‘I am willing to sup with the devil’

Former diplomat G Parthasarathy on the Mumbai attack and why he has no meeting ground with liberals

December 13, 2008 in Politics
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Hand-holding President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a G20 Summit in Washington

Hand-holding President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a G20 Summit in Washington Photo: Reuters

In the light of this attack, how should we view India’s growing proximity with the US and Israel? Are we being drawn into an axis of conflict that isn’t ours?
What are your options? The Israelis control the Democratic Party in the US Senate. In any case, should we allow the Arabs to determine our policies? That would be cowardly on our part. We have to act in our own interest.

Is close identification with the US in our best interest?
Why? What have the Arabs ever done for us? They vote against us on Kashmir, they send their teams to Pakistan and support the Hurriyat. Why shouldn’t we cooperate with the Israelis? You know we have close defence ties with them. If they can send us precision-guided missiles to take out terror camps in Pakistan, why should we care about anything else? We should take the cooperation of whoever we can to shut the terror infrastructure down. We should use diplomatic channels with the Pakistan Government and build international pressure in the UN Security Council to extend Resolution 1373 on international terrorism to cover Pakistan. They banned the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad, but they reincarnated themselves. We have to push for a more foolproof set-up.

But Israel is at the centre of complex geopolitical faultlines and the US has had many misadventures.
This is the problem with you bleeding heart liberals! You will cry for everyone except your own people. I am willing to sup with the devil for my national security, while you are not concerned about national security at all.

I don’t think we should paint each other into corners with labels and assume we know each other’s positions, Mr Parthasarthy. This was not meant to be a combative interview. I am seeking your opinion on things.
What is the option you are suggesting? Which world do you live in?

Alright, I won’t throw questions at you. I am merely asking: within what framework should we look at all this?
I don’t care a hang what the US does elsewhere as long as their relationship is good with us. We are faced with terrorism supported by the ISI. We have to tackle that any way we can. At least under Musharraf they were under some control, now they are running amok. We have no alternative but to make friends with the only superpower in the world. God forbid, if they decide to bomb us, who will help? The Arabs?

But where has the US been efficacious in weeding out terror? Not Afghanistan, not Iraq, not Pakistan.
Are you suggesting options?

I thought you would be willing to be nuanced about this. Americans themselves are critical of US actions. And Pakistan, long a loyal satellite, is bleeding more because of that relationship. In fact, the US is strafing their territories against their will.
India can never be a satellite state. I served in the Soviet Union when we were friends with them and we told them off for their invasion of Afghanistan. We can differ with the US on Sudan and Myanmar and WTO, but we still want their friendship. In any case, this conversation is futile. You and I have no meeting ground.

We are both Indians, why can’t we talk?
You and I have no meeting ground.

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