October 01, 2020
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India-Pak-US

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan

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Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Thank you very much. Being the last speaker so many points have already been addressed that you may be having some good points to make but they have already been made before you speak up.

I will approach this problem from a slightly different angle. First of all, to put that what you are seeing in South Asia is not something that suddenly emerged. It is a continuum of something that has occurred and depends on how would you like to approach it that this problem in the long term perspective that began from 1947-'48, there is a mid term in 1971 where the issue between India and Pakistan was not Kashmir. Then in the late '80s where there were a lot of other problems combining together, that we got in places, we fight with the end of war, first war in Afghanistan. And then there is another point that has to do something that Steve alluded to and that has to do with something three years back, which is the arrival of the Vajpayee government in India and the hawks' arrival in the Indian government and their approach towards Pakistan.

The question in Pakistan whether this is about Kashmir, or is this about Pakistan's sovereign survivability as a state that exerts independence and does not want to be another Bangladesh. That is the question in Pakistan more.

For the last three years Pakistan has been in an internal political crisis as you very well know. Pakistan's focus for about three to four years in particular are more or less in the whole decade of the '90s and the post Cold War world. Security policy has four different factors. The foremost was economic and internal survival. Pakistan was focused on economic survival and returning to world General Musharraf called a genuine democracy. So it was internally focused, what he called the seven point agenda in '99.

The second element was preservation of nuclear deterrence. That has a direct nexus with war avoidance, and war avoidance in other words means economic survival of Pakistan. And we believe in Pakistan that India would not like Pakistan to [revise] precisely for the reason that a stable Pakistan would be asserting its independence. That has more to do with the problem of Kashmir.

Then there were two more factors, that was one. The right of self determination of people of Kashmir. That has a direct relation with its relation with India [with whom it] wants to avoid the war.

And fourthly, Pakistan's position on Afghanistan. Essentially Pakistan's security policy is that it wants a friendly government in Kabul, precisely what was denied to Pakistan by India in particular and in collaboration with Russia. That was the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan faltered by supporting a regime like Taliban that slipped out of its hands and Pakistan had no leverage at one point.

So turning its back on Taliban was an easy thing for Pakistan to do because it was counter-productive for Pakistan's own security, especially since the arrival of al Qaeda and the elements in Afghanistan. That nexus with Pakistan's genuine support of Kashmir was itself a problem for Pakistan. And General Musharraf's problem in particular since September 11th was how to create a firewall between a general thing, what he believes was the right of self determination of Kashmir and the cause of Afghanistan which was being hijacked by al Qaeda and Taliban.

Then this situation happened. There are five actors in this whole milieu as we see it. And often there are two non-state actors and all non-state actors are not necessarily horrible people.

The five actors are India, Pakistan, the United States, the al Qaeda are non-state actors, the horrible guys, and Kashmiris, the good guys. We tend to forget that Kashmiris are also an important element in this whole crisis. They are the ones who suffer the most in this whole game.

With United States and Pakistan cooperating to defeat al Qaeda, India seems to have felt left out. It wanted its objectives to be obtained as well as what was happening, and the problem was that this war against terrorism as it started in Afghanistan, if you recall your own words you may remember that you were talking that this is an experience mankind has never seen before. No matter how high tech U.S. would be, you would be chasing shadows in those places. And [inaudible], I am very glad Dr. Behera you brought this point, that only two out of the 22 were caught. Why were they caught? One particular factor that has been talked about, that it was known that as war in Afghanistan would continue it would be pushing east and east towards the eastern side of Afghanistan which means the Pakistani western border which is porous and tribal and once this starts [inaudible] that will be a crisis area, and never in history the western borders of Pakistan have ever been defended or troops have been deployed in the numbers in history, even during British times.

This was a time it was required that Pakistani forces should have been tripled, four times to be deployed in that part of the world. India would provide Pakistan leaders an assurance that the [inaudible] with India would be secure. That was not forthcoming because United States was not prepared to guarantee that and Pakistan's security being pulled in two directions.

Is Pakistan and the U.S. capable of blocking this area with about to seven to eight infantry divisions, things might have been different. It would have prevented the melt-down in that region which is kind of a gray area between Pakistan's border and Afghanistan.

So my first conclusion is that this movement by India, this [inaudible] has been highly irresponsible, even though what has happened on December 13th was a very horrendous act. Who did it, we don't know. I mentioned five actors, I mentioned two state actors. We don't know. We don't know who did it. But almost certainly given the kind of situation that Pakistan was involved, that was the last thing Pakistan would have wanted, and that provided the perfect pretext for India to move its forces and bring upon a strategy of compellance. And not compellance on Pakistan alone. Mind you, it was compelling the United States to act upon Pakistan for its own reasonable objectives. It could be any who lump Pakistan along with Afghanistan as responsive of terrorism, one. To isolate Pakistan and use the actions of non-state actors to gain international attention in its own war of [coercion] against Pakistan, and I believe India has succeeded to some extent in bringing international [coercion], as Dr. Behera mentioned, it is war on terrorists, everybody's task.

Thirdly, which probably has been underplayed, the present Indian [dispensations] of Vajpayee has to garner some support for this [inaudible] inside India. It is building its political base in India. What best then to be the Pakistan at a time when [inaudible].

A combination of all these factors is at play there and if U.S. wants to involve, I would certainly know that U.S. would not like to get involved into the [inaudible] between India and Pakistan and has to steer clear with regard to its own objectives both in the immediate term as well as in the long term.

If I may just briefly [inaudible] I could answer a lot of questions about nuclear and other things. I will not raise this point. I will probably answer your question if I have.

Right now if I have to get something in the immediate term, while the U.S. is publicly talking to Pakistan, it is easy to speak of this smaller one because it [inaudible] that matters. Strategic affairs to the one who is the little one, to publicly say shut down infiltration. Let me tell you that's one part of the [inaudible] in Kashmir. The other part is aggressive military occupation in Kashmir. Unless and until that part is addressed, violence in that part is not going to end. And certainly what is happening inside the territory of India is India's problem. Pakistan will do its part on its territory and it is assuring the world. But it is important that from now onward an acceptable verification mechanism must be put in place. I repeat. An acceptable verification mechanism must be put in place so that infiltration does not become a pretext to either wage another limited war and I can speak more about that, or a pretext to carry out a surgical strike.

Secondly, it will be equally important because the issue of Kargil has been brought up, because Pakistan is [inaudible] India has larger and greater interest in India, but there is a natural principle involved. Although it's not said but it is somewhat believed about the sanctity of the Line of Control. Would United States come out publicly and tell India that if it crosses the Line of Control in any form, the United States will publicly denounce that, pretty much akin to what it did in '99 with Pakistan. That will about give a lot of confidence in the people of Pakistan that United States is generally even-handed and even policies coming up.

Secondly, it should also be ensured that human rights violations in Kashmir does not increase immediately after this. That given Vajpayee's intrinsic problem with the Muslims in the subcontinent which they have, and it is pretty much evident to everybody that they would not go and start crushing the people in Kashmir. Some symptoms of that have already appeared with the arrest of one of the leaders, as you see today.

So that is one thing we must believe also, that there is something called human rights, although it seems that in contemporary times these [inaudible] factors are no longer relevant in [inaudible] use of force by states to cross a political [method] of war.

And thirdly, troop reduction of Kashmir at some point of time as a reciprocal measure on India's part. I would go a step further that as an immediate remedy, not on the long term, that India and Pakistan should begin to come to the table on something of a [religious] nature, that is prevention of some dangerous military practices under the nuclear umbrella. Something akin to what the U.S. and the Soviets did in the late 1980s, at the end of the Reagan Administration.

And as a result of all this I think Steve pointed out something and we can discuss further, the beginning of a peace process. I don't think we can [inaudible] right away, but the beginning of a peace process must begin. Some people talk [inaudible] good way of bilateral [paper], but there was somebody who talked here and said a very interesting kind of an example here. India and Pakistan's position is akin to Newton's law of motion, that unless and until an external force acts upon it, it continues to go in the same path. So that means you have to involve outside. It is not a question that [includes] India or [includes] Pakistan. The fact is that a process that begins even as India and Pakistan develop has got some Pakistan behind it, and as a result it does not sustain itself. A process must be sustained.

I think we will be putting a lot of heavy pressure on the United States alone. I would go further by saying that because international involvement is propitious enough to involve seeing Russia and China [inaudible] involvement of a peace process to ensure that India and Pakistan bilateral process proceeds [inaudible].

I wouldn't mind seeing Mr. Harriman going, or somebody like that, who left in 1962 as Steve mentioned. It's been 40 years [inaudible] involvement, but somebody like that behind the scenes in quiet diplomacy to see that India and Pakistan talk bilaterally, people are monitoring what they are talking and what they are doing. I think it would be a good idea to send somebody like that.

I end here and I can speak on other issues as well. My own theory is that in the long term India and Pakistan must solve at least four strings, simultaneous ones. A political sustained dialogue for conflict resolution, a strategic dialogue which has two legs of nuclear missiles on the one hand and conventional forces on the other hand because they are all linked and hyping up the situation. And the third is, you could call the trade and cultural and [inaudible] exchanges to really bring down the [temptation] in the region.

I thank you, sir.

James Steinberg: I appreciate that.

I wonder if you might just say a word about what the impact in Pakistan is on the fact that President Musharraf has had to take these steps. Apparently in response about the Indian and external pressure, how much backlash has there been against this? How sustainable is this for General Musharraf to contain the Kashmir —

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: I think General Musharraf has taken this under a lot of difficult situations, especially on the domestic front. Just this morning I was reading some organization called Defense Council of Pakistan which all [inaudible] and I formed an exchange of a formal Army Chief General [inaudible] and making the strong statement that they do not accept any compromise in Kashmir and stuff like that, putting an enormous pressure. We don't know whether all this thing was hyped up, one of India's objectives on this whole crisis was to bring down the Musharraf government because basically the present dispensation, they hate Musharraf. They just hate him to the extent that Arafat and Sharon look [to be friends and all], so we don't know what exactly their aim is.

But I think Pakistan's moving towards the October election and that's a very important point that Steve brought out and he's going to stay, he's going to be there for five years, that's for sure, and we have to see how the political system was in Pakistan. Domestic Pakistan is a factor that is affecting him, and in the face of current crisis I think it is yet another very bold move on his part. I would say so.


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