New Delhi, Sept. 2: Are Pervez Musharraf’s opponents in Pakistan trying to embarrass him' It would seem so.
The latest example of this is a widely publicised report that the general wanted to convert the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir into a permanent border provided India gave up its claims on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Northern Areas.
Islamabad, in turn would make it clear that elections in Jammu and Kashmir were India’s internal affair on which Pakistan did not have a view. This is being seen as a precursor to the final settlement to the Kashmir problem.
Indian officials believe that the news was totally out of character with what the Pakistani President stands for and would like to do.
They believe that this was a plant by the “anti-Musharraf” elements within the Pakistani Establishment, who were out to malign the military dictator before his much hyped trip to the US.
Musharraf is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 11. He is also scheduled to meet President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the General Assembly address. Such an inspired report would have damaged him domestically on the eve of his US visit.
It is not surprising, therefore, that a vehement denial of the report has come from Pakistan. The foreign office spokesman in Islamabad in a statement, which was also made available here, said: “The reporter has clearly indulged in wild, irresponsible and mischievous reporting about a so-called package deal involving the settlement of (the) Kashmir dispute.” The Pakistani spokesman added that there was no such plan on the anvil.
“President Musharraf’s visit to the US is focussed on attending the UNGA where he is expected to make a major speech,” the statement from Islamabad said. It pointed out that the proposed Musharraf-Bush meeting would review “the further strengthening of bilateral relations between Pakistan and the US and will also discuss topical regional and global issues.”
Musharraf will meet a number of other heads of governments in New York and is also scheduled to deliver a series of lectures at “prestigious institutions” in Boston, Chicago and New York. He will, however, not visit Washington.
India sees the report as an internal struggle within Pakistan. What is not clear is whether those behind the inspired news-report are a part of the disgruntled elements in the military-ISI establishment or belong to the political parties.
India believes that there are elements within the army and the intelligence set-up in Pakistan that are unhappy with the Musharraf’s “compromise on Afghanistan” and would like to suggest to the people of the country that he was about to do the same thing on Kashmir under US pressure.
They cite the planting of another anti-Musharraf story at the height of the tension on the borders in January. At that time, a similar news-report had suggested that the Pakistan army was well in position to deliver a resounding defeat to the Indians. At a time when General Musharraf was trying to defuse the chances of a war with India, this was seen as a veiled criticism of his policy.
Indian officials also argue that the Pakistani President may be “deliberately” being fed information by some sections in the army who are opposed to his policies to embarrass him in public, particularly in the West.
During his visit to Washington early this year, Musharraf was kept in the dark about Omar Sheikh’s arrest even though the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl had started becoming a major issue in the US and acted as a spoiler to the Pakistani President’s attempt to turn his visit into a successful one.
The reports on Kashmir and the LoC may be yet another attempt by these sections to put Musharraf in a spot.