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Can Pakistan be trusted?

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May 25, 2006 17:09 IST

In the first part of his column, Dr Subhash Kapila, an international relations and strategic affairs analyst, explained the context in which India-Pakistan negotiations of the demilitaryisation of the Siachen Glacier was being conducted. In this the concluding part of his column, he asks if Pakistan can be trusted.

India must be absolutely sure that Pakistan can be trusted with the demilitarisation of Siachen. But the very fact that Pakistan is unwilling to formally authenticate the AGPL in the proposed agreement betrays Pakistan's intentions.

The Pakistan army and its chief, General Pervez Musharraf, cannot and should not be trusted by the Indian political leadership. General Musharraf's credibility is plagued by his dismal record:

  • He masterminded the Kargil misadventure. The Indian Army had to re-capture these heights at great cost.

  • He repudiated the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Accord.

  • Terrorism and proxy war against India continues unabated, despite his repeated assurances.

J N Dixit on the Simla Summit

But the Indian ministries of foreign affairs and defence remain strangely silent on this issue, which should have been the natural preserve of both these vital ministries. One cannot but help but conclude that they have been asked to keep clear of the subject and let the PMO handle it.

The army objects

The day India accepts Pakistan's refusal to formally authenticate the AGPL in Siachen on maps will be a sad day for the Indian Army.

The dominating heights on Saltoro Ridge was captured by the Indian Army at great cost. A military pullback from the Saltoro Ridge on political grounds and the possible re-occupation by Pakistani forces of positions vacated by India, thereafter, would be the ultimate irony.

Post-Kargil, holding the glacier is costlier. India, like in the past, would be repeating the mistake of selling away its military gains and victories at the negotiating table for dubious political gains from the military ruler of Pakistan, dubbed by the Washington Post as a 'liar.'

Given that he is a serving officer, Indian Army Chief of Army Staff General J J Singh, could not have better articulated the force's strong feelings on the issue when he announced:

  • 'We have conveyed our concerns and views to the government and we expect the Composite Dialogue between the two countries will take care of all these concerns.'

  • 'The government decision will be taken in consonance with the views put in place.'

  • 'Troops withdrawal is a process when disengagement of the forces from the present position has to be undertaken and that will be followed by demilitarisation. We will cross the bridge when we reach it.'

The Congress government would be severely answerable to the Indian public should it choose to ignore the Indian Army's professional advice.

The tribe of retired senior military officers enlisted by the establishment to advocate its project of de-militarisation of Siachen does not reflect sound military professional advice. They reflect the views of their patrons, both Indian and external.

Some Questions

Nobody has questioned Pakistan's unwillingness to formally authenticate the AGPL on maps as part of an overall Siachen Agreement, given that Pakistan had formally authenticated the 1949 Line of Control and the 1972 Line of Actual Control.

Arguments that Pakistan would not like to admit that its troops are withdrawing from Siachen, when it has all along been projecting to its public that Siachen was with the Pakistan army, are simplistic.

The Pakistani people know very well that their valiant Pakistan army surrendered at Dacca, lost territory in 1971 in Jammu and Kashmir leading to a new Line of Actual Control, and was evicted from Kargil in 1999.

Dr Subhash Kapila