India’s Outrageous Media Compounds Constant Failures Against Pakistan

By Aga Hussain
Source

One can barely get used to the mixture of amusement and disbelief that Indian propaganda delivered through its burgeoning network of news channels. Retweeted and spread about immediately by the world’s largest Twitter community, it seems odd that the cartoonish levels of false propaganda created and pushed by the Indian media hasn’t become a topic discussed and analyzed far and wide yet.

While this may be explainable by the fact that the Indian public’s overwhelmingly Pakistan-centric approach results in the fake-news campaigns directed at mostly Pakistani online communities, the capability of such a vast apparatus to escalate tensions between two nuclear-armed states makes it worth a lot more attention than it is getting.

The ‘Surgical Strike’ of 25 February and its embarrassing consequences

Early morning on the 25th of February, India claimed to have aerially struck ‘terror camps’ on the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir region. After initial variations, the main claim from Indian leaders and media settled around ‘300 Jaish e Mohammed militants killed’ (JeM is a Pakistan-based group that recruits fighters to attack India’s occupation forces in Kashmir). Cue the victory lap by Indian media and the announcements of Bollywood films to follow, and ‘revenge’ for the 14 February car-bombing by a Kashmiri of an Indian paramilitary force convoy that killed near 50 Indian personnel. JeM, of course, was blamed by India, without evidence and thus the 25 February strikes were hailed as ‘payback’.

However, Pakistan’s military PR wing quickly uploaded pictures of the site of the attacks and showed that, far from there being no evidence of such a large number of militants having been killed, let alone even being there, the Indian jets had merely dropped a ‘payload’ before speeding back into India after pursuit by Pakistani jets. The fuel tanks damaged trees and injured an old man, and that was about it. Videos taken separately by locals also matched the pictures the military released to Twitter.

The village where India’s few minutes-long incursion into Pakistani airspace yielded the ‘strike’ was Balakot, lying essentially on the de facto border or Line of Control. To maximize the ‘impressiveness’ of the ‘strike’, Indian media claimed India had hit a city with the same name in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which would imply a very deep incursion as opposed to the real one which was only a few miles.

Pakistan’s army acted quickly in getting validation for its response to India’s erratic claims from third party sources and demonstrated that no such fantastic strike had been carried out by the Indians. Pakistan promised a response at a time and place of its own choosing and the stage was set for the Indian media to go from the offensive to the defensive and attempt to exert damage control over the impending losses India would soon incur.

Notwithstanding more recent statements by India ‘accepting’ that it scored no successes in its Balakot adventure, Indian media did still earn more ridicule by playing ‘recordings’ of ‘Pakistani’ militants ‘discussing the strike’ and using Hindi words as well as Indian accents to make it appear as if the strike happened.

Attempting to hide the beating at the hands of the Pakistani airforce with incredulous claims

Pakistan’s airforce successfully shot down two Indian jets, two MIG-21s, the next day as a response to the Indian aerial incursion. One had its pilot eject and land on the Pakistani side of the LoC and proceed to be rescued by Pakistani soldiers before he would have otherwise been killed by a mob as can be seen in this video. The captive Wing Commander, Abhinandan, was interviewed by the Pakistani military and shown to be treated as according to international humanitarian standards. He probably could not have guessed, however, that the Indians would be busy claiming he had downed a Pakistani jet himself.

As expected, there was no video of this Pakistani jet going down or its debris on the Pakistani side of the LoC, or of the mysterious F-16 Pakistani pilot claimed by India to have been ‘nearly lynched’ by a Pakistani mob ‘mistaking him for an Indian pilot’. Apparently, the Pakistani mob would be too foolish to recognize his Pakistani air force uniform or be able to communicate in proper Urdu with him, if one were to believe Indian media claims.

Pakistan stated that it had not used any F-16. In a strange way, then, of trying to prove the possibility of such having happened, Indian media went about attempting to explain that an F-16 had indeed been used by the Pakistani side. Claims were made that Pakistan’s released pictures of Abhinandan’s destroyed MIG-21 were actually pictures of a destroyed Pakistani F-16 and thus that Pakistan was engaging in false propaganda. However, it was soon shown by independent researchers that the pictures Indian media was flaunting desperately of the ‘destroyed Pakistani F-16’ were actually pictures of the downed Indian MIG-21. Despite desperate claims by India’s most prominent print and electronic media outlets, the pictures quite clearly showed discernible MIG-21 parts and not F-16 ones.

India’s continuingly deteriorating quality of propaganda during the escalated situation with Pakistan showed that it clearly had no plan B if its planned ‘surgical strike’ went wrong, whether on the military front or the media front. With officials now backpedalling on the ‘300 militants killed’ rhetoric, fissures seem visible in the Indian camp. Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar’s retirement soon after the aerial combat losses may also have been compelled and one wonders what Abhinandan’s own life will be like from here on now.

Kashmir insurgency rises as India grows yet more erratic

Handwara, Kashmir, saw 2 Kashmiri fighters kill at least 7 Indian paramilitary personnel and police and injure several more. Reported as belonging to the JeM group, they compounded a tough month for Indian forces in Kashmir where continued ambushes by Kashmiri fighters persisted before and after the Pulwama blast.

Notably, the day of sabre-rattling before India’s ill-fated incursion into Pakistani airspace and subsequent ‘surgical strike’ claims had seen a large crackdown on Kashmiri political groups by India with particular focus on Jamaat e Islami. Declaring the popular party responsible for running hundreds of schools officially banned on 28 February, India added another large provocation to an already rising Kashmiri freedom struggle to go with several others such as hints at attempting demographic change and seeing considerable violence against Kashmiris in Indian cities and towns following the Pulwama blast.

The Kashmiri resistance won’t be diffused or defanged into a state of impotent ‘negotiations’ and stagnancy by an India acting as reckless as it is now. False propaganda about JeM chief Masood Azhar being dead seems to be India’s latest attempt to salvage pride out of its current strategic and military woes.

Setback at the OIC

On the diplomatic front, India also suffered a setback when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned its atrocities in Kashmir and praised Pakistan’s conduct during the escalation. The presence of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the OIC recently after an invite was hailed across India as a snubbing of Pakistan by the latter and provoked a refusal by Pakistan to send its own FM to attend (albeit it did send a lower-level delegation). However, the OIC responded to Swaraj’s assertions of India ‘fighting against terrorism’ by adopting a resolution condemning Indian state atrocities in Kashmir and also endorsing the rebuilding of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya which was destroyed by Hindutva groups in 1992 the day after Swaraj’s ‘guest of honour’ address to the organization.

Ruling party BJP bigwigs responded with anger soon afterward, with Hindutva ideologue Subramaniam Swamy insultingly declaring that Hindus should respond to the OIC verdict by ‘reclaiming the Kaaba’ as a ‘Shivaling’ (or phallus of the Hindu god Shiva).

The fact that the OIC doesn’t do or matter much as an organization here means little. That Pakistan clearly succeeded in getting the OIC to pass the condemnation of India’s atrocities is indicative of a more proactive Pakistan matching up against a more erratic India and a setback that comes amid bigger setbacks during the escalation with Pakistan. Pakistan’s coherence and unity, especially with regard to the civil-military relationship, has contrasted sharply with the conduct and behaviour of the Indian side and the latter shows little signs of bringing its tendencies under check for the foreseeable future.

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The Latest Kashmir Crisis Proved That India, Not Pakistan, Is the Real Rogue State

Astute News

The latest Kashmir Crisis resulted in a stunning reversal of international perceptions about India and Pakistan whereby the self-professed “world’s largest democracy” has now been recast as a rogue state wanting to wage a war of aggression on unproven pretexts while the previously presumed “rogue state” of Pakistan has been revealed to be a responsible international actor fighting to uphold the UN-enshrined rules-based international order that the US and “Israel’s” South Asian ally is dangerously trying to undermine.

The Kashmir Crisis of 2019 will go down in history as the moment when international perceptions about India and Pakistan were stunningly reversed. The fast-moving multi-dimensional developments that took place between the last week of February and the first week of March did more than anything else to ruin India’s global reputation (mostly through its own reckless actions) while greatly improving Pakistan’s, something that few observers could have expected because they’d been…

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By Invoking India-Israel Relations, Pakistani Politicians Have Finally Learned The Art of Soft Power

By Adam Garrie
Source

For decades, Pakistan has been cursed with political leaders who seemed incapable of grasping the importance of soft power as a tool for accomplishing important strategic goals without incurring any material expense. Last month however, the penny dropped and now the PTI government appears to be gradually mastering the art of perception management.

A moment of reckoning arrived when throughout the month of February, after non-state terrorists operating along the Pakistan-Iran border conducted an attack on Islamic Revolution Guard Corps fighters in south-eastern Iran, Tehran ended up turning against Islamabad in terms of official rhetoric. Rather than handle the issue through private diplomatic channels with its Pakistani neighbour and potentially important partner, Iranian officials instead began making defamatory anti-Pakistan statements which appeared to be straight out of India’s age-old propaganda playbook. Matters became all the more awkward when Iran and its arch enemy Israel appeared to agree on their assessment of the Pulwama incident in Indian occupied Kashmir.

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But whilst Iran’s outrageous outbursts against Pakistan and Tehran’s strange agreement with Israel on a major issue of international attention were more the result of internal political infighting in Tehran than on anything more directly related to geo-strategy, Pakistan not only took the high road, but took the intelligent and strategic road.

Pakistan has under the Premiership of Imran Khan, become increasingly like the Switzerland of the Ummah (global Islamic community). By refraining from taking sides in the disputes of other Muslim majority nations, Pakistan has been able to balance good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one side and Turkey and Qatar on the other – just to offer one such important example.

As such, Turkey was the first nation in the world to offer its role as a mediator in the recent flaring up of tensions over Indian occupied Kashmir, whilst Turkish officials also showed solidarity with fraternal Pakistan. Then, at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the pan-Islamic group of nations offered its withering condemnation of Indian aggression against Kashmiris, in a move which showed unambiguous solidarity with Pakistan. The OIC’s statement took on a new level of relevance because both Turkey and Pakistan (along with Qatar and Iran) boycotted the meeting in the UAE. As such, it is logical to assume that Pakistan’s Saudi partners and Emirati partners had a vital role in either authoring or green-lighting the OIC’s condemnation of India that was delivered at a meeting in which major Indian officials were present. This itself demonstrates that even in the absence of a Pakistani or pro-Pakistani Turkish delegation, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had the courage to support Pakistan due to Imran Khan’s ability to balance good relations between geopolitical rivals in the Ummah.

Of course, Pakistan-Iran relations are more complex than Pakistan-Turkey relations, Pakistan-Saudi relations, Pakistan-Qatar relations or Pakistan-UAE relations. This if the reality because of three things: a post-1979 history of mutual distrust due primarily to issues relating to Afghanistan, the Indian funded port in Iran’s Chabahar and finally, the difficulties that transpire due to the presence of non-state extremist groups that in spite of their declining numbers, are still occasionally active on the Iran-Pakistan border.

Because Iran often vacillates between viewing Pakistan as a brotherly Muslim nation and simplistically viewing Pakistan as a rival because of its strong relations with countries like Saudi Arabia (a line of thinking which conveniently forgets that Russia, China and even India have good relations with Riyadh) – it was anyone’s guess how Iran would respond to the recent Kashmir crisis.

As it turned out, Iran initially approached the matter by appearing to take India’s side. This week however, the tone of Iran’s official state media shifted for one clear reason: Pakistani politicians have at long last become articulate in exposing the incredibly strong India-Israel partnership that continues to go from strength-to-strength under the Premiership of Narendra Modi.

Now that Pakistani politicians are finally discussing Israel’s involvement in south Asia, such statements from Pakistan are guaranteed to perk the ears of international audiences in both the Ummah and in the west – audiences who tend to be more sympathetic to Palestinian issues than to the occupation of Kashmir. The reason that Palestine tends to be a more amplified issue among non-south Asian audiences than Kashmir, is due to the fact that in recent years, international celebrities like Roger Waters and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as mainstream western politicians like Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn and American Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have helped to raise the profile of the Palestinian issue which in turn has elicited a major response from many powerful western Israel supporters. By contrast, India’s slick propaganda campaigns have helped to muffle discussions of Kashmir outside of south Asia and especially in respect of discussions in the west.

There are however several subtle but very real changes afoot in respect of how the world is now viewing Kashmir and the wider India-Pakistan conflict

1. Non-south Asian media are at long last realising that while India portrays itself as a kind of spiritual Disneyland to westerners through propaganda like the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, internal Indian media has largely become a den of extremism.

2. Mainstream western media is finally reporting on the concerns surrounding the erstwhile ignored partnership between India and Israel.

3. While many Muslim majority nations have good relations with India, now that even westerners are questioning India’s direction under BJP rule, it would be counter-productive for Islamic majority states ot be seen as more pro-India than even a habitually Islamophobic west.

Realising this trend, Pakistani politicians have issued several important statements about Israel in recent days:

1. Pakistan has accused Israel of conspiring with India to conduct a missile attack on Pakistan that was ultimately thwarted by Pakistani intelligence.

2. Pakistan’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan referred to Israel as an enemy of Pakistan, a natural ally of India and a country with which Pakistan will never have formal diplomatic relations.

3. Unverified rumours that Pakistan has captured an Israeli pilot who took part in a failed India airstrike against Pakistan have helped to change the nature of the debate on the matter both within Pakistan and outside of south Asia.

The result of Pakistan invoking Israel as a pro-Indian nemesis has consequently resulted in the following:

1. The wider Ummah will now want to publicly distance itself form India to varying degrees. This is not to say that the states of the Ummah will somehow boycott India (far from it), but by withdrawing would-be soft power approval of Indian geo-strategic manoeuvring, Muslim countries will tacitly help Pakistani statements about how New Delhi treats its Muslim neighbours, the Muslims of occupied Kashmir and its Muslim citizens, to be heard in a more impactful and unfiltered manner.

2. By associating India with Israel, not only will the Ummah think twice before offering public displays of political affection towards India, but western media outlets courting the Corbyn-Omar style of left-populism in the west, will think twice before glossing over Kashmir or otherwise taking India’s side.

3.  The Islamic Republic of Iran, the most anti-Israel country in the world, will now have to be more balanced in its relations with both India and Pakistan, or else risk being seen as hypocritical in respect of its well known statements and position regarding Israel.

Taken as a whole, Pakistan’s government and ruling party have at long last begun to think strategically rather than ambivalently and are now using soft power tools to help shift the debate on Kashmir and India, both the Ummah and in the west.

Kashmir: Theatre of Unspeakable Violence — futuwwa

By Syed Rabia Bukhari Kashmir is the real theatre of unspeakable violence and moral corrosion that can spin us into violence and nuclear war at any moment. To prevent that from happening, the conflict in Kashmir has to be addressed and resolved. That can only be done if Kashmiris are given a chance to freely […]

via Kashmir: Theatre of Unspeakable Violence — futuwwa

Pakistan’s Restrained Self-Defence is a Wake-up Call to an International Community That Continues to Ignore Kashmir

By Adam Garrie
Source

Two jets down 

This morning, in broad daylight, Pakistan downed two Indian fighter jets which had breached Pakistani airspace. One of the jets landed in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and one landed in Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir province.

Subsequent to the downing of the jets, two Indian pilots were taken into custody. One is currently receiving medial treatment.

Why it happened in a specific sense

According to Pakistan armed forces spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, today’s action taken in the morning light, was a necessary and non-lethal effort which demonstrates that Pakistan will never tolerate any illegal infringements of its air space as was witnessed today and moreover as occurred during yesterday’s attempted but ultimately failed Indian aerial assault on Pakistani territory.

Speaking at a press conference Major General Ghafoor further elaborated on the situation as follows:

“Pakistan’s armed forces have capability, will, resolve and nation’s support. But because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won’t take any military targets.

Secondly we decided that there be no loss of life or collateral damage in our engaging of targets.

Our planes locked targets, then in open air we carried out strikes. We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don’t want escalation. We don’t want to go towards war”.

Why it happened in a wider sense 

Although the Kashmir crisis has burnt since 1947 and has been rapidly escalating into a major human rights crisis since 1989 in particular, the international community has come to ignore the Kashmir crisis more so than just about any other lingering conflict on the planet. By contrast, the Israel-Palestine conflict, wars against Daesh terrorism in the Arab world and even elements of the ongoing civil conflicts in Myanmar, tend to receive far more international attention.

As a result, India has been able to act with impunity against the people of occupied Kashmir, while India’s narrative which blames Pakistan for inciting a resistance to occupation that has in reality been incited by India’s own policies in occupied Kashmir – is rarely challenged outside of Pakistan.

The reason this reality has come about is because of the fact that in today’s age of modern warfare, there is little chance that a conventional war between India and Pakistan would directly impact the security of any other nation. In this sense, the vastness of the wider south Asian space has given the wider world a convenient excuse to ignore the crisis, with the noble exception of Turkey.

As such, whilst China refuses Indian calls to scapegoat Pakistan and label local groups as “international terrorist groups”, China nevertheless does not want to risk a further deterioration of its relations with India by taking a firm stance on the Kashmir issue. For the United States that in recent years has pivoted closer to India and further away from Pakistan, Washington seeks to balance its rhetorical support of the Indian narrative against a desire not to totally alienate a Pakistani state that even Donald Trump now realises is required to secure any lasting and meaningful peace process in Afghanistan. Finally, whilst Russia tries to maintain its strong Cold War bond with India whilst also availing itself of opportunities that a Pakistani partnership presents, Russia tends to say as little as possible while at times, an historic pro-India basis is still detectable.

As such, when Pakistan is faced with a large Indian neighbour that seems unchecked in its arrogance and its willingness to use military force in order to engender domestic political gain for the ruling BJP, there is no choice for Pakistan but to demonstrate its material capacity for self-defence.

This is why Pakistan did not attack India under the cover of night, but instead used its military power to actively punish Indian jets that had violated Pakistani airspace with utter impunity. Pakistan wants the world to see the situation for what it is. Beyond this, the only way to break this cycle is for India to realise that bullying a geographically smaller but still nuclear armed neighbour, is totally unacceptable and that moreover, the root cause of all hostility between India and Pakistan is the fact that New Delhi refuses to grant Kashmiris their UN mandated plebiscite on political self-determination.

A wake up call for the rest of the world 

Almost every country in the world has issued a statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict at one time or another. Similarly, the US continues to criticise the Chinese and Russian military superpowers. China makes very firm statements criticising the US when it violates China’s maritime rights in the South China Sea, Iran and Israel constantly criticise one another, Russia constantly criticises the military policies of the United States – and yet this same international community continues to fall silent on the Kashmir issue, in spite of the fact that Kashmir’s crisis is the sole cause of tensions between nuclear neighbours in south Asia.

In this sense, the wider world ought to listen to the following statement, also given at this morning’s press conference by Major General Asif Ghafoor:

“The state, government, armed forces and people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate and follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan”.

Conclusion 

Both India, its traditional partners and other major members of the international community must think with a cool head on Pakistan’s offer. Pakistan’s doors to dialogue continue to remain open, but likewise, Pakistan will always respond robustly to any acts of provocation committed by any of its neighbours. If the world truly cares about peace, the international community must tackle this matter at its root. This is to say, the international community that for decades has ignored Kashmir, must cease to do so.

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.

Kashmir: Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

By Adam Garrie
Source

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2018 was the deadliest year for Kashmiri civilians for a decade. This fact was affirmed not only by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS)but by the Washington Post. The rising death toll among Kashmiris in 2018 was itself a culmination of an increasingly violent approach taken by the forces of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) since the late 1980s, whilst the overriding problems for Kashmiris are a result of being denied their international legal right to self-determination since 1947.

In Kashmir, nothing happens in a vacuum and this fact readily applies to today’s attack on an Indian military convoy by a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed. The very fact that Indian army convoys and soldiers armed to the teeth are present in IOK in order to subdue the very people that India tells the world are merely a minority of ‘reluctant Indians’, obfuscates the more self-evident reality on the ground. The reality is that if part of a nation must be under constant military occupation in order to remain within such a nation, such a place is not part of the nation in question at all.

Kashmir’s troubles are ultimately a conflict between the Indian authorities and Kashmiris themselves. If anyone doubted this to be the case, one must consider two things. First of all, Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned in Pakistan since 2002. Secondly,  Pakistani voices that are raised in the name of justice for Kashmir tend to hold the view that far from Pakistan doing too much on the Kashmir issue, Islamabad actually does far too little and has done far too little for quite some time.

Many in India will not want to admit the following and many in Pakistan will not want to hear the following, but the reality must be laid bear all the same: although the crisis in IOK is one between India and the Kashmiri people, Pakistan does indeed have a role to play. This role is one that requires Islamabad to amplify the plight of Kashmiris to the rest of the world for the simple reason that there is no other country in the world that is in such a position to do so. The longer Pakistani elites retreat from this issue, the worse things will get not just for Kashmiris but for the wider region as a whole. The fact that India blames everything that happens in or around IOK on Islamabad is actually quite farcical because Pakistan’s real position vis-a-vis Kashmir is one that is all too detached. As a result, innocent people suffer and a cycle of violence is perpetuated because of an Indian culture of scapegoating Pakistan and a Pakistani culture of wishing troubles away, rather than facing them head on.

Had Pakistan forcefully told the United Nations, global civil society, all three global military superpowers and bilateral partners of the grave danger that IOK’s unresolved status poses, the Indian soldiers who died today would still be alive and furthermore, the scores of thousands of Kashmiri civilians gunned down in cold blood by Indian soldiers over the decades would also still be alive. In this sense, if the UN mandated plebiscite on Kashmiri national self-determination had already been held, there would be more people alive today in the region than there presently are. Every moment wasted therefore ought to sound like a tick on south Asia’s very own doomsday clock. With every further second that is ticked away, Kashmiris and Indians are both at risk of death or injury. No rational person in any country could label such a situation as acceptable.

While for the supporters of the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, the issues surrounding the occupation are those involving unbridled jingoism and a battle that puts a quest for resources ahead of justice for civilians, for Kashmiris themselves, it is a matter of being denied their UN mandated right to national self-determination which they have been waiting for since 1947.

The pressing issue of Kashmir was one of the first major challenges presented to a young United Nations Security Council which in 1949 passed Resolution 47. This resolution called for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on their own future according to the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified in 1948.

Crucially, India continues to deny that Pakistan has followed the following clauses in the resolution:

“1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:

(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;

(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order”.

But while Pakistan has fulfilled its duties according to a precise reading of the Resolution, India maintains that Resolution 47 calls for Pakistan to abandon the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir. India has held fast to this obstructionist position in spite of the fact that the clauses in question do not make specific mention of the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir, beyond a general and reasonable call for non-native Kashmiris to vacate the territory for the specific and limited aim of holding a free and fair plebiscite based on the indigenous population as well as indigenous Kashmiris who were displayed during the war of 1947-48.

But while arguments continue to be made regarding interpretations of Resolution 47, Kashmiris continue to pay with their lives for 72 years of sustained injustice. The only solution is for the UN to take into account a reasonable interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 47 and force the issue of the need for an immediate plebiscite throughout the entirety of Kashmir. This is absolutely necessary in order to make it so that there can be no question about the long-term status of the region.

A further matter of importance becomes clear when one realises that arguments between New Delhi and Islamabad regarding differing interpretations of the 1949 era UN Resolution do not directly take into account the feelings of Kashmiris themselves. Ultimately, the Kashmir crisis is one between the Kashmiri people and their occupier. It is only up to the Kashmiri people to define who and what is an occupier and this is why their voices must be heard by the international community without prejudice. Any nation afraid of such a plebiscite can logically be concluded to be a state afraid that its interpretation of the situation in Kashmir is one that will be exposed as incompatible with the feelings of Kashmiris.

Furthermore, as India has physically occupied much of Kashmir since 1947, there has been plenty of time for New Delhi to convince Kashmiris that they are better off in India than as an independent sovereign state or as part of Pakistan. The uptick in the intensity of the conflict within Kashmir since 1989 in particular, has demonstrated that far from using the delayed execution of the UN Resolution in order to make peace with Kashmiris, Indian forces have done everything they can to make the case for Kashmir leaving India according to the democratic will of the Kashmiri people.

Former US President John F. Kennedy famously stated:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

This quote could have been authored to describe the lingering deterioration of human rights and social cohesion in Kashmir as Kashmiris are pushing back only as much as they have been pushed. Contented populations are by definition not angry populations and likewise, no genuine uprising has ever been a result of prosperity, social harmony and a happy population. In this sense, the realities in Kashmir speak for themselves, not least because a genuinely contended population cannot be easily mobilised by external political proclamations.

The extent to which Kashmiris are suffering is therefore self-evident, in spite of the fact that the IOK authorities make it extremely difficult for international reporters to gain access to the streets where demonstrators are frequently beaten and killed for demanding a peaceful right to have the vote that the UN mandates that they must have.

Of course, there exists a strong temptation, perhaps an inevitable temptation for India’s ruling BJP to respond to today’s event by committing acts of completely unacceptable aggression against Pakistan. Yet such jingoistic appeals during an election season will only further teach the world a lesson that has long ago been handed down: violence begets violence.

If India truly wants events like that of today to become a thing of the past rather than a harbinger of a bleak future, India must work with its neighbour to give Kashmiris what the UN mandates that they have – a democratic and transparent say in their political future. This long overdue revelation itself comes at a time when the entire world, including the United States (but excluding India) has come to realise that Pakistan’s long held view of an all parties peace process in Afghanistan, is the only viable means to create stability in a country that in one way or another has been tearing itself apart since at least the 1970s. If the world has come to trust Pakistan’s peace agenda for Afghanistan, the only reason that something similar is supposedly not possible in respect of Kashmir, is due to a lack of will. Clearly, when peace lovers are silent, those who love the opposite of peace will make their voices heard.

While Mahatma Gandhi remains unpopular among the Hindtuva extremists that the BJP courts, it is wise to remember that he once said “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind“. In this case, New Delhi is blinding itself to the reality that a Kashmir under occupation will lead not only to literal blindness, maiming and death, but that the longer this cycle perpetuates, the worse things will get on all sides. Indian mothers should therefore consider why the government is sending their sons to be killed in a place that clearly wants to develop along the lines of a new political path. The Indian soldiers who have lost their lives Kashmir were not killed by Pakistan, these lives are being lost because of a policy that is one part murder and one part suicide – truly all have gone blind if they cannot see this for what it is.  If these matters are allowed to be discussed openly, then a broader dialogue on a peace process involving the UN mandated plebiscite can begin with sincerity.

Pakistan likewise must not allow itself to become scapegoated by New Delhi over the issue. Instead, Pakistan should reflect on its one area of guilt in the matter: the Pakistani state for far too long has acted as though it wished the Kashmir issue away. As such, is it any wonder that an ostrich with its head buried below the sand is a perfect target for an Indian state that needs someone to blame for a situation it has long been unable to control?

God willing, today’s attack will be the last such attack to ever happen in Kashmir, but such wishful thinking requires action steps in order for such a wish to transform itself into a strategic road map towards a sustainable peace. There is ultimately but one way to end the bloodshed and this is for Kashmir to be granted a full, free and fair plebiscite on its future. Until then, so long as Kashmir has no future, those attempting to undemocratically dictate Kashmir’s future will not be sailing through placid waters.

A commitment to peace must therefore be holistic and it must collectively rise above the constant finger pointing between politicians on all sides of all borders. India must not shy away from the fact that violence begets violence and that as such, today’s event has everything to do with the post-1947 history of Kashmir and nothing with the politics and actions of Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan must ask itself how long will it wait before telling the world the truth about Kashmir, so that a harrowing occupation might be transformed into a new reality wherein the cries of peace ring out above the myopic cries for war.

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