Making A Difference

Indian Hawks And The American Plan

The American President and his entire security apparatus do not generally welcome and make time for second-tier leaders. So what explains the special treatment for hardliners and known anti-Americans?

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Indian Hawks And The American Plan
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Mr. L. K. Advani, India’s Home Minister, arrived inWashington, DC, on January 8, 2002 for a short visit. The official purpose ofthe visit was to meet with the U.S. Attorney General, Mr. John Ashcroft, but inreality his most important meetings were with President George Bush and theNational Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. He also met with Gen. ColinPowell, and other officials from the State, Defense and Energy Departments. Mr.Kamal Pande, home secretary and Mr. K. P. Singh, the head of internal securityagency (IB), accompanied Mr. Advani.

From the very outset, it was clear that this was noordinary official visit. First of all, Indian home ministers do not go abroadfor official business, and secondly, the American President and his entiresecurity apparatus do not generally welcome and make time for second-tierleaders from other countries. Indeed, as reasons will become clear later on, itwill also be obvious why another unusual event will occur next week when Mr.George Fernandes visits the U.S. Equally surprising is that neither Mr. JaswantSingh nor Mr. Brajesh Misra, India’sForeign Minister and the National Security Advisor, respectively, areaccompanying Mr. Advani.

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To comprehend reasons for the visit, one has to understandthe "high command" of the Indian decision making apparatus vis-a-visnational security. The highest decision making body is the Indian CabinetCommittee on Security (CCS) consisting of Prime Minister Vajpayee, Mr. Advani,Mr. Fernandes, Mr. Jaswant Singh, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, and Mr. Brajesh Mishra. Atissue is the "American Plan" for dealing with Islamic terrorism in thesubcontinent with special focus on Jihadi groupsengaged in cross-border terrorism in India.

The Plan is controversial because it is not obvious toIndia how such a plan can succeed in achieving its stated goals. Americans aremaking an extra effort to convince the Indian administration as they areconcerned about an outbreak of a nuclear war much more seriously than either ofthe warring sides. They have, therefore, extended invitations to the "mosthawkish" member and the "most anti-American" member of the CCS (relativelyspeaking) to visit Washington and discuss their apprehensions with principalenunciators of the American strategy.

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Besides, both Mr. Advani and Mr. Fernandes have strongfollowing in their respective constituencies in India that must be placated inorder to buy into any American plan of action. This job could not have been doneby Foreign or Finance Ministers or by Mr. Mishra, all of whom are viewed soft onpolitical ideology (and are considered uniformly pro-American) and less credibleto the NDA constituents.

The real purpose of Mr. Advani’s visit was to receive adetailed briefing on the American Plan and Americans wanted to convince him thatthe Plan was credible in achieving both American and Indian objectives relatedto the war on terrorism. Indeed, in a press conference on January 12, Mr. Advanihimself stated that one of the purposes of his visit was to "discuss ways togive effect to our common resolve to defeat terrorism decisively andspeedily."

To understand the American Plan, one must first divorceAmerican public official statements for their actual policy decisions. As muchas Gen. Musharraf has a reputation of saying one thing and doing the other, itis actually Americans who have taken this doublespeak to exalted heights.Surprising, as it may appear to some, the Indian troop deployment along theborder with Pakistan was exactly what Americans had hoped that India would do.It has furthered American interests and, according to policy makers inWashington, reaffirmed the logic of the American Plan.

Central to the American Plan is an undeniable fact thatwhile the destruction of Taliban could be achieved by pursuing the war inAfghanistan, the destruction of al-Qaeda, central to American objectives, wouldnot be possible without pursuing the war in Pakistan.

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From the very outset, Americans have recognized that al-Qaedahas managed to operate with a mobile command center and its current theater ofoperation is the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. But pursuing a war with surrogatesto minimize American casualties requires a different strategy than traditionalmilitary deployment. The help of Northern Alliance fighters in Afghanistan andof Pakistani troops in Pakistan is consistent with the American doctrine.

Pakistan, however, is no Afghanistan. Besides a welldisciplined army potentially armed with nuclear weapons, Pakistan is moreattractive on the side of the U.S. rather than against it. So while America hascarefully refrained from making public statements against the Pakistani regimeand graced it with lavish praise and financial assistance (tacitly recognizingthat some of the funds will line pockets of the mighty), in private it hassteadily turned the screws on Musharraf, and more importantly, the Pakistanimilitary-intelligence complex into submitting to American wishes.

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In dealing with Musharraf, Americans now recognize thatthree are three facets to every statement that he makes. What he says, what heactually means and what he can really accomplish are three entirely differentthings. This process of learning "Musharrafisms" began immediately after hisinitial strong support for America immediately following the September 11tragedy. However, Pakistani policies showed no change, and only after acombination of American threats coupled with millions of dollars, did Mushharrafagree to displace active handlers of Taliban and al Qaeda leadership in theruling junta.

For those in the American administration that were still onthe fence in regards to Pakistan’s true intentions, the moment of truth camewhen the top Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership slowly disappeared into Pakistan.Since deployment of American troops was ruled out, the squeeze on Musharraf wasbeginning to wear thin. The U.S. did not relish the prospect of losing its coreobjective in the war against terrorism, recognizing that elements of Pakistanimilitary, intelligence and public were overtly and covertly in cahoots withIslamic terrorists.

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Once India decided to deploy its troops at its borders, theU.S. actually encouraged Indians to make their deployment credible in terms ofbattle-ready formations. For once, the U.S. did not preach restraint, andinstead used the Indian military build-up for its own benefit to pressurePakistan in making new concessions to render the country inhospitable to the al-Qaedamovement and its leaders.

American message to Pakistan came through many channels,including communications from Chinese, British and Russian authorities, highprofile visits of the Indian Home Minister to the U.S., and a U.S. Congressionaldelegation that visited Pakistan on January 8. The consequence of that pressurewas a declaration by Gen. Musharraf on January 12 to change the course ofPakistan’s centrality to global Jihad as laid out by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq nearlytwo decades back.

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Musharraf said the right words from an Americanperspective, though American skepticism is no less than Indian in accepting theGeneral’s change of heart solely on his words. America, like India, is lookingfor his deeds and how he will follow through on his promises. This point isclearly shared by both the U.S. and India. After all, the last time that Gen.Musharraf used the words that "force cannot resolve the Kashmir issue and itmust be settled through a dialogue" was what got the Agra Summit going. No oneneeds to be reminded of that fiasco.

But were Americans able to convince Mr. Advani thatMusharraf’s change of heart is exactly the prescription to the cross-borderterrorism that has affected India as well as the United States? In a PressConference in Washington on January 9, Mr. Advani listed four conditions that ifmet by Pakistan would demonstrate an act of good faith by India’s irritantneighbor.

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Of the four conditions, Gen. Musharraf met one conditionvery clearly ("categorical renunciation of terrorism"), one conditionsomewhat clearly ("close Jehadi trainingcamps and stop assistance to terrorists"), one condition somewhat ambiguously("stop infiltration of men and materiel into J&K"), and one conditionwas rejected ("hand over 20 terrorists on the Interpol list").Interestingly, Mr. Advani laid no conditions related to the political issue ofKashmir, and hence General’s words that "Kashmir runs in our veins" has norelevance in terms Pakistan’s commitment, or lack thereof, to fighting Jehadi culture on its soil.

Mr. Advani, knowing that recent Indian posture hasbenefited the United States as much as India, should demand and receive morefrom Pakistan. Since the road to Islamabad runs through Washington, the U.S.must support (privately at least) that Pakistan’s pronouncements whilenecessary, are not sufficient, to meet Indian concerns. The two "minimum"demands that India should make are: (a) Pakistan must immediately hand over (orfacilitate the capture of) at least 14 or 15 individuals of Indian nationalitylisted among the 20 terrorists demanded by India, and (b) that Indian andPakistani DGMO’s immediately initiate discussions on agreeing jointly to stepsnecessary for preventing infiltration across the Indian border, including inJ&K.

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Until such steps are taken, India should continue itsdiplomatic, political and military pressure on Pakistan. Like the United States,India must turn the screws further on Pakistan to force it in making changes.The ruling junta, lacking political wisdom, is unable to gauge the intensity ofIndian resolve without a show of force.

By all indications, Mr. Advani impressed his hosts inarticulating India’s security threats and political resolve with clarity anddepth. The next phase of the diplomatic battle falls on Gen. Colin Powell whenhe visits the sub-continent on January 15.

If Pakistan does not agree to take additional steps beyondthose announced by Gen. Musharraf on January 12, then it should be clear to boththe United States and India that the moment of decision is near for India to actforcefully and decisively.

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(The writer, Vijay K. Sazawal, Ph.D., is National President, Indo-AmericanKashmir Forum (IAKF) Washington, DC, USA)

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