ISLAMABAD: Former Chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A S Dulat has admitted that out of all Pakistani military dictators, General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf proved to be the best for India.
In his book co-authored with the former Director General (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, the RAW chief praised General Pervez Musharraf for being reasonable with India.
“Musharraf was the best, the most reasonable with us,” wrote Dulat while comparing him with other Pakistani dictators like Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq. The former Raw chief especially praised Musharraf for not trying to unite the Hurriyat Conference.
“My admiration of him comes from what I saw in the context of Kashmir. Without hesitation or doubt, in the last 25 years there hasn’t been a Pakistani leader more positive or reasonable on Kashmir than Musharraf. His repeatedly saying that whatever is acceptable to Kashmiris is acceptable to Pakistan — that was good for India. We should have taken that and built on it, but again we dragged our feet,” wrote Dulat.
He said Musharraf was hemmed in by American pressure because of 9/11. But whatever it was, he told the separatists to fall in line or become redundant, and that if they had political ambitions to fight elections, then to get on with it.
“Today Pakistan is trying desperately to get the Hurriyat together; Musharraf made no such effort. When he found that Geelani was an obstacle, he even said, at some meeting, ‘Get out of the way, old man.’
He was definitely forward-looking. If you ask a Kashmiri today, Geelani Saheb apart, he will say if anything is doable then it is the four-point formula.
“As for Musharraf the general, the army chief, the president—I don’t know anything other than what the Americans said, that he’s a good guy, English speaking, whiskey-drinking. We can do business with him,” wrote Dulat.
The two spymasters discussed at length Pakistan’s current and past politicians and military dictators and former ISI chief was all praise for Nawaz Sharif for “bravely” conducting the nuclear tests in 1998.
The former RAW chief said his favourite Pakistan politician was the late Benazir Bhutto. “She had charisma. She was good-looking, forward-looking, and I felt sad when she was killed because she had a future. It’s one of those ‘ifs’, you can say nothing would have happened, possibly. But there was no doubt she could carry people with her like nobody else in Pakistan,” Dulat wrote.
He however claimed that former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif had established better relations with India during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“BB (Benazir Bhutto) was my favourite but as far as India is concerned, Vajpayee and Mian Saheb had a special relationship. Vajpayee had a lot of regard for him and his whole India-Pakistan plan hinged on Nawaz Sharif. He was disappointed and upset when the coup happened. Then again in the last days of UPA-2, when the Pakistan election was held in 2013, our high commissioner Sharat Sabharwal was given an extension.”
But General Durrani did not agree with his Indian counterpart on the two Pakistani politicians. “I’ve known BB personally, serving her in both tenures. She twice did me a good turn. When she became prime minister there was a myth or narrative around her and her suffering at a young age. Her father was hanged, she was exiled: fairy tales don’t get better,” Durrani said.
“But she never did anything for the poor. Not one thing that could have politically helped her even 5 per cent. The first time probably only the husband was corrupt, the second time she herself was involved in corruption, as revealed by close associates.
“I may not have been infatuated with politicians generally, but their share of loot pales compared to what BB, Zardari and the Sharifs skimmed off the national exchequer,” Durrani said.
He however gave full credit to Nawaz Sharif for the 1998 nuclear tests. “The only point on which I was happy with Mian Saheb was when he ordered the nuclear tests. I absolutely publicly supported it. He took the right decision, a brave one, though he probably understands nothing about the role of nuclear weapons or nuclear capability. He took the decision against the wishes of his own constituency, the business community, and withstood the pressure of the five-ten calls from Clinton. That I appreciated publicly and wrote about,” Durrani said supporting recent claims made by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in public gatherings that it was his decision to test nuclear weapons despite a lucrative US offer.
Former ISI chief also praised current Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
“All my colleagues say he’s an institutional man who works from morning till evening. He consults the institutions. The national security committee that he heads has met often. His handling of the difficult relationship with the US is considered good. He gave a good speech at the UN,” Durrani wrote.
He however stressed that Abbasi had not been the army’s man.
“Musharraf was frustrated because Shahid Abbasi is the son of a former military man, Air Commodore Khaqan Abbasi. Musharraf’s side tried to woo him away from Nawaz Sharif but Abbasi was loyal to his party leader and went to jail rather than play second fiddle to the army,” write Durrani.
Former RAW chief predicted that Abbasi will be the Prime Minister even after 2018 elections though Imran Khan is still a dark horse. He said the current Pakistani political situation came up in discussion during his recent meeting in London with Pakistani friends, including former ISI chief General (retd) Ehsanul Haq.
“Talking to Pakistani friends I’ve been trying to get a sense of what will happen in Pakistan. General Ehsan and I spoke in London. He said, it could well be Imran. I said, really? A few weeks later, everybody around the table said Imran now has no chance,” he said.
Whatever I heard from my Pakistani friends is that Abbasi is the favourite to be prime minister again in 2018. Because the PML(N) controls Punjab, which is three-fourths of Pakistan, so whoever controls Punjab wins it. The PML controls Punjab, the PPP always gets a look in, and Imran doesn’t get too many seats other than in Lahore and other cities.
“Abbasi is Mian Saheb’s choice. I asked how come he chose him over Shehbaz? The answer was that Abbasi was not expected to stab him in the back,” Dulat wrote.