The seasonal infiltration by terrorists from across the Kashmir Line of Control has resumed. China rudely repeated its claim to entire Arunachal Pradesh while our Army Chief was in Beijing discussing Indiaï¿½s future joint military exercises with the Peopleï¿½s Liberation Army (PLA). Both our kowtowing government and opposition failed to demand cancellation of his visit. Despite peace talks with Pakistan and China, despite burgeoning trade with Beijing, nothing has changed on the ground. The time has come for hard decisions. History tells us that delay in taking them could be fatal.
This scribeï¿½s warnings about China over the years have been ignored by successive governments. Perhaps Indians are overly influenced by comment from the West. The Westï¿½s superior access to information persuades us to accept their advice with fatal consequences. But information is not knowledge. Knowledge comes from collating information correctly. Such collating comes from political empathy and insight.
In May 1960 I wrote that Pandit Nehru should resign because through his China policy he was like Neville Chamberlain leading us to disaster. The 1962 debacle with China occurred. The rest is history. Immediately after the recent American invasion of Iraq was launched I criticized it, predicting disaster in the war against terror. The Westï¿½s leading newspaper commentators supported the invasion. Today they are eating crow. For years I wrote repeatedly that the PLA often acted as a power centre independently of Chinaï¿½s communist government. Therefore the good vibes emanating from President Hu Jintao or Prime Minister Wen Jiabao should be ignored. As recently as 31 January 2007 I wrote in The Statesman: ï¿½The PLA from its inception has been a government within a government. President Hu Jintao may have appointed himself Chairman of Chinaï¿½s Central Military Commission, but he never served in the army. The last leader whom the PLA generals looked up to was Deng Xiaoping: he had participated in the Long March.ï¿½
The latest May/June 2007 issue of the prestigious US journal Foreign Affairs, brought out by Americaï¿½s powerful Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), carries an article by two China experts, Bates Gill and Martin Kleiber, analyzing decision-making in Beijing. The authors ask why China carries out provocations that counter its stated policy of becoming a responsible great power. They answer: ï¿½Put bluntly, Beijingï¿½s right hand may not have known what its left hand was doing. The PLA . . . proceeded without consulting other key parts of the Chinese security and foreign policy bureaucracy.ï¿½ This belated wisdom is welcome but of little consequence. America is a prisoner of past subversion. Its compromised leaders took fatal decisions that jeopardized US national security. America, therefore, is an unreliable source for advice on matters that concern our own national security.
Indeed, Londonï¿½s Telegraph actually implied that the US was vulnerable to Pakistani blackmail. A report in the paper dated 6 October 2006 disclosed how, on the day of the 9/11 attack, Pakistanï¿½s ISI chief LT General Mahmoud Ahmed was closeted with Bush administration officials. A few days earlier Ahmed had transferred $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers. When the US attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan, Musharraf asked Ahmed to quit. Ahmed is now living a comfortable retired life in Islamabad. Can Musharraf reveal something about the US role in 9/11 which compels the Bush administration to continue funding him heavily despite Pakistanï¿½s failure to check terrorists?
On 1 July 2002 I wrote: ï¿½India cannot trust the American government because it is divided. It cannot trust the Israeli government because Israel continues to have the closest relationship with China. It cannot trust the Chinese government because it is arming and encouraging Pakistan. It cannot trust the Pakistan government because it continues to export and support terrorism in Kashmir. India can only trust itself.ï¿½ True, it is bad form to keep quoting oneself. But Indiaï¿½s continuing drift impels one to shout from the housetop, in the hope that MEA mandarins will take note. If they do, what are Indiaï¿½s options? For a start, the following seven-point agenda is suggested.
- First, India should make an offer to Pakistan and Bangladesh to accept joint defence with all SAARC members. If they agree, their existing defence pacts with China must be terminated. If they disagree, India should abandon SAARC and promote bilateral ties with its neighbours. India is South Asiaï¿½s palm connected to four fingers ï¿½ Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal ï¿½ which are not connected with each other.
- Secondly, India should tell Kashmiris that self-determination for each segment of undivided Kashmir is acceptable, offering option of choosing India, Pakistan or independence, provided both Pakistan and Kashmir ï¿½ whatever JKï¿½s future status ï¿½ agree to enter joint defence and common market with India. Let Kashmiris persuade Pakistan if they wish.
- Thirdly, India should extend moral support to an independent Baluchistan which remained free for one full year after Pakistan was established. Pakistanï¿½s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah had stated during British rule that Baluchistan was not part of British India.
- Fourthly, India should support Afghanistan in its effort to implement the lapsed Durand Line Treaty by which tribal areas of Pakistanï¿½s NWFP must be returned to Afghanistan. India should support efforts for reconciliation between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban. Taliban should be encouraged to dissociate from Al Qaeda, though remaining free to retain orthodox Islamic tenets as long as they wish.
- Fifthly, India should ignore the 1954 Agreement on Tibet with China which lapsed after eight years of its signing and was never renewed. India should endorse the International Commission of Jurists which considered Tibet independent. This Commission adjudged that Tibet, before the 1950 Chinese occupation, possessed both actual and formal independence, and was a separate State throughout its history. India should demarcate the Indo-Tibetan border after discussions with Tibetï¿½s government-in-exile.
- Sixthly, India should step up ties with Taiwan, and offer Taipei missiles if it needs them.
- Finally, the governmentï¿½s decision to reduce the strength of our land army and to make it high-tech should be welcomed. India needs an effective N-deterrent. In addition India should introduce conscription of two years for all able-bodied citizens who seek a university degree or government employment. India should develop a huge citizen army with basic infantry training capable of preventing any part of India from being occupied by foreign forces. This trained manpower would be invaluable in implementing a rural infrastructural plan that generates massive employment.
India has over a billion people. It has rich natural resources. It has a huge domestic market. Reordered national investment and tightened governance can make it impervious to arm-twisting by any power.
What India lacks is leadership with vision and will.