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Volume 1, No. 9 - February 2002

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CCS, Colin Powell and New Delhi's Notorious Power Outages  


CCS, Colin Powell and New Delhi's Notorious Power Outages
Kashmir News Network Exclusive

[For this month's satire issue, KNN investigated reports of contradictory statements being released by top Government of India leaders regarding Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. From its official statements, the government's strategy appears to be all over the map not just from week to week and day to day, but even within the same day. For example, a few days ago PM Vajpayee, announced that Pakistan could not expect talks until it vacated Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK). That was a landmark statement that suggested that the government was finally going on the offensive for the first time since 1947 on Kashmir. A couple of hours later, his tone was reversed. He announced that diplomatic moves were working, and there was no question of an India-Pakistan war, contradicting other Indian officials who insist that Pakistan has not translated its words into action.

We hit the jackpot when our reporter found out what was going on inside the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) room that hosts the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meetings. The room now has a large video screen with the US State Department insignia on it. It turns out Colin Powell has inserted himself into the CCS since the India-Pakistan tensions took a turn for the worse in January. This is a new concept implemented by Powell. Thus it is now Powell’s Kitchen CCS and he can always veto any aggressive moves India might be considering.

Then how is it that India, while mostly walking the diplomatic line vetted by Powell, sometimes takes up aggressive postures and makes bold moves such as the recent missile tests? Colin Powell, not having spent much time in New Delhi, had not considered the erratic power situation in the city. The CCS is regularly attended by Powell, however, during periods of power outage, the CCS has managed to meet quickly and take bold decisions before power comes back and the smiling face of Powell appears on the video screen. We have included transcripts of a couple of the CCS meetings held with Powell and during power outages when Powell was left high and dry in his Washington office.]

Jan. 21, 2002

9:00AM: [The inaugural meeting of Powell’s Kitchen CCS begins. PM Vajpayee, along with Defense Minister George Fernandes, Home Minister L. K. Advani, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, and Vajpayee's top aide Brajesh Mishra. Powell appears on video screen]

Secretary Powell: Testing! Testing! Can everyone hear and see me?

PM Vajpayee: Loud and clear Mr. Powell. Only too well.

Secretary Powell: I welcome you to Powell’s Kitchen CCS. I look forward to working with all of you to bring about peace in South Asia. Let me see – what’s on the agenda today?

Defense Minister Fernandes: Mr. Powell, today we need to discuss the procurement of the Arrow anti-missile system from Israel. It is absolutely necessary to protect our mega-cities from Pakistani nuclear missiles.

[All other Indian CCS members nod in agreement.]

Secretary Powell: I don’t agree with that assessment, Mr. Fernandes. I think the deployment of the Arrow system will shift the balance of power in South Asia. It will make my dearest friend Pervez Musharraf very unhappy. He is our main ally in fighting terror.

Home Minister Advani: Are you saying that you would rather put the lives of millions in our cities in danger so you can maintain the “balance of power” and please Musharraf.

Secretary Powell: Mr. Advani, you appear to have not read up on the Powell Doctrine. Musharraf is a very important part of the doctrine. Without his support President Bush will not be able to finish our war against terror. That will be it for today gentlemen.

[Video screen turns dark. CCS members disperse.]

Jan. 25, 2002

8:00AM: [Power outage, the first of the day in New Delhi: PM Vajpayee calls the rest of CCS members.]

8:30AM: [All of CCS in attendance, power is still out and Secretary Powell is blissfully unaware of the ongoing CCS meeting.]

Defense Minister Fernandes: Our Prithvi missiles are not going to cut it in case of a nuclear war. They take too long to load and sit too close to the LOC. By the time we start loading them; Pakistan will fire its missiles and destroy most of our Prithvis. We need to deploy the Agni-II.

PM Vajpayee: What is holding us back? Go ahead and give the order for the deployment.

Defense Minister Fernandes: Well we need to test them first. The modified version of Agni for Pakistani targets has never been tested.

Home Minister Advani: Let us go ahead and test it then. I don't care if it upsets Pakistan or its protectors.

[Everyone attending says aye, Fernandes scurries off to his office to give the orders for the Agni test. Later in the day, the power is back. Powell has heard about the Agni test through the NSA's satellite fleet. He demands an immediate CCS meeting. All Indian members of the CCS collect in the room and the video screen goes live with Powell.]

Secretary Powell: I can't believe you guys did this behind my back. Well what is done is done. I want your government to issue a very peace-oriented statement about the test. In fact I am emailing it to right now.

PM Vajpayee: Mr. Powell, we will issue that statement as soon as we get it.

[Everyone attending says aye, and the meeting concludes. The Indian government issues a statement within an hour claiming that the missile test had been planned for months, was not targeted towards any country, and was not meant to convey any message.]

Jan. 28, 2002

7:30AM: [PM Vajpayee is getting ready to go campaigning in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh which is holding elections within a few weeks. Power outage occurs just an hour before his flight was scheduled. He quickly asks his secretary to call all CCS members for a meeting.]

8:00AM: [All of CCS in attendance, power is still out and Secretary Powell is blissfully unaware of the ongoing CCS meeting.]

PM Vajpayee: Here is our chance. I could issue a strong statement against Pakistan today at one of my campaign rallies. Anyone got any ideas?

Home Minister Advani: We have been on the defensive about POK for too long. After all Pakistan grabbed it in 1947, ethnically cleansed it, and is using it for terrorist bases. Why don't we make vacation of POK a precondition for any talks?

PM Vajpayee: Great idea. That is exactly what I will say then.

[Everyone attending says aye, and the meeting concludes with Mr. Vajpayee heading out to campaign. Later that day he demands that Pakistan return POK if it wants to have any talks.]

[Power is back in the CCS room by now. Someone in the State Department read the Times of India and has passed the information to Powell. He contacts the PMO and demands an immediate CCS meeting.]

Secretary Powell: I don't understand why PM Vajpayee had to make this statement. Haven't I made it clear that my friend Musharraf promises to clean out all of his terrorist bases from POK? This statement is going to annoy him and he might just decide to lift the ban on Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. We can't have that; those groups will attack the US sooner or later if we can't keep Musharraf happy. I want the Prime Minister to issue a very reconciliatory statement at his next rally.

External Affairs Minister Singh: For the greater good of Indo-US relations, that is the minimum we can do for you. Consider it done. Please send us the text by email.

[Everyone attending says aye, and the meeting concludes. PM Vajpayee makes a conciliatory statement in his next campaign rally later in the day, which catches even the Indian Embassy in the US by surprise. He claims that diplomatic moves are working and that there will be no war.]

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