By Jaibans Singh
Wikileaks has created a storm in the Indian parliament. A cable sent by the US embassy in India to its political masters regarding “cash for votes” during the no trust motion against the UPA government in 2008 has triggered the opposition towards a unified demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister on grounds of corruption. A day or so earlier, the opposition was baying for the blood of the UPA government on the issue of a “US tilt’ in the cabinet reshuffle of 2006 also exposed by Wikileaks. Yet another issue that gained prominence was the US perception of differences between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his erstwhile National Security Advisor MK Narayanan. It was stated that Narayanan did not approve the Prime Minister’s soft approach towards Pakistan (having been born there) and that the prime Minister stood isolated with respect to his policy on Pakistan.
In case the corruption charges against the UPA government are proved then the government must go and action should be initiated against those responsible. In the issue of the “US tilt”, it can be logically deduced that Mani Shanker Ayer, though a person acknowledged for his intellectual brilliance, is by no means a political heavyweight who would come in the way of the UPA government’s engagement with the US, so where was the need for US Ambassador David C Mulford to use his so-called considerable influence to have him sidelined. Regarding the issue of Dr Manmohan Singh’s soft corner for Pakistan, it is very evident that it is not as soft as the one nurtured by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was a Prime Minister not born in Pakistan.
An important aspect of the whole drama is the US attitude towards India. What the Wikileaks discloses about India pales in the front of the very negative impression that it creates about the US. The US bureaucracy comes across as opinionated and suffering from an acute superiority complex. It takes a one sided approach, completely divorced from ground realities. Not a single good word said about India by the US has come out in the public domain from the Wikileaks. Further, the language used in the cables reeks of an attempt to project the incumbent diplomat as some sort of a demigod who leaves the Indian leadership weak kneed in the face of his aggression and clout. Obviously, the person who gains the maximum from the report is the diplomat himself. What defies comprehension is that his superiors buy such naïve and his infantile ideas and recommendations. No wonder the US policy in South Asia is so lopsided.
The issue of corruption and diplomatic seesawing, though important, are of a type that can be dealt with through our very strong democratic credentials. There are other more important Wikileaks disclosures regarding security that need urgent attention. The New York Times reported on Sunday, July, 18, 2010, that US military field documents exposed by Wikileaks suggest that Pakistan has been allowing “representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban to organise networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan”. What this implies is that, while Washington is blindly paying Pakistan massive amounts of money, the ISI has been functioning against US interests.
There is yet another leak of December, 02, 2010 where the US Ambassador to India refers to the Indian Army’s mobilisation plan as slow, lumbering and incapable of sustaining the cold start doctrine allegedly designed to punish Pakistan in a limited manner without triggering a nuclear response. This dispatch goes on to suggest that the Pakistani government is not unduly worried about a possible attack from India should its hands in a terrorist action in the future become visible.
The cumulative intelligence provided by Wikileak exposes should propel the national leadership to sit up and take notice. The question that comes to mind is – if the US is not relenting in its pursuit to equip Pakistan with military capability against India and if Pakistan is not worried about a threat from India then what is India doing to safeguard its interests? Despite being privy to this information why is India resolutely following the path of dialogue with Pakistan? Recently Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has given his consent to a Pakistan commission questioning the main accused in the Mumbai attack of 26/11, Ajmal Kasab. Pakistan has taken no reciprocal action of allowing India to question Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi who is s said to be the master mind of the said attack.
In a civilised society the window of dialogue should always be kept open but there has to be someone credible across the table to talk with. In Pakistan it is not clear as to who is calling the shots. Definitely it is not the government and a guess between the US, the Army, the Islamic fundamentalists or all of the three would not be wildly off the mark. According to the Wikileaks expose none of these three have Indian interest in mind.
The Wikileaks exposes should be utilised to formulate a national consensus on core issues concerning our security. Apart from confronting the US about its negative perception of Indian democratic norms the country also needs to be pressured to come out clean with respect to its policy on India and Pakistan. It simply has to stop running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. It has to stop looking at India as a soft and pliable State which can be manipulated in furtherance of its very myopic and misplaced interests in the Af-Pak region. With respect to Pakistan, India cannot go on tolerating its propagandist projection of being a reasonable and responsible State living under the shadow of a constant threat from a belligerent neighbour. Finally, it is time to make it clear that India has the potential and the will to use the hard option cold, hot or medium.