Originally Published 2004-03-23 04:46:34 Published on Mar 23, 2004
Stuck in the Kashmir Groove
Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir&#8230; Like an old, worn out long-playing record, Musharraf is stuck on the K-word and so is the Pakistan army led by him. Responding to questions in an interview that was telecast live during the India Today Conclave, the General stated quite unequivocally that no leader in Pakistan could afford to ignore the centrality of Kashmir as a dispute between India and Pakistan. He clearly implied that Pakistanis will not allow it. Since he cannot claim to speak for the people of Pakistan, it can only be assumed that he was speaking for the Pakistan army. So, do we now know where we stand, or did we always know that? <br /> <br /> Ever since Ayub Khan came out as the opening batsman for the Pakistan army and laid a foundation for a succession of Generals to follow him, Pakistan's India policy, and even more particularly its Kashmir policy, has been formulated and executed from the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. The army's stated aim is to wrest Kashmir from India at any cost as it considers Kashmir the "unfinished agenda of partition". Kashmir is the Pakistan army's <em>raison d'&#234;tre</em> . Without Kashmir to fight about, the army will never be able to justify its half-million strength. Where will that leave the Generals and their brethren who are not in uniform? <br /> <br /> Indian policy planners must recognise that the Pakistani Generals are not the only ones among the ruling elite who are dragging their feet over a quick solution to the Kashmir problem. Among Pakistan's ruling elite while one son joins the army, another becomes a bureaucrat or a diplomat and a complex military-bureaucrat-politician-police-mullah-narcotics smuggler-criminal nexus has developed since the Afghan jihad and the proxy war in Kashmir. They are all inseparably intertwined. There is a lot of money to be made by fuelling insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir and elsewhere in the world. <br /> <br /> Those whose duty it is to find a solution to the problem of political and economic instability, have the greatest stake in prolonging the agony. And the spoils of war are shared all the way down the line not only among officers who get "jagirs" but also among the rank and file. That is why duly elected civilian administrations are inconvenient and, sooner rather than later, an excuse is found for them to be either dismissed constitutionally or by a coup d'&#233;tat. <br /> <br /> So, is there only cause for despair and no hope at all? Well, as Emily Bronte wrote: "Be still sad heart and cease repining/ Behind the clouds is the sun still shining." Revolutions have happened before and the Pakistanis are sure to rise one day, but it would be unrealistic to bank on one in the near future. Will the Pakistan army see the light of day and reform itself? Can the leopard change his spots? <br /> <br /> <strong>(The author is Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)</strong> <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em>
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.