Pak­istan’s prodi­gal bash

SP's MAI - - MILITARY VIEWPOINT - The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

Tur­bu­lence at the re­cent 7th SAARC Home and In­te­rior Min­is­ters Con­fer­ence was but ex­pected sim­ply be­cause it was be­ing hosted by Pak­istan – no­to­ri­ous for be­ing the cru­cible of ter­ror and con­tin­u­ing to ex­port ter­ror as an in­sti­tu­tion­alised state pol­icy. Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh rep­re­sented In­dia at the con­fer­ence in Islamabad even though Bangladesh was rep­re­sented by a ju­nior min­is­ter be­cause of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Bangladesh-Pak­istan re­la­tions par­tic­u­larly af­ter the re­cent ter­ror at­tack in Dhaka. That In­dia sent its Home Min­is­ter is cred­itable de­spite the con­tin­u­ing vi­o­lence in the Kash­mir Val­ley be­ing or­ches­trated by Pak­istan, in­clud­ing the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI)-spon­sored roles as­signed to Hafiz Saeed, Salahud­din and Azhar Mehmood to re­place the sufi cul­ture and Kash­miriyat with the Wa­habism that is the ma­jor cause of in­sta­bil­ity within Pak­istan it­self.

Pak­istan has acted rogue through a se­ries of ac­tions post killing of Burhan Wani; anti-In­dia res­o­lu­tion, declar­ing Burhan Wani a mar­tyr, declar­ing July 19 as black day; Nawaz Sharif harp­ing on Kash­mir as the core is­sue, anti-In­dia demon­stra­tions at Wa­gah bor­der, Nawaz Sharif an­nounc­ing he will send med­i­cal aid to Kash­miris, anti-Ra­j­nath demon­stra­tions or­gan­ised un­der Salahud­din, you name it. In his ad­dress dur­ing the con­fer­ence, Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh had said there are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ter­ror­ist; ter­ror­ists should not be eu­lo­gised as mar­tyrs un­der any cir­cum­stances and the strong­est pos­si­ble steps should be taken against coun­tries that sup­port ter­ror­ism. He also em­pha­sised that ter­ror­ism re­mains the big­gest chal­lenge and threat to peace; South Asia is deeply af­fected by ter­ror as wit­nessed re­cently through ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Pathankot, Dhaka, Kabul, etc; mere con­dem­na­tion of ter­ror­ist at­tacks is not enough, and; it needs to be en­sured that ter­ror­ism is not pa­tro­n­ised by any coun­try.

What Ra­j­nath Singh stated was not new by any mea­sure. Pak­istan has heard it in­nu­mer­able times and would be amused that in diplo­matic par­lance she would not be named di­rectly at such fo­rums. Ra­j­nath Singh also called for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SAARC Re­gional Con­ven­tion on Sup­pres­sion of Ter­ror­ism and its Ad­di­tional Pro­to­col say­ing it was cru­cial in the com­mon fight against ter­ror­ism, as well as im­me­di­ate rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the SAARC Con­ven­tion on Mu­tual As­sis­tance in Crim­i­nal Mat­ters since some mem­bers had yet not rat­i­fied it.

That Pak­istan’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Nisar Ali Khan is a mil­i­tary-ISI stooge is well known but he re-proved it most undiplo­mat­i­cally by not shak­ing hands with Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh while do­ing so with other home and in­te­rior min­is­ters at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence—a de­lib­er­ate snub. Nisar harped on the use of ex­ces­sive force to sup­press protests in Kash­mir—with­out nam­ing In­dia. He fur­ther stated that is­sues be­tween coun­tries are not re­solved through fin­ger point- ing or in­dulging in blame games, and coun­tries need to sit down for di­a­logue to bring about real change and that no coun­try should sup­press free­dom strug­gles while cam­ou­flag­ing them un­der the guise of ter­ror­ism. He point­edly said that the Kash­miri free­dom strug­gle is sanc­ti­fied by United Na­tions res­o­lu­tions. Since he was speak­ing af­ter Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh, Nisar did not ex­pect to be coun­tered. But then with ref­er­ence to use of ex­ces­sive force, the at­tend­ing del­e­gates are fully aware Pak­istan has been con­sis­tently us­ing aerial and ar­tillery bom­bard­ment in Balochis­tan and FATA against her own pop­u­la­tion, in ad­di­tion to the geno­cide in Gil­git-Baltistan and Balochis­tan. When Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh with­out nam­ing Pak­istan said that you can­not make distinc­tion be­tween ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ter­ror­ists, he was ac­tu­ally echo­ing what Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has been say­ing with ref­er­ence to Pak­istan.

Nisar’s ref­er­ence of UN to Kash­mir was also laugh­able be­cause the UN res­o­lu­tion had asked Pak­istan to with­draw from Pak­istanoc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK) be­fore any plebiscite was to be held, and Pak­istan killed the op­por­tu­nity per­ma­nently by in­stead beef­ing up her forces and chang­ing the de­mog­ra­phy of PoK. But more im­por­tantly, the 1972 Indo-Pak Shimla Agree­ment cat­e­gor­i­cally stated that the all is­sues will only be dis­cussed bi­lat­er­ally, so the ques­tion of UN or in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tion does not arise. Ad­dress­ing the con­clud­ing ses­sion of the three-day con­fer­ence of Pak­istani en­voys in Islamabad (con­cur­rent to SAARC Home Min­is­ters Con­fer­ence), Nawaz Sharif told the diplo­matic corps, “De­sire of free­dom is run­ning in the blood of Kash­miris” – lit­tle realising that the Pak­istan in­flu­enced trou­ble mak­ers of Jammu & Kash­mir (J&K) are be­low 15 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion of J&K and if he is talk­ing of Kash­mir then it in­cluded PoK where the re­cent elec­tions have been hor­ri­bly rigged and pro­test­ers are burn­ing Pak­istani flags openly.

Nawaz Sharif was ob­vi­ously un­der great pres­sure af­ter be­ing mired in cor­rup­tion in­clud­ing through the Panama Leaks, and the de­sire to save his pre­mier­ship while posters have ap­peared in Pak­istan for the Army Chief to take over the coun­try, not to talk of Im­ran Khan en­dors­ing such move. Sig­nif­i­cantly, last year’s en­voys’ con­fer­ence in Islamabad fo­cused on con­nec­tiv­ity, re­gional is­sues and de­vel­op­ment. Pak­istani me­dia says that Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh was try­ing to di­vert at­ten­tion from the un­rest in Kash­mir Val­ley whereas it is Pak­istan that is cre­at­ing un­rest in Sri­na­gar Val­ley to di­vert at­ten­tion from her in­ter­nal woes. The next SAARC sum­mit is sched­uled in Pak­istan dur­ing com­ing Novem­ber. One has to wait and watch de­vel­op­ments in the days lead­ing up to it and what tran­spires dur­ing the sum­mit. Pak­istan can be ex­pected to go more rouge sit­ting in the lap of China with the lat­ter or­ches­trat­ing the re­gion from the back­ground adroitly – ter­ror­ism in­cluded.

LT GEN­ERAL P.C. KA­TOCH (RETD)

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