Musharraf Backs Jihad Against India In Kashmir
9 March 2000
B L Kak
New Delhi: Intelligence specialists have informed the Government of India that the ''green light'' to jihad in Kashmir given so openly by Pakistanís military ruler, Gen Parvez Musharraf, is quite unlikely to reverse. The Prime Ministerís Office (PMO) is reported to have also been informed about the ''compulsions'' of the Pak military ruler to have allowed jehad against India over Kashmir to be made the ''central rallying point'' of Islamabad. At a time when Washington has urged New Delhi to try for resuming the dialogue process with Islamabad on all bilateral matters including Kashmir, a section of the media in the United States has chosen to highlight the support of Pakistani military Generals to jihad against India in Kashmir. And even as Gen Musharraf has been found to be ''secular and pragmatic'', a pointed reference has been made to his passions about Kashmir running deep. The US newspaper Christian Science Monitor, for instance, has pointed out: ''Pakistani Generals and mullahs speak of India as unable to sustain its presence in Kashmir. In the past few weeks, attacks on India troops in the Valley have increased. Every day brings news of another 10 or 20 killed, often by suicide bombers or land mines''. With a sympathetic military leader in charge, Islamic mullahs in Pakistan, intelligence specialists have reported, feel that it is time to finish the Kashmir claim once and for all. And in trying to unify a dispirited country and appease increasingly powerful Islamic groups, General Musharraf has been found to have gone further than any recent leader to legitimise jihad over Kashmir. Banners proclaiming jehad in Kashmir are displayed in parades, on beaches in Karachi and at the gateway of the Khyber Pass. By the time the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, politely informed Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, about his plan to undertake a brief visit to Islamabad, Gen Mushrraf called on Islamic countries to exert pressure on New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. Gen Musharraf was quoted by Kuwait-based Arabic journal Al-Mujtama as having stated: ''The East Timor issue was solved in less than a year. We appeal to the international community to help solve the Kashmir issue similarly''. Stating that Timor differs from Kashmir as East Timor was separated from Indonesia, Gen Musharraf said that Kashmir ''has never been a part of India''. Gen Musharraf was also quoted by the journal as having observed: ''Islam does not allow terrorist acts. Jihad in Islam means to rise for teachings of Allah, like jihad of Afghans, which gathered Muslims from all over the Muslim countries-Egypt, Algeria, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and others. They supported their Muslim brethren against the Soviet Union, as kind of religious obligation''. Gen Musharraf and military regime have reason to be pleased on account of two developments. First, the failure of Indiaís efforts to prevent the US President from taking a decision in support of his visit, albeit brief, to Pakistan next month. Second, the choice of operations employed by Mr Bill Clinton while overruling New Delhiís aggressive opposition to his stopping at Islamabad. In fact, Mr Clintonís decision not to allow the exclusion of Pakistan from his visit to the sub-continent came even after strenuous efforts by Indian diplomatic circles to ensure that the US President did not visit Islamabad. Even as the Government of India and its lobbyists in the United States sought to impress upon Washington that a Presidential visit to Pakistan would create considerable animosity amongst the people of India, Mr Clinton did not deem it necessary to oblige New Delhi. Indeed, he has ignored Indiaís noises against his visit to Pakistan. Significantly, by the time official information was sent out announcing Mr Clintonís decision to visit Pakistan as well, Gen Musharraf chose to act as a defiant soldier. Despite the pressure on him he refused to give any time bound frame for the return of democracy in Pakistan. He was also steadfast in disclaiming any responsibility for terrorism. Thirdly, he sprang a surprise on India and US by going to the extent of drawing a distinction between jihad and terrorism per se.