It’s obvious that Mian Nawaz learned a lot from his last term as Prime Minister, but there’s one place where he seems to have a blind spot, and this blogger can’t help but wonder if he isn’t feeling a certain sense of deja vu. The place I am speaking of, of course, is none other than Kashmir, that idyllic land that ultimately led to the premature downfall of his last government.
In 1999, then COAS Gen Musharraf launched a hair brained scheme to occupy Indian positions in Kashmir without informing then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Actually, the Prime Minister only found out about the adventure when he received a phone call from his Indian counterpart. The plot backfired and the PM found himself begging the Chinese to intervene only to be told that they were not interested and he should ask America to bail him out.
Why didn’t the generals inform the Prime Minister of their plans? Probably because they knew that he would have shot them down before they had been given a shot. The generals figured that rather than ask permission, they would ask forgiveness. Besides, once they had crossed the LoC, what could the PM do? They had him painted into a corner.
Before he was elected earlier this year, Nawaz said he was for a probe of the Kargil disaster if elected. While this is a worthy subject for an official probe, however, the Prime Minister may want to hold an inquiry on the adventures that are taking place under his current, not his past government.
Early this year, when it became obvious that, even if no one could predict who would win the May elections it wouldn’t be the PPP, a flurry of activity began among the usual suspects in Kashmir.
Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed were holding meetings to discuss the future fate of Kashmir, including a reportedly secret meeting with COAS Gen Kayani who refused to sign on for any Kargil 2.0. But Gen Kayani is at the tail end of his term, and enterprising young officers may be thinking that they can write their own name in history without him.
Since then, things have begun to heat up along the LoC with Pakistani soldiers and innocent Kashmiris killed by Indian shelling. While these attacks have obviously made the biggest headlines, it should be noted that what sparked the current conflict could have been an attack by jihadi militants that killed Indian troops.
This report was soon followed by media statements by Lashkar-e-Taiba jihadis that they have been preparing to expand the fight against India using Kashmir as a stepping stone. This was followed by Syed Salahuddin, who had been conveniently meeting with Hafiz Saeed and military officers earlier this year, threatening that “The coming months and years will see a tremendous surge in mujahedeen’s activities in Indian Kashmir”.
Just as President Obama is learning a difficult lesson about how the actions of others can quickly take over your own control over matters, Nawaz Sharif could be staring at a repeat of 1999. I take the PM at his word that he wants peace with India, but if he doesn’t get control of the ISI’s Kashmiri jihad project, he may lose control completely…again.