There is no one who wants a war between India and Pakistan. More so since we have the blessed nuclear bomb. Without our possessing it, it was conceivable that we could have parried an attack by India. With the possession of the bomb, regardless what damage we can inflict on India, we can be totally annihilated and obliterated. This is because, however much either side might say that they will not be the first to use a nuke, the desire to limit damage to oneself impels one to pre-empt the other side, particularly if the other side, in this case Pakistan, is weaker and has fewer nukes despite its newly acquired capability of delivering them to distant targets. It is therefore most essential that avoiding a conflict should be of paramount importance.
In avoiding a war, one main demand of India since December 2001 has been the cessation of cross border terrorist activity. In January this year, General Musharraf categorically declared that such cross border activity would cease. A number of jihadi organisations were declared illegal and large numbers of their leaders and members were arrested. This was applauded by friends of Pakistan all over the world.
Unfortunately, this policy was not adhered to for long. Gradually and slowly quite a few of these leaders were released. Vigilance over them was relaxed. Cross border acts of violence commenced again. It seems that General Musharraf suffers from the Kargil syndrome and his impetuosity overcomes his good sense. Kargil syndrome is that at the time Mr Vajpayee having initiated his peace movement with a bus ride to Lahore and before returning to Delhi even having paid a visit to the Pakistan Monument in Lahore, was suddenly ambushed, as it were, by clashes across the line of control and occupation of Kargil. Thus all trust was lost and from then on bad blood resulted between the Indian leadership and General Musharraf.
Since January when General Musharraf declared that thenceforth, Pakistan was to give moral and diplomatic support to freedom fighting Kashmiris but conduct no jihadi activity within Kashmir. This was adhered to for a while but the General's impetuosity or his commando instincts seem to have overcome his spirit of caution and accommodation. Having joined up the war against terrorism with the United States and having abjured terrorism in Kashmir, he seems to have adopted a different policy, in that he promises not to promote terrorism in Kashmir and yet letting it happen.
What is strange that responsible journals like the Economist have stated that the Army's ISI, the secret service, is still not free from indulging in promoting and furthering this activity even though early on the general commanding this organisation was removed. Not only has this journal reported this but the Secretary General of the United Nations has also said it loud and clear. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has also declared the same and finally, recently in Paris President Bush declared in his speech publicly that General Musharraf must do more to curb the jihadis.
General Musharraf in his speech on wireless on Monday has declared measures to curb or curtail the activities of the mujahideen in Kashmir. One sincerely hopes that this time round, General Musharraf will succeed in stopping the jihadis going over into Kashmir. If he does then chances are that war clouds will blow over and if he curbs his commando instincts thereafter, chances are that some trust will be built up and a peace process will commence.
If this happens then the General must apply himself to the enforcement of law and order in the country. We the citizens cannot go about in bulletproof Mercedes cars. Nor can visitors like the French naval workers. In fact today the law and order situation is such that anybody and everybody has fled from this blessed land. We, the citizens, cannot flee. We have nowhere to go. If the General with his tall claims to popularity cannot give us peace and protection within this country then there is no justification for his being at the helm of affairs. One sincerely hopes that he will be able to re-establish law and order despite the fact that his writ did not go far in outlying all guns in the country. The only way to get rid of all guns in the country is to declare all guns whether licensed or otherwise as illegal. Having done that, a thorough house-to-house search be initiated. If with the help of the army, guns are eliminated altogether and jihadi outfits are kept under surveillance, chances of war not breaking out improve and our survival becomes possible.
Published in Pakistan daily Jang dated 04 June, 2002. The writer is a former broadcaster, commentator, foreign correspondent and a freelance columnist