INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
SUMMIT AT AGRA
(“Khali Pili Khalas” ("Much Ado About Naught") – Salman Rushdie)
Delhi, 21 July 2001
Pakistan and the World were entertained to the Vajpayee–Musharraf Summit
drama which was about a very serious issue/dispute/problem i.e. Kasmir
from the 14th July, for three exciting nail biting days ––
with continuous talkathons on four Indian TV channels and several articles
in the print media. As analysts we enjoyed every moment, surfing away to
put this piece together but very glaringly the Military or Kashmiri view-
points were totally lacking.
retired military officers were absent on TV to give comments, except for
Col Iqbal Seghal from Pakistan a POW who escaped from Agra in 1971 and is
now a publisher and Uday Bhaskar who is a serving officer in IDSA. It is the
Kashmiris, the Army and Para Military Forces that are suffering the most
but they don’t seem to count.
good lookers from Pakistan, one Ashma Jehangir a lawyer and another perky
former adviser to the Pakistan Navy, were very articulate and sadly no
good lookers from India could match them, save Barkha Dutt who did a
programme on the summit –– where Admiral L Ramdas now an anti-nuke man
grinned his way to say “I told you so”. “We have to listen to
Pakistan’s concerns”. He is part of Track 2 and has stakes, as we all
have for peace and progress –– but don’t forget his daughter is
married to a Pakistani general!
Air Chief did not salute Musharraf at Rashtrapati Bhavan (see Second
Opinion, which appeared in the Pioneer.) Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
now over 80 also agreed in Asian Age. Strangely, the Chiefs of Staff were
not invited to the President’s banquet (?), because we know they cannot
dare to decline to attend the President’s banquet –– and they never
say a word on what they think is correct or incorrect. They obey. It seems
their presence was irrelevant at such a function, which surely is a bad
precedent. They have no choice but to defend India’s borders no matter
what the politicians do, but we hope they spoke up in pre summit briefings
and explained the military ORBAT (Order of Battle), between India and
Pakistan which is now Nuclear, and to get that Attot Ang (part of the POK)
will not be militarily possible in the present circumstances and nuclear
confrontation may follow if we try it.
IDC it appears that we got our values confused a bit –– mistaking the
man for the Chair he represents. In the Indian Army there is a tradition
to salute at the door before entering an office. Thus even when a General
enters the office of a subordinate officer he will salute first, as
traditionally he is saluting the Chair and not the person sitting in it.
So traditionally, by standing in the reception line the Air Chief would be
saluting the President of Pakistan and not Gen Musharraf! We are not sure
if he did it of his own volition or was ordered not to salute. If there
were any doubts on this issue why didn’t he just stay away? Nothing
intrigues us any more!)
is the way we are and Musharraf may be Pakistani, but he is of the same
generic ilk and came to India to get his own way. Yet he is a miltary
officer, has been to RCDS, wears uniform and so has a way of blunt talking
to achieve the objective and hopefully has some ethics. We probably did
not have an objective for Agra. In fact he came out well and entertained
the world with two hours of his TV.-media interaction on the 20th
July and spilt the beans that a declaration was ready but then it was not
agreed to by India’s Cabinet Committee on Security which means Advani,
Yeshwant Sinha and K C Pant. Singly or severally they did not agree, maybe
because the PM and Jaswant Singh were the framers of the declaration.
Surely the PM could not have had second thoughts?
I K Gujral also admits we do not know the truth.
the MEA has been ordered to go back to the Shimla and Lahore agreements
–– so the lessons in the book 'Indians –– Why We Are What We
Are?‘ are being reenacted all over again. It was Lee Kuan Yew who said
that, “when you want to go back on your word let the Indians handle it,
because the Chinese will not like to lose face. The Indian does not mind
losing face and he can talk his way out of it.” Please also note that
Singapore’s Law Minister responsible for Internal Security is invariably
of Indian descent or a Sri Lankan Tamil. In this context Pramod Mahajan on
Star TV’s Realty Bites was brilliant.
Agra we saw India take two steps forward by PM Vajpayee graciously
inviting the Pakistani General and going in for a one to one with him for
hours –– and then calling in the delegations who read out the riot act
–– this is what we analyse had happened. It was one step back.
in its earlier uploads had been pessimistic but not so pessimistic as to
predict that no declaration would come out. So we are happy the
declaration was made and agreed upon but the Cabinet Committee on Security
declined it –– and till we hear the Indian side this is our analysis.
We are sure this is not the end, Parliament opens on Monday 23rd July and
talkative Indians will spill the beans sooner than later. The truth will
has been seen on TV and written in the media on the failed summit so we
will not labour on it. We quote Charan Singh that seasoned politician who
had said in his time "The misery of your enemy (Pakistan) should also
bring a tear to your eye".
fact is that the Pakistani President's visit and summit was ironic in its
poor preparation. But as Musharraf the cigar smoking gambler and some one
who wants the South Asian area to move ahead has said, if we are agreed on
the problem of Kashmir (it is problematic as 200,000 security forces and
US$2 billion per year are spent there and yet no one is able to control
the deaths), we can draft matters in half an hour and proceed. PM Vajpayee
too comes off as a great guy and those who have been liaison officers to
him know he enjoys being in good spirits and has lived a dangerously happy
bachelor’s life, so many expected miracles at Agra. Yet after that media
event and a few million dollars spent on a get together to agree to
disagree, a drama seems to have been enacted by Vajpayeeji and his team.
There were no tears from the Indian side, which wanted Kashmir toned down
to an Issue to which Pervez agreed, but he was not going to give up his
lever on terrorism. The professionals did not seem to know the difference
between insurgency, militancy and terrorism –– all these lead to law
and order problems. The semantics took over not the definition of what
Kashmir is going through. The architect of Kargil, General Pervez
Musharraf is now not being forgiven for his stance at the summit by the
MEA mandarins who want to highlight the notings on old files and seem to
shun any new thinking on the subject.
The social side had lunch hosted by Prime Minister Vajpayee on July 15 at a 5-Star Hotel (not Hyderabad House!) saw the shrewd Abdul Sattar sitting next to RM/EAM Jaswant Singh and Begum Saheba sat next to Vajpayee. L K Advani was close to Musharraf with former Prime Minister V P Singh to his left and I K Gujral to his right. Sharukh Khan and Yusuf Khan (Dilip Kumar) were present. Then came the confabulations with the Hurriyat and the high tea at the High Commission followed by the talks at Agra. In an interview to Gulf News, Musharraf clarified his stance on the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, which require both countries to enhance mutual trust and cooperation.
Finally it seems on Monday 16th at mid day the two Foreign Ministers agreed on 'The Agra Declaration' but then something went wrong possibly on the Indian side as Musharraf’s statement at the briefing went on repeatedly to explain this.
Agra Jaswant Singh defended India's stance well and thank God he has
excellent communication skills (learnt no doubt at Mayo and the NDA),
which Pakistanis say are robot like. Hope Salman Rushdie’s phrase ‘khali
pili khalas’ does not apply and we can pick up the threads soon or
the ante will be up in Kashmir and our fine Army and Para Military forces
will not know what Agra was all about.
do not know what the PM spoke in his one to one talks with Musharraf, but
the Prime Minister clearly gave vent to India's approach to relations with
Pakistan in his prepared statement, to please his Cabinet Colleagues when
they joined the visiting General for some twenty minutes. Vajpayee spoke
of the need for a "comprehensive view" of Indo-Pakistani
relations involving a "broad based" approach to our relations.
He candidly pushed Musharraf to see the problems posed by Pakistani
support for terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere. Musharraf just wanted the
first irritant Kashmir addressed but then as usual we want CBMs. And so on
other issues such as Siachen there was a chasm. The No-War pact etc. fell
by the way side. Vajpayee seems to have been briefed by the intelligence
that there are Indian POWS in Pakistan and the General like a soldier
said, “We must be mad if we have kept POWs for 30 years.” In any case
the POWs if any in Pakistani jails must be mad by now and Pakistan has
confirmed there are none. Vajpayee also dwelt on the support provided by
Pakistan to people involved in the Bombay bomb blasts, harboring of
criminals like Dawood Ibrahim, the hijackers of IC 814 and to residual
terrorist elements who have been engaged in terrorist activities in
Punjab. The General saw to it that Dawood left Pakistan and assured India
the POWs matter will be looked into.
the Media part of the Summit, here below are the statements of the
External Affairs spokesperson Mrs Nirupama Rao, which are telling. The GOI
has yet to realise that the media is part of the daily decision-making and
transparency is in the air. Even as far back as the Falklands war Admiral
Sandy Woodward had said that he fought two wars at sea, one against the
Argentenians and the other against the media embarked on his ships. The
same was the case with the Gulf War, which we also saw in our drawing
Sattar giving out contents of the draft declaration, she said "This
is a very novel interpretation on how diplomatic parleys have to be
conducted." "If the logic of the media conducting negotiations
simultaneously with the principals is to be accepted, then I am afraid
international or bilateral confidential parleys or discussions might very
well be held in an amphitheatre with the media present all the time”
–– sarcasm at its best!
Finally what is our analysis?
is unclear what to do and how to deal with the Kashmir problem and shuns
third party mediation so it is in a soup. Farooq Abdullah wants Azadi
(Freedom). Since India has a fine Army it can linger with indecision on
and on and hope that Pakistan goes down economically.
Musharraf knows Kashmir must be discussed some day and embarrasses Indian
leaders who are divided on it, first with Pakistan’s view and then with
the Kashmiris themselves and so Pervez gains legitimacy. He created the
distinct impression that when he says Kashmir he means Kashmir which is in
India’s control and Kashmiris to him are the Muslim population of
Kashmir only. To him the Hurriyat, and not the elected Government of the
State, represents the Kashmiris .
were intrigued that no Indian politician or media person asked him to
explain on TV why he was holding on to a large part of Kashmir (POK) when
the whole of the state had acceded to India. Or how Pakistan had handed
over a huge part of it to the Chinese? Why did no one confront him with
the plight of the Hindu residents of Kashmir (they are Kashmiris too) who
have been systematically hounded out of their homes and their businesses
and houses taken over by militant action?
At this juncture we quote Lt Gen Vinay Shankar from a brilliant article on Kasmir in the Asian Age on 7 Jul. His artillery bore the brunt of Kargil as much as the infantry did. At first he admits elections in Kashmir may have been rigged. “Till a few years ago, if the people of the valley were asked to make a choice between India and Pakistan the odds were that they would elect to join Pakistan.”
is another truth from another General who goes on to say. “If the will
of the people of Kashmir is sought today, it is almost certain that a vast
majority would seek the status of an independent country “.
One, Scene One on Kasmir is over and Act
Two has begun. What next?