Pervez Musharraf, The Commando That Wasn’t

Musharraf’s stint as the military ruler of Pakistan was quite nondescript. He tried to browbeat India at the Agra summit with no success. He refused to accept the term “cross-border terrorism” admitting thereby that Pakistan was indulging in it.

Pervez Musharraf, The Commando That Wasn’t

This farzi commando from the Pakistan Army who arrogated himself to the position of Pakistan’s President after deposing an elected Prime Minister, was yet one more in the long line of dictators to have ruled over Pakistan often with the approval of masses. They have all made a mockery of democracy over the three quarters of a century of Pakistan’s existence.

This UPite Muhajir by birth what called himself a Pakistani, displayed the arrogance of power that comes naturally and traditionally to all officers of Pakistani army. How else could he have engineered a coup while he was himself airborne aboard an aircraft that had been denied permission to land on any of Pakistan’s airfields with express orders of the then Prime Minister? The manner in which he not only managed to land in Pakistan, but schemed the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif and execution of a coup d’etat in consultation with other army generals while still in the air, showed once again that the Pakistani army is the real power in Pakistan and it cares two hoots for the civilian politicians. Just like when recently Bajwa gave himself a three year extension as Pak Army Chief by sending a letter typed in his Rawalpindi office to be signed on the dotted line by Prime Minister IK Niazi. In Pakistan what the army says, goes.

Like all Pakistani Army Chiefs preceding him, Musharraf, the farzi commando harbored the dream of being the Sipah Salar who would defeat the Hindu Indian army and go down in history as the hero who delivered Kashmir to Pakistan. Towards this end he planned the Kargil (mis)adventure. However, his role in the Kargil conflict betrays a lack of commonsense, character and realpolitik. He was gung-ho when he managed to steal into Indian territory on Kargil heights like a burglar who enters a house when the landlord is away. He had the element of surprise in the initial stages of the conflict. He was cocksure that his troops (who he initially claimed were mujahideen) could not be dislodged from the heights from where they could continue to carry out interdiction on Indian army convoys heading towards the Ladakh garrisons, thereby compelling India to come to its knees and seek a negotiated settlement over Kashmir. So convinced was he about this scenario that he even decreed that all the territory into which he had managed to illegally infiltrate would be merged with Northern Territories, a part of Pakistan. All this without as much as by your leave from his head of state, the Prime Minister. These Pakistani army officers treat the politicians like non-entities.

Musharraf’s lack of character shows up on a couple of occasions. First, he gagged Pakistan media and forbid them from publishing any news about death of Pakistani soldiers who were being killed in Kargil. Because Musharraf had claimed before the world that all the men involved in the landgrab in Kashmir’s Kargil were Mujahideen, so he had to hide the news of deaths as he did not want the Pakistani nation or the world to know that Pakistani soldiers were being killed in fighting the Indian army, a fact that betrayed his claim that no military was involved.  No honour was extended to those who were killed in fighting with the Indian army. He even ordered the units not to claim dead bodies. Possibly the unkindest cut an army commander could inflict on his own soldiers. These bodies were either buried by the Indian army in a dignified manner or handed over to the Pakistani unit commanders as a goodwill gesture. In one case, a Pakistani father had to approach the Indian Army Chief to arrange the return of the body of his son, a captain, who had been killed by the Indian army in fighting on Kargil heights.
The second instance when Musharraf showed lack of character was when the Indian army had delivered a resounding defeat in Kargil, this farzi commando saw before his own eyes how his entire grand plan had crumbled, that too at an enormous cost both in personnel and material to the country of which he was Army Chief, and he had to withdraw ignominiously after a rout at the hands of his sworn enemy. All of a sudden this self-styled commando found himself in Ayub’s predicament. Like the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri opened up the Punjab front in 1965, Mushy started sweating under his khakis with the sheer thought of what would happen if Indian army took the war across the International Border. It had every right to do so to teach Pakistan a lesson. The sheer enormity of possible cost that Pakistan would have to pay for a folly that was his and his alone gnawed at him.  He suddenly remembered his Prime Minister, whom he used as a scapegoat and packed him off to meet US President Clinton with a request to restrain India from starting a war on the international border. His lack of character is evident from the fact that it is the same Prime Minister whom he shortly thereafter deposed usurping power to which he held on for a decade.

As for lack of realpolitik, Musharraf failed to gauge international opinion and sentiment and could not evoke any sympathy for his cause from Pakistan’s allies and friends alike. Musharraf’s bad planning and poor conduct in operations are evidenced by the fact that the Indian Air Force operated decisively and effectively cut off all routes of replenishment to Pakistani troops stuck in remote heights and Musharraf’s troops were forced to eat grass due to lack of supplies. Musharraf was dealt a defeat that should have ended his career in a normal country.

What one is amazed at is despite the colossal loss of men, material and prestige due to the stupidity of this man, the Pakistani nation accepted his ascension to power as a dictator without a whimper.

Pervez Musharraf showed India once again why it must not trust the Pakistanis. If this man as an Army Chief could without the knowledge of the country’s Prime Minster launch a misadventure that might have triggered a nuclear war while the Indian Prime Minister was on his soil on a peace mission, who else can it trust?
The present state of NO WAR NO PEACE is the best guarantee of peace for India. No trade ties, no sporting ties, no cultural exchanges and no people to people contacts.

Musharraf’s stint as the military ruler of Pakistan was quite nondescript. He tried to browbeat India at the Agra summit with no success. He refused to accept the term “cross-border terrorism” admitting thereby that Pakistan was indulging in it. Later, he was accused of complicity in Benazeer’s murder, and was disgracefully exiled from his adopted country over which he had lorded it for a decade.

Lt Col Umralkar is an Indian Army veteran, who saw extensive action in J&K sector in the '71 war (Op Cactus Lilly). He is a polyglot with an excellent knowledge of several foreign & Indian languages

(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)

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