By Iftikhar Gilani
It was in his Independence Day address from the rampart of Red fort and before that in an all-party meeting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about Baluchistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan which gave every sycophant here the chance to propose in varied manners what the government should do in those areas.
But how superficial and distanced are these suggestions and Government’s declarations as well from the un-explored ground realities may be judged from the following two incidents:
Each week on Wednesdays a meeting of Indian cabinet is held in Delhi when important decisions are made about administrative and financial affairs. Last week, in the very presence of Prime Minister himself, bitter arguments broke out between some of the ministers. There were complaints from many ministers— specially Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Women Welfare Minister—that many other ministers send their proposals about their ministerial affairs to the cabinet without consulting them before, when many of such proposals are related to their respective ministries as well.
Maneka Gandhi also said that Surrogacy Bill tabled by the Health Ministry and passed by the Cabinet clashed many of the clauses of Adoption Bill presented by her ministry.
Agriculture Minister was upset at the note sent by Food Ministry to the cabinet on Food Processing, allowing hundred percent direct foreign investment, without consulting him and a decision on this would directly affect farmers in whole of the country.
Since media had somehow known about these altercations, this time round it was told that instead of a formal press conference information about the decisions made by the cabinet would be confided off the record.
In order to update journalists about some decisions of the cabinet a senior minister invited them to go to his chamber armed only with pen and papers. After informing about various decisions the honourable minister announced that the cabinet had issued orders to All India Radio to broadcast news, current affairs and other programmes in Balochi language. I instantly messaged my colleague covering Information & Broadcasting telling her that as this was a major decision and asked her to collect further information to make it a front page news. I thought that if the Cabinet had taken such a decision, surely Information Ministry would have sent a not about it. But she immediately replied telling me that the foreign service of All India Radio had been broadcasting programmes in 15 languages, including Balochi, for the last 40 years.
I went back to the chamber of the honourable minister and asked if any note regarding this had been sent to him by the Information Ministry. He said no such note had been received from the Information Ministry. It was just during the meeting that a minister proposed about it and the Prime Minister gave his ascent and the decision was taken instantly.
When I told him that such a service was already in existence, the minister was thrown off balance. He immediately dialled many numbers and got the fact verified. But by then it had already been flashed by several news agencies and news portals. As I was leaving he asked me not to play up this news too much and took a sigh of relief because the announcement had not been made during the press conference in front of cameras.
This decision may or may not have any impact on anything but All India Radio’s External Service, relying solely on and taking oxygen from shortwave broadcasts, has been given a new life. Be it Voice of America or German Radio, all of them have ended shortwave services because firstly, in comparison to FM, shortwave broadcasts are not that good and, secondly, its transmission is more expensive as well.
Similarly External Affairs Ministry sources told media that in the next Parvasi Divas to be held in January for Non Resident Indians (NRIs) will also be attended by NRIs from Gilgit Baltistan as well so that it may dawn upon Pakistan that now India is ruled by Modi who is capable of retaliating harder and more fiercer. Time has come to respond to the manner in which Pakistan has been inflicting Indian sensitivities by inviting Hurriyet Conference leaders in their talks.
This convention of NRIs was started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 and was continued by Manmohan Singh. Only Modi, after coming to power, saw it as a wastage and stopped it. However, two years later it is going to be revived. As a bureau staff with English language publication, Kashmir Times, from Jammu and Kashmir, for ten years, I was required to cover all small and big events relating to Indo-Pak relations and have covered these NRI conventions as well in many of which I have met the prominent Gilgit nationalist Sangi Hasnain Sairang. Besides also in many conventions I have come across Abdul Hameed Khan of Baluchistan National Front.
I asked what will be new this time as these personalities have participated in these programmes before. Hearing this those who had made this announcement were left speechless. Then a fellow journalist sitting next to me remarked, “This time these people will come with a great fanfare.”
The fact is that this time reins of the country are in the hands of the adventurists who, unmindful of their aims or their consequences, can go to any extent.
With reference to Kashmir and Pakistan the views of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, are final and very clear. Because of his work in dealing with Sikh extremism in Punjab and having served as an undercover RAW agent for several years in Pakistan his real aim is none but to humiliate Pakistan.
One well known Investigative journalist Josy Joseph in his recently published book A Feast of Vultures reveals that when a joint team of Delhi and Mumbai police, looking for the notorious gangster Vicky Malhotra at last succeeded in apprehending him in July 2005 to their utmost surprise along with a cache of weapons in his car they also found sitting on the back seat the then recently retired chief of Intelligence Bureau Ajit Doval.
The news was suppressed but what came to be known was that in spite of having been retired Doval was working on a project along with Chota Rajan gang aimed at eliminating the mastermind of 1993 Mumbai blasts Dawood Ibrahim.
In 1984 in a daring move before military operation on the holy shrine of Sikhs, Golden Temple, he came out with complete information about Sikh bases inside the temple and their military strength for which he was awarded with the highest award Kirti Chakra.
It is said that his unit had succeeded in decoding a wireless message in which information was given that an officer of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI was going to visit the Golden Temple to review army installations of extremists and advise them on defensive measures. Because it had almost been decided that the army would raid the temple complex anytime therefore Doval went into the temple as the ISI officer, talked to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and retired Major General Shehbeg Singh near the Akal Takhat and came out with a full map in his mind of military and defence preparations made by the extremists. This daring move by him made it easy for the army to raid the Golden Temple. The army was aware that anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns were hidden on top of the water tank.
Similarly in Kashmir he has performed the task of organising militant renegades and creating Ikhwan there who charted a new history of killings and bloodletting.
After the nuclear tests Atal Bihar Vajpayee appointed Brijesh Mishra the first national security advisor who was his principal secretary as well. After him Manmohan Singh divided the role between diplomat J N Dixit and former head of intelligence M K Narayanan. After the death of Dixit this post was singlehandedly held by Naraynan.
Although even at that time there were allegations against him that he was not able to come out of the narrow-mindedness of the police psyche, Manmohan Singh had in his team seasoned diplomats like Shyam Saran and Shivshankar Menon as Foreign Secretaries, Narayanan was not able enough to overwhelm anyone to the extent as Mr Doval is dominating the present Government.
It is said that if Modi and Doval are in a room together there are standing orders that no one should go there regardless of the urgency of the situation. Nor can even the Prime Minister’s Secretary remind him of any meeting on phone.
In order to run a government, one needs maturity, patience and ability to understand and appreciate issues and problems. Surely adventurism and intelligence are rare qualities but the presence of people with such dispositions in high political posts may be full of dangerous repercussions.
[Iftikhar Gilani is a senior Kashmiri journalist based in Delhi. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]