November 28, 2011

Memogate" & Manmohan

Never do we learn that peace with Pakistan is a mirage, says N.V.Subramanian.

21 November 2011: "Memogate" proves again how flawed is Manmohan Singh's policy of unilateral peacemaking with Pakistan. To say that the Pakistan army wants peace with India would be foolish if it weren't downright dangerous.

The scandal involving Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and his ambassador to the US in attempts to turn American heat on the Pakistan army and pre-empt a coup post Osama Bin Laden's assassination was out in the open weeks before Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart in Bhutan and the Maldives. That the Pakistan army was deeply upset with the civilian government apropos "Memogate" was also apparent. In this situation, how did the Indian PM conclude that Indo-Pak peace talks would make headway?

This writer is not accusing Zardari and his ambassador of wrongdoing. Indeed, the unfolding scandal suggests that it may equally be an ISI operation to discredit the PPP government. The ISI chief was rather prompt to interrogate the suspicious Pakistani businessman at the centre of "Memogate" in London much before the scandal hit the headline. Blackberry messages purportedly exchanged between the businessman and the Pak ambassador were leaked to Pakistani newspapers. The leaker was either the Pakistani businessman or the ISI. This casts the ISI in more suspicious light.

The ISI/ Pak military have toppled elected Pakistan governments in the past. The ISI was in the centre of the storm generated by Bin Laden's assassination. It is evident that the ISI had approved the Osama Bin Laden safe house in Abbottabad. When he was killed, the heat hit the ISI. It was most to be upset with the US. Previous to the Bin Laden killing, there was the incident of a US undercover agent killing two ISI stalkers in Lahore. To save its face in the Bin Laden case, it had every reason to get back at the US.

The Haqqani network attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and its embassy in Kabul were the ISI's doing. "Memogate" presented a more daring opportunity in the way it was conceived, if you think the ISI engineered it. With one stone, so to speak, two parties were instantly discredited, namely the US and the Zardari government. The Pak ambassador to the US who is loathed by the Pakistan army and ISI would also go.

Of course, it may be as the accusations are presently portrayed, that Zardari and his ambassador were at the bottom of "Memogate". But at least to this writer, it seems like an ISI operation. Nevertheless, the point is, things were coming to a head in Pakistan between the army and the civilian government. Presumably, India's covert services were focused on this unfolding scandal. Then how did Manmohan Singh presume that the civilian government was on such solid footing as to carry through the peace process with India?

To call the Pakistan PM a "man of peace" as Manmohan Singh did is certainly meaningless. If anyone in Pakistan's civilian government calls the shots, it is the president. And even Zardari survives from one day to another, as "Memogate" proves all over again. On what basis then did the PM advance peace hopes with Pakistan? How could he believe the Pak PM that the Pakistan army was in the loop in regard to making peace with India?

Manmohan Singh's unilateralism in foreign policy has run to excess. He is damaging India's national interests. Specific with Pakistan, he is diluting India's stand on 26/11. Pakistan will not bring the 26/11 terrorists to justice, and Manmohan Singh's peace moves imply that India has forgiven and forgotten the Bombay carnage. The former cricketer, Imran Khan, is now being propped up by the Pakistan army/ ISI as an alternative to Zardari and Nawaz Sharief. Smartly, Imran Khan has made the right noises on Indian news TV. Next you know, the Manmohan Singh government will be wooing the ex-sports star.

Enough. Manmohan Singh must be prevented from his personalized peace moves with Pakistan. He has no sanction for it from the country. His own party is opposed to it. Unless Pakistan stabilizes, the military is brought under civilian control, the ISI is disbanded, and the terrorists are vanquished, there can be no peace with the country. It is not enough that India wants peace. Pakistan must reciprocate. It is in no position to do so. The best India could do for itself and for Pakistan is to keep away and watch its terroristic neighbour do down.

N.V.Subramanian is Editor,, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email:


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