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How to preserve ‘Mohali spirit’

To draw comfort from William Shakespeare, the course of true love never runs smooth. Permit me to say there is more evidence that someone from within the Indian establishment is resorting to salami tactic to whittle down the ‘Mohali spirit’. Well, I know what’s on your mind: Was there any such thing indeed as a ‘Mohali spirit’? I can partially agree but am convinced there was indeed something like ‘Mohali spirit’ on the edges of the VIP pavilion overlooking the cricket ground where Dhoni and Afridi and their teams played under flood lights – for the simple reason that even if there wasn’t one, it was becoming terribly important for us to discover one.
But the day after the cricket match I could sense instinctively that the waters ahead would be choppy. The ‘incident’ whereby our security establishment kept a Pakistani High commission driver locked up in a police station for one whole night and the ‘injuries’ he suffered as he apparently tried to ‘escape’, rang a bell somewhere in the attic of my mind about the wheels within wheels in India’s tortuous neighborhood diplomacy – not only toward Pakistan, but also Sri Lanka, Nepal and probably Afghanistan, too.
I say this because it is very crucial that the ‘Mohali spirit’ is optimally preserved for as long as possible or at the very least it should not be allowed to evaporate into thin air. No illusions here, please. To my mind, what matters most at the moment is that we are just having a fabulously successful local body election in the Kashmir Valley after donkey’s years. (And, that too, when there have been speculations about an Arab-revolt like pandemonium erupting in the summer months.) Even Malayalis who are famed for high turnout in elections couldn’t match the enthusiasm coasting toward 80% in the Kashmir valley in districts like Kupwara. Wow!
Now, the hard reality is that all this is not happening in isolation. The backdrop of India-Pakistan tango needs to be factored in. We must be really dumb not to prioritise our national concerns. Why am I saying all this?
I saw a report today attributed to ‘a top government official’ in Delhi that GOI is ‘mulling the option of becoming party to the lawsuit filed in a US court last year’ by relatives of two Jewish-Americans who died in the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. I hope this is merely speculative. We must be out of our mind to do any such thing if the intention is to ‘pressure’ Pakistan. Worse still, if we are ‘mulling’ under Israeli encouragement. The worst thing is if we are really taking this lawsuit so very seriously and are estimating that it will willy-nilly force the US government to come down on Pakistan like a ton of bricks and extract full justice for us on the 26/11 attack.
The point is, the lawsuit is a ‘sideshow’ and all available indications are that the US is in no position to secure Indian interests over 26/11, when it is barely coping with its own AfPak agenda. As I pointed out in the earlier post, there is so much going on by way of security cooperation between US and Pakistan at the moment that the Obama administration will remain focused on its own national priorities for the foreseeable future. Salvaging the Indian chestnuts out of the ISI’s fire is the last thing on the list of US priorities.
So, at the end of the day, we will only be indulging in histrionics by joining hands with the Jewish-American lawsuit in New York. We saw that ISI chief Gen. Shuja Pasha was in and out of Washington in broad daylight this week despite the potentially embarrassing legal fallouts of a subpoena from the court. Besides, US legal system is not impervious to America’s foreign and security policies. Think of the fate of Bradley Manning who leaked the Pentagon cables to WikiLeaks. Who cares he is sitting in solitary confinement in a tiny cell for close to an year already and is stripped naked and not allowed to sleep in the night – all for scandalising the US diplomatic practices. Even the UN rapporteur on torture has been denied permission by the US authorities to meet him. The lawsuit over 26/11 cannot be compared with the one over Lockerbie, either, which USG was squarely backing with definite geopolitical objectives over Libya and the Middle East.
That is to say, no real purpose will be served by joining the lawsuit in New York and the danger is that we will be opting back for vacuous propaganda. The judicious thing is to continue with the bilateral track with Pakistan. No one questions that those responsible for the Mumbai attacks should be brought to justice expeditiously. No one doubts this will be hard to achieve anytime soon. What matters in diplomacy is how within your set of options you can hope to realise your objective optimally. That objective is definitely not at odds with the dialogue process with Pakistan. Does a war of words serve our purpose? Give Omar Abdullah a break.

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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