India stands vindicated

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference held from February 16 to 18, Pakistan's Army Chief, General Qamar Bajwa confirmed just what New Delhi has been pointing to all along that Pakistan trains, sponsors, arms and deploys terrorists against any country that qualifies as a - "tyrant'' in its own rule-book.

The General began his speech with a disarming admission: that he was a military man and not a glib-tongued politician. But perhaps the blunt and direct army general could have done with a better speech-writer, for his own attempt to explain ''jihad" - a mysterious concept to the most intrepid scholars of the Qu'ran - had the audience gaping and viewers in India chortling.

General Bajwa tried to explain as far as Pakistan's government, its armed forces and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are concerned, there are two kinds of terrorists, good and bad. He painted his own country as the victim of the 'bad'variety: terrorism emanating from Afghanistan on its western border. He didn't name India but through his speech, General Bajwa made it amply clear that Islamabad supports the "good'' variety of terrorism if it is against any country it considers oppressive.

"Let me say at the outset that 'jehadism' is a misnomer," the General declared. "Jihad is a highly evolved concept that underlines myriad struggles against tyranny of all types. Muslims are taught that self-control is the most elevated form of jihad." 

The General even invoked the Holy Prophet in his attempt to explain one of the most intriguing aspects of the holy book of Islam: "There is also a saying by the holy Prophet - peace be upon him - that the best jihad is the word of truth in the face of a tyrant ruler."

Warming up to his subject, General Bajwa moved on to armed terrorism and ended up - inadvertently or not - justified its use by the 'state'.

"On the other hand, qataal (conflict in Arabic), an aspect of armed jihad, comes at the lowest end of the spectrum of actions and beliefs that comprise the concept of jihad, that can only be sanctioned by a state authority and nobody else."

Through his speech, General Bajwa effectively put the stamp of official approval on the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians and army men in India. Pakistani terror groups Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed both target India. They were behind the attacks on India’s parliament and the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai in 2001 and 2008 respectively and - for dozens of strikes on both India’s armed forces and civilians for decades.

General Bajwa practically admitted that his army, the ISI and the government of Pakistan have supported, armed, trained and sneaked terrorists into India and – continue to do so. When any Pakistani talks of a country it considers "tyrannical’’, guessing its identity is a no-brainer.

There were some candid moments in the speech too: the admission that the Afghan jehadi was Pakistan’s own doing too. The General admits that jihad was fed to the minds in an exercise undertaken primarily by the West and – that Pakistan was an accomplice.

“This phenomenon (terrorism) is not a recent creation or (something that) started after 9/11,’’ the General mused. “The Frankenstein was actually created by the free world with willing but myopic cooperation on our side, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.”

The Army Chief’s regret at creating a monster in the laboratory of death may be genuine. But he was still bent on emphasizing that there is a difference – between terrorism and jihad. “Large numbers of people are radicalized, armed and empowered politically and ideologically. They cannot be wished away just because we don’t like them anymore.”

He also prepared the ground by warning the world that it was not going to see the end of terrorism on Pakistani soil just yet.

“Please note, we are harvesting what we sowed 40 years back. So, it will be a while before this scourge is eliminated from our territory. But first, let us stop calling it jihadism as it is nothing but terrorism.”

The most startling admission came towards the end of General Bajwa’s brief speech, when he described his country’s “National Action Plan” to fight terrorism.

“Most recently, 1854 eminent Pakistani religious scholars representing all schools of thought within Islam teamed up to issue a resounding ‘fatwa’ against violence, extremism and terrorism in the name of religion,” he disclosed.

But after outlining what the plan contains, he said the initiative is referred to in a special way. And what is that?

“Called the "key message of Pakistan’’, it (the plan) bans suicide bombing and jihad - other than the one sanctioned by the state,” General Bajwa said.

There you have it. In the corollary, the Chief of Pakistan’s army admits that his state, his army and his ISI do sanction terrorism - including sending young, drugged men wearing explosives to their deaths as fidayeen, or suicide bombers. 

There can hardly be more damning evidence than General Bajwa’s speech at the Munich Conference. Of the fact that when it comes to terrorism to suit its own goals and purposes, the 'state'of Pakistan condones and ‘sanctions’ killing – including and especially in India.