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COVER STORY

16-07-1999

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Briefing

A WORSENING WAR

Indian troops make considerable progress in Kargil, but it seems improbable that the war will end even after the intruders are pushed off the hills.

Karim to Afzal: "Their Army has reached very near us. We need more men. Our water and ammunition is also running low."

Afzal to Karim: "Remember Allah's name."

Karim to Afzal: "I'll worry about Allah later! Right now I need reinforcements."

- excerpts from intercepts of conversations between Pakistan-based commander Afzal and field commander Karim in the Kargil area.

FOR two nights, the sound of Pakistan artillery shells exploding around Kargil died down. The impromptu ceasefire was, perhaps, intended to signal Pakistan's pacific intentions to the massed ranks of the Indian and foreign media brought in on an Army-organised tour on June 22. Hours after the journalists left Kargil, the first shells landed on the abandoned village of Baroo, which Pakistan's military evidently believes to be the headquarters of the 121 Brigade in Kargil. Through the night and the next day, the fire continued with metronome precision. And as if to make up for lost time, Kargil's main bazaar was shelled on June 25, the first deliberate targeting of its civilian population.

But if it at first seems that little has changed in Kargil, India's battle to evict Pakistani irregulars and troops from the area is gathering momentum. The capture of the sprawling Tololing heights ahead of Drass marks the first major Indian victory in the Kargil war. Thirteen Pakistani troops were killed when the men of the Rajputana Regiment stormed their way up the 4,590-metre lower summit of Tololing, and a further nine were killed when the highest 5,140-m feature was finally cleared. The operations followed more than five weeks of sustained Indian artillery fire on Tololing, a bombardment that minimised casualties on the near-impossible summit assault. Above all, the assault made clear to the poorly acclimatised and sometimes demoralised troops that war in the high Himalayas could be won.

Although Tololing has been captured, the battle in the Drass area is far from over. Initial air and ground surveillance had suggested that upwards of a hundred Pakistani troops and irregulars were deployed in the area. No one is entirely certain just how many of these were killed during the battle for Tololing, since several combatants' bodies are believed to have been dragged back to Pakistani positions. There is a disturbing possibility, however, that at least some of the Tololing survivors have regrouped east of the area for a fresh attack on the national highway. On June 19, Indian troops moving up the Churkyat Shung nullah (drain) from the Thasgam roadhead came under heavy fire from a Pakistan-held position on a 5,025-m peak east of the Tololing area.

Similar battles have been erupting west of the Tololing feature, where Indian troops are battling to regain control of the Sando nullah which offers access to the crucial forward position on the Line of Control, the 5,353-m Marpo-La Pass. Control of Marpo-La would help cut off access to the Mushkoh Valley to the west of Kargil. Informed sources told Frontline that Indian troops had so far made significant progress in attacking Pakistan-held positions on the 5,062-m peak from where Indian troops moving down the Sando nullah had been pinned down. Having captured 5,062-m peak, soldiers would then have to begin the final assault on Marpo-La, which air reconnaissance suggests has been heavily fortified by Pakistan.

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There is little hard information so far on the progress of Indian military operations in the Mushkoh Valley itself. Securing the valley is a crucial requirement to cut off the possible movement of Pakistani irregulars into Kashmir and Doda. The valley opens Sonamarg, from where mountain passes offer access to Kishtwar and Doda through Pahalgam, and empties through the Talel Valley and the Kabol gully into Gurez at its western end. As long as Pakistani irregulars and troops are not evicted from the Mushkoh Valley, army strategists will have to contend with the nightmare scenario of Indian positions in Gurez being sandwiched by a fresh Pakistani thrust from the west. Troops of the 79 Brigade, responsible for operations west of the Tingel nullah above Holliyal, have been operating with intense air support, but the precise number of positions they are engaging is unknown.

Batalik, west of Kargil, has seen the most bitter fighting in the region so far. The area is, broadly, dissected by three major nullahs draining south from the Line of Control (LoC). The furthest to the west of these is the Gurgudu, heading north from Batalik town towards one of Pakistan's largest positions on the LoC, Shangruti. A minor drain, the Urdas Langpa, separates Gurgudu from the Garkhun nullah. To the east of Garkhun is the third of the Batalik mountain streams, the Yaldor nullah. This nullah heads north from Dah to the village to which it owes its name, and on to Pakistan-held Muntho Dalo at 5,065 m. Muntho Dalo has functioned as the headquarters of Pakistan's Batalik operations, the hub from which troops and supplies are moved forward.

Muntho Dalo came under a massive air attack on June 24, and Indian Air Force officials claim much of the centre was obliterated. The attack should aid Indian troops moving up the Yaldor nullah, the area of Batalik in which progress has so far been the most rapid. Ahead of Yaldor village, troops will have to vacate Pakistan positions on the 4,821-m Kukerthang and the 5,103-m Tharu before reaching the LoC ahead of Muntho Dalo. Given that Pakistan now holds the high-altitude positions that Indian troops vacated last winter, the push up the Yaldor nullah will involve great courage. On June 10, troops of the 12 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and the Desert Scorpions paracommando unit which took a Pakistan-held position found themselves sandwiched by reinforcements sent down the mountains.

Progress up the Garkhun nullah has been even more difficult. Soldiers moving up to the villages of Kha Baroro and Baroro face fire from at least three major Pakistan-held positions on the Jubbar hills rising west of the nullah, on peaks 4,827 m, 4,938 m and 4,280 m high. In addition, Pakistan's positions at Kukerthang and Tharu can direct fire east and ambush patrols down the Garkhun nullah. Finally, Indian soldiers attacking Pakistan-held positions down the Gurgudu and Garkhun nullahs can be observed by the Shangruti post, enabling precise artillery and mortar fire. Army officials say they had at first planned to push down the Gurgudu and Garkhun nullahs simultaneously, before meeting below a 4,927-m peak to cut off Pakistani supply routes. Alternative operational plans are now being considered for these areas.

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Interestingly, villagers at Garkhun claim that they were among the first to detect Pakistani irregulars and troops in the area. In late April, villagers told Frontline, shepherds from Garkhun and Yaldor saw men dressed in Pathan outfits on the Kukerthang heights. Most of Yaldor's seven families spend their winters in Garkhun, moving up with their livestock as the snows melt. "Nobody actually saw anybody with guns," one villager says, "but we did run into people with binoculars. They would wave at us to move away." Garkhun residents claim to have told Army officials on May 3 of the intrusion, but say that the patrol sent to investigate only moved up the nullah without searching the heights.

KAKSAR, east of Kargil, has again seen some progress in the face of crippling odds. The 5,299-m peak along the LoC, below which Lt. Saurabh Kalia is believed to have been ambushed and then brutally murdered along with his six-member patrol, is now the scene of bitter battle. Informed sources told Frontline that soldiers on peak 5,299 are now engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat. The Indian Army's efforts to push towards its forward position at Bajrang Post are met with heavy fire from Pakistan's LoC forward picket on peak 5,108 m, and from pickets occupied this summer on the 5,284-m peak.

Progress down the nullah in efforts to evict Pakistan's positions in Kaksar has, however, been relatively slow. In the absence of a clear ridgeline route as an alternative to a push through the nullah, which is vulnerable to ambush, at least some military officials have been arguing for an attack from behind the Pakistan side of the LoC. Such movement, officials argue, would be the most effective means to evict Pakistani irregulars and troops from the Kaksar area, without imposing unacceptable losses of Indian soldiers' lives. The last reported casualties from Kaksar came on June 21, when three soldiers of the 4 Jat Regiment were killed in Pakistani artillery fire. Pakistan also appears to be reinforcing its positions in the area, suggesting that further Indian forward movement may be relatively slow.

ELSEWHERE in the Kargil sector, Pakistan's efforts to evict Indian positions that were held through the winter have been unsuccessful. The stretch north from the Border Security Force's (BSF) Chhannigund headquarters to the LoC has remained secure, albeit under heavy artillery fire. Positions above the Kirkit Chu nullah, held through the winter, appear to have deterred Pakistani irregulars and troops from attempting an incursion into this sector. It now appears clear that the Army's failure to review its policy of vacating high-altitude positions last year opened a window of opportunity for Pakistan. High-altitude positions held by the BSF at Chorbat-La, now reinforced by troops from the crack high-altitude Ladakh Scouts, have contained efforts by Pakistan to push troops down the Mian Langpa gully.

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Critically, the pressure of the Indian offensive in most sectors is clearly beginning to tell on Pakistan's irregulars and troops. The near-total radio silence observed in the first phase of the Pakistani offensive has given way to often hysterical missives. Indian intelligence operatives active in Skardu, Pakistan's rear headquarters for the Kargil area, report that the local hospital is overflowing with injured irregulars and soldiers. While it is difficult to verify such reports, given the lack of independent media access to the region in Pakistan, most analysts concur that its army and irregular combatants have suffered upwards of 300 fatalities in the Kargil war. As reinforcements would increasingly have to engage with Indian troops on recaptured heights, this figure is certain to rise sharply in the weeks to come.

Pakistan, however, seems determined to continue with its efforts to push reinforcements into the Turtok area through the Mian Langpa. Indian combat jets and artillery have been attacking new Pakistani positions that appeared near the LoC around the peak at 5,270 m.

The new Pakistani positions appeared in the same area where the bodies of Captain Hanif-ud-Din and two soldiers, ambushed in the course of an area patrol a fortnight ago, still lie.

Pakistan has been attempting a secondary thrust up a stream draining south from the LoC into Mian Lungpa gully, the Karu Bar. The stream offers access to the Indian side of the LoC near one of the most spectacular heights of the entire Kargil area, the 6,040-m Dolmibarak peak.

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JUST what shape the Kargil war will take from this stage, however, remains unclear. A sound but conservative strategy of pushing up the mountains slowly, building up strong positions at each stage, would suggest that the complete destruction of Pakistan-occupied positions would take upwards of eight to 12 weeks. Whether the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government would be willing to go into a general election with Pakistan continuing to hold territory on the Indian side of the LoC is unclear. There is also growing pressure from Army and Air Force officials for limited strategic action against positions on the Pakistan side of the LoC in order to minimise Indian casualties in the push up the mountains. The possible outcomes and consequences of such actions are unclear.

With Pakistan's political establishment being under the firm control of the military and the religious right, the prospect of a negotiated end to its offensive in Kargil seems unlikely. Pakistan's artillery offensive along the entire length of the LoC, and the international border in Jammu, indicate that its military establishment is determined to escalate the conflict further. It seems improbable that this war will end even after Pakistani irregulars and troops are pushed off the mountain heights.

For a democratic debate

THE caretaker coalition government at the Centre has once again refused to take the Opposition into confidence on a major issue. At the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi on June 28, it deferred a decision on the Opposition's major demand that a special session of the Rajya Sabha be convened to discuss the Kargil war. However, it agreed to convene a meeting of Chief Ministers in early July and apprise them of the government's efforts to meet the Pakistani aggression.

The meeting itself was the result of a series of developments, which included a complaint by the Opposition parties to President K.R. Narayanan that they were kept in the dark about the steps taken by the government with regard to the war. Vajpayee, whom the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition is never tired of describing as a "man of consensus", saw no reason to call a second all-party meeting on Kargil (the first one was held a few days ago) until the President conveyed to him the complaint, articulated by several Opposition leaders.

The Congress(I) delegation, led by Congress(I) Working Committee member Manmohan Singh, submitted a letter to the President on June 24, pointing out that a national consensus needed to be built in order to ensure that the caretaker government's military and diplomatic moves reflected the united will of the nation. "While this may not be the appropriate time for a full-fledged post-mortem, the nation needs to be taken into confidence that the serious deficiencies in our defence preparedness and national security system revealed by this situation have now been rectified, in an effective manner," the letter said.

A Communist Party of India (CPI) delegation, led by Rajya Sabha member Gurudas Dasgupta, had submitted a memorandum to the President earlier demanding the immediate holding of a special session of the Rajya Sabha. Dasgupta gained the impression that the President was not averse to the idea, for which there were precedents.

The government's position of not taking a decision on the question stems from a perceived lack of consensus at the all-party meeting. Vajpayee, after meeting the President on June 24, had indicated that the Opposition's suggestion could be considered; he said that an all-party meeting would, however, be called.

The BJP and its allies stuck to their stand that there was no need to convene a Rajya Sabha session at this stage. This position was backed by the Telugu Desam Party, the National Conference, the Indian National Lok Dal and the Samajwadi Janata Party of Chandra Shekhar (the SJP has no representation in the Upper House).

The demand for a session was voiced also by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Samajwadi Party. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, while opposing the demand for a Rajya Sabha session, made it clear that he was not in favour of the Indian Army crossing the Line of Control, as such an action would invite the same international isolation that Pakistan now suffered.

This sentiment was echoed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat. He said that no steps should be taken to widen the conflict by opening new fronts on the LoC. Any widening of the conflict would help Pakistan to seek international intervention, and that would erode the international support that India had mustered for exercising its legitimate right to clear the intrusion and defend the LoC, he pointed out.

Karat justified the demand to convene a Rajya Sabha session saying that "an informed and responsible debate on how the Kargil situation developed and the measures taken so far are necessary so that a common understanding develops which will help the national endeavour." He said that in the interest of this national effort, the Prime Minister should convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers so that all State governments were fully briefed about the situation and a joint effort by the Centre and the States could be made. This was of particular importance for the States on the borders, both in the west and east, he said.

After the 12th Lok Sabha has been dissolved, the Rajya Sabha is the only legislative forum that remains where the government could be held accountable for its omissions and commissions. Therefore the ruling coalition, which is in a minority in the Upper House, looked at the Opposition demand with suspicion and attributed motives to it. Apprehending that the government's lapses, particularly the intelligence failure, would be exposed if there is a debate in Parliament, the leaders of the BJP-led coalition offered excuses for not convening a special session.

"It will demoralise the armed forces," BJP spokesperson Krishan Lal Sharma claimed when he was asked why the BJP was against a special session.

The Opposition parties have stood united in supporting the government's efforts to clear the Pakistani intruders though the government has not found merit in its demand.

Significantly, although the overwhelming sentiment in the BJP is against the idea of a Rajya Sabha session, Prime Minister Vajpayee himself said that the all-party meeting that the government would indeed "consider" accepting the suggestion.

The three Service chiefs briefed the all-party meeting on the Kargil conflict.

Missions and concerns

Diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Kargil crisis enter a sensitive phase.

GIBSON LANPHER had his day of fame on June 27 when he spent a few hours in Delhi meeting senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs. The Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State then called on Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the chair of the National Security Council.

Indian officials remained cryptic about the outcome of the talks. The official spokesman stuck to the position that Lanpher's mission in Delhi was merely to brief the Indian Government on what had transpired in Islamabad between an American delegation and the Pakistan Government. And the main result apparently was that India found unequivocal endorsement of its demand from the "international community" that Pakistan should "take immediate steps to withdraw the armed intruders from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) and ensure that such violations do not recur in the future." There was an inducement held out in the promise that once this process was completed, the dialogue on all contentious issues between the two countries could be resumed. But in the prevalent circumstances, the promise of talks could not have had more than a marginal appeal.

Lanpher's visit to Delhi was followed within hours by a planned leak from within the Pakistan Government, that a special envoy would soon be visiting India on a secret mission. The choice of envoy - former Foreign Secretary Niaz A. Naik - seemed to suggest that a mood of conciliation had perhaps dawned, though no definitive inference can be drawn about the negotiating brief he will carry. The issue of troop withdrawal from the Kargil sector has become entangled in the multiple infirmities of the political process in Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif clearly lacks the power to entrust his special envoy with this mandate.

To a great degree, the new movements were stirred up by the visit to Islamabad of U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command. Zinni is no stranger to the Pakistani civilian and military leadership. His last visit to Islamabad was on August 20 last year, when U.S. cruise missiles were launched over Pakistani territory en route to targets in Afghanistan. The rather muted response then to the violation of Pakistan's sovereign airspace bears testimony to the influence that the U.S. Central Command chief exercises. But Nawaz Sharif chose the occasion of Zinni's visit to put up a pointed display of defiance, flying off to the Pakistan side of the LoC to mingle with troops engaged in operations against India.

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Zinni was initially closeted in talks with General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. The following day he held a two-hour-long discussion with Nawaz Sharif. There were no official disclosures of what transpired since these would have been superfluous. The agenda was transparent and announced well before the meetings took place. As the spokesman of the U.S. State Department announced the day Zinni was tasked with the mission to go to Islamabad, his brief was very simple: to persuade Pakistan to withdraw the "armed infiltrators" it had sent into Kargil. The same day, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William Milam said, without naming any country, that "those who had sent the fighters to Drass and Kargil would have to call them back."

As a last resort, the Pakistan Government sought to fall back upon the pretence that Zinni's mission would focus symmetrically upon both sides of the border. This effort was scuttled by a fairly explicit clarification from the U.S. State Department that Zinni's visit was "Pakistan-specific". According to some reports from Washington, State Department officials also revealed that Zinni was asked to convey a warning to Pakistan that India would launch full-scale hostilities if the intrusion in the Kargil sector was not vacated. That the threat was indeed made from the Indian side seems now to be fairly authoritatively confirmed. It had been learnt from official sources in India that Brajesh Mishra met U.S. National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger on June 17 to hand over a letter from Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee to U.S. President Bill Clinton. Little was revealed about the contents of the letter, though it was assumed then that it would have dealt with India's restraint in the face of grave provocations and the imperative need to remove Pakistan-backed intruders from Indian territory. It is now believed, on the basis of reports in The Washington Post, evidently supported by high-level leaks from the U.S. Government - that Vajpayee's message bore the clear assertion that India would feel compelled to attack deep into Pakistani territory if a unilateral withdrawal could not be secured by other means.

The prospect of hostilities across a broad range could not have been particularly reassuring for the U.S. administration. Overstretched in the Balkans and confronting fresh eruptions in East Asia and Africa, the U.S. clearly is incapable of coping with the consequences of a burgeoning military conflict between nuclear-capable adversaries. Vajpayee's message, received by the U.S. President as he travelled through Europe in the afterglow of his supposed triumph in the Balkans, was just the signal needed for the U.S. administration to step up pressure on Pakistan.

However, in the immediate aftermath of the Zinni visit, the Pakistan military kept up its tone of defiance. General Musharraf ruled out any possibility of a "unilateral withdrawal" from Kargil, thus effectively overturning the carefully cultivated pretence that the events in that sector were the logical outgrowth of the Kashmiri militancy. This affirmation came as the conclusion to a sequence of locutions in which Musharraf first declined to comment on the prospect of a withdrawal and then declared that the decision was firmly within the province of the Prime Minister. Curiously, in another assertion that seemed to raise questions about who is in charge in Pakistan, he informed a public gathering in Karachi that efforts were under way to arrange a meeting between Clinton and Nawaz Sharif. Since the Kargil intrusions began, Pakistan has suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks. U.S. displeasure was evident in its decision to share sensitive intelligence data with India and even acquiesce in India's decision to make this information public.

The public airing of a private conversation between General Musharraf and his Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Aziz, was a serious embarrassment to the Pakistan Government. After the Group of Eight nations - comprising seven of the advanced industrialised countries and Russia - called for an end to the Kargil hostilities at its Cologne summit in mid-June, the Pakistan Government made another valiant effort to turn adversity into advantage. The mere fact that it had not been named as the culpable party seemed an indication that the West was inclined to place the onus for conciliation on India. It did not take long for this pretence too to be shattered.

Today, amid growing international apprehensions about who is in charge and fears of a backlash from the military and the clergy, Pakistan seems to be lurching towards financial insolvency. An infusion of $100 million is due from the International Monetary Fund in July to assist the country in meeting some of its international financial obligations. Even a decision to defer consideration of this loan could be a powerful diplomatic tool in the current context.

India has over the last month successfully managed to exert leverage where it has mattered, in order to ensure a dramatic swing in global public opinion in its favour. But a dissonant note was sounded late in June by China, which advised India and Pakistan to suspend hostilities at once, since the alternative would be a growing role for big power mediators in neighbourhood disputes. India's stand is that a ceasefire can only be declared if all the territory held by Pakistani infiltrators is vacated. This is an eminently reasonable stand which has so far managed to keep the international community firmly in India's corner. But if military operations are indefinitely prolonged, casualties will inevitably mount and pressure would grow for the utilisation of force along points at which India is less vulnerable. That process could well call in the global umpires, who have not shown themselves to be either reasonable or fair in recent conflict situations.

Kargil has been an exception only because Pakistan has forfeited much of its claim to global sympathies by its conduct in the neighbourhood over the last decade. War situations have been known to induce mood changes of a fairly bizarre kind. Even the cosmopolitan intelligentsia in Pakistan seems today to have embraced, with more than a suggestion of artifice, the cause of the "Mujahideen" in the Kargil heights. Sections of Pakistan that had acclaimed the growing strength of the impulse towards peace just three months back have today turned champions of the "jehad", cheerleaders of the holy warriors seeking to vanquish the might of the Indian Army.

Diplomatic isolation is in this narration the regrettable outcome of the disproportionate economic rewards that India has to offer the global community in comparison to Pakistan. Global reaction, however, is divorced from any sense of morality and is simply a burden that must be borne in the cause of justice for Kashmir and the sustenance of the Pakistani identity.

Few Pakistani commentators have chosen to place the global isolation of their country in the context of its international profile over the last decade. Despite the facade of a democratic transition that has weathered several crises and now seems fairly secure, it is not a profile that inspires much faith. And the fundamental cause of this erosion of credibility has been Pakistan's cynical and bloody-minded role in the demise of Afghanistan as a state.

First an instrument of American geopolitical interests and then a sponsor of the peace. Shortly afterwards, an active patron of efforts to destroy the truce it had brokered. Finally, the promoter of a unique political transition - an entire society besieged by warfare is urged to seek salvation in medievalism. Pakistan's role in Afghanistan has gone through successive mutations in the last many years, none of them inspiring confidence in its ability or inclination to live in peace with its neighbours. When the Kargil conflict began, India was able to call upon the Taliban analogy to bolster its case for the global ostracism of Pakistan. "We don't want the Talibanisation of Kashmir," said Naresh Chandra, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. "But if you use these guys as guest terrorists of the Pakistani Army, what would be the consequences?"

The "jehadist" cabal in the Pakistan Army is clearly in global disfavour, its role in the service of U.S. geopolitical designs now exhausted. A U.S. State Department official was recently quoted as saying, in great exasperation, that General Musharraf and his Chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Mohammad Aziz, "have spent their careers supporting one Mujahideen movement after another." In this regard, their appointments to senior positions in the military establishment raised "serious questions" about where Pakistan was headed as a state.

A similarly gloomy prognosis was made in the early days of the conflict by Michael Krepon, head of the Henry L. Stimson Centre in Washington D.C., which has been supporting an ongoing project on confidence-building measures in South Asia. "By associating itself with military operations across the LoC," said Krepon, "Pakistan can only lose, externally and internally. The more Pakistan supports lawless elements across the LoC, the more lawlessness will grow within Pakistan itself."

Krepon's assessment resonates strongly with one made early last year by eminent Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in the context of the growth of the Taliban in Afghanistan: "With Pakistan's civil-state machinery eaten away by corruption and ineffectiveness and growing public disillusionment with the political system, the law and order agencies would be unable to cope with an Islamic movement which would be violent and self-sacrificing... In any future prolonged confrontation with Koran-waving Islamic youths, the Army's more secular high command would be hard-pressed to order their troops to open fire. The threat of an Islamic revolution in Pakistan has never been greater."

Kargil seems to indicate that the "secular high command" in the Pakistan Army has been rather decisively pushed to the margins. It is the "jehadist" cabal that dominates, drawing its authority from the Islamic clergy and the diverse militant groupings it controls, often bending the civilian establishment to its will. There is also the uneasy awareness that Kargil is in a sense the final gamble of an embattled country that has made little headway in Kashmir despite a decade of effort. If the Kargil adventure fails, then Pakistan's right to be recognised as an interested party in Kashmir fades. But the tone of urgency adopted by global diplomacy clearly indicates what is at stake in Kargil. Unless the matter is resolved quickly and decisively, the outcome could be a violent implosion in Pakistan, with incalculable consequences for the entire region.

Paradoxes in Pakistan

Differences between the Pakistani civilian and military leaderships constitute the biggest hurdle to finding an early solution to the Kargil stand-off.

SUSTAINED diplomatic pressure exerted by Western countries, coupled with a determined assault by the Indian Army on positions occupied by Pakistani irregulars who have the full backing of that country's Army, has brought into the open the differences between the Pakistani civilian and military leaderships on the question of Kargil.

The message of the United States, which has emerged as the unquestioned "leader" of the Western world, was delivered in loud and clear terms by Gen. Anthony Zinni, U.S. Central Command chief, to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff, on June 24, and to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the next day. The message was not a complicated one - it was only a reiteration of the statements that have emanated from Washington. Gen. Zinni said the same thing to both Musharraf and Sharif - withdraw the armed intruders from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC), reaffirm the sanctity of the LoC, show renewed respect for it, end the fighting, exercise restraint and recommence the dialogue with India as part of the process set in motion by the Lahore Declaration.

The U.S.' choice of envoy - a military officer as opposed to a senior official of the State Department - was deliberate; the U.S. wanted its message to go down from one military officer to another. Obviously, Washington has its own perceptions about who calls the shots in Islamabad.

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Officially, Pakistan told the U.S. delegation, which also comprised Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gibson Lanpher, that Islamabad had no control over the militants and could not get them to vacate the Kargil heights. However, the contradictions within Pakistan now stand exposed.

For the first time since the Kargil issue began to make headlines, Gen. Pervez Musharraf spoke openly to the media on June 26 and made the surprise announcement that diplomatic contacts were under way for a meeting between President Bill Clinton and Nawaz Sharif. Interestingly, the statement did not emanate from the Pakistani Foreign Office, the Foreign Minister or the Prime Minister's Office. The question being asked by observers is: does Musharraf want right-wing opinion in Pakistan to try and scuttle a meeting between Clinton and Sharif?

The previous day the coffin containing the body of Sikandar Gul, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed in Kargil, was draped with the Pakistani flag, and there was on it a floral wreath from none other than Gen. Musharraf.

The events following Gen. Musharraf's statement about a possible meeting between Clinton and Sharif were significant. The official Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) gave it due prominence, but the state-run television blacked out the statement made to reporters after he addressed the 71st midshipmen commissioning parade at the Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi. Only a brief mention was made about the General's remarks at the Academy itself, at the end of the Khabarnama, the nightly news bulletin. The bulletin did not mention a single word about Musharraf's remarks to reporters about the situation in Kargil or a possible meeting between Clinton and Sharif.

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It is necessary to dwell on the treatment given to the Army chief by the state-run media because there is a parallel between this incident and the events that led to the dramatic resignation of Gen. Jehangir Karamat as Chief of the Army Staff on October 7, 1998. Karamat had made a few statements critical of the Government, the last of which was totally ignored by the state-controlled media. The present situation may not escalate into something as dramatic as the Karamat episode, but it does reveal that the Nawaz Sharif Government is unhappy with Musharraf and his handling of the Kargil situation. Till date, the Army and civilian leaderships have tried to act in unison. However, now, the strains are becoming evident. If Nawaz Sharif does want to ease out Musharraf, he only has to appoint another Army chief and confine Musharraf to the largely ceremonial post he additionally holds - Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

As the transcripts of conversations between Musharraf and Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Aziz Khan, revealed, Nawaz Sharif himself did not know about Pakistan's Kargil operations until mid-May. Many of the Army's top brass were also unaware of it. It was an operation that succeeded only on account of its secrecy. However, Nawaz Sharif played along and backed the Army to the hilt, only to face sustained and growing international pressure and a harsh response from India.

Clearly, the Indians are not the only ones who have been taken for a ride on the Delhi-Lahore-Kargil "bus". The Americans may not exactly have been "co-passengers", but they definitely "kick-started" the "bus". They are, therefore, unlikely to look favourably upon the protagonist (Pakistan) responsible for "overturning" this "bus". Besides, the Americans had invested heavily in the Lahore process and were working separately on both India and Pakistan through Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who actively promoted Washington's nuclear non-proliferation agenda in these countries. No superpower likes to be taken for a ride, and definitely not the Americans. Having concluded that India would not accept third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue, Washington quietly worked on both the governments until the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government lost a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha, and Pakistani irregulars and troops infiltrated into Kargil.

After hurting India militarily through the intrusion, Pakistan seemed to be unclear about its next step. Its claim that it has cut off the Srinagar-Leh road is nothing but propaganda. Clearly, Pakistan has distanced itself from the reality on the ground. Pakistan's objectives or the lack of them have been best summed up in an article written by Ayaz Amir, a former ruling party member of the Punjab provincial Assembly, in the newspaper Dawn.

The article says: "However hopeful and desperate a spin the Foreign Office may try to put on this situation, it is Pakistan and not India which is under pressure to restore the status quo ante along the Line of Control. This is not a failure of diplomacy as many pundits are screaming. It is a political failure inasmuch as Pakistan's stance, whatever we may think of it, is hard to sustain before the world's eyes. Nor do we seem very clear about what we want, which is adding to the confusion.

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"Through the Kargil operation are we trying to acquire a bargaining chip for a trade-off in Siachen? Do we want to pose a permanent threat to India's line of communication further to the north? Is this the first step in the liberation of Kashmir? If one or more of these objectives were behind this operation, did the Pakistan high command really calculate that if a few bold thrusts (by the Mujahideen or whatever) were made across the Line of Control, the Indian response would remain localised and India would not make too great a noise about such a move? There is nothing more foolish in war than to substitute wishfulness for a realistic appreciation of the situation, but we seem to be doing this all the time.

"As in 1965 and in 1971, we are allowing ourselves to become prisoners of an unfavourable situation. On display is the same thumping, chest-beating rhetoric and the same contempt for reality. And the same desire, befitting more a child than a mature nation, that the outside world should come to our rescue and turn a developing fiasco into a face-saving diplomatic solution.

"What makes the present situation all the more alarming is the growing feeling that there is no firm hand on the tiller. Who is in charge? Who has thought up this operation which in the space of a few weeks has taken the nation to the brink of war?....

"It should not take an American Centcom commander to tell us what is in our best interests or what we should do. If we can sustain the Kargil build-up and thrust fine... but if politically our position is ill-judged and therefore untenable, we could do worse than to remember the military maxim which advises against reinforcing a failure."

NAWAZ SHARIF'S special envoys have fanned out principally to "Muslim nations" to garner support for Pakistan's position on Kargil. There are, however, few takers for Islamabad's position. But Saudi Arabia has, of course, come out in its support.

Although Pakistan would like to believe that India has done better only on the propaganda front, the fact of the matter is that Islamabad stands isolated because of the position it has taken. On various occasions, Pakistan has spoken about taking over the Kargil heights, of the Mujahideen being on the lower reaches and the Pakistanis on the upper peaks, and the most fantastic of them all: "seizing" the positions on its own side of the Line of Control (LoC).

Western media reports have spoken about the involvement of Pakistani engineers in taking over positions on the Indian side of the LoC, as well as the use of snow scooters. Clearly, the positions articulated by the G-8 countries, including the U.S. and Britain, besides the European Union countries, are on the basis of their own conclusions, and not based on the conclusions reached by India.

Pakistan has sent out its envoys. Nawaz Sharif has gone to China looking for support on Kargil, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has left for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for a meeting of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Foreign Ministers, and Western and other diplomats are being regularly briefed by the Foreign Office. Besides, Pakistani television, radio and sections of the print media are regularly "fed" with press reports from India and other countries that are critical of the BJP-led government.

As far as the military situation is concerned, Gen. Musharraf has vehemently denied that a war with India was imminent. He has stated that Pakistan did not have anything to do with the Mujahideen. In fact, some of his remarks in Karachi could be construed as conciliatory, especially those relating to a solution which will be acceptable to Pakistan, India and the U.S.

Despite the differences between the civilian and military establishments, it will require tremendous courage on the part of Nawaz Sharif to disown the Kargil operation or even to obtain a "face-saver". How the military establishment will take such a move remains to be seen.

Lt.-Gen. Javed Nasir (retd), who was chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the time the 1993 Mumbai blasts took place, has said that if India were to cross the LoC, then the Pakistani Army could hit a target beyond the LoC, since the Indian Army was tied up in Kashmir. "It offers (the) Pakistan Army the opportunity of the century to redeem its honour and take the revenge for Dhaka." Unlike other columnists and writers, the former General has at least spoken the truth. Kargil, Kashmir and Punjab are all about paying India back for Pakistan's 1971 defeat and the creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan may have waited a long time to strike, but there is no mistaking the reason for sending insurgents into Jammu and Kashmir, including the latest intrusion in Kargil.

Gen. Nasir said: "A major penetration by the Pakistan Army will serve as a strong incentive to the Sikhs, providing them an opportunity of the millennium to rise and play havoc with India's line of communications. These two actions will precipitate (the) disintegration of India. A major setback to the Indians in Punjab can turn the Sikhs' dream of Khalistan into reality, with the Tamils rising in the South and the Naga and Mizo tribes in the north declaring UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)." The former General is obviously living in his own world. Nasir, who is said to have plotted some of the major crimes against India, spends a lot of time with Khalistani Sikhs in Pakistan, having been appointed chief of the Pakistani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee by Nawaz Sharif in April. Other sections of his formulation do not require much comment.

The former General had this to say of the present Army chief: "In Pervez Musharraf, we have an excellent General who has the blend of dynamism (his Special Services Group) and superb professionalism. He does not panic. He is very bold and is admired for his decision-making ability. Allah chose him for the occasion. He will not only deliver but deliver beyond the expectations of all. He is (a) gift of Allah to the nation. Let India do the blunder of escalation. India's (future) generations will remember the consequences. India must not forget that (it) is a post-May 28 (1998) Pakistan it is dealing with."

This is the kind of ideology that India is up against. If Nawaz Sharif does think differently, then he will have to demonstrate it by bringing his Generals to heel and dismantling the numerous power structures. It was not as if the Prime Minister and the ISI were not aware of Kargil. Simply put, Nawaz Sharif could do little about it.

The absence of genuine democracy and the clout that the Generals and their numerous intelligence agencies enjoy pose a major challenge to India. A single civilian and democratic power structure would be far easier to deal with, both for India and the rest of the world. As Kargil demonstrates, India can never be comfortable with an imperfect democracy in Pakistan.

Paradoxes in Pakistan

Differences between the Pakistani civilian and military leaderships constitute the biggest hurdle to finding an early solution to the Kargil stand-off.

SUSTAINED diplomatic pressure exerted by Western countries, coupled with a determined assault by the Indian Army on positions occupied by Pakistani irregulars who have the full backing of that country's Army, has brought into the open the differences between the Pakistani civilian and military leaderships on the question of Kargil.

The message of the United States, which has emerged as the unquestioned "leader" of the Western world, was delivered in loud and clear terms by Gen. Anthony Zinni, U.S. Central Command chief, to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff, on June 24, and to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the next day. The message was not a complicated one - it was only a reiteration of the statements that have emanated from Washington. Gen. Zinni said the same thing to both Musharraf and Sharif - withdraw the armed intruders from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC), reaffirm the sanctity of the LoC, show renewed respect for it, end the fighting, exercise restraint and recommence the dialogue with India as part of the process set in motion by the Lahore Declaration.

The U.S.' choice of envoy - a military officer as opposed to a senior official of the State Department - was deliberate; the U.S. wanted its message to go down from one military officer to another. Obviously, Washington has its own perceptions about who calls the shots in Islamabad.

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Officially, Pakistan told the U.S. delegation, which also comprised Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gibson Lanpher, that Islamabad had no control over the militants and could not get them to vacate the Kargil heights. However, the contradictions within Pakistan now stand exposed.

For the first time since the Kargil issue began to make headlines, Gen. Pervez Musharraf spoke openly to the media on June 26 and made the surprise announcement that diplomatic contacts were under way for a meeting between President Bill Clinton and Nawaz Sharif. Interestingly, the statement did not emanate from the Pakistani Foreign Office, the Foreign Minister or the Prime Minister's Office. The question being asked by observers is: does Musharraf want right-wing opinion in Pakistan to try and scuttle a meeting between Clinton and Sharif?

The previous day the coffin containing the body of Sikandar Gul, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed in Kargil, was draped with the Pakistani flag, and there was on it a floral wreath from none other than Gen. Musharraf.

The events following Gen. Musharraf's statement about a possible meeting between Clinton and Sharif were significant. The official Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) gave it due prominence, but the state-run television blacked out the statement made to reporters after he addressed the 71st midshipmen commissioning parade at the Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi. Only a brief mention was made about the General's remarks at the Academy itself, at the end of the Khabarnama, the nightly news bulletin. The bulletin did not mention a single word about Musharraf's remarks to reporters about the situation in Kargil or a possible meeting between Clinton and Sharif.

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It is necessary to dwell on the treatment given to the Army chief by the state-run media because there is a parallel between this incident and the events that led to the dramatic resignation of Gen. Jehangir Karamat as Chief of the Army Staff on October 7, 1998. Karamat had made a few statements critical of the Government, the last of which was totally ignored by the state-controlled media. The present situation may not escalate into something as dramatic as the Karamat episode, but it does reveal that the Nawaz Sharif Government is unhappy with Musharraf and his handling of the Kargil situation. Till date, the Army and civilian leaderships have tried to act in unison. However, now, the strains are becoming evident. If Nawaz Sharif does want to ease out Musharraf, he only has to appoint another Army chief and confine Musharraf to the largely ceremonial post he additionally holds - Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

As the transcripts of conversations between Musharraf and Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Aziz Khan, revealed, Nawaz Sharif himself did not know about Pakistan's Kargil operations until mid-May. Many of the Army's top brass were also unaware of it. It was an operation that succeeded only on account of its secrecy. However, Nawaz Sharif played along and backed the Army to the hilt, only to face sustained and growing international pressure and a harsh response from India.

Clearly, the Indians are not the only ones who have been taken for a ride on the Delhi-Lahore-Kargil "bus". The Americans may not exactly have been "co-passengers", but they definitely "kick-started" the "bus". They are, therefore, unlikely to look favourably upon the protagonist (Pakistan) responsible for "overturning" this "bus". Besides, the Americans had invested heavily in the Lahore process and were working separately on both India and Pakistan through Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who actively promoted Washington's nuclear non-proliferation agenda in these countries. No superpower likes to be taken for a ride, and definitely not the Americans. Having concluded that India would not accept third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue, Washington quietly worked on both the governments until the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government lost a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha, and Pakistani irregulars and troops infiltrated into Kargil.

After hurting India militarily through the intrusion, Pakistan seemed to be unclear about its next step. Its claim that it has cut off the Srinagar-Leh road is nothing but propaganda. Clearly, Pakistan has distanced itself from the reality on the ground. Pakistan's objectives or the lack of them have been best summed up in an article written by Ayaz Amir, a former ruling party member of the Punjab provincial Assembly, in the newspaper Dawn.

The article says: "However hopeful and desperate a spin the Foreign Office may try to put on this situation, it is Pakistan and not India which is under pressure to restore the status quo ante along the Line of Control. This is not a failure of diplomacy as many pundits are screaming. It is a political failure inasmuch as Pakistan's stance, whatever we may think of it, is hard to sustain before the world's eyes. Nor do we seem very clear about what we want, which is adding to the confusion.

16140123jpg

"Through the Kargil operation are we trying to acquire a bargaining chip for a trade-off in Siachen? Do we want to pose a permanent threat to India's line of communication further to the north? Is this the first step in the liberation of Kashmir? If one or more of these objectives were behind this operation, did the Pakistan high command really calculate that if a few bold thrusts (by the Mujahideen or whatever) were made across the Line of Control, the Indian response would remain localised and India would not make too great a noise about such a move? There is nothing more foolish in war than to substitute wishfulness for a realistic appreciation of the situation, but we seem to be doing this all the time.

"As in 1965 and in 1971, we are allowing ourselves to become prisoners of an unfavourable situation. On display is the same thumping, chest-beating rhetoric and the same contempt for reality. And the same desire, befitting more a child than a mature nation, that the outside world should come to our rescue and turn a developing fiasco into a face-saving diplomatic solution.

"What makes the present situation all the more alarming is the growing feeling that there is no firm hand on the tiller. Who is in charge? Who has thought up this operation which in the space of a few weeks has taken the nation to the brink of war?....

"It should not take an American Centcom commander to tell us what is in our best interests or what we should do. If we can sustain the Kargil build-up and thrust fine... but if politically our position is ill-judged and therefore untenable, we could do worse than to remember the military maxim which advises against reinforcing a failure."

NAWAZ SHARIF'S special envoys have fanned out principally to "Muslim nations" to garner support for Pakistan's position on Kargil. There are, however, few takers for Islamabad's position. But Saudi Arabia has, of course, come out in its support.

Although Pakistan would like to believe that India has done better only on the propaganda front, the fact of the matter is that Islamabad stands isolated because of the position it has taken. On various occasions, Pakistan has spoken about taking over the Kargil heights, of the Mujahideen being on the lower reaches and the Pakistanis on the upper peaks, and the most fantastic of them all: "seizing" the positions on its own side of the Line of Control (LoC).

Western media reports have spoken about the involvement of Pakistani engineers in taking over positions on the Indian side of the LoC, as well as the use of snow scooters. Clearly, the positions articulated by the G-8 countries, including the U.S. and Britain, besides the European Union countries, are on the basis of their own conclusions, and not based on the conclusions reached by India.

Pakistan has sent out its envoys. Nawaz Sharif has gone to China looking for support on Kargil, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has left for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for a meeting of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Foreign Ministers, and Western and other diplomats are being regularly briefed by the Foreign Office. Besides, Pakistani television, radio and sections of the print media are regularly "fed" with press reports from India and other countries that are critical of the BJP-led government.

As far as the military situation is concerned, Gen. Musharraf has vehemently denied that a war with India was imminent. He has stated that Pakistan did not have anything to do with the Mujahideen. In fact, some of his remarks in Karachi could be construed as conciliatory, especially those relating to a solution which will be acceptable to Pakistan, India and the U.S.

Despite the differences between the civilian and military establishments, it will require tremendous courage on the part of Nawaz Sharif to disown the Kargil operation or even to obtain a "face-saver". How the military establishment will take such a move remains to be seen.

Lt.-Gen. Javed Nasir (retd), who was chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the time the 1993 Mumbai blasts took place, has said that if India were to cross the LoC, then the Pakistani Army could hit a target beyond the LoC, since the Indian Army was tied up in Kashmir. "It offers (the) Pakistan Army the opportunity of the century to redeem its honour and take the revenge for Dhaka." Unlike other columnists and writers, the former General has at least spoken the truth. Kargil, Kashmir and Punjab are all about paying India back for Pakistan's 1971 defeat and the creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan may have waited a long time to strike, but there is no mistaking the reason for sending insurgents into Jammu and Kashmir, including the latest intrusion in Kargil.

Gen. Nasir said: "A major penetration by the Pakistan Army will serve as a strong incentive to the Sikhs, providing them an opportunity of the millennium to rise and play havoc with India's line of communications. These two actions will precipitate (the) disintegration of India. A major setback to the Indians in Punjab can turn the Sikhs' dream of Khalistan into reality, with the Tamils rising in the South and the Naga and Mizo tribes in the north declaring UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)." The former General is obviously living in his own world. Nasir, who is said to have plotted some of the major crimes against India, spends a lot of time with Khalistani Sikhs in Pakistan, having been appointed chief of the Pakistani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee by Nawaz Sharif in April. Other sections of his formulation do not require much comment.

The former General had this to say of the present Army chief: "In Pervez Musharraf, we have an excellent General who has the blend of dynamism (his Special Services Group) and superb professionalism. He does not panic. He is very bold and is admired for his decision-making ability. Allah chose him for the occasion. He will not only deliver but deliver beyond the expectations of all. He is (a) gift of Allah to the nation. Let India do the blunder of escalation. India's (future) generations will remember the consequences. India must not forget that (it) is a post-May 28 (1998) Pakistan it is dealing with."

This is the kind of ideology that India is up against. If Nawaz Sharif does think differently, then he will have to demonstrate it by bringing his Generals to heel and dismantling the numerous power structures. It was not as if the Prime Minister and the ISI were not aware of Kargil. Simply put, Nawaz Sharif could do little about it.

The absence of genuine democracy and the clout that the Generals and their numerous intelligence agencies enjoy pose a major challenge to India. A single civilian and democratic power structure would be far easier to deal with, both for India and the rest of the world. As Kargil demonstrates, India can never be comfortable with an imperfect democracy in Pakistan.

Kargil and beyond

PRAKASH KARAT cover-story

The strategic perception of the Vajpayee Government that the nuclear tests had made India a great power and the Lahore visit was a peace dividend from this policy was at the root of its complacency, which led to the Kargil fiasco.

AFTER more than a month of intense military operations to clear the Pakistani intrusion across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kargil area, the battle continues. The Indian armed forces are fighting on extremely difficult mountainous terrain and in icy climatic conditions to dislodge the entrenched Pakistani soldiers and armed intruders. Every day, Indian casualties are mounting; every day, bodies of soldiers are reaching their homes in the far corners of the country. The whole country is anxiously watching the course of the battle in Kargil and there is widespread sympathy and solidarity with the soldiers and the bereaved families who are facing the grim situation bravely.

There is all-round support for the immediate task of ensuring that the systematic and well-planned violation of the LoC by Pakistan is rolled back and the legitimate right of India to defend the LoC is exercised fully. It is this position which has helped India to convince world opinion that the present round of hostilities have been provoked by Pakistan. The diplomatic efforts made towards mobilising international public opinion on this point are a necessary part of the overall drive to foil the Pakistan regime's plan to change the jurisdiction of the LoC.

Internationalising Kashmir

The Vajpayee Government, however, has not confined itself to diplomatic efforts to mobilise international public opinion. It has gone considerably further in efforts to enlist the help of the United States to end the present conflict. The Vajpayee Government has been hailing the U.S. position as a vindication of its stand on the Kargil issue. Prime Minister Vajpayee wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton which was handed over to the U.S. National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, in Geneva on June 16. The contents of the letter have not been published; it is reported that India requested the U.S., prior to the G-8 summit in Cologne, to stop Pakistan from getting loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral agencies. The Government and BJP spokesmen have appealed to the U.S. to follow up its stand that the LoC should not be violated, with concrete steps to make Pakistan withdraw its forces from the infiltrated areas. These moves by the Vajpayee Government have the potential to help internationalise the Kashmir issue.

The Government has cited the G-8 communique on the Kashmir issue as a big victory for India. The statement by the G-8 pointed out that the infiltration of armed intruders violating the LoC was the source of the current military confrontation in Kashmir. While the G-8 criticised any military action to change the status quo, it also called for an immediate cessation of the fighting. Implicit in this stand is the plea that the continuation of hostilities has to be stopped. This can be used against India for continuing the operations against the intruders.

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Alongside the statement on Kashmir, there is another resolution on the missile and nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, reiterating the G-8 position taken one year ago and calling upon both the countries to join non-proliferation measures as set out in the U.N. Security Council resolution. While it is valid to state that the G-8 has recognised the source of the current provocation as the armed intrusion across the LoC, it is equally important to note that the stance of the G-8 lays the basis for future intervention, particularly since the question of Kashmir and the issue of nuclearisation of India and Pakistan have been taken together. British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated on June 17 that while Britain urged both India and Pakistan to resolve their differences, "we know that the source of this difference is Kashmir". If India persists in petitioning the G-8 on the question of infiltration, it will be difficult to prevent the entire Kashmir issue being taken up by the U.N. Security Council in future.

The U.S. administration has clearly indicated that there is sufficient evidence to establish that armed intruders backed by the Pakistan Army have crossed the LoC and entrenched themselves. It is illusory to deduce from this that the U.S. will rein in Pakistan and that its earlier tilt towards Pakistan will be transformed into a tilt towards India. The U.S. has its own agenda for Kashmir. In the present world situation, the U.S. is prepared to support the demand for national self-determination by any ethnic group provided it serves its interests. This is the new doctrine enunciated by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on behalf of the Clinton administration and which has been put into practice in the Balkans.

Reality of the Pakistani regime

What the Vajpayee Government overlooked in the crucial period between September 1998 and February 1999, when it was deeply engaged in strategic talks with the U.S., was the reality of what the Pakistan regime is today. In Pakistan, Islamic fundamentalist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba have increasingly infiltrated the higher echelons of the armed forces, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After Nawaz Sharif removed the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Jehangir Karamat, his choice for the post was Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who, according to the American South Asia expert Selig Harrison, "has long-standing links with several Islamic fundamentalist groups." The rise of Islamic fundamentalist forces and their influence in the Pakistani establishment runs parallel to the U.S.-Pakistan nexus with the Islamic fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan and their joint military support to them. The ISI has an all-pervasive influence on Pakistan society, and despite the formal trappings of democracy, Pakistan continues to be a military-dominated society with the armed forces increasingly developing Islamic fundamentalist linkages. This state of affairs has been ludicrously depicted by George Fernandes as one of the Pakistani Army acting independently of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The U.S., with its great influence over the Vajpayee Government, led it to believe that Nawaz Sharif and his civilian government should be helped to counter the more fundamentalist forces represented by the Army. But the consequences of the years of American nurturing of the military in Pakistan and helping the ISI in Afghanistan are now apparent. Contrary to what the Vajpayee Government believes, there is no guarantee that the U.S. can rein in the Pakistan establishment, even if it wishes to do so.

INSTEAD of falling into the trap of invoking U.S. intervention and thereby helping to internationalise the Kashmir issue, the only correct approach at present is to push ahead with the military operations designed to clear the area on the Indian side of the LoC of all Pakistani encroachment. This must be pursued steadfastly by taking the people of the country fully into confidence about the progress of the military operations and allied diplomatic efforts. Any move to widen the conflict by opening up new fronts for military operations will only end up in helping Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir issue and inviting immediate Western intervention.

The Vajpayee Government has to be firmly told that any course that relies on the U.S. and the Western powers in the name of getting international support is not helpful to the Indian cause. This warning is necessary, since the record of the Vajpayee Government in dealing with the Kargil crisis has been dismal. The lack of vigilance in tracking down the large-scale intrusion, the failure to realise the enormity of the encroachment and its military threat, and the deceptive and contradictory positions taken to cover up this failure, have all been widely noted and commented upon. The causes for this debacle and the explanation for the failure of the Vajpayee Government to tackle such a major crisis will definitely be on the agenda after the military operations end.

However, before any examination of the unfolding of events and the bungling by Vajpayee, Fernandes and Company, it is essential to understand that Kargil represents the complete failure of the BJP-RSS strategic outlook at a more fundamental level. The BJP had earlier decided that the three 'B's would be its major election planks: the Bomb, the Bus (to Lahore) and the Budget. Of these, the myths of the Bomb and the Bus have already exploded. Advani had added another B after the fall of the BJP government: 'Betrayal' by the Opposition (not by his own allies!), which allegedly toppled the Government. Advani is right. Betrayal will certainly be an issue in the coming elections. But it will not be the 'betrayal' by the Opposition; rather, it will be the Kargil bungling.

Nuclear deterrence and the Lahore trip: Two illusions

What is at the root of the complacency and the false sense of confidence which prevailed in the ruling establishment which led to the Kargil fiasco? In May 1998, when the BJP-led government conducted the Pokhran tests, it adopted a nuclear doctrine which stated that India has now acquired the strength to ensure peace and stability and protect its security interests. It was argued that nuclear weaponisation by India and Pakistan would guarantee peace, since it would maintain a 'balance of terror' as during the period of the Cold War. Vajpayee, in his statement on March 15, 1999, expounded this new doctrine:

"Now both India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear weapons. There is no alternative but to live in mutual harmony. The nuclear weapon is not an offensive weapon. It is a weapon of self-defence. It is the kind of weapon that helps in preserving the peace. If in the days of the Cold War there was no use of force, it was because of the balance of terror."

The Left, on the other hand, has been arguing that nuclear tests will start an arms race between the two countries leading to a spiral of tension and confrontation. Nuclear weapons will not end armed conflicts but provide the opportunity for low-intensity conflicts as happened during the Cold War. Pakistan could utilise the nuclear shadow to provoke incidents in Kashmir to facilitate international intervention. The Vajpayee Government's linkage of Kashmir to India's nuclear weapons status through Advani's statement on May 18, 1998 was the first blunder exemplified by this outlook. Now Pakistan, by deliberately provoking an armed conflict on the LoC, has pointedly drawn attention to this linkage. Pakistan knows that India cannot utilise all forms of conventional warfare against it, as it did in 1965 and 1971, without nuclear confrontation becoming a reality and provoking international intervention.

Convinced that nuclear deterrence (the balance struck by both countries which have nuclear weapons) will ensure a stable equilibrium, Vajpayee had proclaimed that we have ensured peace from a position of strength (by conducting nuclear tests). When Pakistan retaliated with its nuclear tests and India found itself isolated internationally, the Vajpayee Government began its journey of seeking U.S. recognition and approval as seen in the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks. Faced with a difficult situation and under U.S. pressure, Vajpayee offered to visit Lahore and the bus trip followed. The visit to Pakistan and the Lahore Declaration were then depicted as great achievements and a breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations. Not only the BJP but also the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joined in the chorus of praise. The Lahore visit was portrayed as a logical result of the Pokhran tests. As the editor of Organiser (the RSS mouthpiece) put it: "Barely eleven months in office, Vajpayee has earned a distinct place in the nation's history. First by conducting the Pokhran tests and now by the bold bus initiative... Both the nuclear tests and the Lahore visit have shown that it requires inner strength and political will to act, not mere military might or parliamentary democracy" (Organiser, March 7, 1999).

It is these two ideas - that the nuclear tests had made India a great power and the Lahore visit was a peace dividend from this policy - that led the Vajpayee Government to overlook or disregard any possibility of Pakistan turning the new nuclear situation to its advantage on Kashmir. Praveen Swami, in his well-informed article (Frontline, June 18), has spelt out the military consequences of this dubious doctrine of the BJP.

Resort to chauvinism

The blazing guns in Kargil have demolished the fanciful and artificial outlook of the BJP. It is now groping for a new posture; it has fallen back on the traditional RSS stand of national chauvinism. Desperate to cover up its monumental failure, the BJP is now resorting to aggressive rhetoric. K.N. Govindacharya has demanded that the military operations should lead to the capture of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). The same editor of Organiser, who had earlier lauded "inner strength and political will" over military might, has now declared that "the present government has to complete the task" (of acquiring POK). Senior RSS leader H.V. Seshadri has demanded that India should now "dump the language of Panchsheel and speak in the language of Prithvi (power)." He reiterated the old RSS stance that "only a rejuvenated and powerful Hindu nation could defeat the nasty designs of Pakistan" (Organiser, June 20, 1999). From here, it is only one step further to the insane demand that Pakistan should be subjected to a nuclear attack as demanded by Panchajanya, the RSS' Hindi paper. The observation of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's death anniversary on June 23 as Kashmir Day at the call of the BJP was marked by chauvinistic and communal rhetoric. The BJP, it is claimed in newspaper advertisements, is more committed to the cause of Kashmir than any other party. The BJP claims S.P. Mukherjee to be the first martyr for Kashmir, thus grossly distorting history. The BJP does not consider the hundreds of Kashmiris who laid down their lives fighting the Pakistani intruders in 1948 as martyrs.

Defend LoC: Do not widen the war

The BJP, by this dangerous rhetoric and chauvinism, will be susceptible to pressure to open new areas for military operations in order to circumvent the difficult task of clearing the intruders from the Drass-Kargil-Batalik sector. Widening the conflict is a danger that can be precipitated by hawks on both sides of the border. This escalation will undermine whatever India has achieved in the past six weeks. Defending the LoC and clearing the intruders from the Indian side has stood India in good stead and united the country. War with Pakistan will only mean bracketing both countries as threats to world peace - with Kashmir as the central focus. Further, such a war will provide no guarantee of a successful conclusion for India; what it will bring is ruin and suffering for peoples of both countries and the facilitation of direct imperialist intervention, as in the Balkans.

The BJP must remember that the Vajpayee Government is a defeated government. It is a caretaker government which has no legitimacy except as an interim arrangement till elections. It should not take any step which will be seen as partisan and politically suspect.

The Vajpayee Government has so far confined itself to a single meeting of Opposition leaders with the Prime Minister after Sartaj Aziz's visit. It has refused to call a session of the Rajya Sabha to discuss the Kargil conflict despite the demand of the entire Opposition. This refusal highlights its partisan approach to a vital national question and its anxiety to hide the facts from the people. The BJP needs to be told firmly that any effort to defend national sovereignty requires active efforts from a caretaker government to involve all national political parties. There has to be a consultative mechanism instituted for this purpose on a regular basis.

Patriotism, not chauvinism

Patriotism requires full support to ensure the success of the military operations to clear the intruders from across the LoC. As against this, national chauvinism is meant to cover up the Government's failures and with an eye on electoral profits. This cynical posture has to be firmly rebuffed. The people of India are capable and mature enough to distinguish between genuine patriotism and spurious national chauvinism.

Prakash Karat is a member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

THE MANY ROADS TO KARGIL

AIJAZ AHMAD cover-story

The Kargil crisis has multiple sources and roots; failure to comprehend the transformation of the Pakistan state has proved costly, and Pokhran was a gift to Sharif as the Afghan war was for Zia.

THE wounds of Kargil are, in some ways, as old and untended as the wounds of Partition itself. As numerous military experts have reminded us, a battle over the Kargil sector has been a prominent feature of the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971. Limited but constant artillery duels across the Line of Control (LoC) have been a routine feature of life in this sector for many years. In the present crisis, the combination of a mass of irregulars and a smaller number of Pakistan Army regulars capturing the heights in a surprise move reminds us of a similar move in 1948. India at that time took not 48 hours, as Defence Minister George Fernandes began by promising us this time, but a year and a half to evict the aggressors. At the time of this writing, it is not clear whether India will settle for a longer time-frame as a matter of prudence or will risk a wider war by going across the LoC in pursuit of quick results and lower casualties.

At no point in this miserable history has either the mainly Shia population of Kargil or the predominantly Sunni population of Drass participated in any appreciable level of insurgency (as India would call it) or struggle for self-determination and/or independence (as the Pakistan Government and the so-called Mujahideen would call it). This fact is of crucial importance. For what this prolonged confrontation between India and Pakistan over Drass, Kargil and Siachen, in the absence of any popular insurgency, demonstrates is that the unfinished business of Partition in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has not one aspect but two, both of which are a result of the indecent and cruel haste with which the British offered the Partition of India and leaders of the Hindu and Muslim elites accepted it, with little regard for consequences.

In the case of J&K, there is of course the issue of the actual wishes of the people - all the people, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and the rest - which both the governments, and their respective allies, have interpreted according to their own objectives. But enveloping this is the larger and bloodier issue of a very conventional kind of territorial dispute between the two nation-states that emerged out of an ill-conceived and indifferently implemented Partition. If the sheer scale of insurgency and political unrest in the Valley serves to obscure the fact of the underlying territorial dispute, it is in Kargil and Siachen that the territorial issue comes into full view, since battles here are always fought over the heads of the actual population. The Kashmir problem, as we may call it, has proved to be so very difficult to resolve politically, in accordance with the actual wishes and interests of the population, precisely because the territorial dispute between the two nation-states is based on irreconcilable geopolitical objectives.

If Pakistan was really interested in issues of self-determination and 'freedom' for the Kashmiris, it could begin by granting these rights to the Kashmiris who live under its control, mostly in what it calls 'Azad Kashmir' (Free Kashmir) and what we call Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The evidence is that the government of 'Azad Kashmir' in Muzaffarabad is demonstrably less free than the State administration in Srinagar and has always been treated as a puppet. Any movement for regional autonomy there is crushed with great impunity. Over the past ten years of insurgency in J&K itself, which Pakistan too calls Occupied ('Maqbooza') Kashmir, it has again done everything to undermine the autonomous groups and to control the insurgency through groups it sponsors. Indeed, it seems that a key reason why the insurgency has been declining in recent times is that the population finds itself caught between two national security apparatuses, those of India and Pakistan, and while it may be outraged by the sheer savagery of the counter-terror that India practises, much of it has grown similarly afraid of the Islamicist terror squads coming from across the LoC.

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On our part, we have never faced up to a simple question: how is it that over half a century 'infiltrators' have come only from the other side of the LoC, to find more or less fertile ground here, but none have gone from here to the other side to sow the seeds of rebellion there as well? Is it that India does not have the intelligence services to match the Pakistani ones? Or, is there something more fundamentally wrong with relations between the Indian government and the Kashmiri people? A promise not kept, a resentment never assuaged?

This is not the place to rehash that complicated history, but a certain gap between the promise and the performance can be indicated. For, in principle, Kashmir was to be our showcase of autonomous governance, endowed with a very special status by virtue of Article 370, a model of economic and social development that would demonstrate to the hostile, the sullen, the indifferent elements in the Kashmiri population that the rest of India regarded them as precious partners in the making of a free, democratic, pluralist, prosperous nation. In practice, J&K has oscillated between military occupation and the cynical manipulations of parliamentary governance, by the central governments as well as local satraps.

Much of the development funds that were meant to modernise and develop the economy were pocketed by notoriously corrupt administrations and the political middlemen who helped New Delhi keep its grip over a population whose democratic aspirations were exceptionally high, thanks precisely to the promise that was once made but never kept. Whenever the military situation was under control, India's consuming classes converged on Kashmir as if it was a mere playground for the rich who had the birthright to devour its natural resources and turn its crystalline lakes into cesspools of weed and pollution.

When this decade-old insurgency first began in 1989-90, extensive investigative reporting showed that its main social base was among the educated, unemployed youth who found themselves unrepresented in the political process and felt oppressed by the scale of military presence in daily life in the State. A number of those who took up the gun then were young men whose political aspirations had been thwarted by the corrupt practices during the elections which brought Farooq Abdullah to power in the first place. Meanwhile, those who ruled in Srinagar and those who ruled in Delhi were seen as partners in a game of collaborative competition, guarded as much by Article 370 as by the much too visible armed forces. This is classically the stuff that separatist nationalisms are made of.

Some of this cynicism can be illustrated with the current conduct of the two allies in the caretaker government, the BJP and the National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah. At a time when dissidents in J&K have to be assured that Article 370 is a lasting constitutional guarantee, and when there has to be a demonstrable movement in political and administrative reform so as to bring the various religious communities closer and guarantee greater rights of representation for everyone, the actual positions and pronouncements of these rulers are - at least - very alarming.

It is well known that the abolition of Article 370 is something of an article of faith for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confederacy, and key leaders of the BJP itself have often campaigned on this issue. What they promise Kashmiris is not more autonomy but less; and it is only because they rely on such a large number of allies for governance in Delhi that they have not pressed this issue more vigorously, as they have also provisionally suspended campaigning on the mandir issue. We know perfectly well what they shall do if and when they get the chance.

The other side of the coin is of course the statement by Home Minister L.K. Advani on May 18, 1998, in the euphoric aftermath of Pokhran-II, that India's new-found status as a nuclear power had "brought about a qualitative new state in Indo-Pakistan relations, particularly in finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem." We shall come to the significance of Pokhran and Chagai, but the mentality that sees the problem essentially as an issue between India and Pakistan that is to be settled by changing the military equation, through nuclear means if necessary, poses a danger not just to Pakistan but to India as well, the people of J&K included.

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Meanwhile, the much needed political and administrative reforms are now envisioned in strictly communal terms, not to bring the various religious communities closer but to push them further apart. In a far-reaching but little noted report of April 13 this year, the Regional Autonomy Commission, which clearly has the blessings of Farooq Abdullah as well as of Karan Singh, recommended the creation of eight new provinces of various sizes within the State, each corresponding to a distinct religious group, so that the whole becomes a mosaic of exclusive religio-ethnic entities. (see "Broadening the base", Frontline, June 18, 1999). For decades after Partition, even as Pakistan-backed insurgents tried to poison relations between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir, our great boast was that society in J&K was not a communalised society and that the historic cultural unity of the region will help it survive the attempts to sow religious discord. During that same period, even the Pakistan-backed groups remained 'Muslim' rather than 'Islamicist'.

The phase of insurgency that began in 1989-90 was notable for a very considerable shift toward religious fundamentalism and for great efforts to communalise Kashmiri society. Selective but unremitting terror against Kashmiri Hindus, which forced a great many of them to flee to Jammu and beyond, had the effect of creating a new kind of communal violence in the Valley and, in turn, injecting doses of Hindu communalism into sections of the beleaguered Kashmiri Pandit community. If implemented, the politico-administrative reforms that are now being proposed shall stabilise and greatly extend the communal boundaries that the Islamicists themselves have sought.

The superb coverage of this episode in Frontline, cited above, already points to the fact that the plan is remarkably similar to the one that the United Nations mediator, Owen Dixon, had proposed in 1950 and which has been recently revived by the influential United States-based think-tank, the Kashmir Studies Group. It also points out that lower-level functionaries of not only the National Conference but of the BJP itself have been active in promoting it, as is Karan Singh, the Hindu-revivalist Dogra prince. Two further points need to be added.

One is that Farooq Abdullah supervised and blessed this plan while he was also so loyal a member of the BJP-dominated coalition that he threw out his close friend and a Member of Parliament, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, from the basic membership of his party for the sin of having gone against the BJP alliance on the vote of confidence of April 17, 1999. It is very unlikely that he could have blessed the plan for a politico-administrative overhaul of the State without Vajpayee's explicit approval; Karan Singh's own involvement speaks volumes. At the other end of the globe, Selig Harrison, an influential South Asia expert in the United States who is sympathetic to Indian positions, has endorsed the plan publicly.

That brings us to the second point, pertaining to the role of the U.S. We know that a key lesson that the U.S., and the West generally, learned from the competing lunacies of Pokhran and Chagai was that the time to find a 'lasting solution' to the Kashmir problem had come. This has led to constant, cryptic position-taking in public and repeated, detailed discussions at very high official levels more obscurely. The Kashmir problem has in effect been internationalised, the formal emphasis on bilateral talks notwithstanding, and India had done its own share in this internationalising. The offer by the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to send an envoy can be politely turned down but both Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Vajpayee are constantly reporting to and getting advice from Bill Clinton, the supercop of troubled waters across the world.

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Similarly, India may make all kinds of noises against 'internationalisation', but when it writes to the G-8 heads of state, asking for support against Pakistan and suggesting international pressure, including perhaps economic pressure from such agencies as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it too is internationalising the issue in the way that corresponds to the world as we now have it, after Iraq and Yugoslavia, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) either dictating to or simply ignoring the U.N. This new recognition of Bill Clinton as someone resembling the head of a unitary world government came immediately after Pokhran-II when Vajpayee singled him out as the one man to whom he owed an explanation, and the status of Clinton as the supreme supervisor has only been enhanced as the wages of Pokhran began to be earned in Kargil.

THIS grovelling before the U.S. has its own paradoxical side. The Islamicist guerillas who earned their laurels in Afghanistan before entering Kashmir are a direct product of the U.S. which is now expected to save India from them after their network has become much larger, more autonomous, ambitious and uncontrollable. The network that extends from the Taliban to the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba to Osama Bin Laden is, in a sense, the Bhindranwale syndrome - or call it the Frankenstein syndrome, if you will - writ large: the proverbial truth that the monsters you make up to prove your own power and prowess may in the end return to haunt you, as your own nemesis. Part of the reason India is getting more of a sympathetic hearing from the U.S. is that the latter too is now haunted by a monster it created.

Is the U.S. merely a passive listener? My guess is that there are expert groups in various agencies of the U.S. Government putting together solutions that they can share with their clients, and the solutions are likely to be along the lines that they have been implementing in a variety of places, from Palestine to Yugoslavia: local self-governments, ethno-religious enclaves, and so on, balanced with low-intensity warfare, supervised 'bilateral negotiations', and the U.S., as the leading light of NATO, taking over from the U.N. as 'peacekeeper' of the world.

The break-up of Yugoslavia into a mosaic of ethno-religious entities and enclaves, as well as the institutionalisation of religious hatreds and communal killings, began with the pious rhetoric of 'the national question' very much with the encouragement of the NATO countries, notably Germany. And the U.S. has been very deeply involved in these processes from the very start, since well before Kosovo and even Bosnia. Closer home, both Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and a mortal enemy of Nawaz Sharif, and Mushahid Hussain, the unscrupulous Information Minister and close confidant of Nawaz Sharif, have called for a Kosovo-style solution in Kashmir. So, there might be more of a connection than meets the eye between the rhetoric of a 'lasting solution' that is being brandished all around, and the communal plan to re-shape the politico-administrative map of J&K which has been announced with the clear blessings of so many of the powerful players. It is only to be expected that a government of Hindu communalists and its allies shall further intensify, possibly with encouragement from foreign 'experts', that process of communalising Kashmiri society which Muslim communalists from across the LoC initiated ten years ago.

With such rulers and their patrons, we need no enemies.

II

The Pakistan that we are dealing with today was born not once but twice, in 1947 and then again in 1971, first through its own labours for the most part, and then through the bloody surgery that India so deftly administered. Most Indian writing on the subject has found it difficult to come to terms with 1947; about the consequences of 1971 most analyses emanating from India tend to be too smug to be of any great use. The emphasis usually is on the psychological side of things: Pakistan's sense of humiliation and a reckless desire for revenge. In reality, Pakistani responses were more complex and took quite a few years and many changes in the world to get fully formed.

There was, first, what one might call a crisis of identity. The founding myth of Pakistan was that it was the second largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia, and the patrimonial home of Muslims of what was once British India. Its founders were not notably devout, however, and for 13 years prior to the separation of Bangladesh it was ruled by modernising Generals who looked to Turkey and Tunisia for reform models and to the Shah of Iran for patronage. The Islam of the Pakistani elites during that phase was mild, reformist, and recognisably South Asian. All of that came unstuck in the crucible of 1971.

Pakistan was now the third largest Muslim country in the subcontinent, trailing behind Bangladesh and India. Half the market for its industry was gone, as were two of its three major exports: jute and tea. Worse still for its military-bureaucratic elite, the country it contrived to administer and defend was cut to half the size.

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It was in the midst of this crisis that the Islamicist vocation of the state was born; Pakistan was no longer the home of the majority of subcontinental Muslims, it had to be the home of the good Muslims. The markets it had lost in East Bengal had to be compensated for with markets elsewhere, and new types of exports had to be developed. The answer was 'the Muslim world', especially the socially backward, super-rich, arch-conservative Gulf kingdoms which needed everything, from onions to bureaucrats, and could pay with petrodollars.

A new vision of Pakistan was born: it was more a part of the Islamic world of West Asia than of a multi-religious South Asia. The Pakistan Army found a new vocation: training the armed personnel of these kingdoms and defending the parameters of Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Pakistani bankers took to advising the rentier kings of the desert. Doctors, accountants, engineers, teachers, the whole of the professional classes, looked forward to, or at least dreamed of, making money in places such as Dubai and Bahrain. Instead of jute and tea, Pakistan now had other, more lucrative exportables: fruits and vegetables grown in new kinds of capitalist garden-agriculture, cheap manufactures, the labour-power of the working classes, the expertise of the professional elite.

Nothing worked as magically in restoring the self-confidence of the Pakistani state and its privileged classes as the infusion of petrodollars. But this new sort of money brought with it a new and curiously effective commodity as well: petro-Islam. A hybrid thing, born of centuries of ferocious conservatism so characteristic of the desert, but also of unprecedented levels of wealth that was newly gained but was the product neither of a settled history nor of accumulated labour but of chance, that the black gold flowed here rather than elsewhere. It was a curious kind of Islam, equally ferocious in its piety and its consumerism.

IN the euphoria created by the victory in Bangladesh, few in India cared to notice that something utterly fundamental had changed in the Pakistani state's self-perception. Within a few years of the defeat in 1971, Pakistan began to see itself not as some beleaguered non-entity in South Asia, as the Indian establishment was prone to see it, but as a strategically located middle-sized power straddling the two worlds of South and West Asia, uniquely poised to take advantage of a host of geopolitical possibilities and enjoying widespread support among the Islamic states. Ironically, it was the defeat at India's hands that had forced Pakistan to find its Islamicist moorings in West Asia.

We have so far mentioned the crisis of identity and the successful reorientation of policy, with a focus toward West Asia rather than the subcontinent, as the first major consequence of the loss of East Bengal for Pakistan. The second consequence was even more far-reaching. Having gained the unique and dubious distinction of becoming the first of the post-colonial states of any international consequence - ally of the U.S. as well as China - to be dismembered and cut to half by a combination of a secessionist movement inside the country and a massive, brutal strike by a militarily far more powerful neighbour, Pakistan fell back on the old, tired adage: offence was the best defence. In concrete strategic terms, this meant that it was safer to fight all future wars on hostile, alien territory than on one's own, which then meant that the defence parameters for Pakistan's security were to be drawn inside the territory of the two neighbours that Pakistan considered hostile: India principally, but also to a certain extent Afghanistan. Pakistan's relatively successful role in the insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir came in the wake of this new strategic doctrine of forward defence because there was fertile ground in those states for Pakistan to exploit.

These shifts in Pakistan's policies and perceptions, including the rise of new kinds of Islamism, were already in place during the Z.A. Bhutto years, well before General Zia's coup, even though more simplistic versions would tend to present Bhutto as a secular, modern, Left-oriented autocrat and would date the beginning of Islamisation with Zia's rise to power. In fact, Bhutto was ideally suited to conceive and implement these changes. As an acute student of international affairs, he knew that with the defeat of Egypt by Israel in 1967, and especially with the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser which coincided almost perfectly with the break-up of Pakistan, the centre of gravity in the Arab world had shifted from the radical regimes to the monarchical ones, notably from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. He knew also that even though Nasser-style anti-imperialist nationalism had gained a new lease on life in Muammar Qadhafi's Libya, the rapid rise in oil incomes had benefited not so much the small producers as the Gulf kingdoms, especially the Saudi and Kuwaiti monarchies. It is to them that he now turned with a whole range of schemes for cooperation.

ISLAMISM of the West Asian variety came to Pakistan during the Z.A. Bhutto years in several guises. There was the immense popularity of Qadhafi whose main achievement in the ideological sphere was to re-state Nasser's secular anti-imperialism in stringently Islamic terms. It was after Qadhafi's speech at the grand new stadium in Lahore, named after himself, that wearing the Islamic chador became quite the fashion among urban middle class girls and a whole battery of quasi-radical intellectuals set out to find revolutionary virtue in Islam, several years before the Iranian Revolution helped turn this activity into a large-scale industry. But the Bhutto who invited Qadhafi to exercise his revolutionary eloquence in the cricket stadium also invited King Feisal of Saudi Arabia to lead the Friday prayers in the grand old Badshahi Masjid, as Lahore hosted a spectacularly staged session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

There was the petro-Islam of social conservatism and consumerist hysteria that came as part of the baggage of the workers and professionals who returned after a sojourn of some years in the oil kingdoms. And there was the puritanical Islam of Arab youth squads of the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) who made their first appearance on the college campuses of Pakistan now, as fraternal delegates to the conferences and conventions staged by the student wing of the notorious Jamaat-e-Islami, which was to play such havoc during the Zia years and especially after the onset of the war in Afghanistan. Or, there were the many Islams - tribal, academic, mercantile, what have you - that came from Afghanistan when Z.A. Bhutto started offering protection to the Islamic parties and organisations from there which left their country after Mohammed Daoud Khan's coup of 1973, well before the 1978 Revolution. One now forgets, for example, that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was to play such a pivotal role in the Islamic insurgency during the Zia period, eventually becoming even Prime Minister for a brief period before the Taliban took over, was recruited by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not during that later phase but earlier, in the mid-1970s, when Bhutto's own flirtation with Afghani Islam had its high noon.

The birth of the nuclear programme in Pakistan was a two-faced affair. The shift in the balance of forces between India and Pakistan after the 1971 war was of such a magnitude that Pakistan could no longer even dream of achieving strategic parity in conventional weapons in any foreseeable future. This was not easy to accept after so decisive a defeat, especially if Pakistan was to recover from that defeat through the risky new doctrine of a forward defence whereby its defence parameters were to be drawn beyond its own boundaries. Then came Pokhran-I, and Pakistan saw itself falling woefully behind not just in conventional weapons but also in nuclear technology.

Bhutto now resolved to proceed with a fully fledged nuclear programme at breakneck speed, toward weapon production capability, not only in order to attain parity in a nuclear field where India had already established a clear lead but also to overcome through nuclear parity the very sizable disadvantage Pakistan had in weapons of conventional warfare. In relation to India, thus, Pakistan's nuclear programme was always of a defensive nature, a desperate attempt to catch up with a neighbour that had already slashed it to half its previous size. And this character of the Pakistani nuclear programme as a response to an India that was seen as more advanced and aggressive, remained right up to Chagai, which came only after Pokhran-II.

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ALL this is difficult to comprehend for the policy-making establishments in India which suffer from a Great Power Syndrome and which reserve for themselves but deny Pakistan the right to lunacy that is said to be the birthright of Great Powers. What is particularly difficult for Indian policy-makers to appreciate, precisely because they insist on viewing Pakistan simply as some illegitimate little backwoods of South Asia, is half the reason why Pakistan launched on its nuclear programme at the very time when it was trying to shift its historic orientation from South Asia to West Asia had very little to do with India and everything to do with its ambitions in the so-called 'Islamic World'.

In a nutshell, Pakistan wished to emerge as the only nuclear power in that world, which it saw as its ticket to dominance there. For the conservative Arab sheikhdoms, a nuclear-capable Pakistan would be the great military power in their midst. To the radical nationalists, of Libya or Palestine for example, a nuclear-capable Pakistan could be presented as a counter-weight to Israel.

Throughout the Z.A. Bhutto period, this other aspect of Pakistan's race towards the bomb - which the Western media appropriately called 'the Islamic bomb' - was predominant, and it is very much worth remarking that in Bhutto's own view he was being sent to the gallows for the sin of having defied U.S. imperialism and Israeli Zionism on the nuclear issue. In early 1978, weeks before Bhutto was sent up those gallows, an aide to the Palestine Liberation Organisation Chairman told me that Yasser Arafat himself believed that there was much truth in Bhutto's assessment of his impending fate.

Why was Pakistan allowed to carry on with its nuclear programme even after Bhutto's judicial assassination? The first reason was precisely that: Bhutto had been despatched, and the man who had done so was much more reliable. Zia was possibly the shrewdest ruler Pakistan has ever had, but he was also a pious Muslim of conservative stamp, a man of kulak origins who had risen from an early career in the colonial army to high office in Pakistan's notoriously right-wing armed forces. If Bhutto had turned to Saudi Arabia for pragmatic reasons and to Afghan Islamic groups for cynical ones, Zia was to do so out of conviction. And if Bhutto was split between a certain variety of Third World nationalism and day-to-day dependence on imperialism, Zia's relationship with the U.S. was uncomplicated; many in Pakistan noted the fact that he had made his coup immediately after attending the Fourth of July celebrations at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

On the nuclear issue, Zia seems to have argued persuasively with his U.S. patrons that (a) Pakistan's geopolitical compulsions within the subcontinent required that it develop this capability since India already had it and was working to improve it greatly; (b) that Pakistan would not undertake tests and explosions so long as India did not do so; and (c) that Pakistan would never make this capability available to Third World nationalists, Arab radicals and so on. Rhetoric aside, this remained Pakistan's policy subsequently as well, for another decade, under Benazir Bhutto and also Nawaz Sharif, until the BJP-led government unilaterally changed India's historic position on the nuclear issue by staging Pokhran-II.

III

In Shame, which is surely the most compact and possibly the best of his novels, Salman Rushdie has a wonderful scene in which Zia - or Raza Hyder, the fictional character who stands in for Zia - hears the news that "the Russians had sent an army into the country of A" and promptly brings out four prayer-mats so that he and his cronies can "give thanks, pronto, fut-a-fut, for this blessing that had been bestowed on them by God" while one of those cronies begins "to fantasise about five billion dollars' worth of new military equipment, the latest stuff at last, missiles that could fly sideways without starving their engines of oxygen." We are still living with the consequences of that "blessing". For at least one of the roads that has now reached Kargil began in Kabul some 20 years, and it was at the Khyber Pass that Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser, stood, an American-made gun in hand, promising his hired Mujahideen that that was the gun that was to make Islam prevail against the godless Communists. Osama Bin Laden is only one of the hundreds of thousands that came out of that gun.

What did that mean for Pakistan?

In the nuclear arena itself, the great dependence of the U.S. upon Pakistan for the conduct of the war in Afghanistan meant that Pakistani intelligence services were free to beg, buy and steal nuclear technologies from the best laboratories of the Western world without getting punished, even as the U.S. continued to blame China and North Korea for transferring this technology to Pakistan. The Americans had simply to gulp their own objections as Pakistan developed its weapons capability.

Then, there was the money! Quite aside from the countless billions that came from the U.S. as well as the Gulf monarchies, the illegal drug trade alone, which the U.S. secret service helped organise for the Afghan Mujahideen in order to finance part of their operations, was said to be bringing in over $2 billion annually during the early 1980s. A side effect for Pakistan was that for a decade or so drug addiction grew in Karachi faster than in any other city in the world, and Karachi became a major hub for gun-running by those drug-trafficking mafias. It was in those years that the social and political life in the city was first so massively criminalised. And the cancer of course spread far and wide.

In other parts of the country, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) particularly but also in Baluchistan and Punjab, over three million Afghan refugees poured in, altering the very social fabric in the regions where they were concentrated; one-third to half of them are said to be still there. Many of the leaders of Afghan Islamic organisations had migrated to Pakistan during the Z.A. Bhutto period, and the bulk of the ruling class, minus the ones who went straight to the Western countries or went to Iran instead, now converged there as well. The refugee camps, where military training and Islamic education of the most arcane kind were dispensed in equal measure, became the source of virtually infinite recruitment for war inside Afghanistan. The combination of military expertise and the most arcane religious conservatism that the Taliban has displayed is a direct reflection of the lethal brew that was first stirred up in those camps. We might add that the seven-party alliance that was recognised by Pakistan and the U.S. as the legitimate soldiers of god and that then fought over the spoils after the Soviet withdrawal until the Taliban threw it out, was only very slightly less conservative than today's Taliban and surely no less brutal. The same applies to the Pakistanis who joined them in increasing numbers and the ones who came from a variety of other countries, from Sudan to the United Kingdom. Many of those who have tasted blood are now looking for other causes.

In the process, Pakistan's own Islamicist organisations, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, which had remained politically marginal and militarily less than marginal, have made spectacular progress in terms of money, arms, men and expertise. There is still an immensely large pool of human beings, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan, not only Army regulars and controlled irregulars but also freelance seekers of martyrdom, from among whom guerillas for covert wars can still be recruited. Equally dangerous, perhaps, is the fact that a great many of them are men of shifting loyalties and fierce egotism, under no one's control and largely footloose. Weapons of all sorts are spread all across Pakistan and among the Afghan irregulars; no amount of effort to disarm this marauding mass can wholly succeed.

NOT only has Pakistan's social and political culture become very much more Islamised but the character of the armed forces has also changed dramatically. As a result, the numbers who subscribe to a very extreme form of political Islam is now so great that it may destabilise the inner unity of the armed forces themselves. An eventuality may yet arise in which the most extreme wing makes a coup not just against the civilian authorities but also against their own less extreme colleagues, to join up with political organisations of the extreme kind and establish in Pakistan the type of Islamicist state, suitably modified for Pakistani conditions, that Sudan and Afghanistan have already known, or the kind that may yet arise in Algeria. This is not by any means fated but it is a distinct possibility.

As the war in Afghanistan progressed, the national security apparatus in Pakistan grew in ambition and scope. The doctrine of forward defence that had initially conceived of defence parameters being drawn some kilometres into the neighbours' territories came now to include not only the whole of Afghanistan but also, as a legitimate sphere of influence, the states that have arisen out of Soviet Central Asia. By the time the Soviet troops were withdrawn, another, brand new self-image of the military-bureaucratic state emerged: Pakistan was especially chosen by the Lord to become the country that was to beat the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, out of the Cold War, out of existence. Pakistani military officers are known to have joked that they would have done the same to Vietnam if only the Americans had the sense to deploy Pakistani troops instead of their own. A third-rate military machine that is intoxicated by a self-image so very dazzling is a dangerous machine.

This is the tiger Nawaz Sharif is trying to ride.

IV

There are powerful currents of opinion about Pakistan among academic experts, think-tanks and policy-makers in India which make too much, even when it comes to foreign policy and military strategy, of the distinction between civilian and military governments and among various centres of power in Pakistan. Defence Minister George Fernandes' statement that the Kargil operation was an undertaking of the Pakistan Army in which the ISI was not involved and which did not have the sanction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was of course exceptionally foolish but it comes precisely out of that mechanistic sense of how Pakistan is governed or makes its policies.

We speak of the Pakistani ISI these days as we once used to speak of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as something not only transcendentally diabolical but also as some sort of a super-government that does as it wishes. It is indeed the case that the relationship between the intelligence agencies and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Pakistan has become especially complex in the course of the Afghanistan war and thereafter; the fact nevertheless remains that the ISI is a department of the armed forces in which the chain of command remains, in the final analysis, intact. The Kargil operation was prepared in elaborate secrecy, on a scale that is yet not clear even after a month and a half of fighting. It is inconceivable that any of the key intelligence services would remain uninvolved. By the same token, what task is assigned to the ISI, the Special Services Group (SSG) or any other such agency would necessarily be determined by the chief commanders of the armed forces who are not obliged to reveal to their subordinates their actual war plans. The sort of distinction between the Pakistan Army and the ISI that Fernandes wishes to observe is at best fanciful.

What about Nawaz Sharif? Unlike Vajpayee, whose party commanded less than a third of the national vote in the last elections and who has been unable to retain the confidence of the Lok Sabha for the coalition of motley groups that made him Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif commands enough strength in his Parliament to be able to change even the Constitution if he so desires. He has used this power to get rid of a President, a Supreme Court Chief Justice as well as a Chief of the Army Staff who dared to differ with him. It is inconceivable that the current Army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, whom Sharif is said to have especially favoured because he has no independent personal base among the key commanders, would launch so large an operation without seeking the permission of his Prime Minister.

Such an assumption would rest on three other misconceptions: (a) that the various centres of power in Pakistan are so autonomous and so much at odds with one another that each pursues its own discrete objectives; (b) that the Army, in particular, pursues a foreign policy of its own; and (c) that the Kargil operation is so irreconcilable with the undertakings Pakistan gave when Vajpayee's bus lurched into Lahore that the operation must be seen either as Sharif's perfidy or as an adventure launched behind his back. The fallacy that governs each of these misconceptions is that Pakistan does not have a coherent state authority capable of pursuing fixed, long-term objectives.

It is undoubtedly true that the Army has a much bigger role in Pakistan's polity than is the case in India and that this inordinately large role remains whether a General or a civilian heads the government. That does not mean, however, that there is some fundamental cleavage between the civilian and military authorities over national interest, foreign policy and military strategy. Our own argument would suggest, by contrast, that there are of course ideological shifts, as governments come and go, and dramatic new forces emerge with the passage of time and in response to events inside and outside the country. There is, nevertheless, a basic continuity in definitions of the national interest and the strategies that are to be pursued.

Contrast this with the hallowed fantasies that now surround the Lahore Declaration and which are largely of our own making. After Pokhran-II and Chagai there was tremendous pressure from the NATO countries, principally the U.S., to take some tangible action in order to resolve or at least defuse the Kashmir crisis because Kashmir had become, as they put it, a 'nuclear flashpoint'. Unwilling and even unable to come up with creative, substantive new thinking, Vajpayee opted for a politically naive gesture symbolised by what came to be called 'bus diplomacy'. Nawaz Sharif simply obliged, though he did not go so far as to disturb his own routine and come to Delhi.

We are a sentimental people, and even the progressive and liberal commentators fell for Vajpayee's short-lived atmospherics. Not Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's Foreign Minister. On the eve of the bus trip, when Vajpayee was already over-committed, Aziz delivered much-publicised, hard-hitting speeches saying bluntly that the atmospherics must not be seen as making any fundamental difference to Pakistan's settled positions on Kashmir. When The News, an English daily published by the Jung group of newspapers, organised a meeting of Pakistani and Indian parliamentarians, where too a very great deal of poetry and sentiment flowed, a group of unidentified men broke into the compound of the house of Imtiaz Alam, the editor who had played a prominent role in organising the event, and set his new and expensive car on fire. Later, when Najam Sethi, a veteran Pakistani publisher and commentator, shared with the BBC some information on the corrupt dealings of the Sharif family, the Pakistan Government waited until he had expressed on Indian soil the dissent he routinely expresses in his own newspaper, The Friday Times, and arrested him, with the complicity of the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi, on the improbable charge that Sethi was an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The Government of India continued to speak of the Lahore Declaration, a veritable pack of cosmetics, as if some new chapter in subcontinental history had been opened.

Drunk on his own rhetoric, Vajpayee went to Minar-e-Pakistan, which stands in Lahore at the spot where the historic Pakistan Resolution of 1942 was passed, and spoke of India and Pakistan as 'separate nations'. Our media contrived to see in this gesture a historic turn where India - or was it the RSS? - had finally accepted Partition. Pakistanis were barely amused. Hardly anyone there believes that it is for India - or for the RSS - to accept or reject the reality of Pakistan, over half a century after the event. Those who make policy in Pakistan politely waited for Vajpayee to depart.

WHAT went wrong? The media hype of 'bus diplomacy' was the other face of the Pokhran lunacy. Having committed an act of extraordinary hawkishness and belligerence, which dismayed people across the world, raising the suspicion that the Government of India was losing its capacity for responsible action, Vajpayee desperately needed to reincarnate himself as a man of peace. No one in the world approved of Pakistan's nuclear blasts but most people concluded that it was an unpleasant but predictable response to Indian irresponsibility. Vajpayee had to take a unilateral initiative in going to Lahore because he had taken a unilateral initiative on the nuclear issue. A comedy of penance was sold to the media as if it was a pack of doves. And he had to move fast, before international pressure for 'internationalising' the Kashmir issue became unbearable.

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There lies the rub, in the haste. When Henry Kissinger journeyed to Beijing in the thick of night, he did so after prolonged and extremely careful preparations for rapprochement, which itself became possible only after historic shifts had taken place within China in relation to its attitude toward the U.S., the Soviet Union, Vietnam and itself. Similarly, when Anwar Sadat of Egypt made his dramatic visit to Jerusalem, it was done only after months and years of careful preparation and only when the historic shift in relations between Egypt and Israel had been agreed upon, between the two governments, inside each of the polities and in collaboration with their mutual patron-saint in the United States.

No such preparations, no agreement on a dramatic new turn on the Kashmir issue for example, preceded the trip to Lahore. Vajpayee seems to have persuaded himself that his alighting from a garishly decked up bus on the other side of the Wagah border could change the shape of international diplomacy as L.K. Advani's rath yatra had altered the fortunes of the RSS within the country. When Kargil exploded, Vajpayee was bewildered.

At some level, the bus diplomacy turned out to be as inept as most other things that this government has done across the board. More fundamentally, the BJP-led government misconstrues what Pokhran and Chagai have meant. On May 18 last year, Advani had claimed that Pokhran-II had strengthened India's hand in Kashmir. Writing in Frontline at the time (June 19, 1998), I had suggested that our blustering Home Minister did not seem to understand that nuclear weapons have little bearing on guerilla actions and localised, low-intensity warfare. Now, a year later, one needs to go a step further.

Pokhran was a gift to Sharif as the Afghan war had been for Zia. Since 1971, Pakistan had been trying, unsuccessfully, to overcome its strategic inferiority in conventional warfare. By opening the way for nuclear parity and competitive weaponisation, the Vajpayee government gifted to Pakistan a strategic parity that it could not otherwise achieve. To the extent that the possession of nuclear weapons capability by both sides in a serious conflict tends to put serious constraints on a full-scale conventional war, to that same extent it facilitates the institutionalisation of low-intensity, localised wars. The more the two countries move toward nuclear weaponisation, the more Kargils we shall have. In this sense, the present reality in Kargil is not only the other face of the rhetoric of Lahore, it is also a precise, necessary, repeatable consequence of Pokhran.

Aijaz Ahmad is Senior Fellow, Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

An incipient Third Force

The idea of a Third Force remains confined to the NCP and the Samajwadi Party and its fortunes seem to be an inverse function of the credibility with which the Congress(I) under Sonia Gandhi is able to project its claims as the sole alternative to the BJP-led alliance.

THE bonding and breaking of political alliances is normally the principal focus of attention in the prelude to national elections. But this time around, the conflict situation in Kargil has tended noticeably to subdue the fervour of political deal-making.

Political activity acquired a certain momentum when Sharad Pawar and Mulayam Singh Yadav announced on June 17 that they intended to join forces at the national level. It was an alliance that was foretold from the moment Sharad Pawar parted company with the Congress(I) and spun off the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The two had teamed up to mutual profit in the 1998 general elections, which represented a distinct revival of political fortunes for Sharad Pawar. The shared aversion to the prospect of a government headed by Sonia Gandhi was another bonding factor.

The incipient Third Force still remains confined to the NCP and the Samajwadi Party. Its fortunes seem at this moment to be an inverse function of the credibility with which the Congress(I) under Sonia Gandhi is able to project its claims as the sole alternative to the alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. A fresh impetus perhaps was rendered to the Third Force by the conspicuous failure of Sonia Gandhi's first public rally in this election season. The crowd that turned up at Varanasi on June 18 to listen to her plea that single-party rule be restored at the Centre, was no more than 12,000-strong. Not only did it cause a dent in the Congress(I)'s ambitions of revival in the northern region but it led to a certain degree of acrimony within its top leadership in Uttar Pradesh.

After the mawkish show of loyalty to the leader that followed Sharad Pawar's rebellion, the Varanasi rally seemed to bring the Congress(I) back full circle - to the earlier uneasy equilibrium between regional leaders. An inquiry into the causes for the poor show is under way at the All India Congress Committee office. And Salman Khurshid, Sonia Gandhi's appointee as the Uttar Pradesh Congress(I) Committee president, has already made his disdain for the older generation of leaders very evident, with unsubtle suggestions that they are spent forces who can do no worse than disrupt an occasional rally.

Sonia Gandhi chose a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood for her rally, expecting to prove demonstratively that Mulayam Singh Yadav's claims to the minority allegiance were a thing of the past. She also chose to make a fairly strong overture towards the small but influential Brahmin community in the State by unveiling a statue of Kamlapati Tripathi, once a patriarch of Congress(I) politics in the region. Clearly, Congress(I) strategists are working on the assumption that the reconstitution of the party's traditional coalition, involving Brahmins, the religious minorities and Dalits, is an eminently feasible proposition. As a strategic perspective, this cuts right at the core of Third Force politics in U.P.

This requires that the Congress(I) make a significant effort to bring on board the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has proven that it is not easily dislodged from its core constituency among the U.P. Dalits. But the BSP clearly is not interested. Its rather volatile leader, Mayawati, publicly proclaimed that it would take an act of lunacy to forge a political partnership with the Congress(I). The basis for this assertion is her assessment that the BSP's votes are more easily transferred to the Congress(I) than vice versa. But at the same time, Mayawati also distanced herself from the incipient "Third Force", dismissing both Pawar and Mulayam Singh as "agents of the BJP".

Another vehicle of Dalit politics, the Republican Party of India - which has significant pockets of influence in Maharashtra - is currently torn between conflicting perceptions. A faction led by the veteran, R.S. Gavai, believes that it should pitch its tent firmly in the Congress(I) camp. But the Ramdas Athavale group is equally insistent, on grounds of pragmatism, that the party's future lies with Sharad Pawar and the NCP.

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Other regional groupings, which might have naturally gravitated towards the concept of the Third Force, have shown no particular enthusiasm. N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party has been assiduously wooed by Pawar's men. But he is unlikely to go with any formation that will not confer concrete electoral benefits in his confrontation with the Congress(I) in Andhra Pradesh. On current reckoning, his inclination seems to be towards the BJP, which could bring him short-term rewards at the cost of long-term possibilities. But in dismissing the NCP as a factor that has no bearing in his home State, he has confined himself to the enigmatic promise that he will clarify his position in relation to the BJP at an "appropriate time".

The best hope for the Third Force would then seem to be Congress(I) dissidents from the various States. Sowmya Ranjan Patnaik, son-in-law of the deposed Orissa Chief Minister Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, has been recruited into the NCP Working Committee. But the signal of emerging dissent was sufficient for Sonia Gandhi to intervene personally with an appeal to the older Patnaik to keep the faith. He seems for the moment to be mollified, but may need a concrete signal that he will be consulted on the distribution of the party ticket, to stay on board.

P.A. Sangma, the NCP's second-ranking leader, was meanwhile mobilising his forces in northeastern India. He is confident that he will manage to induce many of the substantial leaders of the Congress(I) to join him. And while he has not had any conspicuous sign of success yet, an accretion to the ranks could result from the resentments that the process of ticket distribution invariably engenders.

Laloo Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal has been a notable absentee from all Third Force confabulations, despite being allied with Mulayam Singh Yadav in the political federation known as the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha (RLM). The steady estrangement between the two has been evident since Mulayam Singh blocked Sonia Gandhi's effort to put together a minority Congress(I) government last April. Laloo Prasad and his wife, Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, were recently dinner guests at the Gandhi household, where he is learnt to have reaffirmed his intention to fight the elections in alliance with the Congress(I). Yet the two Yadav chieftains still claim that the RLM is intact, whether with the intention of a formal political understanding later or with the more modest goal of avoiding public acrimony.

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), meanwhile, met to provide its most authoritative confirmation yet that the days of "equidistance" between the Congress(I) and the BJP are past. The Kerala unit of the party argued in vain that the notion still had relevance and was in fact a practical necessity in its immediate political milieu. But the Polit Bureau was overwhelmingly of the view that "equidistance" would only translate itself into additional sustenance for the BJP. There was a formal commitment made to work towards a third alternative, although in practical terms the diversity of situations that the party will have to reconcile itself to makes this a goal that would be difficult to realise.

The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc (F.B.), smaller constituent parties of the Left Front, were not enthused. Debabrata Biswas, general secretary of the F.B., spoke against the new CPI(M) attitude towards the Congress(I). And the Central Committee of the RSP resolved at its meeting on June 20 that the BJP and the Congress(I) were both undesirable associations for the Left.

The CPI National Council also reiterated its resolve to work for a third alternative to both the dominant parties. But party general secretary A.B. Bardhan was at pains to dispel any suggestion of a rift with the CPI(M). Writing in the party's official organ, Bardhan argued that the "potential constituents of the 'Third Front' cannot and need not be expected to have the same view on every political, economic and social issue." He added: "It is possible that some may believe in equidistance while others do not. After all, there is this difference within the Left Front parties in West Bengal. This should not and will not become a dividing line. The point is to have an open dialogue on this and other issues and to take a common decision when the time comes."

The shape of future embarrassments was beginning to emerge in Kerala, where Congress(I) veteran K. Karunakaran termed as "impractical" the policy of equidistance that the State unit of the CPI(M) was advocating. The Third Front, in this interpretation, was a "mirage" which the Left would do well not to set off in pursuit of.

In the words of senior Congressman Pranab Mukherjee, his party's strategy today is to work out a series of State-level "understandings". These would stop short of being formal alliances and would not entail a joint platform or a concerted campaign. Thus, Shankarsinh Vaghela's Rashtriya Janata Party in Gujarat, Jayalalitha's All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu and Laloo Prasad Yadav's RJD are all prospective partners for the limited context of the elections. Except for Laloo Prasad, these do not yet touch upon the core of Third Force politics. But if the Left remains committed to its current position, then the Congress(I) would have succeeded in driving a stake through the heart of Third Force politics.

Threat of submergence

A large number of tribal habitats in the Narmada Valley face submergence this monsoon, especially since the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam has been allowed to be increased to 88 metres.

JALSINDHI, which is called the Gateway of Madhya Pradesh by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists working in the region, is situated near the State's boundary with Gujarat and Maharashtra. This year's monsoon may well be the last one that three of Jalsindhi's five tribal hamlets will see.

Tribal people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam began a unique satyagraha in the villages of Jalsindhi and Domkhedi in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district on June 20. The satyagraha, organised by the NBA, has spilled over to the entire Narmada Valley. From Manibeli and Bhadal in Maharashtra to Jalsindhi and Kakarna in Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of tribal people and villagers from the Valley lined up along the banks of the Narmada along with representatives of voluntary organisations and pledged that they would not leave their homes and land for an ill-conceived project. "We shall drown, but we will not move," was the message they sought to convey to the authorities concerned.

The stand taken by all those who had assembled in the Valley on June 20 was that the decision to raise the height of the dam to 88 metres was unjust since it would cause a great deal of destruction to their homes and land, besides the region's forest cover. After lighting hundreds of lamps which were then set afloat on the Narmada, they pledged to fight the injustice being meted out to them by staying on in their homes and facing the rising waters. The tribal people who were evacuated from 19 villages in Gujarat and people who were displaced by the construction of Kevadia Colony, the site of the main dam, and the canals, also joined hands with the protesters.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam's height has been allowed to be increased from 80.3 m to 88 m after the Supreme Court lifted a stay on raising the dam's height four years ago. In an interim order issued by it in February this year, the apex court granted permission for resuming construction and raising the height to 85 m excluding the humps. On May 7, the court issued an order stating that the height of the humps should not be more than 3 m. According to the NBA, the increase in height will affect 50 to 60 villages.

The people of the Narmada Valley are worried that the Supreme Court may grant permission to the Gujarat Government in July to increase the height of the dam to 90 m. If that happens, the risk of submergence is far greater. The people are particularly apprehensive that there may be a recurrence of the events of 1994. That year, when the dam's height was only 69 m, flood waters rose to a level of 94 m and ravaged Jalsindhi. Even at the current height of 88 m, the tribal belt in the Vindhyas and Satpura ranges are likely to be submerged.

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NEARLY 2,500 families from the affected villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have returned from the resettlement sites, disillusioned by the poor living conditions there. According to the NBA, about 12,000 residents of these villages face the threat of submergence this monsoon.

In its February order, the Supreme Court stated that the rehabilitation of the people who would be affected by the increase in the dam's height should be carried out in accordance with the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA). Activists of the NBA, however, allege that the court's order has been violated. They have also challenged the claims made by the governments concerned about the availability of land for resettlement, based on which the Supreme Court permitted further construction on the dam.

It is, however, clear that the Supreme Court was kept in the dark about the lack of progress on the "action plan" prepared by the Narmada Control Authority's (NCA) Relief and Resettlement (R&R) sub-group in January this year. The action plan was for launching R&R efforts when the dam reached a height of 90 m. (The NCA's R&R sub-group is the apex body monitoring the relief and rehabilitation operations. It has also the power to take decisions with regard to the dam's height. On January 6, it gave permission to increase the height to 90 m.)

The NCA's action plan showed that 1,221 project-affected families (PAFs) from Madhya Pradesh would be resettled in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh (795 in Gujarat and 426 in Madhya Pradesh). Of the 426 PAFs in Madhya Pradesh, 165 would be entitled for agricultural land in accordance with the State's legal provisions. Members of the NWDTA say that all the PAFs should be given land one year prior to the submergence of their lands and be rehabilitated completely with all the amenities they are eligible for, six months prior to submergence. (The Supreme Court issued a similar ruling in the B.D. Sharma case in August 1991. B.D. Sharma was the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In his report, he questioned the development model adopted in the Narmada Valley, besides raising the issue of the inadequate R&R package for the displaced persons. The Supreme Court considered the report as a petition and gave its ruling. It stated that 960 PAFs from Madhya Pradesh should have been given land in June 1998, considering the fact that their homes would be submerged in June 1999, and that all the 1,221 PAFs from the State should have been rehabilitated completely with all the amenities by December 31, 1998.)

The NCA's action plan contains a table giving a summary of the status of the R&R plan for PAFs from villages in Madhya Pradesh that would be affected if the dam's height is increased to 90 m. The table disproves the claim made by the NCA in the action plan about the progress made by all the three State governments in implementing various aspects of the R&R in accordance with the NWDT's guidelines and the Supreme Court's directions. The table shows that land selection, land allotment and the final shifting of the PAFs can be phased between December 1998 and June 1999, quite oblivious of the NWDT award and the Supreme Court's direction. During the 44th meeting of the R&R sub-group held in New Delhi on June 8, this action plan was discussed and it was clear that no progress was reported by the three States on the plan until May 1999. The R&R of these PAFs was discussed only in June this year when the threat of submergence was imminent.

The NCA's action plan could have been a crucial input for the Supreme Court had it been submitted to the court before the court passed its interim order in February. Surprisingly, the Central Government did not include this plan in its written submission before the apex court during the final hearings held between January 27 and February 18.

OFFICIALS in Gujarat claim that all the resettlement sites in the State have a dispensary. However, experience has shown that the mere existence of a dispensary is not enough. Seven persons who were relocated from Kakarna village in Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh to the Vyara (Rameshwarpura) resettlement site died in April, within 10 days of moving into their new homes. The victims, including a woman, fell ill after contracting a mysterious disease and died a week later. The State Government for its part claims that they died of old age, when in fact only one person was above 50 years of age.

This incident has brought to the fore the problems faced by PAFs in resettlement sites, including uncultivable lands, lack of adequate foodgrains and unclean drinking water. The Gujarat Government has refused to provide dispensaries in those resettlement sites where there are fewer than 500 people. Strangely, this rule applies only to those displaced persons from Gujarat. The Government argued that the NWDT award relating to such a provision applies only to those displaced from Madhya Pradesh and Maharasthra.

The Gujarat Government claims that 88 per cent of those who were affected when the dam's height reached 85 m have been resettled. However, the NBA alleges that a number of these PAFs are facing problems, some of which are so serious that the displaced people can by no stretch of the imagination be termed as having been resettled. The NBA also accuses the Government of not addressing the PAFs' queries about the sites that were promised to them. Under these circumstances, NBA activists question the veracity of the Government's claim that enough land is available to resettle even people who would be displaced if the dam's height is raised to 90 m.

THE Madhya Pradesh Government has, for its part, stated that the land available with it for resettlement is limited. The report of a joint survey carried out by the displaced persons, activists and State officials in March revealed that an overwhelmingly large portion (95 per cent) of the available land is either unfit for cultivation or is of poor quality. The remaining land has been encroached upon. Although the State Government is yet to accept this report, it is clear that Madhya Pradesh does not have enough land to resettle its own PAFs.

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The State Government's predicament is evident from a statement made by it about trying to "persuade" 165 PAFs to opt for resettlement in Gujarat. Activists of the NBA fear that "persuasion" may end in the use of force since the Madhya Pradesh Government has no other option in view of the non-availability of land. For its part, Gujarat has taken the stand that of the 795 PAFs allotted to it, only 120 have agreed to come to Gujarat. Hence, it said, PAFs who do not respond to its notice would be deemed to have opted to stay back in Madhya Pradesh. Displaced persons from Madhya Pradesh probably prefer to be resettled in their own State. The Madhya Pradesh Government has, however, informed the Supreme Court that it does not have enough land to resettle more than the 830 PAFs allotted to it.

The Maharashtra Govern-ment earlier claimed that enough land was available to resettle even those families which would be affected if the dam's height was increased to 110 m. However, it now acknowledges that it has very little land left. Even a few hundred PAFs who were relocated more than three years ago have not been given land at the resettlement sites in Maharashtra. Frustrated, 21 such families returned to their villages, Junane and Selagda, despite the fact that they faced imminent submergence.

ON June 1 and 2, the people of the Narmada Valley went to the NCA, the apex multi-State body monitoring the entire project, at Indore. The detailed question-answer session held at the NCA premises between the officials and the people revealed that the NCA had neither cross-checked nor evaluated independently the information on the availability of land or the States' claims about being prepared for resettling the displaced families.

The satyagraha that began on June 20 will continue through the monsoon season and will highlight the risks involved in proceeding with the construction of the dam without fulfilling the mandatory R&R requirements. NBA convener Medha Patkar announced that activists and supporters of the satyagraha would fast and observe silence from July 4 to 12. She appealed to the people to observe a fast on July 12 to express their solidarity with the tribal people. The peaceful struggle has gained the support of people such as Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy, who, at a function held in New Delhi, appealed to all concerned citizens to take part in the "Rally For The Valley" scheduled to begin from Delhi on July 29 and reach the Narmada Valley on August 1.

A novel gesture

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ARUNDHATI ROY has donated the entire Booker prize money to the Narmada Bachao Andolan. She won the Booker Prize for her debut novel, The God of Small Things. The Andolan is campaigning on behalf of the tribal people and peasants of the Narmada Valley who are resisting their forced displacement following the construction of large dams across the Narmada.

Arundhati Roy, whose essay, "The Greater Common Good", on the human and ecological costs of the Narmada Valley Projects, was recently published in Frontline (June 4), made over the prize money, amounting to about Rs.15 lakhs, to the NBA following a visit to the Narmada Valley in April 1999.

An NBA press release on June 25 said that Arundhati Roy's "gesture is in a long tradition of intellectuals and artists, scientists and prominent persons from all walks of life in India who have gone beyond their creative contributions in their own fields to make common cause with the struggles of the common people all over India, and specially of the Narmada Valley."

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The people of the Narmada Valley and the NBA "deeply appreciate" her gesture and her "outstanding contribution to the cause of the displaced people through her writing as well as her call to people all over India and the world to enlist in the struggle for a just and more sustainable world," the release added.

The NBA said it would use the money to provide relief to the "tribal families who will lose their crops and land and their livelihoods in the impending submergence."

Hundreds of tribal families in the valley face submergence during this monsoon. As Arundhati Roy wrote in her essay: "The ragged army in the Narmada Valley has declared that it will not move when the waters of the Sardar Sarovar reservoir rise to claim its lands and homes." She has invited people from all walks of life to accompany her to the valley to express solidarity with the tribal people's struggle. "We can go to the valley to announce the arrival of the small god," Arundhati Roy told a gathering in New Delhi, at which she read excerpts from her essay.

Sonia and the Tigers

D.B.S. JEYARAJ world-affairs

Reports about a plot by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to target Sonia Gandhi create a flutter.

THERE has lately been a lot of publicity given to intelligence reports that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is plotting to assassinate Congress(I) president Sonia Gandhi through the device of a car bomb. Coming in the wake of the ruling of the Supreme Court of India on appeals by persons convicted of killing Rajiv Gandhi, these reports have had about them a quality of pathos that transcends political divisions. Perhaps the reports would have received greater media attention had it not been for the escalation of the conflict in Kargil and, to a lesser extent, the Sharad Pawar-led rebellion in the Congress(I).

There is no denying the fact that the intelligence reports notwithstanding, it is a matter of speculation. The speculation itself is essentially dual in nature. First, there is the planned modus operandi of the plotters as alleged in the media. The details provided in these reports are not exhaustive and they do retain an element of improbability. Secondly, and more important, there is the larger question of whether the LTTE really intends to make an attempt on Sonia Gandhi's life and if so why.

Interestingly, the LTTE-controlled media of the Tamil diaspora in the West dismissed the reports about the alleged plot as a figment of the Indian establishment's imagination. It was stated that the LTTE had no intention to kill Sonia Gandhi and that the reports were just a crude attempt to incriminate it again. There was a suggestion that the possibility of India lifting the ban on the LTTE had brightened after the Supreme Court ruled that the killing of Rajiv Gandhi was not an act of terrorism and that the LTTE had not waged war against the Indian state. It was also alleged that by planting media reports about a possible assassination attempt, interested parties were trying to ensure that the ban would remain in place. Another view was that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government itself was publicising this charge in order to intimidate Sonia Gandhi and restrict her poll campaign.

It soon became evident that the LTTE itself took the charge quite seriously. It is not the practice of the LTTE to issue denials in response to adverse reports appearing in the media except when blatantly violent acts affecting civilians, such as the bomb incident at the Colombo Central Bank (January 31, 1996), occur. Yet this time the LTTE issued a press release through its international secretariat in London on June 2.

The press release categorically denied reports emanating from sections of the Indian press about the alleged plot. "Responsible newspapers in India have in an irresponsible manner highlighted this malicious and baseless story with a sinister motive to malign the Tamil Liberation struggle," the LTTE said. The release went on to add: "The LTTE wishes to state emphatically that it has no intention of interfering in the internal politics of India, nor will it act in any way prejudicial to the Indian national interests."

The terminology and structure of this press release were somewhat different from those of the ones normally drafted in Tamil and translated into English. This statement was more polished and authoritative. It soon became apparent that the press release itself had been formulated by none other than Anton Stanislaus Balasingham, the LTTE's political adviser. He had been sent to London by LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran for three reasons: they wanted to reorganise the international secretariat of the organisation and coordinate a propaganda drive, initiate moves to pave the way for a resumption of negotiations between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE with the help of third-party facilitation, and seek urgent medical treatment facilities.

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One of the first tasks Balasingham performed upon entering Britain was to issue the press release that denied that there was an LTTE conspiracy to assassinate Sonia Gandhi. This was certainly an imperative from Balasingham's perspective. Although the LTTE wants a Western nation, or possibly South Africa, to be the third-party facilitator, Balasingham, described as an "LTTE theoretician", must definitely be aware that India's cooperation, or at least its non-opposition, is essential for any meaningful talks to occur. Besides, the LTTE still entertains the hope that with a stable BJP administration in New Delhi a change in the political equation is possible. So it would seek to avoid any negative publicity at the present juncture.

Sadly for the LTTE, its credibility has sunk so low that there are few takers for its denials. The LTTE has its own logic and motivation, which defy a conventional assessment of the movement. In fact, there is a touch of irrationality about it, which often leads to negative consequences for the movement. Therefore it was not possible to dismiss the allegation of a plot against Sonia lightly. The circumstances of Rajiv Gandhi's killing themselves were there as a warning. The LTTE had, prior to the assassination, opened a line of communication with Rajiv Gandhi through emissaries such as the poet Kasi Anandan in Chennai and the economist Arjuna Sittampalam in London. It seemed that the estrangement between Rajiv Gandhi and the LTTE was about to become a thing of the past. But soon the LTTE blasted Rajiv Gandhi to death. Again, after the incident it appeared impossible that the LTTE could act in a manner that was so detrimental to its own, and by extension Sri Lankan Tamils', interests until overwhelming evidence of LTTE culpability was uncovered.

By the same token, the LTTE's denials about the alleged plot to kill Sonia Gandhi too cannot be accepted without reservations. It is possible that the LTTE may be adopting a two-track approach on Sonia Gandhi as in the case of Rajiv Gandhi. As Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu initiated a low-key dialogue with Rajiv Gandhi without knowing that a killer squad had been despatched by Prabakaran to execute the former Prime Minister, Balasingham may be quite sincere in protesting on behalf of the LTTE. He may be genuinely ignorant of any mala fide objectives on the part of the LTTE although his long association with it would have by now provided him insights into how it thinks and acts.

Under these circumstances it is of paramount importance to ascertain whether the LTTE intends to assassinate Sonia Gandhi and if so what it hopes to gain by doing so. It is no secret that the strike against Rajiv Gandhi affected its fortunes drastically. Indian public opinion, which had been sympathetic to the overall Tamil plight in Sri Lanka, became indifferent and to some degree hostile following the assassination. The ban on the LTTE by India led to world-wide revulsion against the organisation. Events in Sri Lanka took a different turn and today the LTTE, on the admission of its own leader during his Great Heroes Day speech earlier this year, stands isolated. Therefore, will the LTTE risk another calamity by trying to kill Sonia Gandhi? Again, an assessment by conventional means would result in a "no".

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But then the LTTE is quite unorthodox and irrationally unique in its thinking. So the question whether the LTTE intends to harm Sonia Gandhi should be examined within the framework of an LTTE perspective. A useful way of analysis in this regard would be to see why the LTTE struck at Rajiv Gandhi in the first place. There were two reasons. One was to seek revenge for imposing on it the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and deploying the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) to enforce the accord. The second and perhaps more important reason was to prevent Rajiv Gandhi from coming to power again in 1991. The LTTE feared that if Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister again he would pursue his earlier policy on Sri Lanka to its logical conclusion, which in the LTTE's perception was aimed at its destruction. That with diplomacy and tact the contradictions between Rajiv Gandhi and R. Premadasa, the Sri Lankan President of the time, could have been exploited to its own advantage was overlooked. So great was the paranoia caused by the possibility of Rajiv Gandhi coming to power again. This is the background of what happened at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.

In this context, the current season is the most suitable for the LTTE to target Sonia Gandhi, if it so desires. A round of general elections is in the offing. She has set herself the imposing task of leading the Congress(I) to victory. Her opponents are using her foreign origin as a campaign issue. Moreover, some of her own partymen have rebelled against her. Besides, her party relies almost exclusively on her charisma and name to win the elections. All this means that she has to canvass vigorously and make herself appear as people-friendly as possible.

The reason for the LTTE even to contemplate targeting Sonia Gandhi lies in her entry into active politics. Had she remained in the background as a "mother figure" providing inspiration and limited guidance to the Congress(I), the LTTE may not have considered her even remotely harmful. But now it is clear that she intends to play a major role in national politics. Had she been able to muster enough support a few months ago, she would have already been Prime Minister. Even now if the Congress(I) fares well in the hustings she could become Prime Minister. In any event it is likely that she will be the brightest star in the Indian political firmament for quite a while.

This creates two problems, in the LTTE's perception. First, the LTTE fears that she will be irreconcilably hostile to it, for it feels that she has taken the killing of her husband very personally. The Congress(I)'s decision to withdraw support to the I.K. Gujral regime in the aftermath of the Jain Commission's Interim Report is seen as proof of this. The LTTE suspects that the Congress(I) pulled the plug under pressure from Sonia Gandhi. In its perception, she could not stomach the idea of the Congress(I) supporting a government in which the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was a constituent, and it was not important for her to ascertain if the Jain Commission was justified in blaming the DMK for having created conditions in Tamil Nadu that helped the LTTE to assassinate her husband. So emotional was her reaction that she just did not want any dealings with the DMK, so went the LTTE's views.

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Even now Sonia Gandhi's antipathy towards the DMK, and possibly the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), remains. This is one factor that has influenced these parties' decision to enter into an electoral alliance with the BJP. Cooperation of these parties with the Congress(I) seems to be a remote possibility as long as Sonia Gandhi is at the helm of that party. Besides, she demonstrated the strong emotive aspect of her personality through her reaction to the revolt by Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar.

Thus in the LTTE's perception Sonia Gandhi is an emotional yet strong-willed leader who will at no stage compromise on the question of the LTTE. According to the LTTE's line of thought, she will never be accommodative towards it. More important, the LTTE fears that if she becomes Prime Minister she would relentlessly pursue a hardline policy against it. It fears that she may even provide open support to the Sri Lankan authorities in destroying the LTTE and in getting Prabakaran, who ordered her husband's killing, apprehended.

Secondly, the LTTE is anxious about Sonia Gandhi propelling the Congress(I) into power at the expense of the BJP-led combine. Even though the LTTE is not a communal outfit, there is a lot of pressure from its overseas supporters to adopt a Hindu line. These sections hope to gain some political mileage if a strong BJP-led regime is in place in New Delhi. Also, political parties that are somewhat sympathetic to the LTTE, such as the Samata Party, the Shiv Sena, the MDMK and the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), are allies of the BJP. So the LTTE would prefer the BJP to form a government. It is optimistic that such a development will be advantageous to it even if there are no immediate benefits. The only upsetting factor in this scenario is Sonia Gandhi, a political impediment that has to be removed.

Another development that is likely to make the LTTE fear the ascendancy of Sonia Gandhi is the recent return to Sri Lanka of ex-Chief Minister of the North-Eastern Province Varadaraja Perumal from India. Varadaraja Perumal has been telling the cadres of his Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front that when Sonia Gandhi becomes Prime Minister of India she would back him in combating the LTTE. Perumal had launched plans to expand the Razeek Group, an anti-LTTE Tamil group, into a full-fledged army. The idea was that it would be the cutting edge of an interventionist policy in Sri Lanka by India when Sonia Gandhi was at the helm.

Again, the LTTE reacted by killing Razeek, thereby delivering a death blow to Varadaraja Perumal's plans(Frontline, July 2, 1999). In the LTTE's logic there may evolve a new determination to eradicate the hindrance that is Sonia. It has also been the style of the LTTE to remove the head, or the most effective member, of an "enemy organisation" in order to undermine it. Unfortunately, the LTTE has created several situations in which the removal of a single person resulted in a whole organisation collapsing or being reduced to a caricature of its former self. So, given the LTTE psyche, it is possible to conclude that it would consider the assassination of Sonia Gandhi as spelling the doom of the Congress(I). The undermining of the Congress(I) and a consequent strengthening of the BJP-led combine would be most welcome to the LTTE.

Given the unhappy experience of the fall-out of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the LTTE would be very careful and calculating in this matter. Any plan that it may have to assassinate Sonia Gandhi would be carefully drawn up. Against this backdrop, the revelation that the plot to kill Sonia Gandhi was hatched in South Africa deserves to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial has conclusively proved that the conspiracy was carried out in northern Sri Lanka. A decision of such great importance as the one to kill Rajiv Gandhi could be taken only at the highest level, by Prabakaran himself. The same applies in the case of Sonia Gandhi too. Thus it seems improbable that the plot was formulated in Durban. But the intelligence reports may be partially correct: it may be that after the go-ahead was given a follow-up meeting was held in South Africa.

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What is more likely is that some South African supporters of Indian origin, who are extremely intense and conversely imprudent, may have been merely thinking aloud in an irresponsible manner. It must be noted that some LTTE supporters created unwelcome publicity for themselves by boasting that they were taking arms training to fight in Sri Lanka and that the LTTE had training camps on South African soil (Frontline, December 4 and 18, 1998). It is also highly improbable that the Tigers in Canada were involved in the plot. Again it is quite probable that some loose talk may have occurred between LTTE supporters and BJP sympathisers. But to suspect anything beyond "bravado" seems a highly unlikely proposition at this point of time.

If and when the LTTE hatches a conspiracy to kill Sonia Gandhi, it will be done closer to home. It may not send out a hit squad, as in the case of Rajiv Gandhi. What is more probable is the assigning of one or two individuals, with unlimited funds at their disposal, to plan out the assassination in meticulous detail. The overriding consideration for the LTTE this time would be the scrupulous avoidance of any sign of its involvement. Intelligence reports about the possible use of a car bomb or the LTTE aligning with Sikh or Kashmiri separatists may not be entirely incorrect. The human bomb has almost become the monopoly of the LTTE in this region. To avoid being accused of the offence, the LTTE may use a different method in the case of Sonia.

Likewise, getting another outfit to be involved in the actual implementation of the plot may help avert suspicion. This writer, however, hazards a guess that if the LTTE really desires to eliminate Sonia Gandhi, it would collaborate with some Hindu nationalist-fanatical organisation. Given the xenophobic frenzy whipped up in certain quarters, it would not be difficult to find some high-strung person who is determined to serve his or her "Bharat" by trying to kill Sonia Gandhi. It is in the interests of the LTTE to identify and cultivate such a person and utilise him or her as a willing assassin. There is of course the possibility that some other agency, which has no connection with the LTTE, may be planning a similar assassination and hoping to blame it on the LTTE.

It may also be that the intelligence reports about the assassination attempt are totally incorrect and the entire matter constituted a false alarm. However, this is no cause for relief because the potential danger to Sonia Gandhi from the LTTE is always there. That threat is something that cannot be disregarded as improbable. Therefore, it would be prudent for the authorities to provide maximum security to Sonia Gandhi and also exercise a constant vigil in this respect.

Skeletons in Chemmani

The recovery of two skeletons from the site of an alleged mass grave in Chemmani gives credibility to allegations that Sri Lanka army personnel were responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of Tamils they had taken in for questioning in 1996.

IT was a day that Sri Lankans, especially the minority Tamils, had been waiting for since 1996. It was also a day of reckoning for hundreds of Jaffna residents whose relatives had disappeared mysteriously three years ago after being taken for questioning by Sri Lanka Army personnel. On June 16, the question was whether a Magistrate would decide to give the go-ahead for the digging up of a patch of wasteland, suspected to be a mass grave where many of the missing persons lay buried.

For some 400 families of Jaffna it all began when a Sri Lankan soldier, Somratne Rajapakse, was convicted in July 1998 for raping and murdering Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, a schoolgirl, while posted at the Chemmani checkpoint on the outskirts of Jaffna town. In a statement he made after he was sentenced to death, Rajapakse maintained that he was innocent and alleged that senior military officials had committed numerous human rights violations. He went on to say that around 400 of the missing persons had been buried in mass graves in Chemmani.

Initially there were not many takers for Rajapakse's claims. However, procedures to investigate the allegations were set in motion - first by the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission and later by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Statements were recorded and the judicial process began.

Soon, the Magistrate appointed to hear the case refused to do so, saying that "death threats" were being issued by the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The "Chemmani case" thus ran into a roadblock. Rajapakse's allegations, however, continued to engage the attention of the public. The Government for its part continued to maintain that an investigation would be conducted into the allegation in line with its commitment to transparency.

Meanwhile, the monsoon arrived and Chemmani was submerged in water. There was no progress for eight months.

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The judicial impasse was broken when N. Arulsagaran, a Magistrate from Colombo, was appointed Additional Magistrate of Jaffna. During his first hearing, Arulsagaran ordered that the investigation be completed as soon as possible. Coming out strongly against what he felt were unnecessary delays, he ordered that soil samples be taken from the area where the mass graves were allegedly located. However, his order could not be carried out since Rajapakse, who had claimed that he could identify the area where mass graves were located, was in prison, awaiting the death penalty.

Rajapakse was brought to the Jaffna Magistrate's Court on June 16. (Meanwhile, M. Ilanchezhian, a Magistrate from Mannar, had replaced Arulsagaran.) The state, which had taken up the case, wanted Rajapakse to be questioned on whether he would be able to identify in open court the location of the mass graves; if he could not, it wanted to start digging at the site from where soil samples were taken in March. A suggestion that he be asked for his consent in camera was turned down. Ilanchezhian stated that since the case related to murder, efforts had to be made to get a positive identification of the site. Not convinced of the need to question Rajapakse, the Magistrate ordered that he be taken directly to the site to identify the graves. Rajapakse, however, said that he wanted to make a statement in open court. In a deposition which went on for over an hour, he spoke about alleged detention, torture and murder of civilians who had been rounded up for questioning. He maintained that he only carried out the orders of his superiors and named several officers of the rank of Captain and above who he alleged were involved in torture and murder. "It was the duty of the junior ranks to carry out the instructions of senior officers," he said, adding that his job was only to "bury bodies". "I do not know if it was Krishanthi or whoever when I was asked to bury," he said.

These allegations were recorded by CID officials, who said that they had not heard any of this during their interrogation of Rajapakse. Rajapakse, however, insisted that he had divulged these details to them. He said that he, along with a co-accused in the "Krishanthi case", could identify 16 burial sites. He claimed that he divulged the information hoping that justice would be rendered to him.

When Rajapakse was taken to Chemmani, he pointed to a spot and said that two or three skeletons would be found there. At the end of two days of digging, the skeletal remains of two persons were unearthed and subsequently identified as those of two motor mechanics from Jaffna. The identification was done on the basis of information given by relatives about the personal effects of the missing persons. (The information was collected on the basis of a court order, prior to the exhumation.) The remains were sent for forensic examination to determine the time and cause of death.

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RAJAPAKSE'S allegation and the events that followed have opened up sensitive areas in the government-military relationship. Unlike in the case of the armies of other Asian countries, the growth of the Sri Lankan military largely coincided with the rise of Tamil militancy. It was only over the past two decades that the country's army grew into a professional fighting force from being a mostly ceremonial formation. It is engaged entirely in counter-insurgency operations in a society where ethnic identities tend to get polarised at the slightest provocation. Now the human rights record of the Sri Lanka Army is being challenged based on the accounts of a former soldier.

Senior military officials are keen that the culprits should be apprehended. According to one of them, the investigation's main thrust should be to "find the culprits and finish the case." He said that this would not be a difficult task since only a handful of people were alleged to have perpetrated the crime. When asked about the morale of the armed forces, he said that the soldiers were keen to bring the culprits to book since it would help correct the public perception about the army.

The "Chemmani case" has helped define the judiciary's role in a case like this. By pressing ahead with the case despite the inherent delays, the Magistrate brought the independence of the judiciary into sharp focus - especially so because the case involves military officials.

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International observers present at the exhumation were of the opinion that the decision to go ahead with the investigative process was unprecedented. They said that there were no instances of any government carrying out investigations on allegations of human rights violations by its military, when a conflict involving the military was on.

The Government's action will also be observed, particularly for its posturing on human rights. One of the main planks on which President Chandrika Kumara-tunga came to power was the promise of clean performance on the human rights front.

Pollock in perspective

A Jackson Pollock retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London occasions a reassessment of the Abstract Expressionist who is considered one of the most challenging and influential artists of this century.

JACKSON POLLOCK'S painting will endure, one feels. That is to say, even if what is asked of art comes to be very unlike what we want of it now, his painting will continue to be understood as art: it will not be taken for pictorial remains, merely, from another time and place. Saying so implies that whatever the practice of art may become, it will remain linked to what that practice now is, and to what it has been, in ways that enable art to have a history: and that is not at all obvious, given the sorts of things that are taken for art now. Arthur Danto, the noted American philosopher of art, has recently argued that the practice of art has become 'posthistorical': from which he concludes that "art can now be whatever artists and patrons want it to be" (and will continue, presumably, in that free state forever).

A comprehensive retrospective of Pollock's painting, the first in decades, is now going on at the Tate Gallery in London. It has come there from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibitions have been a great success, apparently, drawing crowds as well as critical acclaim: Pollock is as well-regarded a painter now as he ever was. But if Danto is right it may be of no consequence that Pollock's painting, or anyone's, endures: if art can be whatever artists and patrons want it to be, why should curators of museums not take art to have been whatever they want it to have been? There must be good reasons to resist Danto though, and here is one thing that should prompt us to do so: what Danto asserts of contemporary art cannot be said of science or poetry, say, or of any other sustained way of making sense of, and conducting ourselves coherently through, the world as we find it. But there is no room here to argue, so I am simply going to assume that art cannot, in fact, be whatever artists and patrons want it to be: that whatever may result, were that so, would not be enough like what we have so far called art to deserve the name.

Recent writing on Pollock has tried to tie his painting closely to the ideas his milieu would have afforded. That his intimates were all more or less under the spell of Carl Jung, for instance, has been stressed; and that Pollock was analysed for extended periods, by psychoanalysts who were decidedly Jungian, is accorded great importance. The attempt to set Pollock firmly in a time and place, in the New York of the 1940s and the early 1950s, was as much as anything a reaction to the Formalist reading of modernist American painting that Clement Greenberg got going in the 1950s: which came to dominate American criticism through the 1960s (and on, till postmodern practice made talk of painting seem, for a while, otiose). Formalist criticism, intent on tracking late Modernist painting as it supposedly discloses the essence of painting as an art, tended to neglect the larger culture around painting; so this sort of redress was needed. (Needless to say, this is a caricature of Formalist thought; and it may be worth noting now that Greenberg was reacting to the melodrama of Harold Rosenberg's 'existentialist' reading of Pollock; it was Rosenberg who coined the phrase "action painting" for Pollock's work.)

Besides Jung's writings, Pollock seems to have been familiar with what students of mid-century American life have come to call 'Modern Man' discourse: which was a popular mode of writing, mixing psychology and anthropology (among other things) to produce an account of the peculiarly riven creatures human beings are supposed to have become in the 20th century. It seems to have been a staple of Modern Man writing that 20th century civilisation had exacerbated, to an unprecedented degree, the tension between our reason and our unconscious instincts and drives. Jung's theories, as it happens, seemed to account for and point a way out of that predicament.

What Pollock made of Jung seems especially pertinent to a formal description of Pollock's earlier paintings: to an account of how they do whatever they are taken to be doing. Jung had taken certain visual symbols - certain motifs and images that seem common to cultures remote from each other - for natural signs, so to speak, of certain psychic 'principles' or powers; and a number of these motifs do appear in many of the drawings Pollock did while he was undergoing analysis. It is through these symbols, which are thought to connect individuals to Jung's 'collective unconscious', that our conscious minds are thought to retain what little contact they ordinarily have with Jung's principles (which 'primitive' man is thought to be much more in touch with than 'civilised' man. (Jung's notions allowed Pollock to value, and take into his painting in a considered way, the art of the supposedly primitive cultures of the Americas: of the surviving Amerindian tribes, and the destroyed Pre-Columbian societies.)

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The stated goal of Jungian analysis was to bring the conscious mind to a greater awareness of how these psychic agencies shape, or sometimes distort, our thought and action: and thereby to 'integrate' ourselves. How Pollock manipulates Jung's symbols in these drawings (the way he combines them to construct images, for instance) could be taken to show that Pollock tried, at the time, to understand himself in a Jungian way; he was not a passive analysand, apparently, and his therapy seemed to involve an attempt to grasp Jung's theories. What happens in these drawings could be seen as a reflection of that grappling with ideas; and some of what happens in the drawing can be seen in what Pollock painted at the time (around 1940, where Jung's symbols mix with Amerindian and Aztec imagery).

The more careful sort of writing that tries to set Pollock firmly in his time and place does not neglect his modernist pictorial sources. For instance, Michael Leja's Reframing Abstract Expressionism, which has become something of a standard, tries to point to how Pollock's manipulation of Jungian symbols is conditioned by his contact with the painting of Orozco and Picasso. (The catalogue for the retrospective, incidentally, leans heavily on Leja's book.) Leja is clear enough on this matter; but when he comes to draw the conclusion he most wants to - which is that Pollock's painting, however abstract it may come to look, always tried to depict the unconscious - Leja seems to lose his way.

He admits, without any seeming discomfort, that the unconscious is unrepresentable: and does not worry about the consequences of doing so. For if the unconscious cannot be visually represented, then no attempt to depict it is any better than any other: in which case the visual character Pollock's paintings have as attempts to depict the unconscious can have little to do with why they are works of art (and not merely paintings, so to speak). The character his paintings gain through their relation to Orozco or Picasso, on the other hand, has everything to do with why they are works of art: and so we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of not being able to relate, in formal terms, two principal facts about the painting.

Leja suggests elsewhere that Pollock's paintings could be taken for depictions of the unconscious because they conform to contemporary descriptions of it (in Modern Man writings, for instance). But the problem cannot be evaded that way. Many paintings might conform to a given description: but only some would be works of art and, again, because the unconscious is not a visible thing, whatever visual character these have through conforming to that description could not play a role in making them works of art. (Let me bring out an assumption I make here, which should make my argument plausible. If the fact of a painting depicting some object matters to its being a work of art, then what matters is how it depicts that object; and the manner in which the object is depicted will make the painting a work of art only if that depiction enters into certain discernible relations with how that object is otherwise visible, in the world, or in other depictions of it.)

Leja wants to maintain, against the Formalists apparently (for whom painting inevitably becomes abstract as it discloses its essence), that Pollock's painting always depicts something, somehow or other, even when it seems most abstract. But a nimble Formalist could grant that, actually, without abandoning his larger programme (consider Michael Fried's well-known reading of the work titled "Cut Out", for example, to see how) and the way Leja contests the detail of Formalist readings is not very persuasive. (His counter-reading of "Cut Out", at least, is not. Leja studied with T.J. Clark, who seems to have been the first historian to take the issue seriously with the Formalist reading of Abstract Expressionism. Clark and Fried, who seems the most sophisticated of Greenberg's heirs, disputed the matter in a series of essays and rejoinders in the late 1980s.)

How depiction enters into Pollock's painting, and what formal role the unconscious might play in its production, are complex and related questions. The kinds and degrees of control Pollock seems to exercise, over how he brushes or pours or drips (or splashes, trails, spatters, and so on) paint onto canvas, invites us to think of him as yielding, as he paints, to powers beyond his control; and what we know of him warrants thinking of these as unconscious forces or drives. To grant that is not, however, to grant that the unconscious factors acting on Pollock need to be understood in any particular way: as Jung might have, say, rather than Freud. In fact, when one comes to look at Pollock's most achieved painting - at "Lavender Mist", for instance, or at "Autumn Rhythm" or "One: Number 31, 1950" - the detail of psychoanalytic theory seems irrelevant.

A painting like "One: Number 31", once one begins to look in earnest, draws the eye across it in particular ways, and in doing so endows looking with a definite character: its contained turbulence - the way the painting appears to manifest the same power working through the painter, which he at once yields to and directs - at once compels and vivifies sight, let me hazard saying.

It is unlikely, of course, that any one way of talking will be better than every other in bringing out just how Pollock "controlled the paint" even as "in some way the painting controlled him", as Danto neatly puts it (in a review of the retrospective). But one should ask of a description that it enable the eye to see (or otherwise sense) how a painting might be a work of art (even if one cannot say just how it comes to be one). What was just said about "One: Number 31" may be thought to pick out some visual character the painting would have had wherever and whenever it was produced. That is doubtful; but even were it so, one doubts that "One: Number 31", had it been painted 50 years before it actually was, would have 'compelled' or 'vivified' the eye enough to pass for a work of art.

What I ventured about the look of "One: Number 31" and its effect on the beholder would have to be linked in certain ways, then, if they are to matter, to why this painting is a work of art. One would have to bring out the manual character of the actions that produced it in ways that make the effect a plausible consequence of the look on a beholder familiar with Pollock's modernist sources. How one describes the detail of its surface should make visible how the actions (pouring, trailing, flicking and so on) that produce that detail have grown, through the intervening painting, out of Pollock's early ways of drawing and brushing, which themselves have now to be seen, above all, as ways of coming to grips with certain painters.

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Orozco and Picasso have already been mentioned. Orozco seems to disappear from Pollock's painting quite early: by the time of "The She-Wolf" and "Pasiphae" certainly, where Picasso is an emphatic presence (as he often is till the mid-1940s.) Miro, actually, shapes Pollock's early painting almost as much as Picasso does, though how he does so is not nearly as obvious. Miro is evident in "Moby Dick"; but as Pollock develops Miro becomes an increasingly subtler presence, informing drawing and composition as a foil, of sorts, to the vigour Pollock's brushing gains from Picasso. One can see how quite easily in the "Stenographic Figure" (of 1942), but Miro has played his part in shaping a work like "Totem Lesson 2" (1944) as well; and, importantly, how Pollock learned from Miro is clear in the earliest work (of 1943) where line is poured and trailed out.

Pollock encounters Kandinsky sometime after the war; and the "Accabonac Creek" series (1946) records how Kandinsky made him reconsider the relation between colour, on the one hand, and drawing and brushing on the other. "The Sounds in the Grass" series of the same year addresses that relation in a very different way; and when Pollock begins pouring and trailing again (in black or white) the following year, the varying relation of these actions to the brushed-on colour around restates and explores that difference. (One could compare "Reflection of the Big Dipper" to "Full Fathom Five" here.)

"Summertime" and "Number 1A" of the following year (1948) discover new ways of relating pouring and trailing to colour: where action and colour divide between themselves, as it were, the formal load that drawing and brushing might have borne. "Summertime" is a formal summa of sorts, though, integrating everything Pollock has learned from Picasso and Miro and Kandinsky; while the quality of release the actions of pouring and trailing have in "Number 1A" points forward.

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Pollock seemed to move in a different direction in 1949, with works like "Cut Out"; but the pouring and trailing and flicking in the following year's "Autumn Rhythm" join the control of "Summertime" to the released action of "Number 1A" in ways that prepare the eye, finally, for the marvel of controlled release the painting body achieves, one is tempted to say, in "One: Number 1, 1950". (This a summary account, of course; but the genealogy sketched above has, I hope, persuaded the reader that the look of "One: Number 1" can be linked to its effect on the beholder in the required way.)

It seems significant that there should be a retrospective of Pollock's painting just now, when it looks as if (to put it as a manifesto might) Power has suborned Art: and has done so by seeming to allow artists extraordinary licence. (Consider the sorts of things transnational corporations sponsor as art.) One wonders if Pollock is going to be seen as an emblem now for what the radically free artist can do, once he is released from the burden of what art has been. But the artist's new freedom may be largely illusory, and what part of it is actual may have been bought at the cost of art; it seems particularly important, then, to insist that Pollock achieved what he did by mastering his past.

Pollock, a portrait

WYOMING-BORN Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) enrolled at the Art Students League, New York, in 1930. His early work was influenced by the methods and subject-matter of his teacher, the regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton, and consisted mostly of small landscapes and figurative scenes, such as "Going West".

Finding employment on a Federal Art Project as an easel painter provided him economic security during the Great Depression, and an opportunity to develop his art. Psychiatric treatment for alcoholism followed by a period of hospitalisation for nervous breakdown in 1937-38 changed the tone and tempo of his output. Pollock's work became semi-abstract and showed the assimilation of motifs from the Spanish artists, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. Other influences of this phase were Jungian symbolism, surrealism, and the Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco, who, humiliated by his own government, had sought refuge in the United States for a few years and painted murals in educational institutions. In the late 1930s and 1940s, the arrival on American shores of a host of surrealists and other European avant-garde artists, who were fleeing Nazi-dominated Europe, stimulated the native New York city painters, particularly the nascent Abstract Expressionists.

By 1947, Pollock had developed an abstract style, popularly known as action painting. He poured, dripped, splashed and sprayed commercial and metallic paints on large, raw canvases, placed on the floor, to transform complex and tangled skeins of paint into suggestive and exciting linear patterns.

In the 1950s, action painting became a dominant style in the U.S. and made New York the most advanced centre of modern art. Shortly before his early death in a car crash, Pollock abandoned the use of colour and painted only in black and white.

Lessons from the Communist Manifesto

A World to Win: Essays on the Communist Manifesto; LeftWord Books, 1999; Pages viii+148, Rs. 50.

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NEARLY a decade ago, in the wake of setbacks to socialism in Eastern Europe and in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the subsequent break-up of the USSR, ideologues of global capitalism proclaimed 'the end of history', with the implication that capitalism had defeated socialism, once and for all. Towards the end of the decade, the global picture does not appear so rosy for these ideologues. In 1998, the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto saw not despondency but the revival of energies and optimism among the votaries of socialism, in sharp contrast to the doomsday predictions of the early 1990s. More important, however, recognising the grave challenges facing the socialist project, Marxist movements and scholars have also sought to reflect on the Manifesto critically, in the context of contemporary global capitalism, to draw appropriate lessons for theory and for political practice. The book under review is the outcome of one such exercise. It brings together the essays of three eminent Indian social scientists of Marxist persuasion, reflecting upon various aspects of the Manifesto in the current context. Prakash Karat, a leading Marxist intellectual and member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has edited the volume and written an introduction to it.

The Manifesto is a remarkably influential document. A political tract written for a specific purpose at a particular historical conjuncture, it had appeared in 544 editions in 35 languages even prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917. There have been countless editions in numerous languages since. Only the Koran and the Bible have seen more editions than this far younger text. By any reckoning, the Manifesto has been most significant in the making of the modern world.

Professor Aijaz Ahmad, in his contribution, focusses on three aspects of the Manifesto: its assessment of the revolutionary potential of the bourgeoisie, the Marxist conception of 'laws' of history and the nature and role of the proletariat. He draws an insightful distinction between two different roles of the bourgeoisie as a 'revolutionary' class: an objectively revolutionary role, having to do with constant revolutionising of the methods of production, and a subjectively revolutionary role, involving the creation of a modern, secular, representative state. The Manifesto, being a short and terse pamphlet, fuses these two roles into one.

While the bourgeoisie may have played a revolutionary role in the overthrow of the feudal economy and polity in the 19th century Western Europe, the emergence of the working class as an independent political force changes the role of the bourgeoisie dramatically. Applying this insight of Gramsci and Lenin, Ahmad provides the following assessment of the role of the bourgeoisie in India:

"Instead of a 'revolutionary' bourgeoisie, we have something of a permanent, pre-emptive counter revolution, which only goes to show that in a society such as the one we have, even the tasks of a bourgeois revolution cannot be fully carried out except within a socialist transition" (page 33).

Discussing the Marxist conception of 'laws' of history, Ahmad distinguishes between two kinds of laws: those that are fundamental and immutable throughout the life of the capitalist mode of production and those that can be more properly called 'laws of tendency', not to be read teleologically. The drive towards greater class polarisation, increasing globalisation of the capitalist relations of production and the indispensability for capitalism of a bourgeois state would be examples of the former, while the tendency for the rate of profit to fall would be an example of the latter.

While bringing out the remarkable strengths of the Manifesto as a document of lasting relevance, Ahmad also makes some important critical remarks. Contrary to the expectations set out in the Manifesto, colonialism as part of the global expansion of capitalism has sharpened rather than diminished national specificity and identity. The theoretical edifice of the Manifesto has proved inadequate to deal with the drastic changes in the structure of colonialism which occurred in the second half of the 19th century. The incredible pace of social and economic change, characteristic of the capitalist mode of production and so clearly articulated by Marx, itself implies that "... an immense new theoretical labour is required to understand the world as we now have it" (page 42).

Finally, Ahmad reminds us that "...the fact of immiseration itself does not produce a consciousness of class unity. For that, the domain of consciousness has to be addressed in the very forms in which it experiences the world, and those forms are social and ideological in nature" (page 47).

Professor Irfan Habib describes the Manifesto as "... a splendid monument to the confident belief of Marxism's founding fathers that it was for thinking men, not blind 'matter', to rise and overthrow the existing order" (page 51). He emphasises that the proposition that all written history is the history of class struggles "... represents the core of the materialist conception of history, and the basic premise on which any Marxist historiography can be constructed" (page 53). Habib makes a further point: Marx's subsequent writings show clearly that he did not "seek any exceptionalism for areas outside Europe" as far as the logic of class struggle as the motor of history was concerned (page 58).

As Habib points out, the Manifesto's description of the rise of capitalism is seriously incomplete, inasmuch as the role of primitive accumulation is not recognised. Marx developed his brilliant thesis of primitive ("primary", "original") accumulation of capital later and set it out with great clarity in the first volume of Capital. Thus, the "... forcible expropriation of the peasants and colonial peoples (as against the simple conquest of rural and colonial markets) do not appear in the Manifesto..." (pages 63-64).

In a balanced summing up, Habib notes that its limitations notwithstanding, the relevance and value of the Manifesto have only grown further in today's context. In the face of setbacks to socialism in recent years, "... The working class of all countries needs to be rallied to the cause of socialism still more urgently..." (page 66). But he also points out that this requires that "... Marxian theory should be closely and critically grasped" (page 67).

Professor Prabhat Patnaik, in a very insightful essay on the Manifesto, makes several critical observations. He recognises that the Manifesto "... vastly enhanced the appeal of socialism by converting it from a mere dream to an imminently realisable historical project" (pages 70-71). But it had several limitations: it covered a very limited terrain, namely the 'advanced' countries of Western Europe; it visualised a pure proletarian revolution; it focussed only on capitalism, and that too as a closed system, "... in isolation from colonies, from imperialism, from the international economy (including inter-capitalist relations)" (page 72).

Patnaik points out that imperial exploitation of colonies played an important role in preventing the social explosion in advanced capitalist societies that the Manifesto anticipated. Pointing out that Marx and Engels became very sensitive to these issues in the years that followed the publication of the Manifesto, with Marx visualising an uprising in India even before a worker's revolution in England, and Engels remarking on the connections between England's exploitation of the whole and the bourgeoisification of the English working class, Patnaik nevertheless concludes rather harshly that:

"The unified theory of the Manifesto (including its perception of praxis) therefore was barren in terms of its revolutionary outcome" (page 73).

Tracing subsequent theoretical developments and highlighting Lenin's contribution, Patnaik discusses at some length the nature of Marxian theory itself. Given its essential focus on revolutionary practice, which itself changes societal conditions and thereby creates the need for fresh theorisation, Marxian theory cannot be a closed system. It is, rather, "... a phenomenon that is in a continuous process of reconstruction" (page 76). Equally important, such theory is at all times necessarily incomplete. An example of an important dimension of 'incompleteness' in Marxist theory is the question of the nature of interaction between capitalism and colonies, which, in Patnaik's words, "remains an area of silence of Marxist theory..." (page 77, emphasis added).

While continuous reconstitution of Marxist theory is thus required along with the recognition of its 'non-finality' and essential openness, it must be emphasised that such reconstitution is built around a core, which itself is enriched by the process of reconstitution. That core of Marxism can be located in the Manifesto, and has been enriched by the subsequent work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and later Marxist practitioners. Patnaik makes the point that such reconstitution of Marxism is occurring constantly, ".... for otherwise Marxism would have been dead by now" (page 78). However, his assertion that "....The remarkable recent innovations introduced by the Communist movement in the form of decentralised planning and the Panchayat system amount to a reconstitution of Marxism" (page 78) is far too terse and needs elaboration and substantiation.

In the last two sections of his essay, Patnaik traces the emerging global capitalist crisis and its implications for the Third World. He notes that globalised finance capital: (a) has eroded the basis for significant state intervention; (b) is a major cause of crisis and stagnation in world capitalism; and (c) places the Third World in acute economic and political crisis. In particular, the operations of globalised finance capital lead the Third World countries to "... a palpable loss of sovereignty..." (page 84). This implies the curtailment of democracy as well, with demands for 'presidential' forms of government, for fixing the minimum tenure of Parliament and so on. Also, with all ruling parties succumbing to the dictates of international finance capital, the electorate has little choice whenever elections are held. Finally, the crisis of the economy provides a fertile soil for the growth of communal and divisive forces.

Patnaik concludes that the only alternative to such a combination of economic crisis and social strife, accompanied by erosion of national sovereignty and of democratic rights, is the revival of the socialist project. In his view, "Such a revival would certainly bring about a new unified theory appropriate for its tasks. And the dazzling insights of the Communist Manifesto would certainly go into the making of such a new theoretical unity" (page 86).

Prakash Karat, in his introductory essay, highlights the need to understand properly the nation-state as an arena of class struggle in the current era of globalised finance capital. Pointing out that currently the bourgeois-landlord ruling classes in most Third World countries "... have abandoned the quest for a relatively autonomous development of capitalism within their countries" (page 6), Prakash Karat argues that "the nation-state and its mechanisms cannot be left to be wielded by the domestic ruling classes to implement the dictates of international finance" (page 7). Noting that the aggravation of national and ethnic/religious divisions helps imperialism, Karat argues that the Left should counter this:

"The Left cannot aspire for national hegemony unless it doggedly builds a democratic movement which incorporates and guarantees the rights of ethnic and religious minorities" (page 9).

Karat draws attention to the fact that even while the size of the working class, globally and in India, has not diminished, its composition and internal structure have changed. Pointing out that the working class in India remains divided on caste and ethnic lines, Karat observes candidly: "Very little attention has been paid to the formation of class consciousness by ideological and cultural intervention to supplement the political-organizational activities" (page 10). He also make the important point that "... it is necessary that the working class party take up the gender specific issues of proletarian women along with the class exploitation they face. Without women workers being an integral part of the movement, the Manifesto's aim of the immense majority led by the working class winning the 'battle of democracy' is inconceivable" (page 11).

Finally, Karat notes that the Communist movement in India has withstood the global crisis of socialism in recent years and wields significant political influence (with membership in Left parties running to 1.5 million and that of Left-oriented class and mass organisations running to between 55 million and 60 million). Yet, "... there is a neglect of theory and inadequate attention is paid to the resources which can go into strengthening theoretical work" (pages 12-13).

The book has a very interesting note on the publishing history of the Manifesto in Indian languages, besides the text of the Manifesto as well as the preface to the English edition of 1888 by Engels.

This book launches the series of LeftWord Books and is dedicated to the memory of one of the tallest Marxist practitioner-theoreticians of the 20th century, E.M.S. Namboodiripad. It is a most worthwhile and timely publication.

Political economy of reforms

The Political Economy of Development in India: Expanded Edition with an Epilogue on the Political Economy of Reform in India by Pranab Bardhan; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998; pages 153, Rs. 150.

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WHEN the original version of this book dealing with the political economy of development in India appeared in 1984, it received a great deal of attention because it was a rather rare attempt, especially by an economist, to interpret the problems of economic development in the country in the context of political processes based on what the author had identified as the leading class interests. P. N. Dhar, economist and for some time Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had described it as a "notable contribution in a field which, though exceedingly important, has been neglected by Indian economists."

Although Bardhan, who is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, United States, had then expressed concern over prevailing mass poverty in the country, and thus over the distributive aspect of development, he had, for his analytical purposes, identified development with economic growth. His justification for doing so was his perception that the sluggish economic growth in the post-Independence period itself was the main cause for the persistence of mass poverty. And so, towards the end of his introductory chapter he had posed the central development question as: "What are the factors that constrain the growth performance in India" (page 8). He went on to say: "I shall focus primarily on the political and economic constraints, and bring out the role of public investment in the agricultural and industrial infrastructure, and of public management of capital, as key determinants of economic growth. In connection with this role of the public sector, I shall explore the nature of the Indian state and its relationship with society, and the kind of economic classes that dominate the latter and the types of pressures for patronage and subsidies that they generate. I shall then try to trace the impact of these forces on the functioning of the economy, especially its growth process, and on the functioning of the polity, especially its democratic process" (page 9).

I shall briefly indicate how Bardhan elaborates this political economy analysis of development before turning to an exposition and critique of his political economy treatment of reforms. Bardhan recognises the plurality and heterogeneity of interest groups or classes on the Indian scene, but for analytical purposes concentrates on "proprietary classes", dividing them into three groups - the industrial capitalist class, the rich farmers, and the "professionals" consisting of the civil and military bureaucracy and white-collar workers of all kinds. Although these three classes together may constitute only 20 per cent or so of the Indian population, numerically they are a large segment and economically they are the most powerful section. Each one of these groups is interested in protecting and promoting its own interests. How they achieve it using the state as a means is the crux of the political economy problem that Bardhan deals with. The role of the state is significant not only because it exercises political and legal powers, but also and mainly because in a regime of state-dominated planned economic development the state owns and controls a substantial share of economic resources.

In terms of this analytical approach Bardhan makes a review of planned economic development in India of the first three decades since Independence. Over this period the state became a dominant economic power, an "overdeveloped" one, by virtue of the large public sector owned by it, its key role in capital formation, the controls it came to have over the allocation of credit and, above all, the manifold regulatory powers it acquired. Because of such enormous power the state did not become a mere tool in the hands of any of the interest groups. It had a large measure of autonomy which it used to reconcile or constrain inter-class conflicts and thus to shape class realignments.

However, the groups constantly strove to take advantage of the policies and programmes of the state and succeeded in large measure. A few examples may be recalled. It is well known how the big business groups were able to utilise even the measures aimed at preventing monopolies to build up their own empires. The rich farmers succeeded in strengthening their position through a variety of state-sponsored efforts to make the country self-sufficient in food. The professionals exercised their influence over the state to shape policies of taxation and subsidies and thus to divert public funds for their benefit. "The Indian public economy has thus become an elaborate network of patronage and subsidies. The heterogeneous proprietary classes fight and bargain for their share in the spoils of the system and often strike compromises in the form of 'log-rolling' in the usual fashion of pressure group" (pages 65-66).

These processes led to two consequences, according to Bardhan. First, the private draining of public resources led to a gradual, but dangerous, decline in both public and private investment in the economy and consequently slowed down the growth rate. The fiscal crisis that developed (growth of non-developmental public expenditure, budget deficits and so on) also made it virtually impossible to continue the strategy of state-dominated economic development.

On the other hand, the class balance and heterogeneity may have indirectly contributed to the maintenance of democratic processes. Bardhan's interpretation of the situation reads: "In a country where the elements in the dominant coalition are diverse, and each sufficiently strong to exert pressures and pulls in different directions, political democracy may have a slightly better chance."

The combination of these two had, by the early 1980s, led to something of a low-level political economic equilibrium whose stability Bardhan was not sure of when he wound up his analysis.

In the Epilogue, Bardhan's attempt is to use his analytical frame for an understanding of the political economy of the Reforms started in the early 1990s. He recognises "an increase in the diversity, fluidity, and fragmentation in the coalition of dominant interest groups" (page 131). The industrial bourgeoisie is divided, some enthusiastically supporting liberalisation and globalisation and others continuing to seek state support at least to ensure a level playing field. The rich farmer families are diversifying their investments, often branching out into trade, transport, small industry and real estate. And a section of the bureaucracy grudgingly accepts that the state had over-extended itself in the economy. These changes and realignments of the dominant coalition have led to some measure of support for deregulatory reforms.

Secondly, in the realm of politics there has been something of a shift from the Centre to the regions and in favour of the backward and lower castes. Bardhan admits that this is an expression of the "victorious march of democracy in India" although it has its "banality and gaudiness" and the propensity to become populist.

Bardhan also recognises a disjuncture between economics and politics in this situation. On the one hand, the dominant elite, who till now were eager to use the state for their economic advantage, have accepted market-oriented reforms both as beneficial and irreversible. On the other hand, some of the major political events in the last decade and the emphasis they give to group equity and special dispensation to emerging groups are essentially anti-market. They amount, according to Bardhan, "to a drowning of considerations of efficiency in the name of inter-group equity" (page 134). At this point the economist in Bardhan comes out clearly and decisively. "Our collective passion for group equity, for group rather than individual rights, and the deep suspicion of competition... work against the market and allocational efficiency" (page 136).

But, surely, from a political economy perspective this uncritical acceptance of the market - the allocative efficiency it is supposed to achieve and the individual rights it is assumed to guarantee - is not defensible. For, while the market is a useful social institution and arguably can have a greater role in the Indian economy, the allocative efficiency it brings about is not unambiguous, but is conditioned by the pattern of the distribution of resources among the participants, and will favour those who are well endowed. The market does not guarantee the rights of the individual: at best it confers benefits on those who have the resources to make use of it.

The political economy issue of distributive justice cannot be pushed aside merely by invoking the alleged allocative efficiency of the market and competition. It becomes more palpable and pertinent in a situation as in India where, as Bardhan documents in this book, the distribution of resources is glaringly unequal and millions of people cannot claim to have any physical resources at all. There will, therefore, be tension between the economic exclusiveness that the market forces make a reality, and the political inclusiveness which is the essence of democracy. The modalities of resolving this tension are historically contingent, but emphasising group equity is a fairly standard procedure. This emphasis is not an end in itself. Those who plead for group equity are not primarily concerned with the group as such. Their interest is in achieving individual rights, mainly economic rights, but they see in the group the political power to achieve their individual objectives.

Surprisingly, Bardhan does not seem to be aware of this basic principle of political economy, possibly because by reducing development to economic growth and by attributing mass poverty solely to the inadequacy of growth in the 1984 version of the book, he had failed to place the distributive issue at the centre of what he claimed to be a political economy analysis.

Probing military debacles

Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba, edited by Peter Kornbluh; The New Press, New York; pages 339, $17.95.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Documents Reader; edited by Laurence Chang and Peter Kornbluh; The New Press, New York; $19.95.

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President's Secret Warsby John Prados; Ivan R. Dee, Inc., Chicago; pages 572, $17.95.

NEARLY four decades after the event, the Government of India still refuses to publish the Henderson-Brooks Report on the Indian Army's reverses in the war of 1962. As mentioned in detail earlier, Neville Maxwell has a copy ("Looking back"; Frontline, April 10, 1992). His recent article in Economic & Political Weekly confirms the fact. ("Sino-Indian Border Dispute Reconsidered"; April 10, 1999; footnote 65 refers to the then Director-General of Military Operations, Brigadier D.K. Palit, as "one of the quartet of officers blamed for the debacle in the Army's Official Report (still unreleased) but who rose to be Major-General".)

Neither morally nor politically nor militarily was that debacle at all comparable to the one which the United States invited through its mad venture in the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. Its sole object was to overthrow the Government of President Fidel Castro in Cuba through a military invasion mounted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the approval of two Presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, who was barely 12 weeks in office. The historian Theodore Draper aptly characterised it as "one of those rare events in history - a perfect failure." The 1,400-man Cuban exile force called Brigade 2506 was crushed by Castro's far larger military and militia in less than 72 hours. Some 114 of its members were killed; as many as 1,189 were captured.

It was originally conceived as "Operation Zapata", which the Pentagon aptly called "Operation Bumpy Road", with a $4-million budget for a covert infiltration project to train a cadre of insurgency leaders and drop them into the Escambray mountains. It grew to a $46-million overt amphibious assault. The U.S. had 27 agents within Cuba when it severed diplomatic relations with the small southern neighbour in January 1961.

The next year, fearing another invasion, Castro signed a defence pact with the Soviet Union and accepted the installation of its missiles on Cuban soil. The Bay of Pigs venture sowed the seeds of the gravest crisis during the entire Cold War - the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. Unlike the Henderson-Brooks Report, we now have authentic official records of both as well as of some later CIA ventures.

Almost immediately after the 1961 debacle, CIA Director Allen Dulles asked the agency's Inspector-General, Lyman Kirkpatrick, to conduct an inquiry. For six months he interviewed 125 CIA employees at various levels and read a mass of documents. "The Inspector-General's Survey of the Cuban Operation" was "perhaps the most brutally honest self-examination ever conducted inside the agency." It was also a model of clarity and brevity in its 150 pages.

The architect of the operation, Richard Bissell, the CIA's Deputy Director of Plans, felt "wounded" by the Report and wrote a comprehensive reply which the new Director, John McCone, ordered to be permanently attached to the Report. He also ordered Kirkpatrick to provide him with the distribution list of all its 20 copies. Most of the copies were burnt. The remaining copies were kept under lock and key. In unfriendly hands, Deputy Director-General Charles P. Cabell wrote on December 15, 1961, the Report "could become a weapon unjustifiably (used) to attack the entire mission, organisation, and functioning of the Agency."

That came to pass on February 19, 1998 when the CIA provided the Kirkpatrick report to the National Security Archive, a public interest research library skilled in the use of the Freedom of Information Act. Its staff is committed to the pursuit of transparency and the truth on defence and foreign affairs. It has published the Report with an able introduction by Peter Kornbluh. The publisher, the New Press, is a non-profit alternative to the big commercial publishing houses which dominate the business of book publishing. It operates in the public interest. The first two volumes are a fine product of collaboration between the Archive and publishers. The second volume is a compilation of documents on the missile crisis in 1962, mostly unpublished hitherto. Others in the series cover the Iran-Contra Scandal, The Kissinger Transcripts and White House E-mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan/Bush White House Tried to Destroy.

The National Security Archive worked for the declassification of the Report since 1996. "Two factors provided leverage for eventual declassification: first, President Clinton's 1995 Executive Order that all secret documents over 25 years old be processed for release; and second, the CIA's own announcement in 1992 that it would begin a historical review of 11 past covert operations as part of a new post-Cold War 'openness campaign'. "

Amazingly, the Cubans knew of the U.S. plans in advance and the CIA knew that the Cubans were in the know, as Kornbluh writes: "As early as November 1960, Cuban intelligence sent a report to Moscow on CIA training of the anti-Castro exiles in Guatemala; and in early April 1961, the CIA intercepted a cable from the Soviet embassy in Mexico City accurately stating that the invasion was expected on April 17. On April 9, The New York Times published a front-page story - considerably watered down after a call from the President - titled 'Anti-Castro Units Trained to Fight at Florida Bases'. Castro 'didn't need agents over here,' Kennedy exclaimed. 'All he has to do is read our papers.' Even worse, the U.S. role in the preliminary air strike on April 15 was immediately exposed to the world - before the full invasion took place."

The New York Times correspondent Tom Wicker mentioned an interesting fact in his memoir On Press (1975). He wrote: "After the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy sternly and publicly warned broadcasters and newspapers to 're-examine their own responsibilities' and ask of every story they proposed to print: 'Is it in the interest of national security?' But two weeks later, in the privacy of the White House, he told Managing Editor Turner Coatledge of The New York Times: 'Maybe if you had printed more about the operation you would have saved us from a colossal mistake.'"

Eisenhower admonished CIA officials when he authorised the project on March 17, 1960: "The main thing was not to let the U.S. hand show." That hand was apparent even before the assault. Kennedy made significant changes in the plan: he changed landing sites, decided on night deployment instead of a day-time assault, and effected a reduction in air strikes. He cancelled "a second planned air strike on D-day, which the CIA considered critical for the success of the operation." Kirkpatrick found, however, that this was not "the chief cause of failure."

In the aftermath of the fiasco, two schools of thought emerged. One blamed Kennedy for cancelling the second air strike and for not salvaging the operation through active military intervention. The other blamed the CIA for misleading the President with wrong assessments. Fidel Castro's popularity was evident to all, except to the CIA.

The editor makes a highly relevant point: "In the historiography of the invasion, why it failed is less important than the foreign policy attitudes, assumptions, and actions that contributed to this human, political, and foreign policy tragedy. 'I don't think that the failure was because of the want of a nail.' Kennedy's National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy, testified during one post-invasion inquiry. 'I think that the men who worked on this got into a world of their own.'"

In his response to the report, Bissell made a revealing statement. The CIA's successful operation against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 "was an analogy and a precedent" for the Bay of Pigs episode. In August 1960, he had sought authorisation for a CIA-Mafia plot to assassinate Castro. According to another CIA Inspector-General's Report of May 23, 1967, "at the very moment President Kennedy was shot, a CIA officer was meeting with a Cuban agent in Paris and giving him an assassination device for use against Castro."

Kirkpatrick's Report listed the flaws meticulously - "bad planning", faulty intelligence, "fragmentation of authority", mistreatment of the exiles and "failure to advise the President that success had become dubious." He was, however, too optimistic by half: "It is assumed that the Agency, because of its experience in the Cuban operation, will never again engage in an operation that is essentially an overt military effort."

He was sensitive to the conflict between interests and values. "Inherent in this situation was a clear conflict between two goals, a conflict of the sort familiar in recent U.S. history. One objective was that, mainly through the various activities comprised in this project, the Castro regime should be overthrown. The other was that the political and moral posture of the U.S. before the world at large should not be impaired. The basic method of resolving this conflict of objectives that was resorted to was to seek to carry out actions against Castro in such a manner that the official responsibility of the U.S. Government could be disclaimed. If complete deniability had been consistent with maximum effectiveness, there would theoretically have remained no conflict of goals but in fact this could not be (and never is) the case" (emphasis added).

Bissell drew a different conclusion - support an operation only if your are prepared "to use whatever force is needed to achieve success." Both Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell had to leave office. When Kennedy said in the latter's praise "he leaves an enduring legacy", he made, unwittingly, a prophecy which came true with baleful consequences. "The Bissell mindset - a combination of imperial arrogance, ethnocentric ignorance and a false sense of U.S. omnipotence - has dominated the history of covert operations since the Bay of Pigs."

That record is ably documented by Prof. John Prados. It covers the entire period from the last days of the Second World War to the Iran-Contra scandal. It is a most useful volume for reference. The author delivers a warning which all governments should heed - covert military operations contribute little to security and create more problems than they solve.

'The idea of a nuclear deterrent is questionable'

Interview with Dr. Richard L. Garwin.

Dr. Richard L. Garwin, an experimental physicist, has worked in the field of nuclear weapons since 1950. As a consultant to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, he was responsible for converting into a workable blueprint the first rough outline made by Edward Teller of the hydrogen bomb. Subsequently, while working with IBM at its research division, he continued to be a consultant to Los Alamos on nuclear weapons, focussing on issues relating to the development and testing of diagnostic tools connected with the functioning of new nuclear weapon designs. He was also soon involved in the study of security issues as a consultant to the United States Government.

Dr. Garwin's assignments with the United States Government includes two four-year terms on the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) in the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. Apart from being on the Strategic Military Panel of the PSAC, he has been consultant and adviser on a range of subjects including military aircraft, transportation, naval warfare, anti-submarine warfare and aerial and satellite photography and been part of the early negotiations on a ban on nuclear tests.

Dr. Garwin has been actively involved in the debate over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), his inputs dealing mainly with the scientific issues involved. Dr. Garwin was a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the National Academy of Sciences when the committee issued its report titled "The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy". The report advocated deep cuts in a very short term in the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and a unilateral no-first-strike declaration by the United States. Dr. Garwin served as a member of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat, appointed by the U.S. Congress in 1997, the so-called Rumsfeld Commission.

Dr. Garwin was recently in India as a member of the CISAC delegation that participated in an Indo-U.S. dialogue on nuclear issues organised by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. Dr. Garwin spoke at length to T. Jayaraman on a number of issues related to nuclear weapons in the South Asian and global contexts. Excerpts from the interview:

On Pokhran-II

I find the reason to test very peculiar. That China invaded India in 1962. And China is an aggressive country, that India has had three wars in 50 years with Pakistan. All those are no reason. If that is the best argument that could be made, it is a very poor argument for testing in 1998. You know, we got to test before China actually becomes a friendly capitalist country, then we will not have any excuse at all! Anyhow it does really seem to me, from the information that I have seen here and from what is known in the United States, that (it is) peculiarly, in India, a product of the scientific community. It is just not a demand by the military, but really the scientists doing it on their own. Which I think is actually a disservice to the country. There has always been a great esteem in India for research. But research really ought to advance the state of science far enough to benefit the country. When I was here in 1960 at the invitation of Homi J. Bhabha (the late Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission) I thought that really there ought to be much more effort on the technology side in India and perhaps less emphasis on pure scientific research which decoupled from the economy. But of course, I say that in the United States as well in some cases.

On safety of nuclear weapons

When you have nuclear weapons, the most important thing is that, depending on the numbers, you do not have a nuclear explosion when you do not want them. And over the years the United States worked out criteria, that in case of a maximum credible accident the probability of having a nuclear explosion should be less than four parts in a million. Not zero, but four parts in a million. And without accidents any nuclear weapon should have less than one part in a billion chance, in its lifetime, of having a nuclear explosion. And if there is an explosion in those circumstances, how do you find us a fission yield of less than two kilograms of high-explosive equivalent? That is really very small. That criterion was set by the Navy, I believe, so that if you have a nuclear explosion of that magnitude, the range in which people would be killed by radiation would be less than that in which they would be killed by the explosive itself - typically hundreds of kilograms of explosive is required to assemble a nuclear weapon. And in order to prevent accidents resulting in nuclear explosions, which are likely - like dropping the weapon, having a fire, having a short-circuit either in the launch vehicle or in the nuclear weapon itself - one needs to have redundant design, like the ones we use in airplanes to keep them flying, or (make it possible) for them to return home (airplanes crash after all). So redundant design so that you do not have a critical assembly in case, for instance, of detonating the explosive at a single point. In our early explosives, for instance, we kept the fissile material separate from the explosive and inserted it only in flight, of course manually, and then chemical, screw-type devices so that if there were an accident the explosive detonated would have nothing to do with the fissile material, you would not have any kind of nuclear reaction. So that is really important.

And then in the late 1950s we had the one-point safe criterion. Typically an implosion weapon has many points of detonation, and (you) must have at least two mechanically separate explosive points of detonation. Otherwise if you detonate at that one point you will get the full yield. So even though you can have an explosive distribution system, it will have to be at least two, and maybe, in some cases, dozens of points of detonation. And the system has to be such, in our case, that if you detonate the explosive at the worst point, again the fission yield should be less than two kilograms of high-explosive equivalent. So we actually tested all of our weapons to make sure that they are one-point safe. And if you have a lot of weapons it is desirable. "Weaponeers" want to do that. But it is an expensive system; it is a discipline that has to be maintained. One needs a good deal of independence and openness within the community in order to ensure that the weapons are safe.

The so-called "hydronuclear tests", conducted between 1959 and 1961, were important for the route that we chose. Because, in those days one could not calculate well enough the behaviour of the plutonium driven by high-explosive especially when it was not symmetrically imploded, or that was imploded by a one-point detonation. And so, that is at least a two-dimensional problem rather than a one-dimensional radius versus time and so although people designed these things to be one-point safe they were not sure. So we did a number of tests. It takes something like 60 such tests, because we do not just take a nuclear weapon and put it in a shallow well and ignite it at one point and say "good, it did not give a fission yield, it is one-point safe," because it might give a fission yield of kilotons and then it would not be properly contained. And so we made these tests with smaller amounts of plutonium and strong neutron sources to make sure that it did not have a yield and then gradually increased the amount of plutonium. But that whole approach is unnecessary if one instead says, "I will take the approach of separating the explosive from the fissile core," that would be perfectly valid, in which case there would be no relevance of one-point safety. It would be one-point safe because it would be separate. But we did use explosive testing and we had tiny yields because of this "creep up" process but we used a lot of plutonium and we used a lot of tests for that purpose. But they are not necessary any more because you could take the other approach, and the United States of course does not need to do it because all of our weapons in the enduring stockpile, about eight types, have been thoroughly tested. So we have no need, we signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We do non-nuclear tests, there is no hydronuclear (test), our criterion is that we do not approach criticality, that we will fire no system that exceeds a reproduction factor of 0.8 or something like that. One is critical, and two, probably, is the condition that is obtained in a real nuclear explosion. So no explosions will take place at all.

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I should also say that we do have hydrodynamic tests. These take place underground. I have been critical of the government for doing this. I have also said that we must be transparent about this and in fact the Department of Energy has been. Although they have gotten no publicity at all. Most of these tests, so far, have been little coins of plutonium driven by high-explosive. You are just looking at the surface behaviour of plutonium, and the scientists would like to understand in particular how, when they re-manufacture a nuclear weapon after 30 years or 50 years, they have to be very careful about the machining of the plutonium because they never studied that in the past. In my opinion that is justified, if the responsibility of these people is to maintain reliable nuclear weapons. But all these details have to do only with reliability, not safety.

On the dangers of unauthorised and accidental launch of nuclear weapons

But then beyond that is the question of the safety of the overall system. You may have a weapon that is perfectly safe, but it goes off when it is commanded to go off. And so the question is not just of the accidental explosion but of inadvertent or unauthorised launch. And specially where there are ethnic animosities, and especially when the weapons are ready to use, the whole system could be misused even by those people who have physical possession of the weapons or because of an invalid assessment of the situation. So a lot more effort has to go into ensuring that the system cannot be launched unless two people, who independently turn their keys, receive coded orders so (that) they cannot just collude to launch the weapon but they actually must enter the numbers that they receive by encrypted channels into the system. And furthermore the mechanical assurance that is in the United States, introduced in 1962, the Permissive Action Link, which goes to the warhead itself. Even though the aircraft may drop the bomb, the missile may be launched carrying the warhead to the terminal area, the bomb will not explode unless it has set into it the coded signal which is a separate authorisation. It is highly desirable to have such a thing. But those are routine but costly design features and there is no doubt that anybody who puts his or her mind to it and invests sufficient resources can accomplish that.

Dr. Garwin: Yeah, costly. According to The Atomic Audit, 86 per cent of the cost went to command and control, including the safety features. Then, of course, you have to modify the system as a result. You need to have more people involved, you need to have preventive means, and then at the same time authorising means. So there is this big tension between having a system that will actually launch the missiles when there is a valid national command authority decision to do so and a system that will not launch unless there is that authority. It is costly, it takes time. But it can be done.

If it is not done then, of course the weapons are a tremendous danger to the country themselves. The biggest danger is from unauthorised or accidental launch. The other side, in the case of the reasons for these nuclear weapons, are nuclear arms themselves. Even though your weapon which is launched by mistake may be out in the field someplace, the weapons that will deter you will hit your cities. It is not simply a nuclear explosion from the deployment side of the weapon. And in order to minimise all these problems, which are very serious problems, it is better not to have a doctrine or a system that needs to be launched rapidly. So not to have a doctrine to try to destroy something that is time urgent on the other side, like the nuclear force of the other side before it can be readied and used, and a system which is not vulnerable so that there is no question of it having to be launched before it is destroyed.

So that has been a terrible problem for the United States, has forced the evolution of our systems, from aircraft which had a reasonable probability of delivering the weapons but were very vulnerable to Soviet attack, especially when they got missiles (fortunately we never had an unauthorised nuclear explosion or an accidental nuclear explosion), to silos of missiles that could be launched rapidly but were vulnerable because they were outside. The silos became increasingly hard, because the accuracy on the other side improves.

So the best thing for a deterrent would be to have the actual warheads in caves, which could be gotten out through one or another entrance after hours or days and put them on remaining delivery means, but could be not days but a few weeks, and that way you could have mated only a small number of warheads to aircraft or to missiles. Then they are more vulnerable because there are fewer of them than if you have the warheads themselves properly protected and then you use whatever delivery vehicle was available afterwards.

But the whole idea of nuclear retaliatory forces, or a deterrent, is really quite questionable and what we need are not more independent nuclear forces, we need more people who will take a leadership role, in the United Nations for instance, and the other nations of the world, to respond to aggression, and especially to nuclear aggression. So I have advocated great reductions in U.S. nuclear forces. Instead of the 30,000 that we had in the peak of 1967 and perhaps something like 15,000 nuclear weapons now, we should have a total of 1,000 nuclear weapons as soon as possible. Within just a year or two, we could, not necessarily disassemble them all, but de-militarise them. And then try to transfer the responsibility for these nuclear weapons to the United Nations so that they would be used not for the protection of the United States but for the protection of all peaceful nations against attack. And especially if a nation espouses no-first-use which I advocate. In fact this is the one thing I say that speaks for the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC), in that blue volume (refers to the CISAC report, The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy), is that we explicitly advocate a unilateral no-first-use posture on the part of the United States. Not a treaty, it does not matter whether other people have no-first-use, we should have no-first-use of nuclear weapons. And that means no use of nuclear weapons even in response to a biological or chemical attack. So if you have a no-first-use doctrine, and you really mean it, then there is no hurry to respond through nuclear weapons.

The first-use and the vulnerability and the need to launch before they are destroyed is what has driven our nuclear force to great numbers and to very dangerous postures.

Effects of nuclear weapons and deterrence

The effects of nuclear weapons on cities ought to be more thoroughly discussed in the press. We have a lot of studies in the 1960s made in the United States by the Office of Technology Assessment of the effects of nuclear weapons detonated on Detroit, or other places, Birmingham, England, some Soviet cities. And if we get back even to the 10-20 kiloton devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 100,000 people killed in each case, the cities levelled. But that is still what will happen. Some people say, well, Pakistan would never use a nuclear weapon against India, and vice versa because we are so close and the winds will carry the debris and thousands would be killed and people will not stay at home. But that is not true. The devastation from an air-burst is local. Now if it is not raining, and basically you have no-first-use and so whatever you have no particular urgency of making a first-strike, there is no particular urgency. But if it is not raining, then the air-burst carries all of the fission products and radioactive materials up and it comes down all over the world in a couple of years. The fact is that the United States had many dozens of detonations, air-bursts, in its continental test site in Nevada and we did have fallout across the country. But overall, these magnitudes are really important, the 300 or so megatons of fission in the atmosphere involved in the nuclear tests would probably have killed, let us say 300,000 people worldwide, and that is over generations, due to fallout. Now that is a thousand people per megaton for worldwide fallout. So for 10 kilotons what would be the worldwide fallout contribution? It is about 10 people. So you kill 100,000 (or) 200,000 people locally from the intended explosion, you kill 10 people over many generations in the whole world. That is not enough to deter the use of nuclear weapons. It was not even enough to deter the testing of nuclear weapons. So people really ought to understand what would be the effect of nuclear weapons, the reason why if somebody has 100 nuclear weapons we should not feel secure. If you have a thousand nuclear weapons or a million nuclear weapons it really does not change your security at all to be able to wreak much more devastation on them. They are adequately deterred from the intention of the use of nuclear weapons if you had 10 probably; but much better the deterrence because there is nothing today and because the nations of the world would respond rather than having every individual nation have a nuclear system and threaten devastation on its neighbours.

On the anti-ballistic missile defence debate in the U.S.

McNamara in his famous San Francisco speech, in 1967 I guess, said that we were going to deploy a limited defence system against the Chinese. This was an excuse. McNamara said that the Chinese had on their launch pad an ICBM which might be fired, tested, within six weeks. But it took 11 years before it came. So it was an excuse for deploying a national missile defence system because there were the elections coming up and President Johnson thought that he was vulnerable to charges from the Republicans that he was not protecting against the nuclear threat.

And that is where we are now. Again the Republicans in Congress have been badgering the Clinton administration, saying that in 1983 Reagan announced the Strategic Defence Initiative. And they say what everybody knows really that, if you stop to think about it, you do not really have a defence against nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. We could not defend against even one nuclear weapon, coming maybe from North Korea. But the fact is, I was on the Rumsfeld Commission last year and I have been on television with Don Rumsfeld and others, but the fact is we are totally vulnerable as a nation, not only to nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles, but to nuclear weapons that are detonated in harbours, to nuclear weapons on short-range ballistic missiles on ships, to cruise missiles, with nuclear weapons that are available commercially that can be launched from ships 20 km, 100 km offshore. And it would be a folly, you notice the word folly, to defend against the nuclear-armed ballistic missile from so-called rogue nations. Again it would be much easier for them, and more reliable if they do not have a much bigger force, if they would use these other delivery means. And so it is totally unbalanced. There is a very careful choreography on the Republican side of how they present this, this threat and a make-believe, without this, create this total vacuum of the discussion of the other threats. And the fact that this is a dangerous world. And the first thing that one should do is, first understand that any nation that uses nuclear weapons against any other nation is going to be wiped out. At least if it uses (nuclear weapons) against nuclear powers. But if it uses them against non-nuclear powers it is going to have terrible problems as a result. Because of the response.

Capabilities, freedom and human development

other

Amartya Sen's human science of development: Part III

Professor Amartya Sen is one of the world's most important and influential intellectuals, one of its foremost thinkers. The award of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics to the great economist was the best thing that happened to the Nobel Prize in this field. This long-overdue award was for Sen's contributions to welfare economics and, among other things, for restoring "an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems." (For an appreciation of Sen's economics and its implications, see V.K. Ramachandran's Cover Story interviews in Frontline, December 12, 1986 and November 6, 1998.)

The award represented a break in a two-decade trend reflecting a pronounced "bias in favour of technoeconomics in the service of the free market, private property and footloose finance." The break in the trend warrants celebration also for two other reasons: the Nobel for Sen recognises "the central role of human development in the professional endeavour of economists," and "the human development of the Third World occupies a central position" in this laureate's work.

In this third and concluding part of an extended essay, economist and economic historian Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi completes his sketch of the intellectual itinerary of a man who has made a magnificent contribution to the founding of a new branch of the human science of development. This part deals with Sen's ideas of "functionings" and "capabilities", his profoundly important work on freedom, his ability to relate his concepts of capabilities and freedom to analyses of deprivation, poverty and "achievement inequality" in human societies, and the significance of his writings and organising activities of the last two decades for what Bagchi characterises as a human science of development - so named because "this domain of analysis covers major aspects of the development of human beings as free and autonomous agents in society." But this, Bagchi points out, is by no means all. Sen's contributions include early contributions to Indian economic history, to the analysis of Indian economic problems, and to applied economics. His influence has extended to most branches of the human sciences, including the field of women's studies.

- Editor, Frontline. AMIYA KUMAR BAGCHI

AS we have noted, Amartya Sen journeyed long across the terrain of utility, preferences, revelation of preferences, satisfaction or valuation by choice, and alternatively of commodities as a means of achieving satisfaction, utility or pleasure or of the distribution of primary goods or of commodities in general or utilities. The careful examination of all these alternatives pertaining to value judgments and social action led him ultimately to the conviction that what we should be concerned with is not utility, or a variant of "commodity fetishism" (to adapt a concept used in a different context by Karl Marx), but with what Sen called "functionings" (the latter are a combination of "beings and actions"), and the capability of human beings to achieve these functionings. A short definition of these concepts may be cited here (Sen, 1987a, p.16):

Ultimately, the focus has to be on what life we lead and what we can or cannot do, can or cannot be. I have elsewhere called the various living conditions we can or cannot achieve, our "functionings", and our ability to achieve them, our "capabilities".

Some sympathetic critics (for example, Cohen, 1993, 1993a) have complained that in Sen's use, the word "capabilities" has been used in at least two senses: one is that of actual attainment of various components of the standard of living, such as a certain level of income, state of health, education and so on, and the other is the potential of the persons concerned to attain these capabilities. Since Sen has connected his idea of capabilities and the standard of living also with the actual freedom and rights enjoyed by people, I find that it adds to clarity of our understanding if we interpret "capabilities" as the potential attainable by people rather than their actual attainment of those standards. When a poet is starving in a garret, we should ask whether, if he chose to, he could eat as fully as a normal healthy person. If the answer is yes, for all such poets starving in garrets, we can say that in terms of the attainment of the commodity bundle needed for a decent standard of living, the poets have attained their capabilities, even though, medically speaking, they are all poor specimens. (Whether starvation improves poetry-writing is another matter altogether, and again, a priori, it is difficult to say whether the starving poets are attaining their capabilities as poets. But they are attaining their capabilities as free human beings if they are choosing to starve rather than being forced to starve by society.)

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Sen's formulation of the fullest attainment of human capabilities as the proper criterion of social welfare judgments and the appropriate objective of policy interventions connects with his idea of freedom. In his view, freedom is not simply freedom to choose, but freedom from certain removable constraints on the functioning of human beings. In Marxian terms, freedom is the freedom to overcome the bondage of necessity insofar as the development of forces of production or man's control over nature permit it. Thus, in some ways, Sen has been able to resolve the conflict between notions of positive and negative liberty. This ideological divide has long separated the individualist libertarians from the theorists of humankind as social beings and hence living as free beings in society rather than as stylites in the desert (surely even there somebody had to feed and give water to the stylites?) (see Berlin, 1969/1986 and Taylor, 1979/1986, for expositions of the two concepts of liberty).

With his usual ability to make out finer distinctions within a picture that seems to be rather blurred to most observers, Sen has tried to remove the ambiguity in the use of the concept of "capability" and provided a four-fold grid on which to put it (Sen, 1993, p.35).

One distinction is between (1.1) the promotion of the person's well-being, and (1.2) the pursuit of the person's overall agency goals. The latter encompasses the goals that a person has reasons to adopt, which can inter alia include goals other than the advancement of his or her well-being. The second distinction is between (2.1) achievement, and (2.2) the freedom to achieve. This contrast can be applied both to the perspective of well-being and to that of agency. The two distinctions together yield four different concepts of advantage, related to a person: (1) "well-being achievement", (2) "agency achievement", (3) "well-being freedom", and (4) "agency freedom".

I am quite sure that social theorists, economists and political philosophers will continue to debate the finer distinctions Sen has wanted to introduce into the concept of the realm of freedom (which is not to be seen as being disjoint from the realm of necessity, but integrally connected with it). But it should be recognised that Sen has been able to relate his concepts of capability and freedom to close and often innovative analyses of deprivation, achievement inequality and poverty in human societies: a rough list would include the enquiries made by him and his collaborators into the incidence of mortality and morbidity, the incidence of illiteracy, the connections between affiliation to particular classes and other human groups identified by the stigmata of caste, or race, and perhaps most importantly of all, by gender discrimination, and the incidence of deprivation and the impairment of capability (see, in particular, Sen, 1992, chapters 4-8, and Sen, 1993; see also Dreze and Sen, 1989, chapters 1-4).

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Sen's writings and organising activities during the last two decades have fed into what I have called a human science of development. However, as indicated earlier, most of his concerns with inequality and development go back to his early professional career. This shows up not only in his books and articles in professional journals, but also in his occasional writings in newspapers. For example, in 1964, in an article in The Statesman, discussing the proposals for the Fourth Five Year Plan then in the air, he denounced the tendency among many publicists and policy-makers to advocate a small plan on the ground that large investments would lead to a higher rate of inflation (Sen, 1964a). In a trenchant observation on the low-investment proposal, he wrote:

The avoidance of inflation is ... a negative kind of policy, and at its worst amounts to no more than keeping prices low for those who can afford to pay more, by denying to others sufficient income for certain essential goods. Take the case of food prices. Given the supply of food, which will not be raised by cutting down the size of investment, the only way a "small plan", as opposed to a big one, can keep prices down is through preventing many people from having the necessary purchasing power to demand more than they might otherwise buy. The people concerned are the poor, because it is their capacity to buy food that is most sensitive to changes in their incomes, since the rich succeed in any case in buying as much food as they want.

His concern with the entitlement of the poor to education as well as to their access to education is also evinced by his early writings. In the concluding part of the same article in The Statesman (Sen, 1964b), he criticised the neglect of primary education in Indian planning. His criticism was based both on grounds of deprivation of the underprivileged and on the effect that universal primary education can have in informing and empowering the peasants. The latter, when educated, would be in a position to demand more and better inputs for agriculture. But he also saw the prevalence of landlordism as a depressor of agricultural growth. In 1967, he criticised the Report of the Education Commission (the Kothari Commission) for its concentration on the needs of higher education and its blindness to the imperative need for substantially raising public expenditure on primary education (Sen, 1967b). He sustained this line of criticism of official policy in his Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture delivered in 1970 (Sen, 1970c/1971).

NOW I turn to my claim that Sen has founded a new branch of the human science of development. What he has done is to scrutinise the values that sustain the quotidian arguments of mainstream (and some varieties of radical) economics and shown them to be wanting. In the process he has broadened the scope of enquiry of social and political philosophers and social scientists. No longer can enquiries into deprivation be regarded as an obsession of egalitarian romantics. Nor can questions of freedom and democracy be regarded as only the concern of dyed-in-the-wool liberals. In the fields of enquiry he has chosen he has been able to combine value criticism, disaggregation of apparently unitary modules of society, and strong-minded empirical verification of the causes of emaciated entitlements and deprivation through the cessation or interruption of usual entitlements. This is why his domain of analysis should be called a human science (as distinct from narrowly conceived economics or social science). Since that domain covers major aspects of the development of human beings as free and autonomous agents in society, it may be called the human science of (human) development. (I am in favour of dropping the second 'human' for the sake of euphony.)

Sen's branch of the human science of development, of course, cannot cover all the branches of the human sciences, nor even all the branches of the social sciences. As a first attempt to establish its relation to other major branches of the sub-discipline of human sciences going by the name of economics or political economy, I would suggest that Sen's branch of analysis is orthogonally related to the two other major branches, namely, macroeconomics and microeconomics. Economists have not been able to come to any agreed conclusion about the relationship of macroeconomics to microeconomics. New structures of analysis embodying imperfect competition have been constructed for neo-Kaleckian, neo-Keynesian, and straightforwardly neoclassical economics (in which very often, of course, macroeconomics is supposed to be the aggregation of microeconomic structures without coordination failures or disjunction between intended and actual results). Sen's branch of human science of development goes below the level of microeconomic behaviour taken as the proper field of enquiry and finds out how the constraints on the behaviour of particular groups of agents operate. At a macroeconomic level, of course, patterns of distribution of literacy, education and resources in general between men and women, and between the rich and the poor, shape fertility, survival, morbidity and consumption patterns.

It will take an extended piece of research to descry even the proximate influences on Sen's work. He has himself generously acknowledged some of the influences: those of A.K. Dasgupta, Maurice Dobb, Kenneth Arrow, Tapas Majumdar, and (at a personal level) Piero Sraffa among the economists, and among the philosophers and social theorists, mostly his contemporaries such as W.G. Runciman, Bernard Williams (see, for example, Sen and Williams, 1982) and Martha Nussbaum. Among the great thinkers of the past, his work is replete with references to Adam Smith and Karl Marx (but also Frederick Engels in some cases) (see Sen, 1982, 1983a, 1984, 1987). Among economists, he is exceptional in using not only Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776) but also his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). He has repeatedly referred to Smith's notion of sympathy as a social bond, and to his suggestion that a person is entitled at the least to a standard of living which allows him to appear in public without a feeling of shame. The Marx that Sen refers to is the early Marx (1843-44; and 1845-46), primarily for his enlarged idea of human freedom, and to the late Marx (1875), primarily for his recognition of the possible conflict between the demands of need-based egalitarianism and the ability- or desert-based incentives for eliciting work in a society which is yet to attain the plenitude appropriate to Communism proper.

Sen obviously did not accept the epistemological break posited by many analysts between the work of early Marx and the late Marx, nor the epistemological break unconsciously posited by most historians of economic thought between Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and his Wealth of Nations (1776); the same historians also generally regard David Ricardo's work as the apogee of classical political economy, even while they are sharply critical of that work (see, in this connection, Bagchi, 1996, especially pp.108-112).

It is interesting that there are very few references in Sen's work to Ricardo or to Marx as the analyst of the dynamics of capitalist production. Part of it can be explained by the shift I referred to from work on economic growth, which means growth of production in a narrow sense, to areas of social choice and welfare judgments, and also by the kind of orthogonal relationship I adduced between Sen's later work and the conventional branches of macroeconomics and microeconomics. However, part of the explanation lies in the fact that much of Sen's analysis crosses the usual boundaries of modes of production. He has indefatigably analysed peasant behaviour, beginning with his contributions in the Economic Weekly (Sen, 1962, 1964, 1964a, 1964c, 1964d) which at once started a debate and generated a research programme (a seminal contribution to that programme was made by Krishna Bharadwaj, 1974), through his influential paper on "Peasants and dualism" (Sen, 1966a/1984), his book on Employment, Technology and Development (Sen, 1975) and his articles and books containing analyses of work incentives and equity in Communist China and famines in many less-developed countries, including China of the Great Leap Forward period. But his analysis has abjured the concept of an overarching mode of production, in the Marxian sense. On the other hand, he has tried meticulously to bring out the interaction between market and non-market phenomena, and between private and public action. Simultaneously he has brought out the relevance of what, following Alexis de Tocqueville, we may designate as the distinction between formal democracy and democracy or freedom in social arrangements. Through the transmission of information about disasters and sudden entitlement failures, the former prevent famines, but democracy in society may be more effective in sustaining an evenly spread structure of entitlements. In the nature of the case, many of Sen's judgments may be controverted by others. But the importance of the issues raised by him can be contested only by dogmatists or by those who are prepared to build an alternative framework of analysis with the patience and logical acumen that Sen has displayed throughout his career.

Before leaving this topic of the branch of the human science of development Sen's work has generated, I want to express my puzzlement at an interesting omission in Sen's copious and generous references. Given the fact that Sen has displayed an uncanny eye for ambiguities in many commonly used concepts, I would have expected some reference to the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose interrogation of language and language games still reverberates through much of modern philosophy. Wittgenstein had died two years before Sen arrived in Trinity College, Cambridge, but Sraffa had been a close friend of Wittgenstein and had had a strong influence on the later philosophy of the reclusive Austrian. At Trinity, Sen had become a close friend of Sraffa's. Wittgenstein's concept of language games parallels, in the philosophical domain, the practice of what may be called "contextual social science" (Bagchi, 1996a). But, of course, his work is not simply parallel to, but provides some of the epistemological justification for the practice of contextual human sciences in general. Sen has repeatedly displayed his remarkable capacity for designing new tests for old theories (see, for example, when he controverted T.W. Schultz's idea that disguised unemployment did not prevail in British India because agricultural output declined in the wake of the deaths caused by the influenza epidemic of 1918-19; Sen, 1967c). He has been engaged continually in evolving new concepts in order to illuminate areas of enquiry which seemed to him to be unnecessarily shrouded in obscurity. This awareness of the necessity of changing the meanings of words, or their interpretation, and of reading the actions of people according to the context in which they utter those words and engage (or fail to engage) in certain actions would surely have reminded Sen of Wittgenstein's work. In the delightfully written intervention of Sen's in the Cambridge controversies in capital theory - a piece Sen wrote for a volume edited by Ashok Mitra in honour of A.K. Dasgupta - we get a tantalising glimpse of the convergence of the interests of Wittgenstein and Sraffa (Sen, 1974/1984). Even in that piece, which can be read as a cleverly constructed language game, he does not refer to Wittgenstein. Is all this silence due to Sen's distrust of the nihilism which some people have read as the enduring legacy of Wittgenstein's later corpus?

6. Concluding remarks

I have tried to sketch the intellectual itinerary of a man who has all through been acute and perceptive, scholarly and innovative. I have desisted from passing any judgment on the significance of all that work. In any case, that needs mature reflection and cannot be essayed within a short period.

I have taken the story - and only a part of it at that - up to 1993 and I mean to leave it there. Sen has since then co-authored or co-edited with Jean Dreze two books on India's social and economic development (Dreze and Sen, 1995, 1997). I will not try to cover the numerous forays he has made into the nature of Indian society, culture and democracy, except to say that in that terrain, he has travelled in the strongly rationalist, secularist and universalist tradition of his grandfather Kshitimohan Sen, and their great mentor, Rabindranath Tagore. But it will be ungenerous to leave even this very brief sketch without mentioning some of his early contributions to Indian economic history and to the analysis of Indian economic problems. In an article presented to an international economic history conference in 1962, he analysed the British investment decisions relating to cotton and iron and steel industries (Sen, 1965a). We have already mentioned his analysis of the population and production loss caused in India by the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 (Sen, 1967c). In the former article he had questioned the thesis that low British industrial investment in colonial India was a passive response to market conditions: he brought out the relevance of political factors interacting with economic conditions for explaining the phenomenon. Later on, beginning with a paper in 1977, he, of course, provided us with a canonical analysis of the Bengal famine of 1943 (Sen, 1977b, and 1981).

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In the area of applied economics, Sen made a highly influential analysis of the requirements of working capital in Indian industry (Sen, 1964e). He authored an article on second-hand machinery and their use (Sen, 1962a) which stands at the head of much later work - both theoretical and applied - on the same subject. For the Economic Weekly, he produced papers on trade policy and structural unemployment (Sen, 1960a), on the irrationality of pricing in the Indian civil aviation industry (Sen, 1961a), and on sociological and economic explanations for the behaviour of the Indian iron and steel industry (Sen, 1963). Indeed, many of his early professional work appeared in the pages of the Economic Weekly, often to be developed more extensively in other professional journals. This applies to most of his work relating to choice of techniques, used machines, extensions or modifications of the Mahalanobis model, and peasant behaviour. My generation of economists in India owes a great deal to the stimulus provided by Sen's ceaselessly questing mind.

Sen's influence has extended, as it should, to practically all the branches of the human sciences, including the newly born discipline of women's studies. It will take a team of scholars familiar with all the forays he has made to prepare an adequate map of his long and conceptually exciting journey. Joan Robinson (1956, p.vi) had acknowledged Michal Kalecki as a progenitor, intellectually speaking, although Kalecki was a contemporary. The practitioners of the human sciences will have to get over their wonder at Sen being a contemporary while acknowledging him as an intellectual ancestor - an ancestor who continues to produce further sustenance for the development of human capabilities.

References

Bagchi, A.K. 1996. Colonialism in classical political economy: Analysis, epistemological broadening and mystification, Studies in History, 12(1), January-June, 105-136.

-. 1996a. Contextual social science: Or crossing boundaries, Economic and Political Weekly, 31(43), October 26, 2875-2882.

Berlin, I. 1969/1979. 'Two concepts of liberty', in Berlin: Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford University Press; reprinted in Stewart, 1986, 92-99.

Bharadwaj, K. 1974. Production Conditions in Indian Agriculture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, G.A. 1993. Amartya Sen's unequal world, Economic and Political Weekly, October 2, 2156-60.

-. 1993a. 'Equality of what? On welfare, goods, and capabilities', in Nussbaum and Sen, 1993, 9-29.

Dreze, J. and A.K. Sen. 1989. Hunger and Public Action, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. and -. 1995. India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity, Delhi, Oxford University Press.

-. and -. (eds.). 1997. Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives, Delhi, Oxford University Press.

Marx, K. 1843-44/1963. The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, in T.B. Bottomore (ed.): Karl Marx: Early Writings, London.

-, and F. Engels. 1845-46/1976. The German Ideology, translated from the German; Moscow, Progress Publishers.

-. 1875/1970. Critique of the Gotha Programme, with a foreword by F. Engels, translated from the German, and reprinted in K. Marx and F. Engels: Selected Works, Vol.3, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 9-30.

Nussbaum, M. and A.K. Sen (eds.). 1993. The Quality of Life, Oxford Clarendon Press.

Robinson, J. 1956. The Accumulation of Capital, London, Macmillan.

Sen, A.K. 1960a. Trade policy and structural unemployment, Economic Weekly, 12(23-25).

-. 1961a. Aspects of Indian civil aviation, Economic Weekly, 13(4-6), Annual Number.

-. 1962. An aspect of Indian agriculture, Economic Weekly, 14(4-6), Annual Number, February.

-. 1962a. On the usefulness of used machines, Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol.44.

-. 1963. Sociological and economic explanations: an illustration from the Indian iron and steel industry, Economic Weekly, 15(4-6), Annual Number.

-. 1964. Size of holdings and productivity, Economic Weekly, 16(5-7), Annual Number, February.

-. 1964a. Food prices and the size of the plan, The Statesman (Calcutta), August 25.

-. 1964b. Education and economic growth: the three Rs as levels of change, The Statesman (Calcutta), August 26.

-. 1964c. Size of holdings and productivity: a reply, Economic Weekly, 16(17-18).

-. 1964d. Size of holdings and productivity: reply, Economic Weekly, 16(47).

-. 1964e. 'Working capital in the Indian economy: a conceptual framework and some estimates', in P.N. Rosenstein-Rodan (ed.): Pricing and Fiscal Policies, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press.

-. 1965a. 'The commodity pattern of British enterprise in early Indian industrialization, 1815-1914', in Deuxieme Conference Internationale l'Histoire Economique, Aix-en-Provence; Paris, 780-828.

-. 1966a/1984. Peasants and dualism with or without surplus labour, Journal of Political Economy, Vol.74, October; reprinted in Sen, 1984, 37-72.

-. 1967b. [Review of the Report of the Education Commission, Government of India, 1967]. The Statesman (Calcutta), April 18 and 19.

-. 1967c. Surplus labour in India: a critique of Schultz's statistical test, Economic Journal, Vol.77.

-. 1970c/1971. 'The aspects of Indian education', Part 2 of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture; reprinted in Pramit Chaudhuri (ed.): Aspects of Indian Economic Development, London, Allen & Unwin, 144-159.

-. 1974/1984. On some debates in capital theory, Economica, Vol.41, August; reprinted in Sen, 1984, 162-171.

-. 1975. Employment, Technology and Development, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. 1977b. Starvation and exchange entitlements: a general approach and its application to the Great Bengal Famine, Cambridge Journal of Economics, I(1), March, 33-59.

-. 1981. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. 1982. Choice, Welfare and Measurement, Oxford, Blackwell.

-. 1983a. Marx since his death: Relevance to modern economics, The Statesman (Calcutta), March 14.

-. 1984. Resources, Values and Development, Oxford, Blackwell.

-. 1987. On Ethics and Economics, Oxford, Blackwell.

-. 1987a. 'The standard of living: Lecture I, concepts and critiques' in Sen, Muellbauer et al., 1987, 1-19.

-. 1992. Inequality Reexamined, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. 1993. 'Capability and well-being', in Nussbaum and Sen, 1993, 30-53.

-, J. Muellbauer, R. Kanbur, K. Hart and B. Williams. 1987. The Standard of Living (the Tanner Lectures, 1985), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

-, and B. Williams (ed.). 1982. Utilitarianism and Beyond, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Smith, A. 1759/1790. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, first edition, 1759; fifth edition, reprinted, and ed. by D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, 1979, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

-. 1776/1910. An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, London, Everyman, J.M. Dent.

Stewart, R.M. (ed.). 1986. Readings in Social and Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Taylor, C. 1979/1986. 'What's wrong with negative liberty', in A. Ryan (ed.): The Idea of Liberty, Oxford University Press; reprinted in Stewart, 1986, 100-112.

Military gains and economic losses

An accelerated movement down the 'liberalisation' road India has traversed ever since Pokhran-II is likely to be the most significant economic fallout from Kargil.

THE Kargil operation, it is now official, is likely to be prolonged. With the immediate shock of being dragged into a "virtual war" having waned, attention is increasingly being focussed on the internal consequences of the war-like situation. An area in which the fallout is of obvious concern is the economy, since diversion of financial and material resources is inevitable in a military operation conducted in demanding terrain. Needless to say, with even the intensity and duration of the operation being anybody's guess, the quantum of such resources required can only be a 'guesstimate'. Financial estimates therefore vary.

The cost of the basic operation has been variously estimated at between Rs.10 crores and Rs.30 crores a day. To this must be added the cost of equipment which would have to be acquired to continue with this operation as well as guard against future infiltration of a similar kind. Based on extrapolations of different kinds, expenditure estimates going up to as much as Rs.10,000 crores this fiscal year are being circulated through the media.

Whatever be the exact sum involved, it would amount to a large increase in defence-related expenditures budgeted at Rs.45,700 crores in this year's Budget. The real issue, therefore, is the consequence of such spending. A cursory examination of economic conditions suggests that the fallout could in fact be positive from the point of view of growth. Indian industry is today in the midst of a recession, saddled with considerable excess capacities. Foodstocks with the government are comfortable, and the current dilemma relates to how the additional amounts that are being procured can be disposed of. Inflation, at least as measured by the wholesale price index, is at an 80-plus-week low. And, if the government is to be believed, India's foreign exchange reserves position is extremely comfortable. With no material bottlenecks and with foreign exchange available to deal with any specific shortages of tradable commodities, additional expenditures on commodities which are being virtually 'blown up' in Kargil and its neighbourhood should stimulate demand and spur growth, without leading to inflation. That is, a series of blunders committed by the government that have led up to the current wasteful and dangerous confrontation could turn out to be an advantage for a coalition which bears the burden of incumbency when returning to the electorate.

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THERE is, however, one hitch. This relates to the fact that, influenced by international finance and its backers (in the G-8, the Bretton Woods institutions and the media), liberalisation and fiscal-deficit targeting have in official economic thinking taken precedence over other objectives like growth. So whatever the material consequences of the expenditure triggered by Kargil may be, the primary concern and fear appears to be that the operation would result in an 'unsustainable' increase in the fiscal deficit.

This is not because such an increase in the deficit cannot be prevented. Since any "war-like situation" calls for austerity on the part of the nation as a whole, the most obvious way of meeting the cost of Operation Vijay is a progressive direct tax, either in the form of a hike in rates of taxation or of a surcharge. This, of course, cannot be implemented by a caretaker government. But there are still ways around the problem and in any case the current government has already displayed its willingness to stretch its definition of 'caretaker' responsibilities to great lengths whenever convenient.

So the reason why the tax option to finance expenditures is not being mentioned lies elsewhere. To start with, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, which has a lot of explaining to do on why the present situation has come to pass, would hardly want to risk its popularity by touching the wallets of the well-to-do in the country. Secondly, if instances like the telecom licence fee controversy are any indication, in the run-up to the election, the government appears keen to "pay off" big business at any cost rather than tax it. And, finally, an understated assumption behind the reform strategy that the BJP backs is that tax concessions are a crucial component of the effort to unleash private initiative and growth. As a result, there can be no discussion of the possibility of additional taxation.

It is for this reason that there appears to be an air of inevitability about an increase in the deficit on the government's budget to the tune of somewhere between Rs.5,000 crores and Rs.10,000 crores, despite the government's effort to quell all such speculation. Having made 'deficit management' one of the indicators of his self-proclaimed competence as Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha would hardly want to admit that strategic blunders since Pokhran-II have tied his hands in fiscal terms. And making any such open admission would definitely create a stir in international financial circles, which could influence the attitude of the United States. Since the government has been desperate to win the favour of American officialdom and has made much of every sign that official U.S. opinion is biased in its favour and against Pakistan, anything that could adversely affect such opinion is anathema. So the 'caretaker' Finance Minister has gone on record, without any explanations provided, that the Kargil operation would not upset his deficit calculations. This is merely a continuation of the situation ever since the nuclear tests, wherein the BJP-led government has bent over backwards to please international capital and through them win back the favour of the U.S. government and its allies.

HOWEVER, whatever the rhetoric, the reality is that given the optimistic estimates of tax buoyancy and proceeds from disinvestment, realising the fiscal deficit target of 4 per cent of GDP for 1999-2000 was an impossibility even without the present conflict. This implies that Yashwant Sinha's claim that Kargil would make no difference to the deficit is nothing more than an unavoidable pretence. His calculation probably is that this is a problem best dealt with later. After all, if the BJP does not return to power, he would not be called upon to defend the revised estimates for 1999-2000.

But what would ensue if his party does return to power and he remains the Finance Minister? With the elections behind him, it is inevitable that he would try and shore up his deficit figures by cutting social and capital expenditures, on the one hand, and disposing of the more profitable sections of the public sector, on the other. With social and capital expenditures already under squeeze for the last few years, it is the disinvestment initiative that would be more crucial. If there are few takers at home, sales to foreign buyers can be experimented with, on the grounds that the domestic market may not be able to 'bear' a large-scale retrenchment of public assets. Even if this only partially helps him rein in the deficit, these policies would win favour from international capital and the Bretton Woods institutions. As South-East Asia has made clear, the International Monetary Fund and its backers can forgive a rising deficit so long as liberalisation that allows cheap acquisitions of valuable assets is adopted.

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However, even in this scenario the problem of a larger fiscal deficit is not likely to go away. Nor, therefore, would the problem of how to finance it. Since borrowing from the Reserve Bank of India through the issue of ad hoc Treasury Bills has been foreclosed by the process of fiscal reform, other forms of debt are the only option. However, turning to the open market while keeping money supply growth under control can tighten money market conditions and lead to an increase in interest rates.

This would only worsen the recession, forcing the government to consider seriously the option of borrowing abroad. This is something the private sector would push for too. In fact, the Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA), a rating agency, whose role is not to advise the government on policy but assess the creditworthiness of its clients, has reportedly come out with a gratuitous recommendation that the government should issue sovereign bonds denominated in foreign exchange to finance its post-Kargil deficit. Such recommendations, which would only make India more dependent on foreign finance and therefore more vulnerable to the whimsical demands of foreign financial interests, are bound to intensify. And they are likely to be accepted by the government, since they serve to win G-8 appreciation as well. If the government's recent record is any indication, initiatives to appease private foreign capital seems to be the bargain chip used most often in its post-Pokhran diplomacy. Thus an accelerated movement down the 'liberalisation' road India has traversed ever since Pokhran-II is likely to be the most significant economic fallout from Kargil.

There are lessons here for both Pakistan and India. It was not India alone that paid the price of diminished economic sovereignty in the wake of Pokhran-II. Responding as Pakistan did, it too faced both the sanctions and the subsequent compulsion to compromise on the economic front. Unfortunately, Pakistan learnt little from the experience. Its misadventure in Kargil is bound to aggravate the problem, just as India's need to respond to the infiltrators would weaken its economic independence in the days to come. In the end no real decisions would be made in the course of skirmishes along the Line of Control. The two governments would have to turn to the third umpire ensconced in Washington.

Kargil and beyond

PRAKASH KARAT cover-story

The strategic perception of the Vajpayee Government that the nuclear tests had made India a great power and the Lahore visit was a peace dividend from this policy was at the root of its complacency, which led to the Kargil fiasco.

AFTER more than a month of intense military operations to clear the Pakistani intrusion across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kargil area, the battle continues. The Indian armed forces are fighting on extremely difficult mountainous terrain and in icy climatic conditions to dislodge the entrenched Pakistani soldiers and armed intruders. Every day, Indian casualties are mounting; every day, bodies of soldiers are reaching their homes in the far corners of the country. The whole country is anxiously watching the course of the battle in Kargil and there is widespread sympathy and solidarity with the soldiers and the bereaved families who are facing the grim situation bravely.

There is all-round support for the immediate task of ensuring that the systematic and well-planned violation of the LoC by Pakistan is rolled back and the legitimate right of India to defend the LoC is exercised fully. It is this position which has helped India to convince world opinion that the present round of hostilities have been provoked by Pakistan. The diplomatic efforts made towards mobilising international public opinion on this point are a necessary part of the overall drive to foil the Pakistan regime's plan to change the jurisdiction of the LoC.

Internationalising Kashmir

The Vajpayee Government, however, has not confined itself to diplomatic efforts to mobilise international public opinion. It has gone considerably further in efforts to enlist the help of the United States to end the present conflict. The Vajpayee Government has been hailing the U.S. position as a vindication of its stand on the Kargil issue. Prime Minister Vajpayee wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton which was handed over to the U.S. National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, in Geneva on June 16. The contents of the letter have not been published; it is reported that India requested the U.S., prior to the G-8 summit in Cologne, to stop Pakistan from getting loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral agencies. The Government and BJP spokesmen have appealed to the U.S. to follow up its stand that the LoC should not be violated, with concrete steps to make Pakistan withdraw its forces from the infiltrated areas. These moves by the Vajpayee Government have the potential to help internationalise the Kashmir issue.

The Government has cited the G-8 communique on the Kashmir issue as a big victory for India. The statement by the G-8 pointed out that the infiltration of armed intruders violating the LoC was the source of the current military confrontation in Kashmir. While the G-8 criticised any military action to change the status quo, it also called for an immediate cessation of the fighting. Implicit in this stand is the plea that the continuation of hostilities has to be stopped. This can be used against India for continuing the operations against the intruders.

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Alongside the statement on Kashmir, there is another resolution on the missile and nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, reiterating the G-8 position taken one year ago and calling upon both the countries to join non-proliferation measures as set out in the U.N. Security Council resolution. While it is valid to state that the G-8 has recognised the source of the current provocation as the armed intrusion across the LoC, it is equally important to note that the stance of the G-8 lays the basis for future intervention, particularly since the question of Kashmir and the issue of nuclearisation of India and Pakistan have been taken together. British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated on June 17 that while Britain urged both India and Pakistan to resolve their differences, "we know that the source of this difference is Kashmir". If India persists in petitioning the G-8 on the question of infiltration, it will be difficult to prevent the entire Kashmir issue being taken up by the U.N. Security Council in future.

The U.S. administration has clearly indicated that there is sufficient evidence to establish that armed intruders backed by the Pakistan Army have crossed the LoC and entrenched themselves. It is illusory to deduce from this that the U.S. will rein in Pakistan and that its earlier tilt towards Pakistan will be transformed into a tilt towards India. The U.S. has its own agenda for Kashmir. In the present world situation, the U.S. is prepared to support the demand for national self-determination by any ethnic group provided it serves its interests. This is the new doctrine enunciated by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on behalf of the Clinton administration and which has been put into practice in the Balkans.

Reality of the Pakistani regime

What the Vajpayee Government overlooked in the crucial period between September 1998 and February 1999, when it was deeply engaged in strategic talks with the U.S., was the reality of what the Pakistan regime is today. In Pakistan, Islamic fundamentalist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba have increasingly infiltrated the higher echelons of the armed forces, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After Nawaz Sharif removed the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Jehangir Karamat, his choice for the post was Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who, according to the American South Asia expert Selig Harrison, "has long-standing links with several Islamic fundamentalist groups." The rise of Islamic fundamentalist forces and their influence in the Pakistani establishment runs parallel to the U.S.-Pakistan nexus with the Islamic fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan and their joint military support to them. The ISI has an all-pervasive influence on Pakistan society, and despite the formal trappings of democracy, Pakistan continues to be a military-dominated society with the armed forces increasingly developing Islamic fundamentalist linkages. This state of affairs has been ludicrously depicted by George Fernandes as one of the Pakistani Army acting independently of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The U.S., with its great influence over the Vajpayee Government, led it to believe that Nawaz Sharif and his civilian government should be helped to counter the more fundamentalist forces represented by the Army. But the consequences of the years of American nurturing of the military in Pakistan and helping the ISI in Afghanistan are now apparent. Contrary to what the Vajpayee Government believes, there is no guarantee that the U.S. can rein in the Pakistan establishment, even if it wishes to do so.

INSTEAD of falling into the trap of invoking U.S. intervention and thereby helping to internationalise the Kashmir issue, the only correct approach at present is to push ahead with the military operations designed to clear the area on the Indian side of the LoC of all Pakistani encroachment. This must be pursued steadfastly by taking the people of the country fully into confidence about the progress of the military operations and allied diplomatic efforts. Any move to widen the conflict by opening up new fronts for military operations will only end up in helping Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir issue and inviting immediate Western intervention.

The Vajpayee Government has to be firmly told that any course that relies on the U.S. and the Western powers in the name of getting international support is not helpful to the Indian cause. This warning is necessary, since the record of the Vajpayee Government in dealing with the Kargil crisis has been dismal. The lack of vigilance in tracking down the large-scale intrusion, the failure to realise the enormity of the encroachment and its military threat, and the deceptive and contradictory positions taken to cover up this failure, have all been widely noted and commented upon. The causes for this debacle and the explanation for the failure of the Vajpayee Government to tackle such a major crisis will definitely be on the agenda after the military operations end.

However, before any examination of the unfolding of events and the bungling by Vajpayee, Fernandes and Company, it is essential to understand that Kargil represents the complete failure of the BJP-RSS strategic outlook at a more fundamental level. The BJP had earlier decided that the three 'B's would be its major election planks: the Bomb, the Bus (to Lahore) and the Budget. Of these, the myths of the Bomb and the Bus have already exploded. Advani had added another B after the fall of the BJP government: 'Betrayal' by the Opposition (not by his own allies!), which allegedly toppled the Government. Advani is right. Betrayal will certainly be an issue in the coming elections. But it will not be the 'betrayal' by the Opposition; rather, it will be the Kargil bungling.

Nuclear deterrence and the Lahore trip: Two illusions

What is at the root of the complacency and the false sense of confidence which prevailed in the ruling establishment which led to the Kargil fiasco? In May 1998, when the BJP-led government conducted the Pokhran tests, it adopted a nuclear doctrine which stated that India has now acquired the strength to ensure peace and stability and protect its security interests. It was argued that nuclear weaponisation by India and Pakistan would guarantee peace, since it would maintain a 'balance of terror' as during the period of the Cold War. Vajpayee, in his statement on March 15, 1999, expounded this new doctrine:

"Now both India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear weapons. There is no alternative but to live in mutual harmony. The nuclear weapon is not an offensive weapon. It is a weapon of self-defence. It is the kind of weapon that helps in preserving the peace. If in the days of the Cold War there was no use of force, it was because of the balance of terror."

The Left, on the other hand, has been arguing that nuclear tests will start an arms race between the two countries leading to a spiral of tension and confrontation. Nuclear weapons will not end armed conflicts but provide the opportunity for low-intensity conflicts as happened during the Cold War. Pakistan could utilise the nuclear shadow to provoke incidents in Kashmir to facilitate international intervention. The Vajpayee Government's linkage of Kashmir to India's nuclear weapons status through Advani's statement on May 18, 1998 was the first blunder exemplified by this outlook. Now Pakistan, by deliberately provoking an armed conflict on the LoC, has pointedly drawn attention to this linkage. Pakistan knows that India cannot utilise all forms of conventional warfare against it, as it did in 1965 and 1971, without nuclear confrontation becoming a reality and provoking international intervention.

Convinced that nuclear deterrence (the balance struck by both countries which have nuclear weapons) will ensure a stable equilibrium, Vajpayee had proclaimed that we have ensured peace from a position of strength (by conducting nuclear tests). When Pakistan retaliated with its nuclear tests and India found itself isolated internationally, the Vajpayee Government began its journey of seeking U.S. recognition and approval as seen in the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks. Faced with a difficult situation and under U.S. pressure, Vajpayee offered to visit Lahore and the bus trip followed. The visit to Pakistan and the Lahore Declaration were then depicted as great achievements and a breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations. Not only the BJP but also the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joined in the chorus of praise. The Lahore visit was portrayed as a logical result of the Pokhran tests. As the editor of Organiser (the RSS mouthpiece) put it: "Barely eleven months in office, Vajpayee has earned a distinct place in the nation's history. First by conducting the Pokhran tests and now by the bold bus initiative... Both the nuclear tests and the Lahore visit have shown that it requires inner strength and political will to act, not mere military might or parliamentary democracy" (Organiser, March 7, 1999).

It is these two ideas - that the nuclear tests had made India a great power and the Lahore visit was a peace dividend from this policy - that led the Vajpayee Government to overlook or disregard any possibility of Pakistan turning the new nuclear situation to its advantage on Kashmir. Praveen Swami, in his well-informed article (Frontline, June 18), has spelt out the military consequences of this dubious doctrine of the BJP.

Resort to chauvinism

The blazing guns in Kargil have demolished the fanciful and artificial outlook of the BJP. It is now groping for a new posture; it has fallen back on the traditional RSS stand of national chauvinism. Desperate to cover up its monumental failure, the BJP is now resorting to aggressive rhetoric. K.N. Govindacharya has demanded that the military operations should lead to the capture of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). The same editor of Organiser, who had earlier lauded "inner strength and political will" over military might, has now declared that "the present government has to complete the task" (of acquiring POK). Senior RSS leader H.V. Seshadri has demanded that India should now "dump the language of Panchsheel and speak in the language of Prithvi (power)." He reiterated the old RSS stance that "only a rejuvenated and powerful Hindu nation could defeat the nasty designs of Pakistan" (Organiser, June 20, 1999). From here, it is only one step further to the insane demand that Pakistan should be subjected to a nuclear attack as demanded by Panchajanya, the RSS' Hindi paper. The observation of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's death anniversary on June 23 as Kashmir Day at the call of the BJP was marked by chauvinistic and communal rhetoric. The BJP, it is claimed in newspaper advertisements, is more committed to the cause of Kashmir than any other party. The BJP claims S.P. Mukherjee to be the first martyr for Kashmir, thus grossly distorting history. The BJP does not consider the hundreds of Kashmiris who laid down their lives fighting the Pakistani intruders in 1948 as martyrs.

Defend LoC: Do not widen the war

The BJP, by this dangerous rhetoric and chauvinism, will be susceptible to pressure to open new areas for military operations in order to circumvent the difficult task of clearing the intruders from the Drass-Kargil-Batalik sector. Widening the conflict is a danger that can be precipitated by hawks on both sides of the border. This escalation will undermine whatever India has achieved in the past six weeks. Defending the LoC and clearing the intruders from the Indian side has stood India in good stead and united the country. War with Pakistan will only mean bracketing both countries as threats to world peace - with Kashmir as the central focus. Further, such a war will provide no guarantee of a successful conclusion for India; what it will bring is ruin and suffering for peoples of both countries and the facilitation of direct imperialist intervention, as in the Balkans.

The BJP must remember that the Vajpayee Government is a defeated government. It is a caretaker government which has no legitimacy except as an interim arrangement till elections. It should not take any step which will be seen as partisan and politically suspect.

The Vajpayee Government has so far confined itself to a single meeting of Opposition leaders with the Prime Minister after Sartaj Aziz's visit. It has refused to call a session of the Rajya Sabha to discuss the Kargil conflict despite the demand of the entire Opposition. This refusal highlights its partisan approach to a vital national question and its anxiety to hide the facts from the people. The BJP needs to be told firmly that any effort to defend national sovereignty requires active efforts from a caretaker government to involve all national political parties. There has to be a consultative mechanism instituted for this purpose on a regular basis.

Patriotism, not chauvinism

Patriotism requires full support to ensure the success of the military operations to clear the intruders from across the LoC. As against this, national chauvinism is meant to cover up the Government's failures and with an eye on electoral profits. This cynical posture has to be firmly rebuffed. The people of India are capable and mature enough to distinguish between genuine patriotism and spurious national chauvinism.

Prakash Karat is a member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

THE MANY ROADS TO KARGIL

AIJAZ AHMAD cover-story

The Kargil crisis has multiple sources and roots; failure to comprehend the transformation of the Pakistan state has proved costly, and Pokhran was a gift to Sharif as the Afghan war was for Zia.

THE wounds of Kargil are, in some ways, as old and untended as the wounds of Partition itself. As numerous military experts have reminded us, a battle over the Kargil sector has been a prominent feature of the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971. Limited but constant artillery duels across the Line of Control (LoC) have been a routine feature of life in this sector for many years. In the present crisis, the combination of a mass of irregulars and a smaller number of Pakistan Army regulars capturing the heights in a surprise move reminds us of a similar move in 1948. India at that time took not 48 hours, as Defence Minister George Fernandes began by promising us this time, but a year and a half to evict the aggressors. At the time of this writing, it is not clear whether India will settle for a longer time-frame as a matter of prudence or will risk a wider war by going across the LoC in pursuit of quick results and lower casualties.

At no point in this miserable history has either the mainly Shia population of Kargil or the predominantly Sunni population of Drass participated in any appreciable level of insurgency (as India would call it) or struggle for self-determination and/or independence (as the Pakistan Government and the so-called Mujahideen would call it). This fact is of crucial importance. For what this prolonged confrontation between India and Pakistan over Drass, Kargil and Siachen, in the absence of any popular insurgency, demonstrates is that the unfinished business of Partition in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has not one aspect but two, both of which are a result of the indecent and cruel haste with which the British offered the Partition of India and leaders of the Hindu and Muslim elites accepted it, with little regard for consequences.

In the case of J&K, there is of course the issue of the actual wishes of the people - all the people, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and the rest - which both the governments, and their respective allies, have interpreted according to their own objectives. But enveloping this is the larger and bloodier issue of a very conventional kind of territorial dispute between the two nation-states that emerged out of an ill-conceived and indifferently implemented Partition. If the sheer scale of insurgency and political unrest in the Valley serves to obscure the fact of the underlying territorial dispute, it is in Kargil and Siachen that the territorial issue comes into full view, since battles here are always fought over the heads of the actual population. The Kashmir problem, as we may call it, has proved to be so very difficult to resolve politically, in accordance with the actual wishes and interests of the population, precisely because the territorial dispute between the two nation-states is based on irreconcilable geopolitical objectives.

If Pakistan was really interested in issues of self-determination and 'freedom' for the Kashmiris, it could begin by granting these rights to the Kashmiris who live under its control, mostly in what it calls 'Azad Kashmir' (Free Kashmir) and what we call Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The evidence is that the government of 'Azad Kashmir' in Muzaffarabad is demonstrably less free than the State administration in Srinagar and has always been treated as a puppet. Any movement for regional autonomy there is crushed with great impunity. Over the past ten years of insurgency in J&K itself, which Pakistan too calls Occupied ('Maqbooza') Kashmir, it has again done everything to undermine the autonomous groups and to control the insurgency through groups it sponsors. Indeed, it seems that a key reason why the insurgency has been declining in recent times is that the population finds itself caught between two national security apparatuses, those of India and Pakistan, and while it may be outraged by the sheer savagery of the counter-terror that India practises, much of it has grown similarly afraid of the Islamicist terror squads coming from across the LoC.

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On our part, we have never faced up to a simple question: how is it that over half a century 'infiltrators' have come only from the other side of the LoC, to find more or less fertile ground here, but none have gone from here to the other side to sow the seeds of rebellion there as well? Is it that India does not have the intelligence services to match the Pakistani ones? Or, is there something more fundamentally wrong with relations between the Indian government and the Kashmiri people? A promise not kept, a resentment never assuaged?

This is not the place to rehash that complicated history, but a certain gap between the promise and the performance can be indicated. For, in principle, Kashmir was to be our showcase of autonomous governance, endowed with a very special status by virtue of Article 370, a model of economic and social development that would demonstrate to the hostile, the sullen, the indifferent elements in the Kashmiri population that the rest of India regarded them as precious partners in the making of a free, democratic, pluralist, prosperous nation. In practice, J&K has oscillated between military occupation and the cynical manipulations of parliamentary governance, by the central governments as well as local satraps.

Much of the development funds that were meant to modernise and develop the economy were pocketed by notoriously corrupt administrations and the political middlemen who helped New Delhi keep its grip over a population whose democratic aspirations were exceptionally high, thanks precisely to the promise that was once made but never kept. Whenever the military situation was under control, India's consuming classes converged on Kashmir as if it was a mere playground for the rich who had the birthright to devour its natural resources and turn its crystalline lakes into cesspools of weed and pollution.

When this decade-old insurgency first began in 1989-90, extensive investigative reporting showed that its main social base was among the educated, unemployed youth who found themselves unrepresented in the political process and felt oppressed by the scale of military presence in daily life in the State. A number of those who took up the gun then were young men whose political aspirations had been thwarted by the corrupt practices during the elections which brought Farooq Abdullah to power in the first place. Meanwhile, those who ruled in Srinagar and those who ruled in Delhi were seen as partners in a game of collaborative competition, guarded as much by Article 370 as by the much too visible armed forces. This is classically the stuff that separatist nationalisms are made of.

Some of this cynicism can be illustrated with the current conduct of the two allies in the caretaker government, the BJP and the National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah. At a time when dissidents in J&K have to be assured that Article 370 is a lasting constitutional guarantee, and when there has to be a demonstrable movement in political and administrative reform so as to bring the various religious communities closer and guarantee greater rights of representation for everyone, the actual positions and pronouncements of these rulers are - at least - very alarming.

It is well known that the abolition of Article 370 is something of an article of faith for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confederacy, and key leaders of the BJP itself have often campaigned on this issue. What they promise Kashmiris is not more autonomy but less; and it is only because they rely on such a large number of allies for governance in Delhi that they have not pressed this issue more vigorously, as they have also provisionally suspended campaigning on the mandir issue. We know perfectly well what they shall do if and when they get the chance.

The other side of the coin is of course the statement by Home Minister L.K. Advani on May 18, 1998, in the euphoric aftermath of Pokhran-II, that India's new-found status as a nuclear power had "brought about a qualitative new state in Indo-Pakistan relations, particularly in finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem." We shall come to the significance of Pokhran and Chagai, but the mentality that sees the problem essentially as an issue between India and Pakistan that is to be settled by changing the military equation, through nuclear means if necessary, poses a danger not just to Pakistan but to India as well, the people of J&K included.

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Meanwhile, the much needed political and administrative reforms are now envisioned in strictly communal terms, not to bring the various religious communities closer but to push them further apart. In a far-reaching but little noted report of April 13 this year, the Regional Autonomy Commission, which clearly has the blessings of Farooq Abdullah as well as of Karan Singh, recommended the creation of eight new provinces of various sizes within the State, each corresponding to a distinct religious group, so that the whole becomes a mosaic of exclusive religio-ethnic entities. (see "Broadening the base", Frontline, June 18, 1999). For decades after Partition, even as Pakistan-backed insurgents tried to poison relations between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir, our great boast was that society in J&K was not a communalised society and that the historic cultural unity of the region will help it survive the attempts to sow religious discord. During that same period, even the Pakistan-backed groups remained 'Muslim' rather than 'Islamicist'.

The phase of insurgency that began in 1989-90 was notable for a very considerable shift toward religious fundamentalism and for great efforts to communalise Kashmiri society. Selective but unremitting terror against Kashmiri Hindus, which forced a great many of them to flee to Jammu and beyond, had the effect of creating a new kind of communal violence in the Valley and, in turn, injecting doses of Hindu communalism into sections of the beleaguered Kashmiri Pandit community. If implemented, the politico-administrative reforms that are now being proposed shall stabilise and greatly extend the communal boundaries that the Islamicists themselves have sought.

The superb coverage of this episode in Frontline, cited above, already points to the fact that the plan is remarkably similar to the one that the United Nations mediator, Owen Dixon, had proposed in 1950 and which has been recently revived by the influential United States-based think-tank, the Kashmir Studies Group. It also points out that lower-level functionaries of not only the National Conference but of the BJP itself have been active in promoting it, as is Karan Singh, the Hindu-revivalist Dogra prince. Two further points need to be added.

One is that Farooq Abdullah supervised and blessed this plan while he was also so loyal a member of the BJP-dominated coalition that he threw out his close friend and a Member of Parliament, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, from the basic membership of his party for the sin of having gone against the BJP alliance on the vote of confidence of April 17, 1999. It is very unlikely that he could have blessed the plan for a politico-administrative overhaul of the State without Vajpayee's explicit approval; Karan Singh's own involvement speaks volumes. At the other end of the globe, Selig Harrison, an influential South Asia expert in the United States who is sympathetic to Indian positions, has endorsed the plan publicly.

That brings us to the second point, pertaining to the role of the U.S. We know that a key lesson that the U.S., and the West generally, learned from the competing lunacies of Pokhran and Chagai was that the time to find a 'lasting solution' to the Kashmir problem had come. This has led to constant, cryptic position-taking in public and repeated, detailed discussions at very high official levels more obscurely. The Kashmir problem has in effect been internationalised, the formal emphasis on bilateral talks notwithstanding, and India had done its own share in this internationalising. The offer by the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to send an envoy can be politely turned down but both Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Vajpayee are constantly reporting to and getting advice from Bill Clinton, the supercop of troubled waters across the world.

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Similarly, India may make all kinds of noises against 'internationalisation', but when it writes to the G-8 heads of state, asking for support against Pakistan and suggesting international pressure, including perhaps economic pressure from such agencies as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it too is internationalising the issue in the way that corresponds to the world as we now have it, after Iraq and Yugoslavia, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) either dictating to or simply ignoring the U.N. This new recognition of Bill Clinton as someone resembling the head of a unitary world government came immediately after Pokhran-II when Vajpayee singled him out as the one man to whom he owed an explanation, and the status of Clinton as the supreme supervisor has only been enhanced as the wages of Pokhran began to be earned in Kargil.

THIS grovelling before the U.S. has its own paradoxical side. The Islamicist guerillas who earned their laurels in Afghanistan before entering Kashmir are a direct product of the U.S. which is now expected to save India from them after their network has become much larger, more autonomous, ambitious and uncontrollable. The network that extends from the Taliban to the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba to Osama Bin Laden is, in a sense, the Bhindranwale syndrome - or call it the Frankenstein syndrome, if you will - writ large: the proverbial truth that the monsters you make up to prove your own power and prowess may in the end return to haunt you, as your own nemesis. Part of the reason India is getting more of a sympathetic hearing from the U.S. is that the latter too is now haunted by a monster it created.

Is the U.S. merely a passive listener? My guess is that there are expert groups in various agencies of the U.S. Government putting together solutions that they can share with their clients, and the solutions are likely to be along the lines that they have been implementing in a variety of places, from Palestine to Yugoslavia: local self-governments, ethno-religious enclaves, and so on, balanced with low-intensity warfare, supervised 'bilateral negotiations', and the U.S., as the leading light of NATO, taking over from the U.N. as 'peacekeeper' of the world.

The break-up of Yugoslavia into a mosaic of ethno-religious entities and enclaves, as well as the institutionalisation of religious hatreds and communal killings, began with the pious rhetoric of 'the national question' very much with the encouragement of the NATO countries, notably Germany. And the U.S. has been very deeply involved in these processes from the very start, since well before Kosovo and even Bosnia. Closer home, both Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and a mortal enemy of Nawaz Sharif, and Mushahid Hussain, the unscrupulous Information Minister and close confidant of Nawaz Sharif, have called for a Kosovo-style solution in Kashmir. So, there might be more of a connection than meets the eye between the rhetoric of a 'lasting solution' that is being brandished all around, and the communal plan to re-shape the politico-administrative map of J&K which has been announced with the clear blessings of so many of the powerful players. It is only to be expected that a government of Hindu communalists and its allies shall further intensify, possibly with encouragement from foreign 'experts', that process of communalising Kashmiri society which Muslim communalists from across the LoC initiated ten years ago.

With such rulers and their patrons, we need no enemies.

II

The Pakistan that we are dealing with today was born not once but twice, in 1947 and then again in 1971, first through its own labours for the most part, and then through the bloody surgery that India so deftly administered. Most Indian writing on the subject has found it difficult to come to terms with 1947; about the consequences of 1971 most analyses emanating from India tend to be too smug to be of any great use. The emphasis usually is on the psychological side of things: Pakistan's sense of humiliation and a reckless desire for revenge. In reality, Pakistani responses were more complex and took quite a few years and many changes in the world to get fully formed.

There was, first, what one might call a crisis of identity. The founding myth of Pakistan was that it was the second largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia, and the patrimonial home of Muslims of what was once British India. Its founders were not notably devout, however, and for 13 years prior to the separation of Bangladesh it was ruled by modernising Generals who looked to Turkey and Tunisia for reform models and to the Shah of Iran for patronage. The Islam of the Pakistani elites during that phase was mild, reformist, and recognisably South Asian. All of that came unstuck in the crucible of 1971.

Pakistan was now the third largest Muslim country in the subcontinent, trailing behind Bangladesh and India. Half the market for its industry was gone, as were two of its three major exports: jute and tea. Worse still for its military-bureaucratic elite, the country it contrived to administer and defend was cut to half the size.

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It was in the midst of this crisis that the Islamicist vocation of the state was born; Pakistan was no longer the home of the majority of subcontinental Muslims, it had to be the home of the good Muslims. The markets it had lost in East Bengal had to be compensated for with markets elsewhere, and new types of exports had to be developed. The answer was 'the Muslim world', especially the socially backward, super-rich, arch-conservative Gulf kingdoms which needed everything, from onions to bureaucrats, and could pay with petrodollars.

A new vision of Pakistan was born: it was more a part of the Islamic world of West Asia than of a multi-religious South Asia. The Pakistan Army found a new vocation: training the armed personnel of these kingdoms and defending the parameters of Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Pakistani bankers took to advising the rentier kings of the desert. Doctors, accountants, engineers, teachers, the whole of the professional classes, looked forward to, or at least dreamed of, making money in places such as Dubai and Bahrain. Instead of jute and tea, Pakistan now had other, more lucrative exportables: fruits and vegetables grown in new kinds of capitalist garden-agriculture, cheap manufactures, the labour-power of the working classes, the expertise of the professional elite.

Nothing worked as magically in restoring the self-confidence of the Pakistani state and its privileged classes as the infusion of petrodollars. But this new sort of money brought with it a new and curiously effective commodity as well: petro-Islam. A hybrid thing, born of centuries of ferocious conservatism so characteristic of the desert, but also of unprecedented levels of wealth that was newly gained but was the product neither of a settled history nor of accumulated labour but of chance, that the black gold flowed here rather than elsewhere. It was a curious kind of Islam, equally ferocious in its piety and its consumerism.

IN the euphoria created by the victory in Bangladesh, few in India cared to notice that something utterly fundamental had changed in the Pakistani state's self-perception. Within a few years of the defeat in 1971, Pakistan began to see itself not as some beleaguered non-entity in South Asia, as the Indian establishment was prone to see it, but as a strategically located middle-sized power straddling the two worlds of South and West Asia, uniquely poised to take advantage of a host of geopolitical possibilities and enjoying widespread support among the Islamic states. Ironically, it was the defeat at India's hands that had forced Pakistan to find its Islamicist moorings in West Asia.

We have so far mentioned the crisis of identity and the successful reorientation of policy, with a focus toward West Asia rather than the subcontinent, as the first major consequence of the loss of East Bengal for Pakistan. The second consequence was even more far-reaching. Having gained the unique and dubious distinction of becoming the first of the post-colonial states of any international consequence - ally of the U.S. as well as China - to be dismembered and cut to half by a combination of a secessionist movement inside the country and a massive, brutal strike by a militarily far more powerful neighbour, Pakistan fell back on the old, tired adage: offence was the best defence. In concrete strategic terms, this meant that it was safer to fight all future wars on hostile, alien territory than on one's own, which then meant that the defence parameters for Pakistan's security were to be drawn inside the territory of the two neighbours that Pakistan considered hostile: India principally, but also to a certain extent Afghanistan. Pakistan's relatively successful role in the insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir came in the wake of this new strategic doctrine of forward defence because there was fertile ground in those states for Pakistan to exploit.

These shifts in Pakistan's policies and perceptions, including the rise of new kinds of Islamism, were already in place during the Z.A. Bhutto years, well before General Zia's coup, even though more simplistic versions would tend to present Bhutto as a secular, modern, Left-oriented autocrat and would date the beginning of Islamisation with Zia's rise to power. In fact, Bhutto was ideally suited to conceive and implement these changes. As an acute student of international affairs, he knew that with the defeat of Egypt by Israel in 1967, and especially with the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser which coincided almost perfectly with the break-up of Pakistan, the centre of gravity in the Arab world had shifted from the radical regimes to the monarchical ones, notably from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. He knew also that even though Nasser-style anti-imperialist nationalism had gained a new lease on life in Muammar Qadhafi's Libya, the rapid rise in oil incomes had benefited not so much the small producers as the Gulf kingdoms, especially the Saudi and Kuwaiti monarchies. It is to them that he now turned with a whole range of schemes for cooperation.

ISLAMISM of the West Asian variety came to Pakistan during the Z.A. Bhutto years in several guises. There was the immense popularity of Qadhafi whose main achievement in the ideological sphere was to re-state Nasser's secular anti-imperialism in stringently Islamic terms. It was after Qadhafi's speech at the grand new stadium in Lahore, named after himself, that wearing the Islamic chador became quite the fashion among urban middle class girls and a whole battery of quasi-radical intellectuals set out to find revolutionary virtue in Islam, several years before the Iranian Revolution helped turn this activity into a large-scale industry. But the Bhutto who invited Qadhafi to exercise his revolutionary eloquence in the cricket stadium also invited King Feisal of Saudi Arabia to lead the Friday prayers in the grand old Badshahi Masjid, as Lahore hosted a spectacularly staged session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

There was the petro-Islam of social conservatism and consumerist hysteria that came as part of the baggage of the workers and professionals who returned after a sojourn of some years in the oil kingdoms. And there was the puritanical Islam of Arab youth squads of the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) who made their first appearance on the college campuses of Pakistan now, as fraternal delegates to the conferences and conventions staged by the student wing of the notorious Jamaat-e-Islami, which was to play such havoc during the Zia years and especially after the onset of the war in Afghanistan. Or, there were the many Islams - tribal, academic, mercantile, what have you - that came from Afghanistan when Z.A. Bhutto started offering protection to the Islamic parties and organisations from there which left their country after Mohammed Daoud Khan's coup of 1973, well before the 1978 Revolution. One now forgets, for example, that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was to play such a pivotal role in the Islamic insurgency during the Zia period, eventually becoming even Prime Minister for a brief period before the Taliban took over, was recruited by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not during that later phase but earlier, in the mid-1970s, when Bhutto's own flirtation with Afghani Islam had its high noon.

The birth of the nuclear programme in Pakistan was a two-faced affair. The shift in the balance of forces between India and Pakistan after the 1971 war was of such a magnitude that Pakistan could no longer even dream of achieving strategic parity in conventional weapons in any foreseeable future. This was not easy to accept after so decisive a defeat, especially if Pakistan was to recover from that defeat through the risky new doctrine of a forward defence whereby its defence parameters were to be drawn beyond its own boundaries. Then came Pokhran-I, and Pakistan saw itself falling woefully behind not just in conventional weapons but also in nuclear technology.

Bhutto now resolved to proceed with a fully fledged nuclear programme at breakneck speed, toward weapon production capability, not only in order to attain parity in a nuclear field where India had already established a clear lead but also to overcome through nuclear parity the very sizable disadvantage Pakistan had in weapons of conventional warfare. In relation to India, thus, Pakistan's nuclear programme was always of a defensive nature, a desperate attempt to catch up with a neighbour that had already slashed it to half its previous size. And this character of the Pakistani nuclear programme as a response to an India that was seen as more advanced and aggressive, remained right up to Chagai, which came only after Pokhran-II.

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ALL this is difficult to comprehend for the policy-making establishments in India which suffer from a Great Power Syndrome and which reserve for themselves but deny Pakistan the right to lunacy that is said to be the birthright of Great Powers. What is particularly difficult for Indian policy-makers to appreciate, precisely because they insist on viewing Pakistan simply as some illegitimate little backwoods of South Asia, is half the reason why Pakistan launched on its nuclear programme at the very time when it was trying to shift its historic orientation from South Asia to West Asia had very little to do with India and everything to do with its ambitions in the so-called 'Islamic World'.

In a nutshell, Pakistan wished to emerge as the only nuclear power in that world, which it saw as its ticket to dominance there. For the conservative Arab sheikhdoms, a nuclear-capable Pakistan would be the great military power in their midst. To the radical nationalists, of Libya or Palestine for example, a nuclear-capable Pakistan could be presented as a counter-weight to Israel.

Throughout the Z.A. Bhutto period, this other aspect of Pakistan's race towards the bomb - which the Western media appropriately called 'the Islamic bomb' - was predominant, and it is very much worth remarking that in Bhutto's own view he was being sent to the gallows for the sin of having defied U.S. imperialism and Israeli Zionism on the nuclear issue. In early 1978, weeks before Bhutto was sent up those gallows, an aide to the Palestine Liberation Organisation Chairman told me that Yasser Arafat himself believed that there was much truth in Bhutto's assessment of his impending fate.

Why was Pakistan allowed to carry on with its nuclear programme even after Bhutto's judicial assassination? The first reason was precisely that: Bhutto had been despatched, and the man who had done so was much more reliable. Zia was possibly the shrewdest ruler Pakistan has ever had, but he was also a pious Muslim of conservative stamp, a man of kulak origins who had risen from an early career in the colonial army to high office in Pakistan's notoriously right-wing armed forces. If Bhutto had turned to Saudi Arabia for pragmatic reasons and to Afghan Islamic groups for cynical ones, Zia was to do so out of conviction. And if Bhutto was split between a certain variety of Third World nationalism and day-to-day dependence on imperialism, Zia's relationship with the U.S. was uncomplicated; many in Pakistan noted the fact that he had made his coup immediately after attending the Fourth of July celebrations at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

On the nuclear issue, Zia seems to have argued persuasively with his U.S. patrons that (a) Pakistan's geopolitical compulsions within the subcontinent required that it develop this capability since India already had it and was working to improve it greatly; (b) that Pakistan would not undertake tests and explosions so long as India did not do so; and (c) that Pakistan would never make this capability available to Third World nationalists, Arab radicals and so on. Rhetoric aside, this remained Pakistan's policy subsequently as well, for another decade, under Benazir Bhutto and also Nawaz Sharif, until the BJP-led government unilaterally changed India's historic position on the nuclear issue by staging Pokhran-II.

III

In Shame, which is surely the most compact and possibly the best of his novels, Salman Rushdie has a wonderful scene in which Zia - or Raza Hyder, the fictional character who stands in for Zia - hears the news that "the Russians had sent an army into the country of A" and promptly brings out four prayer-mats so that he and his cronies can "give thanks, pronto, fut-a-fut, for this blessing that had been bestowed on them by God" while one of those cronies begins "to fantasise about five billion dollars' worth of new military equipment, the latest stuff at last, missiles that could fly sideways without starving their engines of oxygen." We are still living with the consequences of that "blessing". For at least one of the roads that has now reached Kargil began in Kabul some 20 years, and it was at the Khyber Pass that Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser, stood, an American-made gun in hand, promising his hired Mujahideen that that was the gun that was to make Islam prevail against the godless Communists. Osama Bin Laden is only one of the hundreds of thousands that came out of that gun.

What did that mean for Pakistan?

In the nuclear arena itself, the great dependence of the U.S. upon Pakistan for the conduct of the war in Afghanistan meant that Pakistani intelligence services were free to beg, buy and steal nuclear technologies from the best laboratories of the Western world without getting punished, even as the U.S. continued to blame China and North Korea for transferring this technology to Pakistan. The Americans had simply to gulp their own objections as Pakistan developed its weapons capability.

Then, there was the money! Quite aside from the countless billions that came from the U.S. as well as the Gulf monarchies, the illegal drug trade alone, which the U.S. secret service helped organise for the Afghan Mujahideen in order to finance part of their operations, was said to be bringing in over $2 billion annually during the early 1980s. A side effect for Pakistan was that for a decade or so drug addiction grew in Karachi faster than in any other city in the world, and Karachi became a major hub for gun-running by those drug-trafficking mafias. It was in those years that the social and political life in the city was first so massively criminalised. And the cancer of course spread far and wide.

In other parts of the country, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) particularly but also in Baluchistan and Punjab, over three million Afghan refugees poured in, altering the very social fabric in the regions where they were concentrated; one-third to half of them are said to be still there. Many of the leaders of Afghan Islamic organisations had migrated to Pakistan during the Z.A. Bhutto period, and the bulk of the ruling class, minus the ones who went straight to the Western countries or went to Iran instead, now converged there as well. The refugee camps, where military training and Islamic education of the most arcane kind were dispensed in equal measure, became the source of virtually infinite recruitment for war inside Afghanistan. The combination of military expertise and the most arcane religious conservatism that the Taliban has displayed is a direct reflection of the lethal brew that was first stirred up in those camps. We might add that the seven-party alliance that was recognised by Pakistan and the U.S. as the legitimate soldiers of god and that then fought over the spoils after the Soviet withdrawal until the Taliban threw it out, was only very slightly less conservative than today's Taliban and surely no less brutal. The same applies to the Pakistanis who joined them in increasing numbers and the ones who came from a variety of other countries, from Sudan to the United Kingdom. Many of those who have tasted blood are now looking for other causes.

In the process, Pakistan's own Islamicist organisations, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, which had remained politically marginal and militarily less than marginal, have made spectacular progress in terms of money, arms, men and expertise. There is still an immensely large pool of human beings, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan, not only Army regulars and controlled irregulars but also freelance seekers of martyrdom, from among whom guerillas for covert wars can still be recruited. Equally dangerous, perhaps, is the fact that a great many of them are men of shifting loyalties and fierce egotism, under no one's control and largely footloose. Weapons of all sorts are spread all across Pakistan and among the Afghan irregulars; no amount of effort to disarm this marauding mass can wholly succeed.

NOT only has Pakistan's social and political culture become very much more Islamised but the character of the armed forces has also changed dramatically. As a result, the numbers who subscribe to a very extreme form of political Islam is now so great that it may destabilise the inner unity of the armed forces themselves. An eventuality may yet arise in which the most extreme wing makes a coup not just against the civilian authorities but also against their own less extreme colleagues, to join up with political organisations of the extreme kind and establish in Pakistan the type of Islamicist state, suitably modified for Pakistani conditions, that Sudan and Afghanistan have already known, or the kind that may yet arise in Algeria. This is not by any means fated but it is a distinct possibility.

As the war in Afghanistan progressed, the national security apparatus in Pakistan grew in ambition and scope. The doctrine of forward defence that had initially conceived of defence parameters being drawn some kilometres into the neighbours' territories came now to include not only the whole of Afghanistan but also, as a legitimate sphere of influence, the states that have arisen out of Soviet Central Asia. By the time the Soviet troops were withdrawn, another, brand new self-image of the military-bureaucratic state emerged: Pakistan was especially chosen by the Lord to become the country that was to beat the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, out of the Cold War, out of existence. Pakistani military officers are known to have joked that they would have done the same to Vietnam if only the Americans had the sense to deploy Pakistani troops instead of their own. A third-rate military machine that is intoxicated by a self-image so very dazzling is a dangerous machine.

This is the tiger Nawaz Sharif is trying to ride.

IV

There are powerful currents of opinion about Pakistan among academic experts, think-tanks and policy-makers in India which make too much, even when it comes to foreign policy and military strategy, of the distinction between civilian and military governments and among various centres of power in Pakistan. Defence Minister George Fernandes' statement that the Kargil operation was an undertaking of the Pakistan Army in which the ISI was not involved and which did not have the sanction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was of course exceptionally foolish but it comes precisely out of that mechanistic sense of how Pakistan is governed or makes its policies.

We speak of the Pakistani ISI these days as we once used to speak of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as something not only transcendentally diabolical but also as some sort of a super-government that does as it wishes. It is indeed the case that the relationship between the intelligence agencies and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Pakistan has become especially complex in the course of the Afghanistan war and thereafter; the fact nevertheless remains that the ISI is a department of the armed forces in which the chain of command remains, in the final analysis, intact. The Kargil operation was prepared in elaborate secrecy, on a scale that is yet not clear even after a month and a half of fighting. It is inconceivable that any of the key intelligence services would remain uninvolved. By the same token, what task is assigned to the ISI, the Special Services Group (SSG) or any other such agency would necessarily be determined by the chief commanders of the armed forces who are not obliged to reveal to their subordinates their actual war plans. The sort of distinction between the Pakistan Army and the ISI that Fernandes wishes to observe is at best fanciful.

What about Nawaz Sharif? Unlike Vajpayee, whose party commanded less than a third of the national vote in the last elections and who has been unable to retain the confidence of the Lok Sabha for the coalition of motley groups that made him Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif commands enough strength in his Parliament to be able to change even the Constitution if he so desires. He has used this power to get rid of a President, a Supreme Court Chief Justice as well as a Chief of the Army Staff who dared to differ with him. It is inconceivable that the current Army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, whom Sharif is said to have especially favoured because he has no independent personal base among the key commanders, would launch so large an operation without seeking the permission of his Prime Minister.

Such an assumption would rest on three other misconceptions: (a) that the various centres of power in Pakistan are so autonomous and so much at odds with one another that each pursues its own discrete objectives; (b) that the Army, in particular, pursues a foreign policy of its own; and (c) that the Kargil operation is so irreconcilable with the undertakings Pakistan gave when Vajpayee's bus lurched into Lahore that the operation must be seen either as Sharif's perfidy or as an adventure launched behind his back. The fallacy that governs each of these misconceptions is that Pakistan does not have a coherent state authority capable of pursuing fixed, long-term objectives.

It is undoubtedly true that the Army has a much bigger role in Pakistan's polity than is the case in India and that this inordinately large role remains whether a General or a civilian heads the government. That does not mean, however, that there is some fundamental cleavage between the civilian and military authorities over national interest, foreign policy and military strategy. Our own argument would suggest, by contrast, that there are of course ideological shifts, as governments come and go, and dramatic new forces emerge with the passage of time and in response to events inside and outside the country. There is, nevertheless, a basic continuity in definitions of the national interest and the strategies that are to be pursued.

Contrast this with the hallowed fantasies that now surround the Lahore Declaration and which are largely of our own making. After Pokhran-II and Chagai there was tremendous pressure from the NATO countries, principally the U.S., to take some tangible action in order to resolve or at least defuse the Kashmir crisis because Kashmir had become, as they put it, a 'nuclear flashpoint'. Unwilling and even unable to come up with creative, substantive new thinking, Vajpayee opted for a politically naive gesture symbolised by what came to be called 'bus diplomacy'. Nawaz Sharif simply obliged, though he did not go so far as to disturb his own routine and come to Delhi.

We are a sentimental people, and even the progressive and liberal commentators fell for Vajpayee's short-lived atmospherics. Not Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's Foreign Minister. On the eve of the bus trip, when Vajpayee was already over-committed, Aziz delivered much-publicised, hard-hitting speeches saying bluntly that the atmospherics must not be seen as making any fundamental difference to Pakistan's settled positions on Kashmir. When The News, an English daily published by the Jung group of newspapers, organised a meeting of Pakistani and Indian parliamentarians, where too a very great deal of poetry and sentiment flowed, a group of unidentified men broke into the compound of the house of Imtiaz Alam, the editor who had played a prominent role in organising the event, and set his new and expensive car on fire. Later, when Najam Sethi, a veteran Pakistani publisher and commentator, shared with the BBC some information on the corrupt dealings of the Sharif family, the Pakistan Government waited until he had expressed on Indian soil the dissent he routinely expresses in his own newspaper, The Friday Times, and arrested him, with the complicity of the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi, on the improbable charge that Sethi was an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The Government of India continued to speak of the Lahore Declaration, a veritable pack of cosmetics, as if some new chapter in subcontinental history had been opened.

Drunk on his own rhetoric, Vajpayee went to Minar-e-Pakistan, which stands in Lahore at the spot where the historic Pakistan Resolution of 1942 was passed, and spoke of India and Pakistan as 'separate nations'. Our media contrived to see in this gesture a historic turn where India - or was it the RSS? - had finally accepted Partition. Pakistanis were barely amused. Hardly anyone there believes that it is for India - or for the RSS - to accept or reject the reality of Pakistan, over half a century after the event. Those who make policy in Pakistan politely waited for Vajpayee to depart.

WHAT went wrong? The media hype of 'bus diplomacy' was the other face of the Pokhran lunacy. Having committed an act of extraordinary hawkishness and belligerence, which dismayed people across the world, raising the suspicion that the Government of India was losing its capacity for responsible action, Vajpayee desperately needed to reincarnate himself as a man of peace. No one in the world approved of Pakistan's nuclear blasts but most people concluded that it was an unpleasant but predictable response to Indian irresponsibility. Vajpayee had to take a unilateral initiative in going to Lahore because he had taken a unilateral initiative on the nuclear issue. A comedy of penance was sold to the media as if it was a pack of doves. And he had to move fast, before international pressure for 'internationalising' the Kashmir issue became unbearable.

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There lies the rub, in the haste. When Henry Kissinger journeyed to Beijing in the thick of night, he did so after prolonged and extremely careful preparations for rapprochement, which itself became possible only after historic shifts had taken place within China in relation to its attitude toward the U.S., the Soviet Union, Vietnam and itself. Similarly, when Anwar Sadat of Egypt made his dramatic visit to Jerusalem, it was done only after months and years of careful preparation and only when the historic shift in relations between Egypt and Israel had been agreed upon, between the two governments, inside each of the polities and in collaboration with their mutual patron-saint in the United States.

No such preparations, no agreement on a dramatic new turn on the Kashmir issue for example, preceded the trip to Lahore. Vajpayee seems to have persuaded himself that his alighting from a garishly decked up bus on the other side of the Wagah border could change the shape of international diplomacy as L.K. Advani's rath yatra had altered the fortunes of the RSS within the country. When Kargil exploded, Vajpayee was bewildered.

At some level, the bus diplomacy turned out to be as inept as most other things that this government has done across the board. More fundamentally, the BJP-led government misconstrues what Pokhran and Chagai have meant. On May 18 last year, Advani had claimed that Pokhran-II had strengthened India's hand in Kashmir. Writing in Frontline at the time (June 19, 1998), I had suggested that our blustering Home Minister did not seem to understand that nuclear weapons have little bearing on guerilla actions and localised, low-intensity warfare. Now, a year later, one needs to go a step further.

Pokhran was a gift to Sharif as the Afghan war had been for Zia. Since 1971, Pakistan had been trying, unsuccessfully, to overcome its strategic inferiority in conventional warfare. By opening the way for nuclear parity and competitive weaponisation, the Vajpayee government gifted to Pakistan a strategic parity that it could not otherwise achieve. To the extent that the possession of nuclear weapons capability by both sides in a serious conflict tends to put serious constraints on a full-scale conventional war, to that same extent it facilitates the institutionalisation of low-intensity, localised wars. The more the two countries move toward nuclear weaponisation, the more Kargils we shall have. In this sense, the present reality in Kargil is not only the other face of the rhetoric of Lahore, it is also a precise, necessary, repeatable consequence of Pokhran.

Aijaz Ahmad is Senior Fellow, Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

Fighting Pakistan with a handicap

SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY cover-story
A case for crossing the Line of Control.

PAKISTAN has struck against India in Kashmir for the fourth time since 1947 - the first time in 1948, then twice in 1965 (April and August), and now for the fourth time. Each time, in our eagerness to achieve peace, we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in these wars imposed on us by Pakistan. In 1948, after the Pakistan Army was on the run, we stopped our forces at the Line of Control (LoC) at the base of the Kargil mountains, instead of allowing our Army to take full control of the entire Kashmir State from the retreating Pakistan Army. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in order to "respect" the unilateral commitment of the last British Governor-General, Lord Mountbatten, went rushing to the United Nations in search of peace. What we got instead was a lecture from the world powers, and an albatross of a U.N. Security Council resolution asking us to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir. There was no condemnation of the Pakistani perfidy.

In 1965, our troops climbed the Kargil heights at great human cost and captured the highest vantage points, on which peaks the Pakistan Army is sitting today in cement bunkers. But Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri sojourned in search of peace to Tashkent for a third-party Soviet mediation, and agreed to withdraw back to the 1948 LoC. Many of our soldiers at the Kargil heights had revolted at the thought, but obeyed Shastri's orders, with tears streaming down their cheeks. Even in the 1971 war when we won an outright victory in liberating Bangladesh, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in the name of peace, gave away territory that we had captured across the LoC, even though under the Indian Constitution it was inalienable Indian territory.

The LoC is a notional concept, at best an ad hoc arrangement to make Pakistan vacate its aggression in Kashmir with dignity. It cannot be regarded as a permanent border. That would violate our Constitution. Already we have waited too long for Pakistan to see reason, but after the events of 1999, it is clear that Pakistan will never quit with grace. The more inches we concede to them, the more miles of our territory they will claim. The Pakistanis have a slogan: Hass Hass Ke Liya Pakistan, Ladd Ladd Ke Lenge Hindustan ("With a laugh we got Pakistan, by fighting we will capture India"). The time thus has now come for us to teach Pakistan lessons to make it snap out of its stupor. Indians are sick of "peace" with Pakistan. We have had enough of it. That is the national mood today.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has failed to gauge the Indian mood correctly because it has been misled by its interaction with the weakest Indian leadership in our history since Bahadur Shah Zafar. In the case of Nehru, Shastri and Indira Gandhi, we can accuse them of hankering for peace, but they were patriots and had sacrifices in the struggle for national independence behind them. The present Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition consists of parties which are anything but patriotic. The strings of this government in crucial ministerial portfolios are pulled by two sinister organisations, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The BJP's patron, the RSS, has never participated in any national struggle for Independence, while the LTTE represents the Supreme Court-declared murderers of Rajiv Gandhi and is internationally condemned as a terrorist organisation. The Defence Minister, the Law Minister and the Health Minister in the Vajpayee Government are all unabashed advocates of the LTTE. The LTTE, in turn, is a captive of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on account of its dependence on narcotics-arms swap trade in the subcontinent. No wonder then that the Defence Minister gave a clean chit to the ISI, and the Law Minister and the Health Minister, stoutly in chorus, supported him when Jayalalitha and I exposed him.

Despite the media hype in which the RSS is adept as fascists generally are, our Prime Minister is so weak that he has no nerve to sack his Defence Minister despite a nation-wide demand for the same. Of course, Vajpayee is bound to be weak, since he has not and cannot go against the fatwas of the RSS.

Today, I doubt that he has the nerve to teach Pakistan the lesson it deserves to be taught. His decision to go on a bus ride to Lahore despite a clear Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) warning that Kashmir had been infiltrated, and while in Lahore to read namaz at the Muslim League citadel, the Minar-e-Pakistan, shows psychological weakness. Today he has internationalised Kashmir by writing a letter to the G-8 leaders for support. We should not expect a government led by Vajpayee to show sustained determination to teach Pakistan a lesson.

Our only hope today, therefore, is that the present India-Pakistan conflict will simmer till the October general elections. Thereafter, hopefully a government of patriots will be formed which will resolve to settle the Pakistan problem once for all, even if it takes years. Time is on our side, however, since Pakistan's economy is tottering. Despite a $5.5-billion bailout bid by the International Monetary Fund in November 1998, it barely has $1.5 billion in foreign exchange reserves. Its economy is import-oriented and service-based. It has a poor manufacturing base. Hence, our diplomacy must concentrate on tightening sanctions against Pakistan. A weak Vajpayee government has no credibility to do that.

A patriotic government must order the Indian ground and air forces to cross the LoC to smash the supply lines of the 'infiltrators'. Otherwise, we are fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. Crossing the LoC is permitted in international law rooted in the U.N. Security Council resolution of April 1992. According to this resolution, nations have the right to cross the established boundaries of other countries in hot pursuit of terrorists. The United States used this resolution to bomb Libya and nearly killed Muammar Qadhafi because he refused to hand over the PanAm Boeing 747 saboteurs. In the case of Kargil, Pakistan has disowned the infiltrators and hence the infiltrators are terrorists.

The LoC, furthermore, is not even an established boundary. Hence the U.N. Security Council resolution would fully sustain the Indian armed forces crossing the LoC in pursuit of the infiltrators, till we reach the Afghan borders. If Pakistan launches a full-fledged war in retaliation, the new patriotic government of India should be ready for it. Better face the problem in October 1999 than ten years later. A full war will lead to a collapse of that country's economy.

We need not worry too much about the international reaction. Pakistan itself has demonstrated that international opinion is a paper tiger. Has the G-8 or China condemned Pakistan for this blatant aggression? In the 1971 Bangladesh war period, 104 nations voted against India in the U.N. General Assembly, but that did not stop Indira Gandhi. No world power is going to intervene in a situation of Pakistan's making, except to make pious noises.

If Vajpayee cannot bring his nerve to order the crossing of the LoC, let him at least not rush by the first bus to Pakistan in search of peace. It was pathetic to see Jaswant Singh run to China, and the Prime Minister's Secretary scamper to the G-8 meeting. Let the Prime Minister instead keep the pot boiling for the next elected government to settle the matter decisively.

The new patriotic government should also set in motion our tangible support for the various insurgent movements in Pakistan, such as in Sindh, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). If Pakistan can support the LTTE, the United Liberation Front of Asom and all the mad fundamentalists in India, we can also do so. It is Pakistan which is vulnerable and can fall apart, and not India.

In the final analysis, the fight between India and Pakistan is not over Kashmir, as the United States thinks. It is on whether in the subcontinent secularism triumphs or Taliban-backed Pakistani fundamentalist Sunni hegemony will prevail. It is significant that Kargil is Shia-dominated, and the Muslims there are fierce Indian nationalists. This agitates Pakistan since, in the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, only in the Valley does it receive some support from fringe Sunni groups. Indian Muslims, Shia or Sunni, do not accept this fundamentalist Sunni hegemony. Muslims have laid down their lives for India in all the wars since 1948. In other words, the India-Pakistan fight is a clash of ideology and, in essence, a conflict between an ancient civilisation and an artifact.

Air power at work

NARENDRA GUPTA cover-story

The Indian Air Force's planners and crews operating in Kargil are handling the special challenges of high-altitude air operations.

IN recent weeks there have been numerous reports of outstanding victories by valiant Indian jawans who regained control of significant peaks in the Kargil sector from Pakistan Army infiltrators. There are also reports of the successes of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which is causing damage to the enemy's emplacements, infrastructure on the hills and stocks of food and ammunition, flying over difficult terrain and hostile heights.

Before discussing the IAF operations, it is important to understand the conditions in which the aircraft fly. As they move through air, the flow over the wings (of the planes) and over the rotor blades (of helicopters) provides a lifting force to support the craft in the sky. At high altitudes, the air density is lower than what it is at lower heights, for which the planes are designed. Consequently, in the rarefied atmosphere, for the same forward speed the corresponding lifting force is reduced.

The terrain in and around Kargil is between 4,572 metres and 5,486 m above sea level. The aircraft are, therefore, required to fly at altitudes of about 6,100 m. The density of the air at these heights is roughly 30 per cent less than that of the air at sea level. This causes a reduction in the weight that can be carried, and also the pilot's ability to manoeuvre as the radius of a turn is higher here than at lower levels. Also engine performance deteriorates with altitude, as for the same forward speed a smaller mass of air goes into the jet engine of the fighter or the engine of the helicopter, compared to low altitudes.

The airfields nearest to the targets in Kargil are the Srinagar air base and the neighbouring military airfield at Avantipur. Therefore, the IAF has to operate primarily from these two bases. According to media reports, the fixed-wing planes being used for ground attack are mainly the single-seat MiG-21s and MiG-27s. The MiG-21 is the older type of jet fighter, built mainly for air interception with a secondary role of ground attack. Its avionics and weapons are of 1970s vintage. However, this jet fighter can carry one tonne of bombs or four pods of rockets in addition to its 23-mm cannon. It is capable of operating in comparatively restricted spaces, which is of importance in the Kargil terrain.

The swing-wing MiG-27 is an airplane optimised for attacking targets on the ground. It can carry a load of roughly four tonnes, which could be a mix of various weapons, including a 23-mm cannon, rocket pods, multiple carriage free fall bombs of various weights and varieties (for example, the MiG-27 can carry 18 bombs each weighing 100 kg in addition to a 23-mm multiple-barrelled cannon), retarded bombs and smart weapons. It has a computerised bomb sight, which enables accurate weapon delivery. Its variable geometry wings are kept forward at 14o sweep for take-off and landing, and whenever required to fly at slow speeds. The other two sweep-back positions are for combat and for high-speed getaway. The MiG-27 is, therefore, ideal for the high altitude and mountainous terrain of Kargil.

The state-of-the-art Indian Mirage-2000 planes conduct electronic warfare, reconnaissance and a few sorties of ground attack, for which a great deal of accuracy is needed, using the 'smart' weapons that this plane can carry. Because of the need to engage Pakistani targets in the valleys and on ridges, the slower helicopter gunship became a critically important requirement. The Mi-17 was hence modified to carry four rocket pods on external pylons. Each pod has a capacity of 16 or 32 air-to-ground rockets. This helicopter is proving very effective in engaging Pakistani bunkers and troops although one helicopter and its four crew members have been lost to a U.S.- made Stinger surface-to-air heat-seeking missile fired by Pakistani troops. It is understood that the Mi-17s being used in Kargil are also being fitted with additional safety features in order to protect the air crew. It is a pity that the infra-red flares, which the helicopter can carry and release to decoy heat-seeking missiles, were not imported.

The other helicopter in use is the Cheetah. The agile, light and small Cheetah is used to stay outside Pakistani gun range, locate enemy targets and direct artillery fire onto Pakistani targets. It is also used as an airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC) to guide Indian fighters to the targets.

In the high mountains, air crew face some difficulties in carrying out their operational missions. As aircraft performance is lowered in the rarefied atmosphere, pilots have to be very careful while flying in the valleys. The larger radius of turn reduces their ability to manoeuvre in the restricted width of the valley. It also increases the height lost in a pullout from a dive attack. Hence the pullout has to be initiated at a greater height. Therefore, the weapon release heights have to be raised correspondingly. This may cause inaccuracies in the aiming of weapons. The non-standard air density also affects the trajectory of weapons, which has been calculated for sea-level firing. The firing hence may not be accurate. In the mountains, be they in the valleys or on the ridges, the targets are relatively small, spread out and difficult to spot, particularly by high-speed fighter jets. This becomes worse in low visibility conditions or when there is clouding en route or over the target.

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The operations restricted to just the Kargil area do not lend themselves to the classical use of air power. There is also the major constraint of the political requirement of not crossing the Line of Control (LoC). The IAF is, therefore, not at liberty to use large strike formations with an appropriate weight of attack to destroy the Pakistani supply lines and logistic bases and training camps. Such attacks are needed in order to reduce the pressure on the Indian Army and to obviate the use of these facilities in the near future too. Also, under conditions of large radius of turn because of the thin air and the small and spread-out nature of the targets in the mountains, it becomes difficult not to transgress the LoC unless the direction of attack is parallel to the LoC. The terrain configuration and the location of the target may not always make it possible.

These are some challenges faced by IAF planners and crews operating in Kargil. However, one learns to overcome these difficulties and find solutions with ingenuity, determination and practice. The IAF regularly exercises its fighter squadrons in high-altitude operations and has an air-to-ground firing range for practice in Ladakh. It needs to be noted that the IAF is the only air force in the world that carries out war operations in the mountains at such high altitudes and in such difficult terrain as in the Kargil area near the LoC. Crews of the IAF, the modern-day gladiators, are second to none in dedication, combat-worthiness, grit and professionalism.

On a typical day of operations, if the first few missions are to be on target at first light (20 minutes before sunrise), the pilots report to their fight offices about two hours before the Time On Target (TOT). After a short medical examination by the unit doctor and after changing into their combat flying kit, they are briefed on the weather at the base, at the alternative airfields and in the target area. They are told about the results of the previous sorties and given the latest intelligence reports. The Fight Commander then tells them about the specific target, the composition of the force, the weapons to be carried and the TOT. The Ground Liaison Officer (GLO), generally an Army officer, gives the latest Sitrep (Situation Report), details of the strike demand from the Army, radio call signs of the FAC in the target area and a detailed target description with photographs, if available. The pilots then pencil the route on their maps, calculate the transit time to the target, and thus the time of take-off. The take-off time is conveyed to the ATC and to the GLO. The ATC coordinates the mission with the rest of the expected air traffic and the GLO conveys the TOT to the Army formation and the FAC in the target area. The formation leader then briefs the other pilots in the strike mission with regard to the relative positions to be flown by each aircraft in the formation and the tactics to be adopted. The pilots have a quick cup of coffee and biscuits or sandwiches and proceed to the airplanes.

In the meantime, technicians carry out pre-night checks and inspections on the planes to be flown, refuel them and charge oxygen. The armourers load the ammunition, rockets, the infra-red decoy flares and any other ordnance that is required to get the aircraft ready for the mission. When the pilots arrive, the ground crew strap them up in the cockpit.

In the technology-intensive world of military aviation there has to be close teamwork among the pilots, the technicians, the ATC controllers, the GLOs, the administrative and logistic personnel and so on. This close teamwork and interdependence creates a visible and strong camaraderie among them.

Regardless of how brave the pilots are, before a mission they tend to lose their appetite and sense of humour, and no amount of water quenches their thirst. However, once they get busy with the pre-night cockpit checks, the fear of the unknown is forgotten and professionalism and peer pride take over. The pilot is then busy and businesslike. On his return from a trip, the appetite and humour are back.

On returning from a mission, pilots debrief each other. They are then debriefed by the GLO and the Fight Commander on what they had seen at and around the target area, about the damage inflicted on the enemy and if, in their view, there is further need for attacks on the same target. After each mission a new and a bigger picture about the enemy emerges. This is transmitted to the Army and the higher formations of the IAF. This new information also becomes part of the intelligence briefing for subsequent missions.

In the meantime, the pilots of the next formation absorb all available information and stand by for their mission. The next team of gladiators is ready.

A fighter pilot, Narendra Gupta recently retired in the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. He saw action in the 1971 air operations, particularly in the Battle of Longewala in the Rajasthan sector.

Signs of distress

BALRAJ PURI cover-story

The lessons from Kargil show that the official policy on Jammu and Kashmir needs a thorough review.

I TOLD Frontline correspondent Praveen Swami in March 1999: "This is the most dangerous period in the history of Jammu and Kashmir." And I also wrote in Mainstream (March 26) that for the first time I was almost without hope.

I have not been able to share the euphoria created by the pronouncements of the Central and State governments with regard to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir since the beginning of 1998 that militancy in the State had nearly ended. No doubt, there have been some positive developments. In recent months, a record number of tourists visited the Valley and pilgrims travelled to the Amarnath cave. There has also been a decline in the number of Kashmiri youth who joined militant organisations. However, officialdom erred in presuming that those regions in the State where non-Kashmiri Muslims lived had become safer. The spurt in violence in the Muslim-majority areas of the Jammu region was not because of the militants on the run from the Valley, as the people were told; it represented a distinct shift in Pakistan's strategy and objectives vis-a-vis Jammu and Kashmir. Was some authority in Pakistan looking to convert a Kashmiri movement for azadi into a Muslim movement across borders? Could that be the reason for changing targets and battlegrounds, from Kashmiri Muslims to non-Kashmiri Muslims, from Jammu to Ladakh?

In 1990, militancy started in the Valley as a popular upsurge inspired by the ethos of Kashmiriat; it is equally relevant that Kashmiri militants received arms and training from across the Line of Control. Gradually the militant movement was taken over by other agencies based in Pakistan. The overground secessionist leadership in Kashmir also tilted accordingly. This has been one of the major causes for loss of its popular support in the Valley.

The next phase of militancy was neither Kashmiri in composition nor was it inspired by the Kashmiri nationalist slogan of azadi. The new militants were not Kashmiri-speaking. They were indoctrinated in a particular brand of Islam and were regulars of the Pakistan Army. They operated from the hilly terrains of Jammu and the glaciated peaks of Ladakh, which were more impregnable for the Indian defence forces than were the plains of the Valley. Militants from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Punjab had a close ethnic affinity with the local Muslims in Jammu and could expect a better response here than in the Valley.

Similarly, a neglected non-Kashmiri, non-Shia and Shina-speaking Muslim community of Drass in Kargil belonged to the same ethnic stock as the community across the Line of Control (LoC) and could possibly provide the first point of local contact and information about the topography to Pakistani intruders, in a region which is otherwise loyal to India.

Authorities in Pakistan must also have calculated the political and strategic advantage to be gained from shifting the scene of operations. Any disruption on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, which passes through the Muslim-majority belt of Jammu, and on the vulnerable Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway would cut the Indian defence system into three parts, while Pakistan would have direct access to each of the regions. Moreover, the Muslim communities of the three regions would be consolidated.

The Gujjars and the Paharis, two major Muslim communities in the Rajouri and the Poonch border districts of the Jammu region, have been alienated by the state. The Gujjars were not given representation in government while the Paharis were not given the status of Scheduled Tribes. The National Conference tried to unite them under it by playing on communal sentiments and promising a separate regional status for them, to rid them of the so-called Hindu domination in the Jammu region.

The 1998 Lok Sabha elections divided Jammu along communal lines. For the first time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won both the seats from the region and made a sweep in all the Hindu-majority Assembly segments, while the National Conference held its sway in all the Muslim-majority segments.

Similarly, while the National Conference strengthened its base in the Muslim-majority district of Ladakh, relations between the National Conference and the Ladakh Buddhist Association, which controls the Autonomous Hill Council of Leh district, became strained. The latter has threatened to launch an agitation for the district's separation from the State and for granting of Union Territory status for it.

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By April 1999, the State Government formally proposed the division of Jammu into Hindu- and Muslim-majority regions and of Ladakh into the Buddhist-majority region of Leh and the Muslim-majority region of Kargil. Although the proposal has been referred to an expert for further examination, its communal impact cannot be denied.

Coincidentally, the internal developments in the State were supplemented by proposals from organisations based in the United States to divide the State along religious lines. The highly influential Kashmir Study Group proposed that such a reorganised State be given the status of being "sovereign without an international personality". Some Indian associates of this group insisted that the proposal envisaged such a status within Indian sovereignty. The idea is reported to have received a sympathetic response from Pakistan. Slightly modifying Pakistan's earlier stand, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz suggested that a district-wise plebiscite should determine the future of the State.

Several developments have occurred simultaneously in the State, such as the various regional political events, the government proposal subsequent to the campaigns by the National Conference to carve up Jammu and Ladakh, demands by some Hindus and Buddhists to separate Jammu and Leh from the State, international efforts to divide the State along communal lines, Pakistan's offer for a district-wise disposal of the State, and the shifting of militant operations from Kashmir to Jammu and Ladakh. These may or may not have been accidental, but they conveyed the same message.

If these internal and external developments had been taken notice of and coordination effected among different wings of the Government, the eloquent hints about activities of Pakistani intruders in Kargil would not have been dismissed so summarily either by the intelligence agencies or by the defence forces. The intrusion served a political purpose to some extent.

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Although the infiltrators were Pakistan Army regulars and non-Kashmiris, all the secessionist leaders in Kashmir hailed them as freedom fighters. They also condemned the aerial bombing in Kashmir and expressed concern for the fate of the Muslim refugees in Kargil. When 150 refugees from Kargil took shelter in Buddhist-dominated Leh, they were greeted with demands for their repatriation. The youth wing of the Ladakh Buddhist Association warned that "our people will be the last to play host and extend hospitality" to illegal intruders.

Notwithstanding the unprecedented international support to India on Kargil, the morale and sacrifices of the armed forces, the successes on the battlefront and the sense of patriotism displayed by a united country, there are signs of distress inside Jammu and Kashmir. Its political leadership is isolated from the people. Besides, an overcentralised administration with empty coffers, which is hardly in a position to meet routine responsibilities, cannot handle the extra burden put on it by the current crisis and the problems of uprooted families. It is estimated that there are 30,000 uprooted families in Kargil and perhaps 60,000 in the entire border area.

How far will the gains on the other fronts be maintained if the home front within the State remains neglected? If wars are fought not merely by weapons and armies and if people also matter, why is their role in the debate not even mentioned? If every war, particularly a possible India-Pakistan war, has an ideological and psychological aspect, what is being done to strengthen this? While the political and administrative system in the State cannot be overhauled overnight, why did the State Government choose this particular moment to add to the political tensions through its proposal on carving up the Jammu and Ladakh regions? Why was the report of the Regional Autonomy Committee, which had evolved a consensus for reconciling the interests and aspirations of all diversities of the multi-ethnic State suppressed? And why did the national media choose to black out all versions except the official version? Why did the official electronic media provoke a controversy by arranging a discussion on the advantages of terminating the age-old practice of the annual durbar movement of the Secretariat between Jammu and Srinagar? Why did no one quietly remind the Buddhist leaders of Ladakh of their patriotic and humanitarian duty to be accommodative to the Muslim victims of the Pakistani aggression in their region? Why is no media outlet available to leaders in Kargil to express their genuine resentment against the aggression? Why were the autopsy reports of six mutilated bodies of Indian armymen, killed by the Pakistan Army, not supplied to Amnesty International, which it had demanded before giving its comments on Pakistan's action? Its verdict would have carried better conviction with Kashmiri Muslims and the liberal constituency in Pakistan.

The lessons from Kargil must be learnt and the whole policy on Kashmir needs a thorough review. The inadequacies in the defence strategy and intelligence system must be removed. Foreign policy, including that which relates to India-Pakistan relations, may have to be reoriented in the light of current and past experiences. It has to be a holistic approach, keeping in view India's long-term aspiration for a role not only in the region but also in the world.

Above all, no policy - nor even the concept of security - can afford to ignore the role of the people and their genuine urges in Jammu and Kashmir. This implies recognition of all ethnic identities, including the Shina-speaking community of Drass, and the reconciliation of their diverse concerns. Without that, India cannot acquire the requisite moral, political and diplomatic influence to play its due role.

A question of credibility

cover-story
PRAVEEN SWAMI

JOURNALISTS who participated in the bus tour organised by the Army to Drass and Kargil on June 22 discovered little about the war. They did, however, learn that some things have changed little since the days of the Raj.

The United States-based Cable News Network (CNN), which days earlier had put out a fictional report claiming that thousands of Kashmir residents were protesting against Indian military actions in Kargil, was allowed to travel in comfort. Its journalists travelled in hired cars, with a small convoy of other vehicles carrying technical equipment following along. So did the British Broadcasting Corporation. A Colonel-rank officer from the Northern Command's public relations apparatus was assigned to ensure they had access to the information images they wanted.

Indian representatives of Indian media organisations were told flatly that they could not film gun positions or artillery actions. Officials at the headquarters of the 56 Brigade in Drass and the 121 Brigade in Kargil offered them no information at all. At one point, when chaotic organisation led to protests, journalists were told in true schoolmaster style, not to "behave like children".

If the Indian Army is not winning the media war on Kargil, it is not difficult to see why.

With access to the Kargil combat area barred for journalists and officials at Srinagar's 15 Corps Headquarters having disappeared down bunkers, several aspects of the Army's Kargil campaign are suffering from a credibility problem. Journalists find accounts emanating from press briefings often at odds with their field experiences.

When fighting first broke out in Kargil, the Army responded by keeping all journalists out. The ban appeared to have been the consequence of 15 Corps being as confused as anyone else about exactly what was happening in Kargil, and not wanting journalists to get hurt. This correspondent was the first to enter the area, on May 19, breaking official travel restrictions. Army officials proved impeccably cooperative. Then, from May 25 to June 4, journalists were formally allowed in, and faced no problems.

On the night of June 4, the Army Headquarters in New Delhi abruptly cancelled permits to journalists to travel. Seventeen journalists who had been scheduled to leave from Srinagar the next morning had their valid travel permits terminated. No clear reasons were given for the decision, but senior Army officials in New Delhi privately put forward some claims. Photographs that had appeared in some newspapers and magazines as well as television footage, they said, had exposed Indian gun positions. At least two forward positions had been badly hit.

After the ban on travel, journalists pointed to its patent flaws. The gun positions, they said, could just have well been compromised by Pakistan field and technical intelligence. If photographs had given away gun positions, that was because no ground rules had been issued.

Curiously, journalists were still able to enter Kargil through Leh, as this correspondent did, using a little ingenuity. But since most important sources of information are Srinagar-based, and communications between Leh and elsewhere are somewhat thin, this route was less than ideal.

On June 7, a well-respected defence journalist faxed a letter to Army chief V.P. Malik asking that the travel restrictions be lifted. Among his important suggestions was that "all copy (could be) filed through specially created media facilities". That would let the Army censor any material endangering security, bearing in mind that "any attempt to crudely mould opinion will boomerang". Such restrictions have been widely applied in conflict situations elsewhere in the world. Indian journalists from reputed publications, the note continued, could safely be given deep background information, a privilege that need not be extended to the international media.

The Director-General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) appeared to agree broadly with the defence journalist's note. Frontline gained access to a confidential letter clearing media access to Kargil, prepared by Army Public Relations Officer Shruti Kant. Below Kant's letter the DGMI endorsed plans to allow "onward visit(s) to the op (operations) areas in Kargil sector". Public relations officials in Srinagar announced that groups of journalists would be allowed in from June 9. Then, for reasons never stated, Army Headquarters suddenly changed its mind. The handful of journalists in Kargil were allowed to continue staying there, but their access to information diminished.

While Army officials complain that they have sometimes received unfair press, the fact is that the situation is entirely of their own making. In the absence of any answers to questions, let alone lucid and fact-based answers to uncomfortable questions, journalists rely on sources who believe all is not proceeding on the Kargil front as the Army's official spokesperson would have them believe. Ironically, much of the information the Army would have preferred journalists not to discover, from its intelligence failures to strategic errors, has become public. The consequence of continued denial of access is likely to be that the news the Army would like to get out will lose credibility.

The other victims of Kargil

PRAVEEN SWAMI cover-story

For the villagers along the line of fire, it is a summer of suffering.

SIX weeks ago, the fields from Drass to Turtok were green with this summer's crop. Now all that remains are acres of parched brown stalks, the only food for the region's untended livestock. Even the few villagers who stayed on to water their fields and tend to their animals despite the unending artillery exchanges across the Line of Control have now left for safer ground. This winter, there will be little food and even less firewood for people in the desperately poor Kargil region. They are the Kargil war's other victims, largely unnoticed by a nation focussed on the military events on the mountain heights.

And this summer's war may not be the only calamity Kargil's people have to contend with. There are growing signs that the war on the mountains could leave right-wing terrorist violence in its wake, ending the peace the region has stubbornly defended through Jammu and Kashmir's decade of bloodshed.

Ghulam Ali, who lives in Drass, should count himself lucky. A government clerk in Kargil town, he has a steady source of income to make ends meet. For the moment, Ali's resources have ensured that he could provide shelter for his brother's family and other relatives who fled Drass when artillery exchanges escalated in May. Each room in his home at Sankhu, a village near Kargil that has become one of the largest centres for refugees from the entire region, houses at least five people. Government rations, though limited, have so far ensured that food is not a problem. Those who have moved in also manage to find occasional work as labourers, hauling supplies up the mountains to the Army's rear positions.

When the winter comes, however, Ali believes his ability to offer such hospitality will run out. Supplies are cut off for months and food, fodder and firewood must be stocked up to last through the bitter winter cold. "I will need my rooms back to house my goats," he says, "and to store supplies for the winter." There simply is not enough money, Ali says bluntly, to feed and shelter both his own family and the refugees. "It sounds terrible," he says, "but if I have to choose between my own children and those of my relatives, I know what my duty will be... Right now, people can even sleep in tents, but god alone knows what they will do when the snows come."

Sankhu and Minji villages are bursting at the seams, but the refugees here are among the luckier ones. Some 400 families that made their way to Leh are crammed into the District Institute of Education and Training. The ramshackle building, almost Kafkaesque, resembles nothing so much as a local prison, but it is the only available building in Leh to house such numbers. The district administration has scraped together the resources to feed the families coming in, but rations are minimal. Each family receives 5 kg of rice and oil each month. No one in the camp is entirely certain what will happen this winter. "Our houses will collapse in the winter if we don't build them up," says Tsonam Lundup from Turtok. "But we can't go back unless we have money for food and fuel, so we might just end up losing everything."

Ghulam Rasool from Bhimbat thought he had found a way to last the summer when the Army began to hire casual workers to haul loads up the mountains to its rear positions. Though most people living in the villages were at the outset scared to go anywhere near the war zone, promises of good payment and the realisation that the Army did not intend to put them even close to gunfire led many to agree to go up. But bureaucratic confusion has caused more than a few problems. "When we used to haul loads up for the Army before," Rasool says, "there was only one unit in the area and we knew which officer would pay us... Now, all we know is that our names are entered in a register. But we have no idea how much we will be paid, and when the money will arrive."

Tsering Dorje from Garkhun village has made 15 trips up the mountains with the Army. "I have no complaints about the work," he says. "I've always made a living through the summer hauling loads." Dorje's principal complaint, however, is that each trip does not yield immediate cash. "It is nice to be paid cash down when the work is done," he says. "The officials don't understand that we do not have a lot of cash in hand and have families to feed." Enquiries with Army officials, understandably tense with other things on their minds, often receive terse replies. Both Army and administration officials are doing their best to cope with the situation, but neither has any real experience in dealing with mobilisations of this scale.

Similar problems have erupted elsewhere. In the Turtok area, people living in several small hamlets close to the Line of Control have shifted to safer villages further back. They say that they wish to disperse into other hamlets on the high mountain meadows, traditionally used in the summer to graze livestock. The Army, unsurprisingly, is less than delighted at the prospect of large and unorganised civilian movement in a manner that could compromise their security. Crammed into tiny settlements, people's tempers sometimes run high. Fears that some local Pakistan Army agents are passing on information about Indian gun positions have led to raids and questioning that have turned a little ugly on more than one occasion.

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BUT the real problems for the Kargil region could well lie ahead. On June 7, the Leh Police announced the recovery of automatic weapons from a group of ten terrorists in the Turtok area. Investigations led to the arrest of 15 more, including two police constables, and the recovery of 25 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 52 magazines, one heavy pica machine gun, one general purpose machine gun, a sniper rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and several kilograms of explosives. The weapons would have been more than adequate to equip a full-size insurgent group, or one of the units of Pakistani irregulars and troops holding positions on the Kargil heights. It was the first recovery of its kind in Ladakh.

The unravelling of the terror trail in Turtok began when Army officials picked up Turtok resident Ali Bhutto on the basis of reports that his brother, Ibrahim Sangsang, had brought in weapons from Pakistan. His interrogation by the Army, sources told Frontline, yielded little information. Bhutto was then handed over to the Leh Police. Further interrogation, aided by the Intelligence Bureau, threw up dramatic results. From early last year, the police learned, Ibrahim Sangsang had made several trips across the Line of Control, handing over weapons to relatives and associates in five Turtok villages. While only some are believed to have had training in the use of these weapons, the entire group was given specific instructions on where to store them for future use.

Turtok, Thang, Thyakshi, Pachathang and Chalungpa were captured by India during the war of 1971. "People from other villages fled to Pakistan because they had been told the Indians would subject them to all kinds of atrocities," Bhutto told Frontline. "But my father Ghulam Mohammad Sangsang persuaded the people of these five villages to stay on. He told them it was not right to leave the village of our birth, and that India would treat us well." Interestingly, dozens of residents of nearby Bogdang village were issued rifles by the Pakistan Army in 1971 to offer a guerilla resistance to advancing Indian troops. Few showed any interest. Three of those aging rifles were recently recovered by the Leh Police, and officials say these were used to poach mountain goats.

Ibrahim Sangsang had larger ambitions than Turtok village could accommodate. Little interested in the upkeep of his father's not inconsiderable extent of land, he spent much of his time keeping company with local Army, paramilitary and intelligence officials. There is no evidence, as some media reports have claimed, that Ibrahim Sangsang was a source of the Intelligence Bureau, although it is clear he did keep company with the plethora of security organisations active along the LoC. In 1987, Ali Bhutto told Frontline, his brother had been invited to visit New Delhi for Republic Day celebrations by the Army along with several other residents of the Turtok area.

But by 1994, things had begun to sour for Ibrahim Sangsang. He found himself embroiled in a series of legal disputes. One of them was a serious criminal case, which was filed after a dispute over the use of a diesel generator that led to a mob attack on a police post in Turtok. Under pressure, he crossed the LoC and fled to a relative's home in Skardu in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. What happened next is unclear, but Ibrahim Sangsang seems to have been contacted by the Pakistan intelligence establishment and offered a deal which he found better than the prospect of spending a long time in the Kargil jail. He returned to India once in 1996, and handed over a massive consignment of weapons. More followed last summer.

Twentyseven-year-old Rahmatullah Tshangspharu was chosen for the task of hauling the heaviest of the weapons up the mountains along the Karchan nullah. "Ibrahim Sangsang told me to bury the weapons under a rock at the top of the nullah," he says. "When I asked him what the weapons were for, he told me to mind my own business. I didn't really think I should tell the Army, because I thought I would be beaten, and anyway the money was good." Tshangspharu was paid Rs.5,000 for hiding the weapons up the mountain, and that after protracted bargaining. "I have two sisters who have to be married off and four children to feed," he said. "All that my farmland gives me is two or three sacks of barley and another two sacks of wheat each summer."

While none of those arrested at Turtok seem to have received special mission instructions, it appears clear that Ibrahim Sangsang had been tasked to create terrorist units to back the summer offensive. Poverty in Kargil could be one important reason for just why Pakistan found easy recruits at Turtok. Interestingly, the Pakistan Army recruits troops in the Gilgit area at dismal salaries. Abdul Rauf of Astor in Gilgit, 5 Northern Light Infantry trooper, killed in the battle for Tololing, drew his last pay on December 1, 1998, before he was presumably pushed up to a forward position for launching this summer's assault in Kargil. His take-home pay, eight years after he joined the Pakistan Army in 1991 at the age of 18, was as low as Rs.3,656, less a deduction of Rs. 200 under a head his pay-book records as "Compulsory IDSP". Indian soldiers receive roughly twice the pay, without adjustment for the value of the Pakistan rupee.

But reasons other than poverty could also account for the evident success of Sangsang in gathering recruits. Turtok, for example, had seen sharp rises in activities by the ultra-conservative Ahl-e-Hadis sect over the last several years. The Ahl-e-Hadis theocratic leadership has been closely associated with terrorist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and elements of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Minor clashes with the heterodox Shia-oriented Noor Bakshiya sect had become a regular feature of the Turtok area's political terrain. This growth of ultra-chauvinist tendencies in Turtok was mirrored through the region, paralleled by growing tension between the Muslim-dominated block of Kargil and Buddhist-dominated Ladakh.

The Turtok recoveries have come at a time when local intelligence and police officials have also been reporting steady efforts to generate support for terrorism in the Drass area, part of a larger effort to sunder Muslim Kargil from the Ladakh province as a whole. Matayin village in the Drass area saw improvised explosive devices go off in 1998, a little-noticed early show of strength by terrorist groups. "I'm deeply worried about what could come next," says Kargil Senior Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar. "If we start witnessing communal massacres of the kind seen in the Jammu province, tensions could escalate to a point where they are difficult to manage." The Leh Police's work has put an end to Pakistan's first effort to bring terrorism to Ladakh, but more will follow.

For an already impoverished people, now brought to the edge by a war of which they are the most desperate victims, success on the Kargil heights will bring only limited respite, for they know the worst could be yet to come.

Political economy of reforms

The Political Economy of Development in India: Expanded Edition with an Epilogue on the Political Economy of Reform in India by Pranab Bardhan; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998; pages 153, Rs. 150.

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WHEN the original version of this book dealing with the political economy of development in India appeared in 1984, it received a great deal of attention because it was a rather rare attempt, especially by an economist, to interpret the problems of economic development in the country in the context of political processes based on what the author had identified as the leading class interests. P. N. Dhar, economist and for some time Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had described it as a "notable contribution in a field which, though exceedingly important, has been neglected by Indian economists."

Although Bardhan, who is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, United States, had then expressed concern over prevailing mass poverty in the country, and thus over the distributive aspect of development, he had, for his analytical purposes, identified development with economic growth. His justification for doing so was his perception that the sluggish economic growth in the post-Independence period itself was the main cause for the persistence of mass poverty. And so, towards the end of his introductory chapter he had posed the central development question as: "What are the factors that constrain the growth performance in India" (page 8). He went on to say: "I shall focus primarily on the political and economic constraints, and bring out the role of public investment in the agricultural and industrial infrastructure, and of public management of capital, as key determinants of economic growth. In connection with this role of the public sector, I shall explore the nature of the Indian state and its relationship with society, and the kind of economic classes that dominate the latter and the types of pressures for patronage and subsidies that they generate. I shall then try to trace the impact of these forces on the functioning of the economy, especially its growth process, and on the functioning of the polity, especially its democratic process" (page 9).

I shall briefly indicate how Bardhan elaborates this political economy analysis of development before turning to an exposition and critique of his political economy treatment of reforms. Bardhan recognises the plurality and heterogeneity of interest groups or classes on the Indian scene, but for analytical purposes concentrates on "proprietary classes", dividing them into three groups - the industrial capitalist class, the rich farmers, and the "professionals" consisting of the civil and military bureaucracy and white-collar workers of all kinds. Although these three classes together may constitute only 20 per cent or so of the Indian population, numerically they are a large segment and economically they are the most powerful section. Each one of these groups is interested in protecting and promoting its own interests. How they achieve it using the state as a means is the crux of the political economy problem that Bardhan deals with. The role of the state is significant not only because it exercises political and legal powers, but also and mainly because in a regime of state-dominated planned economic development the state owns and controls a substantial share of economic resources.

In terms of this analytical approach Bardhan makes a review of planned economic development in India of the first three decades since Independence. Over this period the state became a dominant economic power, an "overdeveloped" one, by virtue of the large public sector owned by it, its key role in capital formation, the controls it came to have over the allocation of credit and, above all, the manifold regulatory powers it acquired. Because of such enormous power the state did not become a mere tool in the hands of any of the interest groups. It had a large measure of autonomy which it used to reconcile or constrain inter-class conflicts and thus to shape class realignments.

However, the groups constantly strove to take advantage of the policies and programmes of the state and succeeded in large measure. A few examples may be recalled. It is well known how the big business groups were able to utilise even the measures aimed at preventing monopolies to build up their own empires. The rich farmers succeeded in strengthening their position through a variety of state-sponsored efforts to make the country self-sufficient in food. The professionals exercised their influence over the state to shape policies of taxation and subsidies and thus to divert public funds for their benefit. "The Indian public economy has thus become an elaborate network of patronage and subsidies. The heterogeneous proprietary classes fight and bargain for their share in the spoils of the system and often strike compromises in the form of 'log-rolling' in the usual fashion of pressure group" (pages 65-66).

These processes led to two consequences, according to Bardhan. First, the private draining of public resources led to a gradual, but dangerous, decline in both public and private investment in the economy and consequently slowed down the growth rate. The fiscal crisis that developed (growth of non-developmental public expenditure, budget deficits and so on) also made it virtually impossible to continue the strategy of state-dominated economic development.

On the other hand, the class balance and heterogeneity may have indirectly contributed to the maintenance of democratic processes. Bardhan's interpretation of the situation reads: "In a country where the elements in the dominant coalition are diverse, and each sufficiently strong to exert pressures and pulls in different directions, political democracy may have a slightly better chance."

The combination of these two had, by the early 1980s, led to something of a low-level political economic equilibrium whose stability Bardhan was not sure of when he wound up his analysis.

In the Epilogue, Bardhan's attempt is to use his analytical frame for an understanding of the political economy of the Reforms started in the early 1990s. He recognises "an increase in the diversity, fluidity, and fragmentation in the coalition of dominant interest groups" (page 131). The industrial bourgeoisie is divided, some enthusiastically supporting liberalisation and globalisation and others continuing to seek state support at least to ensure a level playing field. The rich farmer families are diversifying their investments, often branching out into trade, transport, small industry and real estate. And a section of the bureaucracy grudgingly accepts that the state had over-extended itself in the economy. These changes and realignments of the dominant coalition have led to some measure of support for deregulatory reforms.

Secondly, in the realm of politics there has been something of a shift from the Centre to the regions and in favour of the backward and lower castes. Bardhan admits that this is an expression of the "victorious march of democracy in India" although it has its "banality and gaudiness" and the propensity to become populist.

Bardhan also recognises a disjuncture between economics and politics in this situation. On the one hand, the dominant elite, who till now were eager to use the state for their economic advantage, have accepted market-oriented reforms both as beneficial and irreversible. On the other hand, some of the major political events in the last decade and the emphasis they give to group equity and special dispensation to emerging groups are essentially anti-market. They amount, according to Bardhan, "to a drowning of considerations of efficiency in the name of inter-group equity" (page 134). At this point the economist in Bardhan comes out clearly and decisively. "Our collective passion for group equity, for group rather than individual rights, and the deep suspicion of competition... work against the market and allocational efficiency" (page 136).

But, surely, from a political economy perspective this uncritical acceptance of the market - the allocative efficiency it is supposed to achieve and the individual rights it is assumed to guarantee - is not defensible. For, while the market is a useful social institution and arguably can have a greater role in the Indian economy, the allocative efficiency it brings about is not unambiguous, but is conditioned by the pattern of the distribution of resources among the participants, and will favour those who are well endowed. The market does not guarantee the rights of the individual: at best it confers benefits on those who have the resources to make use of it.

The political economy issue of distributive justice cannot be pushed aside merely by invoking the alleged allocative efficiency of the market and competition. It becomes more palpable and pertinent in a situation as in India where, as Bardhan documents in this book, the distribution of resources is glaringly unequal and millions of people cannot claim to have any physical resources at all. There will, therefore, be tension between the economic exclusiveness that the market forces make a reality, and the political inclusiveness which is the essence of democracy. The modalities of resolving this tension are historically contingent, but emphasising group equity is a fairly standard procedure. This emphasis is not an end in itself. Those who plead for group equity are not primarily concerned with the group as such. Their interest is in achieving individual rights, mainly economic rights, but they see in the group the political power to achieve their individual objectives.

Surprisingly, Bardhan does not seem to be aware of this basic principle of political economy, possibly because by reducing development to economic growth and by attributing mass poverty solely to the inadequacy of growth in the 1984 version of the book, he had failed to place the distributive issue at the centre of what he claimed to be a political economy analysis.

Probing military debacles

Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba, edited by Peter Kornbluh; The New Press, New York; pages 339, $17.95.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Documents Reader; edited by Laurence Chang and Peter Kornbluh; The New Press, New York; $19.95.

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President's Secret Warsby John Prados; Ivan R. Dee, Inc., Chicago; pages 572, $17.95.

NEARLY four decades after the event, the Government of India still refuses to publish the Henderson-Brooks Report on the Indian Army's reverses in the war of 1962. As mentioned in detail earlier, Neville Maxwell has a copy ("Looking back"; Frontline, April 10, 1992). His recent article in Economic & Political Weekly confirms the fact. ("Sino-Indian Border Dispute Reconsidered"; April 10, 1999; footnote 65 refers to the then Director-General of Military Operations, Brigadier D.K. Palit, as "one of the quartet of officers blamed for the debacle in the Army's Official Report (still unreleased) but who rose to be Major-General".)

Neither morally nor politically nor militarily was that debacle at all comparable to the one which the United States invited through its mad venture in the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. Its sole object was to overthrow the Government of President Fidel Castro in Cuba through a military invasion mounted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the approval of two Presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, who was barely 12 weeks in office. The historian Theodore Draper aptly characterised it as "one of those rare events in history - a perfect failure." The 1,400-man Cuban exile force called Brigade 2506 was crushed by Castro's far larger military and militia in less than 72 hours. Some 114 of its members were killed; as many as 1,189 were captured.

It was originally conceived as "Operation Zapata", which the Pentagon aptly called "Operation Bumpy Road", with a $4-million budget for a covert infiltration project to train a cadre of insurgency leaders and drop them into the Escambray mountains. It grew to a $46-million overt amphibious assault. The U.S. had 27 agents within Cuba when it severed diplomatic relations with the small southern neighbour in January 1961.

The next year, fearing another invasion, Castro signed a defence pact with the Soviet Union and accepted the installation of its missiles on Cuban soil. The Bay of Pigs venture sowed the seeds of the gravest crisis during the entire Cold War - the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. Unlike the Henderson-Brooks Report, we now have authentic official records of both as well as of some later CIA ventures.

Almost immediately after the 1961 debacle, CIA Director Allen Dulles asked the agency's Inspector-General, Lyman Kirkpatrick, to conduct an inquiry. For six months he interviewed 125 CIA employees at various levels and read a mass of documents. "The Inspector-General's Survey of the Cuban Operation" was "perhaps the most brutally honest self-examination ever conducted inside the agency." It was also a model of clarity and brevity in its 150 pages.

The architect of the operation, Richard Bissell, the CIA's Deputy Director of Plans, felt "wounded" by the Report and wrote a comprehensive reply which the new Director, John McCone, ordered to be permanently attached to the Report. He also ordered Kirkpatrick to provide him with the distribution list of all its 20 copies. Most of the copies were burnt. The remaining copies were kept under lock and key. In unfriendly hands, Deputy Director-General Charles P. Cabell wrote on December 15, 1961, the Report "could become a weapon unjustifiably (used) to attack the entire mission, organisation, and functioning of the Agency."

That came to pass on February 19, 1998 when the CIA provided the Kirkpatrick report to the National Security Archive, a public interest research library skilled in the use of the Freedom of Information Act. Its staff is committed to the pursuit of transparency and the truth on defence and foreign affairs. It has published the Report with an able introduction by Peter Kornbluh. The publisher, the New Press, is a non-profit alternative to the big commercial publishing houses which dominate the business of book publishing. It operates in the public interest. The first two volumes are a fine product of collaboration between the Archive and publishers. The second volume is a compilation of documents on the missile crisis in 1962, mostly unpublished hitherto. Others in the series cover the Iran-Contra Scandal, The Kissinger Transcripts and White House E-mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan/Bush White House Tried to Destroy.

The National Security Archive worked for the declassification of the Report since 1996. "Two factors provided leverage for eventual declassification: first, President Clinton's 1995 Executive Order that all secret documents over 25 years old be processed for release; and second, the CIA's own announcement in 1992 that it would begin a historical review of 11 past covert operations as part of a new post-Cold War 'openness campaign'. "

Amazingly, the Cubans knew of the U.S. plans in advance and the CIA knew that the Cubans were in the know, as Kornbluh writes: "As early as November 1960, Cuban intelligence sent a report to Moscow on CIA training of the anti-Castro exiles in Guatemala; and in early April 1961, the CIA intercepted a cable from the Soviet embassy in Mexico City accurately stating that the invasion was expected on April 17. On April 9, The New York Times published a front-page story - considerably watered down after a call from the President - titled 'Anti-Castro Units Trained to Fight at Florida Bases'. Castro 'didn't need agents over here,' Kennedy exclaimed. 'All he has to do is read our papers.' Even worse, the U.S. role in the preliminary air strike on April 15 was immediately exposed to the world - before the full invasion took place."

The New York Times correspondent Tom Wicker mentioned an interesting fact in his memoir On Press (1975). He wrote: "After the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy sternly and publicly warned broadcasters and newspapers to 're-examine their own responsibilities' and ask of every story they proposed to print: 'Is it in the interest of national security?' But two weeks later, in the privacy of the White House, he told Managing Editor Turner Coatledge of The New York Times: 'Maybe if you had printed more about the operation you would have saved us from a colossal mistake.'"

Eisenhower admonished CIA officials when he authorised the project on March 17, 1960: "The main thing was not to let the U.S. hand show." That hand was apparent even before the assault. Kennedy made significant changes in the plan: he changed landing sites, decided on night deployment instead of a day-time assault, and effected a reduction in air strikes. He cancelled "a second planned air strike on D-day, which the CIA considered critical for the success of the operation." Kirkpatrick found, however, that this was not "the chief cause of failure."

In the aftermath of the fiasco, two schools of thought emerged. One blamed Kennedy for cancelling the second air strike and for not salvaging the operation through active military intervention. The other blamed the CIA for misleading the President with wrong assessments. Fidel Castro's popularity was evident to all, except to the CIA.

The editor makes a highly relevant point: "In the historiography of the invasion, why it failed is less important than the foreign policy attitudes, assumptions, and actions that contributed to this human, political, and foreign policy tragedy. 'I don't think that the failure was because of the want of a nail.' Kennedy's National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy, testified during one post-invasion inquiry. 'I think that the men who worked on this got into a world of their own.'"

In his response to the report, Bissell made a revealing statement. The CIA's successful operation against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 "was an analogy and a precedent" for the Bay of Pigs episode. In August 1960, he had sought authorisation for a CIA-Mafia plot to assassinate Castro. According to another CIA Inspector-General's Report of May 23, 1967, "at the very moment President Kennedy was shot, a CIA officer was meeting with a Cuban agent in Paris and giving him an assassination device for use against Castro."

Kirkpatrick's Report listed the flaws meticulously - "bad planning", faulty intelligence, "fragmentation of authority", mistreatment of the exiles and "failure to advise the President that success had become dubious." He was, however, too optimistic by half: "It is assumed that the Agency, because of its experience in the Cuban operation, will never again engage in an operation that is essentially an overt military effort."

He was sensitive to the conflict between interests and values. "Inherent in this situation was a clear conflict between two goals, a conflict of the sort familiar in recent U.S. history. One objective was that, mainly through the various activities comprised in this project, the Castro regime should be overthrown. The other was that the political and moral posture of the U.S. before the world at large should not be impaired. The basic method of resolving this conflict of objectives that was resorted to was to seek to carry out actions against Castro in such a manner that the official responsibility of the U.S. Government could be disclaimed. If complete deniability had been consistent with maximum effectiveness, there would theoretically have remained no conflict of goals but in fact this could not be (and never is) the case" (emphasis added).

Bissell drew a different conclusion - support an operation only if your are prepared "to use whatever force is needed to achieve success." Both Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell had to leave office. When Kennedy said in the latter's praise "he leaves an enduring legacy", he made, unwittingly, a prophecy which came true with baleful consequences. "The Bissell mindset - a combination of imperial arrogance, ethnocentric ignorance and a false sense of U.S. omnipotence - has dominated the history of covert operations since the Bay of Pigs."

That record is ably documented by Prof. John Prados. It covers the entire period from the last days of the Second World War to the Iran-Contra scandal. It is a most useful volume for reference. The author delivers a warning which all governments should heed - covert military operations contribute little to security and create more problems than they solve.

Capabilities, freedom and human development

other

Amartya Sen's human science of development: Part III

Professor Amartya Sen is one of the world's most important and influential intellectuals, one of its foremost thinkers. The award of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics to the great economist was the best thing that happened to the Nobel Prize in this field. This long-overdue award was for Sen's contributions to welfare economics and, among other things, for restoring "an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems." (For an appreciation of Sen's economics and its implications, see V.K. Ramachandran's Cover Story interviews in Frontline, December 12, 1986 and November 6, 1998.)

The award represented a break in a two-decade trend reflecting a pronounced "bias in favour of technoeconomics in the service of the free market, private property and footloose finance." The break in the trend warrants celebration also for two other reasons: the Nobel for Sen recognises "the central role of human development in the professional endeavour of economists," and "the human development of the Third World occupies a central position" in this laureate's work.

In this third and concluding part of an extended essay, economist and economic historian Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi completes his sketch of the intellectual itinerary of a man who has made a magnificent contribution to the founding of a new branch of the human science of development. This part deals with Sen's ideas of "functionings" and "capabilities", his profoundly important work on freedom, his ability to relate his concepts of capabilities and freedom to analyses of deprivation, poverty and "achievement inequality" in human societies, and the significance of his writings and organising activities of the last two decades for what Bagchi characterises as a human science of development - so named because "this domain of analysis covers major aspects of the development of human beings as free and autonomous agents in society." But this, Bagchi points out, is by no means all. Sen's contributions include early contributions to Indian economic history, to the analysis of Indian economic problems, and to applied economics. His influence has extended to most branches of the human sciences, including the field of women's studies.

- Editor, Frontline. AMIYA KUMAR BAGCHI

AS we have noted, Amartya Sen journeyed long across the terrain of utility, preferences, revelation of preferences, satisfaction or valuation by choice, and alternatively of commodities as a means of achieving satisfaction, utility or pleasure or of the distribution of primary goods or of commodities in general or utilities. The careful examination of all these alternatives pertaining to value judgments and social action led him ultimately to the conviction that what we should be concerned with is not utility, or a variant of "commodity fetishism" (to adapt a concept used in a different context by Karl Marx), but with what Sen called "functionings" (the latter are a combination of "beings and actions"), and the capability of human beings to achieve these functionings. A short definition of these concepts may be cited here (Sen, 1987a, p.16):

Ultimately, the focus has to be on what life we lead and what we can or cannot do, can or cannot be. I have elsewhere called the various living conditions we can or cannot achieve, our "functionings", and our ability to achieve them, our "capabilities".

Some sympathetic critics (for example, Cohen, 1993, 1993a) have complained that in Sen's use, the word "capabilities" has been used in at least two senses: one is that of actual attainment of various components of the standard of living, such as a certain level of income, state of health, education and so on, and the other is the potential of the persons concerned to attain these capabilities. Since Sen has connected his idea of capabilities and the standard of living also with the actual freedom and rights enjoyed by people, I find that it adds to clarity of our understanding if we interpret "capabilities" as the potential attainable by people rather than their actual attainment of those standards. When a poet is starving in a garret, we should ask whether, if he chose to, he could eat as fully as a normal healthy person. If the answer is yes, for all such poets starving in garrets, we can say that in terms of the attainment of the commodity bundle needed for a decent standard of living, the poets have attained their capabilities, even though, medically speaking, they are all poor specimens. (Whether starvation improves poetry-writing is another matter altogether, and again, a priori, it is difficult to say whether the starving poets are attaining their capabilities as poets. But they are attaining their capabilities as free human beings if they are choosing to starve rather than being forced to starve by society.)

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Sen's formulation of the fullest attainment of human capabilities as the proper criterion of social welfare judgments and the appropriate objective of policy interventions connects with his idea of freedom. In his view, freedom is not simply freedom to choose, but freedom from certain removable constraints on the functioning of human beings. In Marxian terms, freedom is the freedom to overcome the bondage of necessity insofar as the development of forces of production or man's control over nature permit it. Thus, in some ways, Sen has been able to resolve the conflict between notions of positive and negative liberty. This ideological divide has long separated the individualist libertarians from the theorists of humankind as social beings and hence living as free beings in society rather than as stylites in the desert (surely even there somebody had to feed and give water to the stylites?) (see Berlin, 1969/1986 and Taylor, 1979/1986, for expositions of the two concepts of liberty).

With his usual ability to make out finer distinctions within a picture that seems to be rather blurred to most observers, Sen has tried to remove the ambiguity in the use of the concept of "capability" and provided a four-fold grid on which to put it (Sen, 1993, p.35).

One distinction is between (1.1) the promotion of the person's well-being, and (1.2) the pursuit of the person's overall agency goals. The latter encompasses the goals that a person has reasons to adopt, which can inter alia include goals other than the advancement of his or her well-being. The second distinction is between (2.1) achievement, and (2.2) the freedom to achieve. This contrast can be applied both to the perspective of well-being and to that of agency. The two distinctions together yield four different concepts of advantage, related to a person: (1) "well-being achievement", (2) "agency achievement", (3) "well-being freedom", and (4) "agency freedom".

I am quite sure that social theorists, economists and political philosophers will continue to debate the finer distinctions Sen has wanted to introduce into the concept of the realm of freedom (which is not to be seen as being disjoint from the realm of necessity, but integrally connected with it). But it should be recognised that Sen has been able to relate his concepts of capability and freedom to close and often innovative analyses of deprivation, achievement inequality and poverty in human societies: a rough list would include the enquiries made by him and his collaborators into the incidence of mortality and morbidity, the incidence of illiteracy, the connections between affiliation to particular classes and other human groups identified by the stigmata of caste, or race, and perhaps most importantly of all, by gender discrimination, and the incidence of deprivation and the impairment of capability (see, in particular, Sen, 1992, chapters 4-8, and Sen, 1993; see also Dreze and Sen, 1989, chapters 1-4).

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Sen's writings and organising activities during the last two decades have fed into what I have called a human science of development. However, as indicated earlier, most of his concerns with inequality and development go back to his early professional career. This shows up not only in his books and articles in professional journals, but also in his occasional writings in newspapers. For example, in 1964, in an article in The Statesman, discussing the proposals for the Fourth Five Year Plan then in the air, he denounced the tendency among many publicists and policy-makers to advocate a small plan on the ground that large investments would lead to a higher rate of inflation (Sen, 1964a). In a trenchant observation on the low-investment proposal, he wrote:

The avoidance of inflation is ... a negative kind of policy, and at its worst amounts to no more than keeping prices low for those who can afford to pay more, by denying to others sufficient income for certain essential goods. Take the case of food prices. Given the supply of food, which will not be raised by cutting down the size of investment, the only way a "small plan", as opposed to a big one, can keep prices down is through preventing many people from having the necessary purchasing power to demand more than they might otherwise buy. The people concerned are the poor, because it is their capacity to buy food that is most sensitive to changes in their incomes, since the rich succeed in any case in buying as much food as they want.

His concern with the entitlement of the poor to education as well as to their access to education is also evinced by his early writings. In the concluding part of the same article in The Statesman (Sen, 1964b), he criticised the neglect of primary education in Indian planning. His criticism was based both on grounds of deprivation of the underprivileged and on the effect that universal primary education can have in informing and empowering the peasants. The latter, when educated, would be in a position to demand more and better inputs for agriculture. But he also saw the prevalence of landlordism as a depressor of agricultural growth. In 1967, he criticised the Report of the Education Commission (the Kothari Commission) for its concentration on the needs of higher education and its blindness to the imperative need for substantially raising public expenditure on primary education (Sen, 1967b). He sustained this line of criticism of official policy in his Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture delivered in 1970 (Sen, 1970c/1971).

NOW I turn to my claim that Sen has founded a new branch of the human science of development. What he has done is to scrutinise the values that sustain the quotidian arguments of mainstream (and some varieties of radical) economics and shown them to be wanting. In the process he has broadened the scope of enquiry of social and political philosophers and social scientists. No longer can enquiries into deprivation be regarded as an obsession of egalitarian romantics. Nor can questions of freedom and democracy be regarded as only the concern of dyed-in-the-wool liberals. In the fields of enquiry he has chosen he has been able to combine value criticism, disaggregation of apparently unitary modules of society, and strong-minded empirical verification of the causes of emaciated entitlements and deprivation through the cessation or interruption of usual entitlements. This is why his domain of analysis should be called a human science (as distinct from narrowly conceived economics or social science). Since that domain covers major aspects of the development of human beings as free and autonomous agents in society, it may be called the human science of (human) development. (I am in favour of dropping the second 'human' for the sake of euphony.)

Sen's branch of the human science of development, of course, cannot cover all the branches of the human sciences, nor even all the branches of the social sciences. As a first attempt to establish its relation to other major branches of the sub-discipline of human sciences going by the name of economics or political economy, I would suggest that Sen's branch of analysis is orthogonally related to the two other major branches, namely, macroeconomics and microeconomics. Economists have not been able to come to any agreed conclusion about the relationship of macroeconomics to microeconomics. New structures of analysis embodying imperfect competition have been constructed for neo-Kaleckian, neo-Keynesian, and straightforwardly neoclassical economics (in which very often, of course, macroeconomics is supposed to be the aggregation of microeconomic structures without coordination failures or disjunction between intended and actual results). Sen's branch of human science of development goes below the level of microeconomic behaviour taken as the proper field of enquiry and finds out how the constraints on the behaviour of particular groups of agents operate. At a macroeconomic level, of course, patterns of distribution of literacy, education and resources in general between men and women, and between the rich and the poor, shape fertility, survival, morbidity and consumption patterns.

It will take an extended piece of research to descry even the proximate influences on Sen's work. He has himself generously acknowledged some of the influences: those of A.K. Dasgupta, Maurice Dobb, Kenneth Arrow, Tapas Majumdar, and (at a personal level) Piero Sraffa among the economists, and among the philosophers and social theorists, mostly his contemporaries such as W.G. Runciman, Bernard Williams (see, for example, Sen and Williams, 1982) and Martha Nussbaum. Among the great thinkers of the past, his work is replete with references to Adam Smith and Karl Marx (but also Frederick Engels in some cases) (see Sen, 1982, 1983a, 1984, 1987). Among economists, he is exceptional in using not only Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776) but also his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). He has repeatedly referred to Smith's notion of sympathy as a social bond, and to his suggestion that a person is entitled at the least to a standard of living which allows him to appear in public without a feeling of shame. The Marx that Sen refers to is the early Marx (1843-44; and 1845-46), primarily for his enlarged idea of human freedom, and to the late Marx (1875), primarily for his recognition of the possible conflict between the demands of need-based egalitarianism and the ability- or desert-based incentives for eliciting work in a society which is yet to attain the plenitude appropriate to Communism proper.

Sen obviously did not accept the epistemological break posited by many analysts between the work of early Marx and the late Marx, nor the epistemological break unconsciously posited by most historians of economic thought between Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and his Wealth of Nations (1776); the same historians also generally regard David Ricardo's work as the apogee of classical political economy, even while they are sharply critical of that work (see, in this connection, Bagchi, 1996, especially pp.108-112).

It is interesting that there are very few references in Sen's work to Ricardo or to Marx as the analyst of the dynamics of capitalist production. Part of it can be explained by the shift I referred to from work on economic growth, which means growth of production in a narrow sense, to areas of social choice and welfare judgments, and also by the kind of orthogonal relationship I adduced between Sen's later work and the conventional branches of macroeconomics and microeconomics. However, part of the explanation lies in the fact that much of Sen's analysis crosses the usual boundaries of modes of production. He has indefatigably analysed peasant behaviour, beginning with his contributions in the Economic Weekly (Sen, 1962, 1964, 1964a, 1964c, 1964d) which at once started a debate and generated a research programme (a seminal contribution to that programme was made by Krishna Bharadwaj, 1974), through his influential paper on "Peasants and dualism" (Sen, 1966a/1984), his book on Employment, Technology and Development (Sen, 1975) and his articles and books containing analyses of work incentives and equity in Communist China and famines in many less-developed countries, including China of the Great Leap Forward period. But his analysis has abjured the concept of an overarching mode of production, in the Marxian sense. On the other hand, he has tried meticulously to bring out the interaction between market and non-market phenomena, and between private and public action. Simultaneously he has brought out the relevance of what, following Alexis de Tocqueville, we may designate as the distinction between formal democracy and democracy or freedom in social arrangements. Through the transmission of information about disasters and sudden entitlement failures, the former prevent famines, but democracy in society may be more effective in sustaining an evenly spread structure of entitlements. In the nature of the case, many of Sen's judgments may be controverted by others. But the importance of the issues raised by him can be contested only by dogmatists or by those who are prepared to build an alternative framework of analysis with the patience and logical acumen that Sen has displayed throughout his career.

Before leaving this topic of the branch of the human science of development Sen's work has generated, I want to express my puzzlement at an interesting omission in Sen's copious and generous references. Given the fact that Sen has displayed an uncanny eye for ambiguities in many commonly used concepts, I would have expected some reference to the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose interrogation of language and language games still reverberates through much of modern philosophy. Wittgenstein had died two years before Sen arrived in Trinity College, Cambridge, but Sraffa had been a close friend of Wittgenstein and had had a strong influence on the later philosophy of the reclusive Austrian. At Trinity, Sen had become a close friend of Sraffa's. Wittgenstein's concept of language games parallels, in the philosophical domain, the practice of what may be called "contextual social science" (Bagchi, 1996a). But, of course, his work is not simply parallel to, but provides some of the epistemological justification for the practice of contextual human sciences in general. Sen has repeatedly displayed his remarkable capacity for designing new tests for old theories (see, for example, when he controverted T.W. Schultz's idea that disguised unemployment did not prevail in British India because agricultural output declined in the wake of the deaths caused by the influenza epidemic of 1918-19; Sen, 1967c). He has been engaged continually in evolving new concepts in order to illuminate areas of enquiry which seemed to him to be unnecessarily shrouded in obscurity. This awareness of the necessity of changing the meanings of words, or their interpretation, and of reading the actions of people according to the context in which they utter those words and engage (or fail to engage) in certain actions would surely have reminded Sen of Wittgenstein's work. In the delightfully written intervention of Sen's in the Cambridge controversies in capital theory - a piece Sen wrote for a volume edited by Ashok Mitra in honour of A.K. Dasgupta - we get a tantalising glimpse of the convergence of the interests of Wittgenstein and Sraffa (Sen, 1974/1984). Even in that piece, which can be read as a cleverly constructed language game, he does not refer to Wittgenstein. Is all this silence due to Sen's distrust of the nihilism which some people have read as the enduring legacy of Wittgenstein's later corpus?

6. Concluding remarks

I have tried to sketch the intellectual itinerary of a man who has all through been acute and perceptive, scholarly and innovative. I have desisted from passing any judgment on the significance of all that work. In any case, that needs mature reflection and cannot be essayed within a short period.

I have taken the story - and only a part of it at that - up to 1993 and I mean to leave it there. Sen has since then co-authored or co-edited with Jean Dreze two books on India's social and economic development (Dreze and Sen, 1995, 1997). I will not try to cover the numerous forays he has made into the nature of Indian society, culture and democracy, except to say that in that terrain, he has travelled in the strongly rationalist, secularist and universalist tradition of his grandfather Kshitimohan Sen, and their great mentor, Rabindranath Tagore. But it will be ungenerous to leave even this very brief sketch without mentioning some of his early contributions to Indian economic history and to the analysis of Indian economic problems. In an article presented to an international economic history conference in 1962, he analysed the British investment decisions relating to cotton and iron and steel industries (Sen, 1965a). We have already mentioned his analysis of the population and production loss caused in India by the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 (Sen, 1967c). In the former article he had questioned the thesis that low British industrial investment in colonial India was a passive response to market conditions: he brought out the relevance of political factors interacting with economic conditions for explaining the phenomenon. Later on, beginning with a paper in 1977, he, of course, provided us with a canonical analysis of the Bengal famine of 1943 (Sen, 1977b, and 1981).

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In the area of applied economics, Sen made a highly influential analysis of the requirements of working capital in Indian industry (Sen, 1964e). He authored an article on second-hand machinery and their use (Sen, 1962a) which stands at the head of much later work - both theoretical and applied - on the same subject. For the Economic Weekly, he produced papers on trade policy and structural unemployment (Sen, 1960a), on the irrationality of pricing in the Indian civil aviation industry (Sen, 1961a), and on sociological and economic explanations for the behaviour of the Indian iron and steel industry (Sen, 1963). Indeed, many of his early professional work appeared in the pages of the Economic Weekly, often to be developed more extensively in other professional journals. This applies to most of his work relating to choice of techniques, used machines, extensions or modifications of the Mahalanobis model, and peasant behaviour. My generation of economists in India owes a great deal to the stimulus provided by Sen's ceaselessly questing mind.

Sen's influence has extended, as it should, to practically all the branches of the human sciences, including the newly born discipline of women's studies. It will take a team of scholars familiar with all the forays he has made to prepare an adequate map of his long and conceptually exciting journey. Joan Robinson (1956, p.vi) had acknowledged Michal Kalecki as a progenitor, intellectually speaking, although Kalecki was a contemporary. The practitioners of the human sciences will have to get over their wonder at Sen being a contemporary while acknowledging him as an intellectual ancestor - an ancestor who continues to produce further sustenance for the development of human capabilities.

References

Bagchi, A.K. 1996. Colonialism in classical political economy: Analysis, epistemological broadening and mystification, Studies in History, 12(1), January-June, 105-136.

-. 1996a. Contextual social science: Or crossing boundaries, Economic and Political Weekly, 31(43), October 26, 2875-2882.

Berlin, I. 1969/1979. 'Two concepts of liberty', in Berlin: Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford University Press; reprinted in Stewart, 1986, 92-99.

Bharadwaj, K. 1974. Production Conditions in Indian Agriculture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, G.A. 1993. Amartya Sen's unequal world, Economic and Political Weekly, October 2, 2156-60.

-. 1993a. 'Equality of what? On welfare, goods, and capabilities', in Nussbaum and Sen, 1993, 9-29.

Dreze, J. and A.K. Sen. 1989. Hunger and Public Action, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. and -. 1995. India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity, Delhi, Oxford University Press.

-. and -. (eds.). 1997. Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives, Delhi, Oxford University Press.

Marx, K. 1843-44/1963. The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, in T.B. Bottomore (ed.): Karl Marx: Early Writings, London.

-, and F. Engels. 1845-46/1976. The German Ideology, translated from the German; Moscow, Progress Publishers.

-. 1875/1970. Critique of the Gotha Programme, with a foreword by F. Engels, translated from the German, and reprinted in K. Marx and F. Engels: Selected Works, Vol.3, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 9-30.

Nussbaum, M. and A.K. Sen (eds.). 1993. The Quality of Life, Oxford Clarendon Press.

Robinson, J. 1956. The Accumulation of Capital, London, Macmillan.

Sen, A.K. 1960a. Trade policy and structural unemployment, Economic Weekly, 12(23-25).

-. 1961a. Aspects of Indian civil aviation, Economic Weekly, 13(4-6), Annual Number.

-. 1962. An aspect of Indian agriculture, Economic Weekly, 14(4-6), Annual Number, February.

-. 1962a. On the usefulness of used machines, Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol.44.

-. 1963. Sociological and economic explanations: an illustration from the Indian iron and steel industry, Economic Weekly, 15(4-6), Annual Number.

-. 1964. Size of holdings and productivity, Economic Weekly, 16(5-7), Annual Number, February.

-. 1964a. Food prices and the size of the plan, The Statesman (Calcutta), August 25.

-. 1964b. Education and economic growth: the three Rs as levels of change, The Statesman (Calcutta), August 26.

-. 1964c. Size of holdings and productivity: a reply, Economic Weekly, 16(17-18).

-. 1964d. Size of holdings and productivity: reply, Economic Weekly, 16(47).

-. 1964e. 'Working capital in the Indian economy: a conceptual framework and some estimates', in P.N. Rosenstein-Rodan (ed.): Pricing and Fiscal Policies, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press.

-. 1965a. 'The commodity pattern of British enterprise in early Indian industrialization, 1815-1914', in Deuxieme Conference Internationale l'Histoire Economique, Aix-en-Provence; Paris, 780-828.

-. 1966a/1984. Peasants and dualism with or without surplus labour, Journal of Political Economy, Vol.74, October; reprinted in Sen, 1984, 37-72.

-. 1967b. [Review of the Report of the Education Commission, Government of India, 1967]. The Statesman (Calcutta), April 18 and 19.

-. 1967c. Surplus labour in India: a critique of Schultz's statistical test, Economic Journal, Vol.77.

-. 1970c/1971. 'The aspects of Indian education', Part 2 of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture; reprinted in Pramit Chaudhuri (ed.): Aspects of Indian Economic Development, London, Allen & Unwin, 144-159.

-. 1974/1984. On some debates in capital theory, Economica, Vol.41, August; reprinted in Sen, 1984, 162-171.

-. 1975. Employment, Technology and Development, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. 1977b. Starvation and exchange entitlements: a general approach and its application to the Great Bengal Famine, Cambridge Journal of Economics, I(1), March, 33-59.

-. 1981. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

-. 1982. Choice, Welfare and Measurement, Oxford, Blackwell.

-. 1983a. Marx since his death: Relevance to modern economics, The Statesman (Calcutta), March 14.

-. 1984. Resources, Values and Development, Oxford, Blackwell.

-. 1987. On Ethics and Economics, Oxford, Blackwell.

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-, J. Muellbauer, R. Kanbur, K. Hart and B. Williams. 1987. The Standard of Living (the Tanner Lectures, 1985), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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Smith, A. 1759/1790. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, first edition, 1759; fifth edition, reprinted, and ed. by D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, 1979, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

-. 1776/1910. An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, London, Everyman, J.M. Dent.

Stewart, R.M. (ed.). 1986. Readings in Social and Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Taylor, C. 1979/1986. 'What's wrong with negative liberty', in A. Ryan (ed.): The Idea of Liberty, Oxford University Press; reprinted in Stewart, 1986, 100-112.

LETTERS

other
The bungle in Kargil

Thank you for the lucid exposition of the catastrophic intelligence failure in Kargil ("The bungle in Kargil", July 2). I wonder if we can ever again dare to hope that Pakistan's feudal-military-clerical complex might allow an amicable coexistence between India and Pakistan. One aborted soap opera attempt at detente should be lesson enough for us.

Amrita Mishra amritamishra @hotmail.com * * *

Your Cover Story hit the nail on the head. Doubtless, the BJP was "beguiled" into a state of complacency by the nature of the reciprocatory gestures from Pakistan and was preparing to tell voters in the election campaign that its government had established friendly relations with the neighbour in a manner that no previous government had done. Pakistan has now upset the BJP's plans.

The BJP-led government's failure has perturbed the people and many questions remain. It is not clear why in the first place the Pakistanis were allowed to intrude so deep into Indian territory. Why was the border so poorly guarded? Does it not indicate the Government's callousness? Should not all those responsible for the negligence be punished in the general elections?

The Opposition has not raised these questions because it was afraid that it would be accused of being "unpatriotic" in a situation which demands national unity. But discerning Indian citizens could do this.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh * * *

Going through the latest issue of Frontline, I was shocked to observe the callous and irresponsible approach to a matter of grave importance. By putting out a bundle of absurd theories, distorted facts and blinkered thoughts, you are attempting to shift the blame on to the Indian Government.

The charges you have raised against George Fernandes are an attempt to malign the government. Any sane person can see that the Defence Minister was only trying to present Pakistan before the international community as a state on the verge of anarchy, where the civilian government has little or no control over the military.

Can you not see that discrediting the enemy is imperative as a diplomatic practice? Offering 'safe passage' and asking to 'withdraw' mean the same.

Besides, you have missed the point that the Kargil infiltration is a desperate response of Pakistan to the flagging militancy in Kashmir, the direct result of the pro-active policy of the BJP-led government.

K.T. Nair Thiruvananthapuram Of strategic follies

1. Apropos 'Strategic follies' by Praveen Swami (July 2). The story is factually incorrect and contains flawed logic on military aspects.

2. The following factual inaccuracies are highlighted:

(a) Marpola, Sando and Bimbat L.C. are permanent posts along the Line of Control (LoC) and were manned throughout the winter.

(b) 3 Punjab is holding a number of posts along the L.C. in the area of Batalik. No positions were vacated during the winter in the entire Kargil sector, from Chorbatla to Marpola.

(c) There was no warning conveyed to the Army in October '98 by I.B.'s Leh bureau of an incursion by 350 irregulars in Kargil sector in April '99.

(d) There was no 'Concept Paper' originated by Army HQ calling for military representatives at all levels of civilian government in Jammu and Kashmir from the district level to the tehsil level. The existence of such a document has also been denied by the Ministry of Home Affairs (J&K Department).

(e) The deployment of forces along the Line of Control is dynamic and is based on the threat assessment. This is constantly reviewed and necessary changes in deployment made based on operational considerations. To say that no review was carried out of the 15-year policy is totally incorrect.

3. Lack of indepth knowledge of warfare in such high altitudes has been displayed by stating that by holding some heights it would be possible to detect intrusion in the vast glaciated tracts in the area along the L.C. which were not occupied by either side.

4. The remark that military assessments were excessively based on political events is a figment of imagination. Further, the statement that senior officials are finding politics more interesting than army work is malicious and slanderous. The Army has remained resolutely apolitical and will continue to remain such.

Col. Shruti Kant Public Relations Officer (Army) New Delhi

Praveen Swami writes:

2.(a&b). The Army PRO asserts that the Marpola, Sando and Bimbat posts were "manned throughout the winter" and then makes a claim that none of his superior officers have so far made: "No positions were vacated during the winter in the entire Kargil sector, from Chorbatla to Marpola."

If all Indian positions were held through the entire Kargil sector throughout the winter, where are those soldiers now? Why is the Army pushing its way along the Sando nullah and using air power to hit Pakistan positions on Marpola if it is already there? Why is the Army now not in control of posts in the Batalik area, which the Army PRO asserts India held throughout the winter? Were the posts over-run by Pakistan? And why did 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Kishan Pal say at his first press conference on the Kargil crisis that Pakistan had occupied "unheld areas" if, as the Army PRO says, India in fact held them?

One simple way to settle the issue would be for the Army PRO to state just where the pickets the Army has held all winter are. No security issues would be involved, since Pakistan irregulars and troops would presumably be engaging with these positions. He could also then explain why soldiers are giving their lives to reoccupy positions India already holds.

2(c). I stand by what our investigation revealed. This is supported by official documentation Frontline, along with some other publications, has access to. Our findings were first reported in the Frontline issue of June 18, 1999: Intelligence operatives based in Leh had, in October 1998, passed on reports that 350-odd irregulars were being trained in two camps in the general area of Olthingthang, Pakistan's forward headquarters in the Kargil sector. The Leh reports specifically stated that the groups were to be infiltrated into the Kargil area in April 1999. Further, shortly afterwards, further reports emerged from Indian intelligence in Leh warning that Remotely Piloted Vehicles, airborne surveillance platforms, were being used by Pakistan to monitor the Leh-Kargil area. This body of information was received by the Ministry of Defence in the third week of October 1998. This finding was repeated on page 12 of Frontline (July 2, 1999), where I noted that military officials had disregarded, among other things, warnings issued by the Intelligence Bureau's Leh office in the third week of October 1998 of an incursion in April 1999 by at least 350 irregulars from Pakistan's Kargil area forward headquarters in Olthingthang. Nowhere have we stated that the Leh intelligence was sent to Army Headquarters.

If the military officials in the Ministry of Defence did not inform Army Headquarters of intelligence received on so serious a matter, that itself is revealing. The first report emanated from the Intelligence Bureau's field operative in Kargil, and it strains credulity to believe that it would not have been shared with the 121 Brigade's Military Intelligence officials. Indeed, reliable sources say that the matter was locally discussed in December 1998 and again in March 1999.

2(d). As for the concept paper on administration in Jammu & Kashmir, it was put forward at meetings of the Unified Headquarters in Srinagar, and widely discussed by administrative and police officials in the State. How the Ministry of Home Affairs (J&K Department) could deny the existence of a document emanating from Army Headquarters, and one it had nothing to do with at any stage, is not clear.

2 (e). If, as the Army PRO claims, military policy on the Line of Control has been "constantly reviewed" and "is based on the threat assessment", the quality of such exercises has been made clear by events in Kargil. The Army PRO makes no reference to the widely reported and candid admission by Northern Command chief H.M. Khanna that the Army had not expected Pakistan to go to war while it was talking peace.

3. Now about the PRO's proposition that it is not correct to say that by "holding some heights it would be possible to detect intrusion". Posts on heights are supposed to carry out regular patrols over a defined area. If posts on heights cannot detect a major hostile intrusion, what are they there to do in the first place? "Lack of indepth knowledge of warfare in such altitudes" is not a serious response to those who raise this question only in order to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.

4. My criticism of "the excessive dependence of some top Army officials for their military assessments on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government's perceptions of the Lahore Process" is not a figment of the imagination. Such criticisms have been published in other news publications. I did not either state or imply that "senior officials", that is all senior officials, found politics more interesting than army work. My report referred to "several recent instances of senior officials finding politics more interesting than army work." I stand by these observations.

Finally, if a one-inch contour map of the Kargil sector is studied, it becomes clear that there are no "vast glaciated tracts in the area along the L.C. which were not occupied by either side" in the Kargil sector.

Latur

The feature on the relief and rehabilitation work in Latur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra was a good one ("Rebuilding lives", July 2).

I was personally involved in some of this work. I worked in Limbala Dau village, which can be easily described as one off the beaten track. The very fact that your correspondent visited this place indicates the thoroughness of her work.

I also appreciate the point being made about the coordination between non-governmental organisations and government agencies.

Kartik Subramanian Mumbai Narmada

I read with fascination Arundhati Roy's article ("The Greater Common Good", June 4) and was amazed at the quality and truthfulness of the piece. With every line my heart went out to the people who are left in the lurch by projects such as these. I live in an area of Quebec (Canada) that has dealt with similar issues and had to "displace" thousands of our own "Indians"; that is, the Cree of northern Quebec, owing to the James Bay projects. Thanks to the public outcry and media attention, there have been some holds put on development here as well. In future, I would love to see more such articles and emotions expressed in your magazine.

James Douglas Montreal (Camp: Hyderabad) * * *

It was a heartbreaking experience to read the article. It was also the result of very good research. I am now writing a paper for a seminar in Delhi in December and I need some figures about irrigation. Here are my questions to Arundhati Roy: What is the definition of a big dam? From where do the figures on dams come?

Gunnar Jacks Stockholm

Articles like these make your magazine a 'must read'. I hope you will continue to publish such educative and relevant articles and give space to inspiring authors such as Arundhati Roy.

Gokul California * * *

The article was informative and factual, passionate and powerful, depressing and yet motivating. It is rare to see such writing at a time when Big Money and Big Wars get all the coverage and people's issues and social movements are relegated to the back pages of our mainstream publications and newspapers.

Aniruddha S. Vaidya Pennsylvania * * *

Arundhati Roy has lucidly explained the issues. I was unsure about these issues before I read the article. Now I know where I stand.

Leena Ranade Minneapolis * * *

Congratulations on publishing Arundhati Roy's piece! It brings to the public attention what has been intentionally or otherwise relegated to obscurity by political and other news in India.

Prasad Rao received on e-mail * * *

I wish to commend your magazine for carrying the article by Arundhati Roy. It is amazing that we as a nation are allowing the government, through our passivity, to continue to build the dam. This issue is now coming to a head in the light of the recent Supreme Court order. I was not aware of all the terrible human implications of the dam before reading the article. Thank you for bringing the issue into clear focus and I hope I can contribute to the protest against the dam.

Hema Swaminathan received on e-mail * * *

It was a well-researched and appealing piece of writing. We need more such articles to build a body of enlightened public opinion. You should also consider inviting rejoinders from the proponents of the dam if they have any. They should avoid general rhetoric on development. They should be specifically invited to write on the question, "whose development and at whose cost?".

Madhukar Deshpande Pune * * *

Arundhati Roy's article brings out the points of conflict in the Narmada dam debate very clearly and shows how the facts are distorted by the government to help the rich. We are agitated about the war in Kargil. We are upset that intruders have occupied "our" land. But is this not exactly what the government and the rich are doing to the tribal people - occupying "their" land forcibly and throwing them out? Exploitation of the poor in the name of development has always been the norm. The government and the rich, who are part of this conspiracy, distort facts and project wrong ideas using the media. Organisations of the poor, like the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), try to fight this exploitation. The truth is on their side. But unless they can reverse the indoctrination of the public by the media controlled by the government and the rich, they will not be successful. Articles like Arundhati Roy's can serve this purpose. We need more such rational presentation of facts in the media.

M. Balaji Sampath K. Kalpana received on e-mail

* * *

Such articles rarely appear in the media. The tone and tenor of Arundhati Roy's article would make every reader ponder over such unmindful planning and development. The article expresses concern over the threat to ecology, anger against the exploitation of tribal people and ridicules the lacunae in cost-benefit analysis.

R. Rajan Bangalore * * *

I wanted to commend you on publishing Arundhati Roy's article on the Narmada issue in Frontline. Please continue to publish more on the Narmada issue.

In the depths of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond, And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

- Khalil Gibran. Vidhi Parthasarathy Madison * * *

Arundhati Roy's essay shattered my amateurish faith in the "temples of progress". Her account of the enormous and expensive blunders of our governments make the follies of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq appear harmless. We protest when multinational companies usurp our heritage and traditional knowledge of herbal plants, but now our own government is killing us with slow poison.

Our establishment imbued the people with blind "faith" in monomaniacal ideas of progress and development. Nationalism has been used to trample communities, movements and traditions. The covert nexus between the government, industrialists, bureaucrats, bankers and brokers should not escape attention.

By all accounts big dams have failed and the Government's policy towards them stands discredited. It is the same story at nuclear power plants. If yields of foodgrains have increased, so has poverty. "Indians are forced to grow the kind of food they cannot afford to eat." What a marvellous irony.

In the process of "nation building", the self-righteous establishment forces the weaker sections of the population to make all the sacrifices.

Kamrul Haque Guwahati * * *

Why does Frontline feel that Arundhati Roy is the fount of knowledge on all the major issues of the country? One Booker Prize does not entitle her to be an authority on nuclear weapons, Dalits and big dams.

Jayesh Karmarkar Mumbai The Narmada Valley as a symbol

All of us in the Narmada Valley feel obliged to Arundhati Roy and your esteemed publication for the unique essay "The Greater Common Good". The author's rational analysis and emotional appeal have helped us reach out to the hearts of the unaware and the unconvinced. As described by her, the development machine that engulfs land, water and forest and produces rayon suits and air-conditioners - without the beneficiary, but only the sacrificers, paying the cost - is what anyone sensitive to natural resources and human communities living on those should be able to visualise. The Narmada Valley is, therefore, just a symbol of all that is happening in the name of development.

Arundhati Roy has presented comprehensively the huge displacement that would be caused by and the negligible power benefits to be accrued from the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) after it devours vast tracts of land and forest - sources of 'energy'. She has depicted all aspects of the issue, ideological, technical and practical. The strength of her essay is not the statistics, which she has meticulously gathered, but the vivid description of the simultaneously horrifying and tragic tale of uprooting of the tribal and rural populations. She understands the complexity of the ways and means of the state, 'overstretched' but also 'encroaching' and 'privatised'. All this, in the name of law and development.

The question of life and death - which the displaced are compelled to face - stares at us. The undemocratic development planning witnessed by the whole country in all sectors is further exposed as unscientific and outdated in the SSP. The unjust submergence of the tribal region - land, water source, forest, houses and gods - this monsoon is to be faced as a challenge on behalf of the looted, the deprived and the marginalised. Readers of Frontline should respond to, take a position on and participate in the satyagraha to protest against the rising waters in the Narmada Valley, from June 20. The struggle has to reach its logical end - for a change in India's water policy that has failed.

Medha Patkar Mumbai

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Oct 9,2020