Dear General Musharraf,
Please accept my congratulations on your becoming the Chairman of ‘the grand alliance of 23 parties’ that you have formed recently, revealing your political ambitions. I also wish to convey my sincere thanks to you for confessing your close links with Hafiz Sayeed, Lashkar–e Taiba (LeT)/ Jammat ud-Dawa (JuD) terrorist outfits operating from Pakistan during a TV discussion on ARY News programme-11th Hour.
This is what the Indian security establishment had learnt long ago. I was most gratified with this statement as it confirmed my assessment about you made at the time of your taking over as the Chief of the Pakistan Army. I was certain about your masked political ambitions and your nexus with the terrorist outfits. Actually the same thing you had stated earlier in your interview to Dunya News in October 2015. The difference this time was that you plainly mentioned that ‘you like them and they are fond of you and that you are the biggest supporter of LeT/JuD’. While this was known to us since long, the timing of the statement to coincide with the release of Hafiz Sayeed unmistakably reveals your motivation. You expect that Hafiz would now be able to play a crucial role in the Pak politics. He has the support of the most powerful instrument in Pakistan i.e. the Pak Army. I need not tell you about the links between the Pak Army and Hafiz as you know it better than others being a former COAS of the Pak Army. Ms Imaan Hazir Mazari, the daughter of Ms Shireen Mazari of Tehreek-e-Insaf party and an anti-India hawk, has aptly pointed out that there is now no difference between terrorists and the Pak Army. She was responding to the Pak Army’s surrender to the Tehreek-e Labaik recently on the anti-blasphemy protests. In fact the relationship between the Pak Army and terrorists has transformed in recent times. Earlier the Pak Army had terrorists as their unofficial army, now the terrorists have a formal army. Pakistan has in real sense become ‘Terroristan’.
Your assessment is that now Hafiz would contest elections and would either form the government or would be in a position to influence the formation of the new government and also in the selection of the Pak head of the state/government- a position you desperately want for yourself. This is the undeclared agenda of your 23 party grand alliance. Nothing wrong in having that aspiration, though this contradicts your declaration made soon after the coup in 1999. One thing that all admire in you is that you don’t try to hide your ambitions. This is the difference between you and late General Zia-ul Haq. Whereas Zia effectively concealed his ambitions and arrogance behind a veneer of humility, you make no effort to conceal your personal ambitions.
Your above attribute had helped Sri Satish Chandra in 1998 the then Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan to make an accurate assessment about you. Since this is available in public domain (Kargil Review Committee Report, pp. 140-141), I can easily share it with you. He had informed the Indian Ministry of External Affairs after meeting you that you were ‘an ambitious and scheming individual’, ‘a hardliner on India and your elevation does not bode well for India-Pakistan relations’ and that though you were a nominee of the then PM Nawaz Sharif, you could act against him either to install another civilian government or frontally take over from the government’. The Indian assessment, made before the Kargil operations, was that you would not toe the line of Nawaz Sharif on India after some time and would remove him from power. The accuracy of this assessment was proved by the subsequent events.
Your other interesting attribute was observed by your former boss late General Asif Nawaz Janjua, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). During the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, he used to describe you as “Tricky Mush” for your belief that you could fool all people for all time. By now you may have learnt that this is not true. But Jihadis are your creation and you can easily fool them to get what you aspire for.
Perhaps you will have to do more to convince Hafiz and other terrorists that you played a crucial role in building terrorist outfits as the unofficial portion of the Pak Army. You with the support of other officers like Lt. General Mohammed Aziz Khan and Major General Mahmud Ali Durrani, had created a dreaded army of terrorists which was euphemistically called the Army of Islam. This nomenclature was changed into International Islamic Front in the post -1998 period. You had an extremely close relationship with Osama bin Laden. You used him against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and in 1988 against Shias when they demanded an independent Karakoram State in Gilgit. Laden and his members of the outfit massacred a large number of Shias there. And your rise was only due to Laden. I was amazed like many others to see your progress in the Pak army. In the initial years after you joined the Pak Army, there was nothing special about you with several adverse remarks being made by some of your superiors. In fact, you have admitted this in your book entitled “In Line of fire”. Your rise began with your selection by Zia as the terrorist breeder to the Pak Army. But for Laden it would have been impossible for you to rise up to the position of COAS. It would not be wrong to say that you are the creation of Osama bin Laden.
After the US launched war against Taliban and Al Qaeda, you provided the latter with much needed shelter. About 150 top Al Qaeda leaders were kept in Pakistan and then sent to Bangladesh in disguise and were brought back later. Osama bin Laden was provided with a safe house right in Islamabad. You may have thought of presenting him in case the US pressurised you to do more on terrorism. You had been giving senior and lower ranking expendable Al Qaeda terrorists from time to time whenever there was intense pressure from the US. Presenting the known terrorist to US in instalments was a process that gave you vast funds and support to you to continue in the important positions in Pakistan (combining President-ship with the COAS). You handed over Abu Zubaida, one of the top Al Qaeda terrorist, and 27 other members of the Al Qaeda to the US authorities in 2002. Then in 2003, you presented Khalid Sheikh Mohammad of Al Qaeda linked with the 9/11 attacks in the US and in 2005 Abu Faraj al–Libbi to the US authorities. There were several lower level terrorists of Al Qaeda who were given to the US. All of them were in Pakistan. Does it not suggest the kind of patronage given by the Pak Army/ISI to Al Qaeda and other terrorists? The terrorists are still enjoying shelter in Pakistan making it the epicentre of international terrorism.
But as far as the US was concerned you fooled them and earned several billions of dollars in the name of war on terror. You launched several sham operations with exotic names like OP Anaconda, OP Mountain Lion, OP Snipe, OP Condor, etc. and used that fund against India. No doubt for some time you acted as a juggler who could play with five balls with two always in your hands. These five balls were Pak political parties, terrorist outfits, US, China and India. This was based on your abilities to mouth lies without any hesitation.
But keeping Osama bin Laden in Islamabad was your mistake. He was on the radar of US and other countries. Twice Al Zawahiri after attending top level meetings at the Pak –Afghan border came to Islamabad raising suspicion that Osama was in that region. These meetings also included the ISI officers whom you always projected as the retired rogue elements. The US knew about it but took action only after further confirmation.
And despite such a close relationship you denied your acquaintance with Osama. When Larry King of the CNN asked you in his programme immediately after the 7th October 2001, about your relationship with Laden, you replied without batting an eyelid, “I had never known him.” When Larry King persisted by asking you, “You mean, you have never met him?” You replied “Never” without hesitation. Your ability to speak lies is remarkable. You had admitted that you had been speaking lies in ‘national interests. You are known for speaking with forked tongue. This was the main reason for the Indian policy makers to remain suspicious about your real intentions.
I admit that you have a remarkable capability for training and motivating terrorists. The terrorists trained by you fought in Afghanistan in all parts of India. You had motivated several of them to act as suicide bomber- a rare achievement. The terrorists and serving officers sent to Kargil knew well that most of them would have to sacrifice their lives but they accepted the task assigned by you. I am sure due to your this ability, Hafiz Sayeed and others like him would be happy to use your this skill.
We in India were surprised when you stated that you were prepared to talk at any level, at any place and at any time with India. In the Indian security establishment there was a feeling that it was a ploy to embarrass the Indian leadership, which eventually proved to be correct. However the then Indian PM decided to invite you for a summit in Agra hoping that what both the countries could not achieve earlier, could be achieved then. Significantly, this was after your Kargil operations and the conversation between you and your chief of the staff that revealed your sinister designs towards India. It was indeed a very magnanimous approach of the former Indian PM Vajpayee. You have placed the entire blame for the failure to issue a declaration on India in your book, which is not correct. You know it better why it could not succeed. Reacting to your allegation in the book, the former PM Vajpyee clarified on 26th September 2006, “…during our talks he (Musharraf) took a stand that the violence that was taking place in Jammu and Kashmir could not be described as ‘terrorism’. He continued to claim that the bloodshed in the state was nothing but the people’s battle for freedom. It was this stand of General Musharraf that India just could not accept and this was responsible for the failure of the Agra summit.” In addition, if India wanted action against Dawood Ibrahim, there was nothing wrong in it. During the Agra Summit, you tried to wriggle out of the past bilateral agreements reached at Shimla and Lahore and insisted on Pakistan’s right to support the jihadi terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir, whom you described as freedom-fighters and not terrorists. I was once again proved to be correct in my assessment made prior to the summit. Unfortunately, some senior editors whom you had addressed and a few others who had only limited knowledge created confusion by making public statements that helped you in projecting your view point.
I would like make a few comments on your book “In line of Fire” which I read with great interest. Your critics in Pakistan pointed out that you had deliberately chosen the title after the 1993 Hollowood movie by the same title, which was about a lone secret service agent, who stood between life and death for the US President. Through the book, you have sought to convey a message to the US and the Western world: ‘Me or the jihadi deluge—you have no third option’. This was based on your desire to project to the world that you were the saviour of Pakistan and in case you were not allowed to continue as the President the world would see complete control of jihadis in Pakistan. On this, let me quote a Pak analyst Amir Mir on your traits. According to him people in Pakistan perceive you as a “self-obsessed and power-hungry man, who would go to any extent to remain in power”. I think none can disagree with this. However the problem is now that you want to hug jihadis. And the thrust of your book is that only you can save Pakistan from Jihaids. Neither Hafiz nor Maluna Masood Azhar would like such utterances. Should you not think of writing another book and this time you should reflect your love and respect for persons like Hafiz?
In addition, the book contains several lies. Let me point a few. You have mentioned in your book that Omar Sheikh was not involved in the assassination of Daniel Pearl but Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the then No. 3 in Al Qaeda was the main culprit. Your view was based on the statement of one Fazal Karim of Lashkar-e- Jhangvi “who held one of the Pearl’s legs but did not know the name of the person who had actually slit Pearl’s throat”. All he could say was that he was “Arab- looking”. Can someone believe it?
Your narration of Pak proliferation network is very interesting but full of lies. You placed the entire blame on A Q Khan highlighting that the entire operation was one man’s job. You very cleverly tried to put the blame on some Indians who were employed at Dubai by A Q Khan. Is it not surprising that there were no investigations about these “vanished Indians” by any international agency? Obviously it was the product of your highly fertile and calculative imagination. Let me quote a British intelligence report on the Pak proliferation activities during the period of A Q Khan. The British intelligence report in 2005 pointed out that almost 100 Pak organisations including the Pak High Commission in London assisted Pakistan in its nuclear quest. Pakistan had established a network of front companies to purchase and smuggle out its components to finance such activities. This clandestine effort was known as the “Operation Butter Factory”. And you did not know. Really? I would like to point out that according a study by David Albright of the Institute of Science and International Studies in 2015, the proliferation network of Pakistan still continues. He has observed that Pakistan is heavily dependent on outside supply for many key direct and dual use goods for its nuclear programme and maintains smuggling networks with entities willing to break supplier country laws to obtain these goods. It was not A Q Khan who was responsible for the supply the designs of P1 and P2 centrifuge to Iran and Libya and several other countries but the entire Pak security establishment was part of this operation. You don’t have to bother: the proliferation network was there and it is still there fully functional. Only poor A Q Khan was made to apologise and at that time you could fool US into believing that only Khan was involved. You had to find a scape goat. There is no mention in your book about George Tenet’s (then Director of CIA) meeting with you on the links of scientists belonging to Umma Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) a Pakistani NGO with Al Qaeda for which he had to make an unscheduled visit to Pakistan and you cunningly tried to project the Al Qaeda’s links with the Russian loose nukes. You have also omitted deliberately the Pak linkages with North Korea which were leaked in October 2002. Pakistan’s clandestine collusion with North Korea to help the latter develop a uranium enrichment capability in return for the supply of long-range missiles to Pakistan had continued despite the public leakage of the details of this collusion.
I cannot say how the US would react to your manoeuvres to come back to power. The US knows your close links with terrorists. It is also concerned about the possibility of nuclear weapons of Pakistan falling into the hands of terrorists. It was during your time the outfits like Al Qaeda and LeT were trying hard to acquire WMD capabilities with the help of UTN scientists. In their perception such a possibility would become distinct if you come back to power. President Trump is different from his predecessors. The US now finds that there is continued nexus between the ISI and terrorists. While outlining his South Asia Policy on 21st August 2017, President Trump slammed Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups and claiming to be fighting against them. He warned Islamabad of consequences if it continued to do so. He further stated, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.” He has sent a firm message to Pakistan to re-arrest Hafiz. You have responded by saying that this is an insult to Pakistan. This must have been liked by Hafiz. You have gained some brownie points.
For India, it does not matter whether you come to power or Hafiz. Pakistan is now in the grip of fundamentalist parties and the Pak Army’s recent surrender to the Tehreek-e Labaik reflects this. It will continue to be a ‘Terroristan’ unless the Pak Army is forced to sever its links with terrorists. India is also well aware of your duplicity. While the talks were going on to resolve the issue between the two countries, an senior ISI officer during your visit to Bangladesh met ULFA leader Paresh Barua and offered him substantial assistance to continue his anti-India activities. That you had never been sincere in improving relations between the two countries is well known. In fact your approach towards India is strongly motivated by your desire to avenge what you look upon as Pakistan’s humiliation at the hands of India in 1971 in Bangladesh and in Siachen in 1984. You had justified the 1999 Kargil operation on this basis. This is the perception of the Pak Army as a whole.
It is up to Pakistanis to decide to give you a chance again or not. I am sure that some saner elements in Pakistan must have realised that you made Pakistan a failed state and the epicentre of international terrorism. In the BRICS conference its Joint Declaration this year mentioned the names of Pak based terrorists organisations- JeM and LeT- along with other global terror groups like Haqqani’s network, Islamic State and Al Qaeda. The country is getting diplomatically isolated. Today whereas Pakistan is seen as a failed state, Bangladesh which was a part of Pakistan, respected for its economic development in the comity of nations. Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank network for the poor is now an example for other countries. The younger generation in Pakistan is now becoming active which does not like terrorism. Hence they are not likely to support you. I have quoted Ms Imaan Mazari’s comments above. Another person has also spoken against you. Naela Quadri Baloch, the head of the World Baloch Women Forum, cited your comments made in the television interview in her letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and requested him to designate you a global terrorist. The women in Pakistan may not have forgotten that you had stated that women get raped to get visa for Canada. They may go against you.
But one thing I must admit. If you come back to power, the Pakistan politics would become lively and interesting. You are perhaps the most dramatic political leader of Pakistan. You have a superb capability for communication and that is your asset. You can be compared with Hitler and Goebbels in communication skill. According to them, what was important was not how credible your statement, but how credible your way of saying what you say. You also believe in this.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
Ensuring national security transcends strategic, military, diplomatic, economic, social and technological factors. The internal security situation remains grim with insurgencies, terrorism and Maoists acquiring dangerous proportions. The external security environment too reflects growing threats. Chanakya was a great security thinker of ancient India, who provided pragmatic solutions to protect the State. These concepts are extremely relevant in today’s security environment. Like Chanakya's thinking, this blog covers all the national security aspects - not only politico-military but also non-military dimensions that contribute to the strengthening of national power.
S D Pradhan has served as chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee. He has also been the country's deputy national security adviser. He was chairman of the Task Force on Intelligence Mechanism (2008-2010), which was constituted to review the functioning of the intelligence agencies. He has taught at the departments of defence studies and history at the Punjabi University, Patiala. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, US, in the department of arms control and disarmament studies. The ministry of defence had utilized his services for the preparation of official accounts of the 1971 war and the counterinsurgency operations in the northeast. In the JIC/National Security Council secretariat, he was closely involved with the preparation of the reports of the Kargil Review Committee and the Group of Ministers on national security as also with the implementation of their recommendations. His publications include two books and several articles