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OpinionsIndia is paying price for Nehru’s foreign policy disasters: Gen Saighal

India is paying price for Nehru’s foreign policy disasters: Gen Saighal


India is paying price for Nehru's foreign policy disasters: Gen Saighal

By RC Ganjoo

Maj. Gen (retd) Vinod Saighal, 78, says surgical strike by Indian Army on terrorist launching pads in Pakistan-occupied was necessary, though it cannot be technically termed as a surgical strike as it doesn't fall into that category in the larger sense. “First, we went into a territory which is ours. From our side we did not attack Pakistan's area. Second, commando operations — no matter how well they were conceived or how well they were executed — involve a great deal of luck. Anything can go wrong any time. India achieved total success because Pakistan believed India won't act, given Pakistan's nuclear credentials. Big surprise was not the strike, it was the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India must retaliate,” he added.  When asked will Pakistan hit back, Gen Saighal said that Pakistan will not strike back but will up the ante. It will use his ‘non-state actors' to create more trouble.

In reply to a question whether China will come to Pakistan's support if a brief war between India and Pakistan takes place, the army veteran said, “In spite of the defence agreement I do not think China might come. It will definitely provide weapons and other logistics support but will not open second front. China is becoming a power. It cannot afford at this point of time to go for a conflict. The relationship between China and Pakistan is very strong. It is unshakable, inalienable in near future. Pakistan has no real ally except China. China is guarantor of Pakistan's defence. China has no real ally except North Korea and Pakistan.”

In his hard hitting book, Revitalising Indian Democracy, Gen Saighal has highlighted how  the administrative machinery and the political system with its criminal connections had become compromised by 2009, that despite a strong mandate to UPA-II, things had begun to fall apart. He called upon the government to reform the Representation of Peoples Act, police reforms, strengthening of the CBI, CVC and other investigative agencies. Sadly this has not happened nor has the National Judicial Commission been set up or the reforms recommended by the Moily Committee carried out.

While expressing his independent view on performances of successive governments, he candidly said, “Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was much extolled and idealistic.   Till the coming of Narendra Modi government to power, we had fallen into the Nehruvian groove of internal problem as well as external problem. Nehru was a great statesman, an idealist who should have come 50 years earlier or perhaps 50-60 years later. We require a person like him now. There is no world stature leader like him. Having said so, in 1947 his idealism  and possible influence of  Lord Mountbatten led him astray on foreign policy on and Kashmir.  Taking the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council was a disastrous decision and we are paying the price for it till date.”

According to him, Nehru's other big mistake was his China policy. He could have looked centuries ahead. He did not see the bright future for the world and he went out of his way to placate China and   just gave up India's strength, Tibet which was inherited from British and this allowed China to walk in. He gave Tibet to China on a platter. Of course, it was later said by an apologist that Kashmir war was going, on how could he had thought of taking on China. But at the same time Mao was involved in Korea war; where did he have strength to fight against India? There was no land route through which China could have reached Lhasa.  At least India could have negotiated up to Lhasa with neutral belt. It was more of idealism than lack of political acumen.”

When asked if Indira Gandhi was able to rectify the mistakes of her father, Gen Saighal said, “On foreign policy, having won a great victory of liberating Bangladesh in 1971, she again fell into the mindset of Nehru while dealing with Bhutto in .  She fell for blindfishes. We had held Pakistan by throat; LoC was settled everything was settled. It was second blunder.”

On the Modi government, he said in the last 70 years, it is for the first time that Hindu right has come to power. The Vajpayee government was a coalition of 25 parties. It cannot be called a BJP government.

On reforms, he said, “The reforms Modi has undertaken have long gestation period, whether he stays in power or not, it will be felt after 2020 because they are foundational and they are very good in concept. Its foreign policy has certainly been successful.  Earlier, in international newspapers, news of India would be on page 4 or 5 and Musharraf was on the front page. Now Modi has been acknowledged and his leadership is being closely observed by all countries including China.

Comparing India with China on economic and military strength, he said, “Militarily gap between India and China is so vast that it was frightening when Modi came to power. Their reserves had gone up to 4 trillion dollar when India was still hovering around 300 million dollars. The gap in the GDPs was also vast.  “It was dismally low when Modi came into power. Even now as compared to China we are nowhere. It cannot change overnight. We should be able to hold till 2023-2025. Certainly our economy will go up. Our infrastructure will also go up. The military threat then will disappear altogether because China will respect you as equal. India and China must have much better accommodation. I think by 2025 or so our primary objective of the foreign policy must be to reach an understanding with China. But in geo-politics there is no sincerity. You take advantage of venerability of that. If there is no venerability there is no sincerity. We are not afraid of China but we are cautious of our vulnerabilities and therefore we have taken steps to strengthen our relationship with Vietnam, Japan and US. I am sure Australia and Indonesia will also figure in the list soon.”

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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