Who is Behind Pathonkot Airbase Attack?
On January 2, this year, India a terrorist attack when a heavily-armed group of militants, wearing army uniforms stormed the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot, located near the Pakistan border.
The crossfire between the Indian security forces and the terrorists have continued on the fourth day during search and combing operation inside the Pathankot airbase. On January 5, an Indian Air Force official told the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) that the operation was stepped up. But, firing could be heard from inside during night of January 4 and morning of January 5. An Indian military official said a fifth terrorist was killed on the third day of the siege and at least one attacker remained in the complex, as troops worked to secure the sprawling compound.
Indian sources revealed on January 5 that during the gunbattle, so far five terrorist and seven personal of the security forces including one Lt Col Niranjan of the National Security Guard (NSG) have been killed, while the operation at the base continues. But, the same day, Indian defence minister said that the operation finally came to end.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement: “Pakistan condemns the terrorist incident in Pathankot…we extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families. Building on the goodwill created during the recent high-level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region.”
On the other side, without any evidence and investigation, since the first day of the terror attack at the Pathankot airbase, Indian media, its leading newspapers and the TV channels started a deliberate blame game against Pakistan by accusing the latter and its primary intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) regarding the episode. In one way or the other, Indian officials also followed the blame game against Pakistan.
However, we need an appropriate analysis to know as to who (Pakistan or India) is behind the terror attack at Pathankot airbase.
In this regard, like the past practice, the Indian media, citing security officials reported that the terrorists were speaking Punjabi with each other and they hailed from Pakistan-based Jaish-i-Muhammad group—the terrorists were supported and financed by the ISI.
The Indian media further claimed that the attackers had arrived from Pakistani Punjab’s Bahawalpur district, another revelation made by Indian officials, even when the operation against terrorists continued in Indian Air Force base of Pathankot. While, Indian Superintend of Police who was abducted one day before the assault told that the terrorists were speaking in Urdu.
Indian Intelligence agencies had already alerted security agencies about the possible terror group’s planning of the attack. They also claimed that they traced the phone calls of the militants. On January 1, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had alerted the Indian Air Force, NSG and Punjab Police about a possibility of terror attacks. Following the alert, Western Air Command chief Air Marshal SB Deo had reached Pathankot air base on the same day of night himself to take stock of security preparations. Some local residents also confirmed that at the night of January 1, there were movements of the security forces in the area. While, the militants entered the Pathankot airbase at 3 A.M on January 2. One day before, the terrorists had also hijacked the Indian SP’s car which was used by them to reach the base.
The fact is that none had crossed the highly secured border from the Pakistan side, the hijacking of the Indian SP’s car and the alleged use of his phone was a drama and so was the charge that the attackers were linked to an organization Jaish-e-Muhammad which had been banned by Pakistan several years ago. Quite contrarily, Indian and foreign media have disclosed that Pakistan-based Kashmir’s militant body United Jihad Council on January 4 claimed responsibility for the Pathankot airbase attack. Besides, why the SP and his cook were spared by the terrorists, proving them an opportunity to alert the senior authorities about the plot. How could the terrorists still penetrate the air base when some 200 commandoes had been airlifted to the base on January 1 and the base security was fully alert?
In the evening of January 2, Indian home minister announced that the operation was over and four terrorists were killed. But, the operation again started on January 3, as he indicated that some militants are still hiding in the base. As regards the number of the terrorists, New Delhi started from four and by adding one each day, reached the figure of 11.
Meanwhile, during queries of media persons, Indian home minister could not give appropriate replies to all these contradictory developments. Contradictory statements of the Indian military and civil officials have also been recorded, during the operation. According to latest information, India has guessed that the operation would continue for a few days.
As a matter of fact, Indian intelligence agencies, especially RAW have themselves arranged terror attacks at the Pathankot airbase to fulfil a number of anti-Pakistan designs.
In this respect, in the recent past, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The two countries decided to start a dialogue process to resolve outstanding issues, with the foreign secretaries of both countries, scheduled to meet in Islamabad on January 15, 2016. Earlier, New Delhi had itself suspended the talks with Pakistan. But, under the cover of Pathankot terror attack, Indian government said that it is “mulling options” regarding holding of Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan in Islamabad.
It is mentionable that on November 26, 2008, several persons were killed in the simultaneous terror attacks in Mumbai. Without any investigation, Indian high officials and media had started blaming Pakistan.
Under the cover of the Mumbai catastrophe, India began a deliberate propaganda campaign against Pakistan and tried to isolate the latter in the comity of nations by showing that Islamabad was sponsoring terrorism in India. Indian top officials and media anchors had remarked that Indian Mujahideen and the banned Lashkar-e-Tayba based in Pakistan and ISI were behind the Mumbai terror attacks.
Similarly, on December 13, 2001, Indian parliament was attacked by five terrorists. Without any proof, Indian top officials and TV channels started a blame game against Pakistan by involving the banned Lashkar-e-Tayba and ISI in relation to the Parliament assault.
Availing the pretext of the parliament attack and Mumbai catastrophe, New Delhi had, twice, suspended the process of dialogue with Islamabad in wake of its highly provocative actions like mobilization of troops. Pakistan had also taken defensive steps to meet any Indian prospective aggression or surgical strikes. But, India failed in implementing its aggressive plans, because Pakistan also possesses atomic weapons.
Particularly, on May 27, 2014, Indian Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shariff in the oath-taking ceremony proved faultless, because Modi raised baseless issues like terrorism or cross-border terrorism as pre-condition to advance the Pak-Indian dialogue.
It is of particular attention that on July 19, 2013, the Indian former home ministry and ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.
It has clearly proved that Indian secret agencies; particularly RAW had arranged terror assaults of parliament and Mumbai.
While, during the talks between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, at Ufa, Islamabad has conveyed to New Delhi a comprehensive agenda to discuss all outstanding issues, including Kashmir as well as terrorism. But, New Delhi’s insistence to restrict the agenda for the dialogue to terrorism or cross-border terrorism only, demonstrated India’s confused policy towards Pakistan.
Indian foreign secretary level talks were held in Islamabad on March 3, 2015. In this context, Indian External Affairs Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry discussed contentious issues including Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and other bilateral issues. While, in 2014, India postponed the Secretary level talks with Pakistan; under the pretext that during his Indian visit Sartaj Aziz met Kashmiri leaders.
In fact, a lack of seriousness on India’s part to settle all disputes, especially Kashmir issue has compelled New Delhi to follow a self-contradictory and confused strategy towards Islamabad. Hence, India has been arranging various terrorism-related events to shift the blame game to Pakistan, as it does not want to settle issues with Islamabad, particularly Kashmir dispute.
As regards the case of cross-border terrorism, India has shown ambivalent approach which can be judged from some other developments. In this connection, on July 27, 2015, three gunmen dressed in army uniforms killed at least seven people, including three civilians and four policemen in the Indian district of Gurdaspur, Punjab.
Without any investigation, Indian high officials and media started accusing Pakistan, its banned militant outfits and intelligence agencies for the Gurdaspur incident. Indian Police remarked that the attackers were from Indian-held Kashmir, and some said that they were Sikh separatists, while Indian Punjab police chief claimed that the three gunmen were Muslim, but as yet unidentified. Contradicting speculations, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament that the gunmen came from Pakistan.
Khalistan Movement Chief Manmohan Singh stated that the Gurdaspur incident is “a conspiracy of Indian secret agency RAW to defame Pakistan.”
Besides, on December 31, 2014, prior to the US President Obama’s second visit to New Delhi, Indian intelligence agencies orchestrated a boat drama to defame Pakistan, allegedly reporting that a Pakistani fishing boat as a Pakistan-based outfit group Lashkar-e-Taiba was intercepted by Indian Coast Guards, off the coast of Porebandar, Gujarat. And Indian Coast Guard crew set the boat on fire and it exploded. The Indian government had claimed that it had foiled another 26/11-type attack of Mumbai. But, its reality exposed Indian terrorism, when some Indian high officials admitted that there was no such boat which came from Pakistan.
Likewise, India intends to obtain various hidden purposes by blaming Islamabad for terrorism. First of all, it wants to divert the attention of the international community from the involvement of RAW which has well-established its network in Afghanistan, and is fully assisting cross-border incursions and terror-activities in various regions of Pakistan through Baloch separatist elements, Jundullah and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) including their affiliated outfits. On a number of occasions, these insurgent groups claimed responsibility for their acts of sabotage.
It is worth-mentioning that Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif accompanied by the DG of ISI went to Kabul on December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani and the ISAF commander, he presented the evidence of linkage between the massacre of children at Peshawar school and TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan. He also asked about action against the TTP and handing over of its chief Mullah Fazlullah to Pakistan.
It is regrettable that New Delhi is destabilizing the regional countries in general and Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular. In order to obtain its secret designs, aimed at augmenting Indian hegemony in the region, India is foiling the peace process between Afghanistan and Pakistan by managing terrorist attacks like the recent ones in Afghanistan which revived old blame game against Islamabad.
And, waging a prolonged war in Afghanistan, the US and other NATO countries have realized that after the withdrawal of foreign troops, Afghanistan would be thrown in an era of uncertainly and civil war. They recognize the fact and terrorism or stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan is interrelated. Hence, US-led developed nations which also spent billions of dollars for the development of Afghanistan have repeatedly agreed that without Islamabad’s help, stability cannot be achieved there. In this regard, a meeting was hosted by Pakistan between the Afghan officials and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan in Murree (On July 8, this year) and dialogue were conducted for an Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, while the representatives of China and America also participated in the meeting.
In this backdrop of growing engagements of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and US, Indian desperation in Afghanistan is increasing. Moreover, New Delhi is trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Recent terror-attacks in Pakistan and Balochistan might be noted as instance. Indian RAW has also created a heavily funded China-Pakistan and Afghanistan specific desk to target growing Pak-China-Afghanistan relations.
Furthermore, on the direction of the Indian leader of the fundamentalist party BJP and Prime Minister Modi, Indian forces have accelerated unprovoked shelling across the Line of Control and Working Boundary, while creating war-like situation between Pakistan and India.
Notably, Islamabad has raised the question of Indian cross-border terrorism and RAW involvement in Pakistan at the UNO forum, with strong evidence which was also shown to the US.
It is notable that renowned thinkers, Hobbes, Machiavelli and Morgenthau opine that sometimes, rulers act upon immoral activities like deceit, fraud and falsehood to fulfill their countries’ selfish aims. But such a sinister politics was replaced by new trends such as fair-dealings, reconciliation and economic development. Regrettably, India is still following past politics in modern era.
Without any doubt, we can conclude that India is behind the Pathonkot terror attack in order to obtain various goals against Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations