In Pakistani dictator Gen. Musharraf’s speech today, a lot of brave words were used that acknowledged Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror, tolerance and incitement of extremism, and promised to make a U-turn with these policies. Taken on face value, the words he used should be commended, and if they are truly implemented, go a long way in exterminating terrorism against India and further demolishing the capabilities of Al Qaida.
However, a detailed analysis of the speech leaves the reader with an empty feeling. The speech, which was reportedly reviewed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell beforehand, turns out to be heavy on rhetoric and much lighter on substance. While Pakistan may be taking some steps to slow down its steady descent into fundamentalist morass to satisfy the west, its policies on destabilizing Jammu and Kashmir state of India are likely to continue.
Gen. Musharraf’s nuances are revealing about his intentions. He said in the speech that he would not allow Pakistani territory to be used for terrorist activities. That omits Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), where the majority of terrorist bases are already located. Pakistan’s proxy groups have reportedly moved most of their operations to POK after December 13th. Similarly, he calls for action against Pakistani groups or individuals that are involved in terrorism. The Lashkar-e-Taiba had reported that it had handed over its operations to Kashmiris. Jaish-e-Mohammed leadership had taken similar steps in the last few weeks, and moved its offices from Bahawalpur to POK. There were reports of accelerated recruitment of Kashmiri Muslims by the ISI for terrorist activities since December 13th. It is apparent that Gen. Musharraf’s speech was part of a broader plan to continue Pakistan’s support of terrorist activities “under the radar”.
Thus Gen. Musharraf’s speech offers little that is new or brave. His talk about continuing “moral, political and diplomatic support” to the Kashmiri cause reiterates a common Pakistani euphemism for carrying out terrorist activities for the last 12 years. His talk about “Kashmir runs in our blood” is meaningless and indicative of the narrow Pakistani national identity. Kashmir may have run in Pakistani blood for 50 years, but it has run in Indian blood for thousands of years. For that matter, Pakistani Punjab and Sindh still run in Indian blood with millions of Hindus having been forcibly ejected from the states in 1947. Invoking such rhetoric in what was supposed to be a speech against extremism was a major error on Gen. Musharraf’s part. Such a mindset is what is responsible for Pakistan’s accelerating downward spiral.
KNN welcomes Gen. Musharraf’s mention about United Nations resolution on Kashmir. We would like to remind him that the first clause of the resolution called for withdrawal of Pakistan’s military and other personnel from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. If he truly believes in the UN resolution and wants peace in South Asia, he should immediately start withdrawing all his military personnel and prepare all Pakistanis who have been resettled in the area to migrate back to Pakistan. He should withdraw all support to Pakistani and non-Pakistani groups that destabilize Kashmir. He should agree to an internationally supervised dismantling of his nuclear arsenal, which is likely to end up in the hands of one of many extremist groups his government has fostered. Only then will his actions match his words.
Published in Kashmir News Network.