Not enough in it for India

The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, can pat himself on the back for the position he has won for his country in the West. Shunned and stymied, Pakistan was functioning in a distasteful environment. Many nations had written it off and even the most optimistic were fearing the worst. Today, both the Senate and the U.S. Congress have commended him by passing a unanimous resolution.

True, his decision to jettison the Taliban, woven deeply in the warp and woof of the Pakistan society, must have been an excruciating exercise, particularly when Islamabad had come to believe that Afghanistan gave it the much-needed strategic depth. But Gen. Musharraf's options were foreclosed

when the Taliban's hand was seen behind the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. He had no alternative but to fall in line behind the U.S. Had he not done so, Washington was in such an ugly mood at that time that it would have declared Pakistan a terrorist state. Gen. Musharraf made the best of the situation.

Again, he was at his best when he spoke on January 12 to assure the world that Pakistan had burnt its bridges with the jehadis (crusaders), tabligis (preachers) and other fundamentalists to become a modern Islamic state. What he said was music to the ears of the West because no Islamic state, not even Turkey, had gone that far.

Pakistan had not really gone astray, the U.S. establishment argued in its favour even when it nourished some doubts. The U.S. President, George W. Bush, does not stop praising Gen. Musharraf, as if he is the best thing which has happened to the democratic world. From Washington's point of view, a close ``progressive'' Muslim country in the midst of a distant Muslim world was the best development. That might be one of the reasons why Mr. Bush went out of the way to rub the two leading Islamic countries, Iran and Iraq, particularly the former, on the wrong side. What the U.S. and other countries in the West do not realise is that while the Pakistan President's ``breathtaking'' pronouncements have everything for them, there is hardly anything for India. He has not changed a comma in the policy Pakistan has been pursuing towards India for the last five decades. When he addresses the West, he oozes milk and honey. But when it comes to India, he is the same old, rigid and threatening Musharraf. Even the tone is different. One cannot find a word or gesture which can be stretched to show that Gen. Musharraf of Kargil fame is giving up the posture of hostility and moving towards measures to normalise the situation.

It is the same old Kashmir and the same old 50-year- old U.N. resolutions, which have lost their relevance in the conditions obtaining in Kashmir. Gen. Musharraf uses the same phrase - ``we shall continue to give Kashmiris moral and diplomatic help'' - which one of his predecessors, another military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, used to camouflage cross-border terrorism. Zia trained and armed the terrorists for operation in Kashmir. Gen. Musharraf has been doing the same.

There is little proof that the Pakistan President has stopped those terrorists who cross the border or take shelter in Pakistan after ``doing the job'' in India. In fact, his renewed stress is that what is going on in Kashmir is an indigenous movement. May be, once there was a movement. But Islamabad has killed it by making it parochial and injecting into it elements which are foreign.

There are no two opinions that the eyeball-to-eyeball posture of the two armies can ignite a spark any time. There is no exception to the argument that the stand-off is detrimental to peace.

India too, pushed by its fundamentalists, has its own compulsions. Gen. Musharraf should hand over at least some of the 20 criminals living in Pakistan. It may provide the much-needed breakthrough. Otherwise, the scene is too dismal for words. There may be more hurt, more pain, more jingoism - which people on both sides have had enough of.

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