FORMER Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s admission that Pakistan created the Taliban to fight Soviets in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and 1980s and then supported and trained groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the 1990s to carry out militancy in Kashmir has ripped apart the façade Pakistani army and political leadership had for decades tried to maintain when badgered by charges that terrorism enjoyed official sanction and patronage in that country. In a TV interview, Musharraf said Lashkar-e-Taiba and 11 or 12 other organisations were formed in Pakistan and supported and trained them to fight in Kashmir. He said people like Osama bin Laden, the Taliban leaders and the LeT’s Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and the others “enjoyed the status of heroes” in the 1990s. Musharraf has confirmed something that had for long been a barely hidden secret: Pakistan mobilized recruits and formed organizations for the purpose of fomenting “religious militancy”. In Afghanistan, Pakistan brought militants from all over the world to fight against Soviet forces. In Kashmir too, the Pakistan-sponsored organizations fomented Islamic militancy.
Musharraf’s disclosures have proven that Pakistan is home to terrorism. The truth of Pakistan’s proxy war is finally out. Musharraf has ostensibly spoken so openly in view of the fact that the organizations of religious militancy which Pakistan supported have now turned into terrorist organizations. They are not only targeting India and Afghanistan, but also Pakistan. The members of the groups have been involved in several massacres in Pakistan, including children in an army school. Today Pakistan is struggling to contain the Frankenstein it created. The terrorists are far from controlled. Every now and then they keep attacking targets. The question that Musharraf’s admission raises is whether the Pakistani political leadership and army would go out hundred per cent against the terrorist organizations. The army and police are taking action, such as killing and arresting members of the organizations; yet, they have not been able to convince anyone that they indeed want to wipe out these or such organizations.
The ambivalence of the Pakistani political leadership and army is because they continue to support, train and use these or such organizations to create trouble in India. It has been Pakistan’s old policy to keep the fires in Kashmir alive in order to keep drawing the attention of the international community to the ‘Kashmir problem’. The terrorist organizations supported by them infiltrate the borders and carry out operations in Kashmir, which invites reaction from the Indian troops, and that makes to the headlines in the domestic and international media. Pakistan’s political leaders and diplomats get an opportunity to appeal to the international community again to intervene in Kashmir.
In recent months Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke about the ‘Kashmir problem’ at the UN General Assembly and during his meeting with President Obama during his US visit. Sharif appealed to the UN and US to intervene for the resolution of the ‘Kashmir problem’. Much to the disappointment of the Pakistani leadership, the UN and international powers have never agreed to intervene in Kashmir. They endorse India’s stand that Kashmir is a problem between the two countries and hence it can be resolved only bilaterally. Any intervention by the UN and international community has also been ruled out by the signing of the Shimla Pact in 1972 between the two countries, according to which the Kashmir issue has to be resolved through bilateral dialogue.
Still, Pakistani political leadership would not give up appealing to the UN and international community for intervention. Political leaders in that country have a great vested interest in not giving it up. There is a large pro-Kashmir, anti-India constituency in Pakistan which the political leaders cater to when they speak toughly about international intervention in Kashmir. That also helps them deflect the global attention from the terrorism fostered by them. The Pakistani leadership tries to portray the terrorists trained by it who operate in Kashmir as “fighters for freedom of Kashmir”.
It is doubtful if Musharraf’s disclosures will have any impact on the policy of the Pakistani political leadership and army with regard to support to terrorist organizations. They will continue with their old strategy and tactics to keep stoking the flames in Kashmir. However, Musharraf’s admission should not go in vain. The world knows Pakistan as a home to terrorism. It will build up pressures on Pakistani leadership to act more decisively against terrorism. As for India, they would expect that Pakistani leadership to hand over to them the leaders and members of terrorist organizations who have committed acts of terror in India.