Musharraf has to satisfy two masters— the Jihadis at home and international agencies abroad. Islamic terror and economic collapse, not Kashmir are the real issues.


N.S. Rajaram



Indo-Pak summit

            The inconclusive ending of the Agra summit, if not its failure was a foregone conclusion. General Musharraf gave the impression that he had come to discuss Kashmir. He also claimed, especially during the breakfast meeting with journalists, that the terrorism in Kashmir was a ‘freedom struggle’, like the Palestinian Intifada in Israel. This suggests that he was playing to the gallery, to the Islamic constituency in Pakistan and West Asia. Having all but burnt its bridges with the West, especially America, Pakistan’s only hope for economic survival now rests on the generosity of Islamic countries of West Asia. This untold story of the summit makes it impossible for Musharraf or any other leader of Pakistan to give up being a Jihad state.

            Let us look at the economic picture, something that was totally ignored by the media. The Pakistani budget is now beholden to international agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. General Musharraf cannot spend any money without the approval of these agencies. Recently, they forced him to cut the defense budget— something unheard of in Pakistan. It is a dangerous thing to do for a military dictator. He has to keep his officers happy and cutting the defense budget is not the way to do it. This is complicated by the fact that in Pakistan, army is part of the political establishment. It is also increasingly identifying itself with the Islamic radicals.

This has created another problem for General Musharraf: he has to keep the Islamic lobby within and without the armed forces happy. To make things worse, private armies like Lashkar-e-Toiba do not feel bound by Musharraf’s decisions, feeling they are answerable only to Allah. They do not see Kashmir as their target. Their target is Hindu India, the unholy Dar-ul-Harb, which needs to be brought into the fold of Islam. This is clear from the Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Mohammed’s recent statement in Lahore: “… we will take our activities outside the borders of Kashmir. Our freedom fighters will start targeting Indian Government facilities everywhere in India.” Will General Musharraf, who has also called these terrorists ‘freedom fighters,’ force them to confine their ‘freedom struggle’ to Kashmir? Will they heed such a call, even if he makes it?

What India is faced with is no ‘cross border terrorism’ but the threat of Jihad right in the heart of the country. General Musharraf himself has in the past, justified Jihad as different from terrorism, just as he is now calling cross border terrorism ‘freedom struggle.’ This seems to have escaped the Indian media. There is an economic angle also to this. With international agencies like the IMF in control of Pakistan’s budget, Musharraf has to look for other sources for discretionary funds to keep his army and the Jihadists—increasingly one and the same—happy. The only possible sources left are overseas Pakistanis and rich Muslim countries of the Gulf region. And these will not look kindly on Musharraf or any other Pakistani leader calling off the Jihad against India even assuming he can, which is doubtful.


Economic compulsions

This means, Jihad for Pakistan is not merely an ideological imperative but also an economic necessity. Let us next look at the scope of Jihad against the background of Pakistan’s ideology. With increasing Talibanization of the armed forces, Jihad against India has become the main goal of the Pakistani establishment. The Pakistani columnist MB Naqvi wrote just before the summit: “Dealing with India is no longer a simple foreign policy matter here. Indeed the whole right wing has been radicalized with [the] mixing of India’s misguided anti-democratic policies with the one of opposing Hindu India as such; to all educated and brainwashed and paid Jehadis, the Jehad is against Hindu India rather than any fine discrimination among the policies. The fear is that some part of the Army might have come to believe the notion of Jehad being waged is against Hindu India as such.” In other words, the enemy is Hinduism— not any particular policy. The goal also is not the ‘liberation’ of Kashmir, but the defeat of Hinduism.

This fundamentalist vision is now compounded by economic collapse. It is disturbing that this side of Pakistani behavior is not receiving much notice in the Indian media. For example, no one in the English language media seems willing to acknowledge the existence of Brigadier S.K Malik’s seminal work The Quranic Concept of War, sponsored by the late President Ziaul Haq. It is required reading for all Pakistani officials— both military and civilian. An Urdu summary of this book is carried by all Pakistani soldiers. Here are two fundamental principles prescribed in this book, which every Indian official and journalist dealing with Pakistan should be familiar with.

The first involves Jihad, the second diplomacy. Jihad according to the author and also President Zia is "the most glorious word in the vocabulary of Islam… Jehad is a continuous and never-ending struggle waged on all fronts." Another point of the book is that the war should be carried out in the opponent's territory. This of course is exactly what Pakistan is doing in Kashmir, and now threatening all of India with. If India compromises on this Jihad, in five years, Delhi will be no safer than Srinagar.

The next point refers to diplomacy. The author invokes the Quran to sanctify breaking of treaties simply on grounds of suspicion of treachery! This gives an important clue to the behavior of countries like Pakistan: they need no evidence, much less proof; suspicion of treachery is all it takes for Allah's followers to break a treaty. Against this background, with opportunism masquerading as divine sanction, the futility of treaties signed in good faith is obvious. It is possible to solemnly swear by the Quran that he will remain true to his word, and next cite the same Quran as authority to break his word because he suspects you of harboring treacherous intentions!

Where does this leave India? The first point is that General Musharraf is not in a position to control Fundamentalist forces within the country, even if he wants to. To make things worse, appeasing these forces has become an economic necessity. Pakistan is not far away from economic and political breakdown and India must evolve a strategy to deal with it. Looking at Afghanistan to see what Pakistan might be like five years from now might be helpful. A hundred summits will not change it.