Soldiers' bodies mutilated: Modi and Doval have muddled up India's Pakistan and China policy

Swati Chaturvedi
Swati ChaturvediMay 01, 2017 | 19:43

Soldiers' bodies mutilated: Modi and Doval have muddled up India's Pakistan and China policy

In a horrific repeat of its barbarism, Pakistani forces killed two Indian soldiers — Army's Paramjeet Singh and BSF's Prem Sagar — and mutilated their bodies in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district. The Army officially confirmed the mutilation today (May 1) and all talk of "surgical strikes" and isolating Pakistan on terrorism made by the BJP government seemed like, well, mere talk.


Add to that, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on a visit to India currently suggested "multilateral negotiations on Kashmir", and it looks like a compete repudiation of India's stated stand.

The beheading of the two soldiers in light of a back-channel meeting between Indian industrialist Sajjan Jindal and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week, as a possible precursor to resumption of bilateral talks, could be viewed as a Pakistan Army veto on talks but it also shows up the huge gaps in our Pakistan policy, careening from one extreme to the other.

The Army has confirmed that Pakistan came 200 metres into Indian territory to Krishnaghati Poonch and carried out the barbaric act. Security experts say that in Islamabad, the all-powerful Pakistan Army could sell it as their "surgical strike".

From Modi's surprise December visit to Nawaz Sharif on his birthday when the two walked hand-in-hand, to the Pathankot siege, to the "surgical strike", relations with Pakistan have been a wild roller-coaster ride.

In Islamabad, the all-powerful Pakistan Army could sell the latest episode as their "surgical strike".

Security experts say there seems to be no calibration, no institutional response, merely ill-advised "spectaculars" geared to garner maximum publicity, but yielding few tangible benefits. These spectaculars range from sitting on a swing with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad in September 2014, to tea with former US President Barack Obama.


While these meetings yielded incredible photo opportunities, they did not bring India any tangible foreign policy benefits.

Whether it's China on its current renaming spree in Arunachal Pradesh, or the road network it has built in Nepal or its infrastructure building in PoK, it seems that Pakistan and China are jointly running rings around India.

China has blocked India's nuclear waiver, repeatedly used its Security Council veto to favour Pakistan, yet we seem to have no answers to deal with either.

Just who is minding the store in the government when it comes to our tricky belligerent neighbours?

Historically, all prime ministers have preferred to be hands-on when it comes to Pakistan and China policy, but they have always been guided by experienced foreign policy hands as national security advisors such as the all-powerful Brijesh Mishra as National Security Adviser (NSA) during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as PM.

The current NSA Ajit Doval has absolutely no domain experience in foreign policy as a retired IB official and made the critical mistake of even allowing the ISI in to an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, an operation that he was personally overseeing.


Vajpayee, as an experienced parliamentarian, was well-versed with foreign affairs — unlike Prime Minister Modi, who often used Twitter to call out Manmohan Singh's "effete Pakistan policy" when the UPA government was in power.

Sample one such tweet from his handle then: "Centre is unable to give a strong answer to Pakistan's inhuman acts. Beheading of our soldiers and now Sarabjit's death are two recent examples".

With Kulbhushan Jadhav, whom Pakistan calls a Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) spy and who is even being denied consular access on death row in Pakistan, just what has changed in the relations?

The "surgical strikes", another much-publicised exercise, yielded pretty much nothing as Pakistan continues to ratchet up the strikes in the Valley.

The establishment has no answers to the Pakistan problem which has bedevilled successive governments.

Yet no other government in India's history has worn "nationalism" so much on its sleeve while shutting down all debate and opposition by repeatedly playing the "nationalist card".

China, meanwhile, is upgrading its relationship with Pakistan and Nepal and is now engaged in emerging as Nepal's most important neighbour, a spot that was indisputably India's earlier. From road building to trade it has embraced Nepal in a tight bear hug.

So, while the faux patriot supporters of the government, who vociferously cite the soldier at the border at the drop of the hat, maintain a curious silence, the time has come to ask some hard questions.

What has the Centre's Pakistan and China policy gained for India?

Last updated: May 02, 2017 | 17:05
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy