The role of the General Musharraf as the evangelist for peace between the two countries cannot be sustained in the face of increasing evidence of how as the Pak army chief he had planned the Kargil adventure to break the peace process that Atal Behari Vajpayee had initiated with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief in 1998. Asked about Kargil at the recent India Today conclave, the General was rather evasive asking the questioner to read his book Line of Fire and then rounding it off with the plea repeated about forgetting the past and start afresh. Several reports in the American Press and Congressional evidence there have nailed Pak army'slies on fighting the Taliban and revealed how it uses this excuse to gain help that it diverts to its own larger aim at India. The revelation of David Sanger fits in fully with these Congressional reports. The strategic use by the Pak army of the Taliban to disturb the growing influence of India in Afghanistan has also been focussed in US official report about the terrorist attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul few months back.
But the most damning evidence against the Musharraf thesis has come from the US independent think tank Atlantic Council. In its recent report A Comprehensive US Policy for Pakistan, the Council has said clearly exposing the deception that Pakistan army has been pursuing against the US. General Musharraf seeks to emphasise what he calls ?the trust deficit? in India'sresponse to Pakistan. But this ?trust deficit? has been in Pakistan'sown relations with its long-term master the United States that has funded that army for decades and more so of the funds spent recently:
?The Congress has been right in asking for accountability of the some $ 10 billion of the Coalition Support Funds and other security related funding made available to the Pakistan army over the past decade. A principal reason why Pakistan until now has not been forthcoming in responding is because it is possible that well over two-third of this money did not go to the army and instead funded other government deeds. Unfortunately, the policy of the past government does not relieve the new government of dealing with this deception. There have also been questions about the purchase of larger weapons systems that may not be appropriate for counter-insurgency warfare.?
Clearly the report says that this money given for meeting insurgency and militant extremism has been misused for other purposes. All these nine years it was Musharraf himself who was in power. The implication is clear. The deception has been going on throughout the Musharraf regime.
The Council report adds: ?Until recently Pakistan has tried to play off various tribal and Taliban factions against each other, even turning a blind eye to certain Afghan Taliban, while denying to the US it has indeed pursued this strategy. It has also favoured dialogue over force in certain instances, giving the impression to the US that Pakistan may be ?soft? on terrorism.? What is more galling for Musharraf should be the report of the Council that the attempt to create a better coordination between the US and the army on the anti-jehadi front was somewhat succeeding till the Indian embassy bombing ?that was linked by the US to ISI-support of the bombers, and Mumbai. At best the arrangement is still fragile.?
The matter does not end even in narrowing the ?trust deficit? whether with India or with the US. The Pakistan situation is serious as it develops that we have discussed earlier, its civilian government has become weaker by the rift with the main opposition party headed by Nawaz Sharief and the dismissal of the Punjab government led by it. That means a potential gain for the extremists. The very continuation of the civilian government is being questioned in the West and elsewhere in the context of the Long March that Sharief brothers have planned. This can impact the whole region.
The Bangladesh government suspects Pakistani hand in the recent mutiny of its para-military forces in Dhaka that left several hundred army officers killed. Recall in this case that it was the Bangladesh army-backed interim government that eliminated some of the top leaders of the jehadi movement in that country and the civil society there has given a big hand to this anti-jehadi action by voting to power Sheikh Hasina. One of her fist actions was to seek to normalise relations with India and get at Indian insurgents holing up in her country. In the previous Begum Zia regime these extremist parties had a free hand and their organisation HUJI was hand in glove with the ISI to push terrorists into India and create mayhem here.
The problem of jehadi extremism is getting even more dangerous with the evident effort to draw in Indian Muslims into it on the plea of their so-called ?alienation?. Musharraf was talking of this so-called ?alienation?.
And seeking to add it as the critical factor to his own concept of Kashmir as the one that alienated his youth from Pakistan as a state towards jehadi extremism. Fortunately for Indian Muslims in his audience there were Muslims who did not buy that alienation theory and told the General in his face that Indian Muslims could take care of themselves. But one cannot ignore the so-called Indian Mujahideen'sagenda and their success in running camps in this country and attracting some to get trained in terrorism in India and Pakistan. That also projects the weakness of the UPA government in dealing with terrorism and the soft attitude it and its former Communist supporters took, particularly the Left Front governments in Kerala and West Bengal. The exposure of the extent of extremist play in Kerala after a series of breakthroughs by intelligence agencies has stunned the Kerala police itself.
This alienation theory seems to be having some supporters in this country too. The UPA government'sill thought out step in appointing the Sachar Committee and its failure to pinpoint the reason for the so-called Muslim backwardness to its own ghetto mentalities in education, modern skill development and refusal to understand the challenge of globalising economy and technology, the continued refusal to send their girls to school, the inspired stories against immunisation and family planning and the support to Muslim orthodoxy against any attempt even within the community for social reforms, have backfired. To describe this as ?alienation? or ?refusal of justice to Muslim community? is the Indian pseudo-secularists? bill of trade. But it is doing tremendous damage and is certainly against the prevailing truth.
The Muslim community in India has more than doubled in the last 60 years. The Hindu community in Pakistan and Bangladesh has shrunk. India'sleading film stars are mostly Muslims. Many Muslims are refusing to buy the alienation theory. The Oscar winning Keralaite Muslim Resul Pookutty dedicated his award as a tribute to India and recalled the sound of ?OM?. Two of the three Oscar winners from India this year are Muslims, the third a Sikh. India has had several Muslim Presidents; Pakistan cannot by the Constitution have a non-Muslim as either President or Prime Minister or anybody else in office. The last Muslim President in India was chosen by the BJP-led government and it was he who commanded the BJP government'snuclear weapon demonstration initiative when he was top scientist with the government.
In arts, sciences, academia, business there are Muslims at the top and many indeed are proud of being Indians. If the majority of Muslims after Partition elected to stay in India, most of them are trying to reconcile the ancient Indian (Hindu) values of secularism, free thinking, pluralism and respect for individual right to choose his/her God, with the tenets of Islam. The alienation theory is being sponsored by the forces across the border and without realising the serious implications of it some in this country are falling for it giving the jehadi forces operating from outside a break-in into India. Look at the way Congress Minister Antulay took a dig at the Mumbai event. And the Left is even seeking to give political legitimacy to the extremist leader like Madhani in Kerala by supporting his people for the Parliament seats in that state. The tragedy of the sub-continent is that the forces and the divisive mind-set that worked for the creation of Pakistan is still active on both sides of the border. While in Pakistan, it operates as ?Taliban? or ?jehadis?, in India the brand name for the phenomenon is ?secularism?!
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])