Writing in the Daily Times, Brian Cloughley has tried to answer one of the questions I’ve been asking in several previous posts. That how can anyone believe Musharraf is sincere in his overtures to India.
Let me fisk Cloughley’s claims:
It is correct that there were two instances of infiltration after the cease-fire, but I don’t think this is evidence that it was violated. After all, there has not been a shot exchanged over the Line since the cease-fire was bilaterally agreed.
Firstly, remember its winter – and an exceptionally cold one at that. Nature certainly has a lot to do with how much infiltration can take place. Secondly, stopping infiltration and ceasing fire are just tactical moves and can be reversed at the drop of the hat. There were reports that some jehadi camps in Pakistani Kashmir were shut down and the ISI forward unit put in the freezer. Again these are tactical moves too. Nothing Musharraf has done with respect to the ceasefire or curbing infiltration has been permanent or voluntary.
And I do wonder about the anti-India contention, if only because the swell of educated opinion in Pakistan is indubitably in favour of rapprochement. In this, President Musharraf reflects the will of the majority.
Let’s ignore the irony of a military dictator talking about majorities and public opinion. Only 40% of Pakistanis are literate and all of them educated from either vitriolic school text-books or time-warped syllabi of the madrassas. Those who believe in rapprochement will be a fraction of this lot, so by no means is there a majority in favour of peace with India. Yes, there is a nascent opinion growing in intellectual circles, but their ability to influence public opinion is circumscribed by raging fundamentalist ideologues who hold sway over the heartlands.
Of course he was the architect of Kargil, and it is understandable that Indians are reluctant to believe he now wishes peace, even to the dramatic extent of casting aside long-held policies. But I believe he does mean what he says — and so do the loonies of the extreme religious fronts. This is why his life is in danger. The leopard really has changed his spots. Rapprochement lies ahead.
People believe in a lot of strange things – Santa Claus, extraordinary abilities of national cricket teams, SEC filings – but that does’nt make them real. A man who can make quick U-turns, can make one too many !
The more difficult question though is whether any deal made with Musharraf’s regime will outlast him.