Manmohan Singh's Dinner With Pakistanis Is Unforgivable

Published: December 12, 2017 12:14 IST
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The country's domestic politics have been badmouthed by a section of intellectuals and some political actors so that the world community gets a precarious message of fractured politics. People seek an answer about the proposition which was discussed when India's former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ex army chief Deepak Kapoor, and some others dined with Mahmud Kasuri, former foreign minister of Pakistan, at a juncture when the entire country is engulfed, directly or indirectly, with the election in Gujarat.

Kasuri was the dinner guest of Mani Shankar Aiyar whose love for Pakistan is deeper than what anyone can imagine. His doctrine of "overthrowing Modi regime to resurrect harmony between India and Pakistan" makes him more pertinent and reliable among Pakistanis than their own High Commissioner in India. What necessitated Manmohan Singh's presence at this dinner earlier this month is not just puzzling but bizarre and disgraceful. A reflection of India's seemingly fractured politics led Pakistan to temporarily mutate its anti-India position into an anti-RSS-Modi government posture as a transitional measure. It suits Pakistan to counter India by depicting it, taking fodder of course from anti-Modi intelligentsia and political actors, as led by 'Hindu extremists'. It is feeling the pain of isolation and being increasingly exposed on international platform, what Deepak Kapoor had himself described while he was India's army chief on August 10, 2009, as its "dichotomous policy in fighting terror". Pakistan's influential daily Dawn's observation that "Pakistan has been unable to adopt its approach to India in Modi era" makes this more palpable. However, Kapoor himself conveniently forgot his own idea of "limited war" with Pakistan on the one hand and his critique of shallow intellectuals who pleaded dialogue with Pakistan on the other. He disgraced himself by hosting Kasuri. No ex army chief has shown such an imprudent and desultory bent for Pakistan undermining our own official diplomacy. His action is staggeringly violation of officially unsketched laxman-rekha.

This meeting assumed significance due to the presence of Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister Modi, by airing his displeasure, foiled their efforts to disseminate a dangerous message to the world. Manmohan Singh joined as an honorary spokesperson of this Aman club, which unhesitatingly collaborates with international forces opposed to nationalist consolidation in India. This is apparent from their approval to consistent propaganda by foreign media (apart from Pakistani press) which includes The New York Times, The Guardian in the UK, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, etc., to defame the Modi government as anti-minorities. One can imagine their venom over the following words of Sajjad Shaukat in the Pakistan Observer about the 2002 riots as "a three-day period of communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat by extremist Hindus under the guidance and command of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was the then Chief Minister of Gujarat and mastermind the massacre of the Muslims."

The Pakistani press has great hopes from the coronation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress President. Dawn's correspondent Javed Naqvi wrote on December 6, 2017, "the overriding challenge for Rahul Gandhi will be to confront religious fascism head on" and hoped the Congress under him would begin "a quest for India's soul". Never before in the history of partitioned India has Pakistan been given the opportunity to influence India's domestic politics though there has not been any qualitative difference in their propaganda against India. Its press and military derided all previous regimes as "Hindu majoritarian" and "anti-Muslims". But no Indian political party, not even the Muslim League, legitimized it. 

Alas, the Congress could not bear the pain of remaining powerless. Fearing its political extinction, it has been using its signboard and old guards to revive its relevance by laboriously recreating anti-RSS and anti-Modi planks and therefore becoming a natural ally of Pakistani or western forces who dislike a strong ideological government in New Delhi. Certainly, Dawn's expectations of Rahul Gandhi have not been dashed by finding him a frequent temple visitor. His sympathizers in both India and outside understand the Congress' electoral compulsions. There is a difference between Rahul's and BJP-RSS convictions in both cognition and conation. They hope the empowerment of Congress would give foreign funds and ideologues a free hand and reignite narratives of Hindu terrorism, which earlier benefitted Pakistan in disguising its own terrorism. These privileges are missing now in the Modi era. 

How can Pakistan forget that Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee rebelled against the anti-Hindu Nehru-Liaquat pact which left the Hindus who lived in Pakistan as orphans at the mercy of Islamists. History vindicated the fear of RSS. The Hindu population in Pakistan shrank from being more than 10 percent of total Pakistan's population to less than 1%. Incontestably, Manmohan Singh would not have raised these issues while dining with his Pakistani friends and nor would have shown his concern for human rights violations in Balochistan. Clandestine and unexpressed agendas are exchanged when one's enemy's enemies met. Inferentially, it is an agenda to help each other to unsettle the Modi government, prove his failure and propagate the narrative that he represents a figment of the population and not all.

(Prof Rakesh Sinha is associate professor, Delhi University and honorary director, India Policy Foundation.)

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