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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Balochistan - Hamid Mir: Kargil - Ejaz Haider

The situation in Balochistan came under detailed discussion during the first meeting of the foreign secretaries in the evening of July 14 in Sharm el-Sheikh which took place two days before the meeting of Manmohan and Yousaf Raza Gilani. Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir told Shiv Shankar Menon that India must delink the talks from terrorism otherwise Pakistan will be forced to produce at least “three Indian Ajmal Kasab’s” in front of international media who were directly or indirectly part of the terrorist activities in Balochistan and Pakistan will easily establish that Indian consulate in Afghan city of Kandhar is actually a control room of all the terrorist activities organised by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army.

Salman Bashir told Indian foreign secretary that both Pakistan and India cannot afford a blame game right now. If Pakistan will come out with evidence that Indians are responsible for attacking Chinese engineers in the Gwadar port city it may damage Indian credibility on one side but it will also spread more anti-India feelings in Pakistan and extremist forces will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Pakistan is making noise against the Indian involvement in Balochistan insurgency in a very careful, well-calculated and “limited manner.” Recently a prominent US magazine Foreign Affairs (March 2009) published the report of a roundtable discussion on the causes of instability in Pakistan. Christine Fair of RAND Corporation clearly said in that discussion that “having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan.”

Balochistan and India

[thanks FK]

Former CIA official Bruce Riedel, who was President Clinton’s aide, has written that “more information developed about the escalating military situation in the area — disturbing evidence that the Pakistanis were preparing their nuclear arsenals for possible deployment” (American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House; Policy Paper Series, Centre for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania).

This appears on page 8 of Mr Riedel’s paper before the Blair House meeting. Again, on page 9, he says: “Strobe [Talbott] noted the importance of being very clear with Nawaz and not letting the Prime Minister be alone with the President so that he could later claim commitments not made.

A record of who said what was critical. Rick and I briefed the President on the latest information we had.“There was more disturbing information about Pakistan preparing its nuclear arsenal for possible use. I recommended that he use this only when Sharif was without his aides...”Later in the paper, Riedel writes: “Clinton asked Sharif if he knew how advanced the threat of nuclear war really was? Did Sharif know his military was preparing their nuclear tipped missiles? Sharif seemed taken aback and said only that India was probably doing the same.” This part of the paper shows Clinton as someone who was commanding Sharif who, to quote Riedel, “seemed a man possessed with fear of war” and didn’t seem to know much. Clinton seems to be applying the pressure in a psychological game, ensuring that Sharif would succumb — “The President was getting angry. He told Sharif that he had asked repeatedly for Pakistani help to bring Usama bin Ladin to justice from Afghanistan. Sharif had promised often to do so but had done nothing.”

More or less the same story has been put out by then-Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in his book Engaging India. This is a story that Lt-Gen Khalid Kidwai (retd), DG-SPD, has rubbished on many occasions including, according to a senior officer at the Strategic Plans Division, in a meeting with US visitors.

It is difficult to see how Pakistan could have moved or prepared its arsenal if these missiles were not ready for induction or operational use. The only other possibility was the use of air force. But while the Indian Air Force was partly involved in the area of operations, the Pakistan Air Force was not. (Two probes that were sent by the IAF were both shot down by Pakistani Army air defence.) Similarly, naval forces were not engaged and neither side made any movement. Secondly, there was no military logic for Pakistan to make any nuclear moves given that not even 5 percent of the forces on the two sides were involved in the conflict (one Pakistani division, Force Command Northern Areas, and one Indian Corps were engaged in battle). In fact, the strike formations on both sides remained in peace locations.

Ejaz Haider


Blogger Sikander Hayat said...

What is happening in Balochistan? One thing is for sure that Balochistan is not another East Pakistan.

July 29, 2009 11:12 AM  

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