GATHERING STORM ?

By

Anil Athale,

 

Like a series of planetary configurations that portend (?) a catastrophe, South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular (as well as its General) seem to be facing an approaching storm. The signals are there for all to read, but yet worth recall.

 

The Canadians have after nearly 15 long years have suddenly began 'discovering' the Kahalistanis who masterminded the murder of nearly 350 Indians by bombing the 'Kanishka' Boeing 747 of Air India. Even a casual visitor to Canada could see that while situation in Punjab had normalised, the expatriate Sikhs were still fighting their battles. There nexus with the Pak Jihadists seem to have finally spurred the West into action. Well at least the Indian lives now seem to have 'value' in the Western eyes.

 

A ROUGE ARMY LED BY AN  IN-DISCIPLINED GENERAL.

 

Two weeks ago when a respected British weekly (THE ECONOMIST -14-20 OCT ,2000) wrote an article titled 'Pakistan's Useless Dictator!' the count down for Musharraf seems to have begun. It is often seen that the British media acts as the American 'Pointsman' on South Asia.  The article quotes a former Pakistani army chief as saying that for the first time in its history, the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence Agency) has taken over the Army headquarters and is running the government and the country. That Pakistan is nuclear power completes the picture.

 

The Economists may have woken up to the facts now but serious analysts were concerned for quite some time. The Hamidur Rehman Report on the 1971 war has itself admitted that the Pak army carried out atrocities and killed close to 300,000 Bengalis. In sheer numbers that is second to only Hitler or the Rawandan mobs.

 

The first pictures released last October of the Pak dictator graphically showed his waywardness. Here was a General in full uniform, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth , cockily handling a weapon , that too in presence of the Prime Minister! Ask any self respecting soldier whether he will ever do that? That picture in essence summed up the 'normless ness ' of Musharraf.

 

In any case, a soldier who conveniently forgets his oath of loyalty to the constitution and the government , cannot be expected to inspire much confidence.

 

SITUATION IN KASHMIR

 

Off late, in Kashmir the Indian army is having an upper hand,. The daily toll of insurgents/Jehadists is running at an average of 20. The casualties of the infiltrators cannot be compared with that of the security forces. Security forces have a well organised chain of reinforcements. While in case of infiltrators, to get a new man through the border and then establish him in the surroundings, takes time and is much more difficult job.

 

The cross border shelling is now taking place in Nowshera area.  Pakistan's biggest hydro-electric project, the Mangla Dam , is just 12 Kms from this border. Damage to this can have devastating effect on Pakistani economy.

 

GLOBAL CONCERNS

 

The US embassy in Pakistan remains shut. It is obvious that the US fears repercussions of the Middle East violence in Pakistan. The worst nightmare of the Jihadists getting hold of the government of a nuclear state seems close to reality.

 

The Russians, with spread of the Taliban ideology in Chechnya , sees its interests co-inciding with that of the Americans. Even the Chinese are worried about their own Muslim minority in Sinkiang. The Israeli un-ease at Pak nuclearisation is well known.

 

Thus it appears that there seems to be a global coalition building up against the military regime in Pakistan.

 

 

 

It appears that the American elections that are taking place today has been responsible for the 'pause' in likely action. It is to be expected that Clinton will not take any action till he consults the new President elect. For the consequences of American action now will be faced by the new man at the helm.

 

Musharraf may well be replaced in bloody coupe, as the only way to teach a lesson to the Pak military. His replacement then may order elections and hand over power to a civilian government with express condition that the nukes will be with the civil authority and not military. How this will be taken by the powerful fundamentalists inside and outside the army is anybody's guess.

 

India must keep its powder dry and let it be known that 'No first use' does not mean waiting for a first strike. It is time we prepare ourselves for a collapse of Pakistan and ensure that the fallout on us is reduced to the barest minimum.

 

Forewarned is forearmed.

 

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