Congress argues Pakistan’s case
The next six months are very crucial for the unity and territorial integrity of India. Anything can happen anytime. The manner in which the Congress and the UPA Government have behaved in the aftermath of the August 6 well-planned and meticulously executed barbarous attack by Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team (BAT) on our forward post in Poonch sector of Jammu & Kashmir, which culminated in the martyrdom of our five valiant soldiers, is an indication of the direction things are heading towards.
The provocation was extremely grave. It needed an immediate stringent action against rogue Islamabad to produce a moral effect and bring to justice the violators of the Line of Control (LoC) and perpetrators of the Chakan da Bagh massacre. Such an action was imperative to assuage the hurt feelings of the wounded nation, but the Congress and UPA Government virtually conspired against the nation, seemingly under pressure from US, UK and Pakistan, and brazenly exonerated Islamabad within 24 hours.
It remains a matter of shame that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister ganged up against the Indian Army to edit and alter the Army’s note on the despicable incident and deleted certain lines from it which had directly indicted the Pakistan Army for waging war in the Poonch sector and murdering in a cowardly manner our soldiers on routine patrol duty. They committed an unpardonable sin willfully overlooking the loud nationalist protests across the nation as well as the united opposition’s strong protests in and outside Parliament. Their whole objective was, it appears, to ensure that things did not climax to the point where it became impossible for Dr Singh to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and take forward the so-called peace process.
Indeed, AK Anthony stung the already rather angry and chaffing nation by censoring the truth and making a statement in both Houses of Parliament that undoubtedly compromised with the country’s paramount sovereign interest and let Islamabad go scot-free. He re-enacted Sharm-el-Sheikh in Parliament itself. His irresponsible statement, inter-alia, read: “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists, along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform”. The Army’s statement, which was already in public domain, on the contrary, had, inter-alia, said, “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists, along with soldiers of the Pakistan Army”. As expected, this unjustifiable contradiction provoked the entire opposition to tear into the Defence Minister and raise questions about the Indian foreign policy vis-à-vis Pakistan.
Sadly, the opposition’s loud protest on August 7 was questioned by a number of Congress ministers, including Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and I&B Minister Manish Tiwari, besides almost all Congress spokespersons. All accused the BJP of politicising the Poonch attack and declared in one voice that under no circumstances will the talks with Pakistan be derailed. “The Congress did not believe war is a solution, dialogue and discussion are the only way to resolve disputes with a neighbour and so, the Indian PM and Pakistan PM will be meeting (in New York),” they said. So much so, AICC general secretary and Congress media in-charge, Ajay Maken, rubbed salt on the wounds of the nation and undermined the splendid contribution of the Army by counting the number of terror-related incidents and the resultant deaths which took place during the NDA rule and UPA regime.
Under pressure from below, the Defence Minister on August 8 withdrew his previous statement and told Parliament that the Poonch attack was the handiwork of the Pakistani Army, but the damage had already been done. Even his fresh statement, which is being described as a U-turn, did not inspire the nation, as it nowhere said that India will avenge the gruesome killings of our soldiers and the UPA Government will see to it that the sanctity of the LoC was maintained at any cost. On the contrary, it left everything to the care of Pakistan.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley hit the nail on the head when he said that the “flip flop by the Defence Minister…on LoC killing has cost the country dearly” and the “government is obsessed with the idea of embracing Pakistan by diluting the offence”. He said this while reacting to the Defence Minister’s fresh Lok Sabha statement.
The fact is that what the Defence Minister said was not really a U-turn: it was a tactical and canny retreat designed to hoodwink the nation and facilitate the scheduled meeting between the Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers. His August 8 Lok Sabha statement doesn’t convey any other meaning. And what he did was consistent with the policy Dr Singh and his master, the Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, were pursuing since September 16, 2006.
The memory of what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did at Havana (Cuba) in 2006 and Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt) in 2009 and the complete U-turn his government took in March this year is still too fresh to be forgotten. On September 16, 2006, he sprung a big surprise by telling Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf that “Pakistan, like India, is also a victim of terrorism” and both India and Pakistan needed to fight this scourge together. On July 16, 2009, just six months after the terror attacks in the financial capital of India, Mumbai, which left 176 persons dead, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a statement with his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani. He de-linked terrorism from composite dialogue process and at the behest of Pakistan Premier included an atrocious reference to the alleged Indian involvement in subversive activities in Baluchistan.
On January 15 this year, a week after the murder, decapitation and beheading of Lance Naik Hem Raj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh by the Pakistan Army and Lashkar terrorists deep inside the Indian territory (Mendhar sector), he told reporters “there could not be business as usual with Pakistan” after the Mendhar incident. But on March 9, his Foreign Minister hosted a royal lunch to the butcher of Mendhar, Pakistan Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, at Rambagh Palace Hotel, Jaipur.
Similarly, the memory of what Foreign Minister SM Krishna did in Islamabad on July 15, 2010 and what he did a day later in New Delhi, still lingers in the Indian mind. At Islamabad, he allowed his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to abuse Union Home Secretary GK Pillai and equate him with the Lashkar chief, dreaded Hafiz Saeed, during the joint press conference. And in New Delhi, he publicly snubbed GK Pillai and said the Union Home Secretary was responsible for the collapse of the Islamabad composite dialogue process. He said Pillai vitiated the whole atmosphere on the eve of talks by making a statement on David Headley. Headley was privy to the conspiracy hatched by Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan Army and other rouge elements in the establishment against India – a conspiracy that culminated in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Likewise, the memory of what Qureshi said at Multan, his own home town, on February 10, 2010 and what Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on December 17 and 18, 2012, in New Delhi is also too fresh to be forgotten. On February 10, Qureshi said: “Pakistan did not kneel. India knelt under international pressure and resumed the stalled composite dialogue process”. And on December 17 and 18, Malik, among other provocative things, said that he didn’t want the “repeat of 9/11, Samjhauta Express and Babri Masjid” and denounced Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who had questioned his comparison between Ayodhya and terror attacks.
New Delhi only said “we should not give any credence” to what Malik said for home consumption. And what Salman Khurshid and other Congress said after Parliament adopted unanimous resolution on August 14 to counter the August 13 Pakistan National Assembly’s anti-India Jammu & Kashmir resolution? They all said the doors for dialogue with Pakistan are open, as one incident that “irritates us” cannot be allowed to hamper the dialogue process.
All this serves to demonstrate that the Congress has consistently argued the Pakistani case at the cost of India. That the Poonch massacre has not changed its attitude towards Pakistan one bit could be seen from the stand the Congress spokespersons took after the Defence Minister made a fresh statement in Lok Sabha. They said the talks with Pakistan will continue, come what may.
The opposition needs to watch with vigilance the activities of the UPA. It must ensure the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s New York visit. Remember, our Prime Minister is on record having said that he stands for porous border – “just a line on the map” – and for a non-territorial solution to the Kashmir problem. He may use the remaining period of his tenure to achieve his stated objectives.