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New Delhi

New Delhi has a lot to be concerned about its pivotal position in the region. For a country that has always been the regional stabiliser, we seem to be quickly embracing the way of geopolitical revisionism.

It has been one year since surgical strikes were carried out in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on September 29, 2016. Showing no chances for a bilateral agreement, India and Pakistan have limited to firing across the borders in Jammu and Kashmir and slandering each other in global forums.

Pakistan neither acknowledged the strikes nor responded in kind did show that the general deterrence between the two nuclear powers remains intact. But from a point of view of regional stability, the surgical strikes do not seem to have been as effective as was imagined one year ago.

There are two challenges that we face now:

  • India-Pakistan escalation has become far more precarious than it has ever been in the past. Pakistan has been retaliating against us ever since the surgical strikes; by increasing the pressure on the frontlines.
  • Such preventive strikes, in other words, are unpredictable. They are fused with immense potential to lead up to a competition in ‘risk-taking’.

Such strategy of punishment against terror outfits may not have worked because:

  • Consistency and commitment are necessary for a strategy of punishment. The momentum gained by the surgical strikes was not followed up (despite several provocations.
  • Pakistan’s retaliation thereafter in the shape of supporting insurgency in Kashmir, in aiding infiltration across the border, and its support in the attacks on the Indian army continued without much reaction from India. These things lead to loss of credibility on India’s part.

Media reports show that 110 militants & 38 army personnel were killed between January and September in 2016 (i.e. before the surgical strikes). However, since the surgical strikes, around 178 militants and 69 Army personnel have been killed. Thus its strategic value is still to be calculated.

With two hostile neighbours Pakistan and China on either side, terror attacks against India on the rise, and the South Asian neighbourhood unsure of India’s leadership any more, New Delhi has a lot to be concerned about its pivotal position in the region. For a country that has always been the regional stabiliser, we seem to be quickly embracing the way of geopolitical revisionism. The costs of aggression, the self-imposed regional exclusion and taking leave strategic altruism are bound to take their toll sooner later.

Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo *** Local Caption *** Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo
I was Kaka’s Media advisor from 1991  till he was in Delhi as a member of parliament and managed his total election during 1991 and there after from the media management point of view and also politically, to an extent, when he contested for the second and third time to finally lose at the hands of the then Union Minister Housing and former Lt. governor of Delhi Jagmohan. There are the number of memories still fresh in my mind when Kaka was rubbing the streets of New Delhi Parliamentary constituency on foot under the scorching sun of 43 degrees Celsius temperature, fully perspiring, while contesting. He was then just a commoner like any common man, easily accessible n to be seen conveniently but always surrounded by huge crowds. The one time Super Star of Bollywood could be usually seen waving at his electorates standing on the balconies of their houses, verandas and on roof tops. His every padayatra or Jeep Yatra enticed hundreds of his fans n followers rushing towards him to have his glance or if possible shake hands with their one-time glamorous super star.
The women, girls and the youths thronged in large numbers in his every padayatra n public meetings. New Delhi parliamentary constituency therefore in 1991 n thereafter, when he contested for the second time against BJP’s star candidate Shatrughan Sinha had become a star constituency with two Bollywood stars fighting against each other, trading charges n counter charges. However, Rajesh Khanna won from here defeating Shatru but the election will remain fresh in everybody’s mind, I believe. Kaka while contesting his first election against Advani operated from 15 Canning Lane, and second from the Haryana’s former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Bungalow, 11, Teen Murti, adjacent to the house of Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s Secretary. Bhupinder Hooda was then the MP from Haryana. He thereafter shifted to North Avenue and then to Maharashtra MP Bhonsle’s residence at Lodhi Estate. His last Bungalow, 81 Lodhi Estate which was finally allotted to him was the main centre of his political activities as an elected MP. The entire media print n electronic, particularly the foreign electronic media always trailed KAKA who remained in the media on daily basis on the front and third pages of national dailies.
The role of the star wives viz Poonam Sinha n Dimple Kapadia Khanna in extensive campaigning for their respective star husbands is also worth mentioning. Kaka’s daughter n actress Twinkle Khanna was also the star attraction during this historic election. It may be recalled that Kaka lost the first election in 1991 to BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani by merely 1500 votes but since the latter opted for his victorious Gandhi Nagar seat, Kaka contested for the second time against BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha n won by a handsome margin. Kaka had an outstandingly charming personality, fair and reddish n delicate as a flower but was strong as well as a perfectly healthy man. He was too hard working, ferocious against his political rival and never gave up during his padayatra and door to door campaigning under the scorching sun. I remember how he started his padayatra on the main roads of Cannaught Place under the scorching heat at eleven o clock, non along with his supporters and high profile Congress leaders without any ifs n buts a continued till one o clock n thereafter during the evening hours in other localities of New Delhi. The Congress leaders accompanying him in these Padyatras would get tired and leave in between but Kaka never got tired and continued with his mission victory. A super star leading a high profile lavish life style in air conditioned rooms was then a common man with boils under his feet. He visited every guru dwara, temple, mosque and church during his campaigning and evening functions of marriages, birthday parties and obituaries. Kaka never discussed films or film related talks while in politics and used to rather avoid them. He was thereafter more a politician than an outstanding actor believing in political matters and problems of his constituency, seriously.
Very few people know that it was Kaka who compelled the then finance minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh during PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure to enhance the income tax exemption limit to one lakh. He met Dr. Singh along with a deputation of the conglomerate of the various residential welfare associations and compelled the then Finance minister to fulfill the demand of the extension of the tax exemption limit from Rs. 60 thousand to 1 lac annually. It was fulfilled by Mr. Singh to the jubilation of the government employees who constituted a very large chunk of his New Delhi constituency. In Kaka’s victory, this factor played an extremely important role.  Kaka had then won against BJP’s star rival Shatrughan Sinha with a large number of votes.

US President-elect Donald Trump’s telephonic conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have grave regional and global consequences. 

Trump’s sudden call to Pakistan PM reflects his diplomatic and strategic way of rebuilding ties with Islamabad to alter the situation in the South Asian region when both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. 

Trump told Sharif, “You are a terrific guy, You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As, I talk to you, Prime Minister I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long.”

The conversation released by Pakistani authorities said Donald was “ready  and willing  to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.” 

Donald Trump’s detailed conversation is going to have serious implications when India and Pakistan share tense and highly militarized borders with each other. His action also revealed that his campaign remarks about his love for Hindus and India were just a casual remark. 

Donald said “You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way” implies that Pakistan PM Nawaz has shown practical wisdom in handling domestic matters when military and ISI has been seen enjoying supremacy over civilian government in that country and also internationally gaining importance over India. 

Already India-Pakistan ties are constrained due to increased number of terror attacks on Indian armed forces and ceasefire violations by Pakistani military along the LoC and the International border in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Chinese leader who has already talked with Donald after his wining the elections, must have spoken to him about the strategic and economic benefits of engaging with Pakistan. 

But Donald’s haphazard way of speaking to leaders of 29 countries including Australia, Canada, China, Turkey, Israel, Russia and ignoring to speak with the Indian Prime Minister also shows his policy of seeing New Delhi for a petty and low role in his scheme of things. India should therefore guard against accepting any degraded role in the region. 

Trump’s early moves of speaking with foreign leaders without assessing the repercussions also shows his immaturity in handling diplomacy and communication strategy in world affairs. 

As a tradition the US President-elect is acquainted with the importance attached to different countries to bring about the desired changes in American policy.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst