Friday, September 8, 2017

India-Pakistan Ties: Who's at Fault For Failing to Resolve Disputes?

India's former foreign secretary Shyam Saran is the latest of a series of ex Indian officials to reveal causes of failures to resolve disputes in India-Pakistan talks in the last two decades.  Mr. Saran was part of the process to resolve Siachin and Sir Creek disputes regarded as "low-hanging fruit".

Similar revelations have been made earlier by former Indian RAW chief A.S. Dulat about the last minute interventions by Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani that resulted in the failure of the Agra Summit between former Pakistan President Musharraf and ex Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Siachin and Sir Creek:

In “How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century”, the author Saran recalls the crucial meeting of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) on the eve of India-Pakistan Defense Secretary-level talks in May 2006, where the draft agreement, that had been approved by the Army and other stakeholders, was to be discussed. However, he said two key players, the-then National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and then Army Chief General J.J. Singh made last minute interventions to scuttle the proposal, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.

“When the CCS meeting was held on the eve of the defense secretary–level talks, [Mr.] Narayanan launched into a bitter offensive against the proposal, saying that Pakistan could not be trusted, that there would be political and public opposition to any such initiative and that India’s military position in the northern sector vis- à-vis both Pakistan and China would be compromised. [Gen] J.J. Singh, who had happily gone along with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Narayanan in rubbishing it,” Mr. Saran writes.

Agra Summit Failure:

“This is when L. K. Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.” “As Mr. Mishra put it: “Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya … Ho gaya tha, who toh.”  Ex Indian Intelligence Chief A.S. Dulat

The above quote is from A.S. Dulat who has served as Chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and as Special Director of India's Intelligence Bureau. He was speaking with Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today on a variety of subjects including Kashmir and Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra summit.

Dulat has essentially confirmed the fact that Indian hawks like the BJP leader L.K. Advani are responsible for sabotaging the India-Pakistan summit.

Who's to Blame? 

Revelations by Dulat and Saran have debunked the myth promoted by Indian security analysts, Indian politicians and some western think tanks that regularly blame Pakistan for the failure of past bilateral diplomatic efforts by citing what they believe is the adverse role of Pakistani military in framing Pakistan's policy toward India. This rationale does not explain why the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Pakistani military leaders from General Zia to General Musharraf have not borne fruit.

Wikileaks on Indian Establishment: 

A more rational explanation for the policy failures has surfaced in secret US embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks and published by The Hindu. After a meeting with India's National Security Adviser and former Indian intelligence chief M.K. Narayanan in August 2009, American Ambassador Timothy Roemer concluded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was isolated within his own government in his “great belief” in talks and negotiations with Pakistan.

Ambassador Roemer said that although Narayanan's hawkish stance on Pakistan was well known, his willingness to “distance himself from his boss (Manmohan Singh) in an initial courtesy call would suggest that PM Singh is more isolated than we thought within his own inner circle in his effort to "trust but verify" and pursue talks with Pakistan particularly in the wake of the hammering his government took from opposition for the July Sharm al-Sheikh statement with (Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza) Gilani.”


There have now been multiple revelations by former Indian officials like Shyam Saran and AS Dulat as well as leaked US diplomatic cables detailing the causes of failures to resolve disputes in India-Pakistan talks in the last two decades.  These disclosures thoroughly debunk the myth promoted by Indian security analysts, Indian politicians and some western think tanks blaming Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani military, for the continuing failures to resolve bilateral disputes with India.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

MQM-RAW Connection 

Ex-Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Cover War Against Pakistan?

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat Blames Advani For Agra Summit Failure

Taliban or RAW-liban?

India-Pakistan Cricket Diplomacy

Counter-insurgencyOperation ZarbeAzb

India's Abiding Hostility Toward Pakistan 

India's Israel Envy: Will Modi Attack Pakistan?

Who Killed Karkare?


Nitin B said...

That is of course, your contrived viewpoint. It will work for your audience because that is what they want to hear. I don't think a contrary opinion has space on your site or does it?

Anonymous said...

India negotiates from a position of strength.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India negotiates from a position of strength."

It's an Indian delusion that prevents reaching peace in the neighborhood.

It's the reason for "India at risk" in the words of ex FM Jaswant Singh.

Singh says "India's borders remain unsettled" since independence and Indian policy suffers from "strategic confinement".

"India At Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misadventures of Security Policy" by Jaswant Singh

"The principal purpose and objectives of our (India's) foreign policy have been trapped between four lines: the Durand Line,; the McMahon Line; the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC). To achieve autonomy, an absolute necessity in the conduct of our foreign policy, we have to first find an answer to this strategic confinement".

Riaz Haq said...

After talking of two-front #war, #India Army Chief Bipin Rawat now says #China, #Pakistan not a threat via @htTweets

Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday said neither China nor Pakistan is an imminent threat to the country in a departure from his earlier statement wherein he had dubbed the two neighbours India’s northern and western adversaries respectively and that the country needed to be prepared for a two-front war.

“None of the country (China or Pakistan) is a threat,” he said on the sidelines of an event in Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun on Saturday noon in response to a query.

“What I had said... said,” he went on to add when reminded of his previous remarks made a little over a week after India and China ended one of their worst military face-offs at Doklam at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction.

China had reacted to Rawat’s earlier remark, saying ties between the two countries should not be derailed.

Against the backdrop of Doklam standoff, the general said, army was extra vigilant at the borders and the security forces were taking appropriate action in the “sensitive areas”.

On Kashmir, he said: “We too want peace and tranquillity in Kashmir and we are doing everything to secure it.”

But at the same breath he added, army was keeping its option open for “surgical strikes”.

Kashmir has been witnessing violent protests and clashes since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year in July.

General Rawat was in Dehradun to attend annual function at Cambrian Hall, his alma mater.

The army chief, who hails from Pauri, studied at Dehradun’s Convent of Jesus and Mary (CJM) till Class 2. Thereafter, he studied at Cambrian Hall between 1969 till 1972 and then did his senior schooling at St. Edward’s School, Shimla.

“I have spent my most memorable days in this school,” he said during the event, dressed in a navy-blue blazer with the school monogram engraved.

He also made special mention of his teacher Shanti Swaroop, who was school coordinator at that time.

Gen touched Swaroop’s feet as a mark of respect and love.

Later talking to reporters, general said the induction of 800 women in the military police, as was planned recently, would be a gradual process as the army “would not get so many women immediately.”

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of India Defence Journal:

Kautilya is most famous for outlining the so-called Mandala theory of foreign policy, in which immediate neighbours are considered as enemies, but any state on the other side of a neighbouring state is regarded as an ally, or, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Imagine a series of states to one’s west, and then number them starting with oneself. States numbered 1, 3, 5, 7, and so on will likely be friends, whereas states 2, 4, 6, 8, and so on will probably be enemies. (The same thing can be done with concentric circles, which would look more like a mandala, but it is difficult to envision these circles as states.) Kautilya put this basic principle in a number of different ways, but most simply as, “One with immediately proximate territory is the natural enemy.”58 Elsewhere he stated this Mandala theory of foreign policy in more detail: “With respect to the middle king [he himself], the third and the fifth constituents are friendly elements. The second, the fourth, and the sixth are unfriendly elements.”59

Transcript of Copy of Mandal theory : foreign policy, war and diplomacy
Mandala Theory.
“Your neighbour is your natural enemy and the neighbour’s neighbour is your friend”. This was the basic thought behind Kautilya’s Mandala Theory.

Riaz Haq said...

"Your neighbour is your natural enemy and the neighbour's neighbour is your
friend"; Kautilya said, I quote. For those who are coming across this name
for the first time: Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, was born in 4th
century BC in eastern India. He served as adviser to King Chandragupta of
Mauriyan Emperor. With the application of his very crook and immoral means,
Kautilya helped the small Mauryan kingdom to become one of the greatest
empire of ancient India, which included today's India, Pakistan and

"RAW AND BANGLADESH" (Ch-1)From The Book By Zainal Abedin - Response &

Tuesday November 22 2005 14:16:33 PM BDT

A K Zaman


Akash Reze had more on Kautilya:China and India in the perspective of Sun
Tzu and Kautilya's thought

Akash Reza

1.Over the last few months, herein 'News from Bangladesh', there were many
views highlighting Indian attitude and character. Many of the Indians were
found responding some of those (thanks to them and NFB for providing them
the opportunity).

Unfortunately, instead of self-realization or fact finding, most of them
came up with the tone of intimidation and abuse as usual. Some of them felt
disturbed in anti-Indian attitude and irritated in friendship of Bangladesh
with China. In this pretext, I want to make a comparison of Chinese and
Indian character in the perspective of two of their respective strategic
thinkers, of whom both the countries are equally proud of ­ China's Sun Tzu
and India's Kautilya.

2."Your neighbour is your natural enemy and the neighbour's neighbour is
your friend"; Kautilya said, I quote. For those who are coming across this
name for the first time: Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, was born in 4th
century BC in eastern India. He served as adviser to King Chandragupta of
Mauriyan Emperor. With the application of his very crook and immoral means,
Kautilya helped the small Mauryan kingdom to become one of the greatest
empire of ancient India, which included today's India, Pakistan and

3.Kautilya's famous work is known as 'Arthasastra'.The book is similar to
'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu. But it is not limited to warfare only; rather
it focuses on various aspects of statecraft ­ that is tax, administration,
justice, war, etc. It deals with the 'theory of Mandala' in interstate
relations (which is also considered one of the roots of Indian strategic
thoughts). The 'mandala' is based on the geographical assumption that the
immediate neighbour state is most likely to be an enemy (real or potential)
and a state next to the immediate neighbour is likely to be ones friend,
after a friendly state comes an unfriendly state (friend of the enemy state)
and next to that a friendly state (friend of a friendly state) and so on.
However he also recognized the existence of neutral and mediating states.

4.In a system of mandala, Kautilya advocated six-fold policy to interact
with the neighbours which included co-existence, neutrality, alliance,
double policy, march and war. To achieve this he advised the king to resort
to five tactics: conciliation, gift and bribery, dissention, deceit and
pretence, open attack or war. As such on the question of treaty and alliance
he suggests: "A King should not hesitate to break any friendship or
alliances that are later found to be disadvantageous."

Riaz Haq said...

"Your neighbour is your natural enemy and the neighbour's neighbour is your friend" this was the basic thought behind Kautilya's Mandala theory. Kautilya gave this theory for foreign relations and diplomacy.

Rashid A. said...

Full quote of Kautilya Chanakya also known as Indian Machiavelli:

"Your neighbor is your natural enemy and your neighbor's neighbor is your friend"

It brings together India-Afghanistan (against Pakistan), India-Japan (against China).

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Strategic Thinking: A Reflection Of Kautilya’s Six Fold Policy – Analysis
March 29, 2011 Masood-Ur-Rehman Khattak 15 Comments Analysis, Asia, India, Military, Nuclear, Pakistan, South Asia
By Masood-Ur-Rehman Khattak

1. Peace: “The only time a king will make peace is when he finds himself in relative decline compared to his enemy”. If we analyse this dictum then we will understand that after the 1962 humiliating defeat from China, India established peace with China, because it knew that it cannot win against China. This is a clear indication of the Kautilya’s six fold policy. India is still following Kautilya’s policies to safeguard its interests and defeat its enemies.

2. War: “When a king is in a superior position compared to his enemy, he will attack and wage war.” India has always tried to subdue Pakistan. It’s clear from its current military formation. Indian II- Corps, also known as the Strike Corps, plays a key role in times of conflict with Pakistan. The II Corps holds almost 50 per cent of the Indian strike capabilities and although based at Ambala it is responsible for guarding the border with Pakistan and mainly it is Pakistan focused. India has tried to coerce Pakistan many times in the past. In January 1987, India and Pakistan nearly went to war during a major crisis accelerated by India’s Brass tacks exercises, the largest military maneuvers in the history of South Asia. A tense situation developed in which even a minor clash could have triggered a major conflict. But diplomatic activity brought in the United States and the Soviet Union. President Reagan at that time telephoned Rajiv Gandhi and President Zia, instructing them to “cool it. The threat of nuclear escalation defused the tension. Then in 2001 a terrorist attack on Indian parliament brought both India and Pakistan on the brink of war. Estimated 800,000 troops, including its two strike corps, deployed on India’s western borders, its Air force units and satellite airfields were activated and the fleet moved into northern Arabian Sea to join the western fleet for blockading Pakistan if required. Various reasons were cited behind the Indian action, including the use of coercive diplomacy to mount international pressure on Pakistan. In an expected manner, Pakistan undertook large-scale counter deployments of its troops leading to an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation along the border, which carried the danger of conflict being escalated into nuclear war, not by design, but by misperception, accident, or miscalculation. These two events shows Indian aggressive designs against Pakistan, but due to an effective response from Pakistan Indian could not impose a war on Pakistan.

Chankaya Kautilya in his book also mentioned three types of war first is open war: In which, it is a declared war against a country. Second is a secret war which entails “a sudden attack, terrorizing from one side and attack from another side”. India is effectively pursuing this dictum. India is actively involved in Afghanistan making things worse for Pakistan in Balochistan and FATA. On the other hand it is practicing its Cold Start Doctrine on eastern border to coerce Pakistan. Now Pakistan is facing two front war dilemma from Eastern and Western border. Kautilya support such warfare in his six fold policy. Third is “Undeclared War: Which includes secret agents, religion or superstition, and women against the enemies” India has already waged such war against Pakistan. Pakistan has always criticised India’s malicious involvement in Balochistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. India is also involved in the malicious activities against other neighbouring countries including Srilanka (supporting Hindu Tamils), Nepal, (supporting Maoists Separatists), Bangladesh (supporting Shanti Bahini in Chittagong hills). All these malevolent activities suggest that India is keenly following the Kautilya’s policy to intimidate its neighbours.

Riaz Haq said...

In one of the most unusual books to be published in recent times, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, who was chief of Pakistan’s all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 1990s, has collaborated on a set of espionage dialogues with A.S. Dulat, the former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). by Barkha Dutt

. Durrani and Dulat’s book, “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace” has garnered enormous scrutiny on both sides of the fence.


The book’s central premise is that old political formulas have failed, civilian governments in Pakistan are hardly empowered, and it is time to allow an institutional line of dialogue between spies on both sides. Dulat, whom I have known to be an indefatigable optimist, opened secret talks with militants and secessionists in Kashmir and later admitted to me in an interview that both India and Pakistan paid money to try to influence them, conceding wryly that “corrupting someone with money is more ethical than killing them.”


Contrary to official accounts in both his country and the United States, Durrani claimed that Pakistan directed the U.S. Navy SEALs to Osama bin Laden’s hideout in 2011. “I have been giving my assessment right from the 3rd of May, 2011, just a day after the raid,” Durrani told me in an interview. “It just so happens that most of the investigative journalists — at home and abroad — came to nearly the same conclusion.....

Durrani’s other big reveal was about the Kashmir conflict. India has long documented how Pakistan has patronized terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-a-Mohammed to create unrest in the Kashmir valley. Intriguingly, when asked in the book to say what he thought was the biggest failure of the ISI, Durrani replied: “When the Kashmir uprising happened we did not know how far it would go. We didn’t want it to go out of control, which would lead to a war that neither side wanted…. ISI’s leverage on the Kashmir insurgency turned out less than successful.” Durrani was ISI chief in 1990-1992, during the insurgency’s early years. When I asked him whether the direction Kashmir has taken has proved difficult for both nations, he said, “True, it wasn’t easy to keep a handle on it — as the Indians too must have concluded over time.” But taking a swipe at India, he added sarcastically, “Oh, I think Pakistan knows what to do with it; sit back and watch.” Dulat’s answer to the question of RAW’s failures with Pakistan was just as candid: “That we have not been able to turn an ISI officer at a level where it counts.”

There are other valuable nuggets for watchers of a region that President Bill Clinton once called “a nuclear flash point.” Dulat shared how a border cease-fire was brokered in 2003 as a result of secret meetings between the head spooks of either side. He revealed that a tipoff from RAW saved the life of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf and said Musharraf had even conveyed his gratitude.

As army chief, Musharraf pushed Pakistani soldiers into India in 1999 leading to the Kargil war. His hard-line statements and actions made him a deeply contentious figure in India. Yet, Dulat insisted, “There has been no more reasonable Pakistani leader than General Musharraf.”

But it’s the no-holds barred description about key officials in both countries that’s got everyone talking. “Get Doval to Lahore; he loves Pakistan,” said Dulat of the Indian National Security adviser, Ajit Doval, regarded as a hard-liner in Pakistan. Durrani was less than complimentary about Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who he said has the “acumen of a camel” on international relations. And on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Durrani said: “A fox. Modi is smart.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s civil–military imbalance is misunderstood
14 June 2018
Author: Hussain Nadim, University of Sydney

The reality is a lot more complicated than this Eurocentric view of Pakistan’s civil–military relations, which tends to reinforce a perception of Pakistan that serves Western powers and interests. At the core of this Eurocentrism is a tendency to view Pakistan’s civil–military relations through a foreign policy lens, while almost entirely neglecting the domestic political and structural issues at play. Western commentary also tends to treat civilian political leaders as passive actors, overlooking their role in the imbalance.

The civilian and military leadership in Pakistan are on the same page when it comes to foreign and security policies. Disagreements are only over the right methods for achieving these foreign policy goals, and reflect an internal power struggle rather than an ideological difference between civilian and military factions.

For instance, after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif took power at the 2013 elections, he was interested in bold steps to move quickly on peace with India — often even going beyond state protocol and opening backdoor channels. The Pakistan Army was not disinterested in peace with India. Military leaders just wanted to mend relations in a systematic way that would not compromise Pakistan’s interests and that would make peace last beyond rhetoric.

Military leaders advised caution and small steps to achieving sustainable peace with India — advice which Sharif ignored. After several months of futile attempts to court Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pressed hard on Pakistan after his rise to power, Sharif faced an embarrassing situation. He accepted that his strategy had been a failure and allowed the military to devise a new strategy to engage India.

Civilian and military leaders were similarly split over issues of method when it came to tackling terrorist safe havens inside the country. In 2013, the then new government under Sharif was not interested in launching operations inside the country against the Taliban and other extremist actors. The government instead began peace talks with the terrorist outfits despite repeated advice from the Pakistan Army to the contrary.

The Pakistan army pushed the view that terrorist outfits use ‘peace talks’ as a pretence to regroup, develop credibility and then launch attacks again when the government is vulnerable. Months later, when the terrorists continued their attacks on Pakistan and US forces despite the ongoing negotiations with the Pakistani government, Sharif again was sheepish in front of Pakistan’s security establishment and allowed the military to launch an operation.

When it comes to Pakistan’s current foreign policy posture, there appears to be no rupture in civil–military relations. Both civilian and military leaders support deep ties with China, opening up to Russia, balancing the Middle East, defying the United States and finding a sustainable peace with India and Afghanistan. Even the ‘Dawn leaks’ controversy was less a matter of disagreement over foreign policy than a case of the civilian government trying to embarrass the military establishment.

While civil and military leaders in Pakistan are locked in a power struggle, they are on the same page in terms of foreign and security policy — which is why Pakistan has seen much policy continuity over the past four decades. Civilian leaders pitch this domestic power struggle to international audiences as a matter of ‘foreign policy’ and a ‘fight for democracy’ for the purposes of seeking international endorsements that can be leveraged in the local power tussle.

This absence of nuance in Western academic writing and commentaries on Pakistan is not just a blind spot. It is deliberate neglect whereby the dominant characterisation of Pakistan’s civil–military relations is constructed to suit Western political interests that include aligning Pakistan’s national security policies with that of the West, and having a strong check on its nuclear program.

Riaz Haq said...

Jaswant Singh, India’s former foreign minister, who died on September 27 after six years in a coma from a fall at his home, was carrying a history-making sheaf of typed papers in his briefcase on July 16, 2001, in Agra, papers of immeasurable importance to the future history of South Asia.

So powerful were the contents in Jaswant Singh’s draft he had agreed with his Pakistan counterpart that it had the potential to forestall any future war between India and Pakistan. Singh’s far-right colleague and home minister LK Advani torpedoed the draft pact moments before Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf were to accept it.

The sabotaged Agra summit could have saved India and Pakistan an endless need to procure military hardware at prohibitive costs to their poverty-stricken masses. Had history not played truant that day in Agra, there would be a hoard of money available for healthcare and education for both countries – saved from scandal-tainted Rafale jets in India, for example – which in turn would have enabled both to better fight the coronavirus menace, and perhaps even spare precious resources for the less endowed neighbours.

The French Rafales were meant to deal with the military contingency in Ladakh with China, one might argue. Yes and no. Jaswant Singh’s peace deal carried the power, in fact, to vacate the need for even India and China to think of war or to send hapless men to inhospitable climes for guarding their ill-defined frontiers. There would be perhaps no deaths from frostbite or avalanches in Siachen either. There would be no need to interdict the Karakoram Highway.

There is a humanitarian catastrophe brewing in Jammu and Kashmir. An Agra pact would have made unnecessary the subjugation of Jammu and Kashmir last year. True, there were howls of protest from Hindutva nationalists when Jaswant Singh proposed in a subsequent TV interview that India could accept the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir as a hard border and thus end a core dispute with Pakistan.

The protests had less to do with the logic of peace between nuclear rivals, rather they were needed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its assiduously nurtured hatred for Pakistan. A worried Arun Jaitley, the late partisan of the RSS, told the Americans in as many words, according to WikiLeaks, that good relations with Pakistan were detrimental to Hindutva’s political constituency in northern India. The instructive core of such an argument can imply that the December 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament or the November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai harmed India but helped the BJP. The logic again came into play with the Pulwama attack last year.

To loosely translate an Indian saying, the horse cannot befriend the grass. That is a likelier reason for the failure of the Agra summit – because peace with Pakistan would destroy the BJP’s plank to win votes. It goes to the credit of Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh that they did not see their politics through the prism of perpetual communal hostility.

Riaz Haq said...

WikiLeaks cables: Rahul Gandhi warned US of Hindu extremist threat
This article is more than 10 years old
Scion of India's leading political family told ambassador radicalised Hindu groups could create religious tension and political confrontation

Rahul Gandhi, the "crown prince" of Indian politics, told the US ambassador at a lunch last year that Hindu extremist groups could pose a greater threat to his country than Muslim militants.

In controversial comments likely to cause a storm in India, Gandhi – considered a likely prime ministerial candidate and a scion of the country's leading political family – warned Timothy Roemer that although "there was evidence of some support for [Islamic terrorist group Laskar-e-Taiba] among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community".

The 40-year-old politician, the son of the Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi, told the ambassador that "the risk of a "homegrown" extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention".

The US view of him has evolved. In late 2007, US diplomats described the young politician, recently appointed to lead the Congress youth wing, as "widely viewed as an empty suit and will have to prove wrong those who dismiss him as a lightweight".

"To do so he will have to demonstrate determination, depth, savvy and stamina. He will need to get his hands dirty in the untidy and ruthless business that is Indian politics," one said in a cable entitled The son also rises: Rahul Gandhi takes another step towards top job.

Other cables talk of Gandhi's political inexperience and repeated gaffes. They also repeat cutting criticism from political analysts and journalists.

However as Gandhi warmed to the US, the US warmed to him. In a meeting with another American official last summer, he explained his strategy of targeting rural populations and small towns, impressing his interlocutor.

"[Gandhi] came off as a practiced politician who knew how to get his message across, was precise and articulate and demonstrated a mastery that belied the image some have of [him] as a dilettante," the official said.

In November last year, after a meeting with the US ambassador, a cable to Washington described Gandhi as "an elusive contact in the past" but now "clearly interested in reaching out to the USG [United States government]".

A cable from February this year describes him as "increasingly sure-footed".

For Roemer, writing after the lunch during which Gandhi had commented on extremism, "the rising profile of young leaders like Rahul Gandhi provides [the USA with] an opening to expand the constituency in support of the strategic partnership with a long term horizon".

Riaz Haq said...

India’s action to deliver pain in response to Pakistan’s terror should be calibrated. Because of the limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means, examined in the next chapter, the actions available to India to punish/deter Pakistan’s terror activities fall in the tactical domain. Though lagging behind India in conventional military capability, Pakistan is in a position to respond in kind to such actions. Therefore, an indiscriminate tactical response to Pakistan’s provocations can result in a tit for tat spiral, without corresponding results in India’s favour. Hence, while calibrated action against Pakistani posts/infrastructure facilitating infiltration/terror may be desirable, the policy of heavy firing across the LoC/IB in the J&K sector, adopted by India from time to time has invariably resulted in a stalemate of tit for tat killings of security personnel/civilians on both sides, without putting an end to infiltration/terror from Pakistan.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 290). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.


Ironically, it was a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, who liberalised the media scene in 2002, allowing private radio and TV channels. Since then, privately owned channels have multiplied. Pakistan now has over 30 Urdu and regional languages news channels, besides entertainment and religious channels. The number of internet users in Pakistan was reported to be around 76 million at the beginning of 2020, an increase of about 17% over the previous year.1 Though around 35% of the total population, this is a significant number in absolute terms. Social media users in Pakistan stood at around 37 million at the beginning of 2020.2 All this has ensured that a large segment of the population is not dependent on the state for information, including about other countries. In this context, access of a large number of people to the internet and social media cannot be overemphasised. As mentioned in Chapter 13, my speech on the Indus Waters Treaty made in Karachi in April 2010 was largely blacked out by the print and electronic media because of a signal from the powers that be, but found its way into the local public discourse through the internet.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 336-337). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India. Further, as examined in Chapter 13, use of water as an instrument of coercion is a highly overrated option.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 359). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.


Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up. With India increasingly convinced of its ability to coerce Pakistan militarily and Pakistan overestimating the leverage resulting from its growing China nexus and the downturn in India-China relations because of China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh, an accidental escalation can occur. Restoration of ceasefire on the LoC/IB in the J&K sector in February 2021 was an important step towards shifting to a “management” mode from the free-fall phase of the relationship since 2016. As of this writing, the ceasefire was holding with a few exceptions. However, some additional steps such as upgradation of diplomatic representation to High Commissioners’ level and resumption of trade that would have contributed further to the shift towards a “management” mode, had not come about. The eight-track dialogue format used in every phase of structured dialogue since 1997 has outlived its utility. To begin with, Pakistan never bought wholeheartedly into India’s sagacious rationale that issues such as trade and people to people contacts should not be held hostage to solution of the more intractable political problems. Coming to the specific subjects, it is clear that demilitarisation of Siachen is not possible. without an understanding on the larger J&K issue and vastly improved trust between the two countries. A solution to Sir Creek requires a compromise by both sides, which is not possible until the relationship improves substantially. A roadmap for normalisation of trade, drawn up by the Commerce Secretaries in September 2012, already exists and can be used with suitable adaptation as and when the Pakistani establishment takes an enlightened view on the matter and overcomes the resistance of vested interests in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and automobiles. The revised visa agreement signed in September 2012 is available for implementation as a stepping stone to promotion of greater people to people contacts, but this too can happen only when the overall relationship looks up. As stated in Chapter 10, the Tulbul Navigation Project has become a non-issue.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 353-354). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex spy chief Amarjit Singh Dulat tells DH why he thinks both India and Pakistan have their best chance at peace now

S. Raghotham of Deccan Herald: What is the legacy that Gen Pervez Musharraf, who passed away recently, has left on the Kashmir issue?

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat: I was a great admirer of Musharraf. In fact, it was one of my unfulfilled desires that I wanted to meet him, but I never could. Having watched Kashmir for more than 35 years, I feel that there has been no Pakistani leader who has been more reasonable on Kashmir than Musharraf. From our point of view, the most positive thing was that he repeatedly said that whatever is acceptable to Kashmir and Kashmiris would be acceptable to Pakistan. There’s not been anybody else in Pakistan who has said that. Of course, Musharraf got into trouble when 9/11 happened, and he had to willy-nilly join George Bush’s War on Terror. And 9/11 definitely helped us, because it put pressure on Musharraf. And as part of that pressure, he was also told that he had to behave with India. In the years following 9/11, militancy went down. The other positive thing for us (post-9/11) was that the average Kashmiri....


Manmohan Singh is on record that they (he and Musharraf, after Vajpayee and Musharraf in Agra in 2001) were very close to signing an agreement.

Q: What happened that we didn’t?

A: I think we dragged our foot, we took too long…Musharraf kept waiting for Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan. The visit never happened.

Q: So, the recent revelations by Gen Qamar Bajwa, that PM Modi was to go to Pakistan, stay in a temple there for nine days, and then come out with a peace accord that would freeze the Kashmir issue for 20 years. Is that all true? Is it still possible? ...

A: I wouldn’t know. But coming from the (recently retired) Pakistan army chief Gen. Bajwa, there has to be some truth in it. I mean…there may be some exaggeration in it. I think this year -- this is my hunch, my gut feeling -- that something should happen because the Pakistanis are very keen. And they are in a big mess. So, it could be a question of Modi actually bailing out Pakistan. And he could do it…I feel Modi is the right man, he is under no pressure to move forward, but he can move forward.

Riaz Haq said...

Civil nuclear energy: Kasuri says China agreed to sign accord with Pakistan way back in 2003

The former foreign minister, who served the country from November 2002 to Nov 2007, also disclosed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Pakistan to continue the dialogue for Kashmir dispute’s resolution under the famous four-point formula that was mooted in his tenure as foreign minister.

He expressed his happiness at the fact that the recent book, ‘In Pursuit of Peace’ by former Indian ambassador to Pakistan and negotiator for backchannel talks during PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure Ambassador S K Lambah, had comprehensively confirmed that what Mian Kasuri had said in his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ published much earlier that Pakistan and India had agreed to resolve all the outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Kasuri expressed his pleasant surprise at Lambah’s revelation that Modi asked him to continue the dialogue in 2014 on the same four-point formula. The former foreign minister said that he was aware that because of the negativity engendered by Hindutva supporters under the Modi government, the relationship between the two countries had become exceedingly tense.

PM Modi, Kasuri said, cannot rule India forever. Even at the best of times, he was able to secure about 37% of the total votes with an overwhelming majority voting for parties who are, by and large, opposed to the current policies of the BJP government on Muslims, Kashmir and Pakistan.

“There was no guarantee that Modi would not change his extremist policies, either before or after elections. After all, Modi had paid a surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet former PM Nawaz Sharif,” Mian Kasuri said.


Mian Khurshid Kasuri went on to describe the success of the government at that time in establishing close relationship with the US and China, at the same time. A broad-based Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States was formalised, which aimed to promote cooperation in different fields, including economic development, science and technology, education, energy, agriculture, and a regular strategic dialogue.

Pakistan had the largest Fulbright program for sending students to the US. Additionally, he said that the US agreed to not only sell new F-16s, which it had denied to Pakistan for long, but also agreed to upgrade Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s.

In defence matters, cooperation between Pakistan and China has been comprehensive and it involved joint production of advanced weapon systems, including modern and sophisticated JF-17 aircraft, Al-Khalid main battle tanks and F-22P frigates for the navy. Pakistan paid special attention to its relationship with Muslim states and exceptionally close relationships were forged with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Iran.

Despite difficulties, there were many high-level visits to and from Afghanistan and trade increased from a mere US$23 million to over US$1.2 billion.

Khurshid Kasuri said that Pakistan forged very close relationships with Britain, France and Germany and despite the fact that Pakistan was a close ally of the US, it vigorously opposed the United States’ proposed attack on Iraq and closely cooperated in this connection with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Russia.

As a result, the US was unable to get the support of the UN and consequently decided to attack Iraq anyway with the support of the Coalition of the Willing with disastrous consequences for both Iraq and the US.

Mian Kasuri emphasized the need to redress some of Pakistan’s weaknesses, particularly to ensure that there was continuation of policies to ensure economic development. There was also a need for basic agreement between major stakeholders, so that these policies could continue despite change in governments. This could not take place with so much internal disunity.

Riaz Haq said...

Watch | Vajpayee's Biographer on Former PM's Adulterous Relationship, Lovechild, Views on Gandhi

The book is called Vajpayee: The Ascent of the Hindu Right 1924-1977 and confirms that Vajpayee and Kaul had a child out of wedlock in August 1960 called Namita nicknamed Gunnu. As the book says: “As she grew older, Gunnu’s facial features began to resemble her father’s (but) on paper, she was to be the warden’s daughter … Vajpayee may have felt the void of not being able to officially call himself a father, though Gunnu began calling him ‘Baap ji’.”

Writing about Rajkumari Kaul and Vajpayee’s relationship, Abhishek Choudhary says: “Rajkumari’s embarrassed family tried convincing her to save her marriage by letting go of the new man in her life. She refused (yet) there are no clear answers as to why she did not divorce her husband and formally marry Vajpayee.” As a result, he says, Rajkumari Kaul, Vajpayee and Birjan Kaul lived for many many years as a threesome. “With time the trio arrived at an equilibrium of sorts. Rajkumari made genuine efforts to balance her care between the husband and the lover.”

There’s a discussion at the very start of the interview about why Choudhary thought it was important and necessary to openly and honestly discuss and analyse Vajpayee’s private life i.e. his decades-long affair with Rajkumari Kaul and their love child Namita. I will leave you to see Choudhary’s explanation and why he thought this must be discussed. All I will add is it’s very convincing and very truthful.

This subject is the first of many revelations about Vajpayee that are discussed when, the author of the new biography, Abhishek Choudhary, spoke with Karan Thapar in a 53-minute interview for The Wire. In fact, there are many important revelations in the book which are picked up and discussed in the interview. There are also several myths about Vajpayee, that have been accepted as gospel truth, which the book punctures. They too are discussed in the interview.

Let me mention one other important subject, amongst the many discussed in this interview, which arises out of the biography. This is Vajpayee’s surprising (to many) and disturbing (for some) response to Gandhi’s assassination. The book says: “Atal most certainly did not consider Gandhi’s death a serious loss to mankind. The dozens of articles he had written and edited holding the Mahatma responsible for India’s partition and condemning him for pandering to Muslims had most certainly contributed to poisoning the air that ultimately led to his assassination”. In the interview, Choudhary readily accepts that there is an element of blame that falls on Vajpayee.

Because most, if not all, of the issues covered in the interview are sensitive – sometimes potentially controversial – and because paraphrasing can lead to misunderstanding but also because selectively choosing aspects of the interview to highlight conveys a sense of subjective priority, I will leave you to see this interview for yourself.

All I will do is identify the key issues discussed and then, second, give you a list of the questions so you know the order in which things will come up.