Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Final round has to come yet

The Final round has to come yet
Dr Shabir Choudhry 7 January 2010
There was a lot of talk about the final punch of President Musharaf when he was President of Pakistan. The punch came with disastrous consequences for Pakistan and him. Pakistan still has not recovered from that ‘punch’; and he is out of country and could face deportation and a trial before Pakistani courts.

General Musharaf was a ‘brave man’, that is what he repeatedly told his country men with gun in his hand. He didn’t tell them that he surrendered after only one phone call from the USA. Anyhow his deportation and trial is a complicated matter; and much depends on what will happen to much talked political initiative or ‘punch’ of President Zadari who still holds most of powers of President Musharaf.

President Zardari has no intention of creating any problems for a person who has given so much to him; it is because of that he is continuing with most of his policies, including some senior officers, bureaucrats and Provincial Governors. In Pakistan there are many forces competing with each other. It is difficult to predict outcome of this power struggle, but there is another external factor looming; and which could have serious impact on internal power struggle.

India and Pakistan have had unfriendly relations soon after they became independent. They have not learnt to live like good neighbours. The vested interest which wants both countries to be at daggers drawn is too powerful; and wants to ensure that both countries are constantly in a state of war. Both countries had wars in which India emerged as the better side with Pakistan losing East Pakistan; and pain of this defeat was added by humiliating surrender of more than 90 thousands troops. India is much bigger and stronger than Pakistan, but Pakistan is not prepared to acknowledge India’s dominant role; and it is because of this some experts believe a final round has to come yet to settle this matter for once and all.

After the Mumbai attacks in November 2009, I predicted a war to take place between February and March of 2009 with disastrous consequences. I also predicted certain geographical changes to take place. Thank Allah SWT I was proved wrong and the war did not happen mainly because of the following reasons:
1. President Obama took over in January 2009, and wanted to try his new initiative on ‘Afpak’. He also wanted to give another chance to Pakistan to comply with what was demanded from them and what they promised to deliver honestly and sincerely; and not to do what President Musharaf did.
2. The war could not have started before March 2009 and the Indian elections were not too far; and under the rules the government could not start a war when elections are just around the corner.
3. Pakistan agreed to control ‘terrorists’ on this side of LOC and within Pakistan; and take appropriate measures to bring to justice all those accused of some involvement in the Mumbai incident. Pakistan also agreed to fully cooperate with India in their investigations.
4. There were other international factors which did not support waging of the war, including alternative supply route for the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
5. Situation inside Pakistan was not yet fully ready for such action.

But a lot has changed since March of last year. Strategy on ‘Afpak’ has not been successful; and 30 thousands more soldiers have been sent by the US with a new strategy which will have a significant impact on Pakistan and its ‘own’ war in FATA, Malakand Division and insurgency in Balochistan.

Many divisions of Pakistan army are engaged in this ‘war’ making the international borders with India and along the LOC vulnerable. Apart from that Pakistan today is more volatile, more divided and politically more unstable; and in view of anti Pakistan forces Pakistan has been considerably ‘softened’ because of systematic and consistent suicide attacks, drone attacks, insurgency and other attacks.

In other words situation is conducive for the final round. How and when this final round will start it is difficult to predict, because when analysing matters related to international relations with so many interests competing against each other; and some factors becoming active only once conditions have reached certain level, one has to be careful in making predictions.

Unlike last time I will not give date and likely outcome of this final round, but one thing is certain that it will come and settle many outstanding issues, possibly with some geographical changes. The present government in Pakistan seems to be at war with so many forces; and at times appear to be kicking in the air or in every direction from where opposition or criticism could emerge. They are willing to take on anyone and everyone; and when no one suitable opponent is found they challenge individual journalists.

With that kind of mind - set two controversial statements from Indian officials were seen as blessing in disguise; and something to divert attention and opportunity to flex muscles. The first statement was made by Vishnu Prakash, India’s Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, who said: “The entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947. Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is completely unacceptable.”
The other statement was made by Army Chief of India, General Deepak Kapoor, who talked of ‘the cold-start strategy’ and enhancing India’s ability for a ‘two-front war threat, from the west and the north-east.’
At one time India was more than happy for a status quo in Jammu and Kashmir, meaning Pakistan retain areas of the State under their control, provided the remaining Kashmir was accepted as part of India. But over the recent past Indian claim on the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is becoming more frequent and assertive.
This is not acceptable to Pakistan. They reacted angrily and bluntly. Even cool minded and cautious General Kayani called the statement of the Indian army Chief as, “an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable.” He added that the Pakistan Army was “fully alert and alive to the full spectrum of threat which continues to exist in conventional and unconventional domains.”
Some other senior military officials said: Indian generals know our military capability, and they should avoid making such illogical statements as Pakistan is fully prepared to face all kinds of situations.
Capability of any military is judged by its performance in actual war with the enemy and not against its own people. Last two military confrontations Pakistan and India had were in 1971 and in Kargil; and it is not clear from the statements of these military officials which capability they were referring to – the one demonstrated in Kargil or the one in 1971.
Anyhow on the issue of General Deepak Kapoor’s statement, a famous Pakistani journalist Nazir Naji commented: ‘Target of this threat is Pakistan; and China is only cautioned to keep out of this. India knows well that both India and China cannot afford a war with each other, as priority of both is economic growth and stability. But my information is India has plans to attack Pakistan in near future’.
The threat of war is credible; and unlike the previous wars Pakistan will be fighting on Eastern and Western borders. America, like in 1971, will not come to save Pakistan, if anything, will punish Pakistan for certain policies. However role of China will be crucial in this matter.
True, China has no desire to engage in any war, be it with India, America or Russia; but at the same time China will not be a silent spectator and could take initiative to safeguard its interests linked to Gilgit Baltistan and Gawader.
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.
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