Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Negotiating with Musharraf. Not.

We read with amusement the transcript of the recent Musharraf interview. Apart from the inarticulate, incoherent and self-incriminating comments, this was our first oppurtunity to gain an insight into the delusional mind of the Pakistani leader. We have always wondered what the final solution to the decades-old Kashmir problem is, and what are the positions staked out by the negotiating parties. Good negotiating strategy or not, Musharraf chose to go public with his ideas, giving the public its first insider look at the ever-secretive peace-process.

So, what the General wants, quite simply, in exchange for turning off the terror tap, is joint-soveriegnty over combined-Kashmir. The proxy-war is his leverage, and he's not letting go of it for free (else, his colleagues would argue, what was the point of the 20-year jihad?). It does make sense, in a perverse way, from the General's point of view.

What does India want? For lack of visibility, we'll speculate, that the Indian side would settle for converting LoC into the border, with some soft border controls in Kashmir, with Indian sovereignty this side of LoC, and autonomy within the Indian constitution. So, what leverage does India have to get what it wants? India is not going to get what it wants by gently pleading to the General's conscience - this is a tough game of realpolitik and its going to have to play hardball.

The key is to acquire a few trump cards that India can then barter away. India needs to convince the General that if he doesn't take what is offered, the alternative would be much worse. India needs to create circumstances that make the current offer "an offer he can't refuse". Here's a few ideas from the outside - hopefully the babus have better ideas.
  • India should refuse to negotiate with the untrustworthy Musharraf. Reject his absurd proposals outright, refuse to negotiate with a gun to our heads, highlight his long resume of deception, and say we'll wait till we get a credible partner in peace. Meanwhile, move unilaterally, Ariel Sharon style, to implement the final solution as we see fit. (see below).
  • Launch a massive Marshall-plan for Kashmir's development. The people there have suffered enough, and its time for redevelopment. This has to be investment, more than aid. Create special economic zones, IT parks, highways, offer tax holidays. Get the Indian private sector into the act.
  • Move aggressively to assist those affected by the recent earthquake on the Indian side. While the Pakistani government has refused Indian aid, there should be serious infusion of cash and support through informal channels. Let the people realize that in their time of need, the self-absorbed Pakistani military was sorely lacking.
  • Stop the cricket matches, exciting as the games may be. US wouldn't send a soccer team to Saddam's Iraq or Kim's Korea. This is not to suggest that the fight is with Pakistani people - quite the contrary, they are our brothers with a few thousand years of shared culture. The problem is with the half-century old military regime whose ideology and very origins are opposed to everything good about India. Playing cricket only serves to legitimize the regime.
  • The jihadi war needs to be fought in their backyard, not ours. Indian intelligence agencies should be tasked with Israeli-style neutralization of jihadi leaders who roam freely in Pakistan. They've spilt enough blood, and these criminals must be stopped, by any means necessary. This also weakens Pakistani leverage.
  • Publicly support pro-democracy movements in Pakistan, be it at the national or state level. Pooh-pooh the charade of a democracy in today's Pakistan.
  • De-construction of the Pakistani military machine should be India's twenty-year project. There is no permanent peace without this. Refuse to buy arms from those that sell to Pakistan. Outspend Pakistan till they give up. Setup offensive weapons that can completely annihilate the Pakistani armed forces infrastructure, not the country, in a few minutes of war.
  • Publicly hold Pakistani feet to the fire for the non-proliferation violations. Shame US and UK into doing the same. The current problems with Iran and N Korea create an awkward situation for those that would brush this under the rug for other private deals.
  • Lobby the US that Musharraf is not the solution to the Al Qaeda problem, but part of the problem. Some articles suggest its already happening - India could accelerate the tipping point.
  • Its a stretch, but can RAW assist the CIA in locating OBL? Indian agents should find it easier to blend into the local society on the Pak/Afghan border than American agents. This will fix the US obsession with OBL and its consequent dependence on Pakistan.
India has been on the receiving end of the "war on terror" for decades before the term was coined. Its about time we joined the fight and acted like we were at war instead of suing for temporary and illusory peace. Whether one agrees with US/Israeli politics, when they're at war, they fight. India needs to learn to fight. Once the fight is won, we can get back to negotiations and play cricket.


cynical nerd said...

Great post. Contains many of my wishlist. Wish Pragmatic posts more often!


Siva said...

Agressive thinking by the author.
I hope the Indian policy makers are in line with these views.


Jaffna said...


Brilliant post. But I doubt that the current administration in Delhi is capable of seeing this through. It is inept on the foreign policy and defence fronts. This said, editorial pieces such as yours help to shape public opinion in small incremental ways.

There is one step which might be possible though. De-emphasize Pakistan in the public space altogether while still being mindful of the security challenge that it poses. Indians seem obsessed with their neighbor. The long term rival is China, not Pakistan. Perhaps it is time to broad base foriegn policy in the public arena away from Islamabad while taking necessary steps to otherwise ensure domestic security.

Best regards

newsreader79 said...

Nicely laid out by the writer.
Some of my wishlists are also there.

News Reader said...

Nicely laid out by the writer.
Some of my wishlists are also there.

libertarian said...

Jaffna: I agree that the powers-that-be in South Block are unlikely to do something dramatic. However, they've shown much more spine than the supposedly hard-assed NDA government. Witness the vote against Iran and the Balochistan statement. In contrast, Vajpayee went to Lahore on a bus begging to be punished by a tin-pot dictator - who gladly obliged. And Advani called Jinnah - who organized Direct Action Day, and the accompanying massacre of thousands - a secular man.

Pragmatic: if India starts spending to keep some balance with China (Jaffna's point), Pak will be outspent as a corollary.

airrahul said...

Excellent plan of action that would definitely do the trick. Sadly, they probably won't do nearly enough of this.

Jaffna said...


I wholeheartedly agree that the BJP was no better. I view them as "paper-tigers". This said, Advani's exit might bode well.

doubtinggaurav said...

......Launch a massive Marshall-plan for Kashmir's development. The people there have suffered enough, and its time for redevelopment. This has to be investment, more than aid. Create special economic zones, IT parks, highways, offer tax holidays. Get the Indian private sector into the act.....

1) As it is GOI provides lots of assistance to Kashmir (per capita highest), it has not stopped insurgency and it will not .

2) Not sure about this but I think as per the special status given to J&K no outsider can purchase any property . In this light it is naive to expect that private players will invest in a big way,
even discounting the terrorism.

3) I am wary of this give central assistance and terrorism will vanish of thought process.
What Punjab witnessed in 80s was not due to lack of assistance and when it was defeated it was not because of assistance.


While I am still confounded by Advanis fixation for Jinnah, I think you are being too harsh on him.


sand_dunes said...

but a small problem how to ask private sector to invest when there is article 370... clarify ur views mate

morsecode said...

I am all with your Pak policy. Do you have suggestions on how China is going to be handled during these 20 years?

morsecode said...

370 is really a pain in the neck. And UPA govt supports it (see CMP page 15 http://pmindia.nic.in/cmp.htm).

Pragmatic said...

Many readers have commented on the constraints imposed by Article 370, especially the restrictions on purchase of land by non-Kashmiris. Anticipating this, we proposed carving out special economic zones, where land could be purchased (or leased for, say, 99 years). This is a proven model to create restricted exceptions without altogether rewriting local laws (which may be complicated for political reasons), and has been used extensively by both China (e.g. Shenzhen) and India (e.g. in B'lore and Hyderabad).

While economic development is not the complete solution, we believe it is an essential component of it. The more time youngsters spending on their education and careers, the less time they have to spend on making mischief. Even better, they have a stake in maintaining the peace and economic growth.

pharaoh said...

well, the post is thought provoking, but not really pragmatic IMO.

Investment in J&K? Even with the SEZ proposal, who in their right sense would be willing to setup an industry in a war-torn land with unclement weather? Certainly not the private sector.

The other way round, employing Kashmiris in other parts of India also doesnt seem to have takers, primarily because the migrating Kashmiris may lose the claim to their lands (which may give them lots of income in future).

Pressurising US/UK? Ha! even if the 3 closest competitors to US get together, they wouldn't have the political/military/economic strength to pull that off.

There are no easy solutions to this issue, so let's stop pretending that there are.


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