By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
9/11 dramatically converted Pakistan from an international outcast under a military dictator aligned with extremist Taliban regime in Kabul to become a key strategic partner of America’s war on terror. This change in status brought about by USA did not occur out of the blue but under a well conceived design. While Afghanistan was already on the hit list of USA since 1997, 9/11 gave a ready made excuse to forcibly occupy it and bring a regime change of its liking and to then work upon the laid down regional objectives. Since Gen Musharraf had agreed to all the seven demands without extracting anything substantial, it gave unlimited liberty of action to Washington to pursue its objectives against Pakistan.
Indian Parliament in New Delhi was attacked by five gunmen on 13 December 2001 at 11am 40 minutes before a joint sitting of two Houses was adjourned. The gunmen neither had the finesse nor the capability to inflict any harm to the building, let alone the few parliamentarians still sitting inside it. Had they any intention to damage the building and rupture a hole to barge in and then occupy the building and make the inmates hostage, they should have made use of an explosive laden vehicle or suicide bombers. The attackers should have had RPGs, grenades and one MG. They should have planned some deception to deceive the security cordon. Since no such preparations and coordination had been made, the possible motive behind the attack by novice terrorists equipped with semi-automatic weapons could be to create a bit of a scare and draw the attention of the world towards the atrocities of Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir.
Consequently, it was very easy for a small contingent of police to shoot down all the ill-equipped gunmen. Within one hour the situation was controlled. However, since the event was stage-managed with sinister motives, Indian leaders drummed up the insignificant incident and compared it with 9/11. Cross firing between the security forces and terrorists had still not terminated when India started accusing Pakistan. Without even carrying out preliminary investigation, on 14 December India blamed Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, the two groups supporting freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir to have masterminded the attack.
On 20 December, all the combat formations of Indian Army started moving towards the border; forward air bases were activated and war drums beaten with full force. The Indian Navy started making aggressive maneuvers and talk of naval blockade in Arabian Sea was heard. It was the largest mobilization since 1971. The US and western world sympathized with the actors brazenly flexing their muscles. None tried to restrain their aggressive posturing. Rapid deployment by Pakistan’s forces along its eastern border and in Kashmir coupled with its repeated assurances that it had no hand in the incident did not cool down the tempers of fire-breathing Indian leaders. Wanting to emulate the bizarre and knee-jerk example of US leaders after 9/11, they also let loose their bellicosity and kept the temperature on boiling point for ten months.
Despite India’s belligerence and its demonstrated keenness to invade Pakistan, it had no intention to wage a war because of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Moreover, the US needed Pakistan’s services in the form of two airbases of Jacobabad and Shamsi in Balochistan, logistic support, defined air corridor and intelligence cooperation to be able to consolidate its hold over occupied Afghanistan. Pakistan had also been made the frontline state to combat terrorism along its western border and in FATA and its 70,000 troops were deployed along the western border. Bulk of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and fighters who had escaped the dragnet was required to be arrested with the assistance of Pakistan. While the US badly needed Pakistan to serve its short term interests in the region, it was very keen to disable Pakistan’s nuclear capability, which it intended to do in collaboration with India at a later date.
These factors notwithstanding, it is now an established fact that the US had given its blessings to India to bring the situation to a near war situation. One of the major purposes of war mongering was to assess the military response of Pakistan caught up in a predicament of hostile eastern front, fluid western border and unstable internal situation due to military rule, diplomatic isolation and weak economy. The US wanted to compel Pakistan to assemble its nukes, take them out of the hidden closets, move them and deploy them in marked deployment areas.
As is known, Pakistan carried out this exercise to deter India from undertaking an offensive. The US satellites and imagery took photographs of the underground bunkers and deployment positions and noted the time taken to assemble and deploy the nukes. This exercise was repeated when the standoff was called off in October 2002 and troops returned to peace locations by December. Trackers were put on the moving nukes to enable US to identify and destroy them at a later date. Having collected this vital intelligence, the Indo-US-Israeli covert plan was kicked off from Afghanistan to weaken all the institutions of Pakistan from within.
Other than the nuclear concern, the prolonged military standoff was intended to maximize pressure on Pakistan and force it to lay off Kashmir and thus defuse Kashmir movement which had become unmanageable for India. Indo-Pak peace treaty facilitated by USA under the plea of restoring peace and finding a solution to Kashmir dispute through composite dialogue was inked with ill-intentions. The purpose was not to solve the tangle but to break the momentum of liberation struggle in Kashmir. Gen Musharraf got so carried away with his obsession of solving Kashmir dispute that he decided to go an extra mile to persuade uncompromising India.
He fancied that a breakthrough would make him go down in history as a leader who resolved the intractable issue which none else could solve. Egged on by USA, he proposed an out of box solution rather than sticking to the age-old Pakistan’s stance resting on UN resolutions. He proposed a four-point program which envisaged identification of disputed regions, demilitarization from trouble regions, joint control mechanism. His plan amounted to legitimizing Indian hold on two-third Kashmir and accepting Line of Control (LoC) as international border.
In other words, he gave everything to India in a platter at the outset without extracting anything in return and that too before sitting on the negotiating table. Although India was delighted, it restrained itself from exhibiting its joy and gave a guarded response without making any commitment. To give strength to his pseudo plan, Musharraf accepted ceasefire in Kashmir and allowed India to fence the LoC. He also instructed the Army units deployed along the LoC not to allow any infiltration. With the help of India he succeeded in dividing All Parties Hurryiat Conference and taking bulk of its leaders led by Mir Waiz on his side and isolated hardliner Syed Geelani. Former were projected as moderates and progressive and latter as extremist and retrogressive.
It was this plan which Musharraf and his foreign minister Kasuri have often claimed that Pakistan was almost at the verge of resolving the dispute. The US and the west supported the plan. It was consequent to extraordinary concessions doled out by Musharraf that liberation struggle in held Kashmir lost its intensity and not because of efficiency of over 700,000 Indian forces as claimed by Kapoor.
The so-called out of box plan has gone for a six with the onset of fresh uprising in occupied Kashmir. The whole valley is echoing with slogans of independence from India. Old and young including children are vociferously demanding right of self determination as provided for in UN resolutions. They want a plebiscite to be held under the auspices of UN to determine whether they would like to tie their destiny with India or Pakistan or go for third option of independence. The moderates have been marginalized and Syed Geelani has bounced back.
The younger generation of Kashmir is disappointed with their leaders who had been duped by Indian leaders. It was owing to passiveness of moderate leaders that India was able to take the steam out of freedom movement and hold state elections in 2008. On the basis of poll turnout and victory of pro-India National Conference led by Omar Abdullah, Indian Army chief boasted that Pakistan inspired insurgency had been crushed; Indian political leadership declared that Kashmir was no more a dispute.
Musharraf had made the U-turn on Kashmir without taking the VCOAS and corps commanders into confidence. His most trusted confidante Tariq Aziz played a pivotal role in forging a secret understanding with India through backdoor channels. Under the garb of change of strategy, Kashmir policy was changed. Army officers serving in ISI and MI dedicated to the cause of Kashmir were posted out or weeded out of service under pressure from USA. Whatever diplomatic, moral and political support provided to the freedom fighters was stopped. Six Jihadi outfits supporting Jihad in Kashmir were banned and their funds frozen. But for lawyer’s movement which set into motion in the wake of sacking of chief justice Iftikhar in March 2007, Musharraf plan would have been formalized by end 2007.
India’s concerted attempts to nail Pakistan in Mumbai incident proved worthless since its case was built on lies and dishonesty. Its sabotage and subversion in Pakistan took lot of precious lives and caused destruction to property but failed to achieve any of the stated objectives. All attempts to get closer to the nuclear arsenal were frustrated. New underground bunkers were prepared to store warheads and triggers free of trackers separately, and new codes and launching sites prepared.
India’s so-called respect for human rights and love for democracy got exposed in occupied Kashmir where resistance movement led by stone-pelting teenagers suddenly flared up in June. Exposure of Hindu extremist groups supported by Indian Army and BJP involved in several acts of terrorism by Indian investigating agencies and media caused huge embarrassment to Indian leadership. Disclosure became more shameful because all along they had been blaming Pakistan for these acts. India’s clandestine operations in Balochistan and FATA became more visible but Indian leaders remained in denial mode till such time WikiLeaks threw bombshells on the holy cow India and exposed its true face.
Brig Asif Haroon Raja, a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces War Coursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites.