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Home > News > Columnists > Arvind Lavakare

Credibility is Musharraf's problem

January 18, 2006

Were it not for the decorum of international diplomacy, the Indian government would be justified in saying 'Piss off' to General Musharraf after his recently expounded suggestion that the solution to the 'Kashmir problem' lay in granting the state 'self-governance with joint management by India and Pakistan' along with demilitarisation initially of Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara regions. He made that suggestion on a CNN-IBN television masterfully conducted by Karan Thapar and beamed in two parts on January 8 and January 9.

Now the trouble with Musharraf is his delusion that he is very clever, and can fool India's polite and peace-loving politicians into accepting anything in return for cessation of the proven, Pak-backed terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir as well as elsewhere in our country.

Thus, when Thapar countered by asking whether self-governance and withdrawal of armed forces would be applicable also to those areas such as the Northern Areas of Jammu and Kashmir (which are under Pakistan's control), Musharraf's face visibly lost colour, his eyes blinked and he embarrassingly answered, 'Yes…that could be considered… yes.'

That quick, combative reaction by Thapar should make Musharraf realise that educated Indians do know that even after the Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja had legally acceded his whole state to India in October 1947, Pakistan has been, despite the UN resolutions, in unlawful occupation of the so-called 'Azad Kashmir' and the geographical entity called Northern Areas comprising Gilgit, Baltistan, Hunza etc. which together equal nearly one-third of the former Jammu and Kashmir kingdom.

Another trouble with Musharraf is his delusion that he is an innovator. Thus it was that he described the suggested 'self-governance' of Kashmir as being more than autonomy but less than independence, something in-between, with joint management by India and Pakistan. Now that is surely novel, but a surrealistic combination of contradiction and confusion.

Just see the meanings of the phrases Musharraf used. According to Wilkipedia, cited by Google, 'Self-governance is an abstract concept…Generally when self-governance of nation-states is discussed, it is called national sovereignty --- a concept important in international law…In politics, a self-governing city or region e g Kurdistan, Kosovo, Hong Kong SAR is autonomous. Autonomy is usually a pre-requisite to separation or secession; however, autonomy does not necessarily lead to separation. Autonomy is not independence.'

Where in the above scheme does Musharraf's 'self-governance' solution fall in respect of Jammu and Kashmir? He admits he does not know, except that it is 'in between autonomy and independence'; he says it will have to be discussed with the Indian government and, he hastens to add, with the Kashmiris. This is the kind of wordsmith, readers, that India has had to deal with.

The man doesn't know, or doesn't want to concede, that the Jammu and Kashmir state in India is currently under a democratically elected coalition and that it is the only one of the 28 states and seven Union Territories in federal India which has its own state constitution that was framed by a state Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of a universal adult franchise; he pretends he isn't aware that only in matters of defence, foreign affairs and communications does it have to abide by the policies of New Delhi.

Musharraf pretends he isn't aware that the geographical territory in which his Hurriyat lackeys live has the most unique freedom in the political world: it can refuse the applicability to itself of any law of the Indian Parliament and any amendment to the Constitution of India. That territory, moreover, has the legitimate freedom to create certain privileges for one category of its residents and deny those rights, including employment and voting rights, to another category.

What does the above territory in India be said to enjoy, Mr Musharraf? Isn't it autonomy short of independence? And what 'self-governance' do you now want to give it? He will not answer because he, though a commando, is shy to face the truth.

Musharraf believes the Indian people are ignorant of the state of affairs in that part of Jammu and Kashmir which has been under Pakistan's control since October 1947, and therefore he chooses to speak of a 'solution' to the 'Kashmir problem' exclusively in terms of the scenario in and around Srinagar. That belief probably arises from our politicians' cowardly reluctance to openly call a spade a spade, our media's repeated pleas for peace with Pakistan and the willingness of many an Indian to dump everything for a biryani in Lahore towards eternal friendship.

But we know the truth, Mr Musharraf, we who read and study. And the Indian government knows it too. It was the Indian embassy in Washington, DC which was the primary source of our Outlook magazine's tsunami expose of how Pakistan was exercising political tyranny in the Jammu and Kashmir part that it was illegally occupying. In its online issue of July 5, 2001, that magazine told us that:

  • 'Azad Kashmir' has been given the trappings of a country with a constitution, a president, a prime minister and a legislature of its own. But it's neither a country nor a province in practice. It has been instead governed through the ministry of Kashmir affairs in Islamabad and through a chief advisor in the rank of joint secretary. Since 1974, the main executive authority rests with a 13-man Council of which Pakistan's PM is the chairman and which he dominates with his six nominees. History shows that each executive head of Pakistan, be it Ayub Khan or Zufiqar Bhutto, did exactly what he wanted in 'Azad Kashmir' -- bringing in martial law, suspending political activities, sacking its so-called prime minister, or whatever.

  • The Northern Areas have no status despite being five times the size of 'Azad Kashmir'. Despite judicial efforts of some of its people, the entity is not recognized as a part of 'Azad Kashmir' or as a separate province of Pakistan. They are ruled directly from Islamabad through a Northern Areas Council headed by Pakistan's minister for Kashmir affairs. A chief executive, usually a retired Pakistani army officer, appointed by Islamabad is the local administrative head. The Northern Areas are, in short, a story of deprivation of a people and their land devoid of any development and denial of basic fundamental rights. There is no adult franchise there, no assembly and the people have never participated in an election or sent representatives to the National Assembly. The prestigious Pakistani magazine, The Herald, once termed the Northern Areas as 'The Last Colony'.

    So where then does President Musharraf place Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas in his 'solution' to the 'Kashmir problem'? Is he ready to give them 'self-governance' or 'autonomy' or 'something in between'? He will not answer because, albeit being a commando, he shies from the truth of a real battle.

    Tailpiece: At the end of the follow-up programme on Thapar's interview, the ongoing SMS poll of viewers showed that 84 per cent of them did not trust the Pakistan president. That is the basic trouble with Musharraf -- his credibility.

  • Arvind Lavakare

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    Read what others have to say:

    Number of User Comments: 9

    Sub: Credibility is Mush's problem

    Well done Mr. Lavakare on a fine article, as usual, exposing Pakistan's hypocrisy. But, quite apart from autonomy for "Azad" Kashmir, what about requiring Pakistan ...

    Posted by Sanjeev Chowdhury

    Sub: Candid & Forthright

    I salute Mr Arvind Lavakare for being candid & forthright in saying Musharraf lacks credibility and can not be trusted.But that is putting across things ...

    Posted by Colonel SS Rajan

    Sub: Credibility is Musharraf\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s problem

    Conundrum of Jammu and Kashmir should be seen from the realistic point of view than the schizophrenic approach of the Pakistan and Hurriyat. From the ...

    Posted by Dr.G.S.Shankar

    Sub: Credibility is Musharaf's problem

    What a rubbish article. The author wants to give an impression that he is the expert in Kashmir affairs, but his articles instead of being ...

    Posted by Ordinary Kashmiri

    Sub: Excellent Article

    Arvind's article was excellent. That means leftists will heap venom on him for speaking the truth.

    Posted by sanman



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