From the blog and from Times of India 17 Jan Playing the long game Jyoti Malhotra We must no tallow hostile elements in Pakistan to distract us from the need for peace The decision to send back Pakistani music artistes and sports people â€” as if they were responsible for the despicable beheading of the Indian soldier on the Line of Control (LoC) last week â€” and to put on hold the visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani citizens 65 years and above, is not only to be afraid of an army of old men and women hoping to melt India's hearts and minds, but is to be afraid of oneself. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a man of integrity and intelligence. He clearly understands why this hysteria is being whipped up along the LoC, but he doesn't seem to have the courage to stop it. Four years after he took back a joint statement issued with Pakistan at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm-el Sheikh â€” for better or for worse, that's another story â€” the prime minister has repeatedly shown an inability to stand up for what he believes in, or at least what India must believe in. In both instances, Sharm-el Sheikh as well as today, the PM and his Congress party have ceded precious ground to the BJP, which has lulled itself into believing that virulent jingoism is an alternative to the hard-nosed business of foreign policy. Note how the BJP is demanding 10 Pakistani skulls for one Indian head, 10 eyes for an eye, even as it smacks its lips at the growing inability of the Congress party to deliver a "super-Israel" moment. But first, a look at the facts. The beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj, a gruesome, ghastly and horrendous act that no self-respecting army can condone, has rightly stirred considerable anger. And second, army sources accept, off-the-record, that this kind of unacceptable violence has taken place in the past, for instance, during Kargil. Of course it isn't business as usual. It would diminish the intelligence of millions of Indians to ask them to ignore what happened on the LoC last week and return to the minutiae of their lives. Instead, let us ask ourselves just one question before we press our policy-paralysed government into making hasty decisions that affect real people on both sides of the border: Who benefits from this recent rising tension? The answer to this is connected with India's self-image, growing economically from anywhere between 5-8% in recent years. If India wants to become the leader of South Asia and represent the region in world affairs, if it wants to be seen as an Asian power whose time has come, alongside China, then it must understand the delicate shifting of power that is taking place in each country in the region, including Pakistan. Inside Pakistan, people will surely look back on the last few days as one of those turning points in the life of a nation: After more than 72 hours, a protesting Shia Hazara community in Quetta on Monday began to bury over a hundred people killed in serial bomb blasts carried out by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) last week. And as the Canada-returned cleric, Tahir-ul Qadri, arrived in Islamabad with several thousand fellow-marchers, demanding that the army and the judiciary be consulted in the formation of a caretaker government that will oversee elections in Pakistan in a few months, Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister. The Pakistani media has dubbed Qadri an army puppet. The Pakistani media's focus on Quetta's elders refusing to bury their dead shamed Islamabad into sacking the chief minister of the province â€” he was holidaying in London â€” and returned the focus on how terrorist groups like the LeJ are eating into the nation's vitals. It is the Pakistani media that continues to articulate the view that the people of Pakistan must engage with India much more, not less, if only to neutralise the invasive impact of the army as well as religious fundamentalism and terrorism on the life of their country. It is exactly to address the constituency of the people in Pakistan and hope they will begin to resist this unhealthy covert alliance that India delinked progress on the Mumbai attacks with progress on trade and greater people-to-people relations. But by cutting the ground from beneath the feet of the Pakistani 'aam admi' â€” hockey players, singers, 65-year-old senior citizens â€” the Congress party is not only showing itself to be the 'B' team of the BJP, but also that it has little understanding of the complex goings-on in its neighbourhood. If India wants to be a regional player, it must first understand the region. Pakistani terrorists in army uniform have targeted army headquarters in Rawalpindi as well as its naval headquarters in Mehran. Could they have beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj last week? If, indeed, the Pakistan army and certain terrorist groups benefit from rising tension on the LoC as a means to distract from the growing tension within the state, the only answer is to quietly continue to support the democratic cons-tituency inside Pakistan. With the Americans perhaps leaving Afghanistan this year, the neighbourhood is going to be aflame with several agonies. India has to learn to absorb pain. Hysteria is never the hallmark of great nationhood. At the rate the government is going, it may end up diminishing itself in the eyes of its own people. The writer is a commentator on foreign affairs. Playing the long game by IST : Jyoti Malhotra's blog-The Times Of India ********************************************************************************************************** Indeed peace is the need of the hour, but has to be peace at all costs? Must we always bend to the machinations of all our neighbours to ensure peace? The writer is a commentator on foreign affairs, but comes out myopic in vision in that she has failed to see the manner in which India, because of people like her ilk, is advising the Govt to keep peace at all cost their vision and target, Has she failed to observe that we are getting boxed in around the neighbourhood, so much so that even tiny Maldives is cocking the snook at us and getting away? There is no idea of blaming Manmohan Singh for not standing up for peace and soft soaping him with platitudinous words like 'man of integrity and intelligence'. It is true that he had put peace with Pakistan on his sleeve, but then he, too, is an Indian. Unlike the writer, he is a realist, who too feels that the repeated obdurateness and mayhem by Pakistan does not leave leeway for peace at all costs. At Sharm al Sheikh, Pakistan has sneakily pushed in that India was abetting Balochis against Pakistan. It is not because the Congress is the B Team of BJP, as she wants one to believe, but it was an honorable thing to do to make amends, given that it was a blatant falsehood. If one goes through her refrain that there must be peace at all costs, it is most humorous and even ludicrous of her to feign concern with the sentence - The beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj, a gruesome, ghastly and horrendous act that no self-respecting army can condone, has rightly stirred considerable anger. And second, army sources accept, off-the-record, that this kind of unacceptable violence has taken place in the past, for instance, during Kargil.. If no self respecting Army can condone the barbaric beheading what does she imply by - this kind of unacceptable violence has taken place in the past, for instance, during Kargil.? Does she mean that because it had happened earlier, it should continue happening and we turn a Nelson's eye? And if that is so, her statement that no Army can condone the gruesome, ghastly and horrendous act rings and thunders as hollow and even deceitful. The writer is living in a self induced delusion when she feels that the we (Indians) press our policy-paralysed government into making hasty decisions that affect real people on both sides of the border: Firstly, the Govt maybe policy paralysed, but in this instant case has deliberated and then come out with its view inspite of the national outrage. She should exercise caution before commenting through ill conceived blather, only to push her agenda. As for her concern that Indians should worry about the chaos ensuing in Pakistan's domestic scene with the Canadian cleric spewing fire and brimstone, the Supreme Court and the Govt being at loggerheads, it again is misplaced and condescending. Indians and India cannot assume that they are the moral conscience keeper and self styled moral influence on democracies around India. I am aghast with this sentence - Pakistani terrorists in army uniform have targeted army headquarters in Rawalpindi as well as its naval headquarters in Mehran. Could they have beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj last week? She claims to be a commentator on foreign affairs. Surprising that she is not learned enough on foreign affairs to know that terrorists are but an extension of the ISI and the Pak Army., She so glibly talks of Kargil, but does she not know that Pakistan claimed that it was the jihadis who had infiltrated into Kargil, when actually it was the Pak Army? Therefore, how come she in a Machiavellian way trying to suggest that the Pak Army is beyond beheading and it was the terrorists? The writer seems to be enamoured by Mani Shankar Iyer's mantra[/I that he repeats with glee ad nauseum - the peace process must be â€œuninterrupted and uninterruptible]. In other words, let us lie supine and enjoy being physically violated since it is inevitable and it is for a good cause, for it will bring Peace! Peace at all costs, but why does the writer forget the agonies and travails of the solider who is standing vigil for the very peace she enjoys in her air conditioned comfort? Are the soldiers not Indians? Are they to always be the proverbial sacrificial goats at the altar of failed politics and yellow livered whiners who crave for Peace at all costs since they do not bear the burden to ensure the very Peace that they crave for? I wonder the writer would react if instead of Hem Raj, it was her near and dear one who was beheaded while performing his vigil on the frontier so that all Indians could sleep under the security they provide.