It’s somewhat unfair to pick on just one ungainly grain from a compost heap of failure that has been the United Progressive Alliance’s reign so far. But when you’ve been the National Security Advisor (NSA) of a country that has seen an unprecedented number of urban civilian casualties and has witnessed its relations with several other countries sour, you should start to ask yourself if it isn’t about time you stepped off the pedestal. When Brijesh Mishra was NSA, we saw an India that was beginning to embrace its growing influence in the world. India seemed at once, confident and comfortable about its place in global affairs. Five years of UPA rule has seen India recoil like a fetus on the international stage. The Congress’ return to power in 2004 brought back with it a baggage of personal insecurities that people like Nehru perpetuated on the national front. KC Singh, former secretary, Ministry of External Affairs makes the case for Narayanan’s ouster:
Narayanan now had control of all the intelligence agencies, as well as the defence and external affairs tracks into the prime minister’s office. In addition, he was the prime minister’s special representative for border talks with China and parleys with counterparts abroad. In particular, that included the American NSA, Stephen Hadley, a route into the White House and thus the India-US nuclear deal. Essentially, Narayanan focused on the two issues of greatest interest to the prime minister: Indo-Pak relations and the nuclear agreement with the US.
Today, two months after the 26/11 Mumbai atrocity, we have limited options to first punish Pakistan and then deter it from fomenting terrorism. Whose job was it to develop these coercive options, debate them with the concerned ministries and departments, and then get them adopted into our doctrines and responses? All we hear is a monotonous lament for the demise of the Musharraf presidency. The Obama administration has started singing a different tune in Afghanistan, giving consideration to an Iraq-type cutting of deals with tribal groups on the fringes of the Taliban. India’s relations with Iran continue to be saddled with US-demanded ‘actions’ against that country. Do we have a fallback strategy if the Obama administration’s approach starts diverging from India towards Pakistan?