Not even Munich, simply a meltdown

Ayaz Amir

Chamberlain kowtowed before Hitler at Munich, allowing Hitler to go ahead with the rape of Czechoslovakia, assuming that this was the price for averting war. Although disastrously wrong Chamberlain at least was motivated by good intentions — the old story of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. President Musharraf doesn’t even have Chamberlain’s

excuse. There is no war threatening to break out between India and Pakistan. It is all quiet on the eastern front, quieter than it has ever been in living memory. And yet, for no rhyme or reason he has just done a mini-Munich in Delhi, effectively agreeing to the Indian position on key issues and getting only bland words and good intentions in return. No wonder the Indian establishments are ecstatic, at a loss for words to express their elation at Pakistan, under a military ruler, no less, finally, playing on India’s pitch, working on India’s agenda, and far from feeling any sense of loss or shame, revelling in the spirit of surrender.

Don’t blame India for developing a vested interest not in Pakistani democracy — for under democracy whether perfect, half-baked or imperfect, Pakistan has avoided the path of unseemly compromise — but in Pakistani militarism whence all the concessions come. Going to war over Kashmir? Of course not. Folly in the past, it is not even an option now. But saying farewell to Kashmir like this, and dancing to India’s tune in the process, abandoning the Kashmiris to their fate, and getting nothing in return, this surely is a novel way of waging peace. Musharraf needn’t have gone all the way to Delhi to be told there could be no

“re-drawing of borders in Kashmir”. That’s the Indian line, always has been. What he has achieved is a lesson in Indian diplomacy: Manmohan Singh mincing no words in restating the Indian position on Kashmir.

Far from getting Manmohan Singh to commit anything in return, on Siachen, Baglihar, etc, Musharraf tried to do India another favour by trying to sell the Indian line on Kashmir to the Kashmiri leadership.

Musharraf could at least have argued for the release of Kashmiri prisoners in Indian jails and for an easing of the human rights situation in the Valley. So the situation is like this: even as Musharraf bangs the drums of peace, Indian army operations in the Valley intensify, with many top-ranking Kashmiri militants killed in recent weeks. Pakistan should be under no illusion that once militancy in the Valley dies down, India will have the same urgency to engage with it as at present. Like it or not, the present peace process is underpinned by Kashmiri blood and tears. Once the Indians take care of Kashmiri militancy, they will deal with the Kashmir situation on their terms. This is the lesson of history. Back to 1972: this is the direction in which the peace process is headed. Another aspect of this exercise in furious back-pedalling is also noteworthy. Capitulation of this kind should at the very least bring some colour of shame to Pakistani cheeks. Instead, far from feeling sorry, the outlook of our leadership is positively jaunty as it accepts India’s point of view. When the military made war it made no sense to anyone. When it makes peace it swings to the other extreme, its pacifism making as little sense as its jingoism.

Ayaz, a columnist for Dawn, writes for THT from Islamabad