Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at an event at Teen Murti Bhavan in Delhi, offered his sage counsel on the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. The senior Congress leader, who discovered his voice after a decade during Prime Minister Modi’s tenure, appeared to argue that India was equally responsible for the events that have transpired recently.
#WATCH: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh, “On a day when our country is grappling with another crisis of mad rush of mutual self destruction played b/w India-Pak. Our basic problem is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance&disease which still afflicts citizens in our 2 countries… (27.02) pic.twitter.com/H1OJcyi3Rk
— ANI (@ANI) March 1, 2019
“On a day when our country is grappling with another crisis of mad rush of mutual self-destruction played between India-Pakistan. Our basic problem is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflicts citizens in our 2 countries”, the former PM said. “I think the events will soon find corrective and I do hope that a saner counsel prevails between the leadership of two countries and we get back to the economic development which is the basic requirement of both India and Pakistan,” he added.
One wonders what Manmohan Singh means by ‘mad rush of mutual self-destruction’. India did not start the fight. India is only responding to a legitimate threat to our security posed by Pakistan’s support to terrorists. The airstrikes conducted by the Indian Air Force to eliminate terrorists on the other side of the border is merely a reflection of that. It’s the Pakistani establishment which chose to escalate matters by attempting to attack our military installations. Under such circumstances, trying to create a false equivalence between the conduct of the two countries is the worst form of partisan politics.
Moreover, Singh believes that ‘economic development’ is the ‘basic requirement’ of both countries. It certainly is with a minor difference. India seeks to develop itself economically for the prosperity of its citizens, Pakistan seeks the same so that it can wage war more effectively against India. Therefore, it will be extremely naive for India not to explore options to scuttle Pakistan’s economy. Singh’s statement only goes on to show that he is in denial of the true nature of the Pakistani establishment and it’s no wonder that his government was utterly incapable of thwarting the Pakistani establishment.
It appears that even more than a decade after his shameful capitulation in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, Manmohan Singh hasn’t learnt that dialogues with Pakistan do not help. After 26/11, our Armed Forces were prepared to conduct strikes in Pakistan occupied territory to inflict severe costs upon the Pakistani establishment and terrorists, but Singh had decided to play the Game of Dossiers. As a consequence of preventing military action against Pakistan sponsored terrorists, their establishment did not learn any lessons and continued their proxy war against India as they suffered no consequences.
After Prime Minister Modi took the reins of the country, the goal of the Indian government has been to impose significant damage upon Pakistan in order to raise the costs of sheltering and supporting terrorists. After Uri, it was the Surgical Strikes, after Pulwama, air strikes were conducted. As is evident from Narendra Modi’s own words, he realises that Pakistan will not stop harbouring terrorists until and unless the costs of pursuing a proxy war against India exceed the benefits. Every action of the Modi government post the Pulwama attack is geared to that effect.
Instead of playing partisan politics at this moment of national importance, Manmohan Singh ought to remember the disgraceful conduct of his own party after the terror attacks in Mumbai. A cable by the then U.S. Ambassador, leaked by Wikileaks, revealed that the Congress party chose to play minority politics at that critical juncture. It is distressing that their petty identity politics did not escape the eyes of even the U.S. Ambassador. “The party chose to pander to Muslims’ fears,” he had observed.
It is very easy to indulge in the posturing of no real consequences, especially when one has the support of a ‘pliant media’. But it’s entirely different to achieve something substantial of real consequence. History will remember that despite a decade of dialogue and more of it, Manmohan Singh was unable to create an atmosphere of peace between the two countries. History will remember that despite his great efforts towards having a dialogue, Pakistan did not stop sheltering terrorists.
Some may say neither have the Surgical Strikes. The difference is, Narendra Modi never said that one surgical strike or two will force Pakistan to mends its way. The larger goal has always been to keep increasing the costs of indulging in a proxy war against India until they can no longer afford it. Unlike Manmohan Singh’s delusional approach, the current government’s strategy appears to be actually implementable. And is likely to achieve much greater success than the erstwhile government’s utter naivete.