London, June 9 : For a long time, Kashmir dispute was the corner stone of Pakistan's foreign policy, and virtually, all policies and strategies related to foreign affairs were enacted with Kashmir dispute in mind.
Despite many twists, turns and U turns on Kashmir, Pakistani officials claim that they have a 'principled stand' on Kashmir. However many experts and people here believe that Pakistan's 'principled stand' in practise means getting Kashmir at all costs.
Later on, Kashmir dispute was seen as a time bomb waiting to be exploded, and senior US officials thought Kashmir dispute was a 'flash point', which could have precipitated a war between the nuclear rivals - India and Pakistan.
The world had witnessed horrors of a nuclear in the past, but not a nuclear war, which in view of many experts is not conceivable because it leads to MAD scenario - mutually assured destruction. In other words these weapons are for deterrent and not to be used by warring countries because of their horror and destruction.
But some of these experts don't appreciate South Asia where human life has little or no value, and where every thing is justified to achieve desired objectives in name of 'national interest'. This is more so in an Islamic Republic of Pakistan where no one knows what will happen next. Every inconceivable blunder is committed here and defended in name of national interest or public interest, these rulers could have sleep - walked the country in to a nuclear clash.
In a state where rulers proudly commit blunders, invade its own capital, rape its constitution, claim that women of his country get raped in order to get visas in the West, kill its own people and even use jet fighters and chemical weapons like white phosphorus against innocent children and women and still get away with these crimes one can expect anything to happen. Rulers of such countries can commit unimagined crimes; they can use any kind of weapons.
If they can use illegal chemicals against its citizens including innocent women and children, what stops them to use nuclear weapons against declared 'national enemy'? Imagine if these weapons were available to them in 1971, would they have kept them in a safe place?
From flash point Kashmir became a 'core issue'. Rulers of Islamabad loudly declared that they would not negotiate with India until this core issue was resolved. It is believed that their undeclared aim was to keep 'India bleeding' and engaged through this process of a 'proxy war' in which India appeared as a bad guy in a community of nations.
The planners of this strategy thought they have got India 'hooked' and should not let it off, even though it was costing Kashmiris immense loss in the form of human life and destruction.
The world community could not be fooled for too long, and pressure was applied to abandon this obstinate attitude and begin dialogue withndia. Then Kashmir became from the core issue to one of the major issues confronting both the countries.
With this change in status of the Kashmir, dispute became a series of negotiations at different level in which both countries vowed to resolve all these 'major issues', which included Kashmir dispute in order to establish cordial relationship between them.
While initial steps were being considered, and trust and sincerity to the cause of peace in South Asia and possible solutions of Kashmir dispute were being analysed, a commando in General uniform swung into action. His aim was to jeopardise the peace process by throwing a spanner to halt the process and not any kind of 'liberation' as people were led to believe with a massive propaganda.
I was among those Kashmiris who condemned it and called it a conspiracy. The Kargil adventure was planned to derail the peace process and shatter trust and confidence between India and Pakistan. It also brought death, destruction and misery to thousands of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of LOC.
Apart from the above, this commando action, which people were led to believe that Kashmiri mujahideens have carried out, provided sanctity to the Line of Control. For people of Jammu and Kashmir, LOC was just another line, forcibly imposed on us by those who occupy us; and it replaced the cease - fire - line, which was imposed on us in 1949.
Now, with this 'sanctity' given to the LOC, impression is established that these are de- facto 'international' borders with different name; and that no one must be allowed to play with this 'sanctity'.
Among hidden aims of the Kargil adventure was to maintain the status quo and strengthen those who believe that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should not be united. Good thing is that now even retired senior army generals are criticising the Kargil fiasco and demand a judicial enquiry or establishment of a commission to investigate this matter to unearth facts.
Ayaz Mir, a famous Pakistani journalist and prolific writer wrote:'Kargil did grave damage to the Kashmir cause. It also marked the starting point of the phrase "cross border terrorism", the stick with which Pakistan was regularly beaten in subsequent years. Musharaf did take everyone for a ride over Kargil'.
It took many years of behind the scenes diplomacy, death of thousands of innocent people and destruction of property worth billions to dawn on the commando General that he has to note of fast changing ground realities and make adjustments to his stance and approach. He was told that he cannot have his way all the time. He cannot bulldoze all institutions and every irritant within Pakistan, in Azad Kashmir or in Gilgit and Pakistan. He was told that he cannot do the same with his neighbours, especially powerful and influential neighbour like India.
As subsequent events proved that the commando General and his team had little or no concern about welfare, safety and security of the Pakistani people. And in view of this, welfare and security of people of Jammu and Kashmir, legally not part of Pakistan, was not on their priority list. They made decisions, which suited them no matter what damage they caused to the people of Jammu and Kashmir or the Kashmir dispute.
Generals are not known for far sightedness, prudence and flexibility, but this commando General wanted to show that he was different. If he can do Kargil he can also be a champion of peace and promote friendly relations between the two countries. And his eagerness to establish friendly relations with India demonstrated that the man was in hurry and that 'hero' of Kargil fiasco had no spine.
When he made a U turn on Afghanistan and abandoned Taliban who were known as 'our own boys', I wrote: a time will come when he will abandon Kashmiris as well. We were told that he has made this somersault on Afghanistan in order to 'save Pakistan' and get support and concessions on the issue of Kashmir.
Later events proved that he got neither. Pakistan is in total mess and on a verge of civil war and economic collapse due to his policies. In Kashmir there has been some progress in the form of certain CBMs which has helped to reduce tension and reduced suffering and miseries to the people to some extent. But in doing so his approach was wrong and unprofessional. In those days due to lack of proper consultation, advice and knowledge on jurisprudence of Kashmir dispute, he came out with a new formula on Kashmir every time he was in front of a TV camera.
All his formulas had one thing in common: They all proposed a division of Jammu and Kashmir. These CBMs and formulas were not called: Confidence Building Measure but Continuous Bending Measures. People of Jammu and Kashmir did not make sacrifices for any kind of division or accession. They were rightly concerned although some conspirators and collaborators openly allied themselves with these formulas and with Musharaf, further exposing them that they were puppets who supported whatever policy Islamabad rulers enacted on Kashmir.
In the preceding years, Musharaf Government has worked hard to make Kashmir dispute just another issue, which will be resolved in future, but which should be put on a back burner until such time that people are prepared to accept its division. In the meantime, they have diverted attention of people to issues of judges, justice, roti (bread), electricity, gas, water etc that they can forget about Kashmir and run after them. During this time they will concentrate on strengthening bilateral issues like trade, commerce, and exchange of cultural visits etc.
Their true policy and designs on Kashmir were summed up like this by Former Attorney General of Pakistan and former Senator Iqbal Haider, in an article titled, 'In search of a solution for Kashmir'.
He wrote: 'Pakistan has rightly shown flexibility by not insisting upon the rhetorical demand for implementation of these (UN) resolutions'. Also he rejected the option of an independent Kashmir and stated, 'A viable solution could perhaps be to accept the Line of Control with some minor adjustments, as the international border'. By Dr Shabir Choudhry