Pakistan has since become a vassal state of the Chinese Communist Party

by Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza

In a press conference held in Islamabad on November 14, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi became a living example of the proverb “ulta chor kotwal ko daante”, which essentially means the same as pot calling the kettle black.

Flanked on his left by the Director General of Pakistani military public relations department (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar, Shah told the journalists that the purpose of the press conference was to “expose” Indian state-sponsored terrorism and destabilisation of Pakistan.

The allegations Shah raised were those that the rest of the world has been employing to describe the role of Pakistan in sponsoring regional and global terrorism. Whether it is the US or EU, or India, which has been a direct victim of Pakistani terrorism since October 22, 1947, time and again all have come up with ample evidence of Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism.

Since 1979, when Pakistan set up jihadist camps across the Pak-Afghan border to create havoc in a peace loving and democratic Afghanistan or later during the 1980 and 90s when Pakistan suddenly diverted its terrorist bands to infiltrate Indian Kashmir and cause mayhem and the genocide of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits that resulted in the great exodus of more than six million pandits from the valley, or be it harbouring terrorists like Osama Bin Laden or more recently Ehsan Ullah Ehsan, Pakistan’s role in nurturing, harbouring and exporting terrorism is no secret.

Shah kicked off his press conference by accusing India of destabilising Pakistan. He presented a so-called dossier against India’s alleged “terrorist plans” in Pakistan, claiming that it contains irrefutable evidence. Yet, in the same vein, Shah confessed, “although the details provided in the dossier are incomplete, when the time comes we can provide details”.

Shah claimed that Indian intelligence agencies were supporting banned terrorist outfits that are Pakistan centric. He named Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, (TTP), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Jammat-ul-Ahrar (JUA).

A faction of the ISI, which previously led the Taliban, formed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a grouping of 13 terrorist outfits, in December 2007. TTP was assembled when former president Pervez Musharraf decided to go after the leader of the Taliban Bait Ullah Mehsud who was based in the northern Pakistan near the tribal belt adjacent to Afghanistan.

Musharraf was supporting other factions of the Taliban. Bait Ullah Mehsud was responsible for the September 7, 2007 Rawalpindi bombing in which 25 government officers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the bus carrying the ill-fated. Later, Bait Ullah Mehsud was also blamed for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 28, 2007.

The Baloch Liberation Army has been operating in the region of Baluchistan since 2004. BLA has been actively involved in armed struggle. They claim that Pakistan has been systematically committing cultural and physical genocide of Baloch people and has been settling Punjabis and people from the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa in the region to deplete the indigenous population. Since the advent of CPEC, BLA has been claiming to fight against both Pakistani as well as Chinese colonialism.

Jammat-ul-Ahrar came into existence after it broke away from Tehreek-e-Taliban in 2014 and was responsible for the 2014 Wagah border suicide attack that claimed the lives of 60 people. Hence, all the above-mentioned terrorist groups that Shah has accused India of sponsoring were the brainchild of Pakistani military establishment.

In his press conference, Shah accused India of “planning to upscale terrorist activities in (Pakistan in) November and December”. Shah claimed that Pakistan had irrefutable evidence, though it could not produce it at the conference, that Indian RAW and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) were involved in terror financing in Pakistan.

This accusation is laughable at best. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that comprises of 40 countries has laid charges against Pakistan for money laundering that has been used for terror financing. That is why Pakistan and not India is in the grey list of FATF.

Shah claimed that India has three objectives against Pakistan. First, is to interrupt the peace initiatives by Pakistan. Shah maintained that in order to achieve this aim (India) encourages sub-nationalism in Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and in Baluchistan. Second objective that Shah claimed India has is not to let Pakistan become stable and prosper economically. And finally, that India wants to make Pakistan political unstable.

Once again, Shah has failed to present to us his ‘irrefutable’ evidence regarding his above-mentioned claims. It is Pakistan and not India, which has been persistently, consistently, and patiently disrupting any attempts to bring peace to the region. From the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament by Pakistan-sponsored Lashkar-e-Toiba to the 2008 Mumbai attacks to Pulwama only those terrorist organisation have claimed responsibility which are based, harboured and exported by the Pakistani military. Even to this day, terrorist camps of jihadi outfits are dotted all across Pakistani-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Secondly, what Shah refers to as sub-nationalism is actually a people struggling for their freedom from Pakistani colonialism. Gilgit-Baltistan for that matter is an integral part of the Republic of India that was occupied by Pakistan on November 1, 1947 by instigating a coup against the then state of Jammu and Kashmir. How can Shah forget that?

Similarly, the struggle waged by the Baloch people for independence from the dual colonisation of both Pakistan and China is a direct result of the abysmal oppression that the Baloch people have been subjugated to since 1948 when Pakistani troops invaded and annexed Baluchistan bringing its autonomous status to an abrupt and a very unpleasant end.

Finally, India has no qualms about a weak Pakistan. A weak Pakistan is prone to more infighting not only among the state institutions but also among the non-state actors. A politically unstable Pakistan is a threat to regional peace. Why would India or Afghanistan or for that matter Iran have a desire to weaken Pakistan? No. It is Pakistan’s inbuilt social, religious, economic and political contradictions that are leading it toward all sorts of instability including political instability.

The fact that Pakistan has not been able to define the working boundaries of its state institutions such as the parliament, judiciary and its military are at the core of political instability. Under the current political crisis (note the PDM led opposition movement) and more importantly economic situation (total debt stands at Rs 2,300 billion), Pakistan is presenting itself as a prey those countries that crave for regional political and economic hegemony. That country is definitely not India but China.

Under the guise of promising economic development through CPEC agreement, China has already made encroachments in Pakistani economy and territory. With billions that Pakistan now owes to China and with the presence of thousands of Chinese military and intelligence personal disguised a technical assistants to hydropower, road and bridge construction projects, Chinese state has infiltrated not only Islamabad and Baluchistan but more importantly the PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

CPEC has generated anxiety among those who fear that their land and natural wealth is under threat. That is why the Baloch attacked the Chinese’s consulate in Karachi on November 23, 2018.

It is wake-up time for the world to see how on the eve of elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the Pakistani foreign minister comes up with his cock-and-bull story in an attempt to divert public attention. Is it not time the world community compels Pakistan to halt its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, curtail its sponsorship of jihadist terrorism in the Valley of Kashmir, bring to justice all those have been responsible for aggression on our lands since the launch of operations Gulmarg and Datta Khel in October 1947, Gibraltar in 1965, Tupac in 1980 and more recently the Kargil adventure?

Pakistan is a prison in which the jailor is the Pakistan army currently led by military chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. The rest of the instruments of the state act as staff members of this prison. There is no freedom of speech or civilised human rights in Pakistan. The claim of giving its people the choice to elect their representatives is guarded with suspicion at every level by the military establishment. The most recent example to exercise such guarded freedom of choice was demonstrated on November 15 when Gilgit-Baltistan went to polls to elect yet another puppet legislative assembly that has no powers to make legislation.

During the closing hours of the polls, several ballot boxes were reported stolen and then replaced, several results in constituencies where opposition candidates were said to be winning were delayed by hours and in at least three of the constituencies Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto accused the government of stealing the people’s mandate.

Large number of crowds have begun protests against alleged vote rigging and Mr Bhutto has refused to leave Gilgit-Baltistan until the stolen mandate is returned to the PPP in at least three constituencies.

Addressing the 20th Summit of SCO, Council of Heads of State, on November 10, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “India believes that in order to deepen connectivity among (trading) nations it is important to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Pakistan seems not to have grasped this fundamental principle of peaceful co-existence and keeps on rocking the boat of regional peace and stability. Shah’s allegations on India are a proof of this deficiency of political insight and narrow-minded communal world outlook.

Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. Views expressed are personal