India's old friend Russia is reaching out to New Delhi: The Statesman columnist

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Sept 8, 2016.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Sept 8, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ambarnath Sinha

The Statesman/Asia News Network

The 9/11-terror attack lasted for half an hour. But when a terror attack happens in India it continues for days.

Pathankot and 26/11 continued for three days each. Each day ended with terror looking back at us with bloodshot eyes and saying, we shall continue tomorrow, and each time, we went back the next day to a noble battle. We might not be playing test cricket with Pakistan but we are allowing them to test our patience in this game.

Of course, the versions are becoming shorter. The casualties are larger relatively as we stoop further psychologically when a great number of soldiers die at the hands of a few terrorists. They come, hit us and flee and when all are gone, we scream and bubble with anger and cry out that we will scratch you, bite you, tear you apart!

That we will not even touch them with a feather is something we all know in our hearts. We have basically left ourselves with no options but vocal reactions and that is worse.

I can't stop laughing in the worst of our times. I can't stop making fun of us. Our might and right remain tight only on the silver screen.

You might wonder if I am asking the government to cross the border and take out the terrorists? Well, that's reactionary again. I am asking about crossing all limits. And that can be done only when India would know where its strengths lie.

India is happy with its first diplomatic win: Russia calling off the first joint military exercise with Pakistan. The point is when did we lose Russia to win her back? When did Russia get so close with Pakistan to decide to conduct its first joint military exercise?

Experts in India said the fact that the exercise was scheduled to take place in the mountain terrain could be an indication that Russia was interested in learning from Pakistan's military counterinsurgency (COIN) operations.

Given the latter's extensive experience in battling insurgents and Russia's growing role in the Syrian Civil War, this was very possibly the Russia perhaps also wanted to use the exercise to showcase some of its military hardware useful for Pakistani COIN operations, including combat aircraft and infantry weapons.

But hold on for a second. Did they say Pakistan and counterinsurgency? Don't you find this hilarious? If Russia really wanted to learn about counterinsurgency, would it not have made much more sense for them to have a lesson or two from Indian troops who were fighting this day in and day out? Pakistan on the other hand may perhaps give them information on how to infiltrate, if Russia is planning to learn that.

In 2014, Russia lifted the longstanding arms embargo in Pakistan and then, in August 2015, Russia and Pakistan concluded an agreement for the purchase of four Mi-35M attack helicopters.

The Mi-35M is the export version of the Mi-24 gunship. It is particularly suited for mountainous terrain and can be deployed in adverse weather conditions. The Russian helicopter is slated to replace Pakistan's fleet of obsolete U.S. made AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, primarily deployed in counterinsurgency operations in the country.

On the other hand, before India had even opened her mouth, the US made it clear that any military move by India to cross the international borders would be condemned. Well, this is the same country which literally left no stone unturned and flattened an entire country to search out a terrorist.

So, while we were engaged in a futile exercise of wooing the US by planning to buy everything from pins to elephants from it, were we losing our only militarily strong and tactically placed all-weather friend and a partner in several defence ties?

Perhaps it is time for Mr Modi to realise that his US visits are a sheer waste of time and do nothing except make him feel good that a country that barred his entry for nine years now welcomes him twice a year.

Obama, Bush, Clinton or Reagan, everyone knows India is a country which needs to keep feeling that it is a "developing nation" for life because there's no market greater than India's to dump foreign goods.

However, we forget that the farmers of this country go to the fields and grow food for us whether there's a government to help or not and our soldiers keep protecting us whether someone tells them to do so or not. So, what if we bring sanctions against American goods? Where will they sell them?

Perhaps, you'll see a different US then. But that is something that will never happen. Neither is there need for it. All we need to do is make it amply clear to the US that we know what is in their minds and that we are not at their mercy.

This is just the way Russia has made India realise that their friendship is not to be taken for granted.And thus, after giving India the lesson it had to learn, Russia has given her another chance to renew its relations. The only use of Pakistan for Russia is to bring back India's attention. And Russia had every right to do so. That it has still not given up on India is clear.

Russia is one nation that is still without a friend. It is neither European nor Asian. It is further away from the US. So if there's one nation from whom India may get a fair deal, it is Russia - a friendless country.

And thus, the Russian statement is to be read thoroughly and carefully. When they say they are "very concerned about the terrorist attacks near the Line of Control" and that they were concerned by the fact that "...the army base near Uri was attacked from Pakistani territory," are we listening?

* The writer is an independent, Mumbai-based documentary filmmaker.