Rejoinder to Imtiaz Alam
Asif Haroon Raja
Imtiaz Alam is a senior journalist who writes articles and hosts programs on TV channels. He also heads SAFMA, a dubious organization which reportedly is sponsored by RAW. SAFMA in league with Aman ki Asha, another shady organization co-hosted by Jang-Geo Group and Indian media group is also patronized by RAW. The two have been working in tandem to improve Indo-Pakistan relations and to promote peace and friendship between the two arch rivals. Notwithstanding the apparent noble intentions, in practical terms the duo has always been espousing the cause of India and undermining Pakistan. In a subtle manner a message conveyed that it is futile for Pakistan to stand up against the military might of India, which is five times superior and its economy is shining. Alam says India has more than eight times bigger economy in terms of GDP and will become 3rd largest economy in next three decades. Its defence spending is 1.8% of its GDP and defence budget now stands at $50 billion a year. In contrast, Pakistan in his view is out in the cold.
The message given by him and his ilk is to accept the ground reality and succumb to India’s demand of accepting its regional hegemony and to forget about Kashmir by accepting the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border between the two Kashmirs. Only then will the two can live as peaceful and friendly neighbors and peace will help the two to prosper economically. The two groups have all along blamed Pakistan for maintaining an aggressive posture on Kashmir and promoting Jihadi culture in Kashmir by supporting non-state actors to bleed India. Alam says that successive governments of Pakistan have been taking a cyclic course of an arms race with India. He has advised Pakistani leaders to say no to arms race to avoid self-immolation. The two suspicious outfits have gone underground ever since extremist BJP under a terrorist Narendra Modi has gained power in India and embarrassed India’s farce of secularism, which had kept the world fascinated and impressed for a very long time.
Imtiaz Alam is a committed Indian fan and being a secular has derided Islamists in Pakistan, dubbing all of them as extremists and terrorists. In the past, he always criticised Pak Army and ISI, saying they have been using Jihadis as their strategic assets. He also criticises government’s policies on Kashmir, defence, nuclear, or its dealings with India. His write-ups in newspapers and stance on electronic media testifies his bent of mind. In his recent article “When will we say no to the arms race” dated May 19, 2016 in ‘The News’, he has twisted facts of Indo-Pak history to berate Pakistan’s military rulers in particular and to project India in good light.
He contends that Pakistan joined western military blocks to counter balance India but doesn’t highlight the distressing circumstances under which Pakistan was created and the plethora of problems loaded upon newly born state by India to ensure its death in the crib. He didn’t mention about India gobbling up 565 princely states including two-thirds Kashmir and the states wanting to join Pakistan, annexation of Sikkim, Diu and Goa after 1947 and its threatening posture against Pakistan which impelled Pakistan to seek security under the umbrella of western pacts.
He callously mentions that Pakistan relied upon non-state actors from the beginning and used them in 1948 war in Kashmir. This is travesty of truth. Going by Partition plan, Kashmir was to become part of Pakistan, but it was annexed by Indian military in October 1947. But for the voluntary dash of tribesmen from FATA, whole of Kashmir would have been seized by India. Pakistan government had no role or control over the tribesmen who had gone there to save the Muslim Kashmiris getting massacred by Dogra Army. Ever since Kashmir has become the bone of contention between the two neighbors and the two have gone to war in 1965 and in 1971.
Alam contends that Indian military’s drubbing at the hands of Chinese in 1962 conflict encouraged Ayub Khan to launch Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, which then triggered 1965 war. Why he hesitates to write that Ayub Khan didn’t exploit the precarious condition of India in 1962 and went to the extent of proposing joint defence to India against communism? Why he overlooked the fact that despite series of UN resolutions and Nehru’s pledge to grant right of self-determination to Kashmiris and holding a plebiscite under the auspices of the UN, India didn’t honor. India’s u turn and its expansion and modernization of armed forces with the help of Soviet, western and American military assistance after 1962, which had begun to tilt the military balance in favor of India had impelled Pakistan to launch Operation Gibraltar. Alam didn’t say anything that while Operation Gibraltar was in a disputed territory which was in India’s illegal occupation, India stealthily crossed the international border on 6th September 1965 without declaring war with the aim of destroying Pakistan’s armed forces but failed.
While describing the 1971 crisis in erstwhile East Pakistan, Alam brazenly twists historical facts by saying that rather than transferring power to Mujibur Rahman led Awami League that had won the elections, Gen Yahya opted for a military action in March 1971 in East Pakistan with the support of non-state actors Al-Shams and Al-Badr which resulted in over one million civilian casualties. By saying this at a time when Hasina Wajid’s regime is busy hanging aged Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on account of so-called 1971 war crimes, he has further sprinkled salt on the wounds of Islamists in Bangladesh but delighted India and Bangladesh rulers. Rather than paying tributes to them, who had fought the rebels along with Pak Army to save the motherland, he declared them as non-state actors (rebels) and ignored brutal Mukti Bahinis.
Either he has no clue of history or he has published the dictated script given by his patrons. Why does he forget that for almost 15 days Gen Yahya and his team sat with Mujib and his team in Dacca and gave in to all his six points and much more and announced him as PM of Pakistan. This he did at a time when Mujib had rebelled against the state on 01 March 1971 and his goons had massacred over 1, 50, 000 non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis (Biharis) and raped women with utmost ferocity and barbarity. A state within state had been created and people of East Pakistan (mostly terrorised by Mukti Bahinis) had defied central authority. The Indian and western media had remained tightlipped over their atrocities, (and so is Alam even after learning the whole truth about 1971 conspiracy). When Yahya learnt that Mujib and his henchmen had made up their mind to break away from Pakistan and any solution within the concept of united Pakistan was unacceptable to them, he ordered the military action on the night of 25 March 1971 to save Pakistan from disintegrating. At that time Al-Shams and Al-Badar were not in existence.
The rebellion was suppressed by the lone 14 Infantry Division and by May 1971 order was restored in the entire province and a civilian Bengali governor Malik was installed. Casualties were in few thousands and not a million as claimed by Alam. Mujib and his stalwarts after creation of Bangladesh had bloated the figure of casualties to 3 million and rape of 300,000 women. Alam must be agreeing to these bizarre figures. Al-Badr and Al-Shams were created as Razaqars essentially for village defences during the counter insurgency operations and for rear areas security during war because of paucity of troops. Once order was restored, general amnesty was announced for all the Awami League leaders based in India and the refugees but India blocked them. All attempts made by Pakistan to find a political settlement were turned down by haughty Indira Gandhi. Indian leaders were smelling blood and they didn’t want to miss a chance of century (as stated by Subramanian). Pakistan internal matter was made into Indian issue. Mukti Bahinis were eulogized and Pak military demonized as human eating monsters and rapists by Indian media as well as western media.
While Alam mentions about Pakistan’s use of non-state actors, he unjustly looks the other way to India’s opening of 59 training camps in India along the border to train, equip and launch 2, 50, 000 Mukti Bahinis to overpower the eastern province. This practice continued for nine months and when the rebels failed to make any headway, the Indian military ten times superior in men and material and with all the strategic, operational and tactical advantages, and supported by USSR and others invaded East Pakistan and overwhelmed it. India thus became the architect of cross border terrorism in South Asia. It has been resorting to this hideous practice against Bangladesh which it had created, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Strangely, Alam has the cheek to say that Mukti Bahini rebellion was a popular Bengali nationalist insurgency which provided an opportunity to India to drown two-nation theory in the Bay of Bengal. I guess he has no knowledge that Nehru had plans to detach East Pakistan from Pakistan as early as 1948 and Indian intelligence agencies and Hindu teachers/professors in East Pakistan and seculars consistently worked on a well-tailored plan to subvert the minds of Bengalis and inculcate deep seated hatred in their minds against West Pakistanis and Army. Awami League under Sheikh Mujib was used as a tool and journey of separation started at Agartala in 1963. All this is no more fancy tales but recorded in large numbers of books authored by Bengali, Indian and western authors. What could be a bigger proof of India’s role in dismembering Pakistan than the admission of Indian PM Narendra Modi in 2014? Therefore, to say that India repaid Gibraltar is utterly ridiculous.
Alam in his article has put the entire blame on Field Marshal Ayub Khan and Gen Yahya Khan and skipped role of ZA Bhutto and that of Mujib in the 1971 tragedy. Thereafter, in a way he holds a grudge against Bhutto for rebuilding a defeated Army and putting up a confrontationist national security paradigm despite signing Simla agreement. He forgets that soon after creating Bangladesh, India embarked upon an ambitious force modernization program with the help of USSR and also carried out nuclear explosion in August 1974. At the same time, Sindh and Baluchistan were given as new targets for subversion to RAW in 1973. We all know that RAW in league with KGB and KHAD had fully supported Baloch insurgency from 1973 to 1978 and had also supported Sindhu Desh movement in Sindh. So what should have Bhutto done and why should he not have laid the foundation of nuclear program when India had expansionist designs and had not reconciled to existence of Pakistan? Kashmir issue was virtually frozen after Simla agreement and flawed policy of bilateralism introduced to bar third party intervention.
Alam then picks up his stick against Gen Ziaul Haq accusing him of creating non-state jihadi actors and making Pakistan an undeclared nuclear weapon power. He skips the role of US which in actuality brought in Jihadis from 70 Muslim countries, funded and militarized madrassas and funded the proxy war in Afghanistan. He fails to mention that Zia’s strategy was a 100% success story. He also fails to mention that the US abandonment of Afghanistan in haste had led to civil war and Pakistan had to suffer the consequences. Another point which he missed was the Pressler Amendment which became a cause for rise in debts and political instability. Consequently the democratic era failed to pay any heed to ill effects of Afghan imbroglio. So to say that the erstwhile western patrons subjected Pakistan to sanctions in the aftermath of nuclear explosions in 1998 will not be correct. Those were additional sanctions.
Rather than condemning India’s nuclear explosions, he sees Pakistan’s response negatively. In his view Pakistan under Nawaz should have pursued Gen Zia’s strategy of nuclear ambiguity rather than putting the bomb in the open shelf. In his view Pakistan’s nuclear response led to nuclear arms race. He intentionally overlooked Zia’s series of proposals to make South Asia Nuclear Free Zone which were out rightly rejected by India. Pakistan didn’t want to sign NPT and CTBT unilaterally when India refused to sign. Yet, India was awarded civil nuclear deal by USA in 2008 and then made member of Nuclear Suppliers Group to enable India to give fillip to its weaponized nuclear program. Conversely, Pakistan’s nuclear program became an eyesore for India, Israel and USA and all sorts of objections were raised.
Alam then dwells on India’s future grandiose plans of becoming a big power and a bulwark against China. He rightly highlights that in partnership with USA, India under Maritime security and joint strategic vision for Asia-Pacific, and naval cooperation in Indian Ocean is leaving Pakistan far behind and creating unbridgeable asymmetry on conventional plane. At the same time he adds that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and war heads are more than India’s stocks and is geared towards becoming the fifth largest nuclear power by 2025. (Stolen from biased western analysts). He then subtly makes a mention of Pakistan’s tactical nukes and their use on its own soil to thwart Indian intrusion, and Pakistan’s preference for first-strike option.
After describing the horrors of nuclear war and relating it to Mutually Assured Destruction, Alam belittles concept of deterrence saying it’s a flawed doctrine. He then dwells upon Pakistan’s minimum nuclear deterrence now jumping to full spectrum nuclear deterrence and lists out the types of missiles Pakistan has to counter India’s Cold Start doctrine and continental triad nuclear doctrine. He then delivers the best punch by asserting that in response to Pakistan’s use of non-state actors (strategic assets), Ajit Doval’s passive-aggressive and aggressive doctrine is in full play by co-opting proxies from within and from Afghanistan.
One wonders why Alam is shy of making a mention that the main reasons of arms race and nuclearisation of South Asia are unresolved Kashmir issue, India’s intransigence and belligerent attitude. Why doesn’t he say that India has always aspired for Akhand Bharat and wants to become a regional hegemon in South Asia, Indian Ocean including Arabian Sea? He looks the other way to Pakistan’s military strategy which is defensive in nature and its nuclear program which is meant to safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Pakistan has no territorial claims with any neighbor and has desired peaceful relations with all. India’s military strategy on the other hand is offensive in nature and imperialist in design and has disputes with all its neighbors. India uses proxy war, Chankyan tactics and propaganda as tools to achieve its sinister objectives. Since 1989, India is constantly raising its defence budget which now totals $50 billion annually and is feverishly buying sophisticated war machines for the three services of Indian military and testing new range of nuclear tipped missiles to disable Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence.
It will be too simplistic and naïve to think that India’s conventional and nuclear build up is meant to confront China. After the 1962 humiliating defeat, India will never ever try to flex its military muscles against China. More so, Great Himalayas stand as a barrier between the two neighbors which prevent classical invasion by any side. Over 70% of India’s strike formations and air bases are deployed against Pakistan. The latter cannot match Indian military superiority which is 5:1, but Pakistan strives to maintain strategic balance of 3:1 and reinforces it with nuclear deterrence. Big powers have always played a role in tilting the military balance in favor of India and currently the US is going out of the way to help its strategic partner India in expanding and upgrading its conventional and nuclear capabilities. This process has been going on since 1993. At the same time the US has been objecting to Pakistan’s acquisitions from China and denying its bare minimum defence needs. Blockage of F-16s and close support fund are the recent examples.
In the 1980s, Russia helped India to build its navy. Nuclear powered Chakra submarine and Talwar Frigates fitted with nuclear tipped Brahmo missiles were provided by Russia. Now the US in its bid to dominate Indian Ocean is helping Indian Navy to become a blue water navy. India has developed intermediate range K-4 nuclear ballistic missiles which will be fitted on Arihant submarines. K-5 missiles are also being built. This will nuclearise Indian Ocean and jeopardise the security of 32 littoral states situated around it. Pakistan will be faced with land based and sea based nuclear and missile threats which will further exacerbate its security. On May 15, India conducted an interceptor missile test of its advanced air defence Ashwin and Israel has provided the technology. These developments have altered the strategic balance and forced Pakistan to counter the newly emerged threat.
Alam is reinforcing Indo-US unjust stance by advising Pakistan not to upgrade its defence capabilities. It is utterly unfair on part of Alam to equate Pakistan with India by saying both are indulging in arms race and in nuclearisation of the region. His claim that Pakistan is solely responsible for making use of non-state actors is untrue. I am sure he must be knowing who created and supported Mukti Bahini and LTTE, and now who is supporting TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF, and MQM.
I will advise my friend to go through articles written by Indians, or see Pakistan specific programs aired by Indian TV channels. None has ever advised Indian rulers to cut down defence budget, or to show restraint, or to solve Kashmir issue. Jingoism in India against Pakistan is at its peak and so are covert operations in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi by RAW. Arrested Indian naval officer Kal Bhushan Yadav, working for RAW has spilled the beans and reconfirmed Pakistan’s stated position that RAW is deeply involved in destabilizing Pakistan. RAW agents in dozens are being rounded up and the figure has crossed 400. Combing operation is going on in urban centres to demolish all sorts of foreign networks.