Nothing Exciting In Musharraf Plan
31 October 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: General Musharraf has come out with a 'new' plan of resolving the Kashmir tangle. It is not surprising that he has thrown up only some vague hints without stating what he precisely intends to propose. For quite some time he has been saying that options are not closed and should be explored. Let us examine the variants General Musharraf has been thinking of. The most conspicuous one is his statement that an option outside the UN Resolutions of 1948 and 1949 could be considered. Ever since the eruption of insurgency in Kashmir, Pakistani authorities have been endlessly harping on the implementation of these resolutions. In the process they have created an impression inside and outside the country that it is India that is rejecting the stipulation of plebiscite to resolve the issue. A number of pro-Pakistani NGOs making interventions in the sessions of the UN Human Rights Commission and sub-Commission and at other international fora have been vociferously talking about the resolutions. They have been organising occasional briefings in which the rhetoric is repeated with increased intensity. Even their hired western clients join their voice with theirs. In these circumstances, General Musharrafs retreat appears rather unusual. It will be recalled that during his last year's visit to Islamabad UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said publicly that the UN resolutions of 1948 and 1949 could not be implemented because of a technical flaw. Additionally, foreign secretary Jack Straw of UK categorically stated that the UN resolutions were superseded by the bilateral agreement called Shimla Agreement. The US has also pandered to the same view. This leaves no space for the General to push his demand for the implementation of the said resolutions. India waited for a considerable time to allow Pakistan to withdraw the fighting forces and the militias from the part of Kashmir under its occupation. This was the first condition of the resolutions in questions. But finding that Pakistan was loath to observe and implement the stipulations of the resolution, India took the initiative of ascertaining the will of the people of Kashmir. The Constituent Assembly endorsed the accession in 1953. Thereafter the State of Jammu and Kashmir embarked on its journey along democratic and secular dispensation. In 2002 we had the 9th election to the legislative assembly. By agreeing to ignore the resolutions of 1948 and 1949, General Musharraf has not done any favour to India. He has simply grasped the trend of major western powers including the US and responded to their pressure. This is not resilience nor is it the softening of stance. Therefore it is futile to argue that he has gone back one step from his known stand and that India should respond to it. Indian response to this development may be to invite the General's attention to the clauses of the Shimla Agreement. It is important to note that the Agreement has been ratified by the parliaments in both the countries. As such the validity of Shimla Agreement remains intact in letter and in spirit. The task that is before the General is to implement the spirit of the Shimla Agreement. The first thing that is required of him to do is to respect the Line of Actual Control as set forth in the Shimla Agreement. It means that Pakistan should concede that it violated the Agreement by sending the armed terrorists across the border into Kashmir to destabilise the government and disrupt law and order. Secondly, Pakistan should take all measures of stopping cross border infiltration in J&K if she really wants to create conducive atmosphere for meaningful talks with India. In his press conference General Musharraf has spoken of identifying the regions and then dealing with the problem and solution of each region. In simple words this means vivisection of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pro-Pakistani elements on both sides argue that LoC has divided the people. If General Musharraf's plan is accepted, does it not mean further division of the regions of the State and creation of a big physical void between the people? Nobody supports dislocation of people. It is one thing to make territorial adjustments and another thing to transfer region as a whole from one to the other sovereignty. General Musharraf should be clear whether Pakistan will agree with the decision of the people of the Northern Areas to opt out of Pakistan sovereignty. What would be the international implications of such a situation? What will be the status of 5,000 square kilometres of Aksaichin region ceded by Pakistan to China? What will be the status of the Karakorum Highway in such a dispensation? The US has deeply involved Pakistan in anti- Al-Qaeda-Taliban operations in NWFP. The General is doing a tight rope walking. Resentment of Islamic radicals in Pakistan is mounting against his policy. But it is the big American money that is keeping the pot under lid. Evidently several segments of Pakistani civil society are the recipients of the largesse. While the Americans would not want Pakistan to escalate violence in Kashmir and also not pressurise India into making concessions, they would, at the same time oblige Pakistan by supporting some sort of resolution of Kashmir issue. That is why Colin Powell said that the Bush regime was doing all it could to see that the two countries agreed on a negotiated settlement of Kashmir dispute. General Musharraf's antics are aimed at convincing Washington that he is doing all he can and is even going a step further to propose a negotiated settlement. In fact all that he is doing is to side-step Shimla Agreement and to re- state his oft - repeated position. There is nothing exciting in Musharraf's proposal. What precisely is there that may be termed 'flexibility or concession' on his part?. He has made many changes at the top echelon of Pakistani Army. He is building a close constituency in the ranks of armed forces. Pakistan has already lost the sympathy of the Afghans and the Pakhtun issue is not dead. Musharraf has compulsions. He wants concessions from India to secure himself in the seat of power. The General wishfully thinks that the world has come to believe that there is no infiltration of terrorists in Kashmir from Pakistan and that the ongoing insurgency there is of indigenous character. Such assertions have no takers especially when the whole world knows that fundamentalism and terrorism have found a safe haven in Pakistan. What General Musharraf is at pains to admit is that the Islamic jihadis are no more in his control in Pakistan? It is a lawless brigade receiving direct funding, arms and logistic support from Pakistan's super intelligence organization. Kashmir jihad has been institutionalized. Its adherents are to be found in many countries outside Pakistan and including UK. Their network has not been smashed despite the tall claims of Islamabad official circles. Even Pakistani bureaucracy is also not very cooperative to the General in his somersaults over Kashmir issue. To the fanatical lot of Pakistan the idea of living peacefully with India is a red rag to the bull. There is also sea change in the thinking of the masses of people in Kashmir valley. The erstwhile pro-Pakistan emotions have fizzled out. General Musharraf's U-turn over Al-Qaeda and Taliban has come to them as a rude shock. Kashmiris have not an iota of doubt about who has been contriving the killing of the innocent people. They also know whose agenda it is to liquidate Kashmiri leadership. The fear of the gun keeps them back from speaking out the truth. This pent up fund of resentment and revulsion is bound to burst sooner or later. General Musharraf is not ignorant of this inevitable development. Will his latest antics cut ice with the Kashmiris is what will be an interesting phenomenon to watch.