November 14, 2011

Ingenuous Indian Diplomacy

Posted on November 12, 2011
BRAHMA CHELLANEY
The Economic Times, November 12, 2011



It is well known that Indian politicians are hard-headed while serving their personal interests but faint-hearted while dealing with national interests. India’s Pakistan policy, for example, remains based on hopes and gushy expectations, rather than any farsighted strategy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh still dreams of open borders with terror-exporting Pakistan.

The Indian wishful thinking on Pakistan was on public display at the just-concluded SAARC summit in the Maldives, where Singh hyped his bilateral meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as if Gilani were the top decision-maker in Pakistan.

More important, Gilani thanked India for its two recent favours: At the WTO not vetoing the European Union’s special trade concessions for Pakistan, and helping Pakistan to enter the UN Security Council. Singh, however, has secured no reciprocal concession from Pakistan, not even the actual grant of most-favoured-nation status to India.

Fifteen years after India gave Pakistan MFN status, the Pakistani Cabinet last week decided merely to open bilateral negotiations on a reciprocal MFN grant. Islamabad is seeking to leverage an action that it is obligated to undertake under WTO rules. The lack of MFN reciprocity has thus far blocked the opening of normal Indo-Pakistan trade and required most traded products to move via a third country like the UAE. Yet, even before normal trade has opened, India at the Maldives meeting promised a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan.

The EU trade concessions to Pakistan are significant because they exempt as many as 75 Pakistani products from duties for three years. This will allow Pakistan to earn several hundred million euros annually through tariff-free exports to the large, 27-nation EU market while undercutting similar Indian exports.

At the WTO’s trade committee, India first objected to this EU move because it flouts the WTO rules for a level-playing field among trading partners. But last month — after receiving several demarches from EU states — India withdrew its objection, without having secured anything in return from Pakistan.

In a fundamentally competitive world marked by the aggressive pursuit of relative gains, Indian diplomacy has stood out for not learning from mistakes and continuing to operate on ingenuous premises. It is not uncommon for Indian leaders to feed to the nation dreams sold to them by others — or their own personal dreams.

In dealing with Pakistan, India has assumed that Islamabad will do what New Delhi does well — jettison beliefs, perceptions and policies overnight. Pakistan has no intention of discarding terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Even with the US, Pakistan still plays games, continuing to shield its own militant proxies despite coming under mounting American pressure. If the powerful US has been unable to rein in Pakistan’s actions in the Afghanistan theatre, can India realistically persuade Islamabad to go after the terrorist groups it has nurtured?

Whereas Pakistan’s India policy has remained consistent for long, India’s Pakistan policy continues to send out contradictory and confusing signals. Just three days after the Indian home secretary said there has been no change in Pakistan’s official support for terrorism against India, the aging and increasingly clueless external affairs minister declared this week that the trust deficit with Pakistan is “shrinking.” Singh, for his part, hailed Gilani — widely regarded as the Pakistani military’s man — as “a man of peace.”

No less disturbing is the timing of India’s new bonhomie with Pakistan just when the latter has come under increasing US pressure. The mood in America has changed to the extent that strategists are openly calling for the “containment” of Pakistan, with one author even suggesting that the U.S. should “start regarding it as an enemy — at least as far as the Afghan War is concerned.”

Instead of taking advantage of the new American spotlight on Pakistan’s roguish conduct, New Delhi has done exactly the opposite: It has come to the aid of Islamabad by singing the virtues of an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” dialogue and seeking to “write a new chapter” of peace. In fact, the external affairs minister publicly advised the US and Pakistan, “two friendly powers,” to amicably settle all “outstanding” issues, as if terrorism is not an outstanding matter in the Indo-Pakistan relationship.

Worse still, India has effectively sidelined the issue regarding the involvement of Pakistani state actors in the 26/11 terrorist strikes. By agreeing to welcome a supposed judicial commission from Pakistan, India is only aiding the Pakistani game-plan to shield the key masterminds through dilatory and deflective tactics and to create an impression that a due process is under way.

One possible explanation for India’s coming to Pakistan’s succour at this hour — a course that actually mocks the memory of the 26/11 victims — is that Singh needs to divert attention away from corruption scandals that have undermined his credibility and brought him under a political siege. Because nothing seems to be going right for him domestically, he has stepped up foreign travels and hyped progress in diplomatic ties with Pakistan.

Singh’s fixation on quasi-failed Pakistan has been an enduring element of his stint in office — an obsession that has made him shy away from drawing the right lesson from his past blunder at Sharm el-Sheikh (where he included Baluchistan in the agenda) or at Havana (where he turned the terror sponsor into a fellow victim of terror and set up the infamous Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism).

If India’s Pakistan policy is adrift, it is not entirely due to Singh, however. It was Singh’s predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who laid the foundation of an ad hoc, personality-driven, meandering approach toward Pakistan that said goodbye to institutionalized policymaking.

The weak-in-the-knees Vajpayee took India on a jarring roller-coaster ride with an ever-shifting policy on Pakistan. It was under Vajpayee that personal rather than professional characteristics began to define India’s policy. And it was Vajpayee’s Agra invitation that helped Pervez Musharraf to come out of the international doghouse for staging a military coup. Singh is following in Vajpayee’s footsteps.

The author is a professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research.

(c) The Economic Times, 2011.

2 comments:

Omnibus Dubitandum said...

Can India and Pakistan make Peace

Agha.H.Amin , Major (Retired)

Utopians in India are jubilant that Pakistan has made peace with India.

Nothing in reality can be farther from the truth.

The recent sudden angelic desire on part of the Pakistani establishment to make peace with India has nothing to do with any major shift in Pakistans foreign policy written in the Pakistani military headquarters popularly known as the GHQ.

The Pakistani apparent shift is merely a tactical response to extreme confrontation with the US over perceived US view that Pakistan is playing a double game in Afghanistan.

This is similar to Musharrafs flirtation with India from 2000 to 2007 which in reality was a gambit to prevent a two front war with Afghanistan occupied by the USA and a hostile India in the east.

The real picture of true intentions of the Pakistani military will emerge when the US withdraws from Afghanistan.

This will be the time when the Russians ,Iranians and Indians will have no choice but to support the Northern Alliance against Pakistan sponsored Taliban who regard all Shias, Ismailis,Non Pashtuns,moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred.

Omnibus Dubitandum said...

The Pakistani politicians are a compromised manipulated lot who are under firm control of the Pakistani military thanks to the politicians own massive financial corruption.They will do what the Pakistani generals tell them whether it is the PPP, PML or any new party like Imran Khans Tehrik i Insaaf.

Pakistan will remain the same state run by an army rather than a state with an army.The Pakistani generals will control Pakistans politics and foreign policy and Pakistan India relations will remain a mix of an uneasy and an unpredictable peace.

Pakistan will remain embroiled in an ever continuous civil unrest.Baloch will be gunned down by the Pakistani military while Pakistans politicians will remain the puppets of the military that they have been since 1977.

Terrorism will remain a tool of foreign policy while the Pakistani military runs the Pakistani state under a facade of PPP or PML or Tehrik i Insaaf.

By that time Pakistani military will be hoping to achieve all its objectives--
An extremist dominated Afghanistan.
A Balochistan fully fragmented and crushed.
A Pakistani political party leading Pakistan fully subservient to the Pakistani military.
A renewed infiltration in Kashmir.
A brinkmans nuclear policy with India .
A greater Chinese vassal with far greater Chinese interests in Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so.Its relations with India will be run on two basis , Pakistani military retaining its nuisance value based on the much trumped and misused Indian threat and secondly Pakistan as a Chinese pawn acting as Chinas western bastion in West Asia.Pakistani Balochistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show while Pakistans military and corrupt politicians will control Pakistans corrupt par excellence economy.

Fools like Man Mohan Singh will remain dupes that they always were.The region will remain unstable because instability is custom made to suit the Pakistani elite both military and civilian.

Indias budding middle class wants to make peace with the Pakistani establishment because they want to have a good time.

Manmohan Singh is a cheap social climber with no strategic vision.This means that the common man in both India and Pakistan will both come to grief.

Pashtuns and Baloch will remain pawns of Pakistani establishment with Baloch regarded as Red Indians and Pashtuns regarded as good cannon fodder to be launched like fools in the name of Islam.Pakistans economy will remain centred to serve the good of Pakistan elite and prosperity will remain confined to the triangle Pindi Multan Lahore and Karachi-Hyderabad.

The Pakistani supreme court will remain an arm of the Pakistani elite who turns a blind eye when any one challenges Pakistani military in the courts.

Pakistan shall remain a mirage which serves a 5 % elite and the region will remain unstable and a hostage to nuclear brinkmanship.

Pakistans pensioners will die like stray dogs ! Pakistans youth will be gunned down by the corrupt Pakistani police for money ! Pakistani intelligence will continue the kill and dump policy all over Pakistan and specially in Balochistan !

This is not about Islam ! This is not about Pakistan ! This is all about a 5 or 10 % establishment that has controlled Pakistan since 1948.

All that this elite wants is to preserve their unfair advantage ! These are the new Banias,the new Muslim Banias of Pakistan !

In 1947 Muslims of Pakistan got rid of Hindu Banias but the idea of the Muslim elite was that the Muslim masses need to be buggered not by the Hindu Banias but by Muslim Banias from Gujerat,Chiniot,Khotian (later Saigal Abad) and the elite feudals who had joined the Muslim League by the 1946 elections.

Third rate Pakistani lower middle class young men will continue to pass the CSS exam and join Police,FBR and DMG to become billionaires with houses in posh DHA Karachi or Lahore within ten years of passing the CSS exam !

We salute the age of West Asian strategic anarchy !