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Monday, 28 March 2011

From Today's Papers - 28 Mar 2011

Mumbai carnage Coast Guard’s failure under CAG scrutiny 
New Delhi, March 27 The role of Coast Guard in failing to prevent the 26/11 attacks has come in for scrutiny of the CAG which is believed to have expressed its unhappiness over the force being unable to detect and prevent 10 armed Pakistani terrorists from sneaking into Mumbai.  The Defence Ministry and the Coast Guard officials, during an 'exit conference' with the CAG, are understood to have admitted that there were some lapses, particularly in patrolling, on the part of the maritime force due to which it failed to prevent the attack, government sources said.  In a performance audit of the Coast Guard, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has extensively dealt with the role of the maritime force at the time of the terror attacks on November 26, 2008 when the Pakistani terrorists struck in Mumbai for 60 hours, killing over 160 people.  "The Coast Guard officials have accepted that there has been a mistake on their part," a source said. An 'exit conference' is usually conducted when the audit exercise is complete and the CAG officials discuss their findings and recommendation with the auditee. Besides the 2008 attacks issue, the CAG audit has examined the overall performance of the Indian Coast Guard.  The report is expected to be tabled in Parliament during the next session. After the attacks, the Cabinet Committee on Security had sanctioned 40 ships, 20 boats and 42 aircraft in February 2009. the government has also sanctioned a Coast Guard plan to deploy radars, cameras and sensors atop all light-houses in coastal areas to detect and identify ships close to shores in a two-phased project. — PTI

IAF war-ready as India take on Pak in semifinal
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, March 27 As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the Cricket World Cup semifinal between the two nations at Mohali, it would be a day to maintain extra vigil for the security forces.  While the arch-rivals clash inside the stadium on March 30, the Army’s NSG commandos will have to ensure that the games goes on uninterrupted. They would be positioned both inside and outside the venue.  And in order to thwart any terror attempt from the air, the Air Force would keep its forward airbases and fighter jets across Punjab and Haryana — at Chandigarh, Ambala and Halwara — war-ready.  According to sources, the airspace over Mohali and Chandigarh would be closed while the match is on, meaning flying activity of any sort would be prohibited. The security forces would apply the same parameters as during the opening and closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October last.  Gilani and his entourage, including Punjab (Pakistan) Governor Latif Khosa, would land in a special plane at the IAF base in Chandigarh, located 3 km away from the stadium. Most likely the VVIP will be whisked away in IAF’s MI-17 chopper to a helipad near the stadium as the road from the airbase to the stadium was circuitous and crossed through Chandigarh.  On the Indian side, some of the senior Cabinet ministers may be busy with electioneering, but a fair number of them are expected for the Mohali match, being billed as “once in a lifetime cricket classic”. Sources said the two prime ministers were also slated to meet the two cricket teams, besides holding “discussion” among themselves.  Punjab Cricket Association authorities have been asked to identify a room at the plush cricket stadium where the two PMs can meet each other. So far, it is expected that Gilani will fly back the same night. Islamabad is about 90 minutes away via air from Chandigarh.

NATO to assume command of Libya operations
Brussels:  NATO will assume command of all aerial operations -- including ground attacks -- in Libya from the U.S.-led force that has been conducting air strikes against Moammar Gaddafi's forces, officials said Sunday.  The North Atlantic Council -- the alliance's top body -- approved a plan to expand the previously agreed mission to enforce the U.N. arms embargo and no-fly zone by agreeing to protect civilians from attack.  "NATO Allies have decided to take on the whole military operation in Libya under the U.N. Security Council resolution," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.  "NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less," he said.
After eight days of strikes on Libyan targets, Washington is eager to quickly hand off responsibility for the air offensive to the alliance.  A diplomat who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the transfer of authority from the U.S.-led force may take several days. He said the rules of engagement for the NATO force would be very similar to those of the international air armada.  The U.N. authorized the operation after Gaddafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power  The air strikes have already tipped the balance away from Gaddafi's regular military to the lightly armed rebels, although the two sides remain at stalemate in key cities.  NATO expects to start enforcing the U.N.-authorized no-fly zone on Sunday or Monday, as well as coordinating naval patrols in the Mediterranean to enforce the arms embargo.  A Canadian three-star general, Charles Bouchard, will be in charge of both operations. He will report to an American admiral, Samuel Locklear, commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples.  Naples is one of NATO's two operational headquarters. The other, Brunssum in the Netherlands, is responsible for the war in Afghanistan.  NATO has significant experience in such operations. Its warplanes successfully enforced a no-fly zone over Bosnia in the early 1990s and bombed Serbian forces in Kosovo in 1999 in an effort to end crackdowns on ethnic Albanian civilians.

Azadi, accession to Pak no solution:
ammu, Mar 27: Declaring that ‘Azadi’ or accession to Pakistan is not the answer to Kashmir issue, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Lt General K T Parnaik on Sunday said that no political or economic solution could be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir unless “overt and covert interference” of Pakistan was neutralized.  Lt Gen Parnaik made these observations while addressing a gathering of academicians, defence experts, army commanders and students at Jammu University on the inaugural function of two-day-long seminar on “Pakistan occupied Kashmir Internal Dynamics and Externalities” organised by the Department of Strategic and Regional Studies (DSRS), University of Jammu here.  “Azadi or accession to Pakistan is not the answer. The need of the hour is to weed out terrorism infrastructure within the state, choke their funding and choke their communication from across besides initiating well-meaning development projects and address the common grievances of the population of J&K,” he said.  “We must highlight the plight of PoK people at the international forums. We must curb the Pakistan’s bluff of self-determination….. We must provide the moral and diplomatic support to the people on the other side of the border and we must also expose the double standards of Pakistan and the need is to launch a vigorous campaign to do so. Otherwise the international community, probably, already think that these areas don’t belong to us,” he asserted.  “We should think on provided higher education opportunities to the youth from the other side of Kashmir. We need to find viable solution to internal problems of J&K itself without any interference to the Pakistan. Unless the overt and covert interference of Pakistan is neutralized, no political or economic solution could be implemented,” he asserted.  He also advocated the people to people contact, saying it could pave way for normalizing the situation in the state.  “The reality is that the northern regions are the part of J&K. We stand by the Parliament resolution and we stand by re-integration of the entire Jammu and Kashmir.”  “If Pakistan is so passionate about the Kashmir it should answer why it is not developing PoK as it is developing other parts of its country. The PoK is the poorest of all regions in Pakistan. People of PoK have not been given freedom and it reflects how sincere they are as far as their own Azadi is concerned. As the Pakistan always accuses India for curbing the freedom of Kashmiris, the international freedom report castigates the Pakistan for worse persecution of people living in PoK,” he said.  Over the Chinese influence in Gilgit-Baltistan, the Army Commander said, “China has gained considerable foothold in Gilgit and Baltistan by way of infrastructural development and help Pakistan in exploiting the resources in the region. It has made numerous roads, bridges and even power projects in Gilgit and Baltisan. These links of Chinese to the Pakistan is a great security concern for us.”  “The implications of such developments are that it would jeopardize our geo-strategical interests in long run and it will pose great military challenges not only along the Sino-India borders but also along the Line of Control for us,” he asserted.  Earlier, Prof Sanjay Chaturvedi from Punjab University, Chandigarh delivered the keynote address on “Relocating PoK in Heartland Geopolitics”.  Vice Chancellor University of Jammu Prof Varun Sahni and Director DSRS Muhammad Monir Alam also spoke on the occasion.

Army organise seminar on human rights
Baramulla, Mar 27: Army on Sunday organised a seminar on human rights here which was attended by GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen S A Hasnain, officers from armed forces and representatives from the civil administration.  The theme of the seminar was ‘Human Rights and Complementary Goals’ and was organised under the aegis of the Dagger Infantry Division here.  According to defence PRO statement, Lt Gen Hasnain delivered the key-note address and other speakers who spoke at the seminar included Satyabrata Pal of the National Human Rights Commission, Justice Javed Kawos of the State Human Rights Commission, Nitin Gokhale of NDTV and local media entrepreneur, Waheed-ur-Rehman from Pulwama.  Others who spoke in the sessions were Dr Arvind Jasrotia from the Department of Law, Jammu University, DIG Armed JKP Rauf-ul-Hassan and speakers from the Indian Defence and Strategic Analyses (IDSA) Ali Ahmed and Dr Arpita Anant.  Maj Gen (retd) Raj Mehta, previously General Officer Commanding of the Dagger Division,  chaired the sessions.  The statement said the speakers examined the relationship between the upholding of human rights, conflicting demands of democracy in developing nations, understanding human rights in prevalent socio-political-military environment in Jammu and Kashmir.  The role of local/vernacular media in a vitiated environment was also delved into.  According to the statement, the seminar was a worthy attempt by the Dagger division to generate awareness about the issues related to human rights and would prove invaluable in further evolution of the strategy by the armed forces for their counter insurgency operations in the valley.

Indian Army exploring entire gamut of future conflict scenarios     
Jammu: The Indian Army is exploring the entire gamut of future conflict scenarios in the context of the growing military cooperation between China and Pakistan and increasing Chinese presence in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, a senior army officer said Sunday.      Participating in a seminar here, Northern Army commander Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik said: 'The army is seriously looking at the whole gamut of future conflict scenarios,' as he underlined the growing presence of China in Pakistani Kashmir.      He admitted that the growing Chinese presence would not only be a matter of concern at the India-China border but also along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.      Terming the growing cooperation between China and Pakistan in the military and infrastructural area a 'serious' situation for India, he said the army was debating and evaluating the entire scenario.      Parnaik noted how the Chinese had moved into Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir where they were building huge infrastructure projects, especially in the communications and hydro-electric power sectors.      On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the army commander said: 'No economic and political development would yield results unless the terror infrastructure is dismantled and the funds flow and communication are completely choked.'      The seminar, organised by Jammu University's Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, centred on the growing problems in the region, particularly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.      Many speakers sought to know why there was no mention of Pakistan-administered Kashmir when the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is discussed or debated.

India’s Panikkar ‘diplomacy’ in Sri Lanka
Mon, 2011-03-28 03:25 — editor By Janaka Perera  “If Sri Lanka is to solve the ‘Tamil problem’ once and for all, it has to physically drag the island away from its present location and locate it in a place away from the ambit of India. This is because India is so intricately involved in this problem and Sri Lanka’s proximity to India has everything to do with it.”  The above is the opening paragraph of chapter 19 in the book Sri Lanka: ‘The War Fuelled by Peace’ by Palitha Senanayake. The chapter is titled ‘India and the Political Solution.’ As the author correctly observes the primary reason why Sri Lanka failed to integrate Tamils to her society is the island’s close proximity to Tamil Nadu.  With TN elections round the corner Tamil Jingoes there are again on the rampage, with their favorite punching bag – Sri Lanka. The fishing dispute involving Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen is now being ‘auctioned’ in the election campaigns to capture the Tamil Nadu fish community’s votes. All Tamil Nadu parties want New Delhi to pressure to serve the TN political agendas. It was not long ago that Jayalalitha Jayaram wanted the Indian Central Government to take back Katchchativu from Sri Lanka.  The latest celluloid ‘hero’ to enter the murky world of TN politics - movie star Vijayakanth, also called “Captain” in the industry, - vowed at a recent protest rally to ‘wipe off’ Sri Lanka from the world map. Apparently, he is trying to compete with that other loony Tiger zealot Movie Director Seman. No one in Sri Lanka’s film industry has ever cast such racist remarks on Indian Tamils or India.  On January 24, an unidentified gang assaulted Buddhist monks in the Maha Bodhi temple in Chennai and ransacked the place. The victims were all Sri Lankans. In October 2008 Madras Law College students attacked the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai, damaging property and injuring a staff member. Around the same time, a pro-LTTE mob beat up Sri Lankan Movie Director Thushara Peiris at Chennai’s Gemini Colour Laboratories and robbed copies of his film ‘Prabhakaran’ which exposed LTTE forcing children to become cannon fodder in the separatist war.  In the North there have been a series of clashes and violent incidents including the attack on Jaffna District MP Sridharan’s vehicle. Has the government probed who is instigating this violence? The only country which stands to gain from adding fuel to the fire is India, which has still not given up the hope of ‘solving’ Sri Lanka’s ‘Tamil problem’ on its own terms.  India has given no satisfactory explanation why she wanted an additional consulate in Jaffna. As journalist Shenali Waduge asked “Could this new ‘friendship’ eventually lead to another covert operation taking place in Sri Lanka as is evident by the surge in violence taking place suddenly in Jaffna? “  Last month Jaffna fishermen protested outside this consulate over the harassment they were facing at the hands of the Indian counterparts. It is no secret that sections of the Indian bureaucracy are conniving with TN politicians in demanding the right for Indian fishermen to poach in Sri Lankan waters. The Sri Lankans demanded that Indians be not allowed to do so and Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian custody be released. This means that Sri Lankan fishermen have been compelled to seek redress for their problems not from their own government but from a foreign power!  But the Indian Authorities do not seem to have paid heed to these appeals and instead demanded that Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody be released. The Indian Deputy High Commissioner had even allegedly threatened the Point Pedro Magistrate. Who gave such powers to Indians over the territory which Sri Lankan forces liberated after almost three decades of war at great sacrifice? Will any other country tolerate this kind of high-handed, undiplomatic behaviour in their territory by aliens? Are we going back to the days of the infamous ‘parippu’ drop?  Sri Lanka should have temporarily closed the Indian consulate in Jaffna and summoned the Deputy HC for an explanation. Why was the Opposition silent over this unwarranted intrusion into the country’s internal affairs?  This obnoxious behavior on the part of Indian diplomats is possibly a move to enforce the Panikkar doctrine as explained in the essays of leading Indian diplomat K.M. Panikkar who wanted Sri Lanka to become an integral part of India’s defence structure, as noted by former Sri Lankan diplomat K. Godage. Panikkar’s writings constitute the Bible of the Indian Foreign service.  Last November Indian Commissioner in Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha visited Badulla, Passara and Thalawakele and met local politicians to perhaps discuss “ the grievances and problems” of Tamils of recent Indian origin in the plantation areas.  Whether he obtained the GOSL’s permission to visit these areas is not known. It is however clear that this High Commissioner is simply following the footpaths of his predecessors J.N. Dixit who treated Sri Lanka as a Indian protectorate, if not a part of India.  Will the Indian Government allow the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in New Delhi to discuss the problems Dalit Buddhists face at the hands of caste-conscious Hindu Brahmins if such a need arises?  As far as Indo-Lanka relations are concerned, the role of Tamil Nadu vis-à-vis New Delhi has more often than not been a case of tail wagging the dog. This ‘geo-political reality’ about which some Sri Lankan academics and other pundits waxed eloquently in the early days of the Tamil separatist violence has been the biggest obstacle to friction-free relations between the two countries.  The real culprits however are the Tamil politicians on both sides of the Palk Straits rather than the Tamil people. Every time a real or perceived problem occurred politicians here ran to India like a little child crying for its mother. This month the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) organised a 2,500 kilometre-march with around 100 activists from Chennai to Delhi demanding that the Indo-Lanka Accord be fully implemented and stop alleged ‘Sinhala colonisation’ of the so-called traditional Tamil homeland. Needless to say this is a call for dividing Sri Lanka into ethnic enclaves to weaken and destabilise the country.  Sri Lanka should take a cue from Malaysia in telling Tamil Nadu politicians where to get off. In November 2007 Malaysian Minister Nazri Aziz, told TN Chief Minister M. Karunanandhi in no uncertain terms that he should "worry" about his own state which has problems and not about the happenings in Malaysia. The minister said this in response to the DMK leader’s statement said he was "very much pained" at the way in which the Malaysian Police allegedly treated Tamils in Kuala Lumpur November 25, during a rally to protest against ‘marginalisation’ of the ethnic Indian minority in that country. "This has got nothing to do with him… lay off," Minister Aziz the New Straits Times November 29 quoted the minister as saying.  Majority of Sri Lankans hope President Rajapaksa will stick to his statement on the Tamil National Alliance proposals about power sharing, “Whatever proposals they make, I will not give what the LTTE has been asking for.”  Last week Pakistan daily, the Nation reported a WikiLeaks cable exposing New Delhi’s designs to divide Sri Lankan by creating ethnic and sectarian strife among its people. Also last week Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe drew attention to press reports that when Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister, India had suggested that the Defence Ministry be divided into two - the North-East coming under Wickremesinghe and the rest of the island under President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Wickremesinghe however had expressed his doubts to the U.S. Ambassador in Colombo about Sri Lankan armed forces agreeing to such a proposal reportedly made by the then Indian High Commissioner.  The most damning statement came from Sri Lanka’s former Jaffna Commander Brigadier Hugh Fred Rupesinghe in an interview with the Island (March 11, 2011). According to him the deployment of the Indian Army here had been part of Delhi’s strategy to undermine the Sri Lankan state and give the LTTE an opportunity to establish a pro-Indian administration. If the LTTE had not declared war on the Indian Army following the arrest by the Sri Lanka Navy of an LTTE group early October. 1987, he says, they could have achieved Tamil Eelam.  A furor occurred recently over Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne’s allegation that there are LTTE training camps in India. When Delhi vehemently rejected the charge, the PM said his statement was based on Indian media reports. Are all these press reports without an iota of truth although some Indian officials may be unaware of the existence of such camps? As one Sri Lankan newspaper reported: “Given the partiality of TN political leaders and law enforcement authorities to the LTTE rump, there still is a situation conducive to its revival there…”  Sri Lankans have not forgotten how Indian Authorities kept on denying that Indira Gandhi’s government was sheltering, training, arming and financing the LTTE and other Tamil separatist groups, (a policy that boomeranged on Delhi) despite Indian media giving full publicity to the fact.  But Sri Lanka’s cowardly Opposition brought a no-confidence motion against the PM merely because Delhi challenged his statement whereas no Indian Opposition party brought a no-faith motion against Karunanidhi or any anti-Sri Lankan Tamil Nadu politicians on the basis of GOSL’s denial of Sri Lanka Navy killing Indian fishermen.  The only silver lining in the dark cloud is that Congress Party Leader Sonia Gandhi’s rejection of an appeal by the Global Tamil Forum’s for Indian assistance in an ‘international’ war crimes probe against Sri Lanka. Perhaps her rejection reflects a perception of the hard reality India faced after LTTE criminals assassinated Rajiv Gandhi and the events that followed his death. This obviously is what compelled the Indians to thwart the attempt Western powers made to stall Sri Lankan military operations against the Tigers in the final stages of the conflict in 2009.  - Asian Tribune -

The gardens of the night at Mohali 
M.K. Bhadrakumar  The Mohali invitation is an opportunity to shore up a relationship which has a curious history where its suspended animation turns out to be a dangerous stagnation.  The India-Pakistan summit meeting at Mohali promises to be as expectant as its immediate setting. As the Old Testament says, “There is joy in the presence of the angels,” no matter whether there is an electrifying century by the unassuming Virender Sehwag or the masterly Sachin Tendulkar, or a mesmerising spell by the mercurial Shahid Afridi or the incisive Umar Gul, which can make all the difference as Wednesday night wears on between heaven and hell for 1.32 billion people on the planet [ World Bank figures]. And some of it is bound to rub off on the two Prime Ministers in the gardens of the night at Mohali.  The important thing is to decipher the hieroglyphics of the joy — at least, fragments of it. Evidently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh weighed the pros and cons of it, held a thought experiment over it with the national security policy establishment, and kept his thought ready for launching it the moment he heard that India had sent Ricky Ponting and his men home. Conventional wisdom suggests that Dr. Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Gilani, lead “weak” governments that got unnaturally aged in mid-life. Yet, international diplomacy does have historic parallels — such as when a hopelessly embattled Richard Nixon travelled to China to meet Mao Tse Zedong, who was caught up in the maelstrom of the Cultural Revolution. In a manner of speaking, therefore, it is all in the timing, isn't it?  Dr. Singh indeed has a queer sense of timing. The WikiLeaks disclosures appearing in The Hindu revealed only very recently that in the American assessment, Dr. Singh is quintessentially “a beautiful ineffectual angel beating in the void his luminous wings in vain” — to quote Matthew Arnold's explication of the poetry of Shelly — confronted up until a year ago by a national security czar, who insisted he knew best what Pakistan was or shall ever be and how ties with it would remain the tale of a frozen conflict. If so, Dr. Singh banished the doubting Thomas from New Delhi and resumed his odyssey. He is fully justified in taking the Mohali summit initiative.  Two full years and four months have passed since the horrendous Mumbai attacks and the interlude in cross-border violence instigated from Pakistan is becoming a good “talking point.” So, of course, the fact that a few indiscreet words aside, Pakistan hasn't shown any inclination to exploit the huge bedrock of popular alienation in Jammu and Kashmir and inflict a few cuts on India, which, in turn, allows New Delhi the political space to finesse its handling of a situation that threatened to explode just a few months ago into an ugly “Intifada” in a matter of time. Again, the unnoticed geopolitical reality is that neither New Delhi nor Islamabad seems interested in adding the unsolvable Afghan problem to the already-overflowing cauldron of differences between the two countries. Finally, New Delhi has shown the least interest in having a finger in the pie of complex U.S.-Pakistan tango, subtle American invitations notwithstanding.  As a matter of fact, funnily enough, the U.S.' “strategic dialogues” with both Pakistan and India are also under a bit of a cloud at the moment, and there is no knowing when they will resume. This precludes any scope for Washington claiming, as is traditional, that it has been the “facilitator” of the dialogue at Mohali. In fact, the moral of the entire Raymond Davis saga, from an Indian perspective, is that there are inherent limits to any “positive role” the U.S. can play in arm-twisting Pakistan. The Davis case reminded India that the best way to engage Pakistan would be on the bilateral track.  These are all encouraging signs but, more important, Dr. Singh would have estimated that these good things need to be shored up since India-Pakistan relationship has a curious history where its suspended animation turns out to be a dangerous stagnation and slide-back. The point is, an air of studious indifference may have lately been prevailing between the two capitals. But it is deceptive and is merely characteristic of any intense relationship that has nonetheless been and is deeply troubled.  Dr. Singh's main objective at Mohali would conceivably be three-fold. First, to underscore that India and he personally remain committed to building a relationship with Pakistan imbued with good neighbourliness. This reiteration was called for, given the eddies of domestic politics in India — and in Pakistan. Again, WikiLeaks cables from the American Embassy in Islamabad have shown that Dr. Singh commands much respect in Pakistan as a statesman who sincerely wishes for friendly relations. The paradox is that a steadily diminishing tribe of “hardliners” in both countries aside, the groundswell of popular opinion always favoured a predictable, normal relationship. Second, Dr. Singh would have factored in that only through a “hands-on” approach can India-Pakistan relationship be turned around. Modern history is replete with instances that show there is no alternative to top-level diplomacy if inter-state relationships that are hopelessly bogged down with past burdens are to be rescued. Ultimately, it needed Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to sit by the fireside at Geneva. The then Secretary of State, George Shultz, wrote in his memoirs Turmoil & Triumph:  “Ronald Reagan greeted Mikhail Gorbachev at 10:00 a.m. with an engaging smile. Flashbulbs lit the landscape. The image was dramatic: the hatless, coatless seventy-four-year-old who had bounded out energetically in the bitter cold to greet the leader twenty years his junior. In the photos, Gorbachev — in topcoat and brown fedora — looked older than the president. President Reagan steered his guest into a side room for what was planned to be a meeting of about twenty minutes. Thirty went by, then forty. Jim Kuhn, the president's personal assistant and keeper of the schedule, approached me asking whether he should go in and give the president an opening to break up the meeting… The rest of us, Americans and Soviets, sat around the large table that had been set up in the villa's dining room, engaged in casual conversation, and stared through the high windows at the frozen scene outside… After about an hour and a quarter, the leaders emerged smiling.”  “Ah,” you might say, “Dr. Singh is not Reagan or Mr. Gilani a Gorbachev”. Of course, they aren't, and no analogies hold good in politics and diplomacy. Nonetheless, great moments in diplomacy were born out of summitry — be it Turkey-Greece normalisation or the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland. But summitries need to be businesslike. Mohali needs to be followed up with one in Lahore soon enough. If the Geneva summit was a “thaw” in the Cold War, no one quite understood it to be so at that point in time, and in Reykjavik 11 months later in October 1986, the talks seemed to collapse but then, a year and two months later in December 1987 in Washington, D.C. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev signed the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Seventeen years later on a Sunday Mr. Gorbachev said in Moscow as he took it “very hard” when he heard about the death of Reagan: “In terms of human qualities, he and I had, you would say, communicativeness and this helped us carry on normally… But when you talk about friendly relations in politics, it's not the friendship of schoolmates, of the Arbat. [Moscow's main street of promenades and relaxation.] I deem Ronald Reagan a great president, with whom the Soviet leadership was able to launch a very difficult but important dialogue… a statesman who, despite all disagreements that existed between our countries at the time, displayed foresight and determination to meet our proposals halfway and change our relations for the better.”  “Meeting proposals halfway” with “foresight and determination” — that's the key phrase. One is tired of hearing there are “doables” in India-Pakistan relations. Of course, there are. I sat in the talks in the winter of 1992 in the cavernous Ministry of Defence conference room in South Block as part of the four-member Indian delegation negotiating Siachen. Honestly, my conviction is that the agreement we negotiated and would have been initialled and the press release we had drawn up and would have handed down to the media in a few minutes' time about that great moment under the flashbulbs in India-Pakistan relationship cannot be substantially improved upon. Yes, it is an eminently “doable” issue over a problem which many mistake it to be about the cost at which the Indian Army supplies chapatis to the jawans stationed in those horrible heights but is actually about healing a wound that India opened by altering the Line of Control by force — after which things were never the same again.  The Mohali summit should draw up a programmatic approach to bilateral relations, which in a near future Dr. Singh can carry forward during a long-overdue visit to Pakistan.

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