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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)



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  "MUSHARRAF'S GLORIOUS DAYS" - JP Sharma  
 

During the last several weeks fortune seems to have decided to bestow a special smile on Pakistan's President General Musharraf. Having had to walk a tightrope in managing the affairs of his problem ridden country things kept on turning out unexpectedly favorably for Musharraf during this eventful period.

KILLING OF NAWAB AKBAR BUGTI

In the last week of August 2006 Musharraf's forces scored a major success in the unpublicized ongoing war against the Balochistan insurgents. Using the equipment supplied by USA for tracking Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants Musharraf's airforce and army managed to zero-in on the mountain hideout of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and in a three day operation launched on 24 August 2006 bombarded the cave killing Bugti and some other Baloch leaders. Musharraf, it may be recalled, had opted for the military solution to the problem of Balochistan discontent. While only the future will unfold the long term consequences of his action, it is clear that Bugti's killing has not so far not caused any serious problems for Musharraf's government.

AGREEMENT WITH TRIBAL LEADERS

On 5 September 2006 Musharraf's representatives signed, what appeared to many observers, a humiliating agreement effectively ceding control of North Waziristan in the FATA area ostensibly to the Tribal leaders of the area. Among the highlights of the deal was the provision that foreigners who were unable to leave the territory could continue to live peacefully; that Pakistan Army would withdraw from the territory; that the arrested militants would be released; that the arms seized by the army from the tribal militants would be returned and that the government will pay compensation to the tribals for their losses.

Musharraf government's motives in signing the deal have been the subject of much speculation. One reason could be the need to free more troops for deployment in Baluchistan following the killing of Bugti. (This has been denied by Musharraf.) A more probable reason seems to be the need to preserve and facilitate the Taliban for furthering Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan. Musharraf has been trying to convince USA and its western allies that the purpose of the deal was to prevent the Talibanization of Pakistan. Still unable to unshackle itself from its deeply entrenched belief in the essentiality of Pakistan's assistance for the success of its mission, the leader of the War Against Terror could do nothing more than expressing cautious approval of the deal.

INDIA'S SURRENDER AT HAVANA

The biggest feather in Musharraf's cap was the outcome of his meeting with Indian PM Man Mohan Singh on 16 September 2006 at Havana. For some mysterious reason (U S pressure according to many) the Indian delegation led by the brilliant economist Prime Minister appeared to have lost all memory of the relentless aggression to which India had been subjected by Pakistan sponsored jihadis for the last fifteen years and also perhaps suffered a collapse of its resolve in facing sustained aggression. It also seems to have been hypnotized to the extent of obliterating all memories of Pakistan's dubious record on past assurances, agreements and treaties and starting to see Pakistan not as the perpetrator of terrorist attacks on India's Parliament, security forces, institutes of learning, temples, railways, buses, cinemas and crowds of shoppers but as a fellow victim of terrorism. Stretching credulousness to extreme limits the Indian delegation agreed to set-up a joint India-Pakistan institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.

In the hour of his triumph Musharraf was appropriately magnanimous towards the vanquished. Speaking to Pakistani pressmen immediately on arrival in New York from Havana Musharraf declined to claim victory and described the outcome as a victory of the " Peace Process"

ADMONISHING THE LEADERS OF THE WAR ON TERROR

Following his Havana coup Musharraf had a successful three week tour of USA and UK undertaken primarily for promoting his autobiography "In The Line of Fire"(launched on 25 Sept 2006 in USA) and additionally for securing US support for his re-election in 2007. Unlike the mess he had created during his September 2005 trip with his remarks on the Mukhtaran Mai issue, he put in an impressive performance while dealing with the media as well as the political leaders of USA and UK.

Heedless of the consequential embarrassment to the Bush Administration, Musharraf in his interview on CBS "60 Minutes" aired on 24 Sept dramatically revealed that following the 11 September 2001 attacks, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had threatened ISI Chief Mahmood Ahmad that Pakistan would be bombed back to the stone age if it did not agree to cooperate with the USA against the Taliban. Armitage denied using such strong language and Bush claimed he never knew of such a threat.

The highpoint of Musharraf's media performance was his appearance (the first ever by a serving head of state) on The American comedy Daily Show. Answering the anchor's questions Musharraf came across as cool, humorous and likeable. His ghost written autobiography generally regarded as containing much self- praise and not much truth quickly climbed to join the ranks of best sellers.

Musharraf's interaction with US leaders began with his appearance as one of the speakers at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative where he justified the North Waziristan deal as a means of isolating the Taliban. This was followed by his address at the UN, and meetings with Bush and Afghanistan President Karzai He disagreed with Bush on the issue of US forces entering Pakistan territory in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and told Karzai to do more in Afghanistan instead of blaming Pakistan. From the accounts of his talks with Western political leaders and his media interviewers Musharraf appears to have tried to develop the thesis that Pakistan has been suffering from the results of Islamic extremism initiated by the a USA to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan; that after the Soviet withdrawal Pakistan was left in the lurch by USA: that Talibanization is a greater threat than Al Qaeda because while Al Qaeda was Arab based Taliban has its roots in the indigenous populations of Afghanistan, Tribal Areas and Pakistan's provinces bordering Afghanistan and that his policy of entering into agreements like the North Waziristan deal is the only way of preventing the Taliban from coming to power again in Afghanistan. Looking through Musharraf's verbal smokescreen it appears that finding USA's position worsening in Afghanistan and Iraq and its influence on the international scene waning, Musharraf is trying to push his old scheme of installing the "moderate" Taliban as a constituent of the Kabul government.

As the tour progressed Musharraf appeared to become more and more confidant, assertive and even combative. He reacted strongly to a leaked British intelligence report saying that Pakistan's ISI was helping Al Qaeda and Taliban and should be disbanded. British PM Blair sought to mollify Musharraf by assuring him the leaked report did not reflect the policy of the British Government. Responding to the report Musharraf said in his BBC interview "You will be brought down to your knees if Pakistan doesn't cooperate with you. That is all that I would like to say. Pakistan is the main ally. If we were not with you, you would not manage anything. Let that be clear…,"

"And if the ISI is not with you, you will fail. Let that be very clear also. Remember my words: if the ISI is not with you and Pakistan is not with you, you will lose in Afghanistan."

Addressing his Canadian audience Musharraf was equally blunt. In his 26 September 2006 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation he told the Canadians to stop whining about the loss of a few soldiers adding that the Canadians had no business to be in Afghanistan if they were not prepared to accept casualties.

"You have suffered two dead and there is crying and shouting all around the place that there are coffins. Well, we've had 500 coffins."

Some analysts have started wondering whether the change in Musharraf's tone is indicative of an altered equation between Pakistan and USA .


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

 
     
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