Who Else Can Destabilise Pakistan?
Since the abduction of the Indian national Commander (Retd.) Kulbhushan Jadhav, the officialdom and the media of Pakistan has been on an overdrive in peddling narratives like: “Indian spy admits RAW destabilising Pakistan”, “Jadhav’s confession is a solid proof of Indian state sponsored terror”. Pakistan’s script does not even spare Iran, in that it accuses Jadhav of carrying an Iranian visa and use its territory to destabilise Pakistan in the garb of business activities.
Significantly, the unfolding of this poorly written Pakistani script coincides with the visit of the Pakistani members as part of the Joint Investigation Team to probe the attack on Pathankot airbase by jihadis owing allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). The sinister opportunity of the release of Jadhav’s so-called confessional video coinciding the ongoing joint investigation was not lost out on New York Times which called it ‘notable’. It also coincided with the visit of the Iranian President Rouhani to Pakistan. The Pakistani media and the officialdom touted that use of Iranian soil by India for destabilising Pakistan was vigorously discussed during the interlocution with the visiting Iranian President. Pakistan had to eat crow when President Rouhani flatly denied having any such issue being brought up by Pakistan.
With regard to Pathankot probe, Pakistan’s duplicity stands naked before the world, after its master and puppeteer China at the UN vetoed India’s proposal to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar, the mastermind of Pathankot attack. It is now becoming increasingly clear that Pakistan acquiesced to joint investigation under American pressure. It is also now evident that Pakistan tried to target both India and Iran with one salvo.
A very respectable paper Asia News International has portrayed the Pakistani script in larger regional perspective. It quotes Senge Hasnan, the Director of Gilgit-Baltisan National Congress: “It is not an issue of India but an issue of Pakistan adjusting itself between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s developing strategic conflict.” Senge further added that the Jadhav affair was a way to ‘embarrass’ Iran and build pressure at a time when Pakistan ‘has to choose a side between Saudi Arabia and Iran.’
It may be recalled that very recently in the second week of March 2016 a massive war game Exercise North Thunder was held in which 20 Sunni majority countries participated. The show of force included 1,50,000 soldiers, 20000 tanks, 2,450 aircraft and 460 helicopters. Most heads of state converged to witness the grand finale of the war game. Both Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif were present. Pakistan’s alacrity and preponderance in the exercise was evident. Amongst others it fielded JF-17 fighters, Karakoram aircraft and SSG Commandos. In December 2015, Riyadh announced a coalition of 34 countries to fight terrorism. Reportedly, Saudi Arabia has mooted a NATO like alliance of Islamic countries which by all indications excludes Iran. There are also reports to suggest that Pakistan has been entrusted to develop the proposed alliance. Also, the nuclear weapons umbilical between Riyadh and Islamabad is well known.
Interestingly even as military Exercise North Thunder was underway, Riyadh signed economic agreements worth $122 mn of which $76 mn are grants rather than loans. This constitutes the largest official assistance providedby Saudi Arabia to Pakistan in last five years. As per some reports the non-official gift could be as much as $1.5 bn in March 2014. Apart from energy imperatives Islamabad’s other economic vulnerability vis-à-vis Riyadh is the 1.5 mn Pakistani’s working in Saudi Arabia and their remittances.
Hence, the spy in Commander Jadhav has been created to enable Pakistan military-intelligence establishment to leverage Iran and India with the duplicity it has honed over the years.
The world community has dismissed Pakistan’s latest spy scriptwith the disdain it deserves. The civilised world now knows the wont and make of Pakistan. Pakistan it knows has nurtured three types of Taliban i.e. Tehrik Taliban Afghan, Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and euphemistically speaking Tehrik Taliban Pakistan Military (TTPM). The latter in fact is the progenitor of the other two. Realist countries, in pursuance of critical strategic or security interests ignore the Pakistani PM and whenever they have to deliver a stern message or warning to Pakistan, they do it through the rouge TTPM. The Pak Army, given its beholden status to the US has no option but to follow the diktat, but not without duplicity, as in the case of Osama bin Laden.
Analysts and incorrigible optimists saw a glimmer of hope in Pakistan’s unprecedented gesture of admitting the use of its soil in the Pathankot attack. This hope stemmed from the fact that Pakistan has in recent years been buffeted by pernicious blow back of its jihadi narrative. Centripetal jihadi forces killed Pakistani children in an Army school (APS) in Peshawar, and students in Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan, as per Global Terrorism Database prepared by University of Maryland in US, covering period between 1970 and 2014, has the highest killed in any country (450) in school attacks. There were some 850 attacks on places of learning. The rate of attacks increased alarmingly in the run up to APS massacre. Fortunately, most of these attacks were not lethal.
The kidnapping industry in Pakistan, an off-shoot of Jihad, has not spared the powerful and the mightiest. Its victims include son of former Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Geelani who continues to be in custody; the son of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who has recently been released after four years in hostage; son-in-law of Chairman of Joints Chief of Staff Committee; and Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan. The release of the latter three cost substantial ransom money, and so is the case with all jihadi abductions which are endemic and not even reported by the families of the victims. It is rather surprising that some very high profile kidnappings have been done in Punjab and the victims have been sold and resold in FATA as well as Afghanistan.
The internal threat levels in Pakistan have become so pernicious that the dispensation had to embark on a National Action Plan (NAP) to fight terror. Under the plan military courts have been set up by a constitutional amendment. The military courts have so far awarded 61 death sentences and four life imprisonments.
The security map of Pakistan presents a grim picture. Karachi is under the control of Pak Rangers, there is the ongoing Zarb-e-Ajb operation in FATA and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and now the military had to intervene to control the situation in Punjab following the judicial hanging of Mumtaz Qadir the assassin of Governor Salman Taseer. Entire Pakistan seems to be combusting. It seemed that for sheer survival Pakistan had begun to introspect.
Pakistan being killed by its military
We have provided the proof on Pathankot attack. It is clinching. The US and the NATO countries seem to be more than convinced. Call records, DNA samples, voice samples have been given to the Pakistan team. But how does DNA sample matter to a country without any DNA? Pakistan probably believes there is no proof unless you catch a Pakistani jihadi alive and it is no proof even if you catch someone alive like Ajmal Kasab.
We know the wont of Pakistan. The world knows the wont of Pakistan. We delude ourselves not with any hope but because we live in a damn international system, which boasts of functioning under rules and parameters, but certainly not on merit and justice. The prevailing world order thrives on hypocrisy. India has no choice but to navigate through it.
The powers that be are worried about nuclear weapons in the hands of jihadis, primarily because that endangers them too. In this regard, Pakistan is their biggest rather their only suspect and concern. As long as Pakistan exists in its present mould, the danger would fester. Hence, there is a need to defang Pakistan off its nuclear weapons.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Nuclear Security Summit at Washington held in the first week of April was to be overwhelmingly focused on Pakistan. Accordingly, the Pakistan military, the custodian of nuclear weapons, suffering from prosecution complex, made it impossible for Nawaz Sharif to go for the Summit. Nawaz is the Prime Minister of Pakistan and like all other prime ministers he has little control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. The attack on Pathankot airbase therefore was with the objective of sabotaging his participation in the Summit. The military’s façade of sharing Pathankot intelligence was to win the goodwill of US and its allies before the Summit. It was a ploy to buy temporary reprieve. Its aim was to take the sting out of the global concern about the insecurity and proliferation aspects of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Having lulled Nawaz Sharif and the US in run-up to the Summit, the Pakistan military then pulled the rug under the feet of Nawaz Sharif by conjuring Kulbhushan Jadhav and back tracking on the investigation after the visit of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to Pathankot.
It cost nothing to the military-intelligence establishment in unleashing the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) cadres on Pathankot. All jihadi tanzims including the JeM are part of the ‘Jihadi-Narco-Terror Network’. They sustain on drug money and have cross border operatives and beneficiaries including in the security establishment.
As per the script, when the moment arrived of proscribing the JeM, the Chinese used their Veto power to salvage Pakistan and redeem Maulana Masood Azhar.
The preferential treatment to JeM or say mollycoddling of Masood Azhar, a Punjabi, incited the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) comprising mainly Pashtuns to subject Iqbal Park in Lahore to suicide attack in which more than 70 people were killed including women and children. The TTP has mainly been bearing the onslaught of the Pakistan Army all over the country including in FATA where operation Zarb-e-Azb has rendered thousands homeless and has orphaned countless children. The blow back in Punjab was thus expected. The JIT drama thus cost Pakistan heavily.
Pakistan, particularly the military is a prisoner of its own jihadi agenda. Jihadi organisations have ensured that India-Pak enmity is effectively translated into ‘Hindu versus Muslim’ narrative. Jihad inherently has global designs; it cannot be confined against one country. It is for this reason that many jihadi outfits have rebelled against the narrow narrative of Pakistan military and turned hostile to the Pakistan State. They have refused to be slaves of ‘Pakistan versus India’ or ‘Pakistan versus Afghan government’ agenda. The ISIS therefore has great future in Pakistan or may be even the Indian Sub-continent.
Masood Azharand Hafiz Saeed are basically global jihadis. The latest reports based on the archival research of the BBC reveal that Azhar had extensively toured UK in 1993. He delivered some 40 speeches in different mosques, predominantly Deobandi. It may be mentioned that more than 40 percent of mosques in Britain are under the control of Deobandis. The report suggests that Azhar was the first to fan the ideology of modern jihadist militancy in Britain.
A serious question emerges why did China, tormented by Uighur jihadists in Xinjiang and has recently banned burqas in the capital city of Urmuqi come to the aid of JeM and Pakistan by using its Veto (1:14). Plausibly there are two reasons, i.e. first, the Chinese would like to keep India unsettled through Pak jihadi outfits, as it makes strategic thrust through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and all the way to Gwadar port through Pakistan’s longer axis by way of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Secondly, both Pakistan and China need the goodwill and indulgence of Punjab based militant groups for security of the CPEC. Amongst the highway networks envisaged for the CPEC, the stretch between Lahore and Karachi has been designated as a ‘priority project’, while the Eastern highway Abottabad – Quetta (linking finally to Gwadar port) has been designated a ‘short term project’. The Lahore-Karachi segment passes close to Bahawalpur area, which is under the influence of JeM. No one should underestimate the influence of these jihadi groups in Punjab. It has recently been in evidenced after the massive outpour of support after the hanging of MumtazQadri, killer of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Tasir, and the popularity of parallel Shariat courts run by Hafiz Saeed’s JuD.
In the international fora, ignominy is not new to Pakistan. Nevertheless, the latitude to Pakistan by the US and its allies, notwithstanding the exigencies in Afghanistan, is inexplicable. China on the other hand is known for pursuing its strategic agenda and foreign policy objectives though rouge states like North Korea. Pakistan in China’s reckoning belongs to the same category. As long as jihadi outfits thrive, Pakistan will continue to be the rouge and the client state that China desires.
The Pakistan military has abundantly demonstrated that it cannot abandon the jihadi outfits till it amalgamates India’s J&K and till it imposes its own regime in Kabul in perpetuity. Hence the Pakistan government may have no status or influence in country’s foreign policy but for the Pakistan military the jihadi tanzims are an important strategic component.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s so called ‘impromptu’ visit to Pakistan was one way by Nawaz Sharif to make a serious bid to claim his legitimate role in determining the foreign policy of the country. The battle is on.
The disconnect between the government and the Pakistan military has cast dark shadows over Pakistan’s nation-state status. The Army is controlling Karachi, it is bombing FATA, it is facing insurgency in Baluchistan, it is deployed in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and now after JIT affair in Punjab, which with 50 per cent of the population and 70 per cent of the Army is the heart of Pakistan. Never in the history of Pakistan has the Army been so bedeviled internally. Never before has it been so stretched. It is unable to cope up the blowback of jihad against India and Afghanistan. 61 hangings by the military courts in Pakistan have not given any respite from the blowback.
It is not in India’s interest in containing the blowback jihad or makes things easy for Pakistan’s military. The JIT affair had in consequence triggered the most devastating blowback in Iqbal Park in Lahore.
Khaled Ahmed, a respected Pakistan columnist, earlier in Pakistan’s Foreign Service had a decade earlier observed: “Pakistan is falling, because it is a warrior state and is not supposed to last. It is wedded to the ideal of war in which ideological rulers accept the possibility of annihilation (Shahddat), as a consequence of righteous war.”
In February this year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs cautioned the government against giving support to armed struggle in Kashmir and confined itself to moral and diplomatic support. But the Chinese refusal to impose sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad and its chief Maulana Masood Azhar has belied all such hopes. That China, which is a victim of unrelenting jihadi terror from Uighur Muslims, went against the other 14 members of the Security Council is a reflection of the emerging China-Pakistan axis that the world and particularly India, in the two-front context, will have to deal with.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is generating new dynamics. Baluchistan and Kashmir are critical to this corridor. They envisaged Chinese strategic ingress in Baluchistan is bound to upset Iran given that Baluchis straddle the Pak-Iran border, approximately 900 km. The Baluch – Brahui culture is common to Baluchistan of Pakistan and Baluchistan of Iran just as the Afghan – Push to culture transcends the Durand Line separating Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is indeed vulnerability for Pakistan. The Pakistan part of Baluchistan has been smouldering at least since 70s. It was because of the precarious situation in Baluchistan in 1974 that the Pak Army bounced back to the super power status within the country because the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto had run out of all options. After the 1971 war, Bhutto to a large extent had circumscribed the military. When asked to deploy in Baluchistan, the Pak military blackmailed to get its numero uno position.
The 989 km long Persian Gulf is critical for Iran as it covers most of the northern coast and serves as the economic life line for the country. Extra regional powers like the US too have heavy presence in the region. Any kind of Chinese presence, direct or indirect, in Gwadar is certainly not a welcome proposition for Iran and other players in the Gulf region. The KulbhushanJadhav episode and the Chinese veto on Masood should thus be appraised in the larger geopolitical context. The desperation to somehow nab an Indian from the Chabahar port or waters to browbeat both India and Iran is now evident.
These deceitful tactics or measures only accelerate Pakistan’s implosion. Pakistan’s inability to alter the jihadi narrative is pushing the country towards disintegration. A situation may arise when the ongoing China-Pakistan economic corridor project splinters because of vivisection of Pakistan. Nations and civilizations have perished not because of external pressures, but because of implosions.
Ironically, Pakistan which mutilated Saurabh Kalia and beheaded Hemrajhas now released a doctored video, in which questions are being posed to Jadhav in benign and humorous manners, and the replies are also in the same tenor. No such video was released when Osama bin Laden was enjoying Pakistan’s hospitality. The Raymond Davis affair exposes the duplicity and Pakistan. In 2011 Davis, a CIA operative posted Lahore Consulate, killed two Pakistanis. The authorities refused to grant him diplomatic immunity and put him in jail. No such video was made then. The Americans threw a sum of $2.4 million as compensation money and Davis was honourably released. Pakistan, which refused to own-up Ajmal Kasab and even its soldiers in Kargil, is now drumming the Indian ownership of Jadhav. Following Jadhav’s so-called confession, the ‘India destabilising Pakistan’ theory is being peddled with great fervour.
Who is destabilising Pakistan? It is the jihadis and their suicide bombers. The same suicide bombers, who killed Benazir Bhutto, who killed children in APS, who killed students in Bacha Khan University, who attacked Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, who killed Ismaili Shias, who attacked the ISI headquarters, nuclear establishments, airbase and naval base and more recently who killed innocent people in Iqbal Park in Lahore even as the Joint Investigation Team was investigating the Pathankot attack. Most attacks in Pakistan and India have been by suicide jihadi teams. Is India and Iran producing these suicide bombers? They are incubating in various madrasas of Pakistan. Over the years, Pakistan has been reduced to such a hell that young men are prepared to be suicide bombers to seek refuge on an imaginary other world, where amongst other bounties they would be provided with 72 virgins.
Destruction is staring at Pakistan.
By RSN Singh