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Pak Intrusion in Kargil

What Caused the 'Shift' in US Policy ?

By M.M. Khajooria

MM KhajooriaLONG time back, when I was a probationer in the Central Police Training College, Mt. Abu (since renamed as SVBP National Police Academy and shifted to Hyderabad), the veteran diplomat, Girja Shankar Bajpayee delivered a brilliant discourse on Indian for-eign policy its underlying philosophy, contours and dynamics to a spell-bound group of IPS probationers sitting erect stiflly in highly startched Khakhi. It was a great experience to listen to him. The end of his speech was greeted by a thunderous applause.

And then began the question answer session. I stood up and asked “Sir, what does, in your opinion dictate the foreign policy of a country”? He looked at me for a while, as if making up his mind and said. “For this question I will give you an undiplomatic answer. Yes, the foreign policy of a country is dictated by her National Vested Interest and nothing else. Rest are elements of icing on the cake.” That day I learnt the unvarnished and undi-luted truth, the touch stone on which foreign policy initiative and response should be tested and comprehended. Since the very inception of the ‘Kashmir issue’, the United States has been partial towards Pakistan. In its perception Pakistan was a better bet in enabling her to complete the encirclement of the USSR. More over, even when Islamic Ummah adopted Kashmir and fundamentalists started playing games of subversion and sabotage in Kashmir, the US was unmoved. It con-tinued to treat Kashmir problem as ‘Pakistan specific’ despite clear indications of ‘Afghan connection’ and pan-Islamic funda-mentalist dimensions that not only bracketed Kashmir and Afgha-nistan together for the purpose of determining strategy of take over a part of enforcing Nizam-i-Mustapha world-over. The Islamic fundamentalists recognise no national boundries and believe in the indivisibility of the Ummah. And history is witness to bloody wars between the Muslim and Christian fundamentalists. The pan-Islamic fundamentalist made no secret about their taking on the ‘Christians’ after the communists were humbled. Despite all this, the USA in its single minded commitment to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan, recklessly poured money and military hardware through a regime in Pakistan that was headed by a dictator Zia-ul-Haq known as “the Mullah in Khaki”. The USA turned a blind eye to the diversion of money and weapons meant for Afghanistan to J&K for stoking the ‘proxy war’ and utilising the training facil-ities in Afghanistan by the Kashmiri terrorists. She did not object to the allocaton of critical role to Pakistan Jamiat-i-Islami in promoting Jehad in Afghanistan by the Pak ISI.

It was only after Najib was tricked into abdication Zia-ul-Haq perished in an air crash and the Afghan groups began to jump at each others throat that the mist cleared some what and the US policy planners recognised in Hikmatyar less of a crusader and more of a narcotic peddler. The horrors of narco-terrorism in which the core agency Pak ISI was an active participant and benificiary and the repercussion back home compelled them to alter course. Hikmatyar was discarded. However, the remedy  engineered in the formation of Taliban under the stewardship of Moulana Fazal-ul-Reman of the Jamiat-ul-Ulmai-Pakistan proved worst than the disease. The Taliban soon left no one in doubt that they were the worst fundamentalists, obscurantnists and fanatics. The last nail in the coffin of the US policy was hammered in by the friend turned foe, Osma Bin Laden, the Saudi billionare. The bombing of American embassies in Africa and the American counter attack from which Osma, a guest of the Taliban in Afghanistan survived along with his four wives and fifteen children left the Pentagon and the CIA red-faced. The Taliban refused even to discuss the extra-dition of their ‘guest’, who they said was innocent. The world-wide activities and direct assault on the American interests by pan-Islamic fundamentalists thus forced the USA to review its policy in the global conext.

In the pan-Islamic strategic planning, the JEHAD in Kashmir was to be launched only after the grip in Afghanistan had been firmed up. They were unhappy with the precipitation in Kashmir premature and even accused JKLF, the pioneers in unleashing militancy in Kashmir in 1988 as “acting at the behest of India”. It was some-time in August-September, 98 that the ISI,-Taliban axis started  working on Taliban intervention in Kashmir. About that time, Bin Laden was also busy working on participation in Kashmir by his men. The only route from Afghanistan to Kashmir lay through the so-called northern areas, a part of J&K state forceably occupied by Pakistan. It was inaccessable to the outside world. But these advatanges, the strategists felt, were more than offset by two forbidding considerations. Firstly, there was no scope of local help or sympathy for the extremists Sunni Taliban from a predomi-nently Shia population. In fact, there were apprehensions of sabotage by “Indan Shia agents”. Secondly, the US would be hos-tile to any intervention by the Taliban. The option was there-fore discarded. I had written about this in an article titled “Are the Afghan Taliban Comming?” in the daily Kashmir Times (4, Nov. 98). I had, however warned:- “Realisticaly speaking, the Pan-Islamic fundamentalists be they the Taliban, Bin Laden or other mercenaries of Arabic or Afghan origion, have very little choice but to persist with smuggling their goons across LOAC. Unfortunately, the Indian government has failed to come up with appropriate preventive and detective mechanism”.

Till the “gouri” was test fired, Pakistan government was avoiding any open contact with fundamentalist organisations. It left the dirty work to the ISI. But to everyone’s surprise a high level delegation led by the  Pakistan Information Minister, Mushahid Hussain and including the governor of Punjab and atleast four ministers of the Punjab government openly visited the headquar-ters of the notorious Dawat-al-Irshad  in Murdike, which indoc-trinates, trains and equips terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toyba, presently active in J&K. The Lashker has since been declared a terrorist organisation by the USA. Mushahid Hussain expressed total agreement with the concept of Jehad being taught in the Dawat and showered praise on the contribution being made by them to the sacred cause of the Islamic Ummah”.

Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Markiz boasted of the victories of Lashkar-e-Toiba in Kashmir and declared “As soon as the Jehad in Kashmir is cmplet-ed, his organisation will launch a Jehad in India, where 20 crore Muslims were living as second class citizens”. “It will be naive to dismiss the intent to launch Jehad in whole of India for which ground is alreayd being laid, as mere rehotoric. In any case informa-tion of an impending Pak-Islamic Fundamentalists intrusion via Notheren areas was in abundance and the Indain intelligence agencies just could not have missed it. That the American knew can safely be persumed. As for India is concerned, former spl secretary RAW, Balchanderan was perhaps right when he wrote, “The probem may not have been so much as absence of intelligence as inadequate stategic assessment”. The bits of intelligence that flowed were not put together to form the larger picture that would expose enemy strategic plan. The rest if history.

The Pak incursion through her own troops with a smattering of ‘Mujahideen’ made headway in Drass-Kargil-Batalik-Turtuk sector and occupied some very strategically important heights. Though late to respond, Indian army and airforce hit with ferocity, Pakistan had lest expected. They were particularly taken aback by the involvement of Indian Air Force. Armies soon confronted each other all along Indo-Pak borders as Indians Army began to write a new glorious chapter in the military history. The world ‘police man’ had, if nothing else reason to justify his role as such and react to a possible all out confrontation between two nuclear powers. And react it did, in a manner that Pakistan had not anticipated.

The USA disapproved of the armed intrusion violating the Line of Actual Control drawn as part of the 1972 Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan and demanded that the intruders return to their side of the LOAC.

She refused to go along with a string of lies doled out by Pakistan from its non-involvement in an “indi-ginous” Mujahideen war of independence to allegations of atroci-ties by Indian troops. She appriciated the restraint shown by India in not crossing the LOAC, even though it cost the Indian army precious human lives. Similarly, they were also praise for the Indian Air Force resisting the temptation to hit across despite extreme provoation of torture of a piolt after capture to the extent of causing his death through inhuman and brutal means. Indians once again demonstrated complete solidarity in the face of external aggression and our jawans and officers exhibted unsurpassed valour, highest sense of duty and heights of patri-otism, untouched any where by any one lese. They recaptured peak after peak taking unthinkable risks and making unparalleled sacrifices. They died as heroes and martyres and inflicted heavy casualties on the well entrenched, better equipped and well stocked enemy. The world including USA watched with awe and admiration. The Indian Republic had come of age.

But the ‘shift’ in US policy has to be viewed in the context of her own national vested interest in seeing the Pan-Islamic funda-mentalists, who were calling the shots in the Kargil conflict, defeated. Thier success would severly endanger American vital iterests and encourage them to further extend their influence in “religiously sensitive areas” around the globe.

Even China, a long time friend of Pakistan and no friend of India, refused to go along with Pakistan on Kargil for fear of escalation of Islamic fundamentalist uprising in her own Muslim majority back yard. Same was the case with Russia, who after a bitter experience in Chechaniya was anxiously watching fundamentalist forays into erstwhile Soviet republics in Central Asia especially those bordering Aghanistan. The recent developments in Dagistan hase proved them right. The assessment of the European community was the same as that of the USA. Thus the misadventure in Kargil at the behest of her Pan-Islamic fundamentalist left Pakistan isolated and friendless. She had to bow before the world opinion in the diplomatic circles and superior battle worthyness of the Indian Army in the field and agree to withdraw the intruders even though clinging to the myth that her army and citizens were not involved.

The change in American perceptions in respect of India, her mounting commercial interests in this country and recognition of her long term problems with an economically and militarily growing China out to benefit from economic globalisation and liberalisation without imbibing democratic values and system does open, as they say a ‘window of opportunity” in improving Indo-American relations in variety of fields, for mutual benefit.

But let us remember that the ‘shift’ in our favour in Kargil conflict does not mark the dissolution of Pak-America friendship or even a dilution of the crucial  role that American long term policy envisage for her in central and South Asia. The opposition from fundamentalist groups and parties in Pakistan and threats to his life have, infact reasserted Nawaz Sharifs position as a ‘modern’ political figure’ in American mind. His position has further been strengthened by his ability to carry his party and the Pak army along. But then we need not relate the positive movement towards better Indo-American relations to Pak-American relations. There is a vast area of mutual benefit in which Pakis-tan is no factor. What is really necessary is that we tread the path of improving relations between the two countries with dire care and caution from a position of equality. There is certainly no need to bend backwards as foreign minister Jaswant Singh has recently done by saying that India policy post cold war was un realistic as far as America was concerned.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Pakistan's Role

Kargil 1999



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