Mythbusting Pakistan: Here is The Reality of Asia’s Most Resilient Nation

By Adam Garrie
Source

Whenever the Kashmir crisis re-enters international headlines, India’s perpetual narrative regarding the Pakistani state tends to get amplified outside of south Asia and unfortunately, Pakistan typically does little to counter the propaganda in a point-for-point manner. Below are some frequently repeated but unsubstantiated and materially false accusations against Pakistan (almost all of which are Indian in origin), following explanations of the truth behind the matter.

–“Pakistan funds terror organisations”

Such accusations require proof and lots of it. When it comers to detailing such proof, a good source is Wikileaks. This is the case due to the fact that Wikileaks has a well documented record of exposing regimes which in fact do fund terrorist groups, as well as a strong record of exposing war crimes committed by various regimes throughout the world.

Fortunately, there is a lot of information on Pakistan contained in the United States diplomatic cables leak which was first published by Julian Assange’s organisation between 2010 and 2011. A summary of the leaks demonstrates a high level of confidence in Pakistan’s military by US officials who were otherwise sceptical of Pakistan’s then PPP led government.

This should not be surprising due to the fact that while Pakistan’s Army excelled at repelling terrorist onslaughts that could have otherwise destroyed the entire nation, the PPP government was effectively useless.

Fortunately, since then, Pakistan’s governance has greatly improved, but the fact remains that even in the early 2000s, US officials privately admitted that Pakistan’s military was a strong counter-terrorist force, rather than the terrorist backer, funder and enabler that India consistently accuses it of being.

Even a sensationally headlined article from the Times of India called Wikileaks: Pakistan’s Worst Nightmare, fails to mention any linkage between Pakistani state institutions and terror groups. In hindsight, the article actually vindicates the position of the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as the November 2010 article reveals that American allies at the time were worried that non-state terror groups would take over all of Pakistan. Thanks to Pakistan repelling these terrorist forces, the fears of 2010 have been rendered redundant.

Finally, in 2009, Wikileaks published internal emails from the pro-Washington US based think tank Stratfor. Here, it was thought that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to promote the Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab. For the sake of context, Canada’s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been scolded by New Delhi for his open associations with pro-Khalistan activists in both India and North America.

Of course, nothing came of the fears expressed in the Stratfor emails and today, the biggest centres of pro-Khalistan activism tend to be among NGOs and unaffiliated activists in Canada and Britain – not Pakistan.

“Pakistan allows terrorists to operate on its soil”

All nations are in danger of terrorists operating on their soil and in this sense, there is nothing exceptional about Pakistan. What is exceptional is how Pakistan’s duel-track approach to counter-extremism has turned the once ungovernable Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province into a place capable of good governance and economic renewal. While Pakistan’s Army and ISI worked for decades to stem the tide of terrorism in what was once called the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), 2013’s provincial election saw the dawning of a new era in the politics of what after 2010 became KP province.

In 2013, Imran Khan’s PTI led a regional coalition government which emphasised the need for civil institutions to work hand in hand with the Army and ISI, in order to eradicate the extremism that took hold in the province after terrorists from Afghanistan flooded the area after the US war on the Afghan Taliban government, which began in 2001.

The KP of today is very different than the KP of the past. In Imran Khan’s own words, the people of KP do not give politicians second chances as they know that the difference between good and poor government can literally be a matter of life or death. Today’s PTI majority provincial assembly continues to oversee expanded opportunities in the realms of education, medical care, the improved status of women and the elimination of local warlords and Afghan born terrorist leaders who in the past used a combination of material bribery and blackmail to stifle the freedoms of the population and retard the progress of healthy state institutions.

This is a clear example of Pakistan fighting terror with a root and branch approach and it is one that now serves as an internationally acknowledged model for counter-extremism.

In Pakistan’s south-west Balochistan province, the country has for decades faced terrorism from the BLA whose links with both India and in the 70s and 80s, the USSR, were well known. While the BLA still remains active thanks to its relationship with some foreign regimes, the group is far weaker than it once was. Furthermore, the economic renewal of Balochistan owing to the Chinese funded Gwadar port which forms the southern terminus of CPEC, has led many ordinary people to themselves join the fight against political extremism and anti-state violence, so that they can enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future that CPEC and related development projects can bring. Of note, infamous English anti-Islam hate preacher Tommy Robinson has been on record supporting anti-Pakistan separatism in Balochistan. This may help to contextualise the kinds of people who support anti-Pakistan terrorism for a western audience.

Of course, there are still some small al-Qaeda linked cells in parts of western Pakistan. This itself is largely the legacy of the disastrous Soviet and American wars in Afghanistan. That being said, contrary to much Indian propaganda, al-Qaeda and all related groups are proscribed as illegal by Pakistan and hundreds of Pakistani soldiers have been martyred in the fight against an international terror group that unfortunately still has members across all continents.

Pakistanis know full well of the dangers of such a terrorist presence and as such are well prepared to fight this terror either alone or with an honest and transparent partner. In this sense, Pakistan’s fight against terrorism continues and this fight against an internationally recognised terror group should be supported rather than undermined by Pakistan’s neighbours.

“Pakistan is run by its Army”

The history of armies leading countries out of dark periods and into those of renewal is well established throughout modern history. At a time when modern Turkey was threatened with western directed colonialism on all sides after 1918, it was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Turkish National Movement that reclaimed Turkey’s dignity and helped to form the modern Republic of Turkey. As it was Atatürk’s army that helped to create the modern state, so too did the army play a major role in shaping Turkey’s politics until very recent years when it became clear that the civilian government had sufficiently modernised itself and was up to the important task of overseeing stable governance. Yet few in the west nor in Asia have insulted the historic role of Turkey’s army in the way that they have done in respect of Pakistan.

In many ways, Pakistan’s 21st century war against a multitude of terror groups has been even more harrowing than the Turkish War of Independence. While for decades India had sponsored terror groups aiming to sever Pakistan’s national unity whilst no Afghan government has ever recognised Pakistan’s internationally acknowledged border along the Durand Line, it was the unleashing of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” that for Pakistan became a war for survival as extremist groups supported by Pakistan’s regional enemies swarmed across the border causing havoc throughout the country, but particularly in the north-west.

While America’s misguided war on Afghanistan after 2001 was supposed to be a war to avenge the 9/11 atrocity, this war unleashed onto Pakistan many micro-9/11s in which civilians were slaughtered by terror groups that were perversely aided by the fledgling Kabul forces that the US had installed. While US drone strikes in Pakistan killed civilians almost as frequently as they targeted actual terrorists, it was Pakistan’s Army that succeeded in turning groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan from a force that threatened to plant the flag of terror in Islamabad into a rudderless, leaderless rump whose power has more or less been totally neutralised.

Between the period of 1999 and 2013, Pakistan’s Army was the one constant in a political system that ping-ponged between the Musharraf quasi-dictatorship and the corrupt 2008 election which re-established parliamentary democracy, but which failed to re-establish accountability. This is one of the reasons why PTI boycotted the 2008 election.

By 2013, Pakistan’s political system began to stabilise and in 2018, Pakistan held its second ever peaceful and democratic transition of power which saw a tired PML-N government give way to PTI’s first ever “third way” government in Pakistan.

While today, a competent government co-exists with a strong military in the same way that such a status quo exists in the US, Turkey, Russia and China, it is helpful to remember that between 1999 and recent years, the professionalism of the Army and ISI was literally the difference between Pakistan’s existence and the country being totally consumed by terrorism. Again, the US diplomatic cables leak published by Wikileaks ten years ago, underscores the fact that in private, American strategists acknowledged this as the dire reality of the early 2000s in Pakistan.

At a time when Pakistan’s political parties were heavily compromised, the Army and ISI kept the people safe so that democracy could one day be re-established. Today, that democracy has been re-established – so much so that the chattering classes of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi are living so well that they have little better to do than complain about minutiae.

“Pakistan funds terrorism in Kashmir”

This argument is worse than false, it is a cop-out. Like many parts of the world, Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) is home to an indigenous resistance against the presence of hundreds of thousands of heavily armed soldiers who have committed countless atrocities against the civilian population. These atrocities have frankly been far better documented by the United Nations than by the Pakistani state. To say that resistance to this occupation is Pakistan’s fault, implies that Kashmirs have no political agency and are somehow too weak or too stupid to demand the enforcement of their UN mandated right to self-determination. This is a dangerous distortion of reality and an insult to the human condition itself.

Furthermore, if one wonders why some groups in IOK have resorted to extreme measures, one should realise that in the words of Gandhi himself “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. As such, violence begets violence and as Indian forces clearly have the upper hand against a local resistance incapable of full scale mobilisation, India has a unique responsibility to de-escalate the situation and allow a proper international dialogue to take place, with the aim of fomenting the peace process mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 47.

This will save both Kashmiri lives and the lives of Indian soldiers. This is a win-win solution that Pakistan publicly endorses.

To put it in a different context, while groups classified as extreme by Pakistan exist in IOK, India’s ruling BJP  exists as part of a consummate alliance with the militant Hindutva extremist group RSS. The contrast could not be more stark.

Finally, many in Pakistan who believe strongly in the cause of peaceful political self-determination for the people of IOK are very transparent about the fact that they believe Pakistan does too little on the Kashmir issue. In this sense, pro-Kashmiri activists themselves can help to expose the false Indian narrative which states that all anti-occupation Kashmiris are somehow tools of Islamabad.

Conclusion 

Pakistan has faced threats to its existence from the moment it achieved independent statehood. In spite of this, the Pakistani people have persevered against the odds and today look forward to continually developing their state on the 21st century model of peace through prosperity. Today’s Pakistan is one that looks to the future whilst sadly, others are stuck repeating the false anti-Pakistani epithets of the past.

Advertisements

India’s Hand in The 2020 US Presidential Election

By Adam Garrie
Source

While many believe that the Russian government worked to achieve the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential election, those concerned with foreign governments interfering in the political processes of other states ought to investigate the relationship between Tulsi Gabbard and the India’s BJP government of Narendra Modi. Whilst Donald Trump did not meet the Russian President prior to his election in the US, current Democratic presidential candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard first met the Indian Premier in 2014.

Even prior to that time, Gabbard was rallying for Modi’s cause in the United States. When Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, he fanned the flames of the sectarian Gujarat Massacre of 2002 and as a result, was prohibited from entering the United States. Modi’s pre-premiership ban from America was called “a great blunder” by Gabbard, one of Modi’s most consistent and loudest champions in the US Congress. This alone demonstrates Gabbard’s callousness regarding the thousands of casualties caused by the wave of anti-Muslim violence whipped up by the BJP and its then leader in Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

Since then, her ties with the BJP and its armed RSS wing have caused controversy among those following Gabbard’s controversial career. If Trump’s ties to Russia were ambiguous enough to require the lengthy Mueller investigation in order to determine whether he did or did not conspire with Russia to meddle in the 2016 US election, Gabbard’s links to India’s ruling party do not require a special investigation because they are all out in the open. It is not just that Gabbard has been alleged to have received funds from Hindutva organisations in the United States, but beyond this, Gabbard has exhibited hostility towards the same targets that Hindutva radicals in India attack in order to foment extremism.

Gabbard has publicly defamed Pakistan by accusing state authorities of harbouring and collaborating with terrorists. In addition to slandering Pakistan on Twitter, in 2016 Gababrd said:

“People within the Pakistani government continue to provide tacit and overt support for terrorism. This is not new – this pattern of attacks has been occurring now for the past 15 years, and it must end. That’s why I’ve continued working in Congress to cut back US assistance for Pakistan and increase pressure on Pakistan to stop this violence. In the past, the US government took steps to increase pressure on Pakistan, and it’s time to revisit that approach”.

In the same statement Gabbard said that “We stand in solidarity with India…”

Therefore it is clear to see that Gabbard has closer links with India’s ruling faction than Donald Trump may have had with Russia’s prior to his election victory. It is also clear that Gabbard is wiling, ready and able to articulate India’s position vis-a-vis neighbouring Pakistan far more forcefully than for example Donald Trump was able to articulate Russia’s position vis-a-vis Kiev in 2015 and 2016.

Thus, while it is not known whether India’s BJP government is actively supporting Gabbard’s campaign behind the scenes, the favourable coverage she receives from pro-BJP media outlets and her undeniable cultivation of pro-BJP public opinion means that it is almost certain that there is no candidate in the current US election that New Delhi would like to see in the White House more than Tulsi Gabbard.

If people were worried about Donald Trump and Russia, they should be incredibly frightened of Tulsi Gabbard and India.

Below is Eurasia Future’s report on the dangers posed by a would-be Gabbard Presidency in the United States

From the fake news candidate to the fake peace candidate 

Yesterday, much of social media across the US and among watchers of American politics was thrown into a collective fit of delusion due to US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard declaring that she intends to secure the candidacy of the Democratic Party in the 2020 US Presidential Election. While Gabbard has painted herself as a peace candidate, recalling her military record in Iraq as a factor influencing her subsequent opposition to the US war in Iraq as well as the US wars in Libya and Syria, these anti-war sentiments in the Arab world obscure an extremist tendency in Gabbard’s politics that have seen her openly embrace the friendship of some of the most outrageously anti-Muslim political and paramilitary movements in Asia.

A trail of saffron blood

The year 2002 remains a watershed in the post-colonial history of India as it was then in Gujarat state that a violent pogrom was instigated against Muslims leaving up to 2,000 dead. Most worrying, the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 was a man called Narendra Modi who is now India’s Prime Minister. Many witnesses to the violence in Gujarat continue to assert that Modi’s state government as well as police and other public authorities intentionally allowed the violence to spiral out of control when clearly it is the duty of any government to quash violence and enforce an orderly rule of law.

It was in 2002, that the the authorities in Washington denied Modi a visa to visit America due to his role in provoking the pogrom in Gujarat. Later it was none other than Tulsi Gabbard who called America’s decision not to welcome Modi to US soil “a great blunder“.

While Donald Trump has been accused of harbouring anti-Muslim sentiments, at best these sentiments (if they exist at all) are visceral rather than cerebral. While Trump has never actively courted support from bodies like America’s racist KKK, Tulsi Gabbard has courted a friendship with India’s RSS, a Hindutva (Hindu supremacist) paramilitary force that is considered by most to be the armed wing of India’s ruling Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP).

Modi’s rise from Gujarati strongman to Indian Prime Minister in many ways coincided Gabbard’s rise to fame as a maverick member of the US Congress. In fact, Gabbard entered national politics in the US in 2012, just two years before Modi rode a wave of hatred to become the Prime Minister of what is called the “world’s largest democracy”. But while India’s constitution guarantees secular law with an explicit prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of religious background, caste and ethnic identity, Modi’s government has effectively torn these pages of India’s constitution off and thrown them atop a giant saffron tinged bonfire.

This has not stopped Gabbard from sharing a very public friendship with Modi, a man who once called the secular opposition Congress party, “a party for Muslims only”. This is the same Modi who openly praises Hindutva’s ideological forefather VD Savarkar. Some of VD Savarkar’s more memorable contributions to the decline of India’s intellectual traditions include his thesis that rape is a justified political tool when used by Hindu men against female Muslims.

It is perhaps no wonder that a man like Modi who once declared VD Savarkar as an individual “worthy of worship” should be presiding over a rape epidemic in which members of his party openly declared their support not for the victims of one of the worst crimes known to humanity, but instead offer their public sympathy to the Hindutva rape gangs. It cannot be emphasised enough that the pro-rape tendencies among far too many BJP politicians and supporters are not isolated incidents but part of a wider trend by the BJP and RSS to systematically dehumanise and threaten Indian Muslims.

It is likewise under Modi’s BJP government that so-called cow vigilante mobs have beaten, lynched and mutilated the bodies of Muslims accused of eating or selling beef. In many cases, the Muslim victims of murder and vicious assault were simply targeted for being Muslims rather than for having anything to do with butchering cows, selling or eating beef.

The contemporary assault on Muslims in India however is not just limited to the mob violence which is clearly sanctioned by elements of the ruling party and their far-right allies. The historic city of Allahabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has recently been the site of controversy after the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath decided to unilaterally rename the city Prayagraj. This is a clear attempt to erase the history of the Mughal Empire which incidentally was the pre-1947 independent sovereign entity which came closest to uniting all of what was now India in the early modern period.

One of India’s most internationally famous monuments, the Taj Mahal was built on the orders of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an Islamic shrine for his wife. While Indian tourism associations promote the Taj Mahal as one of the country’s top destinations, the Archaeological Survey of India have now taken the decision to prohibit Muslim pilgrims from worshipping in the Taj Mahal’s mosque on every day of the week except Friday.

This attempt to de-Islamify one of the world’s most recognisable Islamic shrines is yet another attempt to erase Muslim history and specifically Mughal history from the collective consciousness of modern India.

But beyond the attempts to culturally cleanse Islam from India, it was recently reported that a Uttar Pradesh Assembly member of the ruling BJP just stated that he is ready to bomb minorities who claim that their safety is no longer guaranteed in India.

Just this week, the BJP passed a law in the lower house of India’s parliament granting an amnesty to undocumented civilians in India unless they are Muslims. By contrast, while Donald Trump has temporarily banned travel to the US for citizens of a handful of majority Muslim countries (which also have in some cases substantial Christian minorities), Modi’s government has effectively rendered four million Muslims in Assam State as stateless individuals, in spite of the fact that most have known nothing by India as their home for most if not all of their lives. For a member of the American party that is supposed to be pro-migrant, Tulsi Gabbard has no problem supporting the BJP leader whose party seeks to deprive basic human rights to genuine Muslim refugees and their progeny.

With friend’s like Modi…

These are just some of the systematic, top-down anti-Muslim discriminatory measures pursued by the BJP, RSS and supporters of both. At this juncture, before turning back to Gabbard, one must make it clear that under Trump, the US has extended its Bush and Obama era pivot towards India and that Trumps specifically has spoken highly of Modi. On the other hand, the two cannot be described as friends, as Trump has openly insulted Modi. From Trump’s demeanour and record, it is clear that he sees India as a strategic tool in his attempts to provoke China, but little more.

By contrast, Gabbard has gone out of her way to court Modi’s friendship and that of his BJP colleagues and in the process has helped Hindutva extremists to whitewash their war against Islam. Gabbard has gone out of her way to promotethe normalisation of Modi in the US, thus playing an important part in his public revival since being unwelcome in America in 2002. Beyond this, Gabbard is on record defending India’s violence against the demonstrators of Kashmir who since 1947 have been denied their UN recognised right to exercise self-determination. Gabbard’s unflinching support for the occupiers of Kashmir has shown no signs of slowing down in spite of 2018 being the deadliest year for Kashmiris for a decade.

Trump as a friend of Muslims? 

While Trump, like many far more mild US politicians has jumped on the anti-Islamic bandwagon in terms of his rhetoric, Trump is ultimately a pragmatist who uses the rhetoric of extremism in order to garner attention. By contrast, Tulsi Gabbard wraps her support for Hindutva extremism in a veil of a pleasant, moderate sounding exterior that betrays an attitude towards Muslims that is clearly ideological motivated, calculated and dangerous.

Whilst Barack Obama could be accused of betraying his heritage (he had Muslim family members) by waging wars on Muslim majority nations and while one wouldn’t be surprised if George W. Bush knew nothing about the Muslim majority nations he bombed, Gabbard is far more dangerous a character because she actually knows what she is doing, knows who her friends are and is confident in advancing a pro-BJP agenda.

Beyond this, while Donald Trump was never photographed with Vladimir Putin prior to becoming president, Gabbard has been photographed with Modi on multiple occasions.

While some in the United States are waking up to Gabbard’s rhetoric of peace being out of step with her support for an extremist Hindutva government, for far too many, Gabbard’s calculated promotion of Hindtuva fits in with a United States that has been collectively brainwashed into thinking that somehow Islamic extremism is unique among the world’s fanatical religious movements. This is why it is all the more important to show ordinary Americans that while there is little direct evidence of Donald Trump conspiring with Vladimir Putin, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that Gabbard and Narendra Modi have a close if not too close public friendship that bears the same amount of scrutiny as do Trump’s alleged ties with Moscow.

Likewise, while Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” was little more than a travel ban against countries with which the US has long had dubious relations at best, Gabbard supports a political movement in India that has made life for many of India’s 172 million Muslims, little short of a living hell and in some cases something even worse.

Conclusion 

For those still in the dark about the realities of Gabbard, one should remember that while Hinduism is a spiritual practice, Hindutva is a violent, extremist political movement. Therefore, criticisms of Gabbard have everything to do with her Hindutva and nothing to do with her Hinduism. Ironically, as Modi’s once electorally monolithic BJP is now facing a serious challenge from opposition groups led by the secular Congress party, one is now faced with the irony of Indians rejecting Hindutva politics just as Americans may be sleepwalking their way into promoting the most pro-Hindutva individual in the history of the US Congress as a potential future leader of the United States.

In a country like the US where it is still easy to win votes by offering a simplistic view of Islam based on the post-9/11 mass hysteria which still hasn’t fully evaporated from US political discourse, while Gabbard may be a long shot to win the White House, her anti-Islamic posturing could make her a surprisingly effective candidate.

Should Gabbard win the Democratic nomination for 2020, it has to be said that President Donald Trump with his big mouth and pragmatic streak would be a far sounder choice for Muslims and supporters of peace than a woman who hides her extremism behind a manipulative veil of moderation.

%d bloggers like this: