There are people who cannot open their mouths without putting their foot into it. Congressmen do it all the time. But one never believed Manmohan Singh would do such acrobatics. He is a careful man-generally careful with his words.
But in Sharm-el-Sheikh he seems to have been carried away, and made a fool of himself. Either he is not familiar with international diplomacy-which certainly is not his cup of tea-or the Pakistanis tricked him into it. Either way, they are having a gay time shouting from roof tops how they made rings round the great man from India and the poor fellow doesn’t even know what hit him.
Why did he do it? He had taken an army of babus with him, none of whom seem to have warned him about what he was getting into. Were they also tricked by the Pakistanis? Singh didn’t have to sign anything. He also didn’t have to mention the B-word, just as Nehru didn’t have to mention the K-word, when, like Singh, he too fell into a similar trap. You cannot say it was a result of a faulty draft. Nehru and faulty draft? Our prime ministers are so full of themselves that they become victims of their own verbosity and fall flat on their faces.
One can only say that Singh has a complex about Pakistan just as Nehru had a complex about Muslims. He (Nehru) had once said that he was a Muslim and it was his misfortune to be born a Hindu. With all his blah-blah about Ganga and all that, Nehru hated Hindus and the fact that he was born a Hindu. Does our man Singh also suffer from a similar complex? If so, it is a case for psychiatrists, not political pundits and the sooner Singh & Co enter a clinic for thorough analysis, the bettor for all of us.
It was the Congress, led by Nehru & Co, that was responsible for the division of India and this has given them a permanent guilt complex. The guilt complex has now mutated into a permanent complex about Pakistan, which of course, exploits it, whether it is Kashmir, and now, Sharm-el-Shaikh.
It is this complex that makes people like Singh say stupid things about Indian Muslims, who, he once said, should have first charge over India’s wealth. Singh has a habit…Singh has a habit of saying foolish things like this from time to time. Either he has no idea what he is saying or he is forced to say such things to solve his guilty complex. He can go on saying them to his heart’s content, except that he happens to be the country’s Prime Minister and his words carry weight in the world at large.
There is also another reason why Congress leaders always humiliate themselves before the Pakistanis, the same reason that led Neville Chamberlain to prostrate himself before Adolf Hitler. This is also a question of psychology and we should try and get at the bottom of it.
Chamberlain was a scrap iron merchant from Birmingham before he entered the Parliament and became his country’s Prime Minister. His party was split into two camps, one led by him and the other by Winston Churchill and others who were implacably opposed to Hitler and everything he stood for. Chamberlain was backed by big business, which was really big in England in those days, with business empires spread out all over the world, and huge colonial empires with all that they meant for their business. Chamberlain was their representative in the Parliament and was duty bound to stand by them.
Chamberlain believed he could always make a deal with Hitler or at least with German industrialists who backed Hitler to the hilt. Hitler was under no such obligation himself. He was his own man and his rise owed little to big business. Businessmen were supporting him because they were bound to. Otherwise they would have ended up in concentration camps or have their heads chopped off. They were therefore eating out of his hands, and it was through them that Chamberlain was dealing with Hitler. Hitler had nothing but contempt for the Chamberlains of England but he would play the usual cat-and-mouse game with them until it was time for him to strike.
Is Pakistan trying to do the same thing with Manmohan Singh and others of his ilk? Pakistan is too small a country and is no match for India, but it has now a powerful man as protector, none other than Barack Husain Obama.
The Americans are pouring money into Pakistan, as much as five billion this month alone, and nearly as much for the next three years. Most of these funds will be earmarked for the armed forces, just as the bulk of the previous aid was also used for building up the army. Americans have always been very fond of dictators all over the world and seem to have a special attraction for countries like Pakistan. It is not clear who is exploiting whom, as happened in Vietnam but, in the process, it is Pakistan that is getting all the cash, and, with it, all the arms.
There is also another issue. It is not at all clear that the government led by Manmohan Singh is really serious about fighting terrorism in the first place. Singh & Co make a lot of noise about terrorism and terrorists, but it is so much hot air. After nearly nine years, Afzal Guru is still waiting in his cell and the government is apparently in no hurry to hang him. The Maharashtra government has spent crores on beautifying Ajmal Kasab’s cell in Mumbai and is feeding him biryani and kofta curry, as if he were its special guest. If this is the way Pakistani terrorists are treated in this country, why should Pakistan or any other country believe that we are serious about terrorism?
Look at the way George W Bush and his administration treated terrorists after they drove the planes into the Trade Centre in New York and killed thousands of innocent people eight years ago? The US army marched into Iraq and Afghanistan, two Muslim countries, and ground them into a pulp. There has not been a single attack on the US since, though the killers are active elsewhere, including India.
The lesson of Sharm-el-Shaikh is that Pakistan can go on helping the terrorists as before and India can go on with the so-called dialogue process-which actually means nothing, since there can never be any kind of normalcy between the two countries-as if nothing had happened. The K-word and the B-word cancel each other out. It is clear who has been made a fool on the banks of the Nile. This is what happens when you do not know who are your enemies and who are your friends, and ultimately fall flat on your face, as Chamberlain did at Munich and our Race Course friend in the desert of Egypt.
(The writer can be contacted at 301, Manikanchan Apts, Kanchan Galli, Pune)