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Bull's Eye

Years ago this writer wrote a column for the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India. For six months before the liberation of Bangladesh it campaigned ...

Bull's Eye
Years ago this writer wrote a column for the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India. For six months before the liberation of Bangladesh it campaigned against Indira Gandhi's handling of the crisis. The leverage accruing to India due to its control of airspace and ground space between the two wings of Pakistan could have been used to mediate for peace in Pakistan. That would have been an important step towards reintegrating South Asia. Instead, Mrs Gandhi chose war.

The nation went ecstatic. Now we have to remain vigilant at two fronts instead of one. China opposed Bangladesh's liberation. It refused to recognise Bangladesh although almost the whole world had recognised it. It opposed Bangladesh's entry into the UN. Only after Mujibur Rahman's assassination did China recognise Bangladesh. It blessed Ziaur Rahman's coup. After that, relations between India and Bangladesh rapidly deteriorated. On February 21, 1977, the government-owned Bangladesh Times proposed a South Asian security system comprising Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Burma against Indian domination. In this proposed alliance, China would have the central role. Peking will play a central role and extend its smaller neighbours assistance in all forms, the newspaper said.

Today, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar already have defence ties with Beijing. Ziaur Rahman's widow Khaleda Zia fulfilled her late husband's dream by signing the defence pact with China. India is complementing this effort. The Sangh parivar is doing its bit to make sure the Bangladesh Times' proposal succeeds. Their brand of Hindutva will render India's alienation from her neighbours complete.

To affirm such an arrangement, America is urging India to talk with Musharraf and normalise relations with Pakistan. Richard Haas was the latest visitor from America to offer us this gratuitous advice. Pakistan's nuclear help to North Korea, its support to cross-border terrorism and also to Al Qaeda, evidently cause little worry to the Bush administration, which claims to lead a crusade against terrorism. Nothing would suit China more than a communalised India normalised with Pakistan, and the LoC converted into an international border. That would obliterate the threat of a regional nuclear war. China meanwhile would have defence pacts with all South Asian nations at India's cost. Is our government sleeping?

With minorities we are rough,
With neighbours we are tough,
We are ever so brave
We dig our own grave!

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