We should avert war: A Pakistani Opinion - By Dr Ijaz Ahsan Back   Home  
I am fully in agreement with Mr. Imtiaz Alam writing under the caption "Shouldn't we avert war?" What India is asking us to do is to stop cross-border 'terrorism'. We have always maintained that the militancy in Kashmir is indigenous. However, if one side is bent upon calling it cross-border militancy, and is willing to start a war which could even end up in a nuclear exchange with horrendous consequences, what can the other side do?

Let us see what we can do to convince the Indians and the world community that no border crossings are taking place. Firstly, we could ask for a very much larger number of international monitors to be employed, so that they could physically verify the absence of border crossings. However, India has already rejected that in the past, which suggests they wish to obfuscate the issue.

We could invite additional international observers unilaterally. These will not be as effective as monitors agreed between India and Pakistan, yet they will constitute a step in the right direction and demonstrate our resolve to convince the international community of the genuineness of our stand about the nature and sources of the militancy in Kashmir.

Finally, we can ourselves offer to fence the Line of Control on our side. This would be an unusual method of utilization of a border fence. Both the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall were meant to keep intruders out. Here the side, blamed for intrusion would itself be putting up a fence. But surely a fence can be set up to prevent intruders going in. Besides, if the other side simply refuses to accept the fact that incursions are no longer taking place, what other method is left with the supposedly guilty party?

General Musharraf can go one step further. Instead of merely offering to fence the LoC, he could issue orders for this to be commenced immediately, starting from the sectors where allegations of border crossings are most often levelled, and extending all over the LoC and working boundary. He should invite international media to oversee the building of the fence. We should declare that we are doing this without prejudice to our case that the LoC is merely a line of control, not a boundary.

One reason for India's insistence on raising the temperature could be their feeling that having kept lakhs of their troops on the border for months, they cannot very well take them home without either some kind of military action or some response from Pakistan to their demand regarding cross-border 'terrorism'. If such be the case, erecting the fence could be shown by them to their compatriots as Pakistan's cooperation in the pursuit of stopping border crossings. As far as the 20 terrorists wanted by India are concerned, Pakistan has repeatedly said any Indians among them will be repatriated while Pakistanis will be tried in Pakistan.

Simultaneously with the jehadis, PTV and Radio Pakistan should be reined in. If PTV was owned by the Kashmiris in Indian-held Kashmir, it could not be giving out more aggressive propaganda on the subject than it is doing. The trouble is: hardly anyone except Pakistanis listen to PTV, and they do not need to be converted. If tensions are to be reduced, PTV and Radio Pakistan should report the news from Kashmir by all means, but minus the excessive propaganda-type presentations.

You cannot ask for normalization and dialogue and keep up a diatribe at the same time. Finally, in the present crisis an interim national government of all political parties should be set up in order to unite the nation to face possible aggression.
Published in Pakistan Daily TheNation