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Ayub Khan is K-proposals' real author

Musharraf's latest 4-point agenda was first mooted as by his predecessor over 47 years ago, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 20:02 IST
Arun Joshi

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's latest proposals on Kashmir, especially, "joint management" were first mooted as "joint defence" arrangement by one of his predecessors Ayub Khan more than 47 years ago.

Ayub Khan is the original author of these ideas. What Musharraf has suggested in the winter of 2006 as close resemblances to what Ayub Khan had proposed in 1959.  This, in turn shows that neither the idea as new or there was any fresh display of flexibility on Kashmir by Pakistan.

Defence Minister AK Antony made it very clear in Poonch, a frontier district in Jammu and Kashmir, where he visited on Sunday. He said that Pakistan President has said "Nothing new" and charged Pakistan with  " continuing to support terrorism".

When Antony said that he had heard these statements in the past many years, the reference also could have been to the joint defence arrangement offer of Ayub Khan.

Pakistan's present military ruler has proposed that there should be a body at the "top" of the representatives of the two countries that would have the powers of oversight on the "self governance" of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tagged along is the idea of the de-militarisation — withdrawal of troops to two or three major garrisons. This is what forms the crux of the interview he gave to an Indian TV news channel.

Forty-seven years ago, Ayub Khan had proposed almost the identical way out on Kashmir.  In fact, that was much more broad based. "In case of external aggression both India and Pakistan should come together to defend the subcontinent," a statement that has been recorded in the book, "Mohammad Ayub Khan, Friends Not Masters."

Khan's idea was that armies of the two countries could "disengage and move o their respective vulnerable frontiers."

At that time, Pakistan was worried about its western borders with Afghanistan. Today Afghanistan too, is one of the main strategic concerns of Pakistan, because it does not having a government of its liking in Kabul. The borders with Afghanistan are volatile.

Stephen P Cohen, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies programme at the Brookings Institution, the United States of America in his book: "The Idea of Pakistan", has interpreted Ayub Khan's "joint defence" arrangement as an old version of confidence building measure or CBM.

"His intent had not been an alliance, but a large-scale troop withdrawal from the borders, including the disputed ceasefire-line in Kashmir.  This, in turn … while Pakistan could deal with its difficulties along the Durand Line, the long border with Pakistan.

Given this backdrop, both the enthusiasm over President Musharraf's proposals and the scathing criticism loses relevance.  There is a history, after Ayub Khan's offer, there were two major wars between the two countries in 1965 and 1971 and one mini war in Kargil in summer of 1999.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has asked President Musharraf to " show consistency and sincerity." "He would have to stick to his stand and also roll back the forces of violence. Moreover, what is important is that she should be realistic."

"As he has shown willingness to give up plebiscite under the UN resolutions, and ruled out independence, he should give up this joint management too," Azad said.

And those among Kashmiri separatists raking Musharraf on coals for these proposals were the ones who had filled streets in early1960s shouting: "Ham Kaya Chahte Pakistan, Hamara leader Ayub Khan". (We want Pakistan and our leader is Ayub Khan).

If Ayub Khan — the proponent of joint defence — was showered with praise, then why his successor is being ridiculed for suggesting the same now. "This is sheer display of double standards," says Mian Altaf, a National Conference leader and lawmaker.