According to official army sources terrorism in Kashmir, backed by Pakistan, has escalated after President Musharraf's domestic crisis worsened. This can mean one of two things. Either Musharraf in desperation is initiating a foreign adventure to divert hostile public opinion in his country. Or, a weakened Musharraf has lost control and sections of the Pakistan establishment feel free to carry out the agenda they have nursed for decades. It would be irrelevant to go into reasons for stepped up terrorism. If terrorism escalates India must be prepared for extreme measures to safeguard its security.
Up to now this writer has urged India and Pakistan to arrive at an arrangement approximating to the European Union in order to resolve contentious issues peacefully. This proposal is based on the reality of the cultural unity that exists in both nations, created through their centuries of shared history and a common language. This does continue to be the proper civilized approach. But if Pakistan, with or without Musharraf's blessing, unleashes another adventure, it is time for plain speaking.
History is governed by ground realities. The reality is that the creation of Pakistan was unnatural and artificial. Ultimately, nature asserts itself and directs the course of history. Statesmanship can make peaceful an inevitable transition. Alternatively, events can make it painful. In this context, this scribe recalls an open letter he wrote to Nawaz Sharif after the Kargil war, which was published in The Hindustan Times of July 2 1999. By coincidence, just two days after it appeared Sharif, as PM, made an unscheduled dash to the US on July 4th for an emergency meeting with President Clinton.
That open letter revealed for the first time a conversation I had with a Chinese diplomat, Qian Qichen, who sought the meeting, held at my residence in early 1980s. Previously, Qian had been private secretary to Zhou Enlai. Subsequently Qian rose to become China's Foreign Minister, and later, its Vice Premier. We had a frank conversation.
I quote from the open letter to Nawaz Sharif:
'Partly to test him, partly out of curiosity, I asked (Qian) how China would react if Pakistan disappeared after a war with India. After all, I asked, were not India's security concerns about China accentuated by a hostile Pakistan? Did he not think India would be reasonable, even generous, if Pakistan, the result of imperialist manipulation, were undone? He looked startled: 'Nobody has put up such an idea', he exclaimed. 'I cannot say. One has to think about this.' That was his spontaneous reaction. He was absolutely correct. He never endorsed the idea. But he didn't discard it either... As for myself I am a believer. I know that one day India and Pakistan will get together. Through diplomacy if possible. Through war if necessary.'
If terrorist sleeper cells in Kashmir operate in spite of Musharraf he should acknowledge this and start joint operations with the Indian army to take on the elements initiating it. If the terrorism is occurring with his blessing he should realistically assess its consequences.
China is a powerful and loyal ally of Pakistan. But its rulers are realists. Would they continue to support a nation perceived to be a failed state at the cost of jeopardizing political advantage and lucrative markets elsewhere? And can neighboring nations remain indifferent to a nuclear power divided by civil war? If Pakistan were to unleash a cross-border adventure, it would very obviously be risking future balkanization. Baluchistan and parts of NWFP could break away; leaving Punjab and Sind in Pakistan. Would such a diminished Pakistan survive?
President Musharraf needs to do some hard thinking. The Indian government, and most ordinary Indians, wish Pakistan stability and peace. He should not act to convert friends into enemies.