It is evidently apparent that the Prime Minister wishes for a peace plan with Pakistan. It is a tricky business, (both these words being used after careful deliberation) for peace cannot always be planned, but proper planning can lead to peace. Whether or not the Prime Minister wants this to be his legacy is not clear as yet, but this much is certain: that he is willing to walk more than halfway if Pakistan is willing to show up on the bridge.
To some this attitude appears compromising but there is a method to the Prime Minister’s seeming madness. If the phrase, ‘looks can decieve’ were a hypothesis, Manmohan Singh would be the proof. Beneath the calm demeanour that appears to some as indifferent, incompetent and as the BJP loved to call ‘weak’ before getting hammered in the elections, lies an astute, competent and capable mind that can only be taken lightly at one’s own risk. People often forget that he is the Prime Minister of the country, an office you do not get appointed to for not having any qualities (It is an altogether different case that being indifferent and incompetent can sometimes be remarkable qualities in the circus that is Indian Politics)
So why is the PM willing to bend his back more than is necessary, and as some seem to think, to a point that can lead backache? The logic is simple. India is at a critical juncture in its short but tumultuous life. Thanks to consistent and rapid economic progress, for the first time, the future seems brighter than the past. It is as though the ‘tryst with destiny’ will be fulfilled after all. India and China are being touted as the next great superpowers and this century is being referred to as the Asian Century. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, India will become the world’s second biggest economy, behind China and ahead of the US. This assumption is made on the estimate that India grows at a conservative 7% every year leading upto 2050. And this is the same statistic that has caught the Prime Minister’s eye, for it says something very profound – that India will have to grow at atleast 7% every year, or as a corollary, if India gets its economic progress halted, it cannot reach that elite status. So if you were the PM, you would naturally ask yourself: What is it that could halt my country’s progress? If you were blessed with common sense, and that’s a big if among our politicians, the first thing that would come to your mind would be war. As a general axiom, it is accepted that a major war can cause devastating damage to a country’s economy, setting it back by years. Therefore, to come to the point, if India goes to war with Pakistan tomorrow, India loses out while the rest of the world advances ahead. India at such a point cannot afford to lag behind in the global race, for it is at the threshold of something great.
For this reason, India’s decision to not invade Pakistan in the aftermath of 26/11 should be applauded – for a war then would have served no purpose (Infact, it could have worked perfectly well for the jihadis, propping up more popular support for them) Ofcourse this does not imply that India should never attack Pakistan, for in the event of a major provocation and guarding its supreme national interests, India can and must take whatever action required. But if we can wait a little more, we must. Why? So that India becomes so strong, that fearing economic and military repercussions, Pakistan does not entertain even a single thought of confrontation. That would be a true deterrence. Take for example America’s case. General Pervez Musharraf, the then President of Pakistan, in his autobiography states that in the aftermath of 9/11, Pakistan did not want the US forces to use its territory in the war against Taliban – an ally of Pakistan. But for Pakistan it was a question of ‘with America or against America’. And in such a scenario, there was no choice for Pakistan other than to give in to America’s wishes. Musharraf states that Pakistan didn’t stand an iota of a chance if it were to confront America.
Our Prime Minister understands this all too well. Which is why he has made the transition from the Prime Minister to the Peace Minister.