July 14, 2013

THE ISHRAT CONSPIRACY: Narendra Modi stands in the way of a sell-out on J & K.

The Ishrat conspiracy
Narendra Modi stands in the way of a sell-out on J & K.
By Gautam Sen (10 July 2013)

London: It appears that the attempt to manipulate Lashkar-e-Toiba operative Ishrat Jehan's death to persuade Narendra Modi to withdraw from India's prime-ministerial race has more sinister roots than immediately apprehended. An insider with intimate knowledge of Anglo-American policy towards India suggested that a virtual resolution of the historic Kashmir issue has already been negotiated discreetly through the intercession of Washington. It seems an understanding has been reached with Manmohan Singh's government that major Indian concessions would be on the table. Apparently, this entire package would be in jeopardy if Narendra Modi were to become prime minister of India. 

Pakistan, whose rapid acquisition of nuclear weapons' capability is considered an urgent problem, including its known proliferation activities, is prepared to reciprocate with suitable steps acceptable to Washington. It is hoped that the lowering of India-Pakistan tensions would also reduce the dangers of a nuclear exchange that would have devastating wider global consequences. Pakistan will also restrain the Taliban and accept a half-way house in its expedition to control Afghanistan's destiny though Hamid Karzai will apparently have to depart. 

The grim inference is that the incumbent Indian government is not entirely in dissonance with Pakistani agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence and its arms-length proxy, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, to corner Narendra Modi. The evident bonhomie between the two parties is a product of Washington's mediation, which is keen to retrieve something from the mess of its Afghan misadventure. Certainly, the elimination of Narendra Modi, physically if need be, as some observers, including myself, have warned of, would suit some quarters because otherwise he is guaranteed to propel the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead at the 2014 general elections. 

Private polling has been showing that in the best-case scenario, the Sonia Gandhi Congress would simply not have the numbers to consider forming a government, even if the BJP itself failed to approach the magic number of 220 seats. An interesting question is the extent of involvement of some senior BJP leaders and their advisers in this colossal conspiracy. Some have enjoyed close ties with United States' agencies since the Cold War period when Nehruvian nonalignment was considered nothing short of support for the Soviet Union. Even closer ties have evolved between some leaders through the intervention of a prominent Indian business family in London who have always been US surrogates. 

The so-called solution to the Kashmir dispute would almost certainly be based on the four-point formula suggested by the former Pakistan military president, Parvez Musharraf. It entails softening of Line of Control (LoC), self-governance, phased withdrawal of troops from entire Jammu and Kashmir and joint supervision by India and Pakistan. Pakistan is confident that such a plan would enable it to absorb the entire Kashmir Valley eventually making Indian resistance to such an outcome both politically costly and militarily expensive. Publicly-aired Pakistani misgivings about Musharraf's four-point formula when it was first outlined were officially sponsored to create the impression that Pakistan would only acquiesce reluctantly. The idea was to make the Indian public believe that it was the gainer from the agreement. However, in private, there was widespread official consensus that the agreement would be a prelude to Pakistan gaining full sovereignty over the Kashmir Valley and possibly even more. The survival of other areas under Indian control would be rendered untenable if Pakistan were to achieve political suzerainty over the Valley and some adjacent areas.

The interim policy, in the aftermath of the agreement being fully implemented, would be to embark on a policy of demographic assault that has already succeeded in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The extensive marital links between PoK Kashmiris and Punjabis, for example, has ensured huge support for the Lashkar-e-Toiba's activities against India. It is reasoned that encouraging marriage between residents of India's Kashmir Valley and those on the Pakistani side with the help of local religious authorities would create a growing constituency within the Kashmir Valley that would be Pakistani in essence. 

It is concluded that it would be impossible for the Indian authorities to curb this development because there would be an international human rights' outcry. It is also perfectly well-known in Pakistan that India has failed to stop the massive migration of Bangladeshis into India which has grown to startling proportions in many cities far removed from the Indo-Bangladesh border. The result of such demographic changes would also guarantee the election of governments in Kashmir that would favour Anschluss with Pakistan. 

Once such an elected government agitated, in the first instance, for closer ties with their Pakistani co-religionists, prior to elevating the demand to formal accession, the Indian government would be left in an unenviable position. It would have to consider intervening militarily from a position of huge political and military weakness. The Indian authorities would have to arrest very large numbers of Kashmiri politicians, stop all electoral processes and embark on a military crackdown that would result in massive casualties. The international and domestic Indian reaction to such a response to adverse developments can easily be anticipated. It appears Pakistan has leveraged its nuclear weapons with extraordinary success. By contrast, India's aspiration to great power status would be in tatters, reduced to a weak, minor player. 

In addition, it can be safely predicted that Pakistan will find ways to prevent India reaping any sort of peace dividend, by reducing military commitments on the India-Pakistan border once an agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir has been implemented. Such a peace dividend for India would be opposed implacably by Pakistan's all-weather friend, China, itself examining every option for cutting India down to size. Any reductions in military commitments in relation to Pakistan would immediately mitigate India's two-front war threat that alarms its defence planners. China will make sure that Pakistani redeployments in the aftermath of any peace deal with India will nevertheless remain a sufficient threat to prevent any significant Indian reduction in commitments against Pakistan. Indeed it may well be hazarded that the loss of Kashmir to Pakistan will create a strategic nightmare for India owing to altered military options on the ground and require even greater attention to the India-Pakistan border. The final denouement will be in the shape of an emboldened Pakistan facing an India militarily and politically weakened by the loss of Kashmir. Nothing that has transpired in the past sixty years suggests that Pakistan will abandon its determined quest to rival India, having emerged victorious over Kashmir. 

As the conspiracy unfolds to derail Narendra Modi's pursuit for national power, though he enjoys massive support along the length and breadth of the country, many outwardly innocuous events acquire more significance. The successful campaign that stopped Narendra Modi from even addressing a mere student gathering in the United States is likely to have been officially instigated. The same officials responsible for intervening against Narendra Modi also hold compromising files on the alternative to him, pertaining to his corrupt financial dealings and personal peccadilloes. 

Former US spy, Edward Snowden, has highlighted the extraordinary reach and assiduity with which information is collected by Anglo-American intelligence agencies on even their closest allies. He has also confirmed that India enjoys a special place on their intrusive radar. It is they who have been collecting evidence on the murky social life and financial dealings abroad of their preferred candidate for prime minister of India. 

Editor's note: Intelligence Bureau officials have sounded the warning that they are under enormous pressure from the ruling Congress party to implicate Narendra Modi in the Ishrat Jehan case. A particularly vocal Congress party general secretary has been meeting and harassing Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence Bureau officials to manufacture evidence against the Gujarat chief minister. There is desperation in ruling party circles as Modi nears his goal of becoming prime minister. The Intelligence Bureau is resisting the pressure and there is growing resentment within the institution about this. Worse is expected in the coming days unless Manmohan Singh steps in and ceases the witch-hunt against Narendra Modi. 

Dr Gautam Sen has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics.

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