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Too much trust can harm India

The advice to the Prime Minister from many of his own party men is that he should not try to be a modern-day Prithviraj Chauhan by trusting his enemy, Mohammad Ghauri, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2009 22:18 IST
Pankaj Vohra

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is under renewed attack from both the Opposition and certain sections of his own party for what is being described as a “major blunder’’ on his part in agreeing to include Balochistan in the Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement issued by him and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani. Even though the government and the Foreign Office have been trying to play down the statement, claiming that it has no legal sanctity, its political repercussions have been worrying the Congress. But the PM has claimed that he has all the answers which he will give in Parliament on Wednesday.

Many party leaders privately admit that it was a huge mistake to have agreed to include Balochistan in the statement. This is bound to be interpreted by some as equating India with Pakistan as states that sponsor terrorist activity. The statement also seeks to delink terror from the dialogue process. This was unacceptable as it would provide Islamabad a handle to attack India with at international forums.

The advice to the Prime Minister from many of his own party men is that he should not try to be a modern-day Prithviraj Chauhan by trusting his enemy, Mohammad Ghauri. Chauhan had defeated Ghauri many times but forgave him on each occasion. However, the only time Ghauri won, he blinded Chauhan.

The current position is that India is a victim of terror, which emanates from Pakistan on most occasions. Pakistan also claims that it is a victim of terror. But its terror network has international dimensions. Islamic terrorist groups have been striking in Pakistan because they believe that Pakistan is aligned at one level with the United States.

There is a stark contrast between the terror perpetrated in Pakistan and the one in India. The Malegaon conspiracy is certainly an aberration. The country must realise that the main terror threats are planned and executed with precision through the active connivance of the ISI and known terrorist outfits in Pakistan. Kashmir is used as a convenient issue to justify some of these attacks.

Pakistan has always had a problem in Balochistan. But to insinuate that the trouble was being instigated by New Delhi is stretching things. Manmohan Singh is a gentleman and not used to the ways politicians operate.

The Foreign Service and other officials in the government have tried to distance themselves from the agreement by laying the blame at the PMO’s doorstep. Sensing that the reaction in India has been adverse, corrective measures have already started.

The foreign affairs ministry has made it clear that the future of the limited dialogue between India and Pakistan will depend on Pakistan’s action against terrorism. “They have to do something before the composite dialogue process begins’’, an official commented. There is tremendous unease within the Congress about delinking terror from a composite dialogue.

The Prime Minister may have genuinely erred in the same manner that Atal Bihari Vajpayee erred in assessing the threat from Pakistan before Kargil. But that does not mean that Singh’s nationalist credentials can be questioned. He also enjoys the full support of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Some elements may be working to create a wedge between the two whose partnership has benefited the country. Both of them are mature enough to realise that India’s interests are supreme. Between us.