Date: 4/10/2006

Comment //////// Sorry capitulation - The Pioneer ////// The worst fears about the UPA Government selling out to Pakistan and thus severely compromising our national interest seem to be coming true. It now transpires that National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, during an unpublicised meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Dubai (of all places!) has conveyed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's eagerness to pull out troops from Siachen Glacier. /////// According to the Narayanan-Aziz plan, Mr Singh will announce the pullout during his visit to Pakistan, scheduled for August, in yet another grand gesture of astonishing compromise in the face of Pakistani intransigence and worse. If Mr Singh's offer of a 'Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Security' to Pakistan while flagging off the bus service from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib was indicative of the weak-kneed approach of the UPA Government towards Pakistan, the reported decision to unilaterally withdraw Indian troops from Siachen comes as evidence of behind-the-scene give-aways that will cost the country heavily in the coming days. /////// What is particularly amazing about the move to demilitarise Siachen is that it flies in the face of objections raised by the Army which appears to have been totally ignored while taking a political decision that contradicts national security interests. No less distressing is the fact that by ordering a unilateral withdrawal, the Government will be conceding Pakistan's demand, which enjoys the unequivocal backing of the US, without getting anything in return. Islamabad has not accepted New Delhi's terms of disengagement, especially authentication of the Actual Ground Position Line. /////// The strategic importance of Siachen does not merit elaboration; it is not for nothing that Indira Gandhi ordered troops deployment in 1984 and since then the Army has held on to positions in an inhospitable terrain despite huge casualties and mounting costs. It is all very fine for the Prime Minister, whose Government lacks the mandate for sweeping policy changes and who is given to "out-of-the-box" thinking, to suddenly declare that Siachen shall be a "mountain of peace", as he did some months ago. /////// But it is quite another matter to ensure peace with a neighbour whose treachery is exemplified by the Kargil incursions. The man who plotted and executed Pakistan's attempt to smash and grab Kashmir via Kargil in 1999 is that country's military ruler today, and it is before him the Prime Minister is happy to capitulate without a thought for the sensitivities and security of more than a billion Indians. This is not diplomacy conducted from a position of strength that we are witnessing, but the decision of an individual to opt for the line of least resistance because he lacks the courage of conviction. /////// Ever since the UPA regime came to power in 2004, it has willingly frittered away the gains of the NDA Government vis-à-vis Pakistan. Furtively, surreptitiously the Prime Minister and his coterie of advisers have chipped away at India's Pakistan policy and in the guise of talking peace, gifted Gen Pervez Musharraf with enormous concessions. It would, however, be unfair to blame the UPA Government alone for this sorry surrender. /////// The Opposition, more so the BJP, has shown scant interest in making the Government accountable and forcing it to act in a manner that is not prejudicial to our national interest. Barring the stray voices of protest, we have not witnessed any concerted effort to pillory the Government and force it to come clean on its intentions. And that's a pity./////// 000000000