Musharraf prepares to return to Pakistan; ready to play key role in Indo-Pak talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s olive branch for peace, it is alleged, is part of well-rehearsed drama planned by Musharraf, key political aides of the past are cabinet ministers in the present government of the country, writes Gopal Misra

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Amidst mounting India-Pakistan tensions, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s olive branch for peace is a part of well-rehearsed drama having its key players in the ISI and Pakistani army. The Godfather to this move is indeed Pervez Musharraf, the man who had toppled Nawaz Sharif government, and had never cared to catch the assassins of Benazir Bhutto. In a recent interview to the daily Dawn, Musharraf stated that most of the key cabinet ministers in the present Imran Khan Government had been in his cabinet, when he became president of the country in a bloodless army coup. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had served as Musharraf’s foreign minister, is now holding the same portfolio in the present so-called democratically elected government.

The Cabinet members who served under Musharraf in various capacities include Farogh Naseem, Tariq Bashir Cheema, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Zubaida Jalal, Fawad Chauhdry, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shafqat Mehmood, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Amin Aslam. Sheikh Rashid is again appointed as the railway minister. He previously held the same portfolio under in the Musharraf cabinet.

Musharraf decides to return to Pakistan amidst the allegations that Prime Minister Imran Khan is a puppet in the hands of the army. Reham Khan, a journalist and author, who had written a book before the Pakistani polls, told an Indian channel recently that Imran Khan has compromised to remain in power. She has asserted that Imran is a puppet in the hands of the Pakistan military. Acording to her, he was waiting for army’s instructions before making a statement on the radio broadcast on Pulwama terror attack that martyred over 40 CRPF personnel on February 14 in south Kashmir. “He does what he is taught to do,” she has claimed.

Nuke Doctrine: Musharraf has cautioned that if Pakistan hits India with one atom bomb, India’s nuclear missiles will wipe out Pakistan. His advice is that India should be attacked with 50 nuclear bombs. However, he has told in a media interview that if Pakistan is treated as an equal sovereign country, we will reciprocate with peace. We cannot be treated like Bhutan or Bangladesh.

Maybe influenced with Musharraf’s policy towards India, Imran Khan too is blowing hot and cold. Earlier, he had asserted that Pakistan would not think before retaliating if India carried out any action against his country. The Pakistan Prime Minister also said that the state will act against those who are found involved in the attack provided India provides “actionable intelligence”.

New Chinese approach 

For the past two decades, Chinese authorities had bargained peace for its policies towards the Uyghur Muslims by supporting Pakistan’s Islamic Jehadis targeting India. Chinese government was apprehensive that its belligerent Muslims may get support from the Central Asian countries and Pakistan, but Pakistan quietly handed over the Uyghur Muslim activists , who were put to hard prison terms.

China has already described that Western condemnation of the repression of Muslims in China as “politically motivated” at the UN Human Rights Council. It is estimated that China has succeeded in pacifying the Muslims by arrested more than one million Muslims. They had to undergo psychological indoctrination programmes like studying Communist propaganda and giving thanks to the Chinese president Xi Jinping. Therefore, it is not surprising that China has endorsed the UN Security Council resolution on terrorism.

The Chinese province, Xinjiang, where more than 10 million Uyghurs of Turkish descent live is stated to be an autonomous region in China’s northwest that borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Since 1949, it has been under the control of Communist China. The people of this region speak their own language, which resembles to the language used by the people of Uzbekistan. There is a demand of an independent country, because the people of this region call their land as East Turkestan.

In its effort to dilute their separate identity, Chinese have flooded the province with a large number Han Chinese and imposed the Mandrin. In 2009, riots had broken out in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, which was crushed mercilessly. During the past 10 years, the region has become a key area for increasing the importance to China’s global aspirations.

With the return of Musharraf, a trusted ally of China, to Pakistan, Chinese are confident that the CPAC will be implemented without any political challenge, and it will be able to use the Pakistani port Gwador to reach the West Asian countries, much against the wishes of the western powers. The distance to Europe will be reduced considerably, and its exports will increase without en-routing through long voyages. In this backdrop, the peace initiative from Pakistan may have Chinese blessings too.

The Narendra Modi government is facing a piquant situation. The US is keen that India must take bold steps and punish Pakistan, but the olive branch from Imran Khan makes it quite difficult. The war with Pakistan may not be advisable, because Chinese are firmly in its support. The off-the-record discussions with Xi Jinping has not added any strategic or political mileage to the present government. India has opened its economy to the Chinese, but at the cost of her own industries and banking systems. The Chinese pressure has been immense on the Modi Government, which has already allowed Chinese to dump its merchandize on India, though it has already crippled its cottage and small scale industries. The Indian markets are flooded with the Chinese goods. For example, the Benaras sarees need not to be woven, the Indian markets have now Chinese sarees resembling them available at much cheaper prices.

The three incidents, Pahtnakot, Uri and Pulwama, also shows that the Indian forces in a poor light. The government has failed to explain how the terrorists could use the police vehicle to reach the cantonment in Pathankot, why Uri soldiers could not evolve a fool-proof security system, and similarly, at Pulwama why the standard operating procedure were ignored. These vital issues are being deliberately ignored on the Indian news channels, while Imran Khan is going overwhelm us with more and more peace offers. The army of Pakistan has found a popular face in Imran Khan to represent it. The judiciary is already under its spell and the only voice of dissent, Nawaz Shairf, the former prime minister, and his daughter, Mariam, are behind the bars under unproven corruption charges. The two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court bench comprising

Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, which had reserved its verdict after hearing the PML-N founder’s petition to get his sentence suspended in the Al-Azizia case, has finally rejected his application on February 25. His lawyer Khawaja Harris cited the former premier’s poor health as one of the reasons why his sentence should be suspended.

The military government in Pakistan having a civilian face is now a reality. The Indian leadership is to accept it. It requires a lot of homework before making loud announcements in the media.