February 2003 News

'Musharraf's commitment on infiltration was conditional'

14 February 2003
The Hindu
B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD: The 'ghost' of cross-border infiltration continues to haunt Pakistan. Since the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, gave an unambiguous commitment to his Anglo-American interlocutors in June-July last year, that he would end the movement across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the issue has been surfacing time and again. Statements by functionaries in the Pakistani establishment, from Gen. Musharraf downward, that there is no movement across the LoC have had little impact. Islamabad would not have bothered if charges of infiltration continued from New Delhi. But it is concerned, with reason, when they emanate from Washington. The latest to join the brigade of those expressing concern over continuing cross-border infiltration from Pakistan was the Director of the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, Lowell E. Jacoby. He is reported to have told a U.S. Committee that movement across the LoC was increasing the potential for the break out of hostilities between India and Pakistan in the wake of a 'triggering event.' 'With the Kashmir situation still unresolved and with continued cross-border infiltration from Pakistan, the potential for miscalculation between the two countries remains high, especially in the wake of some violent triggering event such as another spectacular terrorist attack or political assassination,' he was quoted as saying. Pakistan is unhappy over the spate of statements from senior functionaries of the Bush administration about the inability of Gen. Musharraf to live up to his commitments on infiltration. And it sees it as a pro-India tilt in the Kashmir policy of the Bush regime. Islamabad was stunned a few days ago when the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Nancy Powell, told a group of businesspersons in Karachi that Pakistan must stop being a 'platform for terrorism' and prevent militants who are based here from crossing into Kashmir. Later, in a damage limitation exercise, Washington tried to underplay her comments and maintained that she was only repeating what Gen. Musharraf said in his January 12, 2002, speech to the people of Pakistan. The Musharraf- Jamali Government feels that the international community has not been fair to Gen. Musharraf. It is being claimed that his commitment to end cross-border infiltration was 'conditional.' And that Islamabad had expected the interlocutors to persuade New Delhi to return to the dialogue table. In other words, there could be no guarantee of a permanent end to infiltration without any development, if not progress, on a dialogue with India on all issues, including Kashmir. Implied in the argument are two suggestions. It would not be within the Government's authority to stop groups and individuals engaged in 'Kashmir operations' unless it could show some progress towards a negotiated settlement. Secondly, it could lead to adverse consequences on the domestic front, particularly with the emergence of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, alliance of six religious parties. However, intellectuals here have begun to argue on the need for a serious re- think of Pakistan's Kashmir policy. They cite the u- turn on Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, to support their contention that heavens would not fall if Islamabad were to reverse its Kashmir policy. The writer and consulting editor of the Pakistan weekly, Friday Times , Khaled Ahmed, has said that unless Pakistan changed its 'spots,' it would have to be the 'next.' The article is an analysis of Gen. Musharraf's recent statement that there is a view that after Iraq, it could be Pakistan. 'The world will soon converge on the central malady of Pakistani strategists and will have to focus on Islamabad's obsession with India. Many in Pakistan will rejoice when that happens, thinking that such a focus will highlight the Kashmir dispute. The truth of the matter is that, given Pakistan's externally weak and dangerous internal condition, such a focus will be similar to the focus that came on Pakistan's Taliban policy after 9-11.'


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