Intelligence ?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

I was  invited yesterday to a get together at the Islamabad Club by the Indian High Commission because- as I was informed by the political officer of the High Commission- of my articles on the life of Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah,  the founding father of Pakistan,  in particular my piece titled “The Future Belongs To Jinnah”.    I went wearing a Pakistani flag on my chest.

To be fair I had expected the place fully surveilled by the Pakistani intelligence services but my idea of intelligence is …  shall we say … more intelligent. 

 As I parked my car,    I was accosted by two bearded gentlemen in shalwar kameez and at first I thought maybe I had parked in the handicapped space.  Instead they asked me “apna taruff karain”.   Taken aback I responded – “jee mein eik Pakistani shehri hoon”.   “App ka naam?”  they asked.   “Kiyoun app kon hain” was my counter question.  They said “intelligence”. I said “lagtay to nahin” before introducing myself.

The point is that I have nothing against intelligence gathering.   There are so many ways of intelligence gathering though, for example and this is for the benefit of our “Intelligence” Bureau:

1.  Bugs

2.  GPS-Tracking

3.   Hidden Cameras

Why must then Pakistanis like myself, whose patriotism should be beyond question and I’d like to emphasize this – in my view there isn’t a Pakistani more patriotic than me in Pakistan today-,  be made to feel like we are doing something wrong just by attending a dinner and a get together by Indians.   India is foreign country for us and I don’t understand why we are so insecure about it.    And why must it be done by people who stick out like a sore thumb?    Shouldn’t intelligence agents be smartly dressed gentlemen ordering martini at the bar at these affairs instead of people who can be spotted from miles away apparently as intelligence agents (I couldn’t because I thought all intelligence agents were 007) ?  I hope against hope that some of these intelligence agents are merely role-playing and are actually highly educated PhD types capable of nuanced analysis.   

And may I ask where our intelligence was when India was planning on constructing dams?  Or when India was about to go nuclear?  Or as it is now becoming clear that India has been arming dissidents in Balochistan?   Where was our intelligence service then?

Reminds me of the hilarious and yet tragic piece by Pakistan’s resident Indian bloggers, who I met last night, appropriately titled “Our James Bond”.

(Update:  I have received an email from someone who is an expert at this sorta thing informing me that Pakistani intelligence performs the dual function of both keeping an eye on the Indians and protecting them from terrorists.  If this is really the case it changes things somewhat and I stand corrected.)

29 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

29 responses to “Intelligence ?

  1. Me

    I was hoping you would write about this!

  2. vajra

    @YLH

    Read your hilarious piece with emotions ranging between laughter and tears of anger.

    Our goons in khaki are much, much worse. Just trust me on this; I know this from first-hand experience. There are outstanding and exceptional officers, surrounded by an ocean of mindless morons.

    With this knowledge in mind, it becomes very, very difficult to sit by as a passive listener when bright young souls who don’t have a clue about the real world outside their class-rooms or a/c offices warble about the sinister game against Pakistan run by R&W in Afghanistan and Baluchistan. This is so meaningless and unlikely that it leaves us completely bereft of argument. And please don’t throw at us a single, chuckle-headed idiot’s flesh-creeping insinuations without a single hard fact contained within as a contradiction.

    Just apply Occam’s Razor. Apply it to Afghanistan, for instance. Is it completely unknown that there was a history of Indo-Afghan cooperation right until Daoud Shah’s coup, and that thereafter it was neutered by India’s total confusion about the line to take in the circumstances? Is it unknown that after the victory over the Russians achieved by the freedom fighters backed by seconded members of the Pakistani military (by no means a criminal act) and the funds poured in by Washington and Riyadh, the runaway success of the Taliban, and their patent links to the Pakistani military establishment led to a sharp rise in the blood pressure of the Indian government, and thence to an alliance with the Northern Alliance? And is it too much to understand that after the Taliban were seen off by the Americans, Indian officials decided that a policy of masterly inactivity in Afghanistan would not cut it, and decided to intervene with economic aid?

    Which part of this is incomprehensible, and what leads to wild urban legends like 17 Indian consulates in Afghanistan? Each presumably churning out properly-indoctrinated, properly-trained and amply-paid Pakistan-hating guerrilla fighters? If this were true, where are these legions? Or is it that the power-transmission lines, schools and roads might rise up in arms against the nearest Talib going back after a long day’s hard work kicking women around, hanging men whose trousers aren’t short enough and ambushing some stupid Yanks just before their coffee-break?

    Why is it that Indian economic intervention is rooted in evil and Pakistan-hating, and far more self-centred, national-objective oriented activity like the PRC’s mining activity is glossed over?

    This is, once again, a protest against the propensity to attribute superhuman qualities to Indian intelligence (so-called), when in reality, these two sets of bozos are about the same in terms of capability.

    Our goons are stupider than your goons. Anything you can do, we can do better. Anything you can goof up, we can goof up better.

  3. yasserlatifhamdani

    Vajra sb,

    I am assuming that it is the Balochistan comment that may have upset you. There is a lot that has been written about Indian consulate at Zahidan and the activities it is involved in.

    Consider … C. Christine Faire of Rand Corporation who said, “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan.

    Afghanistan is also a very complex issue. Here is a very interesting piece by an Indian of seemingly sound credentials on why India’s Afghan policy is flawed :

    http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1903.html

    The assumption – and there was certainly this assumption fuelling India’s economic intervention in Afghanistan – is that Afghanistan is the natural theatre for Indo-Pak rivalry. It is not by any stretch of imagination.

    Why is it that Indian economic intervention is rooted in evil and Pakistan-hating, and far more self-centred, national-objective oriented activity like the PRC’s mining activity is glossed over?

    A self centred, national objective oriented activity is far less likely to be cause of suspicion than one that is based on altruism from a state which – let’s face it – is not the most developed country in the world at home.

  4. Mansoor Khalid

    The post is well narrated though one must keep in mind that this may be because of the currents threats to national security. Until we solve our political differences and learn to co-exist with our neighbors in a rather peaceful environment, we may have these experiences in future as well.

  5. B. Civilian

    these two sets of bozos are about the same in terms of capability.

    Our goons are stupider than your goons. Anything you can do, we can do better. Anything you can goof up, we can goof up better.

    in that case, why the protest?😉

    the article, at least, makes no direct or indirect mention of a’stan nor prc. so till you tell us about the’meaninglessness and unlikeliness’ of balochistan, we shall presume that you believe that the only thing similar between the two sets of goons is goofiness – like a blundering villain and a toddler may both be equally clumsy…. or the toddler even clumsier, in your view.🙂

  6. Majumdar

    Dada,

    I have to agree with YLH on this one. I am sure Indians are upto some hanky panky in B’stan/NWFP thru Iran and A’stan.

    A question for YLH/HP saeen: If Indians are indeed active thru Zahedan, why are Iranians on board considering the recent strained relationships between the two countries? Are both countries preparing for a revival of the Iran-Russia-India axis to deal with the Pak-Talib nexus in A’stan?

    Regards

  7. yasserlatifhamdani

    Iran is probably part of the consortium that wants to see the Big G drowned in the Arabian sea.

    In any event… CIA-Jundullah nexus etc as well Iranian mistrust of Pakistan’s alliance with US needs an equal and opposite reaction.

    In the game of grand strategy here everyone is holding everyone else’s hand… well except India and Pakistan…

    It is Pakistan-US …. US-India… India-Iran…

  8. vajra

    @ylh

    I am assuming that it is the Balochistan comment that may have upset you. There is a lot that has been written about Indian consulate at Zahidan and the activities it is involved in.

    Consider … C. Christine Faire of Rand Corporation who said, “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan.

    Put very simply, my comment was rooted in your excellent observation that the quality of Pakistani intelligence services was poor, and I took the opportunity to say that it was worse on our side of the border. Therefore, it was extremely unlikely that any unrest or difficulty caused in Baluchistan was due to the Machiavellian skills of the Indian intelligence services, it being agreed between us that they are a bungling lot.

    Further, I wanted to point out that discussions on Indian interference in Baluchistan repeatedly return to Christine Fair’s remark. To be precise, since you have pinned me down,

    And please don’t throw at us a single, chuckle-headed idiot’s flesh-creeping insinuations without a single hard fact contained within as a contradiction.

    I had Christine Fair in mind. And precisely because of this quotation. Please take another look at it, and consider my paraphrases below to see the sublime ridiculousness of her statement:


    “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! ”

    So what are they doing instead? Why was she being so coy, having gone as far as she did? And with friends and familiar acquaintances of the sort in that discussion? She never did say, so I am forced to extrapolate:

    “They have deviated from all norms of diplomatic activity. They have completely destroyed the local ethnic custom of everybody giving their laundry to professional washermen and washerwomen, because the money-minded lower level Indians have been hiring out their washing machines to local housewives.”

    What else? Well, there’s proof.


    “Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border.”

    Just one single, unsubstantiated statement? That’s it?

    Mind you, even here, she talks with certainty only about Mazar al Sharif, which as Rashid Dostum’s centre of operations, was certainly a consulate where there was much coming and going, if only of personnel travelling back and forth; she herself, even with her expansive remarks, does not assign more than a speculative value to such operations at Jalalabad or Kandahar.

    Three things, YLH.

    First, this business of the lady having been told by some mysterious, nebulous personage that this is going on, without either having observed it personally, or citing anyone who has observed it personally is a bit too much, especially when we have the Pakistani Foreign Secretary dismissing FBI reports and CIA reports alike as ‘literature’. Forget about personal observation, is there even an effort at identifying the sources of such interesting information?

    Second, why is her credibility higher than that of Shireen Mazarin or Zaid Hamid? We laugh our heads off at these two, but in what way, other than of being a white American, is Ms. Fair more credible? If she makes an equally ludicrous remark as Zaid Hamid’s tale of the Sikh grandma who was a Muslim in disguise, why are we not laughing at her, instead of quoting her?

    Third, have you read the interview in full, including her own words before and after? My recollection, having read it through several times, the first time through Gorki’s privately circulated version, was that 90% of her remarks tended to be in the opposite direction; only 10% or much less was of the sort quoted, and it seems to find life in the strangest of places.

    Before my hide is nailed to the wall, let me make it very clear that her credibility is so poor that her anti-Pakistan remarks in the subsequent course of that discussion deserve as much scepticism as her bald statements here do. I am not picking and choosing which of her statements to believe, and which to discard, but am asking that due to their very poor foundation, all her statements and announcements should be treated as alleged and as reported until and unless confirmed separately.

    Afghanistan is also a very complex issue. Here is a very interesting piece by an Indian of seemingly sound credentials on why India’s Afghan policy is flawed :

    http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1903.html

    The assumption – and there was certainly this assumption fuelling India’s economic intervention in Afghanistan – is that Afghanistan is the natural theatre for Indo-Pak rivalry. It is not by any stretch of imagination.

    Why is it that Indian economic intervention is rooted in evil and Pakistan-hating, and far more self-centred, national-objective oriented activity like the PRC’s mining activity is glossed over?

    A self centred, national objective oriented activity is far less likely to be cause of suspicion than one that is based on altruism from a state which – let’s face it – is not the most developed country in the world at home.

    I agree that India’s Afghan policy is flawed. However, my reasons for thinking so may not be the same as the Pakistan establishment.

    Why is Afghanistan a theatre for Indo-Pak rivalry? It should not be. Why is Pakistan there in the first place? Why is Pakistan not retiring from the scene of some of her biggest political and sociological blunders?

    Afghan hostility towards the Durand Line predates the Russian invasion and the counter-attack by the Taliban. I have read that Afghanistan gave Pakistan a great deal of trouble with her fanning the flames of Pashtun separatism. The only period when Pakistan had much influence over Afghan policy was during the period of the Taliban. There is no historical record of Pakistan dictating terms in Afghanistan; in historical terms, in fact, quite the contrary.

    Given the record of hostility between the two countries, and given the results of the survey conducted recently (reported in ATP or in PTH, I forget which) which showed that Afghan opinion of Pakistan and it’s role in Afghanistan was poor, to put it mildly, isn’t it better for Pakistan to drop this effort at seizing power in another country, and bringing its affairs under its own control?

    Liberal opinion should have been outraged at the attempt to restore a fundamentalist, regressive and mediaeval way of life to an entire country, as well as to the implicit surrender to the military’s myth of ‘strategic depth’. If this is not what you want for your own country, why do you wish it on another? And if the legitimisation and restoration of the Taliban is not what you wish for, then what is it that Pakistan wants in Afghanistan? India has stated its position clearly; what does Pakistan want?

    @B. Civilian

    It may be hoped that reading what I have written above may answer your question.

    The protest was against assuming that our intelligence services were organised enough to make trouble for Pakistan.

    @Majumdar

    And why do you think so? Any reason for doing so besides knowing that man is innately evil and India and Indians are innately perverse?

  9. hoss

    Welcome to the club. This line of questioning was and I assume still is pretty common. In the old days any one found outside the Soviet Cultural center in Karachi knew that he/she might be questioned. There always were topi, dhaarRi walay outside. But there is nothing surprising in this. I heard in the old days when the SU embassy used to be on the 16th Street, NW and later in Tinley town in Wash DC., FBI used to take pictures( of course without visitors knowledge) of all visitors and some used to be questioned.
    —-
    I think Vajra has a legit question. We precisely don’t know what Indian consulates in pretty much every major town in the Southeastern Afghanistan are doing. They certainly are not training another set of Muj there but I do think that, if nothing else, they are prolly listening to many people and if they can find some info, they are passing that on to the NATO and the US forces. So they might be helping out the US forces since it would be hard for the US to have so many consulate offices in every major town of Afghanistan. I am sure there is some Indian involvement in Baluchistan, NWFP, and the Pushtoon tribal areas too.
    I think there is nothing wrong with that. India has a legit right to have its spies, if I may say so, in the troubled areas that are NOT far from the Indian shores. Why should India not have a presence in an area which is in turmoil for such a long period? There are many countries involved in there already. Russia, China, US, and NATO countries are there. Some Arabs and Iranian are definitely involved in there. So I don’t find anything wrong with the Indian involvement and I also accept that Indians will always deny their involvement. I don’t think they are stupid to say that they are involved in Baluchistan or in the tribal areas. Pakistan has never admitted its involvement in Kashmir affairs even though the only person who visited Pak FS last week was Ali Gilani of Kashmir.
    I can understand Indian goals in the area too but like another poster (Vajra?) here, I am not sure if they can achieve those goals by being second fiddle to the US. Usually in the War zones the US has a militarized foreign policy. That to me means the Pentagon and the Generals in the area influence the policy more than Foggy Bottom or the 1600 Penn ave.
    India obviously has no history of working with the Pentagon and has always worked with Foggy Bottom and Penn Ave. That is a big handicap and I don’t know how Indians FP guru can overcome that. Pentagon works well with the Pakistan Generals and usually avoids dealing with the Civilian outfits in Pakistan. I am sure the Pentagon would love to deal with the Indian army directly but even the Indian army does not appear to be ready for an intimate relationship with the US army Generals in the area. It is not that they lack the skills or the civilians prohibit them from working with the Pentagon, it is all about building confidence and rapport with the US Military brass. To build that kind of liaison with the US army or the Pentagon, Indians Generals should have the flexibility which I think Indian civilians are not ready to concede.
    India is trying desperately to be part of the overall US strategy in the area and in the long run it might succeed but as long as the war zone diplomacy is going on in the area, India is not in a position to take lead in a big way and generally Pakistani Generals would be able to keep them out of contention through their relationship with Pentagon. I don’t know if it is good or bad for India. It has worked for the Generals but Pakistan as country has always suffered. Perhaps that is something Indians worry about too and that is why they like to see their Generals keep a little distance from the Pentagon.
    But for how long, considering the aggressive role India wants to play in the area.

  10. vajra

    @Hoss

    I think you have it right, I seriously doubt that our spooks can do much more than what you have mentioned, and that, in itself, is a useful role all around – the gathering of intelligence by debriefing locals.

    Regarding being present in every major town of south-eastern Afghanistan or every major town in Afghanistan, the reality is that there are consulates in Mazhar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar, besides the embassy in Kabul. Not even in Herat, not at the time I checked a few months ago. The one Pakistan has always resented is the one in Jalalabad. There are frequent references to ’17’ consulates in Afghanistan; I suspect that project offices for the infrastructure projects are getting counted into this number.

    Having got that out of the way, on the question of what India is doing and if she should be doing that:

    Indians are probably gathering information. There is little evidence of anything else: how, if at all, would they influence things in the war-zone in Afghanistan, where they are tied up with nobody, and both Pakistan and the US and NATO forces are attacking the Taliban? Considering that the majority population in the war-zone is Pushto, and considering that they have had three choices, pro-Popalzai, pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban, what choice could India have represented? The royalists, pro-Mohammedzai?

    That is my objection to Indian policy in Afghanistan. We are building roads, schools and power lines. For whom? Nobody wants them, except for the people who use them, and they don’t count, they can’t write their opinion.

  11. B. Civilian

    re. indian consulates

    the afghan govt had allowed additional consulates to india, iran and pakistan in a handful of cities. all three countries have returned to the same cities, and no more, as they had in 1979.

  12. vajra

    @B. Civilian
    @Hoss

    I was just informed that India has a consulate in Herat. This is to correct my statement in my immediate previous message.

  13. Hayyer

    Hoss:
    A most interesting comment, i.e. “India is trying desperately to be part of the overall US strategy in the area and in the long run it might succeed but as long as the war zone diplomacy is going on in the area, India is not in a position to take lead in a big way,”…
    Not true. India hopes to use American strategy to its own purpose and try to influence it in directions that would favour India, but nothing more than that is likely to have been planned.
    “…and generally Pakistani Generals would be able to keep them out of contention through their relationship with Pentagon. I don’t know if it is good or bad for India. It has worked for the Generals but Pakistan as country has always suffered. Perhaps that is something Indians worry about too and that is why they like to see their Generals keep a little distance from the Pentagon.”
    Actually neither Indian generals nor Indian political leaders want an independent relationship between our Army and the Pentagon. Nor is one possible. While our Foreign policy establishment and the Defence Brass may not always agree, they are in essence one, in relation to external matters. Defence attaches in the embassies do their bit of inputting and informing but all decisions are taken jointly in committee meetings in New Delhi. The Pentagon/Foggy Bottom disconnect that works for the Pakistan army is unthinkable in the Indian context.
    “But for how long, considering the aggressive role India wants to play in the area.”
    India would like to see an end to the Pak Taliban nexus maintained by the ISI. Our aggressiveness is a response to your aggressiveness, i.e. your strategic depth theory. Through the first three decades there was no aggression in Afghanistan just an anti Pak connection. The stakes nowadays are much higher.

  14. B. Civilian

    Defence attaches in the embassies do their bit of inputting and informing but all decisions are taken jointly in committee meetings in New Delhi

    try sending some ex-military as ambassadors. you might even see the equivalent of ours refusing to use the FM channels, and routing everything through the defence attache and GHQ channel. yet, i guess, when indian civil servants meet their pakistani counterparts, they think they’re meeting their counterparts.

  15. B. Civilian

    hoss

    i was reminded of when i, as a 14-year old, had ordered some literature through the soviet embassy. i had 3 or 4 visits from our guys at my home in lahore… over the next 2 months. they were very civil. don’t remember them asking anything too probing. then, another two months later, the books arrived.

  16. hoss

    “India hopes to use American strategy to its own purpose and try to influence it in directions that would favour India, but nothing more than that is likely to have been planned.”

    I don’t know it appears to me that we view Indian “purpose” in its policy to remain second fiddle to the US differently. I have still not been able to grasp, after discussing this with many Indians, what they think Indian policy is in the area and how following the US like a puppy would allow India to “influence it in directions that would favor India”. What I think we both might agree on is that India would very much like to be a dominant power and achieve a status of the only regional power in the area but how would India achieve that without dealing with Pakistan in an effective way is something that is undefined. If the Indian approach is to gain so much US confidence that US relegates Pakistan to a secondary position in distant future, and India is willing to wait it out, then the success of that strategy obviously would depend on multiple unknown factors. The known factors that I look at appear to show that India perhaps would not be able to achieve its goal of being accepted as the sole regional power as long as the US is all tied up in Afghanistan and central Asia. However, once the US decides to leave afghan and the central Asia, the Indians would not have the ability to ride on the US coattails anymore and in that case would not be able to “influence it in directions” that favor India.

    Pakistan’s game plan is simple and understandable no matter how you look at it. But India’s game plan is not so clear; India wants to be aggressive but its actions are always defensive now how you achieve your foreign policy goals by always playing defense is little beyond me.
    I would recommend you read this article at

    atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LB27Df01.html

    by M K Bhadrakumar.
    YHL has already quoted his another article above.

  17. hoss

    “i had 3 or 4 visits from our guys at my home in lahore… over the next 2 months. they were very civil.”

    I used to visit Soviet cultural center at Drigh Road(now Sh-faisel) near nursery in Karachi( We used to live behind that at Sindhi Muslim society) and the other one behind Tariq Road where some of my friends worked. Since I was a regular visitor, I learned to wave them off with a Bhag jao….I will not give you any info.

  18. Vajra

    @Hoss

    Your remarks underline the second half of the composite argument that needs to be made about India’s diabolical plans for its neighbourhood and its neighbours. The first half is to see clearly and without excessive dramatisation the singular incompetence of ground staff in the sub-continent. This itself is an argument against the hothouse conspiracy theories that proliferate when bright minds have nothing much to do. The second half, which you have raised with your usual trenchant turn of phrase, which for this once, it being deployed in a cause that I support, I vastly appreciate, is that India simply doesn’t have a clear policy in this regard. The only pretension to policy existed during Nehru’s time; it was radically altered to reflect the realpolitik which lay at the core of his daughter’s thinking; there was a weak and disastrous effort to replace it during the hapless Inder Gujral’s tenure, and there was an effort during Vajpayee’s Prime Ministership, which was promising but hamstrung by its constipated ideology; his colleagues saw to it that he did no such thing as achieved a peaceful solution with Pakistan, which would have left them without a career at the prime of their lives.

    Today, it is clear that the Indian leadership has decided that economics is what matters. If people are increasingly prosperous, if the poverty line steadily recedes, if food, clothing and shelter are increasingly readily available, if people can educate their children, and can hope for decent careers in the country itself, with no need to emigrate for livelihood, if the common citizen can afford an occasional holiday, if a reasonable standard of medical treatment is available – why, then they don’t need to do anything else! Unlike our neighbour, there is no overpowering urge to teach the other guy a lesson, and win back the laurels of 71, there is no need to prove anything to the Bangladeshis, and if people at the top are reasonably discreet and abstain from taking ‘panga’ with our northern neighbours, there is no reason to worry. Except about the fiscal deficit.

    If you sit down and examine the importance given to foreign policy, for that matter, the importance given to the Indian relationship with Pakistan, or the defence policy, you will find that the Indian leadership couldn’t care less. This latest budget is a clear reflection of what I am saying. It emphasises the feeling good that people have, it is all about the economy, yesterday’s disastrous Indo-Pak meeting is already forgotten, at least for the time being, and everyone wants to know if the tax rebate on IT companies in special zones will be extended after 2011 (the official answer was ‘no’, but the official response was ‘please, can’t you do something?’). The defence budget has actually shrunk.

    Does that not give you the clear picture that policy about Afghanistan is being formulated and detailed by some bureaucrats, the top leadership couldn’t care less? That Baluchistan if seriously plotted would be a hole in the pocket, which nobody wants just at this moment, when reducing the fiscal deficit has become a hugely important task? That the Indian leadership doesn’t want to fight a war and will go to any lengths to avoid a confrontation?

    Even if we don’t get these ground realities, the military leadership in Pakistan and its lackeys in the foreign ministry have got it and they’re acting on that knowledge. That’s what that kicking sand in India’s face was about, a clear recognition that the 800 lb. gorilla isn’t going to fight.

  19. Majumdar

    Dada,

    You are right. The economic situation is perhaps the most crucial issue facing the govt followed possibly by the Naxal problem. A’stan, B’stan etc are way down the priority.

    Regards

  20. Luq

    >the govt followed possibly by the Naxal problem.

    Actually the naxal problem seems to be smaller than previously thought.

    Luq

  21. Milind Kher

    The day the Indo Pak relationship transforms from one of mutual suspicion to mutual cooperation, we will be unbeatable

  22. hoss

    I posted this somewhere else but I think I can stretch this thread a bit longer by posting the same here too.

    “The one who controls the Nukes, ultimately controls the FP of the state. It is true for the US and it is true for Pak. So when you talk about the gradual surrender, are you pointing to the Pak army surrendering to the US-India pressure or you still would blame the civilians?

    The intransigent army refuses to see the needs of the state and its continued insistence on the army first, is slowly eroding the state’s ability to maintain a pragmatic FP. The surrender is perhaps unwittingly manufactured by the intransigent elements that fail to see long term interests of the country and insist on preserving its own goal as state policy.

    There was such a huge stamp of the Pak army FP on the recently concluded dialog with India that one can only regret the non diplomacy in it. This militarized FP would not help Pakistan in the long run and the breakpoints will emerge converting a gradual surrender to a swift surrender.

    Indian policy too is narrow-mined but Pakistan surrounded by so many enemies and internal problems, should have shown more flexibility in keep one front quiet while important issues are being resolved on the western front.

    While India can afford to be narrow-mined, Pakistan has much larger problems and taking a cocky approach after a minor victory would only spell disasters in future.”

  23. Suv

    I agree with Vajra that India is too preoccupied with economic concerns to wage proxy wars in Afghanistan and Baluchistan. India has its hands full in dealing with Naxal violence. I think it is best for India to become somewhat indifferent to Pakistan: not harm its interests in any manner and not spend too much diplomatic energy trying to improve relations. India should also abandon elusive SAFTA and instead sign a FTA with other countries in region like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives. India should also try to reach out to other neighbors like it has done for Bangladesh. I am not optimistic about good trade relations unless Pakistan clamps down on LeT, JuD, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen and grants MFN status to India.

  24. Gorki

    I too posted this elsewhere but think it is not out of place here so here goes:

    “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare”
    -James Madison 1795 A.D.

    I am not your typical peacenik, who wants to talk peace for its own sake but because I believe, it is today, in India’s strategic interests.

    I don’t believe that India will disintegrate from Pakistan’s ‘thousand cuts’ strategy but it will certainly shave off one or two percentage points from our growth rate in the next decade.

    To clarify my point, I reproduce below what a commentator, Sramana Mitra wrote in The Forbes recently:
    “India has a critical decade ahead. Managed well, it will catapult India into a developed country with superpower status. Managed poorly, the opportunity will be squandered”.

    I for one believe that it is the duty of every Indian, especially of those whom India provided a good education while others languished; to do everything in their power to see that India’s dream is not stunted.
    Even if that means talking to our adversaries to explain our own fears and compulsions; then so be it, if it will minimize the risk of war and mayhem in our subcontinent.

    There is another, equally crucial reason.
    Unlike what most people believe, no nation is ever composed of exactly like minded zombies, and no nation is a single social or a political group.

    Pakistan is no exception; while it has a rich concentration of men like Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul; it also contains many liberals and secular minded leftist thinkers; and then all sorts of people in between these two extremes.
    Yet opinion polls show that most Pakistanis today are united by a siege mentality that stems from a fear that the world, especially the Indians; are obsessively planning to destroy Pakistan. (It is beside the point that most Indians couldn’t care less about Pakistan (unless reminded of it by a terrorist attack or a cricket match).

    In such a climate, those with fascist tendencies and the right wingers continue to thrive and gain ground in Pakistan.
    They are the real enemy of India.

    I think that like the US and the West in the cold war; India and Indians should dispel this fear and misinformation among the ordinary citizens to fight this enemy.

    We should publicly declare that we oppose the Pakistani right wing establishment and its terror factories while we have nothing against the ordinary Pakistanis.
    Even as we refuse to talk with terrorists, we should direct our words to the ordinary, decent Pakistanis. We should not hesitate in making humanitarian gestures like providing advanced medical care to those who seek it, to even provide relief help in disasters and other such acts of goodwill.

    By politely but firmly pointing out that we will not yield to terror but ask nothing else of Pakistan, over time, we should weaken their fascists and the conspiracy theorists.

    This will have a huge benefit for India, not the least of which will be to strengthen our own secular polity by weakening the bigots in our own midst; since these feed of each other.

    In effect, I suggest that like the US vis-a-vis the USSR before; we should actively strive to undermine all that is undesirable about Pakistan today even as we try to make Pakistan more like us; a Muslim version of secular India rather than risk that some day, God forbid, we become a Hindu version of theocratic Pakistan.

    Regards

  25. Hayyer

    Hoss:
    India’s FP is not narrow minded so much as given to posturing with its feet stuck firmly in the mud.
    If I may briefly return to your earlier points-India is a sort of friend of the US only over the last decade or so. Earlier it was Pakistan all the way. Since then we have had some joint air exercises and maneuvers at land and sea, and some small time arms deals.
    America seeks to get India involved as its proxy in SE Asia against China. India is not about to let itself seriously get involved in that, though it might like being photographed in the posture of great power player.
    In Afghanistan similarly Advani’s impractical offer of Indian bases was to show down Pakistan, nothing more. It was posturing.
    You asked about Indian policy. As one who has no role in making it I can nevertheless attempt an outsider’s guess. It is ofcourse impossible to set out a 20 year FP goal for the country. Maybe Nazi Germany had one; maybe China, or the post war SU had one. Democratic governments cant think beyond the next election, and the immediate threat. FP is thus ad hoc except in very general terms. So what can we imagine Indian FP to be?
    Vis a vis Pakistan it is simply not to give any quarter over Kashmir, if it can be helped. Indian policy therefore is of a responsive kind vis a vis Pakistan. If you agree that since ’47 the initiative on Kashmir has always come from Pakistan then it is obvious enough that India has always responded. So it is in Afghanistan. India is the status quo power there and only wants to fend off Pakistani initiatives in that area. Otherwise India would be very happy to have trade and other links.
    Bangla Desh weighs heavily over the Indo Pak interchange. Here India is guilty, but the opportunty was a gift from Pakistan.
    But I keep asking what is Pakistan’s FP even if Kashmir is resolved (in whatever way). And this is where the PA’s attitude comes in. Sometime in the year following his coup Musharraf said that even if Kashmir were to be resolved animosity with India would remain. That provides the cue to Indian policy on Pakistan. If your army is able to conduct an independent foreign policy with an axiomatic foundation of hostility to India then you must understand, and of course accept the nature of the Indian response.
    To summarize, India says lets be friends but without Kashmir entering the discussion. Pakistan says solve Kashmir first and then we can think about friendship, and perhaps not even then. What sort of policy can you make from such attitudes?

  26. hoss

    “We should publicly declare that we oppose the Pakistani right wing establishment and its terror factories while we have nothing against the ordinary Pakistanis.”

    Gorki and Hayyar,
    Gorki actually made a brilliant point. I was thinking about it but could not figure out how it can be achieved. Hayyar’s post again lists the defensive measures that I mentioned and I think India perhaps needs to show more vision and take a progressive approach in dealing with Pakistan.
    …..
    My response got so lengthy that I have decided to send that to Yasser for publication as a separate article. I hope he publishes it. We will continue this discussion later.

  27. vajra

    @Hoss

    I agree that he has made a point which I think was hanging in the air waiting to be said in those precise words.

    It is however not enough for India to make such gestures and say such words. It should be possible to present to a maddeningly self-opinionated and thousand-headed hydra in our own country what the Pakistani responses will be – more than one response, since Pakistan is almost as differentiated a country as India (I think India is differentiated almost to the point of dysfunction). A Pakistani view on this is needed.

    Your note will be very educative. Looking forward to it.

  28. Dear hoss Sahib:

    Thanks. Will eagerly await your article.

    Vajra has a point.
    Peace talks, even if held in all sincerity are doomed to failure in the current climate since we first have to prepare our people first, patiently and pragmatically; for peace and by our own leaders.

    Regards.

  29. B. Civilian

    while it has a rich concentration of men like Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul

    people are easily taken in by conspiracy theorists into a siege mentality. but whose purpose does that serve?

    i’d have accepted that there was pre-existing support for zaid hamid types, if his dvd’s were just selling but not also made available for free… far too widely for far too long for it to have been simply a private enterprise.

    it is easy to make a people prone to accepting siege mentality; simply mismanage and misgovern the country for long enough to an extreme enough degree… and you’ve the perpetual machine that always puts you on the top. we know who is being served by this. who is more equal than all others? democracy is the only answer and would take care of the likes of zaid hamid and hamid gul, in the long run.