New Delhi, Aug 21: How do you deal with Pakistan? The lead up to the talks between the two National Security Advisors have been far from pleasing with allegations and counter allegations made every second.
Inviting the separatists for talks with the NSA of Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz was clearly not in the right spirit. When the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met at Ufa, it was decided that talks would be relating to terrorism and there was no mention of Kashmir.
Amar Bhushan who has led several operations while he was an officer in the Research and Analysis Wing says that there are two ways of dealing with Pakistan.
In this interview with OneIndia, Bhushan says keep Kashmir out of the talks and tell Pakistan that it is not part of the mandate and if they continue to insist, call off the meeting.
What in your view happened yesterday? The separatists were arrested and then released.
This was not a message that was sent from New Delhi. It appears as though someone in the local leadership may have conveyed that the Hurriyat leaders should not go to New Delhi which led to their house arrest.
However Mehbooba the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Saeed prevailed. She reasoned it out with her father and although Mufti was reluctant at first to release the separatists, she seems to have prevailed over him.
What are your views on placing the separatists under house arrest in the first place?
When all drama was taking place, the officials in New Delhi were clearly in a bind. In my view there should have been no order of arrest immediately. They should have waited for Sartaj Aziz to arrive in India and just ahead of the meet should have arrested all of them.
This would have ensured in firefighting by the government. Is that right?
See, when you take bold decisions, you need to be prepared for the repercussions. It should have been planned in such a way that none had any time to react.
Prior to the arrest just as Aziz landed in India, the government should have kept the security forces in Kashmir ready to combat any sort of violence.
The next logical step would have been to declare the Pakistani High Commissioner Persona Non Grat (take away all diplomatic privileges). While doing so expect even Pakistan to do the same to our high commissioner there.
In all this also be prepared for a fall out with the PDP in Kashmir. These steps would have conveyed a much stronger message to Pakistan in my view. Taking aggressive stands would have its own fall outs. But if one has to convey a message to Pakistan then there is a need for aggression.
What about the separatists?
First and foremost, the media should stop taking their view. Who is interested in what they want. Trust me they do not get this much publicity in the Pakistani media also.
The Indian government on the other hand could have just ignored them. If the government is not interested in taking an aggressive stance then the best thing to do is ignore them. At any cost do not open up the back channel to them to even speak and make them completely irrelevant.
Then what happens if Pakistan raises the Kashmir issue and separatists during the talks?
During the NSA level talks, Ajit Doval should stick to facts. He should tell Aziz that as per the arrangement at Ufa, the meet is meant to discuss terror and not Kashmir. We will hand out proofs of their acts of terror, then they will deny it.
They would try and broach the subject of Kashmir to which we must say that we will not talk on this. India must also say that the government does not have the mandate of the nation to speak on Kashmir. If they continue to insist then call of the talks.
This way we would ensure that we tried to talk, but Pakistan kept dragging the subject away from the real issue of terror. We also get to play to the international gallery this way.