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A Game They Both Played…

He used to stay at the Official Residence of the Army Chief in Rawalpindi even after becoming the President through a Coup D’état… Moreover, he did not give up his military attire so as to avoid any detachment from the Army Cantonment. General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf, who served as 10th President of Pakistan from June 20, 2001 to August 18, 2008, had invited the then Deputy Prime Minister of India Lal Krishna Advani to the residence of the Army Chief. The then Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Shivshankar Menon accompanied Advani during the latter’s meeting with General Musharraf.

Menon, it is said, noticed that the visiting Indian leader was very happy after the meeting. He, reportedly, mentioned to the senior Indian diplomat that General Musharraf had confirmed the existence of terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the course of their meeting, and that he also had admitted that the Pakistani Armed Forces imparted training to those terrorists! The Pakistani President assured Advani that his administration would take steps to destroy those camps! Although this piece of information made Menon happy, he advised Advani not to share the information with the Media, saying that such a move could create troubles for General Musharraf, and he might not be able to take the intended actions against those terrorists. The veteran diplomat further said that the information would certainly benefit the Government of India or the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), politically, but would not serve the main purpose, which was destruction of those terror camps.

Advani (L) & Musharraf (R)

After these many years, the controversy surrounding the new book co-authored by Amarjit Singh Dulat and Mohammad Asad Durrani, titled ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace‘, reminds us of that old incident. While Dulat served as Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau and former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW or the Foreign Intelligence Agency of India) from 1999 to 2000, Lieutenant General Durrani had headed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI or the premier Intelligence Agency of Pakistan) from August 1990 to March 1993.

The most important point, however, is whether the main aim of India is to corner Pakistan or to ensure peace in South Asia by normalising Indo-Pak ties. Another important point is: whether the initiative of publishing this controversial book was taken by a State Actor, or a Non-state Actor! Many believe that the Government of India played an active role in publishing this book.

It seems that the Leaders of the Ruling Party in India have started believing that it would be impossible to carry on the Peace Process with Pakistan. Hence, it is better to engage in conflicts. However, the fact is there is no alternative of Peace. In recent times, India has increased Defence Budget, keeping in mind the deteriorating relation with Pakistan. The two South Asian neighbours, who had fought three full-scale wars in the past, have already emerged as Nuclear Powers. It seems that they are matured enough to avoid a Fourth War.

In May 2020, the Pakistani Army accused former ISI Chief Lieutenant General Durrani of violating its Code of Conduct. On May 28, he was summoned by the Army to its headquarters. The top Army officers also asked the 77-year-old Durrani not to leave the country. Reports suggest that the Pak Army did so, as the retired Lieutenant General accused the Army of ordering the execution of Indian national Kulbhushan Yadav in the book. It was not an easy task for him to co-author a book with former R&AW chief. Mian Raza Rabbani, who served as the 7th Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan from March 2015 to March 2018, has strongly criticised Lieutenant General Durrani for writing the book, saying that if a political leader penned such a book, the entire nation would have called the person a Traitor.

Mohammad Asad Durrani

However, the former ISI chief showed the courage to pen a book, jointly with his Indian counterpart. Both the authors revealed many FACTS in the publication. In fact, the problem lies elsewhere! Lieutenant General Durrani’s confessions have strengthened India’s allegation against Pakistan that Islamabad backs anti-India activities. Such a confession could also create Public Opinion in Pakistan. However, what will be India’s benefit?

There have been many misconceptions about Pakistan in India, and vice versa, since the Partition of the Subcontinent. Even, there has been no continuity of India’s Pakistan Policy in the last five years. After becoming the Prime Minister of India in 2014, Narendra Modi invited then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration. Later, the Modi Government refused to carry on the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Islamabad. On December 25, 2015, PM Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan mainly to attend Nawaz’s grand-daughter’s wedding in Lahore. It was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian premier in more than 10 years. Then again, the bilateral ties deteriorated.

Narendra Modi & Nawaz Sharif

In fact, there should be only one policy… that is to carry on the Peace Process. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the 10th Indian PM, had rightly realised this fact. Unfortunately, Vote-bank Politics has become more important for the Indian and Pakistani politicians. Former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh wanted to visit Pakistan. However, his party did not allow him to do so. His successor Modi, too, is following the same path. Both India and Pakistan would have to readjust their Foreign Policy in an attempt to ensure Peace in the region…

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