Nuclear Stand-off has a Moral and Political Way-out

DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI analyses the repercussions of Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal and opines that it should not be allowed to go against India’s sovereignty, security and self-respect.

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DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI analyses the repercussions of Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal and opines that it should not be allowed to go against India’s sovereignty, security and self-respect.

“…given the nature of competitive politics and the very fractured mandate given to governments, it has becomes difficult sometimes for us to do what is manifestly obvious.”
These lines make part of the speech, delivered by the Prime Minister, at the McKinsy Meet on October 23.
In this otherwise normal speech, Dr. Manmohan Singh had also spoken about the country’s close to 9 per cent sustained growth rate, increase in the gross investment and savings rate and Mahatma Gandhi’s dream to wipe out the last tear from the eyes of the poorest of the poor. But sections of our media, manned by wiseacres, chose the 28 words referred to above alone. And incidentally, they do not happen to be operative part of the 1,175-word speech. The avoidable hype forced the countrymen to speculate: Has the Prime Minister resigned; when would he resign or would the UPA-led Government fail?
This, however, is a fact that the Prime Minister is a sad, frustrated person today. May be suffers from self-pity as seen in the sufferings of all honest, sincere and dedicated mortals. His frustration with the motivated Left, his own un-thinking cabinet colleagues, who failed to stand up in the hour of their chief’s grave moral crisis and his own misreading of the wider US plans rather plots in our region let him down. He unnecessarily turned a national issue into a personal issue, involving his prestige. One does not know why he showed extraordinary haste in opting for an important agreement? The US could, and can wait to show its strategic respect to the largest democracy. Recall that China took 15 years in its negotiations with the U.S. The sceptic here rightly ask: does the sustained threatening pressure of the US not say something to Dr. Singh? Is Washington not behaving in a less-than-civil diplomacy?
Big Powers Routine
Before proceeding further it has to be noted that the world powers, as a routine, just abandon agreements and treaties when they find them inconvenient and injurious to their national interest. The US signed but did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty {CTBT}.
Russia is soon going to disavow the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty to counter the NATO’s enlarged role to police the globe. In this backdrop Dr. Manmohan Singh’s over enthusiasm and overdrive appears to be simply uncalled for.
His apologists ask: when the ill-intention of the Left had become clear to him, why – if he was so sure of his standpoint – he did not go to the masses through sober rallies, conferences, symposia and dialogue with the scientists, intellectuals, the non-Left allies and leaders of minorities, who despite their honest reservations with regard to his un-even handed and half-hearted policy with regard to their problems, are, at least, favourably inclined towards his dispensation? If he had conviction in himself, why he did not call an AICC session to allay the misgivings of the Congressmen? One does not see any cogent reason for not calling a special session of Parliament to put the issue in its entirety before the people’s representatives? After all, the Indo-US Nuclear deal is an issue, whose good or evil consequences go beyond his tenure as the Head of the Government. Had this democratic process been followed, today’s incoherent functioning of the government would have been conspicuous by absence. Today the Government seems to have either lost direction or its direction is straight towards Washington, which happens to be Mecca of the Saffron also.
The wily United States inveigled Dr. Manmohan Singh into believing that the ruse called the Indo-US agreement would end India’s nuclear isolation. Today he stands in isolation and does not enjoy the respect that he, without doubt, deserves on account of his office, personal integrity and efficiency. His character assassination has been systematically done by Mr. Prakash Karat and Mr. L.K. Advani.
The undependable Left has, and had to desert him one day. What sowed the seeds of Cong-Left mistrust was not so secret now, an understanding between the Congress and Ms Mamta Banerji that in the general election both the parties would fight the Left in West Bengal from a common platform.
It goes without saying that the Muslim minority’s backwardness in the Left-ruled West Bengal, in the light of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee Report, is horrendous. This fact, however, is beside the point at the moment. What is not beside the point is the meddlesome Left’s morbid prescription for solving the energy problem of Bharat. It is “Turn to China”. China has a boundary dispute with us, China which, during the last one year has made 140 incursions into the Indian territory. How sincere is the Left in its criticism of Dr. Singh can be understood in the light of what the RSS-BJP, in the yore used to taunt Muslim with “extra-territorial loyalty”.
Although enough has been written on the demerits of the Indo-US nuclear deal, Indians do not know the core of the issue. And the pro-deal lobby has not paid due attention to home-work to prove their case. Perhaps they have no case at all or a strong one to carry conviction at popular level.
In the words of Mr. M.J. Akbar: How many Indians are aware that there are four clauses in thee sections of the Hyde Act which bind India to a congruent foreign policy with America on Iran, and that they express and impose an operation obligation on the US administration to bring India into full compliance?
Link this with statements made by American officers that the recent war games between the “allied” navies we designed to achieve operational compatibility in war. One has a right to ask whether this is preparation for a potential conflict with Iran, particularly when Pentagon sources are openly talking about an Iran plan in which the country’s nuclear and other assets will be flattened by three days of intense aerial bombing.
Sovereignty Compromised
In the opinion of the Indian Muslim leadership also the Indo-US nuclear deal strikes at the very root of Bharat’s sovereignty, security and self-respect. This binds us and restricts New Delhi’s freedom of choice. It aims at emasculating instead of empowering India. How? It surreptitiously paves the way for active US intervention in the country. The chief objective of the deal is, one commercial gain from nuclear commerce and two, containing Bharat’s nuclear weapons’ programme. It wants India to become a “client state” a satellite state subservient to the US. A special correspondent of a national daily, who does not want his identity to be disclosed, says: A strong India is the world’s best bet for peace and stability in South, South East and Central Asia, as also in the Persian Gulf. This volatile region, with some two billion inhabitants, needs a strong secular and democratic power from within the region, to ensure stability and to serve as a counter-pose to trans-national fundamentalism as also to China. Neither the U.S. nor Israel can play this role, as they will end up stoking religious fundamentalism as has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Like the Americans, the Russians too have no cultural affinity or acceptability in most of this region. It is, therefore, in the U.S. interest to not curb the natural growth of India’s military and ‘soft’ power, so that it can play an increasing role in this region. While many of the Bush-Rice pronouncements have indicated an implicit recognition of this – and, therefore, the talk of ‘helping India become a major power” – the underlying rationale of many of the clauses of the 123 agreement seems to be aimed at weakening rather than strengthening India.
We do not endorse this superficial point of view. We have given it just because it helps clear the issue to an extent.
The United States is an expansionist and hegemonic evil, rouge state. It, as a habit, militarily intervenes in foreign countries to force them to fall in line as it recently did in Afghanistan and Iraq and has threatened to do in Pakistan. In this new key backdrop, it is profitable to recall that the US intervened in the countries in which it had no vital interest, like Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Libya and above all in the Arab-Israeli conflict. And it is regularly threatening Iran.
The eminent political commentator, Mr. Pran Chopra sheds ample light on the problem: “… in a vigorous domestic debate on the Hyde Act, America has underscored its expectation that India’s foreign policy will become more “congruent” with America’s. While many in India were worrying over this very possibility, some in America had already started their fifth attempt to hammer the 123 agreement into congruence with the Hyde Act. … In October, when some members of the House belonging to both parties and all of them members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, prepared a joint resolution on the subject, which they introduced in the House on October 5. Although “non-binding” in a formal sense, the resolution seeks to impose “tough restraints on nuclear trade with India,” according to a correspondent in Washington, and to “significantly delay or perhaps outright derail the final passage of the civilian nuclear initiative that will operationalise the Indo-US deal.”
Mr. Harish Khare does not mince words when he touches the raw nerve of the U.S.  “… because of the Bush Administration’s Islamophobia one more layer has been grafted on this long-term distrust.” [The Hindu, October 25]
Muslim Viewpoint
The Muslim leadership sees vividly a ray of hope at the end of the dark and dirty tunnel. But Dr. Manmohan Singh will have to summon a lot of moral courage to do the plain speaking. We Muslims are of the view the Congress-led UPA government should tell the US in so many polite words that plural Bharat looks with suspicion at Washington’s offer as it compromises Bharat’s sovereignty, security, self-respect and decision-making power. Neither the various political parties nor the religious entities are in its favour nor the masses in general nor the nuclear scientists look at it favourably. Therefore, either make the necessary amendments and treat India at par in the Agreement or consider it defunct before signing. This is the only honourable, morally and politically correct way out.
It is not that New Delhi has not alternate sources of energy. First, the nuclear supplier group is not the only source. Non-nuclear suppliers are there. An Indian firm has already singed a contract to begin uranium mining in Niger. The government of Uganda has invited India to explore and mine uranium in that country. Investing in uranium mining operations in non-NSG states has laid the foundation of a pragmatic prudent policy.
Then, Bharat has about 30 percent to 40 percent of the world’s thorium reserves. Let New Delhi invest substantively in bringing the breeder reactor and thorium utilisation technology.