General Pervez Musharraf, the former head of the Pakistani military who was is also considered the major architect of the cross-border intrusions that sparked the Kargil war of 1999, and who perhaps came the closest to resolving the Kashmir dispute with India, passed away on Sunday (February 5) at the age of 79 after a prolonged illness. The bloodless coup in 1999 that toppled the civilian government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif brought to power the four-star general. He tenaciously clung to power, helping discover the PML-Q party, before being forced to resign in 2008 to avoid impeachment.
Pervez Musharraf: Born in Old Delhi’s Daryaganj
Musharraf, who was born on August 11, 1943, in Old Delhi’s Daryaganj to a career diplomat, advanced through the Pakistan Army’s ranks until being appointed by Sharif as army chief in October 1998.
Musharraf’s passing brings to mind an aspect of his Indian connection: his birthplace in the Daryaganj neighbourhood of Old Delhi in 1943. His residence, the “Neharwali Haveli,” is situated in Daryaganj near Kucha Saadullah Khan, behind the Golcha theatre. Before migrating to Pakistan in the event of partition, he spent the first four years of his childhood there, as reported by the PTI.
He visited his ancestral home in Daryaganj on his first trip to India as president of Pakistan. He also spoke with “friends” and “neighbours” while he was there.
After retiring as the commissioner of Punjab, Musharraf’s grandfather Qazi Mohtashimuddin bought the “Neharwali Haveli.” After his family relocated to Pakistan following the partition, the property was abandoned and is now mostly in ruins, as per PTI reports.
Pervez Musharraf: Architect of the Kargil war of 1999
Musharraf served as a key strategist in the Kargil War with India. He issued the directive for soldiers to be discreetly sent into the Kargil region (one of the two Districts of Ladakh region and is the second largest town of Ladakh and is situated roughly at equal distance (200km) from Srinagar, Leh, Padum Zanskar and Skardo Baltistan.) from March to May 1999. After India learned of the infiltration, a full-scale battle broke out.
Nawaz Sharif, however, stopped aiding the rebels in the border war in July 1999 as a result of growing international pressure. Following Sharif’s action, the Pakistan Army was enraged, and speculation of a potential coup quickly spread.
Who was to blame for the Kargil conflict and Pakistan’s withdrawal was a point of contention between Sharif and Musharraf.
Also watch | Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan’s last military ruler and architect of the Kargil War
With his top commanders, including the chief of the navy staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari, the chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal PQ Mehdi, and senior lieutenant-general Ali Kuli Khan, Musharraf had a heated exchange.
General Kuli Khan slammed the war as “a disaster bigger than the East-Pakistan tragedy,” adding that the plan was “flawed in terms of its conception, tactical planning, and execution” that resulted in “sacrificing so many soldiers.” Admiral Bokhari eventually demanded a full-fledged joint-service court martial against General Musharraf.
Pakistan’s biggest strategic error was the Kargil intrusion because Islamabad failed to anticipate the consequences on a global scale. In addition to suffering worldwide humiliation and alienation, Kargil cleared the ground for the US to shift more toward India. The US condemned Pakistan for placing the two South Asian adversaries at risk of a nuclear conflict for the first time after viewing India-Pakistan ties independently and objectively.
The Agra Summit: When Vajpayee and Musharraf ‘almost resolved’ the Kashmir conflict
The Agra Summit (14-16 July, 2001) has gone down in history as one of the most significant squandered chances in India-Pakistan relations. In his book “Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove,” former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri wrote that the “solution to Kashmir was in the grasp of both governments”.
The “Four-point solution” to Kashmir was put out by then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was said to have been in favour of the idea in principle, but the agreement fell through hours before the signing ceremony, as reported by the PTI.
The Musharraf plan’s four points were:
1. Demilitarisation or phased withdrawal of troops
On both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), millions of soldiers were stationed in Kashmir. In order to achieve a lasting peace, Musharraf said that both India and Pakistan would have to reduce the number of soldiers stationed there. It was up to the two parties to decide whether this withdrawal would be gradual and phased in.
2. The borders of Kashmir shall remain unchanged. However, Jammu and Kashmir residents would be permitted to cross the Line of Control without restriction (LoC).
The Shimla Agreement of 1972 established what is essentially a cease-fire line along the Line of Control (LoC). However, it is not recognised as the International Border by either India or Pakistan. Kashmir is disputed by both countries. In exchange for Pakistan accepting Indian sovereignty over the portion of Jammu and Kashmir on India’s side of the Line of Control (LoC), India would have to recognise Pakistan’s sovereignty over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (referred to by Pakistan as its province of Azad Kashmir). Both sides would then give up their claims to Kashmir’s other half, and the cease-fire line would become the International Border. The inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir, however, would be permitted to travel freely to the opposite side of the area.
3. Self-governance without independence
Musharraf was ready to give up what Pakistan has long argued for in favour of a higher degree of autonomy. Pakistan has long supported what it refers to as “Kashmiri self-determination.” Vajpayee would probably not object too much to this agreement condition because Article 370 of the Indian Constitution already grants J&K autonomy. The repeal of Article 370, one of the BJP’s fundamental ideological tenets, would have had to be conceded, but it would also have ended Pakistani assistance for militants in Kashmir who were in favour of independence.
4. A joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
Musharraf would have had a better chance of persuading Pakistanis at home to support a prospective Musharraf-Vajpayee pact if he had chosen to involve local Kashmiri leadership in the supervisory system.
Even though a draught resolution was prepared for signing, Musharraf claimed that the Indian side had broken the agreement years after the Summit’s failure. At a 2004 event, Musharraf remarked, “I was told that the Indian Cabinet had refused to give its nod.”
However, one account claims that Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the separatist leader, was the only one to become a hurdle in the peace agreement. “He (Geelani) described President Musharraf’s four-point plan as vague, and he attacked the president’s stance on the importance of UNSC resolutions to Kashmir,” Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri wrote in his book, Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove.
Pakistan’s State-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has admitted in the year 2015 that Pakistan supported and trained groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1990s to carry out militancy in Kashmir.
Also watch | Former President Pervez Musharraf’s last rites to be held in Pakistan
“In the 1990s, the freedom struggle began in Kashmir. At that time Lashkar-e-Taiba and 11 or 12 other organisations were formed. We supported them and trained them as they were fighting in Kashmir at the cost of their lives,” Musharraf said in an interview to Dunya News in 2015.
Regarding the actions taken against Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi of the LeT, the former army chief was replying to a question.
He claimed that individuals like Saeed and Lakhvi benefited from the status of heroes at the time.
“The Kashmiri freedom fighters including Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi were our heroes at that time. Later on, religious militancy turned into terrorism. Now they (referring to militants in Pakistan) are killing their own people here and this should be controlled and stopped,” he said.
To a question whether Saeed and Lakhvi should also be “controlled and stopped”, Musharraf said, “No comments.”
He said that “religious militancy,” which attracted terrorists from all over the world to battle Soviet forces, was established by Pakistan.
He added, in 1979 Pakistan was in favour of religious militancy.
(With inputs from agencies)
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