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Friday, July 16

Well, I see it's time to impeach Manmohan Singh. (UPDATED July 19 and 22)

UPDATE July 22
From his Wednesday post it's clear B. Raman took another look at the fallout from S.M. Krishna's embassy to Pakistan and came up with a conclusion that I find to be quite different from his initial opinion (which so upset me; see the post below). This time he's on the money, with criticism for G. K. Pillai's loose lips, and for Krishna's pursed lips in the face of S. M. Qureshi's grandstanding. Raman also rightly criticizes Krishna for his publicly blaming Pillai. Pillai certainly deserves blame, but this should have been done behind closed doors.

All in all it's a complete mess, but I still think the buck stops at the PM's desk.
UPDATE July 19
An Indian reader wrote:
We don't usually impeach our prime ministers - just throw them out of office via a Vote of No Confidence in parliament. I daresay if Mr Singh gets thrown out, it will be because of the ~10% inflation or the ~18% food price inflation we've had for more than a year now, before he gets thrown out for screwing up on Pakistan. Sugar prices appreciated ~100% in a couple of months timeframe earlier this year, lentils went up ~200% and so on and so forth. The ability to screw up on Pakistan seems to be a criteria for qualification to become prime minister ...
I delved more deeply this weekend into the contretemps between Pakistan and India's foreign ministers; it could be there's a backstory the public isn't privy to.
"Uncertain about its goals and ever-eager to appease, India has allowed a failing state one-seventh its size to smother it."

It's interesting how much Pakistan's regime gets away with. They are helped at every turn by government leaders in foreign countries whose behavior encourages the regime to keep getting away with murder. Yet in the case of India such behavior is suicidal.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government claims to have evidence that Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, directed the 26/11/08 terrorist attack on Indian civilians in Mumbai. Why, then, would Singh direct his foreign office to engage in 'trust-building' talks with counterparts in Pakistan's government? If you're so damned certain that a government has launched a terrorist attack on your soil, why go to that country for tea and crumpets? Just showing up for the 'trust-building' dialogue suggests you don't take your own accusations seriously.

The only consequence of note to emerge from the diplomatic initiative, which played out yesterday, is that Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, grandstanded. Frankly, Qureshi was entitled to play drama queen; he was doing the right thing: staunchly defending his country's interests. He made India's Foreign Minister, S. M. Krishna, look cold-blooded to the point of creepy -- although that hardly needed assistance.

There is indeed something creepy about the way Krishna worked mention of 26/11 into the discussion -- as if the massacre was simply a bargaining chip.

I note that B. Raman, one of my favorite counterterrorism analysts, who worked for the Indian government for many years, showed the same attitude in his post about the initiative:
... The objective of the meeting as agreed to by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Pakistani Prime Minister at their meeting at Thimpu in the margins of the SAARC summit ( April 28-29) was to create an atmosphere of trust between the two countries to facilitate the resumption of a formal dialogue on various pending issues. The proposed objective of the meeting as laid down by the two Prime Ministers was strategic, positive and forward-looking and not tactical and negative impeding a forward movement in bilateral relations.

One got the impression that instead the two Foreign Ministers had focussed totally on tactical issues without doing a brain-storming on various actions that could be taken to build trust. ...
But you can't have a positive and forward-looking dialogue with a government that you believe has murdered your citizens in cold blood, and which consistently practices deception and denial about their aggression.

The rest of Raman's post is taken up with a discussion of technical diplomatic maneuvers. Yet Raman was devastated by the Mumbai massacre; he took it very personally because of his years of work at India's R&AW intelligence agency; he even wrote a book about 26/11. And many times on his blog he has called out Pakistan's regime on the issue of their involvement in the massacre. And he has never once been fooled by the machinations that the Obama administration has deployed against Delhi. But on the matter of India's diplomacy with Pakistan's government, Raman's July 15 post makes Neville Chamberlain sound like Churchill.

It's almost as if technocrats in the Indian government consider it unseemly to wrestle in the mud with Pakistan's regime. But even the United Nations, which has always bent over backward to avoid criticizing Pakistan's military-backed regime, came out swinging against the ISI in their April 2910 report on Benazir Bhutto's assassination. The panel convened to investigate her death showed more clarity about the key issue of Pakistan's sponsorship of terrorism than India's government -- a major victim of the terrorism!

Rajeev Srinivasan's July 13 op-ed for DNA, titled India's Strategic Blunders, underscores the Indian government's self-defeating approach to Pakistan, which invites Islamabad to continue their covert war against India:
Several distinct but related events have shown that India’s alleged Pakistan policy is either non-existent or self-defeating. First, there is the all-but-complete transfer of two 635-mw Chinese nuclear reactors to Pakistan, which will allow them to build 24 more nuclear bombs every year in addition to their existing stockpile of 70-90, already bigger than India’s.

Second, the violence in Jammu and Kashmir is a direct result of the decision by the government to withdraw 30,000 troops. Third, the apparent willingness by Afghan president Hamid Karzai to cooperate with the intensely anti-India Haqqani network implies the total failure of India’s efforts to be a stakeholder in that nation.

China has simply ignored the proforma noises that the US made at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group regarding likely weapons proliferation because of the new reactors being transferred to Pakistan. Selig Harrison, writing in The Boston Globe, pointed out how proliferation is part of Pakistani national policy. Despite this, and despite all the government of India’s exertions to ram the so-called ‘nuclear deal’ down India’s throat, America has no qualms about the Pakistani stockpile.

Thus the dubious nuclear deal has had the effect of strengthening Pakistan’s hand, while constraining India’s puny efforts at building a deterrent against China, exactly as opponents of the deal said, while the government proceeded with it in a haze of lies and subterfuge.

Second, the sudden upsurge of violence in Jammu and Kashmir is almost certainly a calibrated and calculated ratcheting up of tension by the ISI. Intercepted phone calls suggest that the ISI and pals like the LeT are paying ‘rage-boys’ to indulge in stone-throwing and other violence, expecting to induce over-reaction by the stressed-out paramilitary troops and police. This, then, can lead to manufactured ‘martyrs’.

The ISI has reason to believe it is on a winning track. Statements by the prime minister in Havana, Sharm-el-Sheikh and Thimphu have implied that, succumbing to American pressure, India is willing to make concessions on Kashmir to Pakistan, the only issue being how to market such a climbdown to the Indian public.

The coded talk of ‘creative solutions’ and ‘trust deficit’ have been interpreted by the Pakistanis as a ‘deficit of will’, and the likelihood that they can make J&K simply too expensive for India to hang on to. The proximate cause is the withdrawal of 30,000 troops. To the ISI, this spells “we have the UPA on the run”. They perceive a ‘backbone deficit’ and lack of will.

Intriguingly, this is almost the same feeling that the ISI has about the Obama administration after its disastrous declaration of a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. They, and their proxy, the Taliban, feel that all they have to do is to wait things out — the Americans have no will to fight. Apparently president Karzai implicitly believes this — witness his alleged overtures to the Taliban and the Haqqani network. Karzai, Taliban and Haqqanis are all Pashtuns. [1]

Pashtuns account for about 40% of the Afghan population, with large groups of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras among others. India has traditionally had good relationships with the Pashtuns but even better ties to the Tajiks, who, under the charismatic military genius Ahmed Shah Massoud of the Northern Alliance, held off the Soviets and then the Taliban.

Now all the blood and treasure — hundreds of millions of dollars — that India has poured into reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan seem to be in jeopardy because the Pakistanis have convinced the US and others that India has no business whatsoever in Afghanistan. India was not even invited to talks about that nation.

The irony is that the Pashtun issue is one of Pakistan’s key weaknesses — the Durand Line arbitrarily divides Pashtun territory into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtuns themselves have never recognised it, and if given a chance, would create an independent Pashtunistan on both sides of the Durand Line.

This, of course, would be disaster for Pakistan, as it might induce restive Baluchis and Sindhis to secede as well. In fact, some analysts suggest just such a balkanisation to solve the Pakistan problem.

Somehow, the enterprising ISI has turned this weakness into a strength, by hijacking the Pashtun elements into their proxy Taliban. Similarly, the ISI, which faced the wrath of America after 9/11 with its peremptory warning to president Musharraf to behave, or else, has turned it into a $25 billion bonanza. Ironically, the Americans are in effect subsidising the Pakistani purchase of Chinese reactors!

Instead of containing Pakistan with a pincer movement with one front in Afghanistan, India is now in the unenviable situation that the ISI has achieved the ‘strategic depth’ it has always craved.

Uncertain about its goals and ever-eager to appease, India has allowed a failing state one-seventh its size to smother it. Lack of strategic intent has led to dismal failure yet again.
1) Karzai vehemently denied to General David Petraeus that he held negotiations with the Haqqanis; see The Alienation of Hamid Karzai, which I linked to yesterday, for why I'm weighted to believe him. However, given his desperation about the Obama administration's clear intent to cut and run from Afghanistan, I wouldn't put it past Karzai to have started a rumor he was negotiating with the Haqqanis. In any event the rumor certainly got a rise out of Washington.

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