Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I was a big proponent of talks till the terror attacks intensified. I am not talking about just Mumbai here. Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai train blasts – all have hit the psyche of normal Indians who suddenly feared that going out for a stroll might mean death. Fortunately, I have not lost any dear ones in these attacks. But, I still cannot forget how I felt the day after the blasts in Hyderabad – an uneasy calm, and a disturbed mind torn between sympathizing for those who died and anger at those who were responsible.
All along, we have known that elements in our neighbourhood were directly assisting these activities. And when 26/11 happened, that was the last nail in the coffin, and rightly so (and like we have done multiple times before) we decided not to talk to Pakistan until "action" was taken on terror. The whole country was in grief and majority of us forgot to ask then, what exactly does "action" mean? And in the busy times you have had since then, I am sure even you must not have thought about actually defining what "action" you were expecting from Pakistan.
The joint statement released in Egypt has been discussed before on many forums, and many questions were asked right from drafting to issues included. And while you rose to answer all your critics, I waited in anticipation to see if you would answer these following questions:
- The Foreign Secretary, S.S.Menon said this was a case of bad drafting. Do you agree?
- Minister of State, Shashi Tharoor said this was a not a legal document, so why worry? Do you agree?
- If Baluchistan was included because the Pak PM raised the issue with you, why was your reply to Pak PM's claim not included in the statement?
- Leave alone what changed in the two months between meeting Zardari and Gilani, what changed between four days of your External Affairs Minister telling Parliament that enough has not been done, and the joint statement?
- What exactly are you expecting Pakistan to do? And if you are not happy with what has been done, why is there a sense of urgency to talk to them?
- If India and Pakistan are interpreting the "delinking" clause according to each one's conveinience, what is the point in having that clause in the first place? Who was it intended to satisfy?
Sadly sir, I got the answer to only question number 4. You have mentioned in your reply that just two days before the summit, you received a 34-page dossier from Pakistan in which Pakistan accepted that the LeT was chiefly responsible for the attacks in Mumbai. Very well, sir. So, it took just two days for you and the entire foreign ministry and home ministry to read, analyse and arrive at the conclusion that this dossier is a good step forward, so let's drastically alter our approach too! Just 2 days, not even two months!
While you gloat over your contention that "The reality is that this is far more than the NDA government was ever able to extract from Pakistan during its entire tenure despite all their tall talk.", I would have given you full marks to that statement had you achieved this same result in the exact same circumstances that NDA government functioned under. Had you been able to extract this confession without so many terror attacks, you (and we too) have every reason to be proud about the "achievement".
I do not doubt your intention to bring in peace, but what severly bothers me is your sense of urgency to engage in dialogue with Pakistan while the wounds of the terror attacks have still not healed. In your hurry to outpace every other Prime Minister and propogate to the world that we are willing to adjust to changing scenarios more quickly than one would expect, you seem to be drifting away from the track laid by none other than you yourself! You are not happy with what has been done so far, your Home Minister is not happy, your External Affairs Minister is not happy, most of the people in the country are not happy, and yet we are witness to this spectacle of you walking more than halfway, in an attempt to appease the international community, because "this is much more than what has been done before". Where exactly are we drawing a line as to when to talk and when not to, sir?
From your statement yesterday (forgive me sir if I sound like the "opposition" you don't want to listen to), all that my small mind could sense was that our approach which was clear till a fortnight ago, took an unwarranted and unnecessary detour. We owe it to those who died and to those who mourn that we could have atleast waited till some substantial arrests were made, not when Hafeez Saeed was released because the case mounted by Pakistan was weak. We owe it to those died and to those who mourn that, in international fora, we sound stern and not appeasing. We owe it to them that they feel justice is being served, slowly but surely. Everything else can wait.
I believe the majority of people in the country agree with you that "dialogue is the only option, since war is ruled out." I belong to that majority, but the timing is just so ill-timed. Surely, it is not too much to ask to wait for a little longer, to verify and trust and not vice versa.