Talk, they say, is useless. It is more so with Pakistan, which is hell-bent on fomenting terror on Indian soil. So for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to agree with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani, and issue a joint statement that ‘action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process’ flies in the face of all common sense.
Manmohan Singh maladroitly has played into Pakistan’s hands. After all, if you take out terrorism from the agenda, what’s there to talk with Pakistan? Perhaps Kashmir? Well, obviously India has ineptly shot itself on the foot.
In the seven months since the most heinous of terror attacks on Indian soil at Mumbai, Pakistan has done precious little in atonement. If anything, it has left scot free Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a Lashkar-e-Taiba leader, who was arrested in connection with the case.
So why has India capitulated so meekly for no apparent reason to Pakistan?
But there seems to be some pattern to this buckling down. India, along with China, Brazil and South Africa, agreed to acknowledging the ‘2 degree C’ point during the final round of negotiations to a climate change document in the recent Major Economies Forum (MEF) in Italy.
The compromise on ‘2 degree C’, all experts agree, will hamper India’s economic progress. If a country accepts emission cuts, which is proportionately based on a committed growth trajectory, or BAU (Business As Usual), then when the growth accelerates, it will have to commit to greater cuts in absolute terms.
Experts maintain that for a developing country more susceptible to business cycles, such a commitment can be tricky. Elsewhere, on the nuclear front too, India doesn’t seem to have the nerve to stand up.
The decision of G-8 nations to curb transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology to non-NPT countries like India, has only vindicated the stand of those opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal. It was a snub by the G-8 in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Again, all experts agree, it was a major blow to Indian diplomacy as it undermines India-US nuclear deal, and as Subrmaniam Swamy has memorably put it, ‘reduced India to a concubine status’ in the deal with the US.
India had a chance to press its case with friends and allies and also to leverage the massive expenditure it is prepared to make on Russian, French and American nuclear reactors in order to ensure it does not become the target of fresh restrictions. But by failing to be proactive, it seems to have lost its edge.
If you include India’s opposition to EU-sponsored attempts at the UN to try Sri Lanka for war-related crimes, in less than 100 days since its assumption of office again, the UPA government has spearheaded myriad diplomatic disasters. The one with Pakistan yesterday galls the most as it makes a mockery of all those who died in the Mumbai terror attack.
It is a shame that it is all done with Manmohan Singh claiming ‘victory’. Buckling down may come natural to him as he has been hand-picked for that by Sonia Gandhi. But that is internal. Why let that show externally too, and weaken India like never before? Ponder this over, Mr Singh!