The days of cross-border firing are here again

The two-many-Musharrafs problem has gotten much worse.

Rajinder Puri’s analysis is to the point:

Benazir’s assassination, Musharraf’s loss of power and Pakistan’s post-election scene reduced terrorist attacks to some extent. Meanwhile, the Pakistan army sought peace with terrorist outfits. Result: terrorism is deflected to India. And the cease-fire violation by the Pakistan army suggests that the old army-jihaadi nexus is back in business. It matters little if Pakistan’s military chief General Kayani is in control or not, or whether it is the Pakistan army or only certain elements in it that collude with terrorism. The end result is the same. For India, it is a question of survival. Whether hapless or complicit, the Pakistan government’s inability to deliver on terror is unacceptable. The Pakistan army’s role is intolerable. [Outlook]

He goes on to recommend that:

On Tuesday May 20 the Indo-Pakistan peace dialogue will resume. Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee will be interacting with his counterpart. The Indian government might ask the Pakistanis bluntly which endgame they are aspiring for: Gilani’s, Musharraf’s or the army’s. Unless that is clear, peace talks will be a waste of time.

But because there are so many players in Pakistan, with various alignments of interests, just talking to the hapless Pakistani foreign minister won’t be of much use.

More importantly, it is necessary for the Indian government to quickly determine the particular actors responsible for the violation of the ceasefire and ‘discourage’ them. [See C Raja Mohan’s op-ed]

Oops! We were counting on Musharraf

The sinking value of unsigned promissory notes

The Acorn has been steadfastly against the ‘peace process’ that India (first under the NDA and then under the UPA) had been engaging with General Musharraf. Because the ‘peace process’ also involved negotiations over Kashmir, which invariably meant that India would make concessions that would be hard to reverse should Musharraf’s successors (or Musharraf himself) repudiate the deal.

And even if the squeezed-from-all-directions Gen Musharraf is forced to make a deal with India, there is little reason to believe that such a deal will outlive his rule. Just ask those who are holding on to contracts signed by Suharto, Marcos or Leonid Kuchma. Fears of Islamic fundamentalism may (or may not) be overstated, but it is the corporate interests of the Pakistani army that are of primary concern. Can the Pakistani army remain in power if India is no longer ‘the enemy’? Any number of Musharraf’s potential successors are not quite on board on the trade-offs that must follow if the peace process is to go anywhere. Given that Musharraf himself came to power thanks to a ‘doctrine of necessity’, a future Pakistani regime can always cite a some other ‘doctrine’ to repudiate all or part of Musharraf’s concessions. What then? Call the White House?

These risks are serious enough by themselves, but they are greatly magnified by Musharraf’s extremely poor record in keeping promises. His modus operandi has been to strike tactical compromises whenever he is under pressure, and renege on them as soon as the situation permits. [It’s all about trust, May 2005]

Now here’s the thing: Praveen Swami writes about how negotiators who had worked out an elaborate set of solutions to the future of Kashmir now find themselves looking into an uncertain future. Zardari and Nawaz Sharif lack the clout to do a quid pro quo, even if they have the willingness. General Kiyani shows no sign of abandoning the proxy war strategy. Tragic? Yes. Predictable? Entirely. It is only luck, perhaps, that Musharraf began visibly losing his grip over power before India made any further concessions.

Deals signed with a military dictatorship stand a good chance of being repudiated when a ‘democratic’ transition takes place. It was not hard to foresee that this will happen sooner or later. And deals signed with a civilian dispensation stand a good chance of being frustrated by the military establishment. This too is not hard to foresee. What this means is that a ‘final settlement’ is impossible because Pakistan is not ready for it. Rushing to complete “deals” with one or the other, therefore, is not a very good idea. Peace process enthusiasts—now energised by the prospects of a civilian prime minister in Islamabad—better take note.

The route to peace and stability in the meantime lies neither in trying to ‘settle’ the Kashmir dispute or in building pipelines. It lies in ensuring that the Pakistani elite have a stake in maintaining the peace. It alies in ensuring that the balance of power is overwhelmingly in India’s favour. And it lies in ensuring that ensuring that the international environment does not allow Pakistan to escalate the proxy war.