NEW DELHI: The reaction to Gen Pervez Musharraf’s death in India was mixed on Monday, as some politicians and media praised him, while others criticised his leadership.
The All-Parties Hurriyat Conference from India-held Kashmir mourned the passing away of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, but the Bharatiya Janata Party slammed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for calling him a force for peace.
Former chief minister of India-held Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti paid tribute to the late military ruler.
“Deepest condolences. Perhaps the only Pakistani General who genuinely tried to address the Kashmir issue. He wanted a solution according to wishes of people of J&K & acceptable to India & Pak. Though (India) has reversed all CBMs initiated by him & Vajpayee ji, the ceasefire remains intact.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said former General retired Musharraf, who died on Sunday, was “once an implacable foe of India” but became a “real force for peace” later on, drawing the BJP’s ire which accused his party of “eulogising” the architect of the Kargil War.
Indian media reports praised him for reviving cricketing ties between India and Pakistan. After the 2004 series, India came again to Pakistan in early 2006 while the Pakistan team also toured India for full Test series first in 2005 and then in 2007 returning to Pakistan in 2008 for the Asia Cup.
“Before Musharraf’s time, bilateral tours between the two countries had been far and few with huge gaps in between. Pakistan went to India in 1979-80 after a gap of nearly 18 years and India came to Pakistan in 1978/79 for the first time since 1954/55,” said the Indian Express.
“Ironically these tours in the late 70s also took place during the tenure of another military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, who also used cricket diplomacy to reduce tensions. Musharraf himself wasted no opportunity to show up at cricket matches even in India when Pakistan was playing. In 2005, he turned up at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground to a warm welcome.”
Former Indian ambassador to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal wrote: “Musharraf’s adventurism was in ample evidence in the years to come — in Kargil, his October 1999 coup and iron-fisted rule with scant regard for constitutional norms. A commando by training, he pursued and held on to power audaciously. However, he spent his last few years as a fugitive in Dubai before succumbing to a rare disease.”
The Indian Express in an editorial said: “Unofficially, he continued to run with the hares as he hunted with the hounds, turning over some alleged al Qaeda operatives on Pakistani soil to the Americans but tipping off targets of imminent drone attacks, and proscribing terrorist groups, only to turn a blind eye as they resurfaced under changed names.”
“His attempt to clean out Islamist radicals who had taken control of the capital’s Lal Masjid in the summer of 2007 led to the formation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and a backlash of terrorist attacks across the country,” the Express said.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023
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