This Article is From Jun 15, 2022

Musharraf Critical: His Legacy With India | Hot Mic with Nidhi Razdan

Hot Mic with Nidhi Razdan: Former Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf is seriously ill, with his family tweeting from his official account saying that "recovery is not possible", Musharraf has been living in Dubai for the last six years.

Hi, this is Hot Mic and I'm Nidhi Razdan.

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is seriously ill, with his family tweeting from his official account a few days ago, saying that “recovery is not possible”. The family issued the clarification after reports that the 78-year-old Musharraf was kept on a ventilator.

However, his family have denied this, saying that his organs were malfunctioning because of an ailment called amyloidosis. This disease affects connective tissues and organs inhibiting normal functioning. Facing charges back home for the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, Musharraf has been living in Dubai for the last six years.

It is, however, his contradictory legacy with India that may define his career. Musharraf was the Pakistani military general responsible for the Kargil War back in 1999, where he backstabbed his own government and sent Pakistani intruders into India. That war broke out barely months after Prime Minister Vajpayee and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to a landmark bilateral peace declaration called the Lahore Agreement in February.

In the summer of that year, as Pakistani forces and terrorists occupied mountain areas on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, India hit back, leading to the Kargil conflict. Indian forces pushed back the Pakistanis and defeated them at the end of the nearly three-month long war.

With Pakistan attracting international criticism for Kargil, Sharif said that he knew nothing about the intrusion and that Musharraf had backstabbed him and kept him in the dark. On the 12th of October, 1999, General Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in a bloodless coup and became the country's Chief Executive, suspending Pakistan's constitution. In 2001, he took over as President.

Reviled as an anti-democracy dictator back home, Musharraf ironically went on to become a big champion of dialogue between India and Pakistan. From being the architect of the Kargil War to becoming the architect of the closest ever deal India and Pakistan came to making on Jammu and Kashmir.

His legacy, as we said right at the beginning, is full of contradictions. Soon after becoming President, Musharraf traveled to India for the much hyped Agra Summit in July of 2001 with Prime Minister Vajpayee. The Agra Summit started amid high hopes of resolving various disputes between the two countries, including possibly even Kashmir. Both sides started the summit with hopefulness and a spirit of goodwill. But the summit unraveled rather dramatically, with Musharraf's grandstanding and a lack of commitment on reining in terror groups, blamed as the key reason. Much of Musharraf's bluster was visible at this breakfast meeting that he held with editors in Agra.

The Agra Summit was widely seen as a failed opportunity for India-Pakistan ties. In December of 2001, Indo-Pak ties suffered another serious setback with the attack on the Indian Parliament carried out by the Pakistani terrorist group, the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

But the following month in January 2002, Musharraf and Vajpayee shared the stage at the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. Here, the Pakistani leader surprised everyone, including his own delegation, when he finished his speech and walked over to Mr. Vajpayee to shake his hand. By this time, 9/11 had happened as well, and it had shaken the world. The pressure to crack down on terrorist groups was very strong. In the same month, on the 12th of January 2002, Pakistan issued a statement declaring that it would not allow its soil to be used by terror groups against India.

Though there were many ups and downs, India and Pakistan had a robust back channel that was active at the time, and it appeared to have come close to finding a resolution even on Jammu and Kashmir.

One report says both sides came close to a draft in 2007 after working on it for many years. The resolution was Musharraf's now infamous four point formula.

Satinder Lambah, who served as Manmohan Singh's, special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, has said in the past that the proposed agreement was based on a four point formula that included no redrawing of borders, that the people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of the LoC would be allowed to move freely from one side to the other, an end to hostility and violence and terrorism and military forces on both sides being kept to the minimum, while ensuring self-governance on both sides of the LoC and consultative mechanisms to look at socio-economic issues. Several local and international factors helped facilitate the secret talks including Vajpayee's outreach to Kashmiris in 2003.

And encouragement from the US government, which was keen to ensure that there was no India-Pakistan friction, while Washington and its allies were busy with the war on terror in Afghanistan.

However, Pakistani and Indian officials are divided on whether a draft agreement was actually in place by 2007. Former Indian National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan said, this was not a “formal diplomatic agreement of any kind” and at most it must have been a discussion paper, an exchange of which is routine in diplomatic negotiations before a final deal is reached. But Musharraf's political problems unraveled the entire process.

On the 9th of March 2007, Musharraf unconstitutionally suspended Pakistan's then Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and this triggered massive political protests that weakened the military ruler.

Following elections the next year, Musharraf was pressured by political parties to quit as President in August of 2008. In November that year, 26/11 happened and the rest is history. India-Pakistan ties were never really the same again.