Unwanted comments on the Siachen ‘faking’

Musharraf must really shut up

It suited Gen Musharraf to drag in a reference to the ongoing court-martial of some Indian army personnel for faking encounters on Siachen, on the eve of India and Pakistan commencing talks on scaling back the senseless deployments on that godforsaken glacier. He probably made this reference in trying to defend his own role in the Kargil misadventure – but whichever way you look at it there are no parallels between the two events at all. What is worse, Musharraf displays his own insensitivity and lack of genuine resolve for peacemaking when he decides to shoot off his mouth the very day confidence-building measures are discussed with India.

The fake encounters on Siachen did’nt even kill a fly. Some Indian army personnel decided to resort to confidence-tricks to gain some glory. The army has kicked its investigative and military-judicial machinery into action, and the culprits are being brought to justice. The India media has gone to town over the incident and exposed the scam. And both the civilian and military leadership is examining the background and context in which these events occurred and are likely to put in place mechanisms to prevent further malpractice. The Army itself realises that such events have a negative impact on its morale and public image and that it is in its own interest to take corrective action.

Musharraf on the contrary launched a cowardly military adventure by sending ununiformed soldiers (but carrying Pakistani army ID cards), killing thousands, and subsequently not collecting the bodies of Pakistan’s war dead. The soldiers who went to war at his bidding were deprived of protections under the Geneva conventions and worse, of a decent burial. In the process, Musharraf very nearly dragged India and Pakistan into a broader war. And when it appeared that his role in the entire affair could end up being exposed, he mounted a coup against the very man who appointed him, out of turn, to army chief. To this day, neither the Pakistani government nor the army has conducted any enquiry into Kargil to say nothing of punishing the perpetrators.

A real parallel with India will put him in a very unfavourable position. In India, for a thousandth of his crimes, he would have been court-martialled and cashiered a long time ago (assuming he were somehow capable of launching such an operation in the first place).

The General is not very judicious in choosing the most opportune moments to speak his mind. Then again, he cannot be totally unaware either. It is difficult to shake off the belief that he probably deserves Natwar Singh.