Planning and Execution sans Thought or Action
This is the true story which began in 1999 but has never ended till today regarding the visit of our then Prime Minister Sh Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore (Pakistan) on 21st Feb 1999 to show India’s friendliness and closeness to our great neighbor PAKISTAN which however boomeranged at that time and the serious repercussions and intentions which are even apparent at this juncture have been ignored by all Governments since then and sadly they are relevant even today. Pakistan’s antics have never ever been debated, analyzed or understood by any Government till today. We suddenly have to perforce evaluate today since our old Friend Pervez Musharraf has once again surfaced in Karachi after his sojourn abroad. No one even took the hint when in 1999 Pervez Musharraf being the Chief of PAK ARMY refused to join Nawaz Sharif for the evening reception and dinner being hosted in Lahore for the Indian Prime Minister after the signature of the Lahore Treaty. The comment he made may have been forgotten by the People of India today, but it still rings a clear bell in my mind in that he did not join the Reception Party, and said “that he would not want to salute a HINDU BIGOT” Atal Bihari Vajpayee our Prime Minister of India. Were we asleep at that time or are we in slumber even today? End 1999 what happened was horrendous. Musharraf launched his attack on India in Kargil. How did he come into our territory and why was the Government of India at that time not aware of such a heavy move of PAK Troops on to the Kargil heights? The Kargil war was a war of our unconscionable lack of vigilance. It was a war brought on by a total failure of Intelligence, it was a war of Political apathy verging on blindness. The type of blindness that Krishna Menon suffered from!!! But Krishna Menon resigned. In the case of Kargil we did not hear of any Ministerial or Bureaucratic heads rolling?
Decline of Governance
I would like to put on record that I had clearly pointed out way back in 1999 (in my book Unmasking Secrets of Turbulence) that it was a Political Failure of the then Government and unfortunately I say we sadly continue to commit such lapses in our planning even today in which Good Governance has not only taken a back seat but appears to have been dumped into the Luggage Booth!! The decline of Governance commenced during the last years of the Congress rule, 1991-96 which was then headed by P.V. Narasimha Rao, which started off well but sharply declined in its last days. After that came the General Elections which witnessed the further fragmentation of the Parties and threw up a number of Leaders, some known, some unknown and majority of them with reputations either to build or more to hide!!! The BJP then under Atal Behari Vajpayee secured the largest single majority, but not good enough to Form a Government, but they still laid stake to form the Government and appeared confident to hook a majority since they were sure that other Parties will themselves clamor towards them. This gamble failed miserably and after 13 days, “Lucky for some”, they came crumbling down and decided to sit in the Opposition (16 May 96 to 1 June 96 of which 28 May to 1 June was as Caretakers).
New United Front Lessons learnt
Then came the conglomeration of a Front known as The UNITED FRONT, with Deve Gowda as Prime Minister, backed by the Congress, sans Sonia Gandhi. Soon a bull fight ensued between Narasimha Rao and Sita Ram Kesri, one the Congress President and Ex Prime Minister, and the other waiting in the wings to wrest control of the Party from the failing and fading Rao who was backing a Government at the Centre, headed by Deve Gowda. It was an experiment as everyone blared at that time saying that the era of Coalitions had arrived the World over to contend with this type of Governance and in the process hoped to carry everyone together!!! Have we learnt lessons or do we want to experiment once again and every time? Unfortunately the position today, as one reads, must be put through a serious analysis and reexamined, if such a type of Government was to take over in the Future where several Parties known or to be still identified will get together to run our Great Country HINDUSTAN? I would like to share with the People of India whether this would work in the next Elections or not? WHAT HAPPENED in the earlier years and why the fears of the VOTERS today is genuine with the Media having a hey day, which leaves the Public in a State of Drunken stupor, almost unconscious, with their thoughts unclear.
Politicking in Congress
Now let me revert back to the period of 1996-1998. Suddenly Sita Ram Kesri, aging and doddering, heading the Congress party with his eye on the Prime Ministership of the Country, not caring for the effect of any hasty action that such a move would have on India’s Destiny, decided to withdraw support, since there was an ego clash in the Party between the two Stalwarts. How very sad. Luckily another Prime Minister was acceptable to Sita Ram Kesri and in came I.K. Gujral. He was expected to perform well and the People had high hopes in him, coming in, with the experience he had to back him. But alas this too did not last long and General Elections were ordered. The Governance at the Center after 16 May 1996 was headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee -16 May to 1 June 1996, HD Deve Gowda – 1 June 1996 to 21 April 1997, I.K. Gujral – 21 April 1997 to 18 March 1998.
General Elections in 1998 were once again ordered which resulted in the People of India not voting for One Party rule, and we had thus once again a fragmented version result. This time the BJP under Vajpayee as Prime Minister wanted to and perceived to have a capacity to rule by consensus, hastened to form a Government. The coalition Government he headed was sought to be presented as the realization of such a consensus which could extend to encompass the Congress as well. The possibility of such an extension was supposedly based on the fact that the BJP had by now achieved the Status of a Party for National Governance, which previously was the monopoly only of the Congress. The era of coalition Governments may not have dawned even today, but the era of Two Parties (maximum Three Parties) appears to be the only rational available for GOOD GOVERNANCE. This view seems to be endorsed by a number of Elder Statesmen too. Even the Left have started to think of a Third Front!! If we continue to follow the present set up, with almost two dozen Parties there is always going to be Bad Governance and who suffers, only the People of India? Take the Past experiments and events as they unfolded. There is also today total Financial anarchy which prevails in the Country. The Finance Minister likes us to believe that a consensus has been reached when he presented the recent Budget – but in 1999, let alone the consensus, the Budget even lacked in Intellectual Honesty itself. All Governments have NO continued or coherent thinking on Economic Reforms and Military Strategy. What they all tend to do, is to dismantle planning as it existed, just to discredit the previous heritage in order to gain cheap sympathy for themselves to say how bad everyone was in the past 50 years and what a task has been left for the present Government to put things right. Such a perception by any Government is ridiculous and shows an antagonistic contradiction between throw back and progress of the Nation. If such a situation is permitted to prevail and persists for too long, are we not heading towards a REVOLUTION? By just trying to continue to be in Power, do we realize the damage that accrues to the Country? It is necessary therefore for me to quote events as they have unfolded in the past for refreshing Public Memory.
Dismissal of the then Chief of Naval Staff
The dismissal of the Chief of Naval Staff, Bhagwat, and the subsequent washing of dirty linen in public. Don’t we realize as to what damage had been done to the morale of the Armed Forces and have we forgotten that the BJP Government was voted OUT OF POWER. Not to learn any lessons, what again happened in V.K.Singh’s case? Does that also not leave a Bitter Taste in our Countryman’s Mind?
The main hick up occurs when the time for selection comes for clearance of Officers to the rank of Lt General and equivalent ranks in the other two Services which is the most crucial period. Here the Selection must be done according to Seniority and Performance – but unfortunately this is not so. The Pressures start to build up at this early stage by Outsiders who have no clue as to the career profiles of such Officers. I strongly urge that the present Chief’s of each Service must not give in to such pressures and record on file as to what the actual position is. If the Government however for any reason wants to supersede a person they are at liberty to do so since they are the final authority, but they must record the reasons for doing so and this information must be shared with the People of this Country.
As for the dealings of the Government of India with the States is concerned this is not my perview. However I would like to mention – The Bihar fiasco – dismissal and reinstatement of a State Government.
The Futile Bus Ride to Bullock Cart Diplomacy in 1999 with no follow up.
To cap it all the recommendations of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) where the then Government wanted to exercise power without accepting responsibility. One can’t have authority being exercised by one body and responsibility being cast on another. When would our great POLITICIANS realize? One could go on and on to prove the fact that large Coalition Governments will never work in a Democracy, such as the one followed by us today. If we were to continue to experiment on this, we shall one day have a very heavy price to pay. If, however, we are not prepared to change, then we must have long term (say 20 to 25 years) Perspective Plans in all Development Fields, which must encompass – Foreign Affairs, Defence and Fiscal Policies which would be mandatory for any subsequent Government to continue to implement and would require Parliamentary sanctions to alter. The “Bus Riders” would then cease – imagine the fragmented Policy on Kashmir. “Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of the Country. Every inch of illegally usurped by Pakistan will be recovered because of the BLOOD OF THE BRAVE ARMED FORCES AND OUR COUNTRYMEN WHICH HAS BEEN SHED OVER THE YEARS – Yes we may consider that the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir may today become an International Boundary between India and Pakistan. We as Today’s Leaders appear to be pussy footing without taking a Decision or Expressing an opinion because we are Uncertain of Ourselves or Frightened about doing so. Are we also loosing one’s Perspective when we are suddenly catapulted to high positions because we want to be in Cushy and Comfortable shoes and perhaps to also be DISHONEST WITH THE PEOPLE OF INDIA? It is also rumored that there is a nexus between the Present day Leaders and the Criminal Gangs. This fact has I believe already been amply clarified, stated and brought out in the N.N. Vohra report. Has this report been tabled in Parliament till today? The Chief Election Commissioner has already suggested that we consider certain amendments and lay down conditions and eligibility criteria for persons who can be permitted to stand for Elections, for both Assembly and the Parliament seats, have we done so? Why can’t Parliament in the remaining sessions pass an Ordnance that would debar an Individual if he has FIR pending against him. I know the reaction that the present Government might slap FIR’s on anyone they dislike and debar the Individual. Lay a date today effective from a particular time period.
Failure on Our part to have a firm policy on Pakistan
Let me now illustrate a case where our efforts to be Friends with our neighbor, Pakistan, have miserably failed to get us any mileage. I have mentioned many an incident earlier where the necessity to have a continued Policy in Foreign Relations which is an imperative for STABILITY and ADVANCEMENT for our Country. In 1999 the bus ride by the Prime Minister of India to Pakistan was concluded with a fanfare that did not justify the journey which turned out to be much costlier than if he had taken a chartered Air India flight. While India is quite clear that the present situation demands that the two Countries should work towards a nuclear detente as also a “No War – No First Strike” pact, but for this a lot of groundwork with solid knowledge and hard work is required to be initiated, as the People of Both the Countries are still not prepared to accept the conditions laid down on each other.
Take the instance of our Cricket matches. Late Bala Sahib Thackeray was castigated by the whole of India for the digging of the pitches during the Test Matches between India and Pakistan held in Mumbai. I feel his actions deserve a lot of merit. Take the boycott by the Indian Government during the Apartheid issue with South Africa. India refused to allow the South African team entry into the country and similarly Indian players were forbidden to step on the African soil for decades. Was the South African government carrying out sabotage? Still we were not prepared to have any truck with them merely because some Indians in South Africa were being affected. Today the whole of India is affected by the so-called “Proxy War” – to my mind total subversion daily, bordering a war like situation unleashed on us by Pakistan – and yet we go for a Bus Ride, and prostrate in front of PAKISTAN and beg for forgiveness for what Pakistan does to us by beheading our Soldiers??? While Vajpayee was in Lahore there were killings taking place of innocent lives in Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistanis also hurled stones on the motor-cade carrying diplomats for various functions during his visit, and there was a total closure of all shops in Lahore. The Three Service Chief’s of Pakistan’s Armed Forces refused to honour the Prime Minister of India, calling him an enemy P.M. and a Hindu bigot. (Have we got the mood of the People of the two Countries?)
Nations have National Interests, which means there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies and sooner our GUNG-HO LEADERS realize this, the better. Political commentators may litter our memory with examples such as Anwar Sadat’s moves which melted Israeli – Egyptian relations or for that matter Henry Kissinger’s trip thro Pakistan to meet Communist China’s top leaders to mend fences between Washington and Beijing, which were shrouded in secrecy. We can take the situation of Rudolph Hess’s flight to Britain at the height of the Second World War when Britain and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany were engaged in a protracted and bitter war. But the truth of the matter is that though examples of this nature are bandied about, but hard common sense of proportion, euphoria and bonhomie as in the present case do not help in forging a sound relationship between Nations. In fact we should remember that the incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif had even passed an Ideology Act under which anyone who goes against the Ideology of the Country in speech, writing or action makes himself liable to serve at least 10 years Rigorous Imprisonment.
The question of Kashmir and its solution becomes even more difficult if one brings in the question of Religion as a norm for settling territorial disputes between the two Countries, it runs against the grain of our ideology of Secularism. India and Pakistan cannot have a good and amicable relationship like that of between the US and Canada or Australia and New Zealand. The burden of History is littered with bloodshed and too heavy to shake off so soon.
The bottom-line therefore is that efforts have to be made to mend fences, but they should be devoid of transient thrills and frills. Vajpayee’s bus ride to Lahore certainly missed on a vital factor and that is of solid preparation on the ground. But is anybody even listening today?
In Conclusion one must also remember that Nawaz Sharif earlier had a far more comfortable Parliamentary Majority than Vajpayee and Sharif but had to constantly look over his shoulder at the Armed Forces. Hostility to India and military preparedness for a war over Kashmir has always been the motivating factor for the Pakistani military. We face the bigger headache of not even being the Masters of our own House. Today Musharraf is back. Kyani the Chief of PAK Army was his Subordinate. Pakistan is in turmoil with Militancy strewn through out the Country. Musharraf has already been directed not to leave the Country. It is for the People of India to interpret the future, The Threat that India faces with Musharraf in Pakistan.
Let us like Good Indians get together to serve our People who languish without food, shelter and now water in the whole Country. Wake up India. I say that as a Soldier one would not like the Leaders of India to make history by breaking the ice, but India should make Geography for all People in the sub continent to live in Peace here in after. Let us keep the KASHMIR vital issue, as a bilateral one and not internationalize the whole situation. As it is, an Asian MP in the UK has already started fishing in the turbulent situation whereby he is spearheading a campaign for the Kashmiri’s to be recognized as a separate ethnic group. This campaign is being organized by pro-independence Kashmiri groups like the JKLF, Kashmir International Front and the Kashmir Workers Association. This could have far more serious and wider Political implications for the whole Continent if it succeeds. There is no change in Pakistan’s behaviour vis-a-vis the Valley or along the Line of Actual Control and the Siachen Glacier. Islamabad was continuing with desperate attempts to capture some of the most strategically important posts in the glacier area. Pakistani sponsored militants have not changed their tactics nor has Pakistan made any efforts to stop the heavily armed and trained foreign mercenaries from across the LOC and on Indian soil. Pakistani Troops are persistently firing to target Indian positions and the civilian population. I believe Armed Militants, would be waiting across the LOC for sneaking into the Indian Territory at a given opportunity. This would come with the melting of snows and Pakistan Elections going well. The Indian Army must plan to launch a counter offensive if such a situation demands.
It is true that sooner or later, Pakistan and India will have to square up with hard historical reality in the sub-continent. It is always in the interest of both countries to show little gestures, such as sending of our children, film personalities, singers, dancers to light emotions, to symbolize the thaw in relations, but when tempers are allowed to snowball and charge the atmosphere with great expectations, that is when the trouble really starts.
My Final Recommendations
With our own Elections around the corner we must prepare ourselves now. The trend of us being hit on one cheek and we presenting the other must change. DECISIONS COME THROUGH OUR STRENGTHS AND NOT OUR WEAKNESSES. I would strongly urge that the two major Parties the Congress and the BJP get together after our Elections and form “THE UNITED STATES OF INDIA” How does this feel to be a TRUE INDIAN.
Take the case of a Country like NORTH KOREA which is smaller than any of India’s Mighty States – see the warning, which has been given by them – “North Korea is today on the brink of a Nuclear War in the wake of UN sanctions in response to its Feb Nuclear Test and we are aware of a series of joint US and South Korean Military drills that have included a rare US show of Aerial Power” North Korea has warned that it was entering a State of War and has Armed her Nuclear Missiles to take on the USA and South Korea. SEE THE DIFFERENCES “WAKE UP INDIA” The N.N Vohra report must be tabled in Parliament and discussed thread bare. Vohra’s snapshot of the Health of the Nation in terms of internal security, thuggery, muscle and money power, as also maladministration has been hidden under the carpet for long from the Public and the failure to address the issue raised has cost the COUNTRY dearly.