New Delhi hosted the SAARC Summit meeting, and Musharraf was conspicuous by his absence. Whereas other nations were represented by their executive heads, Pakistan had opted to send their Prime Minister. Perhaps the Afghanistan angle and the internal turmoil were taking their toll on their military dictator who operates behind a thin facade of democracy.
The turmoil in Pakistan apart, the question which looms large before our policy makers is whether we have lost our focus and sense of direction in our Kashmir Policy? In a negative spiral of media-projected initiatives by Musharraf on Kashmir and desperate yet inadequate reactions from the Indian side, why are we on the appeasement mode on an issue which has vexed us since independence ? Are we on the brink of compromises which may invite regret? Are national interests supreme in our considerations or media-reported back – channel negotiations ? These are some of the questions which
One wonders whether these statements made by the Mirwaiz known to be a mouth-piece of Musharraf bear relevance especially in the light of the so-called “back-channel” negotiations which the nation is unaware of.need answers.
A few statements and actions appear to transcend the realm of logic. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s statement in the beginning of the year that the “next three months are crucial” to developments in Kashmir is perplexing to say the least. This was followed by a statement from Islamabad that “violence has only increased graves” One wonders whether these statements made by the Mirwaiz known to be a mouth-piece of Musharraf bear relevance especially in the light of the so-called “back-channel” negotiations which the nation is unaware of. To top it all our Prime Minister had to negate a statement by the Mirwaiz that India and Pakistan had already agreed to demilitarisation. Some references towards this angle have been reported recently by the Press to the extent that some sort of assurance/ understanding was reached between both the Prime Ministers of India & Pakistan. This is very surprising.
The Anti- Terror Mechanism between India and Pakistan, akin to these statements also appears to be a futile diplomatic exercise which is not backed by logic. With Pakistan having excluded Kashmir and Kashmir – related acts from its purview, this mechanism appears to be a waste of taxpayers’ money. What joint mechanism are we talking about when there is no trust and conducive environment prevalent between the two countries ? Seemingly, India has to refer to Page 303 of Musharraf’s memoir “In the Line of Fire” to improve relations. Are we operating on diplomacy through print and electronic media?
The problem between India and Pakistan comprises of historic, religious, ethnic, military, political, territorial and above all attitudinal issues of both countries. These cannot be wished away with opening of roads and rail-links and important anti-terror mechanisms. The state of mind of the population, the ‘psyche’ factor and leadership on both sides needs to be impacted if any meaningful movement towards resolution is to be achieved. One wonders why India is eager to appease Pakistan.
Cross-border terrorism” from Pakistan into Afghanistan has finally received attention from the USA, EU and the NATO as now American and European soldiers are dying in Afghanistan.
History has played its act decades ago and territory under India, Pakistan and China will continue to remain under the current custodians. It is undeniable that India cannot at this stage evict Pakistan from POK militarily. If that is the truth then why are we desperate to progress the peace initiative? To be good samaritans is one thing but to get cheated while dealing with Pakistan everytime, it is no diplomacy. In almost two decades of fighting a costly counter-terrorism war, the Security Forces have now gained the upper hand in J&K. Is this the hour to fritter away the advantages gained over terrorists by peace talks ?
Musharraf, no doubt has been pushed to a corner, externally and internally, Bush and Dick Cheney have conveyed it in no uncertain terms to clamp down on the Al-Qaeda and Taliban or else be prepared to lose the liberal economic support it enjoys. While $ 780 million has been announced by the USA for Pakistan, media reports speak of $4.2 billion having been paid to Pakistan as part of coalition support in the war on terror. It has also been indicated that the so-called turnaround of the Pak economy is largely backed by generous dollar support from the USA. With reverses in Iraq and the Taliban gearing up for a “spring offensive” in Afghanistan, America is no longer willing to let Musharraf hoodwink them with an occasional Taliban leader picked out from Safe houses in Quetta. Dick Cheney’s visit along with CIA’s Steve Caps, apparently displaying satellite images showing presence of Taliban/Al Qaeda camps on Pak soil has rattled Musharraf. USA is convinced that Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri are very much alive and hiding with Pak knowledge in the mountains stretching from Chitral to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
“Cross-border terrorism” from Pakistan into Afghanistan has finally received attention from the USA, EU and the NATO as now American and European soldiers are dying in Afghanistan. Can Musharraf control the Taliban and Al Qaeda? Both outfits have strengthened their hold in FATA. Musharraf, to pacify his Army which suffered large number of casualties has negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban in South Waziristan. In the aftermath of the deal the Taliban has emerged stronger. USA has on number of occasions crossed over into Pakistani airspace and on Pak soil to deal with the Taliban, despite protests of violating Pak sovereignty.
In almost two decades of fighting a costly counter-terrorism war, the Security Forces have now gained the upper hand in J&K. Is this the hour to fritter away the advantages gained over terrorists by peace talks ?
Apart from international disapproval, Musharraf is in trouble internally. His dictatorial move against the Chief Justice and suppression of the media has highlighted that he is merely operating behind a thin democratic veil. Though he has apologised and managed to salvage the situation, his desperation is obvious. He is already worried about legitimising his election of President by the existing assemblies in November 2007 and at the same time ensuring that he remains the Army Chief. From 2002 till 2007 he has managed by a rigged referendum and a questionable Legal Framework Order. Apprehending that the Chief Justice could be an obstacle towards his goal, he tried commando tactics to oust him in a brazen manner sparking off unprecedented protests which has earned him the ire of the international community. He now appears to be re-orienting his strategy for the challenge that awaits him in November, 2007. Recently some sections of press have been reporting of some sort of understanding reached between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf has denied this.