Our language has let us down in talks with Pakistan

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ajtr, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Our language has let us down in talks with Pakistan

    July 30, 2010 17:46 IST

    Apart from S M Krishna's performance in Islamabad, a perusal of the statements made in recent weeks by the Indian side reveals an unfortunate lack of precision in the use of language, feels Satish Chandra, India's former deputy national security advisor and distinguished fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation.
    Language is the handmaiden of diplomacy as it is through words, spoken or written, through which one's message is conveyed. Effective diplomacy, therefore, demands precision in the use of language, as all its processes such as communicating, negotiating and evolving agreements require the projection of views with complete clarity and unambiguity.

    Sir Ernest Satow's classic Guide to Diplomatic Practice puts this truism in the following terms: 'The use of clear and definite language should in all cases be secured, the meaning of which shall not be open to doubt or dispute.'

    In the context of S M Krishna's joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart on July 15, one may add that effective diplomacy also requires, as in any other field, a mastery of one's brief and a readiness to set the record straight where necessary. Krishna was found wanting in this regard.

    He failed to rebut S M Qureshi when he equated our home secretary's purely factual statement with Hafiz Saeed's rantings inciting violence against India; he failed to point out that Qureshi had no locus standi in raking up the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and he only intervened on Baluchistan after prompting from our officials.

    Indeed, our foreign minister meekly allowed a hectoring counterpart to dominate the proceedings and could only utter platitudes that India wanted a 'peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan', that the delegations had a 'cordial and useful exchange of views' and that he wanted to thank Qureshi 'from the core' of his heart. Such assertions appeared all the more out of place as Krishna's sentiments were not reciprocated by Qureshi.

    But apart from Krishna's performance in Islamabad, a perusal of the statements made in recent weeks by the Indian side, in the context of our relations with Pakistan, reveals an unfortunate lack of precision in the use of language.

    Some of the more striking of these errors, arising either out of inattention or from a desire to please others, are enumerated below:

    'Nobody is questioning anyone's intentions. It is the outcome that will decide whether we are on the right track or not.' (P Chidambaram's remarks as reported in Dawn on June 27 at a press conference with his counterpart in Pakistan).
    Comment: Such a statement is unwarranted as Pakistan's intentions are, in fact, the root of the problem and that it continues to date to use terror against us.

    'There is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the issues that divide us.' (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's interview with Saudi journalists on February 27 on India-Pakistan relations).
    Comment: This is incorrect. There are many alternatives. In any case, making such an assertion only emboldens Pakistan in the continued use of terror against us.

    'Pakistan is in many senses our closest neighbour.' (Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's press conference in Islamabad on June 24).
    Comment: This, too, is incorrect. There are several countries with which we have land borders and share equally close historical and cultural links. Moreover, such comments can be taken as a slight by our other neighbours.

    'India cannot realise its full development potential unless we have the best possible relations with our neighbours and Pakistan happens to be the largest neighbour of ours.' (The PM's press conference on May 24).
    Comment: This again is incorrect. China is our largest neighbour. It is, of course, true that India's full development potential is more easily achievable in a friendly environment than in an inimical one. But is it wise to make such assertions when Pakistan's sole mission is to weaken India?

    Many Pakistani interlocutors have told me that Pakistan would never allow India to become a global player unless it met all of Pakistan's concerns. In so doing they did not care if Pakistan itself was seriously harmed.

    'The destiny of our people is linked to each other. A strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan is in the interest of our whole region.' (The foreign secretary's speech organised by the Delhi [ Images ] Policy Group, June 13).
    Comment: This is at best a half-truth. Countries do, of course, influence developments in their respective neighbours but this need not be an over-riding factor in the destiny of peoples in the affected country. This is evident from the differential developmental patterns in our own neighbourhood.

    Moreover, such assertions serve only to encourage Pakistan in its intransigence vis a vis India.

    It is also questionable if a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan is in the interest of the region if it is inimically disposed towards India or any other country in the region.

    In any case, should India be making such conciliatory statements at a time when Pakistan continues to aid and abet terrorism against us including inciting the recent violence in Jammu and Kashmir?.

    'The argument put to us by Pakistan was that the executive does not have any control over the judicial process. We understand and respect that. Even in India, we cannot tell the courts what to do. And we have known that the judiciary in Pakistan has been fiercely independent in recent times.' (The external affairs minister's interview to The Tribune on May 20).
    Comment: This is an instance of our foreign minister talking like the Pakistan foreign minister and making excuses for Pakistan's failure to bring to book the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack.

    Instead of so doing, the national interest would have been better served by pointing out that failure on this score has occurred because the executive did not pursue the cases with due diligence and vigour.

    'As I have said, in dealing with Pakistan our attitude has to be, trust but verify. So only time will tell which way the animal will turn.' (The PM's press conference on board Air India One on June 28).
    Comment: Normally, this is an unexceptionable assertion. But surely, the history of the last 60 years should have given us enough opportunity to 'verify' and to reveal that on every occasion our trust has been betrayed.

    Most recently, all the assurances given to us that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for terrorism against us have been disregarded.

    Accordingly, such assertions carry no conviction and are counterproductive as they give credence to the thought that Pakistan intends to remain on the straight and narrow.

    Quite clearly, much greater care needs to be exercised in the statements made by our policy-makers in relation to our dealings with foreign countries. All foreign offices pride themselves in their judicious choice of words and ours is no exception.

    The aforesaid errors may therefore, perhaps, be attributed to the superimposition of the current PMO mindset on our foreign office.

    It is likely that the prime minister's soft approach to Pakistan coupled with his desire to please the United States have dictated the statements cited above and the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue, the results of which are there for all to see.
  3. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    May 25, 2009
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    Holy Hell
    Isn't this guy(Satish Chandra) the same guy who came up with the theory(bright idea) that to get richer Indian only has to print more money? If he is then I won't be reading the article.

    Funny how he uses his own name in 3rd person in his own article. Idiot.
  4. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    matching word for a word, rhetoric for rhetoric, and while negotiating stooping to the same level as other only makes you loose your credibility in the eyes of larger world, it was never a smart ploy and its more like two dogs barking at each other who never stop and make no sense at the end, much like an online debate or any other endless debate which are high on rhetoric than quality of content. the more important thing is that diplomacy be played at a larger theater called world where you present the other as someone who is irrational, who talks loud without understanding the intensity involved, and quite seriously if we play our cards well then shah mehmood qureshi has played right into our hands, tarnish his image and its a job well done, and each time he makes a similar mistake dont forget to highlight the same through various ways over and over again and in the end no one will really take the pak foreign minister seriously.
  5. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 1, 2009
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    Pakistan has bought some people in India
    1. Mani shankar Aiyar. ( former diplomat)
    2.Vinod sharma ( journalist . editor of a new paper)
    These two people defend Pakistan on TV .
    Now one more person satish chandra has joined him. That is ALL.

    But all these people cannot defend the " INDEFENSIBLE " actions of Pakistan army and ISI
    How long can These " Devils Advocates" defend the devil
  6. luckyy

    luckyy Regular Member

    Jun 8, 2009
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    you know , all indo-pak talks fails at the press conference ,....... due to unwanted loose-talk by the paistanis , from musharaf to qureshi , all are same

    pakistanis should first learn to behave themselfs at the press conference....
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  7. prateikf

    prateikf Regular Member

    Jul 14, 2009
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    what's the point in talking to our enemies? the pakis all the time keeping making plans to attack us be it kargil or 26/11. only a fool or a traitor would want to talk to pak. just tell me one thing as to what the talks have achieved since independence?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2010
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    14 months on, Manmohan govt appears to be at war itself

    Indo-Pak talks going badly is bad news for any Indian government. Pakistan springing an ambush is even worse. Doubters can tune back to Agra 2001. But a mauled foreign minister returning to Indian soil after a highly forgettable Islamabad sojourn who then endorses Pakistani criticism of why the talks failed...now that is an A-rated nightmare. Considering how much Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invested in the peace process with Pakistan, foreign minister S M Krishna handing Pakistan a propaganda coup by blaming home secretary G K Pillai's frank comments on the ISI's role in the 26/11 attacks for the failed engagement was hardly a tonic for the government. Ministers and officials were aghast over what looked like Krishna's clumsy — and self-destructive — attempt to pass the buck.

    Matters did not rest at that. The home ministry got back at Krishna swiftly. Though the government appointed a senior officer as spokesperson for the ministry, senior North Block sources went about briefing the media on how Krishna's version of events was all wrong. The minister was very much in the loop over details emerging from Lashkar terrorist David Headley's questioning, the sources revealed, countering Krishna's charge that he was insufficiently briefed on the deadly affair.

    So peeved and in such a hurry was it to prove the bumbling minister wrong, that the home ministry, in fact, made little effort to cover its tracks as the source for the pointed rebuttal of Krishna's claims that Pillai undermined the talks. And now the Prime Minister has finally spoken up. At a joint press conference with British PM David Cameron, he made it plain that Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi queered the pitch for the talks with his intemperate comments — in other words, it wasn't Pillai.

    The internal spat over the tentative India-Pakistan talks was indeed eye-catching , but there has been a series of bushfires since UPA 2 took office. It is now leading to a growing perception that the government is at war with itself. Ministers disagreeing with one another, unending policy jams and innumerable cabinet committees are the order of the day. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh and roads and highway minister Kamal Nath cannot settle a dispute over a highway expansion around a tiger sanctuary. A much-needed airport in Navi Mumbai refuses to be cleared. Truth is a casualty in the bitter debate over Bt brinjal. And agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and the Congress are locked in a no-win battle on price rise.

    If there are shades of tension between P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, it could be because of talk that the Tamil Nadu leader would like to return to his original perch. In the meantime, he is also deflecting darts from senior Congressman Digvijay Singh over the way he is handling the Maoist menace. There were some skirmishes in UPA1, too, when Chidambaram felt he should travel to the US post 26/11 instead of Mukherjee who was then foreign minister. But nothing like this.

    Adding to the political battles, the finance ministry recently bungled by drafting an ordinance to sort out jurisdictional issues between the IRDA and SEBI with regard to ULIPs that seemed to put the RBI at par with these two regulators. A usually taciturn RBI governor lodged a public protest. The Prime Minister stepped in to address the perception about the RBI's loss of autonomy and a reasonable compromise was arrived at. Such interventions are rare, though, and the tussle between regulators seemed to be another indicator of an authority vacuum . Manmohan Singh can be heard these days only when a foreign dignitary comes by — like Cameron — or when he is travelling abroad.

    The flux in government is surprising. Some 14 months ago, Congress had shaken off the Left and emerged at the head of a stable government. It didn't seem it was vulnerable to blackmail by any one ally — hence, there was hope of a cohesive and purposive government. In fact, soon after securing a second term, Singh told ministers and officials that they needed to get on with things. He dwelled on the nature of the vote, emphasising that the youth support the party had garnered could be effervescent . A big victory should not breed complacence.

    The PM had also said it was necessary to show deliverables in the weeks and months ahead. At a meeting with PMO officials, he sought suggestions and spoke of the need for "out-of-the-box" thinking. When he met members of the Planning Commission , he said the panel should be a worthy watchdog for UPA2's major initiatives while working in consonance with various ministries. To think that in a year's time Kamal Nath can express his disgust with Manmohan's chosen head of the Commission!

    The ministerial mix, with the exit of trouble-makers like Arjun Singh, too looked a lot better. But what was initially seen as a thrashing out of issues, even if in a somewhat exuberant and public fashion, is now looking a lot less attractive. And as a result, the goodwill that marked the early months of UPA2 is swiftly ebbing. This time, as the monsoon session of Parliament gets underway, the government faces an embarrassing coalition of Opposition interests over price rise which has begun to bite the Congress.

    As a senior minister confessed, there is really no solution to inflation other than a fervent hope of a good monsoon and the prospect of a good kharif crop cooling food prices. But the government's political response to price rise tells a story. For more than two years, the Congress and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar have indulged in a blame game. The Congress has been incensed by Pawar's blasé comments suggesting price rise was more or less inevitable. An exasperated PMO called a meeting of CMs, but, to its dismay, Pawar refused to brief the press about the deliberations

    It was left to an official to do the job.

    If Pawar is unrepentant and even dismissive of prime ministerial authority, the Congress's own stables are roiling with ambitions. Simmering tensions between Kamal Nath and Planning Commission boss Montek Singh Ahluwalia over norms for PPP schemes burst out in the open with Nath calling the plan panel an "armchair" advisor in the presence of its chief, Ahluwalia. At the time, Ahluwalia let it pass.

    The Planning Commission's PPP pointsman and Ahluwalia's close aide Gajendra Haldea can be a oneman army. Ministries often chafe at his detailed questioning . And he has not been reined in on the terms set for road contractors which, Nath feels, are so exacting that no contractor was coming forward to take up road building. If this was defeating his targets, Nath hasn't found relief despite letting off steam.

    Now, if there is need to supplement immediate goal-setting with a long term view, as the planners
    were seeking to do, who would negotiate the differences? The PM, of course, who has been deputy chief of the Commission. Both Nath and Ahluwalia are seen to be close to him and a small intervention should have been enough. Yet, there has not been a word from him.

    The more files pile up on various desks, the more the role of the PMO comes under the scanner. If patience and an ability to take a rounded view of things are seen to be Singh's strengths, his office does not seem to leverage them. Its role as coordinator and arbiter is simply not effective, as its word is not seen as final. Whether this is because of a lack of political authority or lack of will is not clear. The last man who tried to exercise authority in the PMO — M K Narayanan — had to leave.

    Meanwhile, the cacophony in the government has only increased. Jairam Ramesh has an outspoken style and a cut-thecrap approach. In giving environment a stronger voice, he has been at odds with the mandate of infrastructure ministries. As with other ministerial disputes, the confrontational aspect of the exchanges has drowned out the merit of the arguments.

    If Jairam has been at odds with an impressive list of cabinet colleagues, ranging from Pawar, Nath, MoS in PMO Prithviraj Chavan and MoS for civil aviation Praful Patel, differences in the cabinet committee on security on the anti-Naxal policy have come out in the open as well. The sharply varying views on using the Army to quell the Red ultras appear to have been settled, but the anti-Naxal policy is in limbo. After Maoist successes in Dantewada, the government has been in retreat. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has raised a storm by claiming Chidambaram's "police-centric" approach overlooked the "disenfranchisement" argument.

    There have been some successes like Right to Education, although a funding model is yet to be agreed upon. However, UPA1 initiatives like rural employment guarantee are doing well. The emergency stimulus packages to ward off recession in 2008-09 worked too. There seems to be progress on GST and the direct tax code, although the last word on them has not been heard. Partial decontrol of fertiliser prices and decisions to raise fuel costs are bold initiatives. Bringing FDI in retail back in discussion reveals a desire to show some "reform" gains. But at the same time, the power sector is crawling and telecom, despite a successful 3G auction, cannot shake off the taint of the 2G controversy.

    Some ministers have taken to making frequent announcements, promising policies and laws. The lack of follow-up and downright poor thinking, as in the case of amendments to punish the khap juries, only makes the government look ineffective. There is concern in the Congress on frittering away the advantages of its mandate over a still disjointed BJP. Not only is the PM's writ not running in ministries headed by coalition partners, despite the efforts to rein them in, talk of deal-making and corruption is disturbingly common. One had heard of ministers having various discreet accounts, but some are believed to own banks now. IPL-gate cast two senior NCP ministers in very bad light indeed.

    Some of this is all the more puzzling as Singh was not seen to suffer from any authority deficit as he retains the backing of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. While the accession of Rahul Gandhi as leader is inevitable in the Congress scheme of things, the Amethi MP has set no deadline and there are indications that he will be busy with party work for a while.

    Some, of course, put the drift down merely to Singh's style, which is quiet and self effacing. Yet, his reluctance to intervene is becoming problematic as it prevents closure of disputes. Take, for instance, the new mining policy, on which various stakeholders, ministries like law and mines, have held important reform measures hostage. And under Mamata Banerjee, the railways have all but seceded from the rest of the government.

    The re-emergence of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Committee has introduced a new element in the power matrix. Although she is not keen to play de-facto PM, the NAC has been reincarnated because of a growing disappointment with the pace of government. Groups of ministers (GoMs) have become convenient dead ends for issues that raise heat in the cabinet. It is said there are more than 150 GoMs now — in other words, that many fractious issues remain unresolved.

    At 77, the PM is not getting younger even as he devotes much more time to work than some of his younger colleagues do. Still, his schedule is also now more carefully drawn up. His health checks are fine, but his aides avoid pushing him. After sitting through hours of discussions at last week's National Development Council (NDC), he skipped the all-party meeting ahead of Parliament the next day. On taxing foreign journeys, the flight back home is often a time to rest.

    The forthcoming Commonwealth Games and the flurry of bad news worry the PM more than, say, the Delhi government. Keenly aware that national honour is at stake, he regularly seeks updates from cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar. He is a careful reader of official drafts, making pertinent changes in formulation and often insisting on making a point plainly. While a more "political" person can be more diplomatic, Singh tells his aides that he "will not lie" on unpalatable issues like rise in fuel prices.

    It is perhaps time for him to be equally blunt with some of his ministers. During his recent press conference in Delhi, held after a gap of several years, the PM said he did not have any legacy issues in mind. Even going by his modest nature — he has avoided a detailed interview with any media organisation — Singh definitely has some goals. He believes that only India can stop India. But as he seeks to unshackle the country's full potential, he needs to exercise the entire range of prime ministerial authority.

    The 2009 elections gave him something not too many politicians can claim to have got — a second chance. And he would know better than anyone else that it would be a shame to fritter it away.
  9. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    No, he is not the same. This guy is a former diplomat and ambassador.
  10. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    Not only the language of our external affairs minister but also his behavior, body language and passing buck were all pathetic. He needs to take lessons on how to act like a FM.

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