30 November 2016


Raghu Dayal 

It does not matter if there has been a change of guard in Pakistan Army, be it General Bajwa or anybody else. Islamabad’s DNA vis-à-vis ‘enemy’ India, will not change, Pakistan has an Army that owns the country

Notwithstanding the perfidy of Kargil, inflicted by Pakistan after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s historic Lahore bus journey, and unoblivious of the dictum that history often repeats itself, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would never have contemplated that the hug with his counterpart during his impromptu stopover at Lahore, in December last year, could unleash an audacious attack on an Indian airbase.

There is now an official confirmation of what has so far been a common belief, that Pakistan’s foreign policy is substantially shaped by its Army. And the very raison d'être of the Pakistani Army is enmity with India. Diplomat Hussain Haqqani corroborates that military domination was thrust on Pakistan; it inherited a disproportionately higher share of military: 30 per cent of British India’s Army, 40 per cent of the Navy, 20 per cent of the Air Force against just 21 per cent of population and 17 per cent of revenue. The Pakistani military is the largest owner of agricultural land, and has made massive investments in manufacturing, banks, trade, transport, real estate and other businesses. 

Encouraged by General Zia-ul-Haq, the Army recruits from madrassas, indoctrinated by Jamaat-e-Islami and of Tablighi Jamaat preachers at garrisons, were radicalsed as ‘Allah’s Army’. In the 1980s, America supported the Islamic fundamentalist General, whose intelligence services sponsored the Mujahideen, who eventually toppled the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan.

Doesn’t the world know how banned Pakistani organisations operated under pseudonyms, for example, the Jaish-e-Mohammed as Khuddam-e-Islam or Al Rahmat Trust. Following threats from a group in November 2003 and warnings from US Ambassador in Islamabad, Musharraf banned the same three extremist groups he had banned two years earlier but which reappeared under new names — Khuddam-ul-Islam, formerly Jaish-e-Mohammed; Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan, formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba; and Islami Tehreek Pakistan, formerly Tehreek-e-Jafria. Often claimed to be a cultural and philanthropic body, JuD is a well-known front for the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, founded in 1990s by Hafiz Saeed who, though carrying a $10 million US Government bounty for his capture, roams freely, often with state patronage, spewing venom against India. The Haqqanis are likewise backed by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as a Pakistan ally to indulge in insurgencies in Afghanistan.

Pakistan fails to heed that it is impossible to promote jihad in India and Taliban in Afghanistan without inadvertently promoting perilous schism and sectarianism in Pakistan itself. Former American Ambassador Cameron Munter aptly put it, “If you grow vipers in your backyard, you’re going to get bitten”.

Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, explains Pakistan’s ‘double-game’ — taking American money to kill militants, while nurturing others who serve its strategic ends in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

The ISI created a broad ‘Talibanised belt’ in FATA that kept the pressure on Afghanistan to bend to Pakistan wishes, keep US forces under threat and create a buffer zone between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns. Ever since 9/11, Mullah Omar and others of the original Afghan Taliban Shura remained ensconced in Quetta and some of the other Taliban leaders farther north in FATA.

Citing several incidents of “a systematic and pervasive system of ISI collusion”, eminent journalist Ahmed Rashid explains (Descent into Chaos: The US and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia), how Pakistan’s ISI — a state within a state — has for over two decades run “Pakistan’s covert wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir.” It has been an open secret that ISI saboteurs during the Tora Bora evacuation escorted Osama bin Laden and a few bodyguards to escape.

A chapter titled, ‘Between Crescent and Sword’, in Farzana Shaikh’s Making Sense of Pakistan, elucidates how Pakistani officials obsessed with Afghanistan, viewed virtually as its fifth Province to provide it with “strategic depth” in any future conflict with enemy India.

As Jessica Stern at Harvard University finds that the militant groups have been nurtured by a nexus between ISI, Al Qaeda, and drug and narcotics traffickers, Eqbal Ahmad describes the business of jihad as “Jihad International, Inc” Islamic religious schools — madrassas, the supply line for jihad, constitute veritable nurseries, the jihad factories.

The country’s silent civil society segments have long realised that Pakistan has been its own enemy. By trying to destabilise its easternly neighbour, Pakistan has undermined its own stability. Its obsession with India has harmed it — given too much power to its military, shaped its dealings in Afghanistan, and led it to foster Islamist terrorism. Armies must realise that there can be no war that either can win; there can be no peace that they can lose.

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