Now, Musharraf has own crisis on Kashmir - By Ishtiaq Ali Mahkri Back   Home  
The moment President General Pervez Musharraf was being grilled by the international media to speak out his heart with reference to terrorism and Pakistan's response to it, New Delhi was busy playing its Bismarkian diplomacy at the Capitol Hill and 10 Downing Street.

The visit of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to Washington and London, and the subsequent "concern" expressed by the US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Kashmir has provided a new impetus to the dispute in the region.

While both India and Pakistan differ over the way to solve the thorny issue, yet a fact that cannot be ignored is that the United States has jotted down Kashmir in its masterplan as an issue. For, Washington has realised that the region cannot be left in a lurch over the Kashmir standoff, if it really want to accomplish its 'grand' objective in Afghanistan, West Asia and Central Asia.

Well-placed sources in the government said with the determined approach of President Musharraf to see the evil of extremism eliminated from Pakistan politic, there is 'definitely' a gameplan through which the dispute of Kashmir would be tackled.

However, sources in the American mission said that while Washington's war machinery would be around in the region, "it would be a wishful thinking to believe that Indian or Pakistani territories may be targets".

The sources, nonetheless quoting American Secretary of State added that a "political mechanism" is what the US would support to do away with the decades' old crisis. On the other hand, sources in the Pakistan government said President Musharraf had hinted at a 'plan' to resolve the stigma of cross-border terrorism on Islamabad, and added that "taming of militants and religious extremists is what lies the most advocated probability".

But things don't seem to be going as soft as policy-makers and diplomats wish to be! With the devastating bomb blast in the Kashmir Assembly complex on Tuesday, the diplomatic undercurrents took a backseat and hawks again managed to reign supreme.

A spokesman for the United Jehad Council (UJC) in Muzaffarabad, on conditions of anonymity, said the Tuesday attack was not their venture and "had been planned and executed by the Indian intelligence apparatus".

He claimed Pakistan and the jehadi outfits have taken a "relatively wait-and-see" approach on Kashmir struggle, and are keeping their fingers crossed till the "US comes out with a clearcut showdown plan on Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden".

To a question as to why did the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit claimed responsibility for the attack, he said: "In fact, since the day Pakistan has adopted a passive approach on Kashmir by restraining the militants on this side of the divide, the outfits out there (active in India) feel they are in a lurch and might have seized the opportunity to flex the muscles". Yet, he contested the claim that the jehadis from Pakistan were behind the blast plot.

Rana Farooq Tahir of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Islamabad aired similar sentiments. He was perplexed and anxious, and insisted that his organisation was not behind the attack on the legislature complex. Perhaps, he felt the heat not only from the international agencies but also from the government of General Musharraf as Pakistan has been endorsed by US as a frontline state in Washington's campaign against terrorism.

In other words, insiders in the jehadi movement believe that the struggle has come of age and "splinter activities without a formal chain of command are mushrooming rapidly".

Such a phenomenon is likely to weaken the cause of struggle, Usman Khan, a local activist of Hizb said on Wednesday. Sources in the government pointed out that the 'plan' that the Interior Ministry and the intelligence agencies want to execute with reference to Kashmir is to stop the "supply line of extremism in the form of checks on maddarris, regulate their syllabus and control their adventurism across the porous borders".

Another positive step that the government has undertaken is the scanning of religious NGOs and also those engaged in social and philanthropist activities in the country.

Such organisations are suspected to be promoting extremism in Pakistan by lending monetary assistance to the religious outfits. Since they come from Arab and African-Muslim countries, hence have gone scotfree to till now.

Sources believe that as part of grand US agenda to unearth the financial links between the terrorists worldwide, Pakistan has come out with its own efforts to do away with the impression that it is an harbinger of outlawed activities in the region.

An official at the Interior Ministry said such a probe and nabbing of culprits would itself help Pakistan to overcome the menace of sectarian terrorism in the country.

He wished that under Musharraf, Pakistan is on the cleansing path to become 'Turkey', rather than plunge into an Algeria-like situation!
This article was published in TheNewspaperToday. The author is a journalist with The Dawn, Karachi