The debate over the merits of prime minister Modi ’s Pakistan policy is being put to rest with every passing day. Without getting into the nitty-gritties of how India has gone about cornering its terrorist neighbor, one can judge the current Pakistan policy on its outcomes so far: our terrorist neighbor has been isolated and embarrassed in the international arena, it has been pummeled militarily, and its agents in Kashmir are being crushed.
The key difference between the current Pakistan policy and the one followed by the previous government has been of mindset. The Modi government has understood better than anyone what Pakistan’s driving factors are, and despite advocating for it like any “good” government, has rejected a political solution to deal with the menace that is Pakistan. The previous government under Manmohan Singh not only advocated a political solution, but dealt with Pakistan under such a framework.
The absurdity of working to find a political solution betrays a profound ignorance of both history and ground realities, not to mention the utter lack of logic. But even if we are to give the Congress Party-led government the benefit of doubt about the way they chose to deal with Pakistan, even if Manmohan Singh is absolved of the accusations of emotional attachment to his birthplace and Nobel Peace Prize ambitions, some of the then government’s actions in dealing with Pakistan cannot be rationally explained.
Whether people to people exchanges among both countries should continue is debated by the ignorant or the traitorous even today, and if the then government encouraged such activities, one can still forgive them for their ignorance. Terror attacks from across the border were much more frequent during Manmohan Singh’s tenure, but many might believe that it is not fair to hold that against him either for various reasons.
What cannot be rationally explained though, can be divided into two categories. The first is the numerous attempts to absolve Pakistan of the terror attacks they engineered on Indian soil. The second, is the willingness of Manmohan Singh’s government to give away disputed territories to Pakistan.
It has come to light that the Samjhauta Express blast was conducted by the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Yet somehow, the investigating agencies framed a bunch of saffron-clad men and women. These men and women are being gradually acquitted by the courts, and many damning accounts of how they were tortured in custody to parrot the then government’s narrative of saffron terror, have emerged.
Another Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, Ishrat Jahan, became the apple of the liberal brigade’s eye. Led by the then Congress government, a concerted effort was made to clean her tarnished image.
Proof of affidavits being altered at the level of the home minister to absolve her, came as a shock to many. One must also keep in mind how some politicians belonging to the Congress Party called the 26/11 attack an RSS conspiracy, absolving Pakistan of the blame entirely. Unless the Congress Party can confirm that absolving Pakistan from terror-related activities on Indian soil were part of the then government’s efforts to arrive at a political solution to the Pakistan menace, these instances seem like quid-pro-quo.
The Manmohan Singh government also seemed open to the idea of giving away disputed territories to Pakistan.
The Siachen Glacier is near the line of control between Indian and Pakistan. India controls the glacier completely, and until 2016, over 900 Indian soldiers had lost their lives guarding the glacier. Most of them lost their lives due to extreme weather conditions, but at least 220 soldiers lost their lives fighting Pakistan. The government spends a million dollars daily to protect the glacier. And yet, at a time when Indo-Pak relations were at an all-time low, the Congress Party-led government wanted to give the glacier away as a goodwill gesture. The prime minister was pushing hard for the demilitarization of the area at the same time.
Sir Creek is a tidal estuary which runs between Gujarat and Sindh, and flows to the Arabian Sea. The creek has been under dispute between India and Pakistan, because despite it running between both the countries, the Pakistanis have taken the idiotic stance of claiming the entire creek. Not only is such a stance contrary to logic, it contradicts international laws as well. The creek is a strategic asset for both countries. The region is rich in oil, gas and salt, and is used by fishermen on either side. But Sir Creek too was going to be given to Pakistan along with the Siachen Glacier as a goodwill gesture. Thankfully, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi got wind of this scheme, and warned the union government publicly not to go ahead with this.
If the then government believed that to put an end to Paki hostilities would require a political solution, we can still live with it however numb-numbingly stupid it sounds. But the questions must be answered- was absolving them of the terrorism they perpetuated on Indian soil part of the political solution? Was giving away disputed territories that we had fought so hard to retain part of the political solution? For years we have waited for them to answer, and we are still waiting. Until then, they will simply come across as traitorous.