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What’s next for India after Musharraf’s exit

After Zardari becoming President, the increasing political differences in Pakistan, rising of terrorist activities and unrest in J&K would definitely force India to have a close watch of its neighbour in coming days, writes Syed Hassan Kazim.

world Updated: Sep 09, 2008 21:46 IST
Syed Hassan kazim

Post 9/11 the definition of terrorism drastically changed for the entire world. The rubble of Twin Towers in New York City forced the World’s sole Super Power to take a stringent action against terrorism. The first country to come in the line of fire of Mr Bush’s global war against terrorism was Afghanistan, a nation always regarded as Pakistan’s strategic backyard.

In order to tame the Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Mr Bush heavily banked on Pakistan and hence General Pervez Musharraf becoming a close aide in the war against terrorism. This also forced Musharraf to take action against the homegrown terror outfits in his own nation. It was a definitely a pay back time for both USA and Pakistan. The so called Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and greatest ever enemy of Mr Bush, Osama Bin Laden, are none other than those nurtured by both USA and Pakistan to diminish the growing power of USSR in Afghanistan.

Now General Musharraf has stepped down. Mr Bush has somehow drawn a satisfaction by executing one enemy Saddam Hussain and significantly destroying the bastion of the other. As USA is readying for yet another regime change and power play in Pakistan has already changed hands one question becomes evident for all the nations reeling under the threat of terrorism. Perhaps now it’s a time for India to closely observe the strategic development in the region with increasing doubt about the rise of extremist forces with Musharraf’s departure.

It’s an established fact that under the former President, Pakistan had given many political concessions to India. In the last two years, the Kashmir issue was virtually on the backburner as Pakistan became involved in even more contentious issues that cropped up after 9/11. Since the ceasefire agreement of 2003 the LoC has mostly remained peaceful. Musharraf by and large kept his promise to stop infiltration across the LoC, after banning several militant outfits and closing their camps. The main reason behind this fall in infiltration seems to be shift in the attention of the “Jehadis” to the attacks against America and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The main focus of the Al Qaeda forces was on Afghanistan and Iraq.

After it’s proximity with the US and Israel India is being increasingly viewed as a close strategic ally of both the countries. The peace process during Musharraf’s tenure has increased transport and people to people contacts between the two sides of LoC. During Musharraf ‘s tenure talks between the two sides were held regularly and some progress was also made in terms of confidence building measures(CBMs). Musharraf had talked about Pakistan’s willingness to look beyond the UN resolutions on Kashmir in the quest for a solution.

President Musharraf who had a full backing of the army was able or had the power to deliver on his promises towards the peace process, but now with the restoration of democracy in Pakistan , the new civilian government coexists uneasily with a still powerful military establishment led by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who has shown an inclination to remain in barracks , and till now haven’t shown his desire for getting involved in the politics. It seems that he wants to have an image make over of the Pakistani army which suffered setbacks owing to it’s identification with successive military dictators.

The impact of President Musharraf’s exit on Indo-pak relations can be judged by the statement of the National Security Advisor (NSA), MK Narayanan that, “the development could lead to a power vacuum, resulting in deterioration of the security situation in the region, giving ‘radical extremist outfits’ a free hand to do what they like.”

Musharraf’s alliance with the US is seen as extreme unpopular with the Pakistani public but his move to improve relations with India had found general acceptance among the masses. But after his exit Kashmir is once again becoming hot topic in the internal politics of Pakistan, after some ministers of the civilian government accusing Musharraf of betraying the Kashmiri people for his own political gains. It must be noted that in resignation speech Musharraf did not mention Kashmir on the relations with India.

Now when Musharraf is not at the helm of affairs in Islamabad the violence in Kashmir after the Amarnath land row seems to cast a shadow over the peace process, by Pakistan saying that it plans to approach the UN and the Organisation of Islamic countries(OIC) on the Kashmir issue.

PM Manmohan Singh in his address to Nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort said that “If this issue of terrorism is not addressed all good intentions that we have for our people will be negated. We will not be able to pursue the peace initiative.” After the blast in Indian embassy in Kabul Manmohan Singh had himself conveyed his concern and disappointment to the Government of Pakistan.

After the exit of Musharraf from the President’s office the rift between Mian Nawaz Sharif’s PML(N) and PPP started widening on the issue of restoration of the judges sacked by the former President, resulting in Nawaz Shareef quitting the ruling alliance.

And now that Mr 10 per cent of Pakistan aka Asif Ali Zardari has become Mr.100 per cent it would be worth watching that how does he manage to move forward with the legacy of the former President in having a cordial relations with India.

The increasing political differences in Pakistan, rising of terrorist activities and unrest in Jammu and Kashmir would definitely force India to have a close watch of its neighbour in coming days.