Pretty good, definite, fairly solid, credible mess
I didnt want to write about this when I first saw our National Security Advisor (NSA) M.K. Narayanan on CNN-IBNs Devils Advocate with Karan Thapar aired on Sunday 9:30 PM. See transcript here.
Confused had already written about it here and I didnt want to make M.K.Narayanans gaffe more important.
Perhaps, he was not able to handle Karan Thapars style and blurted out. However, in diplomacy the price you pay for messing up is huge. In this case, it is so huge that you will not be able to confront Pakistan on its role at all. See what Pakistan Foreign Office Spokeswoman Taslim Aslam has to say about it the very next day.
“It is a propagandist statement as they have no evidence whatsoever”.
“It was a lesson which must be learnt by Indian agencies and security forces that they should not blame Pakistan without evidence,” Aslam was quoted by the state-run APP news agency as saying to the Voice of America. More.
See the hyperbole in her language. “No evidence whatsoever”. How did “Pretty Good Evidence” become ”No evidence whatsoever” ? . Even a lay person knows that in diplomacy you have to talk big, puff yourself up, and work into a position of strength. Anything less than clinching amounts to “No evidence whatsoever”.
- Rumors and confessions are “pretty good evidence”
- Everything else is “clinching evidence”
Now, the NSA MK Narayanan has embarrased the Mumbai Police Commissioner AN Roy and the ATS Chief KP Raghuvamshi. If we have confessions that lead to arrests, seized passports, a chain of linkages, – thats it baby ! this is clinching. We are home. The NSA ought to work with much much less than this evidence. You are NOT going to catch a ISI operative red handed. Even if you did how can you prove he is not from Indian Snooker Institute ?
So what now. We have bungled big time. We have clarifications from PM (“clear enough” to “credible”), from the Home Secretary VK Duggal (“good” to “fairly solid“), from the Defence minister – but not from the NSA MK Narayanan.
Reality Checks views on Talks with Pakistan.
- Pakistan will, and has the right, to plant spies in the Indian military or intelligence apparatus. It is in their national interest to do so. Do not make a fool of yourself asking them to cease and desist from this. I was surprised when some official on TV claimed they were going to raise this issue in the upcoming talks. Instead focus on infiltrating and destabilizing the ISI and Pakistan military instead.
- The line, “stop support for terrorism or we will stop talking” is flawed. Talks by themselves mean nothing. This is why I support Operation Parakram after the Parliament attacks. Yes, there are doves in India who oppose it - but it worked. Yes, it could be termed as a waste of money for India, but it bleeds Pakistan more. They have no choice but to match India in operational readiness. Defense postures do not come for free. They can only be weighed in what it costs the other side.
- The softness associated with our PMs words, “Pakistan and India are both victims of terror” – has repurcussions on the ground. The morale of our forces and police get affected. Like B.Raman says - Pakistan is a victim of its own terror – but India is a victim of Pakistans terror ! Big difference.
- Overall, I believe that we should not approach talks from the ”let us talk because we are not going to war” angle. We ought to assume that war in inevitable, and “lets talk because we really dont want to go to war“. In the meantime, preparing the frontlines and other frameworks as if we are fully prepared for that option as well. Only then are we talking as equals - otherwise it is tantamount to telling a bully to “Hey! Stop pinching me when I am talking to you”.