Dictators are a class by themselves, and often behave in an unpredictable manner. No wonder, in the process they usually expose their real worth, ruin their own reputation, destroy the countries they lord over, and also disturb the global peace. In the distant past, Hitler brought unmitigated disaster to himself, Germany and the world. The recent example is that of Saddam Hussain.
The despot did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMD); as the world discovered after he was deposed. But then why did he resist the UN inspections and invite on invasion from the US, which anyway was on prowl in the region? And on what strength did he promise ?mother of all battles? to the world? Any answers?
General Mushrraf'sbook Line of Fire is probably the only autobiographical work penned by a serving head of State. None knows for sure why did he write this book. While opinions differ on his motives for writing it, there is near unanimity in India and Pakistan as well, that it is full of half truths and white lies. Take for example, the Kargil war and his claims of a smashing victory for Pakistan. Even his Pakistani audience must be wondering why the then Pakistani establishment, that included the General himself, did not advertise and celebrate the victory. And if the victory was so evident, why were the Pakistani soldiers who died on the Kargil hills, not brought back home and given a burial worthy of heroes?
The General may well have anticipated the question above. So he also adds his own regret that the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sherief decided to withdraw the army from Kargil right when it was winning under the great leadership of the General himself. But that does not help obfuscate the facts. History recorded by so many analysts show that it was this same General who went to China and got no support from his decades old allies. Then Nawaz Sherief went to Washington as Pakistan'sposition became desperate. The Pakistan Prime Minister had hoped that President Clinton would provide him a face saver.
The US President did invite our then Prime Minister Vajpayee to come to Washington but Atalji had the guts to reject this invitation. That decision could only have come out of the confidence that Atalji had that he was winning. And it is on record that President Clinton finally advised the Pakistani PM to announce withdrawal from Kargil. If Sherief agreed to withdraw it was because he had no alternative ? his army had already lost most of the heights it had captured clandestinely behind the smoke screen of ?mujahideen? fighters. He knew that within a few days the war would be over with the Pakistan pushed behind the Line of Control.
This same attempt to save himself is evident in his another claim that he had to accede to Washington'sdemand on him to assist the US in crushing the Taliban regime after 9/11. He claims that the US threat to bomb Pakistan to the stone age forced his hands. This is mainly meant to calm the religious parties in his home country on whose support he counted when he overthrew the elected government and who have now become angry with his turn round against them following US dictate. The invention of the US threat is an ingenious ploy. Simply because with the state of the economy Pakistan was in 2001, it did not need a threat for the US to bring the General to toe its line. A simple act of withdrawal of US financial support would have brought the Pakistani establishment to its knees.
But even in his pack of lies, the General admits one fact: that the Kargil assault was well planned by the Pakistani establishment keeping Nawaz Sherief in the loop. ?Our manoeuver was conducted flawlessly, a technical marvel of military professionalism by the end of April.? He even names the Pakistani army division involved in the actual ground operation. However, this is not a concession to facts. It is essential if he has to prove that Kargil was the army'scrowning glory and thereby snatch credit from the others involved, most importantly Nawaz Sherief.
All along the conflict, Sherief had claimed that it was not Pakistan army that was fighting the war but the so-called freedom fighters. The admission that it was the army that had planned and executed this ?manoeuver? he can afford very well to damn Sherief for its failure. That is why he invents the success and says he does not know why the then PM lost his nerves and decided to withdraw. He is telling his Pakistani audience that the main cause for the overthrow of Nawaz Sherief was this denial of victory to the army. A nice invention indeed to justify his coup.
The General'saccount of the Agra Summit is equally meant to position himself as the peace-maker, serving two purposes. By blaming some unknown force for the failure at Agra, the General wants to show that the Indian Prime Minister was under extra-Constitutional pressure while he himself was so devoted to peace. However, Atalji has done well to slam him for this invention and underline the fact that the summit failed because of the General'srefusal to recognise terrorism as the main problem in Kashmir. The press reports from Agra at that time all along quoted the General as insisting that the Kashmir terrorists were ?freedom fighters?. These reports cannot be ignored whatever the General'sclaim. They remain to mock at the General attempting to project himself as the nice god-boy.
In the context of the tissue of lies and half-truths the General has put out, it is imperative that the Government of India should come out with a detailed statement exposing his inventions. Atalji as the prime actor at Agra and later during the agreement he extracted from the General on rooting out terrorism from his home front, has promptly given his version of the events that nail the General'slies. We await the Government'sversion.
Perhaps it would be too much to expect after what our present Prime Minister has done at Havana in delinking Pakistani action on terror camps and infiltration from the confidence building measures and Indo-Pak summit. By separating the two and allowing the progress on the two fronts to be independent of each other, Dr. Singh has let the imitative in the hands of the General. Increasingly this tactical mistake seems to be coming home to roost so far as our Prime Minister is concerned. This has forced him to provide all sorts of explanations for the enthusiasm he has displayed at Havana for the meeting with Musharraf in Islamabad later and for resumption of Indo-Pak negotiations. In fact, even before Havana, Dr. Singh had retracted from his earlier tough stand post the Mumbai blasts that all CBMs would be suspended. It seems this change is as inexplicable as the Pakistani President claims about Agra Summit.
Did the Prime Minister bow to the political compulsions of his party President to cultivate the Muslim constituency that she is seeking to build up in UP in competition with Mulayam Singh Yadav who had usurped it long back? The linkage can no longer be ignored given the recent silence of both the Congress and the Samajvadi Party on the sudden growth of local support for Islamic terrorism. The security organisations are swearing over the ingenious ways the Islamic terror organisations are evading the firewalls and sneaking into vital places and planning bombs, importing huge quantities of explosive and arms and drumming up a fundamentalist agenda at every point of national cultural, literary and social expression.
What is happening in Nasik, Ahmednagar and in Malappuram district of Kerala are indicators of the virus spreading. But the jehadis? second line of defence, the so-called secularists, are crying hoarse over the alleged targeting of one community by the security agencies. The Prime Minister, his supporting Left parties and the SP, and the UPA as such are interpreting the scientific line of investigation into the terror networks as targeting of one community. What is the police to do if all the leads arise from within that community and if the network of terror support cells proliferate within that community alone?
This fettering of the police, even calling it communal, is the surest way to ensure that the bombings and killings would go untraced to its roots and prosecuting the culprits would become lax and extracting evidence made more difficult. The more the security establishment is derided the wider becomes the smile on the face of the terror machine, After Havana, even the General must be quoting Manmohan Singh to prop up his half-truths and lies in his book.