Zardari’s wisdom pays off
Suggestions were mooted in these columns twice during last two weeks about an expeditious settlement of an issue, which has been hanging fire unnecessarily for past many months.
Finally when the President took matters in his hands, things seem to move forward, in different fields, be these oil and gas, electricity issue, or the delicate foreign affairs. Now the result is there for every one to see/ The air dash to Kabul of the US head of state and signing of a strategic treaty, without Pakistani being a party, had rung the alarm bell for Islamabad. Prior to that Secretary of State Hillary had delivered a rather unwarranted lecture in India, sermonising Pakistan about issues which had no relevance to American foreign policy/ Hillary’s outburst against Pakistan and that too on Indian soil, had hurt the people of Pakistan. However, after great deal of negotiations at civilian and military levels, the quagmire towards which the Pak-USA ties were pushed to, began to be cleared. Pakistan had succeeded in pulling itself out of a difficult situation, a situation which was though correct on principles, was yet an emotionally-driven. The change of foreign minister from Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Hina Rabbani Khar, came as the first indicator of the likely change in the foreign policy guidelines of the country. Hina has been outstanding, know how to deal with the situation as a patriotic Pakistani. She has foresight, and is articulate. She had pursued the difficult foreign policy subject tactfully. However on the sensitive issue of reopening of NATO supplies through Pakistan, blocked since the attack of Salala checkpost last year in November, she was a bit hard, but Zardari was there to keep a vigil on the moves the foreign office or the minister incharge was trying to attempt, or had attempted at different times.
The invitation to President Zardari for the important Chicago conference, is of paramount importance. It had restored Pakistan’s place on an issue of vital import for Pakistan. Had Pakistan been bypassed at the multilateral moot, it could well have been a disaster. Hostility to Pakistan had been building up in America with senators and even the Intelligence chief of the Senate committee Fienstien had begin to demand sanctions and suspension of trade and aid relations with Pakistan, Islamabad has already made a huge mistake when General Musharraf brought into action a plan to attack and take over Kargil outposts, ten miles inside India of the line of control without even informing the prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf, part of a “gang of four” at that time, executed a plan which late General Ziaul Haq had disapproved after losing the Siachen glacier to Indians in 1984. Zia had acted wisely because a counter move to provide a handle to the government to bargain on Siachen, was full of risks. It could have spilled out a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan, with dangerous consequences for both sides. Musharraf, General Mahmood, commanding the 10th corps in Rawalpindi, and the then chief of the general staff, General Aziz, and a former Pakistan ambassador to Washington Brig Javed, had launched a military operation, taking 140 abandoned Indian outposts inside the line of control in Kashmir on the Indian side.
They never bothered to even consult, much less, take into confidence an elected government of the time. This was their biggest folly. Military should remember that nowhere in the world in the post-second world war era, it had succeeded on its own in peace and war. Sir Winston Churchill won the war for England and the allies, Indira Gandhi won the war against Pakistan in 1971.
Ayub Khan lost the 1965 war with India because the entire move of sending infiltrators into Kashmir to liberate it from Indian yoke, was ill-conceived. Pakistan did succeed in getting control of the Indian territory, and drew an honourable Tashkent agreement in December 1965, but the defeat was in terms of strategy. Pakistan was an advancing army, and yet it was halted by the Indians when our troops were about to take control of the Indian supply route near the “chota tawi river” in occupied Kashmir. India diverted the war to International borders, and entire plan, fizzled out like house of cards. The 1971 story with General Yayha in control of the country, is better not repeated or commented upon.
The Chinese, angry over our unilateral ceasefire in 1965, had refused to extent any more military support to Pakistan, making it clear that theirs being a peoples army, cannot back any operation by Pakistani military against its own people. General Zia lost Siachen and hushed it up, saying not a blade of grass grows there. Benazir was the first to shout at the top of her voice as opposition leader that Pakistan had lost its valuable territory. Musharraf lost Siachen and looked towards Nawaz Sharif to extract the Pakistani troops from a hopeless situation.
They had advanced well inside the Indian occupied Kashmir to occupy vantage points and peaks, but the Indian army, and political leadership, confused in the beginning, woke up to the grim reality to realise that it was not an indigenous movement against Indian occupation, but regular Pakistani troops had been in operation for three month. They regalvanised themselves and brought the Bofors guns to pound on the Pakistani military and bunkers, causing huge casualties of our officers and soldiers. Nawaz Sharif pulled them out from a difficult situation and Pakistani troops were safely evacuated. Nawaz saved the Pakistan army from humiliation, in which Musharraf and his three other wizards had placed them in.
It was Kargil fiasco that changed the entire concept of terrorism to mammoth disadvantage of Pakistan. The world bought the Indian version that Pakistan army was sponsoring state terrorism in Kashmir, sending troops to destabilise the region. The USA not only agreed to Indian version, but tilted towards India, whereas prior to that it had always supported the idea of Kashmir being a disputed territory. Musharraf caused irreparable disservice to Pakistan. Islamabad was high and dry, all alone, totally isolated internationally. In the case of NATO supplies also, Pakistan should have listened to American pleas for bargain, and benefits they were offering to Pakistan for their silly attack on Salala.
Now the wisdom has dawned on Pakistan that America cannot be placed in a difficult situation in an election year where President Obama’s future political career may be at stake. However, it remains to be seen as to what kind of bargains had been struck. An apology is still due from America, and restoration of aid, and trade links, suspended since long, now needs to be restored. White House and the State Department must realise that Zardari too has to face the electorate. He needs to present something to his people for face saving.
I think Americans must start paying for every truck and tanker carrying supplies for NATO and declare their contents in writing to Islamabad authorities. Further concessions for being ally, especially in war on terror and for keeping Afghanistan stabilised, are overdue from United States, However, ever since President Zardari had taken control of the domestic and foreign affairs in his hands, prospects for betterment appear in sight. He has acted in time, and this must be recognised.