Another Rejoinder to Imtiaz Alam
By Asif Haroon Raja
Imtiaz Alam is irreconcilable and incurable since he compulsively speaks negatively. He is among the small band of faultfinders in Pakistan that see everything in Pakistan through jaundiced lenses and spare no opportunity to portray Pakistan and its institutions as well as the Islamists (referred to as fundos, extremists and jihadists) in poor light. In a TV program on August 3, I heard him saying in response to another speaker that it is wrong to state Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of Partition. What he implied was that Kashmir is not disputed but a settled issue and only the ones with Jihadist mindset and Jihadis keep Kashmir issue on the boil.
In his article in The News dated August 4, titled “Overcoming Regional and International Isolation”, he gives strength to the Indian wish by brazenly claiming that Pakistan has been regionally and internationally isolated. Imtiaz further states that Pakistan policy makers believe in diplomacy of lies, deception and double-speak. These words exactly meet the criterion of Hindu Brahman leaders believing in Chankyan tactics. Imtiaz has serious concerns about national security paradigm being formulated by the military. One wonders who should then be making it. In his tainted view, it revolves around perpetual enmity with India, misusing Afghanistan as Pakistan’s reserve (for granted), drawing material benefits from the US on the plea of fighting war on terror, allying with the Saudis at the cost of annoying Iran, and solely depending upon China.
I ask him whether any neighboring, regional or far regional country has severed relations with Pakistan, or it has been declared as a pariah state or a terrorist state. Pakistan is still enjoying favored nation state for trade with EU and maintains friendly relations with ASEAN, Arab countries, African Union and Latin America. Pakistan has considerably improved relations with Russia and with Central Asian States, as is evident from CASA-1000, TAPI agreements and joint exercises of militaries of China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan to combat terrorism. Pakistan is now a member of SCO. It is enjoying best of relations with China which is the budding future super power?
Today Pakistan is much stronger to face foreign hatched conspiracies and terrorism than it was in 2001. It is the sole nuclear power in the Muslim world with superior nuclear program and delivery means than India, its Army is rated as the best in the world to fight and defeat terrorism, it is prepared to fight hot or cold war with its archrival India, Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif is the most popular Army chief in the history of Pakistan and has been rated as the best among top ten army chiefs of the world. The ISI is rated number one among the top ten intelligence agencies of the world. Pakistani troops are the most sought in UN missions because of their laudatory performance in all the troubled regions. People of Pakistan are the most resilient since their spirits are upbeat despite the loss of well over 60,000 in terrorism, braving 20 hours load shedding and shortage of gas and fuel, and putting up with joblessness and growing poverty.
So what if Pakistan’s relations with the US are currently tense and not so unfriendly, which has repeatedly betrayed Pakistan and is now a declining super power and has lost its élan and prestige after suffering huge setbacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria? Turkey is now seriously thinking of severing ties with USA if it refuses to hand over Gulen who Erdogan feels was the mastermind behind recent abortive coup. This is not for the first time that Pak-US relations have gone frosty. The US is now openly targeting Pakistan by siding with India and Afghanistan and caring two hoots for Pakistan security concerns. It has stopped the delivery of eight F-16s and the CSF, which is not aid but reimbursement for expenses incurred by Pakistan in providing services in war on terror in accordance with agreed upon terms.
If Imtiaz believes that Pakistan was a favored nation of the US and the West when it was ruled by Gen Musharraf, he is sadly mistaken. Gen Musharraf was darling of the west but Pakistan was a target and not an ally. It was to be destabilized and denuclearized by Indo-US-UK-Afghan nexus playacting as friends and duping Pakistan by making it a coalition partner to fight global war on terror. The so-called friendship with these countries proved extremely expensive and almost sunk Pakistan particularly when PPP-MQM-ANP coalition was in power. Pakistan had earned variety of insulting nicknames and was seen as a nursery of terrorism and a failing state incapable of protecting its nukes.
If our leaders are now gathering courage to mention about RAW’s deep-rooted involvement in the three conflict zones, if our security agencies are taking measured steps to get rid of network of foreign agencies secretly operating inside Pakistan, if Pakistan is taking a principled stance against atrocities committed by Indian security forces against Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir, improving border management along western and southwestern borders, further deepening our ties with China, working hard to complete the game changing CPEC which will break the intended Indian strategic encirclement of Pakistan, and at the same time fast improving its economic indicators and overcoming its energy crisis, and last but not the least, if Pakistan is gradually getting out of the magic spell of the US after over six decades of dependence, is Pakistan getting freed and viable or isolated??
Imtiaz should have convinced his readers as to where Pakistan went wrong in offending the US, India, Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf States. Has Pakistan not been serving the US interests by staking its security and even now is fighting the US dictated war on terror, and has it not been compliantly dancing to the tunes of Washington since September 2001. But for the US usual change of heart and its heavy leaning towards India, Pakistan might have meekly continued to do more and get bled and whipped without a whimper.
With regard to India, is it not an historical fact that all our civilian and military leaders had vied to befriend India and live in peace? Ignoring the bloodbath perpetrated by RSS and Sikhs upon the migrating Muslims in 1947, Quaid-e-Azam in his first address to the nation on August 11 offered a hand of friendship and stated, ‘let gone be forgone and live as peaceful neighbors’. While Field Marshal Ayub suggested joint defence which was rejected by Nehru, ZA Bhutto signed Simla agreement to promote peace. Gen Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif gave series of proposals to make South Asia nuclear free zone but all were brushed aside by India. Benazir Bhutto and Zardari maintained close ties with India. Gen Musharraf went an extra mile to please India by allowing it to fence the LoC in Kashmir, banning Kashmir focused Jihadist groups operating from AJK. He then set aside Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir based on the UN Resolutions and floated a wooly idea of out of box solution, but this too was set aside by India. Nawaz Sharif is extra friendly and soft towards India ruled by extremist Modi who nurtures deep rancor against Indian Muslims and Pakistan and has stepped up covert operations in Pakistan?
What else should Pakistan do to win India’s trust and friendship other than forgetting about Kashmir which is Pakistan’s jugular vein, and accept India’s hegemony and exist as its satellite state? Is it not a fact that India has not reconciled to the existence of Pakistan and after bisecting it into two in 1971, once gain teamed up with the US and other powers in 2001 to further fragment Pakistan? Is Pakistan or India the villain of peace? Does India not have disputes with all its neighbors in South Asia and has expansionist designs and imperialist ambitions? Is India not the chief trouble maker in Afghanistan as was pointed out by Gen McChrystal and Chuck Hegel?
Unresolved Kashmir dispute is the bone of contention between the two archenemies and unrelenting atrocities of Indian security forces against Kashmiris has bred extremism and terrorism in the region and nuclearized South Asia. But India stubbornly refuses to settle the longstanding dispute on the plea that Kashmir is an integral part of Kashmir. It stalled composite dialogue after the Mumbai episode in November 2008, which was an engineered false flag operation to achieve certain specific objectives.
Coming to landlocked Afghanistan which is dependent upon Pakistan for its imports and exports, Pakistan has been hosting 3.5 million Afghan refugees since 1979 which is the biggest economic burden ever borne by any country. Pakistan accepted and cooperated with pro-India Northern Alliance heavy regime in Kabul. It helped Hamid Karzai in winning 2004 and 2009 presidential elections. Despite Karzai leaning heavily upon India and adopting a hostile posture against Pakistan, the latter continued to tolerate him.
As regards Iran, there are misgivings between the two since 1980s mainly because of conflicting interests in Afghanistan. Commonality of interests in Afghanistan in fact brought Iran closer to India and both supported Afghan Northern Alliance, while Pakistan supported the Mujahideen and later the Taliban. Pakistan has always aspired to maintain best of relations. Pakistan refused to cooperate with CIA to launch a covert war against Iran from its soil and remained helpful to Iran throughout its period of isolation and sanctions. When it came to sending troops to Saudi Arabia to help in fighting the Houthis in Yemen, Pakistan didn’t oblige so as not to annoy Iran but in the process earned the displeasure of Riyadh and Gulf States and India took advantage of this coolness in relations by winning big economic and security contracts from UAE and Riyadh. Pak-Saudi relations have come back to normal after Pakistan agreed to join the Riyadh proposed 34-nation Sunni alliance to combat terrorism, and also to send troops for the protection of Holy places in Mecca and Medina in the aftermath of suicide attack at Medina.
Pakistan didn’t exploit Saudi-Iran ideological hostility and instead played a constructive role in allaying their differences. Pakistan was justified to seek clarification about RAW agent Kalbushan Yadav arrested in Baluchistan in March 2016 using Chahbahar as his base since 2003 to destabilize Baluchistan and Karachi. Pakistan had the right to protest as to why Mullah Mansour was targeted by a drone near Noshki and why not in Iran from where he had started his journey. Those irritations to a large extent have been removed during the last visit of Pakistan’s national security adviser Gen Nasser Janjua to Tehran. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project has not been cancelled and in all likelihood will be revived. This project alone will remove many of the misgivings between the two and forge closeness. Efforts are in hand to make Gwadar and Chahbahar supplement each other rather than compete as rivals.
What is giving stomach gripes to Mr. Imtiaz is Pakistan’s support to the Kashmiris in distress and India coming under increasing pressure of the world community to stop human rights violations. Pains of Kashmiris do not upset him but India’s tension saddens him. This is evident from the fact that so far he has not written a word about brutalities of 7,50,000 Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir using bullets and rubber pellets against stone throwing men, women and children as small as five years. Imtiaz views Kashmiri freedom fighters as misled Jihadists and terrorists. Why does he not speak in support of Dalits in India suffering at the hands of 2.7 Hindu Brahmans lording over India for centuries? Muslims and Dalits are being ruthlessly killed for slaughtering cows and consuming beef. He picks up cudgels against Mullahs in Pakistan over blasphemy laws, women rights and their rigid interpretation of Quran but has nothing to say against Shev Sena, RSS and over 100 Hindu terrorist groups in India forcibly converting non-Hindus to Hinduism to make India a Hindu State.
Imtiaz lavishly eulogized Modi after his address to the joint parliament of USA in Washington, forgetting that between 2002 and June 2014, Modi had been branded as a terrorist and was refused visa in Europe and USA. This pseudo intellectual spits venom against Jihadists but lacks moral courage to say that Pakistan was a peaceful country when 9/11 occurred and that terrorism was pushed into Pakistan from Afghanistan under a calculated plan to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan. The gory plan was executed after deceiving Pakistan and making it believe that it was an ally to fight common enemy. India has been playing a lead role and has made full use of its proxies TTP, BLA, BRA and BLF against whom our security forces are fighting since 2003-4. The MQM has been supported by RAW since 1989.
Successful reining in of foreign supported terror groups and a political party and restoring semblance of order in the three conflict zones after rendering huge sacrifices by Pak security forces has distraught the gang of foreign conspirators and their facilitators in Pakistan. This turnaround by Pakistan both in terms of security and economics and that of Taliban in Afghanistan has dashed their grandiose objectives. Work on CPEC at a fast pace and Gen Raheel’s commitment to provide full security to it has flummoxed the plotters. Completion of CPEC will deliver a fatal blow to the ambitions of USA, Israel and India since it will not only frustrate their plans to strategically encircle China and Pakistan but also the US future plan to shift its strategic pivot from the west to Asia-Pacific and make India the policeman of the whole region. On top of it, Kashmir movement has once again erupted with a big bang which has unnerved India. Daily protests are going on since July 8 in the aftermath of martyrdom of Burhan Wani who had never fired a bullet. India has imposed curfew since then but is finding it difficult to hide its crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir.
After a long time India is feeling the heat and when it is finding itself clueless how to defuse the movement in Kashmir and to quieten Pakistan, it started singing the old song that Pakistan is wholly behind the protests and that it is aiding terrorism in India and Kashmir. It is making use of its mouthpieces in Pakistan among whom Imtiaz figures out prominently. Verbal bout between Indian Home Minister Jagnath and Pakistan Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali in Islamabad on the occasion of SAARC meeting when Nisar showed mirror to the visitor. Jagnath belittled martyred Wani as a terrorist and implied that Pakistan was supporting terrorism and portraying India as a victim of terrorism to earn sympathy of other SAARC members, became another cause of resentment for India. Jagnath couldn’t swallow the bitter truth when Nisar reminded him that a clear distinction should be made between a terrorist and a freedom fighter and that Kashmiri freedom struggle is genuine and duly sanctified by the UN. He returned to Delhi in a huff. That evening in a TV talk show, Imtiaz openly expressed his dissatisfaction saying Jagnath was a guest and should have been treated with care and affection and not offended.
It is in the backdrop of above mentioned developments which have made India resentful and the US getting miffed over the arrest of a spy Mathew that a deadly terror attack took place in Quetta on August 8, in which 73 people lost their lives. Majority of the victims were lawyers. Whether the suicide bomber belonged to BLA, BRA, BLF, TTP or the IS, the mastermind who made use of one or two of the proxies was RAW and none else. Afghan NDS is very much part of it. Master coordinator is Ajit Doval. If Jamaat Ahrar sent the suicide bomber, the logistic support was provided by BLA or BLF, which also targeted President Bar Council Kasi in the morning as a preliminary operation. Some Afghan refugees miffed over their deportation could have facilitated the attack. This attack was carefully planned to achieve multiple objectives.
Some of these were: 1. Deflect attention from Kashmir unrest. 2. Cause pain to Pakistan for refusing to restart dialogue unless Kashmir issue is included in the agenda, for humiliating Jagnath, for proactively supporting Kashmiris and drumming up their cause in the world. 3. Turn 14th August celebrations in Quetta into mourning. 4. Avenge arrests of Kalbushan Yadav and Mathew. 5. Show to the world that Baluchistan is still restive. 6. Invigorate feeling of insecurity in Baluchistan. 7. Create fear into the hearts of lawyer community in Baluchistan and dissuade them from pursuing cases of terrorism. 8. Possibly trigger Lawyer movement at a time when PTI and PAT are geared to start their 2nd dharna. 9. Above all, recreate chaos in Baluchistan to impede work on CPEC.
Mix of anger and helplessness of India can be gauged from the demarche given to Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi on 9 August by Indian Foreign Secretary stating that Pakistan should stop supporting terrorism in India and Kashmir. What a cruel joke and height of hypocrisy!
Imtiaz suggests that Pakistan should invite the villain of peace for a security dialogue to address security concerns. If he has suggested it in humor, I take it but if he is serious he is advised to get his head examined. He also suggests resumption of composite dialogue which India had abruptly called off in the aftermath of so-called Mumbai attacks in November 2008 and again after another false flag operation in Pathankot in January this year. When has Pakistan shied away from talks? Imtiaz nostalgically recalls Gen Musharraf’s out-of-box formula and considers it a doable solution; not realizing that no solution is possible without the concurrence of Kashmiris.
Purpose behind Imtiaz Alam’s article is to exert pressure on Pakistan government to go soft on Kashmir, start dialogue and get visa relaxation to allow him and his ilk unrestricted travel to India and let RAW agents in the guise of artists, journalists and traders to visit Pakistan freely. There are certain well known snakes constantly spewing venom against Pakistan and promoting foreign agenda. Although PEMRA has been asked by the government to take action against TV channels, anchors and analysts speaking against national interests, so far no concrete measures have been taken to bridle the media believing in yellow journalism and sensationalism.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers forum Pakistan, member Executive Council Ex Servicemen Society, and member Executive Council Tehreek Jawanan Pakistan. email@example.com