It is just over ten years since India won the Kargil War and threw out the last of the Pakistani intruders from the mountain tops, causing severe losses to the degenerate Pakistani forces. To the last, Pakistan refused to acknowledge its blatant guilt. Those Pakistani intruders who were a mix of soldiers from III, IV, V, VI and XII battalions of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI), members of Pakistan’s Special Service Group and several jihadi militants had sneaked into the posts temporarily vacated by Indian soldiers because of weather conditions. That dastardly and mean act was an open violation of an Indo-Pak understanding.
Pakistan’s strategy was to occupy dominating positions at heights between the Line of Control and the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, 1-A. The broader aim was to isolate the Ladakh region from the rest of India and alter the status of LoC for strategic gains. But for the fact that a cowherd, Tashi Namgyal, from the village Garkon, close to the LoC, spotted six armed intruders making bunkers on the Indian side and conveyed the information to the Indian Army, Pakistan would have possibly started to dictate terms to India. The man who planned it all was General Musharraf, as untrustworthy a man as one can imagine, who had even refused to greet then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the latter made his famous trip to Lahore to hold talks with then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief.
The heroism shown by Indian officers and men in Kargil has now become part of military legend but such was the untrustworthiness of Musharraf that he wouldn’t even admit that it was the Pakistani Armed Forces who betrayed India’s trust and wouldn’t even recognise those Pakistanis killed in battle. The Indian Forces had to undertake the task of burying the Pakistani dead-a fact that not only Musharraf himself but all of Pakistan must be ashamed of. Kargil was the most stupid thing that Musharraf attempted. According to Khaled Ahmed, a senior editor with the liberal English language Daily Times and the newsweekly Friday Times, Kargil was one of the reasons for Musharraf’s downfall. As he put it: “Not even a stupid man would go to Kargil and try to defeat India there”, but like Ayub Khan, Musharraf must have felt that a Pakistani soldier could beat his Indian counterpart any time. Even if India showed that where valour and courage are concerned no one could beat an Indian jawan, Musharraf was not one to listen. It cost him his job.
The point to remember is that the Pakistan Army cannot be trusted and for Dr Manmohan Singh to say that we should trust Pakistan and verify whether promises are kept is to be very naive. There is no Pakistan. There is only the Pakistan Army. In his book on Musharraf, Murtaza Razvi writes about the Army’s obsession with India quoting Aftab Gul, a well-known lawyer. Gul is quoted as saying: “The only identity we have is in relation to India. We are what they are not. We believe that the Red Fort will one day be ours… Many an Indian I know is happy that we opted out in 1947; imagine what trouble we would be causing India if we were part of it. This wound will continue to fester. Somebody will have to take a quantum leap”. Who can this “somebody’ be? Zardari? Gilani? Can they take on the Army? Whom is Dr Manmohan Singh fooling-unless it be himself? And how can the “festering wound” be cured? Through trust? Consider this: The media reported from Islamabad that days before Dr Singh and Mr Gilani met in Egypt, the head of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen Shuja Pasha floated a suggestion that India deal not just with Pakistan’s civilian government but also directly with its Army and Intelligence Service. Some impertinence, that.
According to the media “Gen. Pasha came clean in stating that the ISI and the Pakistani Army were involved in framing Pakistan’s India policy” when he met three leading Defence Advisors from India. For Dr Manmohan Singh to hold composite dialogues with Zardari or Gilani, howsoever nobly itemised, would, in the circumstances, be sheer waste of time. The Pakistan Army’s aim, it would seem, ridiculous though it may sound, is capturing the Red Fort! Obviously it is led by demented generals whose only mantra is Hate India. We are told that there have, in the past, been four successful rounds of composite dialogues and the fifth round was under way when the Mumbai attacks took place. Were those attacks planned by the ISI deliberately to derail further dialogues? And what were the successes?
An agreement for trucks from one side to cross the border upto a designated point on the other side an increase in frequency of the Delhi-Lahore bus service; an MoU between the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan; completion of Joint Survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas; an agreement on Consular access; implementation of CBMs etc. Good as far as they go but would the Pakistan Army let them be implemented? Can Dr Singh tell? Can any dialogue succeed without the approval of the ISI? From what Gen Pasha said, no dialogue can possibly succeed without the ISI’s imprint. And who can force the ISI to behave? None, except, perhaps, the US. Will it pitch in?
The fact is that unless the Pakistan Army is defanged, no dialogue can possibly succeed. The terrorist attacks on Mumbai make that pretty clear. But what is heartwarming news to come out of Pakistan in recent times is the declaration of Pakistan’s Supreme Court of a historic judgment on July 31, 2009. It declared that Musharraf’s November 3, 2007 Emergency and the subsequent dismissal of Judges was unconstitutional and illegal. That sounds as if the judiciary is finally asserting itself. Musharraf deserves to be tried and suitably punished so that a clear message is sent to the Armed Forces and the ISI of the limitation to their powers. Is the Pakistan Supreme Court judgment a sign of things to come? One learns that when the judgment was pronounced, the courtroom erupted with cries of Allah-o-Akbar and ‘Hang Musharraf’.
One can only hope that those cries are fore-runners of the assertion of authority by a civilian government. Pakistan’s worst enemy is tits own untamed Army once powerfully backed by the United States. There are no signs yet that Washington has understood what grave damage it has done not just to the people of Pakistan but to all of South Asia. The day the Pakistan Army is sent back to its barracks will be the day for the start of the composite dialogues and the establishment of peace and prosperity in our long-suffering lands. Dr Manmohan Singh does not have to lose hope. What is called for is a little patience affordable for a country with a history of ten thousand years.