To treat an enemy’s enemy as a friend may sometimes pay off in intertiol diplomacy. During the height of the Cold War in the Seventies, the US used Henry Kissinger’s ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy to get Chi on its side to corner the Soviet Union. But washing the dirty linen of home in public or speaking ill of domestic adversaries abroad — is not something sensible, dignified people do. But this unwritten code of honour has been forgotten by two senior Congress leaders and erstwhile Union ministers, whose disgraceful utterances recently have caused all-round constertion in the country. While taking part in a panel discussion on Duniya TV, a Pakistani news channel, Mani Shankar Aiyar had the temerity to say that Prime Minister rendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two tions have to resume. When asked what can be done to resolve the Indo-Pak standoff, Aiyar reportedly said: “The first and the foremost thing is to remove Modi. Only then can the talks move forward. We have to wait for four more years. They (panelists) are all optimist and that we can move forward when Modi sahab is there, but I don’t think so.” After the former Petroleum and Panchayati Raj minister commented ‘Bring us in, get rid of them (BJP)’, the anchor even reminded him that ‘only you can remove them’. Aiyar then replied: “Yes, and we will. But Pakistan will have to wait for a bit.” The mischievous intent behind Aiyar’s words is obvious — that Pakistan will be wasting its time talking to India now, when the Congress is not in power. The suspicion grows — are some political leaders in India harbouring the pernicious belief that Indian Muslims can be kept happy only by giving Pakistan a say in our affairs? This is how a leader of India’s oldest and longest ruling party talks about his country’s elected Prime Minister to a foreign audience! Aiyar has allowed his party’s rabid antipathy to rendra Modi to get the better of his discretion, if not memory. Surely, the common Indian does not have to jog his memory hard to recall that two terror attacks this year itself at Gurdaspur and Udhampur origited from Pakistani soil, that a Pakistani gunman was captured alive in the second attack, that the Pakistani Rangers has been violating ceasefire at the line of control umpteen times this year.
The Congress has meanwhile denied Aiyar said any such thing; it has dismissed as nonsensical the BJP’s demand that the party should take strong action against such ‘seditious and anti-tiol’ comments. But a few days earlier, another Congressman Salman Khurshid drew much condemtion for showing up his own country’s government in poor light in a lecture he gave at the Jinh Institute in Islamabad. Khurshid spoke patronisingly of Prime Minister rendra Modi ‘still learning how to be a statesman’, adding that if India wanted to move forward in its dialogue with Pakistan, it would have to take care — rather than ‘unsettle the democratic political order’ in Islamabad. Singing paeans to Pakistan premier waz Sharif for his ‘far-sighted step’ in attending Prime Minister Modi’s oath-taking ceremony at New Delhi last year, Khurshid then rued that India’s BJP led-government has failed to ‘adequately reciprocate to Pakistan’s peace overtures’. Khurshid seems to have forgotten the controversy nearly two years back over a Pakistani jourlist saying on Geo TV that waz Sharif had spoken of Dr Manmohan Singh as a ‘dehati aurat’ (village woman). Sharif later issued a denial, but the BJP took full advantage to embarrass the ruling Congress of how disdainful the Pakistani establishment was of the Indian Prime Minister. Sharif has, of course, always kept uppermost the interests of his country, particularly those pertaining to Kashmir, in his public stand about India and its leadership. His bitter rival Pervez Musharraf, exiled from Pakistan after Sharif’s triumphant return to power, in a recent interview spoke of the ‘freedom struggle’ that began in Kashmir during the Nineties, which the Pakistani army supported by training the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and 11-12 other militant organisations. Musharraf’s only regret is that ‘this religious militancy turned into terrorism and militants in Pakistan are now killing their own people’. It is clear that in Pakistan, parties and leaders across the political spectrum are consistently maintaining hard-headed views about India. Negotiation with Islamabad therefore needs a position of strength and readiness to withstand this war of attrition for a hundred years, if not more. Kowtowing to Islamabad to score political points against opponents at home needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.