March 6, 2006Foreign AffairsSecurity

Getting the point. Then missing it.

Pundits must go out more often.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

When it comes to matters relating to national security and foreign policy, India’s newspaper columnists tend to take their cue from the government. If they actually make an attempt to take their cue from the general public, like Vir Sanghvi, they will discover that their countrymen hold some very straightforward opinions.

It is a truism within Big Media to say that the people of India want peace with Pakistan. My sense, however, was that while nobody wants another war, outside of Delhi and parts of the Punjab perhaps there was no great warmth towards Pakistan. Most of India is young, does not care about Partition and sees Pakistan as just another foreign country — and a hostile one at that.

When peace with Pakistan came up, every single person I met was clear: there could only be peace on our terms. And this meant not giving up an inch of Kashmir. Nor was there any support for the idea of more autonomy for Kashmir.

So, let us treat all this liberal rhetoric about how Indians long for peace with scepticism. Our idea of peace is: Pakistan should shut up and behave itself or we will retaliate.

It is not a public mood that will lead to any lasting settlement of this long-running conflict. And I think that the challenge before politicians is to shift the consensus. Big Media has tried. And I think it has failed. [HT via BombatBengluru & Cynical Nerd]The point is not so much that politicians must attempt to shift the consensus’. They must attempt to translate this into foreign policy.

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