BJP leader Mr. Arun Jaitley has demanded an explanation from Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh for certain remarks the latter made in his recent press conference. Mr. Manmohan Singh claimed that there was almost a breakthrough in the Indo-Pakistan dialogue during his interaction with President Musharraf.
It was well known that the Pakistan President had suggested converting the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir into an international boundary, the creation of soft borders to allow free movement of peoples across both states, and joint management of Kashmir by the governments of India and Pakistan. The Indian government did not counter this proposal with any amendment. I had welcomed the proposal and written then that this arrangement was impractical unless there was a joint defence treaty between the armies of both nations. Joint management of Kashmir by both governments was not feasible as long as the armies of both nations remained in contention.
Mr. Jaitley has implicitly criticized the Prime Minister for describing this as a possible breakthrough. His rationale for criticism is significant. Mr. Jaitley demanded: “What was this possible resolution on Kashmir? The people of India are entitled to know an answer to this question.” He further wrote: “Track Two diplomacy cannot be at complete variance with the stated national position.” He went on to remind readers that the stated nation position was that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) was an integral part of India as expressed in a unanimous relation of Parliament in 1994. He criticized the Congress party’s stand, Omar Abdullah’s demand for autonomy, Mehbooba Mufti’s talk of self rule and the separatist demand for independence. Mr. Jaitley wrote: “Each of these is intended to dilute India’s sovereignty.” This then is the crux. Mr. Jaitley will not countenance any dilution of India’s sovereignty for the purpose of a settlement with Pakistan.
In that event the Indian public is entitled to know what the policy is regarding Pakistan and Kashmir adopted by Mr. Jaitley’s party. Mr. Jaitley is exercised over any possible dilution of Indian sovereignty in the pursuit of a peace settlement with Pakistan. It seems that as a staunch member of a patriotic party he will not tolerate this. However for over sixty years not only has Indian sovereignty been diluted but has been grossly violated as Pakistan has continued to occupy and administer half the territory in Kashmir claimed to be part of India as per the government’s stated position in Parliament. One can only commend Mr. Jaitley’s patience for having tolerated this for the past many years of his public career. What the people of India are entitled to know is how does his party intend to end this violation of national sovereignty?
Mr. Jaitley must explain. If he does not have a clear-cut time bound plan to extricate this occupied territory from Pakistan’s control it would mean that he is in fact endorsing the indefinite prolongation of the status quo. He would in that case prefer continued hostility with Pakistan rather than any slight dilution of Indian sovereignty as stated in Parliament in order to reach a peace settlement. If that is the case Mr. Jaitley should not be coy but clearly state this. This position would in fact be in perfect harmony with his party’s current policy.
The status quo is hugely beneficial to China which exploits Pakistan hostility to India by arming it with missiles and nuclear weapons to keep New Delhi in check even as it continues to expand trade with India at a favourable balance. Mr. Jaitley’s acknowledged leader Mr. Narendra Modi, the BJP prime ministerial candidate, did criticize China after the recent border incursions by Chinese troops. But these were hollow and empty rants for public consumption. These did not square with the Chinese Ambassador singling out Mr. Modi for special praise, or with Mr. Modi’s four visits to China where he was accorded unusually warm welcome, or with the heavy trade and investment with China sought by the Gujarat government, or with the special arrangements for teaching Mandarin to Gujarati school children created by Mr. Modi.
The conventional wisdom touted by western analysts that India’s boundary dispute with China should not impinge on its trade relations with Beijing is of course pure nonsense. More than the boundary dispute China’s hostile moves against India through its relations with our neighbouring nations and with anti-Indian insurgents is the real issue of contention that exposes Beijing’s subversive intent. New Delhi’s own flawed policies towards its immediate South Asian neighbours cannot obfuscate or condone Beijing’s hostile moves.
The only way to hurt China will be not through military measures but through curtailment of its exports to our nation. If India blocked imports from China, others could follow. Ending trade relations with China would hurt India temporarily but we would eventually survive and thrive. It could cripple and destabilize China. All the State Owned Enterprises in China employing 60 percent of its urban population continue to run at a loss and are kept afloat only through bad loans advanced by government banks through money earned from Chinese exports. Western multinational corporations would not like to disrupt that arrangement in pursuit of their own profits. That is why the puppets that govern India pursue New Delhi’s current policy.
In conclusion therefore Mr. Jaitley should explain his party’s policy towards Pakistan and how it affects our relations with China. If indeed the BJP is following a policy towards Pakistan which is beneficial to China it can bring about major political realignment. Western apologists of China have described Beijing’s fascist government as ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. The CPI-M dutifully echoes this nonsense. Surely if Mr. Jaitley were to candidly acknowledge that his leader Mr. Narendra Modi’s policy towards Pakistan is tailored to benefit Beijing, the CPI-M could align with the BJP. It should not be at all difficult for Comrades Karat and Yechury to discover secularism with Gujarati characteristics.