Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, the architect of the Kargil war in 1999, has turned to raking up Kashmir again at a time when his troubles are mounting.
On the standoff between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB), Pakistan’s Daily Times quoted him as telling a private TV channel that Pakistan had limitations, as it knew if it responded with shelling, “Kashmiri brethren” would be the ultimate sufferers.
This is in line with his stated position that “Kashmir is our national interest, let nobody have any doubt about it”.
In the report published earlier this week, Musharraf said that both the Indian government and the army had no concern for the sufferings of the Kashmiri people. “Mr (Narendra) Modi (India’s Prime Minister) is an anti-Muslim and an anti-Pakistan politician. While negotiating with him one must hold cards close,” he said.
“Instead of running to attend his (Modi) inauguration like we used to do in British Raj, we should keep our dignity,” he said in an apparent dig at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on May 26.
Musharraf’s shrill note coincides with rising legal troubles. On Tuesday, a Pakistani court summoned him in the 2007 murder case of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and threatened to issue an arrest warrant against him if he failed to turn up for the hearing on November 8.
The court in Islamabad rejected Musharraf's plea seeking exemption from appearance due to health problems and security threats from Islamic militants.
Musharraf’s lawyer had produced a medical certificate showing that the former president was suffering from a sore back. Musharraf, 71, is currently on bail in the case.
Musharraf had grabbed power in 1999 and was forced to resign in 2008 after his supporters lost polls.
He returned to Pakistan in 2013 after over four years of self-exile but faces a slew of cases. Currently, he is on bail in four criminal cases while a treason case is going on in a special tribunal.
Musharraf is not the only one talking Kashmir these days.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of slain former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said last month his Pakistan People’s Party would “take back all of Kashmir” from India.
His father, former president Asif Ali Zardari recently described Kashmir as the “jugular vein of Pakistan” and said the party would raise the issue at international forums.
Pakistan repeatedly tries to make Kashmir an issue internationally.
Sharif raised the issue in the United Nations, but there was little response. His effort failed to draw any new response from the world body, which reiterated that India and Pakistan had to resolve all differences through dialogue.
The 2003 ceasefire agreement along the LoC has been repeatedly violated over the years.
Earlier this week, India said it was willing for a “serious dialogue” with Pakistan on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, within the framework of the Simla agreement and Lahore declaration and Islamabad’s tactic of seeking to internationalise the Kashmir issue would not succeed.
“We have already stated that we are willing for serious dialogue in this framework. It will cover all issues including that of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems from what Pakistan is doing, it is not interested in this kind of dialogue,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
(With inputs from Agencies)