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archive: Islamised Pak army believes Jihad is military salvation to

Islamised Pak army believes Jihad is military salvation to

Major General Ashok K Mehta
Rediff
August 15, 1999


    Title: Islamised Pak army believes Jihad is military salvation to
    Kashmir
    Author: Major General Ashok K Mehta
    Publication: Rediff
    Date: August 15, 1999
    
    There is no difference between the best and worst of
    times in the context of military to military relations
    between India and Pakistan. At one level, it is a rather
    strange relationship when senior retired military
    officers of both countries who studied in the former
    Royal Military College, Dehradun meet periodically in
    either country. It is incredible this warm and
    affectionate reunion as if of lost brothers. Many of
    them were chiefs of the services. Many ministers and
    diplomats.
    
    Early this year, former Foreign Secretary Shahryar Khan
    was in Delhi as manager of the Pakistan cricket team.
    Expectedly, his Dehradun school mates lifted him on
    their shoulders. He was a great hit. Also with Indian
    Gorkha peacekeepers in Rwanda in 1994 as the head of the
    UN mission. He wrote a letter to the Indian prime
    minister and chief of army staff singling out their
    outstanding performance.
    
    But these are Pakistanis of the pre-Partition vintage,
    part of the undivided British Indian army and civil
    services. Their heart is still at the right place, but
    they are on the wrong side of geography. Yet some of
    them still complain about unequal distribution of
    military assets in 1947, the detachment of Kashmir and
    other India bred insecurities.
    
    Four wars later there is no real change in status of a
    cease-fire line now called the Line of Control,
    originally designated in 1949. The great change is
    however in the mindset of the new generation of
    Pakistani military officers hankering for revenge.
    Revenge for 1971, revenge for (Siachen) 1984, now
    revenge for 1999. 1971 was defeat and surrender. 1999 is
    defeat and safe passage.
    
    The Islamised Pakistan army is on a course of
    self-destruct. Erroneously they believe jihad is the
    military salvation to Kashmir. The professionals among
    them on the other hand understand the insecurity of
    Pakistan is reflected in the mindless attempts of the
    Jihadists to militarily alter the LoC. It is a strange
    paradox that the very institution which is seen as the
    most enduring and stabilising in Pakistan is also the
    one responsible for its slow bleeding.
    
    Thanks to the army and ISI linkages with the Islamic
    fundamentalists, a new power troika consisting of these
    power centers is emerging. The divine A words -- America
    and Allah -- may rue the day they encouraged the
    formation of this dangerous trinity.
    
    Early this year during an international peacekeeping
    seminar at Delhi, I met a serving colonel of the
    Pakistan army. He was a professional soldier and
    reflected the mind of the saner elements of the
    military. He carried no illusions about the destiny of
    Pakistan or the ultimate victory in the 1,000-year war
    with India. Infact he was hopeful the Lahore process
    would fructify and lead to a resolution of the Kashmir
    problem. He was most concerned about the waste of war.
    
    There were happier times of course, despite the routine
    exchange of gunfire across the LoC over the last 52
    years. Local commanders would meet near the LoC, sort
    out local border disputes, feast on each other's
    culinary delights, exchange gifts and part as reasonable
    and responsible adversaries. Islamisation and nuclear
    capability encouraged the proxy war launched in 1989.
    Apres 1989, the deluge!
    
    The Pakistan army writ is absolute over nuclear, Kashmir
    and Afghanistan policies. That is why General Parvez
    Musharraf was able to do a much bigger Kargil than the
    smaller Drass sanctioned by Prime Minister Nawaz
    Sharief. And the gamble failed.
    
    There is nothing like success. The mood in Pakistan has
    swung dramatically from initially one of euphoria
    emanating from the military masterstroke to eventually
    one of despair over a bungled operation, a military
    disaster.
    
    Yet Pakistan is so concerned about protecting the image
    of the army that it has had to play the charade of the
    army masquerading as the Mujahideen. Pakistan cannot
    afford to acknowledge the army has been defeated.
    
    In order to minimise the ignominy of defeat Pakistan had
    used just the Northern Light Infantry regiment for this
    aggression, but gave it the Mujahideen mask which was
    dropped all over Kargil. Pakistan has consistently
    proclaimed that it has no control over the freedom
    fighters through it gives them political, diplomatic and
    moral support. In Kargil this translated into artillery
    and logistic support.
    
    After the great betrayal at Kargil, military relations
    never in good shape are in tatters. Chief of Army Staff
    General V P Malik warned that the Pakistan army cannot
    be trusted because they tell lies.
    
    The friends of India in Pakistan and vice-versa had
    hoped a cease-fire in Kargil might happen which could
    then be extended to the rest of the LoC leading to
    restoration of confidence building measures. Instead
    Kargil is likely to trigger off an arms race.
    
    If the Lahore process had stayed on course and the
    Vajpayee government not been unseated, the dialogue on
    Kashmir would have started with India offering to vacate
    Siachen as a gesture of goodwill, alas, that will become
    only an if in history. Genuine military relations with
    India can develop only after democracy firms in and the
    army is firmly under civilian control in Pakistan.
    



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