Our friend, Home Minister P Chidambaram is back from the US after reporting to his bosses over there that Pakistan is not behaving properly and India is deeply dissatisfied with progress of ‘investigations” into 26/11 supposed to be conducted by Pakistan. Read that sentence again and you will start laughing. Firstly, it was the Home Minister who was reporting to Washington, not the Foreign Minister. Now, why should a home minister, or any minister for that matter, report to anyone outside the country? Are we a colony of the United States? Do we have to report to them every now and then as the Viceroy used to do to 10 Downing Street from time-to-time when we were indeed a colony?
Then comes the bit about investigations. Who says that Pakistan is conducting investigations? The Pakistan government’s writ does not run beyond a few miles outside Islamabad. How long since we had any news about Asif Ali Zardari, who is supposed to be Pakistan’s President? Is he still alive, maybe reading that book about Jinnah by his favourite author, or has he been bumped, as most Pakistani presidents are? And if he is out of action, who exactly has taken his place?
The fact is that if Chidambaram was in the US to complain about Pakistan, he went to the wrong place. Pakistan, the little bit that still exists on paper, and America are allies, and have been allies ever since the birth of that country. The two allies collaborate closely on everything from nuclear energy to missiles, and while Pakistan pretends to fight the terrorists, America pretends to believe it is really doing so. America has had bases in Pakistan for the last 50 years and will continue to do so till kingdom come. And currently it provides a big base for their forces in Afghanistan.
In fact, Barack Obama has realised that he has lost the fight in Afghanistan and the American people are tired of sending their young men to fight all over the world from where they return home in caskets. They do not know why they are fighting in Afghanistan just as they did not know why they were fighting in Vietnam. The Vietnam war was over long before it was officially declared closed and so is the Afghan war. Actually, almost the whole of Afghanistan is now under the Taliban, except a few bits around Kabul and it is a matter of time before that falls too.
When Chidambaram goes to Washington to complain against Pakistan, he will be complaining to the wrong party, for, as I said, Pakistan is an ally of America, and nothing happens in Pakistan without the knowledge of the United States. I am quite sure Washington has a copy of the list of complaints he has taken with him. America is not a neutral party in the affair; it is very much involved in everything that is happening in Pakistan. If Chidambaram does not know this, he has a great deal to learn, just as he had a great deal to learn about finance when he became Finance Minister. If Chidambaram is so keen on the Washington trip, let him have one, but let him not pretend that he is doing anything useful. The Americans in the State Department, or to whoever he will be reporting, will be laughing behind his back and saying under their breath what a foolish lot Indians are, as our minister goes from office to office asking for a hearing.
Then there is another colleague of Chidambaram’s in the cabinet, the so-called Minister of External Affairs, so-called because we rarely hear about him, and who, one would have thought, would be doing what Chidambaram proposes to do. But SM Krishna, that is what his name is in case you do not know, seems to be the least informed Foreign Minister in this part of the world. He told reporters in Delhi that the India-China border is the most peaceful around India and our relations with China have never been friendlier.
You can say that again. Krishna feels that China’s incursions into India-and this is what our air force has said in so many words-are no incursions at all and in any case, there is a committee of experts to look into such problems. “I don’t think”, said the man who is more interested in his wardrobe than in the goings-on in Ladakh, or wherever it is that the Chinese are massing, and called for his tailor to stitch another band-gala for his next outing in, where else, Venezuela.
If small-time committees could tackle problems of incursions, you would not need armies and navies at all. All wars start when nations intrude, often with their armies, into other nations’ backyards. This is how the Second World War started. Right up to the start of the war, Neville Chamberlain was saying that everything was under control, that all committees, to tackle border disputes were in place, and everybody could switch off lights and go to sleep. Incidentally, Chamberlain was fond of natty suits too, except that they were of the wrong cut, just like Krishna’s suits!
Actually it was Chamberlain, like Krishna, who was going to sleep, while Hitler was cooking up maps and alerting his cronies. Krishna is basically a babu; he thinks that all problems can be solved if you have proper files with proper notings and nothing can go wrong as long as the files are there. And that is precisely what Krishna is saying. He says that there are proper border dispute committees with a joint secretary, a deputy secretary and maybe a couple of peons, and as long as they have not reported anything, everything is fine. And if the Chinese are really intent on creating trouble, they will first inform the committee-in triplicate-and then we shall see what to do.
The Chinese fooled even Nehru, for, he called all such incursions cartographic aggressions-Nehru was a master of words, for didn’t he spend time in Eton and Cambridge, where such words are coined?-meaning they were no problems at all and not worth fighting over. The Chinese didn’t think so. They may have invented paper two thousand years ago, but they have more faith in their armies than that in their fancy paperwork. They came over the Himalayas, firing from all sides, and in no time at all, had Nehru running for cover, looking for help. And there was no trace of the border committees and, of course, Nehru’s faithful but useless servant, Krishna Menon.
We have another Krishna who operated from Maurya Sheraton at a cost of Rs one lakh per day, and he is going about mumbling the same nonsense. Surely, the least Manmohan Singh can do is get another foreign minister and send this Maurya Krishna back to wherever he came from!