Kashmir Portal

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'Except Kashmir we have no problem' Hamid Gul (ex ISI Head)

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 10, 2009

News_9_6_2009_3.jpg Former Director General ISI, General Hameed Gul talks to Nisar Ahmed Thakur about Pakistan crisis, Muslim world, American policy, Kashmir dispute and all in an exclusive interview for Greater Kashmir.

Swat has turned into a battlefield; would you give us some historic insight about the area?
Well, it has a long history; the area had enjoyed special status. For more than 120 years the people in Swat and Malakand division experienced Sharia laws and even it continued until 1969 when Swat valley was formally amalgamated with the settled areas of Pakistan.

The people were happy with this legal system. The area was quite peaceful; there have been no crises at all. There were no demands like some bigoted Mullahs are demanding right now. Swaties basically wanted enforcement of Sharia in the area, which is a legitimate demand, but this demand was then exploited by the governments. When Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1994, she too signed a deal regarding the implementation of Sharia Law in the area. The same thing was repeated by Nawaz Sharief in 1999. But unfortunately the promises were broken. The governments continuously failed to hold on their commitments they made with the people of this region.
And now the ANP, which is a secular party, struck a peace deal regarding the enforcement of Nizam-e-Adel, but yet again the deal was aborted under American pressure. Because Americans don⦥uro;™t want it to happen, they perceive it (Sharia) to be an alternative socio-economic model for the world. You know there is no viable socio-economic model existing in the world. To the contrary there is free-market economy based on capitalism that brought economic meltdown and every body is now saying that the capitalism is dying down. Anyways, whatever it is, they actually don⦥uro;™t want to see an alternative system to emerge in the world. Because it is successful anywhere in the world, even at miniscule level, they fear that it would demolish their system by which they are dominating the whole world.

If the peoples⦥uro;™ demand is genuine then who are these elements the Pakistani forces are fighting against? Are they Taliban?
No, they are not Taliban, they are mercenaries, playing in the hands of foreign agencies; they are funded, trained and equipped by these agencies. In the guise of Taliban, these mercenaries have let loose rein of terror in the area.
The genuine Taliban are actually fighting against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
As for as the people of Swat are concerned I told you earlier that they wanted the legal system, that is not actually the problem. During Mughal rule the whole of India enjoyed that legal system. It is only after the Anglo-Saxon law, introduced by British; we got the present judicial system where right is wrong and wrong is right.
So the peoples⦥uro;™ demand was natural. But the Indians sitting across the Durand-Line on the other side in Afghanistan wanted to destabilize Pakistan. Taking advantage of the situation, Indians played the same game that it had played in erstwhile East Pakistan. You know they first incited people and made them migrate and then used it as an excuse and attacked Pakistan. And this is the replay of the same game being played out now.
Not only India, Israel is fully involved in this game, although they are not concerned about Sharia, they basically want to denuclearize Pakistan. Both Indians and Israelites are afraid of the nuclear power of Pakistan.

What about the military operation that is ongoing on in Malakand division?
To my liking too much fire power is being used that caused great amount of dislocation of the common masses. Although operation is going on successfully but there are fears that the mercenaries wherever they come from may probably come back once the operation in the area is called off. So I think it is very important that political system must run in parallel. Eventually it is the civil administration not the army that has to take the control of the area and maintain writ of the government.
Obviously operation was carried out to push away the mercenaries who let loose rein of terror in the Malakand division, that is all right, but political system must take over.

So you mean Military offensive was necessary to hunt down the anti-state elements? What steps do you suggest the government take to deal with this problem?
In my opinion, we should have explored other options to deal with the situation. I think we were rather in hurry under American pressure. Now that the operation is going on in the area, I don⦥uro;™t want to pick holes with it. Anyways it had to be done, but methodology has to be worked out to thrash out a permanent solution to the problem.
The question still remains there as how to establish writ of the government. You have to give the people of Swat what they have been demanding since long that will certainly enable you to establish writ in the area. So both things have to be done. Otherwise, the Sharia Law will be an excuse, which the mercenaries will again exploit and use it as a pretext.
To fix the problem permanently there is dire need to have proper infrastructure, for example Federal Sharia court must establish a bench in Malakand Division, which I have demanded before and secondly there should by adjudication as what is Sharia and what is not.

President Zardari recently said that military operation would be launched also in tribal areas of Pakistan. What is your take on this?That would be a disaster, because it would not only create a mess but would also render more people homeless. We have already millions of internally displaced person. Secondly, the tribal people are different from that of Swat, they are fighters and they will resist in case operation was launched. I would say the operation will not serve our interests rather it suits Americans as they want to see Pakistani troops engaged in fighting against their own people.

Pakistan is under great turmoil, in your opinion what steps should be taken to steer the country out of the prevailing chaos?
First I think democracy must find answer to that, secondly the crises we are facing right now are due to the pro-American policies, which were adopted by the previous governments. Particularly during the Musharaff⦥uro;™s rule, the country has plunged into deep crises. He was responsible for causing anger in the Tribal belts, which resulted in the suicide bombings and various acts of terrorism inside Pakistan. He attacked Jamia Hafsa, killed Akbar Bughti, abrogated the constitution and launched operations in South Waziristan. So all these things together, created a mess and the nation is paying the price for those follies. So if president Musharraf is taken to the court and punished for his wrongs, he committed during his 11-year rule, fifty percent of problems will go away, because the anger in the hearts and minds of people will gradually subside, the peoples⦥uro;™ wrath will go away. If he is punished many things would settle down automatically.
Secondly American and NATO forces⦥uro;™ presence in Afghanistan is also a cause of tension in the region. They should leave the region immediately. You know to reduce the resistance in Afghanistan they turned the tide towards Pakistan. They have been successful in bringing Pakistan under immense pressure. The main objective was to bring Pakistan⦥uro;™s nuclear capability into doubt, block the Sharia, and destabilize Pakistan by making Pak army to attack our own people.

Western world is very much scared of Islamization and Talibanization, terming Taliban as threat to world peace. What is your point of view in this regard?
Islamization, they are very much worried about that, but so far as the Talibanization in Pakistan is concerned, first of all they are not Taliban as a matter of the fact they are mercenaries who are hell-bent on destabilizing Pakistan. Secondly Americans believe that Talibanization brings a bad name to Islam and Sharia. So they are happy about it.
Taliban and Talibanization, this is not applicable in Pakistan. The real Taliban are actually fighting against foreign troops in Afghanistan and they have nothing to do with Pakistan.
No doubt, Taliban in Afghanistan indulged in certain excess, but they did many good things also, no body seems to talk about that. They de-weopnized the society and rid Afghanistan of the poppy cultivation brought peace and centrality to the war-torn country. They gave women, the right to inheritances, lot of good things they did but it is very unfortunate that no talks about it.

They are concerned about the safety of nuclear arsenals of Pakistan casting doubts that it might fall into the hands of militants. What do you say about it?
This is absolutely ridiculous and nonsense approach. Hizbullah is sitting just 16 miles away from the Israelis nuclear weapons. Just 16 miles away this is not the matter of concern for them. Are they not insecure? They just find lame excuses to build pressure on Pakistan. It is in fact a conspiracy to deprive our nation from its nuclear assets.
So far as, our nuclear arsenals are concerned they are safe, well-protected and well-guarded. No one can dare to cast an evil eye on it. If they try to get too smart in an attempt to snatch it from us by force, let me assure you that many things will blow up in smoke in this region.

Pakistan⦥uro;™s intelligence agency has been under severe criticism for quite a time as Washington believes that ISI has links with militants operating in the tribal areas. What do you say about it?
This is quite astonishing that sometime they criticize the Armed forces of Pakistan, sometime the ISI. Now that the army is fighting its own people they are happy about it. Tomorrow when army will call off the operation, they will again start criticizing Pak army. They are evil, all their utterances and approach are ill-willed. They have put the whole world in jeopardy by destroying the peace of entire world, particularly the peace of this region. In quest of so-called weapons of mass destructions they ruthlessly killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and turned Afghanistan into a barren land.

You have been the DG of the ISI. During service, you worked with United States to funnel weapons and aid to Afghan freedom fighters in their struggle against Soviet occupation. What went wrong that the people with whom you worked so closely for more than 10 years now describe you as a part of the problem?
Well, whenever you speak for your own nation, they will certainly discredit you and would never spare you. Actually after the fall of USSR, the Americans thought that we will continue to serve them, which is absolutely gibberish. We were not mercenaries; we served our own nation and struggled for our own cause. We are an independent nation. I am a free individual, a patriot and above all a Muslim. And if they start killing Muslims I will raise my voice. I don⦥uro;™t have any means to resist but I do resist with my tongue.
As a matter of the fact, what the Americans do, they are tarnishing the image of their own nation. The policies they are pursuing are again destructive for their own people. Their policies are in fact directed and steered by Israelis and by the Indians now. Both of them are mysterious and aggressors by nature. Israel is an artificial state, they have aggressed against Palestinian people and they continue to make them suffer. Indians are also aggressors; they have first of all attacked Pakistan a thrice and occupied Jammu and Kashmir unlawfully, killing half a million people there.

Americans made New York attack as basis to wage a war against terror as a result it attacked Afghanistan and then virtually occupied Iraq. Do you think Bin Laden was really the mastermind behind this attack?
I am on record and have said it many times that the terrorist attack on New York was designed and implemented by Jewish and American neo-cones just to use it as pretext to coax up the world. But they failed in their designs. Under the pretext of war against terror they destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides confining China, their main objective was to capture oil fields and take hold of the natural resources in this region. In Iraq they tried a lot to divide Iraqi people to give a wider protective shield to Israel.

President Musharraf made Pakistan a front line state against war on terror. You strongly criticized his policies; do you think Pakistan had any other option available at that time?
Yes, we should have set our own priorities without bowing to the American dictates. We should have conveyed them that we will cut our relations with Taliban. We will try to stop our people from going into Afghanistan but you will not demand from us to give air bases. But see what happened. The attack was carried out in New York, not a single person was arrested there why?
To the contrary we arrested more than 700 people and handed them over to America. When America attacked Afghanistan lot of people went to Iran, have they handed over a single person? No. all of the three families of Osma left via Iran not via Pakistan but have they captured any one of them? What they have done to Iran? Where does Pakistan stand today? So actually our policies have boomeranged on us. Musharraf is a tyrant and an intellectual joker; he indulged in gross excess against our own people.

He has gone now but the stories of his corruption still hound the people. I know what his financial assets were. Now he has got a palatial house in Islamabad. He is touring the world and has got a million pound flat in London. Where he got this money from?
Musharraf said it was our own war even the present government seems to be toeing the same line. Your comments?
If you look at the initial address President Musharraf delivered the nation on September 19 wherein he said the US was very angry and we had no choice but to support the ⦥uro;œso-called war against terror⦥uro;?. Later he changed the language saying it is also in our interest, it is in the interest of both the nations. At the later stage he claimed that war on terror was entirely in our own interest. What does that mean? It clearly indicates that the decision was taken in pressure and has nothing to do with the interests of the people.
It is simply the metamorphosis that has taken place in the minds of rulers. They did not stand up to Americans. Present government has also come into power through a deal. The NRO-democracy is result of the deal, and it is because of this deal they are confined and bound. Actually it is just the greed, fear and lust for power that makes the rulers to bend to American diktats.

You also hold Musharraf responsible for damaging Kashmir cause for offering alternative solutions. In your opinion what is the solution of Kashmir issue?
I think at the moment UN resolutions are the only viable solution. This is an agreed formula, accepted and acknowledged by the leadership of India, Pakistan and the world community.
So far as Musharraf⦥uro;™s Kashmir policy is concerned I don⦥uro;™t agree with his point of view that actually leads to the division of Kashmir. No division is acceptable. Why should we divide a nation that has given unprecedented sacrifices for their legitimate right, the right to self determination? They are not a flock of cattle that any one can divide them. No not at all, they have a glorious history; they have their own culture, tradition and their own values.
As for as the solution of Kashmir tangle is concerned, personally, I want Kashmiris⦥uro;™ will to prevail and there will is not with India. According to partition plan if they want to join Pakistan, well there is no problem, they have every right to choose their political fate. They can decide what they like⦥uro;¦. But let⦥uro;™s say they move away from it even if they join Pakistan they must join Pakistan conditionally because our rulers have failed to govern the country according to the wishes of our own people and in line with the vision of our founding father.
So Kashmiris must enjoy an autonomous status, whereby Pakistan can have only the responsibility to deal with the issues related to defense, foreign affairs, currency and nothing else. In my opinion that will be a good position for Kashmiris to take. Luckily the constitution of Pakistan says that future status of Kashmir will be decided only after the merger. So there is a provision in the constitution of Pakistan, whereby, Kashmiris can diktat their terms to Pakistan.
Secondly Kashmir is surrounded by four nuclear powers; therefore, it is very important that it should not become a play field between them. Even then if Kashmiris decide that they have to go independent, it is their right.. But under the present circumstances, it is imperative that they must not draw a line on the UN resolutions as this is the only tag on which they can hang their fate on.

Are you satisfied with present government⦥uro;™s policy on Kashmir?
No, presently I am not satisfied with Kashmir policy as it is being dictated by America. They want division of Kashmir. Americans want to use Kashmir as forward base against China which is very terrible. We will not want it to happen..

Do you agree with president Zardari⦥uro;™s idea of leaving Kashmir settlement to next generation?
Mr. Zardari has no right to issue such statements. All the statements coming out from him have no credibility. The settlement of Kashmir issue is must and it can not be just ignored or delayed. No way, you can not simply put it in abeyance. This is a core issue. To have good bilateral relations resolution of Kashmir is the key.

Coming to Indo-Pak relationship, what do you think is the way forward?
Way forward is to settle the lingering dispute of Kashmir. Except Kashmir we have no problem, we can have good relations, we can live together peacefully, and India can have transit route to central Asia. But for that matter Kashmir issue has to be settled without that peace can not prevail in South Asia. If they think they will be able to cow down Pakistan, it is wrong. They must behave like a democratic state; democracy does not only mean the voting exercise on a particular day. It is more than that it is about respecting the will of the people.

What about composite dialogue process?
What composite dialogue? It is astonishing to see compromising politicians and dictators keep harping on composite dialogue process. Unfortunately they have failed to understand the dynamics the very essence of dialogue. It is just a cheating, delaying tactics. India is not sincere about the dialogue. Dialogue needs sincerity. If you have ill-intention, if you lack sincerity, tell me as how the process of dialogue can proceed. So India must accept ground reality and come forward with seriousness and settle Kashmir issue once and for all.

So you mean sincerity can only lead to the settlement all outstanding disputes?
Absolutely, otherwise it is a futile exercise, in the name of composite dialogue process you got to see good faces of some Indian actress, what else you achieved so far. The way it is going on will never solve the problems.

Any message you want to convey to the people of Kashmir?
There are two messages one for the leadership and other for the valiant people of Kashmir who have stood up and fought with courage and valor for their legitimate right.
One, the unity is key to success, but unity should be on the basis of principles. There are two things which can be made as a basis to forge unity at leadership level A). No division of Kashmir. B). Right of self-determination as envisaged in the UN resolutions.
These two things I think can provide a strong basis to establish complete unanimity within the leadership so they must get united and evolve a broad based consensus on these two basic principles. Kashmiris are very intelligent but in many cases they are self-willed. So what I mean to say is that the leadership at the moment should burry their differences, get united to lead the movement with wisdom and collective approach.
Two, so far as the Kashmiri people are concerned, particularly the youth of Kashmir, they must not think that their sacrifices would go in vain. In my opinion Kashmiris are witnessing the last round of imperialistic power. And the day is very near when they will achieve their cherished goal for which they rendered great sacrifices. – Inshallah.

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