the War Clouds
By Rajindar Sachar
Pervez Musharraf's speech of January 12, 2002 must be analysed separately
from the domestic/international angle and from the Kashmir angle. So far
as the former was concerned, it was the most blunt, unambiguous declaration
against religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan. He minced no words
in attacking madrasas and expressing a determination to put an end to
Gen. Musharraf has distanced himself completely form the extremists by
categorically stating that no group could expect state aid for its violent
acts by merely invoking the emotive slogan of jihad. It is easy in India
to be skeptical. But that would be to misread the dynamics of events,
because since the time Gen. Musharraf was compelled under U.S. pressure
to disown the Taliban, he had become persona non grata with the extremists.
His present stand is born out of the necessity, for his political survival,
to expand his support base to the middle class, the intellectuals, the
media and the academicians of course after having made certain of the
backing of the army.
Regarding Kashmir, Gen. Musharraf was forthright in assuring that no individual
or organisation would be allowed to indulge in acts of terrorism in the
name of 'Kashmir'. But, he also reiterated his determination that "Pakistan
will continue its moral and political support to Kashmir". But it
would be wrong to treat it as spelling out permanent hostility. Surely,
we did not expect him to say the Kashmir issue was over? He has, in fact,
travelled quite a distance when declaring that violence and material support
to militants would not be available. Surely this stand must act as a big
damper to the militants in the valley, who had deluded themselves that
Pakistan at some time or the other could even interfere militarily. Let
us not get upset over his hyperbole that the "Kashmir cause runs
in the blood of every Pakistani and that no Pakistani could break relations
with Kashmir"? We need only to remind Gen. Musharraf gently that
the sentiments in India regarding Kashmir are identical - nay more - and
that blood may not have flowed at all if Pakistan had not rashly sent
tribals in 1947 to loot, dishonour and capture the Valley. But Pakistan
did and Indian blood flowed heavily, and the bravery of Indian officer
Abdul Majid, first recipient of the highest gallantry award, Param Vir
Chakra, who gave his blood to prevent Kashmir from being taken away from
India, is part of the folklore inspiring the youth of India. And 1965,
1971 and Kargil only heightened the sacrifice. Both the countries need
to remember this reality. It was probably with this realisation that Pandit
Nehru in 1963 and Indira Gandhi in 1971 agreed to the LoC being converted
into the international boundary; even Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had agreed but
having got a breather in the form of the release of 93,000 prisoners of
war chose to repudiate it. Now, in the wake of the U.S. war against Afghanistan
and with Pakistan caught on the wrong foot, India's political leadership
is unwisely hesitant to talk of this only option capable of putting India-Pakistan
relations on an even keel. The BJP feels its macho posture will help it
in the Uttar Pradesh elections; naturally other political parties find
it politically risky to differ too much. The insistence by our politicians
that the old Parliament Resolution laying claim to PoK was inviolable
would be a provocative boast when they fully know its impracticability.
But then probably we cannot expect political leaders to take any other
position during the electoral fever. I hope Gen. Musharraf will understand
the short-term compulsions of political democracy unlike that of a military
ruler and let this small gap of time elapse before expecting any progress
towards a dialogue.
Gen. Musharraf's unseemly appeal to the U.S. to intervene was bound to
be rejected by India. The U.S. has already floated the plan for trifurcation
of Jammu and Kashmir in which the Valley will be given near-sovereignty
with international guarantees (read under the U.S. sphere of influence).
This is a dangerous move striking at the roots of our secular republic
and can never be accepted.
Gen. Musharraf needs to be firmly told that bilateralism is the key to
resolving India-Pakistan problems. The General need not call upon the
U.S. to speak out the human rights excesses in Jammu and Kashmir. There
are enough human rights organisations such as PUCL which have shown sensitivity
on the issue of excesses both by the militants and the Government, just
as in Pakistan the NGOs have been exposing the excesses by security agencies
in various parts of that country, including Sindh. Such a statement was
a churlish act which can only vitiate the atmosphere.
Gen. Musharraf should have left out the U.S. which has much to defend
itself on human rights abuses against Asians, Arabs, and its own African-American
citizens. Gen. Musharraf may be legally and technically correct in his
hesitation on the issue of Pakistanis accused of terrorism in the Indian
list. But is it not somewhat curious that Pakistan should have handed
over without any protest the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan to the U.S.
rather than to Afghanistan. Pakistan can, however, defuse the situation
by agreeing to hand over Indian nationals such as Dawood and others.
A reference to the will of the people of Kashmir poses no problem as India
has always so maintained. Gen. Musharraf's reference, however, to U.N.
resolutions and by inference plebiscite is flogging a dead horse. It is
unnecessary to go into the legality of it but if technically is the test
then the whole of Kashmir stood acceded legally to India in 1947 when
Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession.
I believe the Government of India is being remiss in not following up
on its announcement of talks with various groups of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Hurriyat Conference now must show practical wisdom. The coming elections
in Jammu and Kashmir are of crucial importance. The Hurriyat Conference
can redeem its claim only by participating alongwith other parties. It
is only then that a winning party will truly have the people's mandate
to which the Central Government can then concede the maximum of autonomy
excepting Defence, Foreign Affairs, Communications and Currency. I hope
Pakistan will reciprocate in identical measure to PoK.
Of Course, it has to be ensured that the elections are "free and
fair" as announced by the Prime Minister. If, unfortunately, this
time any doubt is cast on the elections, the situation will become impossible
to remedy. Thus, it is essential that the elections are overseen by NGO
observers, free from control of the Election Commission or the Government
of India. The Hurriyat Conference demand for U.N. supervision is impossible
for any sovereign nation to concede.
I would even welcome NGO representatives from the SAARC countries being
permitted to oversee the elections. Also the presence of the international
media and TV should be freely allowed. We should leave no stone unturned
to prove the fairness of the elections because any doubts on this count
would permanently alienate the people of the Valley.
To ease the tension, the Governments of India and Pakistan should withdraw
the anti-people measures of stoppages of bus/train/air services and the
ban on TV channels. All these are ultimately uses of human rights. In
the context of the introduction of the common euro currency amongst the
bitterest of enemies of Europe, is there any reason why two temporarily
estranged families sharing a common culture and history of hundreds of
years should stand on the brink of confrontation? I can find none. (The
writer is former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court)