Every time the Kashmir dispute attracts the attention of the international community, there comes some damning report or statement from the Pakistani leadership either to sabotage the movement or get billions of dollars as a reward for its revelations. It is yet unknown what General Musharaf wanted to achieve from his recent revelations about the establishment of training camps for Kashmiri militants. Making his own policy public might get him a Nobel Prize for peace in the future. But what Kashmir is dreading now from the Pakistani leadership will be to hand over all those boys to Indian authorities who were lured to fight an armed struggle against India and are now languishing in the remote corners of Pakistan.
The former President of the Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf revealed to Der Spiegel (a German publication) that the Pakistan army had trained and provided arms to the Kashmiri militants during the late eighties. The statement has legitimised India's right to attack camp sites allegedly still being used in the north of Pakistan for planning attacks against India. India will now argue, if Washington pounds on Taliban militants in Waziristan by its drones, why shouldn't India attack training camps of militants intended to bring death and destruction in the valley?
Musharraf's revelations are very significant because he was not only the President of the country but he was the head of the armed forces and the chief of army staff at the same time. The majority of the Pakistani rulers, serving or retired, civil or army, have been known to play dirty politics with the sentiments of their own people. People expected better of Musharraf. How shocking it is for those who once considered Pakistan their saviour to find that they have been treated as sacrificial lambs and bargaining chips.
For the last sixty years Kashmir was a jugular vein for Pakistan. Its Army became a powerful institution by playing the Kashmir card among its masses. The politicians raised emotions by showing Kashmiri symbols during elections. Kashmiris have not realised that independence is anathema to both India and Pakistan and Pakistan is as much an opponent of independence as India. In fact, both India and Pakistan have been settling scores and have, in the process, turned Kashmir into a battle ground of their military rivalry. They were never serious to settle Kashmir and let its people live a normal life like other states or provinces.
According to recent Indian surveys more than sixty five percent of the Kashmiri people do not want to be part of Pakistan, although they do not have the same feelings for Pakistan that they have for India. Yet, Pakistani leaders have let down the Kashmiri people time and again. From Ayub Khan to Asif Zardari, they have played the Kashmir card to keep their hold on power but never bothered about the suffering of ordinary Kashmiris.
What India has been alleging against Pakistan including Musharraf when he was at the helm of affairs, he confirmed and confessed it. The Pakistani government is responsible for the militancy of two decades in Kashmir and needs a lot of explaining to do those mothers who lost their sons, their hope and their future. And Musharraf is accountable to those thousands of protestors who are pleading on the streets of the valley to achieve at least a right to live that has been snatched from them by the security forces.
It has become a habit of former or deposed rulers in Pakistan, once they lose power, to appear to be soft with India. When Benazir was out of power she came close to India which was supporting her attempt to return to power. Even during her second term in power she submitted the list of Kashmiri militants to Indian authorities at a time when its intelligence agency was infiltrating them with arms and ammunition across the Line of Control.
Many Indian intellectuals working at the behest of intelligence agencies met Nawaz Sharif during his exile in Saudi Arabia to lend him assistance in coming back and overthrowing Musharraf. 'Instability in Pakistan was the sole intention of the Indian agencies whereas Pakistani leaders were looking for petty gains at the time', says a defence analyst in Pakistan.
Musharraf, who India considers the architect of the Kargil war, is now pleading India's case in the international fora and it wouldn't be surprising if in the near future he helps India to launch attacks on the training camps his army established inside Pakistan. I spoke to a retired army general in Pakistan about the timing of Musharraf's statement, who thought that Musharraf was playing a double game: one, to be included in any dialogue process in Kashmir and second, to send a message to the West that the 'rogue Pakistan army' cannot be restricted without his support. Also, Afghanistan, India and the Western powers can depend on him if they want to sort out the terror menace in Pakistan. Whether Musharaf will achieve what he has set his eyes on is yet to be seen. But his revelations have done a lot of mental damage to those young children, women and old people who are fighting peacefully for their political aspirations on the streets of Kashmir and without the help of Pakistan.
Kashmir has lost more than eighty thousand youth in the armed struggle in which Pakistan trained and equipped them. Before we blame India for its human rights violations, we should examine the role played by Pakistani leaders like Musharraf in fomenting an insurgency in 1990 when Kashmir had been largely without any armed rebellion since 1947.
'Let Musharraf decay like our boys are decaying in unnamed graves, let him also rot somewhere on our borders. I have no more to say to you'. My old neighbour who was admirer of Musharraf tells me on phone when I called him from London. His emotions engulfed him and he dropped the phone. It is not only my neighbour who feels pain and humiliation due to the insensitive attitude of the Pakistani leader. The vast majority of those who lost their dear ones in the long struggle feel suffocated, choked and broken.
(Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor is a broadcaster with BBC London. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)