Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Problem With Engaging Musharraf

In his terrific blog India Uncut, Amit disagrees with Indian blogosphere's Musharraf protest.

He argues that engagement with Musharraf is good because it represents a positive-sum game. Because peace brings prosperity, so the theory goes, what's the harm in trying for peace? He also draws up the Israel-Palestine example, where clearly jaw-jaw is better than war-war.

Amit's is an important argument shared by many Indians -- indeed our Government itself. It deserves a serious -- not emotional -- response.

First, the comparison to Israel-Palestine is plainly wrong on facts -- indeed, doing so parrots the Pakistani argument. Lets consider just two points:

Palestine was legitimately wrested by Israel, from Jordan and Egypt, in war initiated by the latter two. Before this "occupation" began, there was no independent state of Palestine -- this is not to say there weren't Arab residents of Palestine staking a claim for their own state.

Unlike Kashmiris, who are Indians, occupied Palestinans do not carry any citizenship at all. Kashmiris, therefore, have rights and significant freedom; Palestinians have very little. If Kashmir were to lose India, Kashmiri freedoms will shrink; the same can hardly be said for Palestine. This is a major difference, is it not?

Also, unlike Kashmiris, whose lands have been protected by the Indian state, Palestinians have lost land to Israeli settlers for decades. This too is a major difference, is it not?

The other point about forging a win-win equation with Pakistan merits some consideration. This blog has forcefully confronted this idea in the past. In one of our earlier posts here, we wrote the following (this represents what Amit seeks -- a coldly rational understanding of the situation at hand):

India’s people are understandably tired of war in Kashmir. They yearn for peace and the consequent prosperity. But peace and prosperity through terrorist appeasement are surely illusions. How soon before the Pakistan comes back for a mile, having taken an inch? What if terrorism is resumed? What will India do then? Cry foul and wave around the settlement signed by the untrustworthy General Musharraf?

India’s elite hopes its statesmanship on Kashmir will lead it into bodies like the Security Council and G8, therefore to power and riches. But since when are seats at high tables available for purchase in the currency of weakness? Besides, power and riches are prerequisites to joining these clubs – these clubs are not avenues to power and riches.

Security Council and G8 members matter not because of their membership in these bodies. In fact, it is the Council that derives influence from its permanent members whose own power comes from having humbled their adversaries. Likewise, the G8 derives influence from its members who are prosperous in their own right.

Where does this leave India? With an appeased terror state as peace partner who, past experience suggests, is hardly trustworthy and, if a miracle happens, ersatz membership in global bodies that neither provides power nor riches. Some prize this is.

We see no reason to back off this argument now. As we recently noted, we can always count on Pakistan to validate our hawkish points whenever it is part of the equation. As example, see today's attack on Kashmir bus passengers .


anantha said...

"Also, unlike Kashmiris, whose lands have been protected by the Indian state, Palestinians have lost land to Israeli settlers for decades. This too is a major difference, is it not?"

Ummm.. I keep hearing about Kashmiri Pundits displaced from their homes, who live in camps in Delhi. So, I wouldn't go as far as to say what you have said, though I can say that the situation cannot be compared to the Israel-Palestine issue, where the agressors were the ones who took over land... Either way, Kashmiris from one particular community havent exactly been protected....

Primary Red said...

Point taken. Some Kashmiris (Pundits) have indeed lost land, and much more, at the hands of other Kashmiris -- this is a serious problem that needs to be remedied.

The bigger point, of not lumping the Kashmir issue with the Israel-Palestine issue, still stands. We are in agreement on this.

yoddhä said...

Amit Varma is a big friend of AID, the organization that is funding Sandeep Pandey's [i]padayatra[/i] to TSP.

The "peace activists" are the useful idiots for Pakistan, they are busy softening the prey.

The recent attack at RTC shows that Pakistan has not stopped playing devious games, but the pinkos are oblivious to all this. They want peace at any cost. Even the destruction of India is not too high a cost.


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