by Major General Harsha Kakar (Retd)

The Pak army, which runs the country with a proxy government in place, has been lying to its public for decades. There is no media in Pak which has the guts to write against them nor nail their lies. Thus, it continues. The first major lie, continuing over decades is selling the concept of good versus bad terrorists. Those who attack neighbouring countries are projected to be performing Jihad and rewarded in heaven, while those who attack the Pak state and its army, including in Baluchistan are enemies of the state. Can there ever be a difference? On the contrary, post the New Zealand attack on the Masjid, Pak leaders stated that terrorism has no religion.

In the past it has hid reasons for its defeat in 1971, loss of Haji Pir Pass in 1965 and casualties to its soldiers in Kargil, bodies of many remained buried on its icy mountain tops, burial done by the Indian army. Musharraf has admitted the losses of Kargil on multiple occasions, which continues being denied by the present army leadership.

It has always hidden details of loss of its soldiers and civilians in firing along the LoC and its casualties to Baluch actions in Baluchistan. In fact, post the air strike and enhanced tensions along the LoC, there were reports of even shortfall in availability of blood in local hospitals in POK, due to increase in casualties. It has never declared that it has no control over Siachen and the few posts it possessed have been lost to the Indian army.

It continues this tradition to date. When India launched its surgical strike across the LoC post Uri, it was concerned about Pak’s retaliation. However, instead of retaliating, Pak assisted India by denying that the incident ever took place. It removed their options to strike back and displayed their incapability and lack of confidence to counter. The Pak army took reporters to another area to indicate that there was no strike.

The losses of terrorists in the launch pads implied nothing, as for the army they remain cannon fodder, but for their parents, they are son’s lost. Their remains would never reach home nor would their parents know how and where they died. Serving members of the Pak army deployed along the LoC are aware, as they remained in panic, firing in all directions, but are scared to talk, fearing wrath of the senior leadership.

Post the air strike, Pak denied it ever happened, took international media to another hilltop and indicated no damage. It was expected, as they continued to lack capability in case their retaliation led to an escalation. They were fearful of an escalation hence to indicate desperation for peace and display surrender, they announced the return of the Indian pilot. Their foreign minister initially mentioned negotiations, but sensing the mood, Imran on the advice of the army chief bowed to Indian threats.

Once satellite photographs began to emerge, the Pak army blocked entry into the region and continues to do so. No media personnel are still permitted to the site. If permitted, then Pak would have to agree that the location was a terrorist training camp. It only accepted that an air violation had taken place. There have been multiple reports from the region of bodies being moved and damage to structures. Once again, families of those dead would never know where their members died and were buried.

It has never accepted that its air defence mechanisms failed completely, unable to detect the intrusion of Indian aircraft, leading to their aircraft not even being airborne prior to the Indian operation being completed. This has never been analysed in Pak media as none has the courage to question. The Pak DG ISPR,General Ghafoor, claimed that Pak fighters had been airborne and chased Indian aircraft. The Pak defence minister admitted in a press conference that since it was late at night, their pilots were asleep and could not respond. The loss of an F16 has been documented and photographs of the wreckage being collected exist, alongside videos of multiple pilots ejecting, yet Pak continues to deny the aircraft was even employed and downed with the loss of a pilot. Once again, a brave pilot who fought for his nation has been ignored to hide the failure of the top brass in planning and execution.

The calling of the nuclear bluff created panic within Pak military circles. It sought means to deflect the crises. Amongst the lies it peddled was that Israel was involved with India in the air assault and it was their pilots which flew the aircraft.

The Pak army continuously suffers losses to Baluch fighters and on occasions army personnel have been known to desert their posts and flee, none of which is ever out in public domain. Videos of strikes by the Baluch fighters is available on social media, which cannot be supported by any Pak national or media house for fear of being hounded by the army.

The polity, post the jailing of Nawaz Sharif for questioning the army, is unwilling to question their claims and hence the public remains in the dark. Thus, lies continue being peddled only to keep the invincible status of the army alive in the public eye. While the Pak public remains in the dark, the army continues silently with its actions of dominating policies of the government and enhancing its economic control.

For a nation to devote 32% of its budgetary expenditure for defence when it has large loans to repay is clearly an indicator of shortfalls in capabilities and lack of control over the national economy by the civilian government. The Pak army is busy making money through its Fauji foundation including exploring for gold, rather than ensuring national security and conducting professional operations.

To avoid employing its soldiers in operations it hires poor uneducated youth for as low as Rs 3000 per month and employs them as terrorists.It fills their minds with concept of Jihad and pushes them into India, knowing it is a one-way ticket. Those pushed in would never return, struggle to survive for some months before being eliminated.

An army which is more involved in holding onto power, running business houses, exploiting the national budget, constructing illegal housing colonies amongst other non-military actions can never be a professional force. To hide its shortcomings, it employs poorly paid Jihadis to operate in Kashmir, knowing that if it attempts any action, it would again suffer defeat, as it has on every occasion. For how long can it continue to peddle lies and hide behind failures? The truth will emerge soon and its reputation will be tarnished.

The author is retired Major General Indian Army