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Azad Kashmir?

Editorial. Cecil Victor. January IV. XIV

 

SHARIF’S “FOURTH WAR”

 

THREAT


 

Cecil Victor   By Cecil Victor 


 

US President Barack Hussein Obama
with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

 

       Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz
SharifSharif's fourth war threat by
Cecil Victor, fnbworld.com

 

It was the uncharacteristically blunt nature of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s response that drew attention to the content of what Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reported to have said during a visit to so-called “Azad Kashmir” not too long ago. What Sharif was reported by Pakistani media was that  “Kashmir was a flashpoint and unless the issue was resolved there was a possibility of a fourth war between Pakistan and India”. Asked to  comment at a reception celebrating the Indian Navy’s spectacular attack on Karachi on 4 December 1971 (which has since been observed as Navy Day) on what Sharif had purported to have said the Indian Prime Minister retorted very sharply: "There is no scope of Pakistan winning any such war in my lifetime”.


The irony was not lost on Pakistan. It was a day in which the Indian Navy had destroyed Karachi after the Pakistan Air Force had launched a series of nine attacks on Indian airfields from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Rajasthan in the south to draw the Indian Army out of East Pakistan where it was assisting the indigenous Mukti Bahini overthrow the Pakistani military establishment. The war, which lasted 13 days, resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh and the ignominious surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops to the Indian Army.


Pakistan has been trying to whitewash whatever Nawaz Sharif may have said in “Azad Kashmir” but the fact remains that the successive governments in Pakistan had referred to this part of the world being a “nuclear flashpoint” and using this threat to seek Indian concessions in Kashmir. For a time the US under the Bush family pandered to Pakistani tactics to pressurize India but after the attack on the US on 9/11/2001 a realization dawned on Washington that this Pakistani rhetoric was nothing but baldfaced nuclear blackmail. Nawaz Sharif in his third term in office attended the UN General Assembly and took the opportunity of meeting with President Barack Obama to threaten, once again, the possibility of a nuclear flashpoint if India did not resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan.

 

The US response was a stony silence on the threat and some sage advice to mend fences with India. It has become part of Pakistan’s political culture to make it a point to assert its nuclear status to secure political concessions in the region. This attitude has permeated the whole of the Pakistani bureaucracy and political establishment and so there is no surprise that Nawaz Sharif’s comments in “Azad Kashmir” should have been dressed up in what is perceived within the establishment as the politically correct way of presenting Pakistani views.


Pakistan has been trying to make out the case that J and K officials had “misquoted the Prime Minister on Kashmir”. Three officials of the “Azad Kashmir” Government have been suspended. His office issued a statement: "Prime Minister of Pakistan never uttered these words and the news item is baseless, incorrect and based on mala-fide intentions. The said news reports are strongly rebutted".  Malafide intentions from someone  in the “Azad Kashmir” government? If anything it is a case of over-enthusiasm to toe the official Pakistani line which has been in existence since the nuclear tests in the Chagai Hills of Balochistan in May, 1998. The “flashpoint” theory has been exploited by successive Pakistani Government to push the US government and other western nations to bring pressure on India.       


High on Pakistan’s list of demands is to secure the Indian withdrawal from the Siachen Glacier. The advisor to the Prime Minister, Sartaz Aziz,  has opened up a new line of attack against India: Accusing the Indian Army of polluting the Indus River which flows in the vicinity of the Siachen Glacier and demanding its withdrawal.


So far as the presence of Indian troops on the Siachen Glacier is concerned, for more than a decade now the formations posted on the glacier have been using biodigesters created by a Defence Research and Development Organisation Laboratory to treat human waste.


If pollution is an issue it is the proximity of not just the Pakistani soldiers but also the several thousand Chinese troops camouflaged as engineers and labourers deployed for the widening and modernization of the Karakoram Highway who are directly responsible for the faecal pollution of the rivers in the region.


Will Pakistan have the guts to tell China to equip its personnel with diapers and to cart the soiled ones for disposal in Chinese-occupied Tibet?

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