An apology is due to Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar for our having been harsh on him on his "discovery" that Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi at India's behest and possibly by Indian agents. Like Mr Sattar, General Musharraf has made several amazing disclosures about the "Indian hand" that would send both Sherlock Holmes and Hercules Poirot running for cover.
The diabolical Indians, to go by Gen. Musharraf's version, could well have stage-managed the kidnapping of Pearl, now reported dead, to undermine his visit to the US. How can you forget that Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad had been in Indian jails for seven years and that Sheikh Omar Saeed, better known as Sheikh Omar, too had been in an Indian jail for kidnapping one American and three British tourists.
That's before Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh "conjured" up the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar and later accompanied Azhar and Omar on board a special aircraft to the Afghan city to effect the release of the passengers, mostly Indians, freed in exchange for Azhar, Omar, Mushtaq, etc. If this sounds outlandish, listen to what Gen. Musharraf had to tell the Washington Post before leaving for the US. "Daniel Pearl may have been a pawn in an intelligence game played by India. It's very much a possibility that it has been done by the Indians. That's what we are looking into."
Pakistani investigators may have identified Omar Sheikh as the likely culprit and his own Interior Minister may not have found any direct evidence linking India to the kidnapping, but General Musharraf tells the Post of "Indirect suggestions" that Omar may have been acting in concert with India. The General spelt out how Omar and his mentor Masood Azhar were together in Indian jails and how the dream project may have been a result of that association.
Asked by the Post how it was possible that men so publicly identified as anti-Indian could secretly be working for India, the General countered: "It does very much make sense to me. The leader of Jaish was in jail for seven long years in India and he wasn't even tried. How is all this happening in India. And this man (Omar) was also there." And taking his cue from the General, the Karachi investigator says although the kidnapping looked indigenous (to Pakistan) Omar could change all that "should he confess to fronting for Indian intelligence."
One does not know who General Musharraf is trying to fool with his latest discovery. What it does reflect is the perverted thinking of the Pakistan military leadership. It also reflects its despondency and sense of helplessness in the face of Indian refusal to talk to Musharraf on terms set out by him.
And even here he is not sure about how he wants to begin, apart from parroting inanities like "Kashmir is in my blood, it's the central or core issue and that they should make a start with the UN resolutions". Not one word about telling terrorists in Pakistan and in Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir to cease and desist. The Jaish leaders have said right under his nose that foreigners will continue to be inducted into the Valley. But the General, a juggler of words, takes next to no time to adjust to any new situation.
In Washington too he probably expects to win over President Bush by cooing sweet nothings into his ears. And considering Gen. Musharraf's discovery that it's the ugly Indians who were behind the kidnapping of Pearl he may well go back in time to give Mr Bush an "insight" into the "convoluted Indian mind".
Since Mr Bush is not known for his grasp of history - modern or medieval - Gen. Musharraf could tell him the "true" story of how Pakistan lost its eastern wing leading to the birth of Bangladesh. The story he would tell would run something like this: "There was this man Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a 'Bengali traitor' who dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Yes, he had the majority of the country's population with him and even won a national election but he was not acceptable to 'us' in the western half of Pakistan. The eastern wing, probably you know George, was separated from the West by the great Indian landmass. Between, you and me George, it's that Bangladesh thing that irks us in the Pakistani military. We want to do it to them in Kashmir and Inshallah we shall.
"When I ordered the attack on Kargil, I managed to put myself away in the comfort of a Beijing hotel and all my messages were relayed by phone to my Chief of Staff, Gen. Aziz. Don't let them force a transfusion of any kind. I don't want my blood to be diluted. And that Pearl guy, I tell you, has been kidnapped at the Indians behest. These damned Indians!"
Mr Bush rises to assure Gen. Musharraf of continuing US support. Then extending his hand to him, he adds: "I understand your son is settled in Boston. Good luck to him and to you. That entitles you to free access to the US. You know, dependent parents are always welcome to join their children."
Published in Dailypioneer