Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brickbats for Musharraf

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has told his countrymen loud and clear to shun the India-centric approach. While the General feels that the government, foreign office and media should try to remove the India fixation from the minds of people, the media in Pakistan thinks otherwise. Surprised at the General's advice, leading daily Pakistan Observer asks: "Is this manifestation of psychological retreat or recognition of the emerging realities in the South Asian region? Or does it reflect the overt or covert message conveyed by the US President during his recent visit?"

One of the 'emerging realities' that the paper talks of is probably the just-concluded Indo-US nuclear deal. The General seems to have made the statement in the light of that. Pakistan had asked for a similar nuclear deal from President Bush during his visit to Islamabad, which the US politely refused. Bush had told Musharraf that India and Pakistan are different countries with different needs and different histories and it is this, which the General reiterated. "We are not in competition with India. Our aspirations are different from India," Musharraf had told mediamen on Monday. The paper clearly observes in its editorial that such an action shall make Pakistan "subservient to India".

"We differ with him (Musharraf) because we are convinced that the approach is detrimental to the spirit of living with dignity and honour." Acknowledging a paradigm shift in the government's policy towards India, the paper says, "Pakistan cannot be oblivious to the India's hegemonic designs in the region in general". There is an obvious reference to Balochistan. Pakistan says that RAW is actively engaged in funding, training and providing weapons to the militants in the tribal region.
A section of thinkers in Pakistan say that India is trying to do a Bangladesh in Balochistan and also it wants to gain control of the region.

In this context, the paper says that not being India-centric will deprive the nation of its will to exist as a sovereign entity. "We should certainly not pick up quarrels with India, but should not, at the same time, lend a helping hand to the Indian ambitions and vision of the region." The daily also takes strong exception to Musharraf's statement that the army will remain India-centric for obvious reasons. "If Pakistan Army will continue to be India-centric for obvious reasons, as the President has himself said, why shouldn't the nation also be so without whose support Army's doctrine will be simply impracticable in modern security concepts," the Pakistan Observer argues.

So much for the brickbats. But that doesn't mean Musharraf should give up hope. He surely has got some cheer words from across the border. The Indian media opines that Musharraf himself has dropped the hyphen that existed between the two neighbours.
(Written on March 8, 2006 for Hindustan Times)

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