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July 20, 1999

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E-Mail this column to a friend Monu Nalapat

No business as usual, please

If India has retained control of the Kashmir valley, the credit for that should go to Pakistan. In 1992-93, eager to bring the insurgency to a swift and victorious conclusion that would establish the valley as another breeding ground for the drugs-terror industry, Islamabad began pushing in large numbers of Punjabis and Afghans across the border. Historically, Kashmiris have always had unpleasant associations with these two groups, and it was not long before a reaction set in. In effect, many valley Sunnis who had till then supported Pakistan decided that the Indian kafirs were preferable to Afghans and Punjabis who once again grabbed the best houses and women. Soon, many Sunnis took up arms to fight these intruders, and the tide turned against Pakistan.

All Ajit Kumar, as defence secretary, was interested in was fighting the brass at the service headquarters, not the Pakistani threat. No doubt Brajesh Mishra, a great friend of Ajit Kumar and his charming wife, will ensure a fresh promotion for this officer, who has done much to hurt armed forces morale and preparedness. Just as the Vajpayee government is extra solicitous of the welfare of officers connected to 10, Janpath, so too are officers sabotaging the Indian first agenda.

An example is the effort to ensure that multinational companies can set up shop in the country over the objections of their Indian joint venture partners. In the Gulf, citizens of the GCC countries are given preference in employment, and it is mandatory to have local partners for most enterprises. In India, local business is discriminated against by a government that has, over five decades, ensured erratic water and power supply, poor transport and communications links, and miserable financial and other infrastructure.

The move to bypass Indian joint venture partners totally is part of the Sonia Agenda that the Vajpayee government is so religiously following. Both Brajesh Mishra and Ajit Kumar have been involved in this reversal of policy. For Brajesh, the step will earn him brownie points when he succeeds in getting what he has been angling for, exchanging US envoy Naresh Chandra's job with his own. As Indian ambassador to the US, Brajesh will be able to live closer to his two US-settled children.

Thanks to his efforts at building bridges to 10, Janpath, there is every reason to expect that he will not be disturbed should Sonia Gandhi take over as prime minister after the poll. Truly, planning on a methodical and long-range basis. One that the comments in his old confidential assessments fail to forecast.

While supporters of the Sonia ideology in the Vajpayee government may taste success in their efforts at wiping out much of the Indian corporate sector, their success in denying the armed forces the weapons needed to beat back Pakistan's religious fanatics may soon be over. Night vision goggles, snowshoes, assault rifles, light bullet-proof vests and helmets, laser designators, naphta flares for aircraft and much else that is needed in mountain war was denied to the troops. However, thanks to the public reaction to the Pakistani incursions in Kargil, no longer will it be possible to cripple the armed forces. Clearances will need to be issued, and essential equipment procured without waiting for the thousands of 'scientists' in the state defence labs to reinvent the wheel.

Had the DRDO concentrated on a few core items, it would have had a better record. Instead, it has spread its embrace so wide that the results are dismal. The DRDO needs to focus just on missiles and ultra-sophisticated items, and let private research labs take care of the rest. However, that would mean the retrenchment of hundreds of 'scientists', hence the unwillingness to prioritise defence research and applications.

Whenever bureaucrats wanted to stall the purchase of an essential item, they would get an obliging DRDO official to say that it can be done in-house. Needless to say, such promises are never intended to be kept, and are not. DRDO delays have played havoc with troop preparedness.

Kargil means this is no longer possible, and that the DRDO-will-do-it excuse will no longer wash. Again, thanks are due to Pakistan, just as it is the savage treatment of the captured soldiers that has put steel into the morale of India's airmen and soldiers, who are determined to eliminate such vermin from Indian soil. Clearly, Pakistan needs no RAW help to destroy the country. It is doing an excellent job.

In less than a decade, Pakistan can be expected to become a country of unbearable internal strife, till the Sindhis, Shias, Baluchis, Pathans, Quadianis and Seraikis are given the same right as the Sunni Punjabi ruling class. Only after this shift takes place can India relax her guard and permit such measures as open borders. So long as the present ruling regional-communal elite controls Islamabad, no amount of talks will change their fanatic determination to destroy India piece by piece, beginning with Kashmir.

Which is why it is disconcerting to hear the persistent wail of the Mishra government (poor Atal has little to do with it, thanks to his kidney and prostate problems, as friends of his know only too well) that India will resume talks with Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir just as soon as our troops remove the current infiltrators from Kargil.

No. Brajesh, it can NOT be business as usual.

Such a policy will only encourage fresh aggression by Islamabad, just as the follies of 1948, 1965, 1972 and 1998 have. New Delhi has to make clear that there will be no security dialogue with Pakistan until that country stops its narco-terror operations in India. At the same time, the WTO should be approached to ensure that the arbitrary and illegal restrictions on Indian goods in the Pakistan market get lifted.

Indeed, a veritable trade war needs to be waged against Islamabad. Steps should be taken to bring down the international prices of rice and cotton, so as to deny foreign exchange to that terrorist state. The cost of this will be far cheaper than the insurgency that a financially invigorated Pakistan can unleash. Indian goods should be allowed to flood across the borders without hindrance, if necessary with their origins concealed. Entities in Iran, the Gulf or the Maldives should be located for such trade. Only a ruthless policy designed to harm the interests of the Pakistan ruling class can divert them from their criminal actions. Not feeble bleats that all will revert to normal once the intruders are thrown out.

It is strange that the Vajpayee government has allowed itself to be hijacked by the ideological twins of Sonia Gandhi, so that there is today no difference between the two. This is what comes of not appointing genuinely competent individuals to man PMO posts.

Even today, despite his health, Vajpayee can make amends by replacing those responsible for the Kargil fiasco with others such as T R Satish Chandran or even former Karnataka chief secretary Sankaranarayanan

This columnist is an admirer of Vajpayee, who has done much to ensure that the BJP reconfigures itself to meet the needs of a modern country. Under Atal, the party has shed much of its Taliban image, and has given the minorities a security that they did not enjoy under the Congress. Had his kidney disease not come in the way, there is little doubt that the prime minister would have been able to prevent certain bureaucrats from hijacking and smothering his agenda. Vajpayee needs to go beyond personal likes and appoint a good team at the PMO, which is the fulcrum of the administration. Unless he does so, more disasters are inevitable.

An example of how some elements in the BJP ape the Taliban is provided by the Maharashtra Hindutva fanatics who want to stop women working after 8 pm. If they themselves keep off the streets, women will be safe in Maharashtra, a state with a glorious tradition of chivalry and valour.

Or to take another example, the effort to see that the AIR and DD newsreaders were 'properly covered, including the arms'. Why not hide them under a huge wicker basket? In this way, there is no doubt that no male would be enticed (at the sight of a talking basket), save the odd pervert who gets turned on by wicker, and who can be identified by hundreds of thousands of Saudi-style Moral Police, who peep through windows (curtains would, of course, be banned) to see whether anyone is getting frenetic when the news is on the air.

Such Taliban-style thinking by the spiritual cousins of the Lahore fanatics on India will truly lead to this country becoming a basket case. It was a breath of fresh air to see a photo of young Ms Advani -- in jeans. Only a tolerant society deserves to be known as a Sanatanist one.

Rather than become a clone of the Sonia set, the Vajpayee team needs to ensure that credible deterrents are put in place against Pakistani adventurism. The cost to Islamabad should be severe, else we will continue to firefight while the pyromaniacs roam free. The Indian navy should as part of this strategy intercept North Korean vessels on the high seas to ensure that they are not carrying missile parts to Pakistan. A Vishnu Bhagwat, and not an Ajit Kumar strategy, needs to be followed against the drugs-terror mafia before they convert India into another Pakistan.

The Sonia ideology champions within the Mishra government say that Nawaz Sharief is distinct from troublemakers, and that the poor fellow needs to be given help. Perhaps Sharief's legendary hospitality to Indians in transit to London or the Gulf has something to do with this wail. There was speculation that the chief of Pakistan's army, Pervez Musharraf, is a Sharief man, which was why this mediocrity replaced Jehangir Karamat. The fact is that Karamat was given marching orders because he tired to clear up his troops from contact with narcotics cartels. The obedient Nawaz meekly agreed to this, as he did to Kargil

Talks with such a group are doomed to disappointment. What is needed is to reciprocate evil with good. Specifically, the giving of moral and material support to the oppressed people in Pakistan. They should get the wherewithal to fight the domination of the Lahore mafia, and to campaign to make Pakistan a genuinely federal state. In the same way, the Taliban should be punished for acting as the servants of the Lahore mafia by helping genuine Pashtun patriots in Afghanistan and Pakistan to win the right of self-determination, together with Seraikis, Baluchis and Sindhis. The proud Pashtuns, in particular, have been cruelly colonised by the Lahore mafia, which is using them as human fodder in their adventures against India.

In 1948, 1965, 1972 and 1998 Pakistan was given the benefit of the doubt. It was assumed to be a civilised country, a rational one. This it will be only after the innocent people of that unhappy land are given human rights and freedoms. It is time for a jihad to liberate them from slavery to the narco-terror mafia. Should Vajpayee continue to follow a Sonia policy towards Pakistan, he will betray the voters who saw a difference between him and the Dynasty. It is time that the Mishra government gave way to a Vajpayee administration.

Monu Nalapat

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