7 years of President Musharraf got us an LOC ceasefire, a relatively inactive ISI, no infiltrators or state sponsored terrorism (or what it seemed!) and a decent Land, Water Air transport access. India in return helped a great deal in sustaining Pakistani civic society – the cricket boards were self-proclaimed brothers and they intend to remain that way; Pakistani singers were humming their way into Indian hearts; Pakistani comedians were laughing their way into Indian drawing rooms; beautifully made liberal Pakistani films were being released in India.
Unintentional or deliberate, masqueraded or not, genuine or fake, credible or farcical, President Musharraf had created a Feel Good factor (An NDA term) in both the countries to the extent that it prompted even an enlightened man like Omar Abdullah to remark, rightly or wrongly, that the Five-point framework which President Musharraf proposed for Kashmir was the closest we ever got for a peaceful and feasible solution.
Unfortunately, while his foreign policy was a grand success on Pakistan’s eastern borders (China, India), it completely bombed (Pun absolutely intended) on the western front. Waziristan-Afghan extremist tribal area could never be reigned and US was not allowed in to help. Disproportionate money of theirs was, however, going down the drain in the name of an over exaggerated danger and an equally unlikely likelihood – terrorists capturing nuclear establishments. Then came Lal Masjid and all hell broke loose. Impending elections and the fateful return of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif…followed by the assassination and Musharraf was compromised if not overthrown (he was forced to step-down as army chief). In context of India, it has to be said that India lost an open-minded negotiator who had come long way as an individual from the days when he orchestrated the Kargil betrayal.
In came the new PM Mr. Yusuf Raza Gillani claiming to be the lone Liberal representative in an extremist Pakistan. Just as it was thought that he would carry the peace process forward, rumors about him being completely inflexible on Kashmir surfaced. Also, Democracy forced ISI to resume its despicable ways of creating unease in its own country and resenting other forces in Pakistan. Incidentally and quite uncannily, three terrorist attacks rocked India – Kabul, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. As an Indian, all these developments push me into deep sorrow and consequent helplessness as to why every time a “Democratic PM” rules Pakistan, India is made to bear the cost. Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and now Mr. Yusuf Raza Gillani, all seem to have or have had no control over either the military, the ISI or the extremists. Unfortunately, as the five decades have shown, these three form “The three estates of Pakistan”.