Pakistan President Musharraf's "lay off" bluster may become his nemesis and give Pakistan's terrorism of the last 12 years retroactive recognition. His address to enlist domestic support for his decision to go along with the US in its war against terrorism, lacked the boisterous confidence he displayed in Agra on July 15-16, 2001.
He spoke like a man under "siege" and seemed to be virtually beseeching his "fundamentalists" to help him and save him. While in Delhi and Agra, he played to his Islamic gallery and used guile and deception to abort a chance to "change history". He chose to compare the present situation to the one that Pakistan faced in 1971. General Musharraf, who is fond of quoting from history and the holy scriptures, needs to be reminded that the 1971 situation was of Pakistan's own making, just as the present one is.
The General admits that opinion on support to the US is divided within his country, with about 15 percent tending towards emotional reactions. Even if this figure is taken as factually correct, he forgets that these 15 percent fundamentalists are the opinion-makers and wield considerable influence within the armed forces, the ISI and rest of country. They also control the narcotic trade, are flush with funds and heavily armed. More ominously, these very emotional 15 percent will are the ones who will take to streets
A tense General said that he was 'concerned' about Afghanistan and Taliban. He has every reason to be. Pakistan, aided and abetted by the US, deposed a legitimate regime, silenced sane voices and converted Afghanistan into a perennial battlefield. When the Russian forces left the bruised country, the US too wound up its operations, leaving it to Pakistan to install a friendly government. Pakistan saw domination of Afghanistan as the strategic depth that it needed for its offensive against India. Pakistan's army and ISI have strong links with the Taliban-military and ideological. Afghanistan was and perhaps still is being administered by Pakistan administrators and military advisors.
Pakistan faces a serious and moral dilemma. While it turns against Afghanistan and Taliban under US pressure, it needs to reign in Islamic militant groups which until now it patronised as allies in the struggle against India in Kashmir. Pakistan has to ensure that any international challenge to terrorist movement inside Afghanistan is not directed against Pakistan-based militant religious organisations. There is no doubt that once US launches its Operation Infinite Justice to get rid of scourge of terrorism , many leads will go right into the heartland of Pakistan.
President Musharraf cited four critical concerns for his country in his address to the nation, namely; sovereignty, economy, strategic assets (nuclear and missiles) and the Kashmir cause. He conveniently forgot to add growing fundamentalism and restoration of democracy. As for the Kashmir cause, Pakistan has been breeding fundamentalism and terrorism. It will be difficult for Pakistan to convince the US that the terrorists who perpetrated terrorism against the US are different from the 'freedom-fighters' in Kashmir.
India has repeatedly said that it wants a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan. India's foreign minister has assured his Pakistani counterpart that India will not exploit Pakistan's internal turmoil and difficulties. But with Pakistan's mullahs breathing down his neck, the beleaguered General cannot adopt a reconciliatory strategy towards India. While General Yayha Khan presided over the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, India would not like the affable President to gain the ignominy of presiding over the disintegration of Pakistan. Indian's enlightened response is "lay off" Pakistan. For your own good.
This article was published in Dailypioneer.com