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l September '04 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 4, No 5 l

E D I T O R I A L 

Musharraf's Hard line

What others say..........

One can see several reasons why Musharraf has started talking tough on Kashmir. And his audience is as important as the message. He has been talking to officers and ranks of an army unit in Quetta. The Pakistan President has been watching with a certain degree of unease when his foreign secretary talked to his Indian opposite number in tones of peace and the need for addressing other issues too before the two countries take up Kashmir.

In the first week of this month, the Pak foreign minister talked to Natwar Singh, emphasising the necessity of continuing the dialogue, without losing sight of the central issue of Kashmir. Not exactly a flip-flop style. He has agreed on the urgency of evolving confidence-building measures, leading to a fruitful assault on the summit issue of Kashmir. On both occasions, indications have been that talks will continue and there is no other way in which modern nations do business with each other, however complicated the situation may be.

Now, Musharraf, the strong man in Islamabad, fears that his foreign minister and the foreign secretary might have given the impression that Pakistan is softening. And a reasonable solution depends on give-and-take on the part of both the countries. A former US state department official saw a ray of hope in the tone and temper of Indo-Pakistan negotiations and he hoped that the line of control may become an acceptable boundary. None from either country has commented on the suggestion. Now Musharraf has seen some danger if the talks are allowed to go on along this reasonable path.

The international community has got the impression, the general fears, that Pakistan has come to realise the importance of solving small but relevant issues between the two countries before taking up Kashmir. Now Musharraf has asserted that Pakistan would never give up Kashmir because it fought two or three wars for snatching away Kashmir. The immediate provocation for Musharraf is that in a month or two he will have to get out of his uniform if he wishes to continue as the President of the country. Musharraf will never let go his uniform which alone entitles him to power. He could plot against India in Kargil because he was the army chief. If he is not the army chief, his power base will crumble.

Since there is so much discontent among the middle level officers and in the top echelons, Musharraf has no clue about what is in store for him. This humongous wave of discontent in the army has been the cause of the two attacks on his life. In both cases, army men are involved. While Musharraf is all for fighting militancy, he is rather subdued when it comes to infiltration by jehadis into Kashmir. Then it becomes a question of the future of Kashmiris.

He has no hesitation in bringing in long-standing political disputes and their solution with the help of the international community before terrorism can be eliminated. Which is a comment on the US attitude to Iraq and Palestine in particular and other trouble spots like Chechnya and Afghanistan in general. Musharraf thinks that he has done everything to control infiltration, though the US deputy secretary of state recently said that more needed to be done which was not appreciated by President Bush and his Iraq warriors. Perhaps Musharraf is finalising his agenda for talks with Manmohan Singh at the UN.

{The Free Press Journal}

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