Racial Profiling of Pashtuns
By Asif Haroon Raja
Ali Wazir has posted a video clip on social media showing Punjab Police manhandling some persons. He has craftily given a twist to the story by projecting the Pashtuns living in Punjab as the victims. I am sure, he must have been handsomely rewarded by RAW or NDS for this villainous act which has raised the tempers of the Pashtun community. Imran Khan added fuel to fire by giving a color to anti-terrorism drive in Punjab as racial profiling of the Pashtuns. Opposition leader Khurshid Shah sprinkled more oil on the hurt feelings of Pashtuns. The Pashtun nationalists took to twitter to vent their anger. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly has passed a resolution demanding immediate halt to anti-Pashtun campaign in Punjab and has warned of dire consequences if it is not stopped. Asfand Wali threatened to oust Punjabis from KP. Pamphlets are in circulation. Within no time, Afghan social media posted series of fake videos to paint Pashtuns as victims of Punjab vandalism. Altaf Hussain sitting in London also sung the same song. Liberal and pro-gayism Marvi Sarmad tweeted in favor of Pashtuns. The speed with which all of them have ganged up for a fake cause is quite intriguing. None bothered to see that the clip going viral on social media relates to a 15 years old incident in Baluchistan province and not Punjab, in which suspected Afghans were rounded up by the police. The clip seems to be cleverly doctored. Notorious Jibran Nasir is the main instigator behind racial profiling memo.
Coming weeks are likely to witness shriller exchange of hot words and accusations between the KP and Punjab governments, duly aggravated by social media, which is already working on someone else’s agenda. The purpose behind exacerbating ethnic feelings is to drive a wedge between the Punjabis and Pashtuns. The two communities have been at peace and enjoying most cordial relations in all the provinces and never picked up arms against each other. Pashtuns settled in Punjab do not wish to return to KP.
Juvenile reaction of nationalist Pashtuns is a consequence to the nationwide operation Raddul Fasaad that was launched in the wake of new wave of terrorism unleashed from the soil of Afghanistan in which targets were struck in all the four provinces and almost 200 people were killed. It was gathered that the handlers and facilitators in each incident were from inside Pakistan. The whole trail has been unearthed after arresting the accomplices. The security forces have no political axe to grind and go after terrorists only who have no religion or ethnic identity.
The main objective of the operation is to destroy left over hideouts/camps of terrorists both sides of the Durand Line, get hold of handlers, facilitators, carriers and financiers of terrorists, demolish sleeping cells and terrorists network in urban centres, choke funds and supplies by further improving border management, and expedite implementation of 20 points of National Action Plan (NAP). This operation in which all the three services are taking part under a coordinated plan had been necessitated in the wake of dangerous agenda of enemies of Pakistan to destabilize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. For the achievement of their sinister goals, they have been making all out efforts through paid proxies and propaganda war to make Pakistan insecure and to make CPEC less attractive for outsiders.
India has all along been resorting to subversive activities in Pakistan to breed misgivings, disenchantment and hatred between smaller provinces and Punjab on the basis of socio-politico-economic grievances, stir up provincialism by encouraging fissiparous tendencies, stoke ethnicity and sectarianism, widen religious divides and sharpen political polarization and befriend 5th columnists and disgruntled elements. India helped by its moles in Pakistan has been playing its role in making power centres fight with each other and in spoiling civil-military relations.
Purpose behind subversion is to keep Pakistan perpetually politically unstable, economically weak and internationally isolated and discredited. Segment of Pakistani media, NGOs and pseudo intellectuals on the payroll of foreign powers have been instrumental in sensationalizing weak points and undermining strengths.
Former NWFP was already in the grip of Pakhtun nationalism at the time of partition and Pakhtunistan stunt championed by Khan Brothers (associated with Indian Congress), and had the support of Kabul. The movement has still not died down since the likes of Asfand Wali and Mahmood Achakzai, helped by India and Afghanistan, carry forward this agenda. Billboards of ‘Greater Pakhtunistan’ were on display in KP during the last PPP rule.
After successfully stoking Bengali nationalism and building hatred against West Pakistan in general and Punjab and Army in particular, India accomplished its mission of separating East Pakistan from the body of Pakistan in 1971.
RAW was next mandated to achieve similar results in Sindh and Baluchistan. Sindhi and Baloch nationalism were fueled in the two provinces to intensify hatred against Punjab and the Federation. RAW’s efforts gave birth to Sindhu Desh movement of Sindhi nationalists led by late GM Sayed in Sindh. Baloch insurgency led by Marris and Mengals in Baluchistan in 1970s was a follow up of earlier rebellious tendencies of some Baloch Sardars and of Samad Achakzai in Baluchistan. Under the name of Baloch nationalism, settlers were targeted and forced to migrate. The Baloch insurgency was fully supported by KGB, RAW and KHAD.
Having succeeded in subverting the Sindhis, RAW stimulated anti-Sindhi sentiments among the Urdu speaking settlers in urban Sindh and pitted new Sindhis against old Sindhis, again on the basis of socio-economic grievances. Altaf Hussain established APSMO in 1978 and created MQM in 1984. RAW handed him the blueprint plan of Mujibur Rahman led Awami League, how to go about separating urban Sindh from rest of Pakistan and creating a new state for the Mohajirs. Altaf was glamorized and popularized among the Urdu speaking community as their hero. Besides blaming the Sindhis, Altaf and his disciples blamed the establishment and agencies for the woes of Mohajirs. This line was adopted to project the Mohajirs as victims and to hide fascist and terrorist activities of the MQM aimed at controlling Karachi and Hyderabad through terrorism. A stage came when the MQM militants indulged in bloody duels against the Sindhis, and settlers from other ethnic communities in Karachi in late 1980s. Three operations were launched in the 1990s to control MQM militancy.
After 9/11, FATA was created as a new conflict zone by RAW and its allied agencies to fan terrorism in Pakistan. TTP was created with an ostensible aim of demolishing the existing governing structure and replacing it with Sharia based system and establishment of Islamic Emirate. The real aim was however to stoke chaos, pin down sizeable portion of Army in the northwest, and destabilize the country. Despite launching several large size military operations such as Rah-e-Raast, Rah-e-Nijat and Zarb-e-Azb, and recapturing the entire space captured by the TTP and its affiliates, terrorism couldn’t be rooted out.
The reason is that Afghanistan that had been converted into a strategic launching pad for cross border terrorism in Pakistan in 2002 is still fully operative. All the planners, executors and coordinators of covert war sit under one roof at Sehra Neward Intelligence Centre north of Kabul and their objectives against Pakistan remain unchanged. The other reason is the Pakistani power wielders providing protection and funds to the terrorists and the natural alignment of the religious right with the TTP and other so-called religiously motivated militant groups.
Former Army chief Gen Raheel was right in stating that terrorism cannot be rooted out unless financiers, handlers and facilitators are taken to task and the nexus of financial terrorism, corruption and terrorism is broken. The military prong which achieved over 80% progress couldn’t achieve conclusive results because of the bases in Afghanistan and backing of terrorists by foreign patrons and local supporters.
Baluchistan that was peaceful from 1979 to 2003, was made restive in 2004 and this time Bugtis were made to join the Marris and Mengals as well other Baloch nationalists to wage province wide insurgency backed by RAW, NDS, CIA, MI-6, Mossad. Socio-economic deprivations were once again drummed up and Nawab Akbar Bugti was made into a hero to promote Baloch nationalism. Punjab was held responsible for the backwardness of the province. Mega development projects were objected to and the Army, FC and intelligence agencies demonized on the made-up allegations that they were responsible for the Baloch missing persons and mutilated bodies. Sectarianism was fanned by targeting Hazara community in Baluchistan.
In September 2001, Altaf residing in London since 1992, gave an undertaking to Tony Blair of MQM’s full support in the war on terror. From 2008 onward, the re-strengthened MQM undertook planned destabilization of Karachi, the economic hub of Pakistan, so as to further bleed Pakistan’s economy. A spate of target killings, kidnappings for ransom and extortion was unleashed and the daily score of target killers was 10-12. Altaf kept raising alarm bells about the threat of Taliban and Pashtun settlers to the peace of Karachi, which in actuality had been ruined by the Sindh ruling coalition of PPP, MQM, and ANP. Sindh had begun to die an economic death.
Karachi was stabilized after a targeted and intelligence based operation was launched by the Rangers equipped with police powers under Article 147 of the Constitution in September 2013. However, MQM which was mainly responsible for lawlessness made hue and cry that the operation was not even-handed and was Mohajir focused. When the Rangers started nabbing the ones involved in financial terrorism and went after some in interior Sindh, the ruling PPP started creating impediments in the way of Rangers.
The RAW sponsored MQM in Karachi has got divided into four factions – MQM London, MQM Pakistan under Farooq Sattar, Pakistan Sar Zamin Party under Mustafa Kamal and MQM Haqiqi under Afaq. Its militant structure has been broken and Altaf is debarred from making speeches on phone to instigate violence. Altaf is now the most hated man in Pakistan and red warrant for his arrest by Interpol has been issued. Ironically, he is now trying to portray himself as a friend of Pashtuns and is openly espousing the agenda of enemies to break Pakistan into pieces. He is equating Indian atrocities against Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir with Rangers operation in Karachi against Mohajirs. Like Mujib, he is threatening the government to stop operation Raddul Fasaad or else face annihilation of Army. He is exhorting his followers to get ready for the final battle against the Army and is seeking another Gen Arora like General in India.
PPP, MQM and PTI demanded an operation in Punjab arguing that it was also prone to crime and terrorism. They quoted the presence of Punjabi Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah Sahaba and Chotu gang in South Punjab. This demand was put in with an eye on elections in 2018, hoping that action against Punjabi militants will dilute the vote bank of PML-N in Punjab.
Punjab government expressed reluctance on the plea that law and order situation in Punjab was under control and developments works were proceeding smoothly. It was owing to persistent demand of other provinces and the terror attack in Lahore on February 13th that it was decided to include Punjab in the ambit of operation Raddul Fasaad as well.
As a result of RAW’s subversion, Pakistan had to face Sindhu Desh movement and MRD movement in interior Sindh, Mohajir movement in urban Sindh, Baloch separatist movement in Baluchistan, low-keyed Saraiki movement in southern Punjab, TTP insurgency in the northwest, and Balwaristan movement in Gilgit Baltistan, each aspiring for a separate state outside the concept of Pakistan. Effective measures taken by the incumbent government, security forces and law enforcement agencies has taken the wind out of the sails of all the movements/insurgencies.
Till 9/11, India was the support base for all the rebel groups/political parties in Pakistan. After occupation of Afghanistan by the US in November 2001, Afghanistan has become the operational base. RAW has also been making use of Iranian territory for carrying out sabotage and subversion in Baluchistan and Karachi. Rajgarh and Ramgarh in Rajasthan continues to be used for dispatching supplies to the terrorists in Sindh, interior Baluchistan and southern Punjab.
The proxies undertaking terrorism in Pakistan are the TTP, its breakaway faction Jamaat-al- Ahrar (JA), Lashkar-e-Islam, LeJ, Al Alami, IMU and TTA based at Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar since 2009. RAW and NDS have outsourced terrorism and have circulated a menu-like price list to all these groups. Rupees 4 million is spent on a single suicide mission.
In Baluchistan, major proxies are BLA, BRA, BLF that used to operate from interior Baluchistan but now mostly operate from Spin Boldak and Lashkargah in Afghanistan. Their leaders espousing separatist agenda are housed by Britain, America and Switzerland. Red warrant has been issued against Brahamdagh Bugti. Large numbers of Baloch fighters have voluntarily forsaken militancy and joined the mainstream thereby taking the steam out of separatist movement.
Baluchistan has weak border management and 95% of its territory is in control of ill-trained and corruption prone Levies that are controlled by Sardars. Owing to over a dozen crossing points, it is more vulnerable to infiltration and requires concrete steps to prevent cross border movement.
Foreign agencies have been fishing in the camps of 3 million Afghan refugees residing in KP and Baluchistan since 1979 to find handlers and facilitators as well as saboteurs. They take full advantage of the porous western border with negligible border control mechanism. Apart from socio-economic burden, unregistered among them have become a security hazard and has forced the government to expedite their return and also to verify them. Vested groups are however making hue and cry and making it into a political issue. Arrest and interrogation of suspected Afghan refugees is being mixed up with Pakhtun racialism.
Daesh joined up with JA and TTP, and has made Nangarhar as its base camp for fighting Afghan Taliban as well as striking targets and making inroads in Pakistan. Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, supervising the whole covert war against Pakistan had facilitated Daesh marriage with JA-TTP in 2015.
All bases of TTP and its affiliates have been busted in the northwest and so have the Farari camps in interior Baluchistan. Since the start of 2015, all acts of terror emanate from Afghanistan right under the nose of NATO and CIA.
Afghan unity government which is a puppet in the hands of Washington and Delhi has adopted a hostile posture against Pakistan. It is averse to border management since it will prevent cross border terrorism and also expose its oft repeated claim that instability in Afghanistan is owing to terrorism springing from Pakistan. It has taken no step to dismantle safe havens of TTP and JA, and to close down Pakistan specific India consulates filled with RAW officers, or to rein in NDS.
For the first time, Pakistan has changed its defensive posture to offensive defence and has struck JA and TTP terror camps across the western border with precision. Western border has been closed. Pakistan has handed over list of 76 most wanted terrorists belonging to these banned groups to Kabul for their extradition.
An equally aggressive posture has been adopted along the LoC in Kashmir, which India has intentionally kept on the boil to distract attention of the world from its atrocities in occupied Kashmir, which is slipping out of its hands. Gen Qamar Bajwa has given a loud message that he means business.
Safety of the CPEC and Gwadar seaport has been ensured by deploying a division size force, while the Marine Force of Navy has been mandated to guard the coastline, exclusive economic zone and the sea lanes in Arabian Sea.
Frustrated by failure of multiple covert efforts including pitting Deobandis against Barelivis, the enemies of Pakistan have devised a new plan to trigger Pashtun-Punjabi ethnic war to fail Operation Raddul Fasaad.
Punjab government will have to ensure evenhandedness in the ongoing operation in Punjab to allay the fears that Pashtuns are being racially profiled. At the same time, leaders of smaller provinces should also behave responsibly and avoid pouring scorn on Punjab for petty political gains.
Ongoing efforts to denigrate and topple the elected federal and Punjab governments will serve the interests of enemies only and will do no service to the country. What is needed is unity of federating units and a joint strategy to eliminate the scourge of extremism and terrorism.
There is a direct linkage between the terrorists and terror financing. This financing has a direct linkage with Mega Corruption lorded over by the politicians, particularly in Sindh who are raping the economic hub of the country like parasites. The police, the bureaucracy, and the judiciary in Sindh are playing the role of facilitators. Their thorough politicization has blunted the system of accountability.
No effort is in hand to reform the police, bureaucracy and criminal justice system. Till these flaws are doctored, NAP implemented in real earnest, the operational base of Afghanistan neutralized, and border is effectively guarded, the military prong at its own will not be able to root out terrorism.
Lastly, law enforcement agencies will have to further polish the systems of investigation, intelligence gathering and sharing mechanism and rapid response system to achieve tangible results.
The writer is retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org