have an undependable neighbour dominated by military ambitions to annex the rest of Jammu & Kashmir State and wanting to take revenge for the humiliation in the past three wars, and which is using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Unless the Indian citizens get proof that Pakistan is serious about bringing the 26/11 guilty to book and take decisive actions to dismantle the terror training camps on their side of Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, and show evidence of their actions, how can we just simply trust the statements made by their Prime Minister who apparently does not have full powers to countenance his own army ?

The facts are simple and there for everyone to see clearly. This time the Indian public is not going to let our own government off the hook on the Pakistan matter. If our current government goes fast on the peace process without any actual progress on the border intrusions by Pakistan-based terrorists, and on the 26/11 trials, then the next government in India will pull back on the normalization, invariably damaging the fragility in the relationship.

It is better to go very slow. Rather slow. And, avoid giving encouraging statements without real progress on the ground. Show proof, show action. That is what both governments have to do.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
13th November 2011
Mumbai

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