(Former diplomat and noted analyst of international politics)
While watching various Delhi TV channels tonight on issues surrounding Sunday’s attack on Uri base, one gets the depressing feeling that we are being delusional. What is entirely lacking is the ethical standard that the media should not incite public opinion by feeding it with such patent falsehoods.
We are living in a fool’s paradise, being led up the garden path by a bombastic leadership and led to believe falsely that the international community is rooting for India, that the country’s prestige is soaring sky-high, etc. and, therefore, Pakistan stands ‘isolated’.
In reality, though, the readout of the US State Department on the meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York on September 20 should come as an eye-opener. The readout is reproduced below:
Secretary Kerry met Monday with Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif to discuss our strong, long-term bilateral partnership and to build upon the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. The Secretary commended the Prime Minister for restoring macroeconomic stability to Pakistan over the last three years and expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation on climate change priorities.
The Secretary reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens, while commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence. They also spoke about regional issues, including recent developments with regard to Afghanistan. The Prime Minister and Secretary Kerry expressed strong concern with recent violence in Kashmir — particularly the army base attack — and the need for all sides to reduce tensions.
Secretary Kerry also stressed the need for restraint in nuclear weapons programs. The Secretary praised Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for over 40 years and highlighted the importance of continued respect for humanitarian principles.
This is a carefully worded document, drafted by career diplomats with the full knowledge of the intelligence inputs available with the US State Department regarding the attack that took place on Uri base over 36 hours previously on Sunday. Nonetheless, such manifestly effusive sentiments and fulsome praise for Pakistan have been attributed to Kerry.
See the expressions that have been used in the document with great deliberation – “strong, long-term bilateral partnership”; “commended the Prime Minister”; “expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation”; “commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence”; “praised Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for over 40 years”, et al.
Most significantly, the reference to J&K and Uri attack is framed as the shared opinion of Sharif and Kerry – “The Prime Minister and Secretary Kerry expressed strong concern with recent violence in Kashmir — particularly the army base attack — and the need for all sides to reduce tensions.” What does this single stunning sentence imply in plain language, shorn of diplomatic idiom?
One, US is not willing to censure Pakistan;
Two, US shares Pakistan’s “strong concern over recent violence in Kashmir”;
Three, the Uri base attack is to be seen squarely in the context of the 2-month old upheaval in Kashmir Valley; and,
Four, US agrees with Pakistan on the need to reduce tensions (read on the imperative need of India-Pakistan talks).
The point that really makes one shudder is that Kerry does not think this is an act of cross-border terrorism. The Americans seem to have arrived at some conclusions of their own regarding what happened in Uri, which do not tally with our account.
Now, unless we shake ourselves free of the myopic vision regarding ourselves that has been systematically created by our ruling elites through the past 2-year period, ably assisted by the unscrupulous TV channels in Delhi day in and day out, we will come to grief. This is all nothing but Goebbelsian lies that we are being fed with by our TV channels.
The unfortunate part is that almost two-thirds Indians are today clamoring for military action against Pakistan. The ruling elites would know they are riding a tiger and if they dismount at this juncture, the public opinion will devour them for not living up to the myths the people have been led to believe all this while. The Indian public does not know that the realities of the security environment surrounding India today are pretty grim and we desperately need an exit strategy.
Equally, our strategic choices are virtually nil today, thanks to the nuclear stalemate and Pakistan’s stockpile of tactical weapons that can neutralize our forces (while on their territory) without even giving cause to provoke (or justify) a nuclear counter-strike by us. These are theatre weapons which have focused usage in a specific limited area, but will annihilate the enemy in real time. Our public should realize that any provocation by us could draw forth a Pakistani retaliation the scale of which will be simply prohibitive in cost in human lives and destruction.
Read an insightful perspective on Uri attack by the well-known US pundit George Perkovich on the strategic dilemma India faces today vis-à-vis Pakistan – Perkovich candidly says India has run out of options and is left with no sensible way of addressing the challenge posed by terrorism on an enduring basis except by engaging the people of the Kashmir Valley in political dialogue, and the alternative will be a seamless asymmetric war. (here)