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Aziz's one point agenda

Last updated on: November 23, 2004 12:32 IST
Why was Shaukat Aziz made Pakistan's prime minister?

Because he thinks what his boss thinks.

His predecessor Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was not that kind of a person. He announced his visit to India in June this year as chairman of SAARC without consulting his boss. He also hoped his boss would take off his uniform as promised before December 31.

He thought differently from his boss, and that is why he was forced to leave the prime minister's house.

Now Shaukat Aziz will visit India from November 23, as the new chairman of SAARC.

Aziz was minister in waiting during the SAARC conference in January. His boss, General Pervez Musharraf, instructed him to ensure that then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was kept happy at every cost.

The SAARC Summit 2004

Shaukat Aziz knocked on Vajpayee's door at the Serena hotel Islamabad often, saying 'Do you need anything sir? I am at your disposal.'

Now, after a two hour meeting at the President House on November 18, Shaukat Aziz has left Pakistan with different instructions.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and important personalities from the defence establishment were also present at the meeting, which reviewed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent statements in Srinagar.

Musharraf, who spoke most of the time at that meeting, made it clear to Shaukat Aziz that this time he need not try to please the new Indian prime minister at every cost, because he is not Vajpayee.

'You can express our reservations with a soft and smiling face,' Aziz was told.

'No more flexibility,' said Musharraf. 'If they think that we are under pressure then they are mistaken. If they think that they can change Kashmir with 5 billion dollars and not with any political solution, let them try.'

Pakistan's Minister for Water and Power Liaqat Ali Jatoi was specially invited to the meeting to brief the participants about the negotiations between India and Pakistan on the Baglihar dam project.

'We cannot allow them to construct this dam in clear violation of the Indus treaty, we must oppose the dam at every possible level,' Musharraf declared.

Wrong vibes from India: Musharraf

Why is Musharraf changing his mind after three weeks?

There are many reasons.

He saw 'light at the end of the tunnel' on October 25 and said 'we cannot solve the Kashmir dispute by pressing the UN resolutions. India is no more making noise on cross border terrorism so we have to show some kind of flexibility,' he said.

After three weeks he thinks that 'flexibility and sincerity cannot be one sided, but must be displayed bilaterally and mutually if we are to move forward.'

Referring to Manmohan Singh's remarks in Srinagar, Musharraf told the meeting on November 18 that ' the Indian prime minister once again claimed that Kashmir is their integral part, they cannot redraw the boundaries again and he is also making statements on cross-border terrorism. He is pushing us in an awkward position, so we have to take a strong position according to the new situation.'

Musharraf and his advisers think that the $5 billion (Rs 24,000 crore) economic package announced by Manmohan Singh in Srinagar is 'intriguing.' They think Singh wants

to change Kashmir through money instead of through political solutions; his main aim is to control militancy, not the solution of the Kashmir dispute.

Another factor is Opposition leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad, who has accused Musharraf of 'one-sided flexibility on Kashmir,' and called anti-Musharraf rallies all over the country from November 28.

The Qazi chose that date very cleverly. He is waiting for some further flexibility on Kashmir from the Pakistani government during Shaukat Aziz's India visit.

He is ready to exploit not only 'one-sided flexibility' on Kashmir, but also MQM leader Altaf Hussein's speeches in India.

The Rediff Interview/Altaf Hussein

Altaf is a close ally of Musharraf and has spoken against the two nation theory in India.

The Pakistani Opposition is inviting comparisions of Altaf Hussain's statements with the statement of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Javed Hashmi, who criticised the Pakistani army's political role some months ago and was jailed for 23 years. If Hashmi is a traitor why not Altaf Hussain? This is the question Qazi Hussain Ahmad asks these days.

But there is no word from Musharraf, who cannot lose the support of more than two dozen MQM MPs in Parliament.

This time Musharraf is not under-estimating the Opposition threats, and he would like to play safe at least on the Kashmir front. He knows that General Ayub Khan lost power after he signed the Tashkent agreement with Lal Bahadur Shastri; he is not ready to sign another Tashkent.

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir

Musharraf also feels strengthened after the Bush victory. He is aware that Bush needs him against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He is trying his best to please Bush not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan's tribal areas where the Pakistan army lost hundreds of soldiers and officers while fighting pro-Al Qaeda militants.

Rightly or wrongly, Musharraf is sure that Bush will not side with India on the issue of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.

After getting instructions from Musharraf, the new Pakistan prime minister addressed the nation for the first time on the evening of November 19. He said a few lines on Kashmir, but did not mention his India visit.

It is learnt his main aim in Delhi would be to unite the two factions of the All- Parties Hurriyat Conference.

This is Shaukat Aziz's one point agenda in Delhi.

Hurriyat factions closer to unity: Mirwaiz

He is meeting the leaders of both factions in New Delhi jointly. Both factions are in contact with the Pakistani establishment these days.

Musharraf thinks this could be a big success in Kashmir because a few weeks ago the Ansari group in the Hurriyat was not happy with the Pakistani establishment, and their rival Geelani declared them to be 'Indian agents.'

If the Hurriyat factions unite now, Musharraf can tell Qazi Hussain Ahmad, 'Look, the Kashmiris have full faith in me. I don't care about your allegations.'

There are no big hopes in Islamabad about the Shaukat-Manmohan meetings in Delhi.

The reason is clear. Shaukat Aziz is not meeting Vajpayee, but a different Indian prime minister. It's bad luck for all the peace lovers in South Asia.

Indo-Pak peace talks: Complete Coverage

Hamid Mir