Politics on Kargil
These days, all of a sudden the over 13-years-old Kargil operation is in the news not only in Pakistan and India but all over the world. In May 1999, the personnel of Northern Light Infantry (NLI) were sent across the line of control to Kargil to take over the Indian army posts and attack them when they returned in the spring. At first, Pakistan announced that they were Kashmiri Mujahiddeen but soon it dawned upon the world that the intruders were regular army personnel belonging to the NLI of Gilgit-Baltistan. These Jawans of the NLI were sent into the Indian side of the LOC by then chief of army staff Gen Pervez Musharraf and his close circle without even the other top brass of the army taken into confidence. When the situation seemed getting out of the hand of the army, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif reached Washington and pleaded the US president Bill Clinton to help him reach a ceasefire with India. As a result the operation came to an end but without any benefit to Islamabad. On the other hand, hundreds of NLI personnel were killed during the misadventure and bodies of many of them still remain scattered at Kargil as the government of Pakistan refused to accept them as its army men. N Now after over a decade, the debate to investigate the Kargil operation is totally political and has nothing to do with the matter in the first place. It is intriguing that the issue has been brought to the limelight again when elections are approaching fast. When the Kargil operation ended in a fiasco, the then army chief could not tolerate the humiliation and sent the elected prime minister of the day packing in a coup and took over the charge and ruled over the country for about nine years. Nawaz Sharif was first sentenced to death in the plane hijacking case and then under a clandestine deal sent to Saudi Arabia on exile where he lived for many years. It is also debatable how a prime minister who came to power with a heavy mandate and appointed his own handpicked director general of the ISI could not get the wind of the Kargil operation when it was being planned and launched by Pervez Musharraf and his close circle. Today the same Nawaz Sharif says that Musharraf kept him in the dark and put the security of the nation at stake and launched the clandestine operation that ended in failure. The question here is that if Nawaz Sharif comes to power would he investigate the Kargil war, would he also be in the dock because he is also a character in the fiasco. Is it all being done as an election ploy to get votes? Who is the actual culprit of the Kargil war, this can only be determined through non-partisan and neutral experts. Another issue is that Gilgit-Baltitan was used for the misadventure and hundreds of young men from this land were killed. Their families were even not provided the opportunity to have last glimpse of their bodies and perform the last rituals. Though it is another matter that by awarding one Nishane Haider and some other medals an effort was made to silence the people of the area. The families of these martyred personnel and people of the region are justified to know what were the objectives of the Kargil operation and who were behind it. Was it the ambition of a single general who put the security of the whole region at risk or were there some other motives? Pakistan had also launched another such operation called Jibralter in 1965 with the motive to liberate Kasshmir but it led to a full-fledged war with India. However, Pakistani leaders instead of learning a lesson from these blunders continue to repeat them. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took advantage of blunders made by Gen Ayub Khan while Zardari took advantage of the mistakes made by Musharraf. But we are of the view that there would be no possibility of probing the Kargil fiasco by an international body of experts. As such, Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif one after the other will be taking advantage of the fiasco by using it for their political ambitions.
The bitter truth
The chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council’s public accountability committee Mohammad Ibrahim has said that there is no flaw in the self-empowerment and autonomy order 2009. However, because of the incompetency and lack of political leadership the objectives of the package could not be achieved. According to him, corrupt, uneducated and people with no experience, who were at the helms, were responsible for bringing the regions at the point of no return. He said professional and experienced people were needed to run the system. He said those criticizing the system were not sincere with the nation. He said today in every household there was the opinion that the package had failed to deliver. This is because political leaders running the affairs of the region have failed, bringing the whole system into a ridicule. He said had experienced and competent people were brought in to run the system today people would have been very satisfied with it and would not have been opposing it. Mr Ibrahim said that Mehdi Shah was an old PPP jiala and had rendered sacrifices for the party. Mehdi Shah can do many more things but he has failed to run the province during the last over three years since he came to power. He said Mehdi Shan and his cohorts would never accept but it is the fact that not a single day during the three years under the PPP ruler has passed without financial troubles and law and order problems. The day Mehdi Shah was sworn in, financial crisis hit the region. Pick up the newspapers of the days before the PPP came to power in the region and compared them with the press of today and you will find that today the newspapers are filed with the news of financial mismanagement and crisis after crisis. Most of the issues confronting the nation and making headlines are: contractors are not being paid their dues and they are in protests, there are no funds for so and so project. Government employees are without salaries for the last so many months. On the other hand, there are the news that the so-called public representatives are living a king’s life at the cost of the poor nation. For the last many years despite the fact that the same party is in power in Islamabad the federal government has stopped releasing the share of the region bringing the wheel of development in the region to a grinding halt. Had there been a competent and energetic chief minister, he would definitely have managed some ways out to control the financial meltdown and also managed timely release of funds from the federal government. But in the case of Gilgit-Baltistan, we have a chief minister who is even unable to ensure that the funds promised by no other than the prime minister of Pakistan are not given to the region. What to talk of other issues, if you ask the chief minister when his cabinet met for the last time, he would not know its exact date. In every department there are rampant mismanagement, corruption and irregularities putting a bad impact on the lives of the people. As a result, the citizens have become fed up with the government and they are reminding the past when governments were not so corrupt and the public issues were not that much compounded. Does the so-called democratic government has any relevance with the lives of the people when there is no peace, unemployment is rising and prices of daily-use items are skyrocketing? The people say that compared to these corrupt politicians who are looting the resources by both hands even the government of military dictator Pervez Musharraf was much better during whose tenure unprecedented numbers of development projects were launched in the region. Two years back, the chief minister had announced to set up a think-tank to guide the government in running the government and even named a former officer as its member. But after making the announcement, the proposal was put into the cold storage only because the rulers were not serious in bringing any improvement in the government process. Even the ministers, advisers and parliamentary secretaries are not doing their work and just draw their salaries and get other perks and privileges. For the last many months the ministers and even the governor sand chief minister have left the region and are enjoying their lives in the capital city of Pakistan at the expense of the poor people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Chairman Ibrahim has very rightly said that instead of blaming the system for our woes, we should pause for a moment and look at the working and credentials of those who have been running the system for the last three years. These people have made the lives of the two million people miserable. The fact is that irrespective of the quality of the package, we should try to realize that what has stopped these corrupt politicians to do any good for the people if they want to do. Is there any obstacle in the system that is hindering them from doing something good? The people of the region are now dead sure that if you put even a divine system in force and ask Mehdi Shah and co. to run it they would corrupt it. It is an established fact that it is the people who deliver not a system. Our misfortune is that we have elected such people in the good name of democracy that they are not able to realize their responsibilities and think it as once in a blue moon chance to fill their coffers and live a king-like life as they may not get the chance again. In a real sense they are not democratic minded as is evident from their behaviour and way of governance. When the chief minister himself says that he is indebted to his party boss Asif Ali Zardar and will remain in power as long as he (Zardari) wants him in power, should we expect that the chief minister will be working with a least thought of doing anything good for the people? In a democratic rule, the future of the leaders is linked with the blessings of the voters but here it seems that the whole lots have been brought to the scene in an autocratic way. In short, the corrupt leaders have made the system corrupt and useless for the masses.