Infiltration in Kargil Misperceptions of Pakistan's Motivations

01 Jun, 1999    ·   193

D.Suba Chandran says the current strategy of Pakistan seems to be in pursuance with its larger goal of internationalising the Kashmir issue, and reviving the seperatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir against India

What are the motivations behind Pakistan ’s current endeavor? Why did Pakistan abet the militants’ infiltration, especially with Indo-Pak relations having improved after the Lahore Declaration? Is it the handiwork of the Pakistan Army, attempting to sabotage the political rapprochement between the two countries and in the process trying to score a point over the political leadership? Is it really an incursion by “freedom fighters” as Pakistan claims? Is it a desperate attempt by Nawaz Sharif to divert attention from the snowballing internal crisis in Pakistan ? Or, is it part of a bigger plan aiming to internationalize the Kashmir issue?



First, who are the infiltrators. Niether can they be identified as  “indigeneous freedom fighters” struggling against the Indian occupation nor can they be classified as Afghan fighters who entered Kashmir without the knowledge of Pakistan . The manner in which the infiltrators occupied these areas and entrenched proves this would not have been possible without the active help of the Pakistan army.



Second, it is unlikely to be a deliberate plan by Pakistan to sabotage the positive steps taken by both the countries to improve their relations. Neither is Sharif under pressure from the fundamentalists, who are against rapproachment with India , nor is there any political gain for Nawaz Sharif in doing so. Moreover, Sharif only stands to gain nationally and internationally by continuing the dialogue. Many believe that the Lahore Declaration has put the Kashmir issue at the back burner, hence Sharif wanted to revive it. This is not entirely true, because the Lahore Declaration says both governments have agreed to “intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir ”. Sharif would have rather use the Declaration to discuss the Kashmir issue than to ruin it. Therefore, it was not in the interests of Nawaz Sharif to wreck the ongoing dialogue or the Lahore Declaration.



Third was the role of the army, independent of the political leadership, as Defence Minister George Fernandes has indicated. Ever since the removal of the former Chirf of Army Staff, Jahangir karamat, by Sharif, many believe that the Army is not happy with playing second fiddle to the political leadership. That there existed two power centres in Pakistan may have been true in the past, but this does not seem to be the case at present. Not only was the present COAS, Gen Pervaiz Musharaf, picked up by Sharif himself, superceding others, but so was the Director General of Pakistan 's ISI and other important officials. Besides, to aid an intrusion of this magnitude would have required careful preparations and an operation of these dimensions would not have taken place without the knowledge of the Prime Minister. The fact that intruders have been armed with Stinger missiles reveal that the Pakistan Army has considered all the available options in advance. Secondly it is also believed that, with the budget to be presented in Pakistan , the Army expects an increase in its share. It should be remembered that the Army in Pakistan , despite nuclear parity, also aspire to attain conventional parity. It is doubtful that the recent events are to increase defence expenditure because, given the history of Pakistan , no political leader can afford to cut down the budget of the Army. Nevertheless, one part of Fernandes theory may be true – on the question of involvement of the ISI. This may be a purely Army operation but, if the infiltrators, either wholly or largely are from Afghanistan , then the question of ISI's  non-involvement can be ruled out.



Fourth, are the internal problems faced by Nawaz Sharif responsible for this adventure? It is unlikely that the problems like the arrest of Najam Sethi and the follow up internal and external criticisms would have made Sharif  take such an initiaive to divert the attention of the people. Quiet simply this operation would have been thought of well in advance. Besides, the attention of the nation has already been diverted by the floods in Sindh, which have killed thousands of people, and the Government’s decision to celebrate “Yaeem-e-Takbeer” the first anniversary of Pakistan ’s nuclear tests. Also, it is unlikely that Sharif would take such a step for internal reasons, as he is well aware that the BJP government in New Delhi is facing elections, and Pakistan 's action would help the BJP in the forthcoming elections.



Given all these circumstances, the current strategy of Pakistan seems to be in pursuance with its larger goal of internationalising the Kashmir issue, and reviving the seperatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir against India .