Kashmir, Kargil And Cruelty

Kashmir, Kargil And Cruelty

3 February 2013
Daily Times
Muhammad Ahsan Yatu

Lahore: Pakistan’s Kargil expedition is again in the news due to a book written by a general and General Pervez Musharraf’s desire to return home to participate in the coming elections. The general-turned-author has revealed that the expedition was planned only by four generals and he and the other generals knew about it later. Many more generals of those times and the then prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif have been telling the same story. Leaving aside who knew about it and who did not, let us analyse what were the objectives that its planners wanted to achieve. And were those objectives achieved? Since the Kargil expedition is related to Kashmir, we begin with deliberation on the Kashmir problem first. The partition of India created many problems, and the Kashmir problem is one of them. The Pakistani army’s position in this regard is that the acquisition of Kashmir is an existential necessity for Pakistan because of security concerns and the nation’s lifeline - the waters of three rivers flowing from and through Kashmir into Pakistan. It is in this context that the Pakistan army tried to seize Kashmir through the wars of 1947 and 1965 and by sponsoring insurgency in Kashmir in 1989. General Musharraf and his four comrades did nothing contrary to the thoughts and desires of the generals. In his recent interview, Musharraf said that India was not listening to Pakistan’s concerns on Kashmir and hence Pakistan created militants of various hues and sent them across the Line of Control (Loc) into Indian-held Kashmir to carry out armed struggle so that the Indians would come to the negotiating table. Musharraf in a way said that he did the same thing that other generals before him had done in 1947, 1965 and 1989. He did not speak the whole truth. The truth is that the Kashmiri militancy planned by General Ziaul Haq in the early 1980s became active in 1989, reached its peak in the mid-1990s, and afterwards started slowing down, and by the end of the 1990s, it faded almost completely. It is in this context that the Kargil expedition was planned and executed. Most Pakistanis are of the opinion, and rightly so, that the expedition was a terrible undertaking that cost hundreds of lives and billions of rupees and failed to achieve nothing but the shame of defeat. The expedition failed in Kargil but it did its job; it saved the Kashmiris’ insurgency from fading. Hundreds of Kashmiri militants trained by Pakistan entered Indian-controlled Kashmir safely while the two countries were fighting the war at the Kargil front. Shouldn’t the generals and the people of Pakistan be thankful to General Musharraf for revitalising the Kashmiris’ uprising? No one should be thankful to those generals who started the war in Kashmir in 1947, to those civilian rulers who accepted the UN resolutions, to General Ayub Khan who started the war of 1965, to General Zia who planned the Afghan, Kashmiri and Sikh uprisings, to the generals who made Pakistan a haven and a hatchery of extremists, and to Musharraf for his Kargil adventure. The war of 1947 was a success and it helped Pakistan gain control over vast areas of Kashmir, which are known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan Agencies. It was a great strategic success for the Anglo-Saxons too, because it totally cut off India’s geographical link with the USSR and Afghanistan. These achievements would have been washed away if the war had continued because Pakistan had no war machine to fight with, whereas the Indian army was fully equipped. These achievements would have come our way even peacefully by negotiating with the Indians for a regional referendum in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was in the scheme of things made by the British and the Americans that the valley of Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan and the areas that comprise Azad Kashmir were to come into Pakistan’s fold, and the rest - Ladakh, Jammu and a part of Poonch - would have gone to the Indian side. Since things did not happen as per the scheme of things, India sought a solution through the UN resolutions that apparently favoured Pakistan but technically favoured India for all times to come. Our civilian rulers needed to do better. They should have, through the auspices of the UN, accepted the Cease Fire Line as the permanent boundary and sought the UN’s recognition of the semi-independent status of the then Indian Kashmir, which had its own flag, law, prime minister and much more. Such status would have ended Pakistan’s perceived fears about security and the lifeline. It is not that the regional referendum, and afterwards, the UN’s recognition of semi-independent status for Indian Kashmir were not being discussed in those days. There were thinking Kashmiri souls who did speak on these subjects, but no one listened. About the 1965 war, the less said the better. India won the war and occupied many important Pakistani areas, which were the strategic neck of Pakistan. Thanks to our ‘enemy’, the USSR, with whose help we got our neck back. General Zia’s militancy-friendly, drug-friendly and arms-friendly regime was the worst thing that happened to Pakistan. It attacked all those relationships that keep human beings together as a society and as a nation. It attacked all those virtues that enable human beings to think and create. How many decades it will take for Pakistanis to become normal human beings is a question whose answer one can find in the situation that prevails in all the cities of Pakistan, which have been besieged by extremists produced by the nurseries initially developed by Zia. What Zia did to the Afghans and Kashmiris was more horrible than what he did to the Pakistanis. He destroyed their entire one generation. Before 9-11, Musharraf’s love for militancy was on its way to destroy another generation of Kashmiris and Afghans, but the US’s wise tackling of 9-11 saved them. After 9-11, Musharraf’s love for militancy helped the Taliban-friendly militants take shelter in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Quetta and Karachi. Whatever terrible is happening these days in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is Zia’s and Musharraf’s doing. Whatever terrible is happening these days in Quetta and Karachi is solely Musharraf’s doing. The Kargil expedition was a brilliant example of bravery and determination. It is not an ordinary thing to conquer 100-plus high altitude snow-clad peaks by using ordinary means. And staying at the peaks in a frozen environment with minimum facilities appears to be a work of fiction, but in Kargil it happened. One wished it should not have happened. It momentarily whipped up the Kashmiri uprising but exposed us as a kind of nation that keeps on doing stupid and cruel things to itself and to others.