January 21, 2002


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Varsha Bhosle

Behaviour patterns

This proxy war is a *horrible* business. One simply has no chance of dealing with the root of the menace since it simply doesn't appear before one. Instead, it sends its emissaries to do all the dirty work. So you face the agents as they pop up -- but that procession refuses to dwindle. For, the source of the problem is busy indoctrinating and mobilising more forces for combat. One gets so frustrated and drained by having to wage the same old war day after day, knowing well that that energy could be put to good use elsewhere.

How do I know all this for certain...? Well, since the last four days, your favourite mule-head has been battling her formidable aunt on the question of the names to be given to her newborn niece and nephew. As per Marathi tradition, the right of naming my brother's children is mine alone (the Constitution, as it were). However, since the brother was named by the formidable aunt, she wishes to name his progeny, too (hijacking of rights by emotional blackmail). One by one, I've been clashing with others of the family, all pressing the aunt's choice. No matter what their stake in the claim, they have to be felled (no need to bring up jihadis, I hope).

As in the country, there has to be a "man of peace" in the family, too. His suggestion was that I cede the right of naming one of the twins (turn the LoC into the IB). Which may (*may*) have been acceptable if the not-my names weren't so abhorable. Compromise was rejected because I'm more au courant with the modern world, and won't have my children cope with twisted nicknames and jeers in school (wise governments look ahead).

Then we have the "voice of reason", which said that the children were, after all, not my own and so the parents' wishes must rule blah blah. Which would be somewhat acceptable IF I could be certain that the parents would give their favoured names and not land up with the aunt's choice (like "independent" Kashmir with Pakistan), and that they eschew all tradition hereon and the name-giving ceremony, too (no Islamic criminal code? Then no Islamic marriage code, either). Half-measures are no measures at all; it's a travesty of justice. And so, the battle continues. But not to worry, I'll be telling you next week who won: Not for nothing is the son to be Ranjay -- "victory in the battlefield".

Glad that's off my chest; now to less pressing business...

On January 17, The Washington Post reported from Mang, PoK, that "As recently as last July, the two sides quietly discussed a plan that would carve up parts of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, but also give special autonomy to the central Kashmir Valley. The proposal died before it was publicly circulated. Sartaj Aziz, a former Pakistani foreign minister, said talks in recent years were on the right track before they were derailed by hard-liners."

Does the secret plan to carve up the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir come as a shock to you? It shouldn't. Aziz's "recent years" points to the BJP's reign, with its legitimising the usurpation of power by a military dictator; its accepting the claim of the Hurriyat -- whose members are Pakistani proxies, even paid monthly salaries by the terrorist State -- to be the "sole representatives" of the Kashmiri people; its releasing Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Abdul Ghani Bhat from jail after just six months; its delivering Masood Azhar to the Taliban; its "unilateral" ceasefire with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen; its bus diplomacy and Track II diplomacy with Pakistan.

In a series of articles, beginning with The Nobel Quest in August 2000, I indicated the BJP government's dismal and unprincipled record in power. And nearly a year before the Agra summit (the "last July"), I had predicted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee would sell Kashmir. Now we have an affirmation of the backdoor talks to carve up Kashmir.

Let me free-wheel here a bit... If you remember, January 2000 was to see the culmination of the Strobe Talbott-Jaswant Singh talks on signing the CTBT. In February 1999, the Entity, answering in the Lok Sabha, had rejected the Opposition's charges that the government had entered into a secret deal with the US. The deal was confirmed by media reports from Washington quoting Madeleine Albright saying that India and Pakistan had agreed to sign the CTBT.

In January 2000, Arundhati Ghosh wrote: "The public is being told that India could 'disaggregate' her approach and sign the CTBT without ratifying it for the present. If the intention indeed is to sign but not ratify, it is an act of bad faith... [for] we are obligated... not to violate the objectives or purposes of the treaty... The nation is being told that the tests at Pokhran have given our scientists sufficient data to build a credible nuclear deterrent. Are these scientists, or the government, willing to assure publicly that one 'weapon test' is sufficient to guarantee India's security forever... India's security requirements should not be seen through the narrow prism of this government's elected tenure or subordinated to make Washington happy."

Defence analyst Brahma Chellaney wrote on the secret deal: "A government committed to transparency has chucked the concept of transparency out of the window. A government committed to building a national consensus prior to signature is seeking to do the reverse: First cut a deal and then, through joint official spin with the Americans on the positive progress made, contrive a consensus."

As you can see, the deceitful duo -- the PM and his favourite minister -- follow a pattern of trying to dupe the public with covert deals. Denials and counter-denials, some punctuated with poetry at public rallies, are merely part of a process, the whole aim of which is to appease the West as well as the anti-nationalist elements in India.

The Entity, with his unintelligible extended Victorian sentences sung in a baritone, reminds me of the polo-playing, champagne-swilling courtiers of the British rulers. In December, reported his opposition to the home minister's demand that India should resort to hot pursuit of terrorists into PoK and destruction of their training camps. Never mind the merits/demerits of that demand, the Entity's entire opposition rested on the case that, as a partner of the US-led coalition, India needed to take permission from Uncle Sam. It's no surprise why the joke doing the rounds at the MEA is that the Americans don't need Ambassador Blackwill since they already have Jaswant Singh. Therefore, reports that George Fernandes and the Entity are at loggerheads over how to deal with the US and Pakistan are to be expected. Toadying to superior powers runs in the blood.

In truth, the Entity makes my stomach heave. It is a trial by fire to watch his supercilious expressions on television, as if the journalists at the press conference are his serfs. And to hear him call Musharraf "His Excellency" -- and even teach foreign journalists what the "correct" title for the usurper should be -- is enough to make me throw up. That he's the object of ridicule even with the peacenik press is demonstrated by Vir Sanghvi's column: Despite being warned about the Taliban, "our Foreign Minister decided to go to Kandahar to take custody of the hostages. He was humiliated even before he got off the plane. Maulana Masood Azhar... was the first to alight and the Taliban received him with hugs and kisses. By the time Jaswant Singh descended from the aircraft, the Taliban reception party had departed, taking Azhar away in a huge carcade. Jaswant was left to cool his heels on the tarmac for a quarter of an hour. No matter. He still managed to hold hands with the Taliban Foreign Minister for the TV cameras and paid fulsome tributes to the Afghan government for its 'help' during the hijacking."

(Aside: Speaking of unintelligible constructions, kindly tell me what this sentence, about the arrest of jihadis in Pakistan, means: "My hope is that in their areas the professed aim of the exercise to crop terrorism in Pakistan is not lost sight of." Methinks, the Entity is the BJP's answer to Pranab Mukherjee. Remember Pranab's "Een they aul paarty meeting hayld een Delhi, he did not tayl us that they shichuashaan resembeld a wuar. They inphiltrashaan not only deemonstrated puaar work oph they intellijaance agenshies but eet ij also a lapse on they part oph they Gaavermint"?)

You must be wondering why I'm still fixated on past deceptions while so much is going on at the LoC, no? You see, I'm certain that we are, yet again, about to undergo the manifestations of the behaviour patterns of the duplicitous duo. On Saturday, the Entity quoth, "This is a great country and we do not get pressurised or pressured", while clarifying that the US had no role to play in Indo-Pak issues. These are the kind of words and tone he used in Parliament to refute the CTBT secret-deal charge.

I'm afraid, we're going to be sold out very soon. The first clue came from the NYT: "The tone of Mr Fernandes's remarks was harsher than those made on Sunday by Jaswant Singh, and they set the bar very high for what Pakistan must do before India will pull back any of its hundreds of thousands of troops..." Basically, what Americans, whether government, analyst or housewife, want is for India to withdraw and "exercise restraint" while the US goes about doing its thing. I have no truck against them for looking only to their own interests, but I have all the venom in the world for Indians who can't stand on their own two feet. While George went ballistic with "de-escalation can come only -- I repeat only -- if and when cross-border terrorism is effectively stopped", the Entity is muttering about willingness to reverse the diplomatic measures if "His Excellency" merely agrees to take action on the list of 20 terrorists. After which, "His Excellency" said, "As far as non-Pakistanis are concerned, I do not know anybody in the list. We do not have them."

Point to note is, though the Entity's stable goes on about Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel, not a word is said about Syed Salahuddin -- the chief of Hizb and the United Jihad Council -- who, till 1987, was an Indian activist who swore by our Constitution and unsuccessfully contested J&K assembly elections as a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate. In other words, the government has conceded that the jihad in Kashmir is a "freedom struggle", and that while the extradition of criminals like Ibrahim is a legitimate demand, that of jihadis laying waste J&K is open to backdoor negotiations. The saddest part is, as my pal Daulat observed, "The thing that amuses me most is that another month of border tension and the Pakis will have run out of cash to keep the military on high alert. I notice that Powell said (about war) '...not desirable, at this point in time'. So it could be acceptable later?"

I'm sure that the PM and the Entity are at it again -- the quest for the Nobel. So here's what you can do: Pattern bomb all these addresses (and others, if you can find them) with your thoughts on why India should stand firm against Pakistan. This is a make-or-break point for us: if India wilts now and resurrects the Jaali Note Express and helps Pakistan's economy along, our soldiers will continue to die and we'll never be able to hold our heads up again.

Varsha Bhosle

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