Hawks in Pak establishment, army behind firing
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The ongoing exchange of fire between
Pakistani and Indian troops along the Line of Control is the result of sharp differences within the Pakistani establishment on the normalisation of relations with India, senior defence ministry officials said in New Delhi.
Speaking to Rediff On The Net, on condition of anonymity, they said some commanders at the last corps commanders meeting of the Pakistan army earlier this year had violently opposed Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharief's initiatives to normalise relations
with New Delhi without first resolving the core issue of Kashmir.
Pakistani army chief General Jehangir Karamat also reacted sharply against
some of the statements made by the Indian political leadership
on Jammu and Kashmir, the defence ministry officials said.
A fortnight before the last round of talks, held in Islamabad in June, between the foreign secretaries
of the two countries, Pakistan accused
India of violating its air space, claiming a MiG-25 aircraft
had flown across the border. Islamabad also charged New Delhi with deploying the short-range Prithvi missile on the
Indo-Pak border at Jalandhar, and killing a Pakistani major
in the intermittent firing which regularly takes place on the Indo-Pak
The officials said the Pakistani media became rather vocal over these incidents, all of which were denied by the Indian government. In order to strengthen Nawaz
Sharief's position and resume the dialogue, Prime Minister
Inder Kumar Gujral went to the extent of not deploying
the Prithvi missiles on the border. This helped the situation calm down and not interrupt the scheduled dialogue, the officials said.
External affairs ministry officials contend that the
current border skirmishes can be attributed to 'hawks'
in the Pakistani establishment trying to stall the forthcoming
foreign secretary-level talks. The hawks believe that Islamabad cannot afford to be conciliatory towards
New Delhi, the officials claim.
Moreover, the officials add, since Pakistan had suffered heavy casualties, including
four officers and 80 men in this week's firing, hawks in the
Pakistan army are likely to demand a higher allocation for defence.
Pakistan, for the first
time, reduced its defence budget in real terms by a significant
amount this year, a move which found little favour with the Pakistani armed forces.
Diplomatic reports from Islamabad also point out
that a section of Pakistani businessmen are opposed to the lifting of trade restrictions on India. These traders are exerting
enormous pressure both on the political leadership as well as
the army. Since foreign policy issues are largely decided by the
army in Pakistan, the local trading community is pegging its hopes
on the army.
The officials stressed that under these circumstances, until and unless the
Pakistan prime minister asserts himself and his authority,
the dissenting voices in the Pakistani establishment will not
MEA officials said the United States understands
New Delhi's position on the need for bilateralism
in resolving bilateral disputes. The reported mediation offer
by an unnamed US official can best be described as 'kite flying'
to gauge the reaction in New Delhi, the officials added.
Since the government has rejected the US offer, Washington
will not come out openly regarding offering its services, the officials added.
Incidentally, while Pakistan Television reported that the situation on the LOC is normal, Pakistani authorities
complained to the United Nations Observer Group about alleged firing by India.
New Delhi has also strongly rebutted the Pakistani allegation that India had begun the firing, the officials added.
Prime Minister Gujral has asked Defence
Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to instruct the directorate of military
intelligence to keep a strict vigil on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
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