T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue XI

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

March 2003

I N S I D E


Spotlight 

Romeet K WATT

 

Comment     

A B Vajpayee

 

Column     

S Chaulia       

                   

View Point      

Romeet K WATT

 

On Track     

Romeet K Watt 

                  

Opinion

Kanwal Sibal

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Subhash Kapila

 

Perspective

T R Jawahar

 

Last Word

Anil Narendra 

 

                            


 

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C o p y r i g h t 

S T A T E C R A F T

For Musharraf, the clock is ticking

Subhash Kapila


General Pervez Musharraf, currently military ruler of Pakistan was brought into power in October 1999 by an “in-abstentia” military coup by the Pakistan Army.  This is the first point that needs to be established, analytically, namely that General Musharraf was brought into power by an “Islamic Fundamentalist” coterie of Pakistani Generals with Islamic Jehadi mindsets.  General Musharraf did not become the military ruler of Pakistan on the strength of his personal charisma or standing with the rank and file of the Pakistani Army. 

The second point that needs to be established, analytically, is General Musharraf's character. The most fundamental flaw noticeable in the General’s character is his lack of loyalty and opportunistic approach to all things-political, military or diplomatic.  General Musharraf in a blatant display of disloyalty, jettisoned his close confidantes i.e. the “Islamic Fundamentalist” Generals who brought him into power “in abstentia”. This General Musharraf did to ingratiate himself personally, with the United States. 

Following 9/11, General Musharraf reinforced his disloyal and opportunistic streaks in the split-second jettisoning of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a protégé of the Pakistani Army, whose Chief of Army Staff he was.  And in the next second, on his personal willingness and predilection, he acquiesced to the provision of bases and positioning of thousands of American  troops on Pakistani soil.  This was something that none of the earlier Pakistani military rulers had done.  Of course, General Musharraf glorified his abject surrender in the name of Koranic tenets and involving the Holy Prophet .  He also glorified the surrender of Pakistan’s sovereignty as one of strategic necessity and in Pakistan’s national interests. 

Is General Musharraf Indispensable for Pakistan?: General Musharraf cannot be said to be indispensable for Pakistan.  Pakistan has survived its “failed state” status not because of General Musharraf’s policies and initiatives but because of American largesse prompted by United States strategic necessities whose longevity will not last beyond current American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Afghanistan already stands devalued in United States current strategic priorities. 

General Musharraf has sought to devalue, disintegrate and ridicule Pakistan’s existing polity, which despite its shortcomings, provided some semblance of democracy, in the interregnums between longish spells of military rule.  With such credentials, General Musharraf hardly qualifies to be termed as a visionary builder of a stable Pakistan for the future. Pakistan today, after nearly four years of military rule by General Musharraf stands deeply divided as a nation.  The political parties are softly sharpening their knives for the day United States strategic denouement emerges more sharply.  In the Pakistan Army, “the Islamic Fundamentalists” (whose main inspiring force was General Musharraf) cannot be said to have faded away by General Musharraf’s “de-Islamisation” steps taken at United States insistence.  On the contrary, the Pakistan Army’s middle-level and rank and file have become more strongly fundamentalist. 

General Musharraf  in the last four years has not cared to build-up any support lobby in Pakistan. His only support lobby exists in Washington.  The Pakistan Army will tolerate General Musharraf in power only if he does not barter away or compromise Pak Army’s core interests.  General Musharraf already has done this partially. 

For Pakistan, by any objective analysis, General Musharraf is dispensable. It is only a matter of time, before another Pakistan General displaces Musharraf, reminiscent of General Yahya Khan’s displacement of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. 

Is General Musharraf Indispensable for the United States? : Post 9/11, high dignitaries of the Bush Administration and President Bush, with all their eloquent testimonials for General Musharraf, would like the Pakistanis, the South Asians and the world at large to believe that General Musharraf  is indispensable for Pakistan’s stability.  Nothing could be farther from the truth as the ground realities in Pakistan suggest otherwise.  The only truth in terms of indispensabilty of General Musharraf lies in his utility to serve United States strategic interests in the region, which notably are: 

* Provide Pakistani bases for US military operations in Afghanistan.

* Assist CIA and FBI teams in Pakistan to apprehend Al Qaeda and Taliban hierarchy residing in Pakistan.

* At some future date provide Pakistani military bases as a springboard for US military operations against Iran.

* Control Pakistani nuclear assets. 

Operations in Afghans are already petering out basically due to US focus on Iraq.  This is facilitating revival of Taliban, albeit with Pak tacit support. 

Apprehension of Al Qaeda and Taliban hierarchy could have been done in one sweep as it is the ISI (Pakistan’s state within a state) which is facilitating their refuge. General Musharraf for continued United States support for his personal survival, has chosen to assist apprehensions of those Islamic Jehadis at infrequent intervals co-incident with build-up of United States pressures on him on other counts.

Pakistan under any political dispensation is unlikely to become a springboard for US military operations against Iran and to that extent General Musharraf is not in a position to further US strategic interests. 

By all counts, it can be said that the United States took control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets in October 2000 when the United States military build-up in Pakistan for Afghanistan operations commenced. 

General Musharraf’s strategic indispensability for US military designs in the region has become limited and likely to deteriorate more as political restlessness grows in Pakistan. The United States cannot endlessly stand between democracy and the Pakistani masses yearning for it.  USA will have to yield in favour of civilian  rule or a less politically rigid Pakistani Army General. 

The Pakistan Army itself may call upon themselves to displace General Musharraf who is perceived in Pakistan, growingly, as a United States puppet. 

General Musharraf is Dispensable in Indian Perceptions: It is surprising that many leading Indian analysts have toed the United States line that General Musharraf is indispensable for India also as the alternative would be a rabid Islamic Jehadi regime in Pakistan, much to India’s disadvantage.  What is projected is a lurid catastrophe for India if that happens. 

Such a line of thinking has its roots elsewhere. India has lived with an Islamic Jehadi military ruler like General Musharraf and it can certainly manage even a more rabid civilian Islamic Jehadi regime in Pakistan.  They conveniently forget in their speed to support the American viewpoint that India-Pakistan relations have sunk to their lowest level ever in the four years of General Musharraf’s rule and so also the intensity of Pakistan’s proxy war against India. 

In Indian perceptions, therefore, General Musharraf is dispensable and perhaps the temperatures in South Asia could become lower with his easing out from the Pakistan helm. 

Conclusion: Pakistan’s General Musharraf has neither stabilized Pakistan’s domestic scene nor contributed to a more stable South Asia.  He runs Pakistan like running a Pakistan Army Corps demanding implicit obedience.  Forgetting  Kargil, he continues to have an obsessive mindset that Pakistan can now strategically dominate South Asia equipped with nuclear assets and unquestioned strategic permissiveness of the United States and China. 

While General Musharraf as Pakistan’s military ruler may have delivered on United States current strategic requirements, he cannot be said to have contributed to United States long term strategic interests in the region.  Also what he delivered strategically was not willingly done but under duress i.e. intense United States pressures. His character traits of lack of loyalty and opportunism are already under display in what can best be described as ‘driblet contribution’ to United States counter-terrorism operations. 

The challenge before the United States is to create a stable Pakistan and not a stable Pakistan Army General at odds domestically and regionally. 

Charitably, one could also advise General Musharraf, that historically, the United States has dispensed with dictators allied to it, once used ---there is a long line starting from President Diem of Vietnam and so on.  General Musharraf too would not take long to become dispensable for the United States.

  • By arrangement with South Asia Analysis Group, New Delhi

   

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