Consistently inconsistent

Shiban Khaibri
The strategic planners of our foreign policy must account for its apparent intermittent inconsistencies. They must also, therefore, explain the reasons that our relations with our immediate neighbours are not up to the desired levels in spite of the fact that larger chunks of our land are under  illegal occupation of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and of late, Myanmar too has put up some claims in the North East; even though we are known for espousing the cause of peace and amity and last but not the least, even though we do not appear at any time to  have  interfered in any of our neighbour’s internal matters. Do our planners go in for meaningful exercises to formulate our policies in a way that befits a democracy of our size to play a global role? Do we nurse the feeling of our country growing big economically, militarily and politically and shape our foreign policy accordingly? What are the reasons of the international hype and importance surrounding our immediate neighbour, China and in comparison, our country found struggling in this area, despite the new floated policy of extending “benefit of doubt” for peace to Pakistan as per the view of our foreign affairs Minister who would even believe the assurances of Nawaz Sharif and to “take him at his word” notwithstanding acts of belligerency against our country as its avowed policy?
Have our internal political problems shockingly emanating from “compulsions” of coalition politics barged into the realms of our sound, firm and purposeful foreign policy? Are our policies being formulated by our civil servants and bureaucrats only to be accepted and implemented by our political leadership? Long term and lasting strategies are perhaps made to suffer due to adjustments on day to day basis even in making official statements about incursions or border violations by our neighbours. Can we take it as an adverse comment or a gesture of generalization by the government of Sri Lanka that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s decision not to attend the CHOGM meet in that country was not a set back and that it understood the “domestic political compulsions” behind the move? According to Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister,” It will not affect the success of CHOGM.” This followed a letter sent by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that he would be “unable” to “personally” attend the summit. The domestic compulsions of coalition politics and vote bank policy can spread its tentacles beyond the boundaries of the country, has been amply demonstrated by the boycott of the summit by the PM. When the Heads of the Common Wealth Government meet on Nov15 and 16 in Colombo, it shall be attended by the external affairs Minister Salman Khursheed. This much also followed when DMK Chief Karunanidhi softened his stand to the extent that at least the country is represented in the summit. Karunnanidhi’s compulsions can also point to the quid pro quo vis-à-vis 2G Spectrum scam. How can two of the senior cabinet Ministers reportedly expressing their strong reservations against the PM’s attending the summit coupled with the pressure from the existing ally DMK and the like, lead to the decision of first  a total deliberate miss by the PM to, later representation by the external affairs Minister, is not very difficult to comprehend. Although Dr. Manmohan Singh did not specify the reasons of the missing of the meet to the Sri Lanka President M. Rajpakhshe, yet it is now fairly known that he found himself under stress from a few leaders from his own party who are his cabinet colleagues as also from the existing and the potential Tamil allies.   Dr. Manmohan Singh in many a forum, has made it clear that India always believes in good and friendly relations on reciprocity with our neighbours. He appears to have made avoidable adjustments on this principle only under vote bank politics of Tamil votes and the support of the DMK in the elections of 2014. How is it going to affect our policy and influence else where but in the immediate neighbourhood – Pakistan, from  whom we have been facing massive border violations and the continuous problem of pushing into our side armed infiltrators, need to be analyzed . We cannot ignore the fact that international commitments and diplomatic obligations are too fragile to be handled in patch working or wavering manner. How is Nepal feeling about us and why should that country look to China for economic and other relations if not exclusively but as a buffer or as a cushion against unexpected changes in our policies? Are we innocently or knowingly not providing an open space to China to enter where it should have been our domain?  What role do we perform in Nepal, is it showing to be highly inelastic in nature and magnitude? What about the relations of Bangladesh with us in the creation of which, this country suffered a lot and did not lag behind in her economic reconstruction? Pakistan is openly spurning our pleas of friendship and does not respond even slightly to put a brake to its terror manufacturing units on its soil against this country. Even a small country like Maldives is not responding  in congruence to our expectations, why? Did not the Prime Minister lose an opportunity to visit Jafna to see for himself the position of the Tamil population there and motivate the Sri Lanka President to do better for protecting their rights and improve their lot? Can this boycott be justified from any diplomatic angle? Can we in any way afford to be not justifying neutralizing of the LTTE as being a terror group by the Sri Lankan government? This group was responsible for the assassination of our ex- PM Late Shri  Rajiv Gandhi and should we not try to introduce a similar strategy  to neutralize and fully eliminate the Naxal and Mao insurgency claiming so many precious lives of our security forces and civilian population across our country?
Kashmiri separatists go and meet Sartaj Aziz, advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister at New Delhi and the government impliedly allowing this to materialize, later convey to Aziz that it “obviously could be counter – productive” appears to lead nowhere excepting confusing matters further. While it carries no sense, it at the same time, exposes our confused  foreign policy vis-a -vis Pakistan and virtually helps Pakistan to make the so called Kashmir issue more international  day in and day out. It is hard to comprehend that when we assert Kashmir to be an integral part of India , then why should  these anti Indian Kashmiri separatist leaders meet a Pakistani diplomat in  Delhi  only to revive the obsolete ‘plebiscite’ that  has been rendered redundant and fully out of context. What a sort of policy is our government pursuing as Syed Geelani, the octogenarian pro Pakistan separatist leader has been emboldened to the extent of advocating taking to arms as “gun could be one of the options for permanent solution of the Kashmir issue…”He advocates stone pelting to be justified to express resentment. Have these elements received some fresh directions from across the border buttressed by their meeting with Sartaj Aziz to keep the pot boiling in the state? Because of our policy of haze and patch working, because of our soft peddling of anti Indian forces , because of our confused statements on Kashmir, because of our incoherent – yes and no – no and yes –  approach to continue dialogue and CBMs with Pakistan without any cogent results , what obviously are we going to achieve like this, is all conspicuously unclear.
Hardly shall there be any such instance any where in the world where those who advocate open armed violence as an option of settlement of some political problem shall be allowed to meet their helpers, trainers and motivators on the same soil which they seek to disturb and trouble. Now, these hardliners from the separatist group, spurn what reportedly is known as Mush’ formula and are highly critical of how Musharaf reportedly was agreeable to be not rigid and make some “major adjustments in and departure from its stand on Kashmir”. How can such advocates of hard core rigid stand and propagators of armed violence and communal hatred be allowed to receive VVIP treatment and roam free.
They act bizarre in openly giving a clarion call to Kashmiri people to evict their non Kashmiri tenants and warn them to leave Kashmir, even those labourers who are going there to do manual jobs as their presence in the valley was a “plot hatched to reduce local Muslims to minority”. Such type of rhetoric was aimed at keeping the domestic situation tense and volatile in Kashmir coupled with Pakistan’s repeated statements that it was “committed to help Kashmiri people diplomatically, morally and politically” leading to a situation with far reaching ramifications. That enough is enough, now, in the name of Kashmir, the central government should resolutely convey.
It would, therefore, auger well for the country that our policies bear a characteristic of consistency, non ambiguity and firmness and domestic self imposed compulsions of vote bank politics not allowed to influence our international and bilateral commitments not to speak of handling domestic issues properly firmly in the interests of the country.


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