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Volume 3, No. 7 - December 2003

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On cease fire and the rest of it
K.N. Pandita

Pakistan announced unilateral cease-fire along the LoC in J&K from midnight on Eid. India first showed some reservation but within two days relented and announced her reciprocation.

Cease-fire had been offered by Pakistan earlier also and India had rejected it then. What makes New Delhi change the stance? Is it the reassessment of the ground situation, international pressure or a sequel to some well thought of strategy, is difficult to answer?

Strategies change with change in overall scenario. Knee jerks in New Delhi’s Kashmir policy have been observed at every stage. Possibly it stems from regular appraisal and re-appraisal of ground situation from time to time. It may also emanate from lack of coordination at various levels in the administration.

Eventually, the inference and the fact are that there has never been and never can be a cut and dried Kashmir policy barring its basics like accession, special status, democratic dispensation, civil liberties etc. The situation during the current insurgency has been by and large fluid, notwithstanding what the operational strategies demanded. As such, each measure has to be met with counter-measure.

At one point of time, the Hurriyat was a wholesome bloc and despite various attempts, a dent in its body did not happen. Naturally the response of New Delhi was rigid and non-compromising. But today the Hurriyat is more pragmatic than it used to be before the separation of anti-India hardliners of Jamaat. But to imagine that the Hurriyat will abandon its pro-Pak infatuation is to ask for the moon. They have to employ delaying and confusing tactics because they need to retrieve their position in the eyes of the masses they have misled during many years in the past. Thus for them there is the uphill task.

Pakistan must have seriously thought over her unilateral offer of cease-fire. She wanted to announce an equally impressive a response to India’s offer of 12 – point concessions essentially for the consumption of international community. Tactically with the onset of winter and snowfall on the mountains, infiltration of terrorists will be reduced considerably and Pakistan no more would require a cover fire for them on the border. At the same time, it will be noticed that a good number of terrorists have infiltrated into the valley on the eve of the onset of winter and snowfalls. Moreover, Pakistan has moved a large number of terrorists in camps close to the LoC in PoK. This means that for next couple of months gunfire is no more the tactical requirement of Pakistani army.

Unilateral cease fire is also to provide space to the Maulavi Abbas faction of the Hurriyat to push forward during its talks with the Centre its known demand for involvement of Pakistan in the trilateral talks. Now the Hurriyat can say that Pakistan is serious in lifting the threat of destruction from the head of the Kashmiris located along the cease-fire line.

Yet another hidden reason could be General Musharraf’s decision of asserting his authority in the army in face of simmering battle for leadership within the Pakistani Army. The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs Committee, General Aziz Khan, undertook extensive tour of PoK while Musharraf Pervez was away in the US attending the session of the UN General Assembly. In Rawlakot, General Aziz, a known pro-fundamentalist and anti-Indian/American General had said in a public meeting in Rawlakot that men in uniform could not run the civilian government in Pakistan. This statement and more had created ripples in the political waters of Pakistan and Musharraf had to react immediately` in the USA by telling the pressmen that all the Generals in the Army were behind him. By announcing unilateral ceasefire he wanted to take the wind out of the sail of General Aziz who is aspiring to become the Army Chief but Musharraf is avoiding him.

In any case, Pakistan’s unilateral announcement of ceasefire is not Kashmiri people centric. As such, nobody should be lured into thinking that he has any soft corner for the Kashmiris who are suffering the atrocities and pogroms unleashed by Pakistani sponsored terrorists in Kashmir. This ceasefire is not going to last more than a couple of months at the most when the fate of Musharraf is decided.

That Pakistan Army is in the midst of a deadlock is no more a secret. The Army is divided between the Tableeghi Jamaat propagated religious extremist ideology supporters among the younger generation in the Army and the pro-western stalwarts who have enjoyed the maximum privileges under military as well as civilian rule in that country. They have large economic interests and are interlinked with the feudal lords and powerful bureaucrats. Where does this simmering lava within the Army take Pakistan is yet to be seen?

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