IT was both interesting and agonising to watch the spat between the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party L K Advani in the Lok Sabha, in the course of the debate on the President’s address to Parliament. The senior BJP leader was in his characteristic élan successful in puncturing the UPA grand stand on talks with Pakistan and exposed the bankruptcy and confused lethargy afflicting the government’s approach on Pakistan.
It is a pathetic sight to see the Indian foreign policy besieged by contradictory pressures and pulls undermined by lobbyists and inspired leaks all giving room for its cavalier enemies to gloat over and celebrate. A successful foreign policy requires a single source, one clear voice speaking for the country. The greatest damage to India’s image has been done during the Manmohan Singh regime by the general impression, we hope we are wrong, that there are many masters handling the affairs in South Block and the final thrust comes from quite remote sources. There is a wide spread feeling, which often gets reflected in numerous opinion pieces on foreign affairs appearing in the press that India is under constant nudgings from the US to mend itself and talk with Pakistan. This is tragic enough.
It is of late confounded by the Prime Minister rushing to Saudi Arabia for “help” to tame Pakistan. Saudis have their own predilections, known to be indulgent towards Pakistan like the US and the Minister of State for External Affairs made it worse by qualifying the UPA intent as getting the Islamic State as “interlocutor”. Tharoor wants us to understand what he means when he says something, which of course has a different implication. Alexander Haig would have termed it as terminological inexactitude. And all these help India’s enemies surge, expand their trouble making capacity and leverage on the striking confusion reigning supreme in India’s Pakistan perspective.
This was at the root of the Prime Minister’s irritation with Advani’s piercing attack. So Dr Singh out of sync, brought up the NDA foreign policy and the talks with the US officials. The situation prevailing in the aftermath of India experimenting the atom bomb and emerging on the world scene as a nuclear power which resulted in sanctions that were later removed was entirely different from what the PM is doing now. Then India was asserting its position as a world power, now we are being seen as wobbling with even the most potent arguments and evidences against our neighbourly pin prick-not able to boast the sovereign right to defend the lives of Indians both domestically and abroad. It demands manly courage and certitude, not silly skittish for brawny points in the floor of the house.
India has always been insisting that it is capable of bilaterally handling Pakistan. The role of an interlocutor comes only when the two sides are not on talking terms. To hold a round of fruitless talks in Delhi and simultaneously run to Saudi Arabia was a show of desperation; if not utter contradiction. This marks a dangerous slide. There is no use talking to Pakistan, it is hara-kiri to have intermediaries like the US or Saudi Arabia to broker peace with a country whose raison d’etre are its cunning ego, consuming jealousy and boorish enmity to India.