Arvind Lavakare may be 71, but the fire in his belly burns stronger than in many people half his age. The economics post-graduate worked with the Reserve Bank of India and several private and public sector companies before retiring in 1997. His first love, however, remains sports. An accredited cricket umpire in Mumbai, he has reported and commented on cricket matches for newspapers, Doordarshan and AIR. Lavakare has also been regularly writing on politics since 1997, and published a monograph, The Truth About Article 370, in 2005.
Call it bravura, if you will, or the suicidal act of a fool, but you must hand it to the failed Islamic state of Pakistan that it hasn’t gone down on its knees before the so-called international diplomatic pressure coming on it after 26/11 from the tough talk of the US Secretary of State, the British Prime Minister, the French President, the German Interior Minister et al. The failed state has simply used one pretext or other to avoid taking meaningful action against its terrorist components. In fact, 26/11 has only made Pakistan show the kind of gumption which India has never displayed in its six decades of independence.
Behind this impunity with which Pakistan has treated all the western world’s covert warnings is geographical blackmail: till the NATO forces open up the Central Asian route to the war theatre in Afghanistan, Pakistan knows it holds the trump card. As Gordon Brown, Britain’s Prime Minister disclosed the other day, Britain, America and the international community “increasingly” recognise that “we cannot deal with Afghanistan in isolation from Pakistan.” (The Indian Express, Mumbai, December 17, 2008.)
It’s no wonder then that the fundamentalist peacenik, Manmohan Singh, even today talks of wanting normal relations with Pakistan and our Defence Minister says that our nation has no intention of going to war with the nation whose mercenaries only recently delivered some of the thousand cuts that Pakistan’s old policy intends to inflict on India as a prelude to death.
Yes, our External Affairs has been the exception, using strong, warning language to Pakistan, but there’s been no threat issued of any kind. And when our Sports Minister said he didn’t want our cricket team to play in a land from where came those murderers, promptly came the voice of another Congressman, the president of Indian Olympic Association, saying sports must not be allowed to mix with politics.
Bollywood loudmouth Mahesh Bhatt added his little bit when he opposed the discontinuation of even cultural ties with Pakistan, saying that we must not cut what we have so painfully built over the last few years.
Journalists have debated some available options such as a limited war but have thrown them out as impracticable because of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. And even the Commerce Minister’s suggestion to stop of all trade ties with Pakistan has reportedly been declined by our Prime Minister without either of the two giving us a reason for the decision.
What is making India impotent is its unthought out belief that only a stable Pakistan is in our interest. What, pray, is our fear? Are we such cowards as to be afraid of Pak’s nuclear missiles falling in the hands its terrorists? Whatever it be, it’s agonizing to find a senior journalist of ours advocating more financial aid to our enemy.
Here’s what Gautam Adhikari advocated in The Times of India of November 29, 2008 in order to transform “bad boy” Pakistan into a “good boy”:
“A concerted global effort, at ensuring, first, the sustainability of Pakistan's democratic experiment. And, second, pouring in as much assistance as required, under strict supervision of …a specially designed international political-economic authority that would oversee the country's direly needed transition from military domination to democratic viability. In short, the world, under the newly assertive leadership of an Obama-led United States, must devise a Marshall Plan for Pakistan.”
So what do such Adhikaris and Antonys and Manmohan Singhs want the Indian people to be left with even after 26/11? Nothing more than anger, frustration, a new central investigative agency and a tougher law against acts of terrorism on various national subjects such as atomic energy. We must twiddle our fingers and let Pakistan’s terrorism continue being given bail.
It need not be so at all.
Consider our trade ties with Pakistan where we gave a valuable concession years ago by granting it the Most Favoured Nation clause benefit under which we agreed that duties on our imports from Pakistan will not be different from the rate applied to other nations --- in short no discrimination against Pakistan imports. Pakistan has not reciprocated despite such a request several times. In the process, it’s the Pakistan Army which has gained more muscle because, as R.Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance and Control, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, tells us, more than 75% of Pak’s economy is owned/ controlled by its Army through institutions like Fauji Foundation and a significant portion of its GDP is due to army-controlled entities. Actually, as the Professor says, “Pakistan Army is the only Army in the world owning a country.”
It follows, therefore, that any continuation of so-called economic cooperation with Pakistan will only benefit its Army which controls the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency that has nourished terrorism against India because the Pakistan Army along with all its Generals, without exception, has long had a pathological hatred for India.
It again follows, therefore, that it would be in India’s interest to destabilise the Pak Army through economic tactics. Do that and Pakistan itself is destabilized as a prelude to gaining sense. If the latter doesn’t happen, we will have to work with other world powers to split Pakistan into many countries rather than help it in vain to be a true democracy.
To accomplish this without causing a nuclear conflict demands that we act like Chanakya, use brains rather than brawn or rhetoric.
For example, take the trade route. Since we cannot now withdraw the MFN treatment we gave to Pakistan under the World Trade Organisation covenant, we will have to go on the export path. Nothing prevents us from making Pakistan’s exports costlier for other countries, so let’s do it. Let us totally remove any export tax on such Indian products that compete with Pakistan’s in the world market. Let us even subsidise the export of such goods of ours as internationally compete with those of Pakistan. Basmati rice, textiles, carpets and tea come readily to mind in this regard. In short, do everything to hurt Pakistan’s export front.
Further, let us put a ban on export of sugar to Pakistan. Let the price of sugar go up and up in that country. In fact, let’s ban all export to Pak; if our exporters complain, so be it, because a sacrifice here and there to debilitate our incorrigible enemy is worth any price.
There are some other economic measures through which we can screw Pakistan without creating a war of any sort. Arm-twisting foreign investors providing aid or arms to Pakistan is one way; opposing IMF loans to Pak is another.
The jugular, however, is Pakistan’s dependence on India for water to its agriculture.
Water from tributaries of the Indus river is the Pakistan economy’s lifeline. Farmers of the area have used Indus waters since prehistoric times. Irrigation from the Indus tributaries makes possible the cultivation of the arid land along their courses. Besides the irrigation, the Indus Basin generates almost half of the electricity produced in Pakistan.
Admittedly, that flow of river waters into Pakistan is governed by the Indo-Pak Indus Water Treaty of 1960, under which all the waters of Indus River’s eastern tributaries, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi taken together, shall be available for the unrestricted use of India. And all the waters of Chenab and Jhelum tributaries and of any tributary which in its natural course joins the Sutlej main or the Ravi main after these tributaries have crossed into Pakistan shall be available for the unrestricted use of Pakistan.
But, ah --- and this is the critical issue to know --- the flow of river water into Pakistan lies in India’s hands! It is in the India-controlled part of Kashmir where lie the origins and passage of the five river tributaries because the Boundary Award of 1947 meant that the headworks of the chief irrigation systems of Pakistan were left located in Indian Territory. Pakistan has been apprehensive that in a dire need India would use its strategic advantage and withhold the flow to choke Pakistan’s agriculture. In fact, an issue of Pak’s Defence weekly last year cited a particular water resources minister of India as saying that if India decides to scrap the treatyPakistan will face a drought and Pakistanis will beg for every drop of water.
Interestingly, though Pakistan regards India's control of the Jhelum as a threat to its security, the Indus Waters Commission has failed to resolve the issue and it has been on the agenda of the Indo-Pak talks at Lahore in February 1999, the Agra Summit of July 2001, and part of the composite dialogue initiated in January 2004.
India must now act on that apprehension of Pakistan as never before. It’s believed that a unilateral termination of the Indus Water Treaty is not legally permissible and that such an action might be considered a legitimate justification for war. But there are enough Chanakyas in our land who can stop the Jhelum and Chenab waters from flowing downward west to Pakistan without officially terminating the water sharing treaty. It is these Chanakyas who must be tapped by our country when going for Pakistan’s jugular.
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s and not of Sify.com.)