Open Letter to Pervez Musharraf

Dear General Musharraf,

I am notorious for proffering unsolicited advice to politicians in India which is consistently ignored. Thereby I have acquired a thick skin. I am now proffering unsought advice to you after your arrival in Pakistan. I am writing to you because I believe that you can play a decisive role to resolve the crisis in Pakistan and thereby stabilize relations with India.

Do not for a moment think that I am proffering this unsolicited advice because I love Pakistan. I am writing this because I am concerned about India. Unlike some Indians I believe that the fate of our two nations is as inextricably linked as was between the Corsican Brothers.

Your physical courage has never been in doubt. By personally crossing the Indian border into Kargil before launching your army’s assault you displayed foolhardy courage. Your entering Pakistan despite terrorist threats is equally courageous. The question is whether you can display in the same measure intellectual and moral courage to help stabilize your country and the region. I believe you can if you only summon the vision to think big and dare to gamble big. I believe you have the potential to initiate change because your unique experience has given you insight into adversarial sides of several contentious issues.

The army and the civilian government in Pakistan often have conflict of interest. You have headed both the army and the civilian government and have seen both sides of the coin. As army chief you were a hawk against India and scuttled the peace process by launching the attack on Kargil. As President you recognized the imperative of peace and made the only tangible and constructive peace proposal to emerge from Pakistan. I believe the Indian government should have responded to your formula by making a counter proposal. As far as I know I was the only obscure unnoticed commentator to make a counter proposal.

I wrote that joint management of Kashmir by the governments of India and Pakistan as you had suggested was unrealistic as long as both armies were in contention. I therefore proposed that there should first of all be agreement on establishing joint defence between both nations. Your initial formula is not dead. It can still serve as the starting point of fresh efforts to revive peace talks. But to resume peace talks Pakistan first of all must acquire stability and cohesive government. Achieving that should be your first and primary goal.

The main task facing Pakistan is fourfold. A strong cohesive government representing equally all the provinces is needed to govern effectively. A working relationship between the army and the civilian government has to be established. The rivalries between different ethnic and linguistic groups have to be defused. And a successful assault against terrorist forces has to be launched. Dare I state that you are best equipped to deliver on all these fronts?

The four major groups inside Pakistan comprise the Pashtuns, Punjabis, Sindhis and Mohajirs. For the moment keep aside the Baluch people who present a case apart. Their problem should be addressed only after tackling terror. The Sharif brothers represent the Punjabis; the Zardari-Bhutto family represents the Sindhis; Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Afsandyar Wali Khan represent the Pashtuns. The Mohajirs have no fixed region and are clustered mostly in Sindh. Their leader Altaf Hussain is self exiled in London. You, General Musharraf, are the tallest Mohajir leader.

To recognize the fundamental problem facing Pakistan you will need to summon great intellectual courage. You will have to accept that the Partition was avoidable and unnatural. It occurred because the leaders of India and Pakistan grievously erred. Altaf Hussain has already stated that accepting the Partition was the greatest mistake made by the Muslim community. You might recall that you once said that India was like Israel. I rebutted you by writing that I as a Lahore Punjabi was forced out of my birthplace while your family left its birthplace to move from Delhi to Lahore to help carve a new artificially created nation state. I asked that while assessing you and me; who was like the Israeli and who was like the Palestinian? But now Pakistan is a fact of history with generations of loyal citizens committed to their nation. Long live Pakistan! But even as independent and sovereign nations India and Pakistan need each other. I believe you recognized this after becoming President which is why you made your peace offer. So now to stabilize Pakistan, to achieve harmony between the civil government and the army, to fight terrorism and to introduce vibrant democracy, what can you do? I suggest you take the following steps.

First, make a public declaration that you will not contest the election and not aspire for any elective post. If you jump into the electoral fray what are you likely to achieve? I think at best you may create one more party in a hung assembly and then jockey for position in coalition bargaining. That will not bring a change in the current situation. What Pakistan needs is a government with a nationwide mandate capable of delivering governance. So what should you do?

You must abjure office. You must renounce power. Sometimes the kingmaker is greater than the king! You must acquire influence. You will succeed if you establish moral authority. You must declare as your mission the unification of all the major political parties into a single national consensus alliance that may jointly fight the election and jointly govern the nation. At this point of time Pakistan needs a truly national government. You must help create that. To do that you will have to formulate a common agenda based on decentralization that will suit all the regions and be acceptable to all the parties. You will have to create the agenda that rationalizes and stabilizes relationship between the army and the civilian government by addressing both systemic and security concerns. You have the moral authority to attempt that. You will have to persuade the army to accept in principle joint defence with India in order to win the war against terror. Without such an arrangement terrorists will continue to bleed both our nations.

All this you might achieve if you renounce office and cease being a contender. You must become the catalyst for change.

You might consider these suggestions wildly outlandish. Most people would agree with you. But tell me, without an approach that is as radical if not more, is there any hope of overcoming the present crisis? Do not for a moment think that I am proffering this unsolicited advice because I love Pakistan. I am writing this because I am concerned about India. Unlike some Indians I believe that the fate of our two nations is as inextricably linked as was between the Corsican Brothers. So think, General. Is it your ambition to find a place in power or your place in history? Do you want to serve your fledgling party or serve posterity?

Yours sincerely…


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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Views: 3399      Comments: 10

Comment Pakistan problems are many. It is heading towards a civil war something like Syria. I do not believe a Single person can rescue the country. If India can come forward with some agreement over Kashmir it could reduce effectiveness of Islamic fundamentalists, ethnic,and inter faith fighting. This could prevent Pak. imploding and it would be in the interest of India.

Y Bengali
31-Mar-2013 11:42 AM

Comment "do you read an article before dashing off your ill-informed comment? I will not diginfy with a response the rest of your comment but point out that if you had read the article you would have known that I am not a Kashmiri but a Punjabi. " - For all north indians , southies are madarasis, so in that similar vein I hope I will be excused for equating a "Puri" to a kashmiri, but then Mr Puri, don't get disheartened by my temerity.I meant that north of vindyas especially closer to pakistan border, there is a fixation about the happenings in that country.For the rest of us especially to a southie like me, there is a confusion why these argumentative Indians waste their time in other countries affairs? I feel the same about my brethern in TN for their noise on "eelam".Why this fixation? This country has been a mess from the day our founding father legitimized Indra's marriage with feroze with "Gandhi" surname which has pushed this country deeper into the mess.It is time the Indians address the issues of India, which is in as big a mess as its neighbours.A stronger purposeful India can take care of a disjointed pakistan.I don't mean to disrespect you, a learned person with extensive knowledge and in some ways close observer of the happenings within our highest political crowd.I think I have said enough on this subject, so,will dutifully withdraw from further comments when you write again on the subject of Pakistan.Finally, I did read your article before I commented first.Thank you..

31-Mar-2013 07:47 AM

Comment Next time soon it will be a bullet or a bomb and not a shoe.

30-Mar-2013 06:52 AM

Comment Shiv, do you read an article before dashing off your ill-informed comment? I will not diginfy with a response the rest of your comment but point out that if you had read the article you would have known that I am not a Kashmiri but a Punjabi.

my word
30-Mar-2013 02:35 AM

Comment in other words who fcnk cares what happens to mushareff or pakistan?

29-Mar-2013 13:15 PM

Comment aaha..a kashmiri's fixation of pakistan is akin to a spurned lover following the happening of lover's foilbles.Pathetic.When will MrPuri get over it?

29-Mar-2013 13:12 PM

Comment Why do we keep hoping against hope? When will we learn to see the reality in its face? Day dreaming will take India nowhere. The only way for India is to chart out its own course on the foundation of its superb democratic institutions, excellent human resources, anglicized culture, highly advantageous strategical geography, teeming market, and peaceful heritage. India needs to understand its strengths and relevance in the context of the predicament the developed world is facing in these challenging times. Let India awaken into the world of immense potentials of full development and transformation into a modern and peaceful society. Let us take up cudgels to remove the only and only bottleneck - the treacherous lack of credible leadership. I will not only point out the solution which obviously is LEADERSHIP, I vow to take up the bid to lead India with such meticulous preparations that the initiative will meet with unprecedented success built on the superstructure of total transparency, completely selfless pursuit, innovative use of media, ground bondage with the masses, and love for compliance with the law of the land.

Sanjay Samarth
28-Mar-2013 13:37 PM

Comment As the president of Pakistan with support from the army, Pervez Musharraf was in firm position. But at present when he has dropped himself into the murky political arena of Pakistan in the grab of a political leader, he has very slim chances to make a dent and win power.
He can keep delving in politics behind the closed doors but cannot become a ruler even democratically. He is exposed to grave threats to his life from the radical Islamists and specifically Taliban whom he condemned and rather challenged them in his latest press conference.
He has also berated Afia Siddiqui who is believed to be innocent by most of the Pakistanis of all shades of opinion. His projection of Dr. Afia as traitor would further infuriate the religious radicals of Pakistan and they might double their efforts to target him sooner than later. He has not been discrete about articulating his opinion on contentious issues like Lal Masjid event. No explanation no matter how convincing may appease his detractors who brook no mercy against their tormenters and opponents of creed. And may be Musharraf is on top of their list to be disposed off.

saeed Qureshi
27-Mar-2013 15:38 PM

Comment Very wise suggestion, but least possible for a man like Musharaf to act on it. Most probably he will get killed very soon.

kumud biswas
27-Mar-2013 11:08 AM

Comment Late Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw said in his lecture on Leadership-"An Act of Commission is Less harmful than a act of Omission " [Because an act of commission can be corrected if wrong ]..Pakistan has produced some leaders like General Musharaff-Who at least did act, unlike Indian leaders who dont take any decisions at all. Therefore,In my view General Musharaff has great qualities of leadership & these combined with his raw courage, Army Commando background & experience as Army chief & President make him into a Formidable Leader of Pakistan. India & Pakistan can become less hostile & even friendly neighbours in long term, if Indian Politicians & Pakistani Generals have long term Strategic vision. This article certainly gives many good suggestions to Pakistani leaders & Generals.

26-Mar-2013 23:28 PM

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