By Atta Rasool Malik
There is an Arabian proverb that states that “a man’s greatness can be measured by the quality of his enemies.” The Urdu poet Nida Fazli (1938-2016) simplified it further: “He has a lot of enemies; the man must be good.” Assessing the Pakistani military and its premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), using the aforesaid criteria, it appears to be good and therefore worthy of analysis.
There is a lot of disinformation concerning Pakistan’s armed forces and ISI coming from domestic and foreign media houses. In the eyes of the Indian lobby, all terrorist activities in the world are first cleared by ISI. All the warlords, smugglers, drug pushers and other denizens of the global underworld are on the payroll of ISI. The many US think-tanks and “intellectuals” argue that ISI has failed Nato in Afghanistan, are prepared to sell nuclear bombs, and are busily engineering multipolarity in the international system.
A few politicians and liberals in Pakistan have also started embracing such ideas. Many want to garner international support by criticizing Pakistan’s armed forces. They have started accusing ISI of making and breaking political parties through coercion, and are indirectly responsible for the misgovernance of the country. For the first time, a lot of criticism is coming from Punjab. Pakistani ruling party PML (N) has made restoring “the sanctity of votes” its top priority for the next election, implying tighter controls on the judiciary and the armed forces.
At present India is being ruled by radicals Hindus. The BJP is vigorously furthering the RSS agenda of Hinduvata. It is a national project to culturally, if not religiously, Hinduize Indian Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and other religious and ethnic minorities. Indians demonize Pakistan because it has effectively resisted Hindu domination and stood up for minorities in all forums. Consequently, the BJP-led government has resorted to assertive lobbying and media campaigns against Pakistan to divert world attention from its brutal suppression of the Naxalite, Nagaland and Kashmir insurgencies.
Indians also exploit the interest of multinational companies (MNCs) in its huge consumer market. Election campaigns in the US and Europe are mostly funded by MNCs, hence the affected politicians of those countries are discouraged from criticizing India.
The Pentagon considers resurgent Russia to be a threat to the US. Therefore, its presence in Afghanistan is essential for keeping an eye on the land mass of Pakistan (and the Indian Ocean), Iran and Turkey. India is willing to replace Pakistan as a proxy against China and Russia. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, once considered a criminal and not allowed to enter the US and Europe, has suddenly become a “visionary leader” of South Asia. The strengthening ties with India are a key component of, in the analyst Ashley Tellis’s words, protecting “American hegemony,” the broader American-led economic and political order in Asia that has kept China in check in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, the US is saying what pleases India. The people of Pakistan vividly remember “such protocols” during the time of Afghan jihad.
Pakistan was dismembered in 1971 by Indian hybrid warfare operations. Kashmir is occupied and bleeding. The Pakistani share of river waters is almost blocked. Modi is trying to further Balkanize Pakistan and destabilize the region. India is funding separatists in Baluchistan and helping the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) massacre innocent children and women in the streets of Pakistan. There is a connection between the interests of the US and India. Hence, it is not surprising when Indian crimes against humanity and damage to the regional peace are not highlighted in any forum.
The US has purchased a lot of prime time from leading private Pakistani media houses for conveying propaganda but it is not effective. The problem is that the US has no coherent argument for staying in Afghanistan. The Afghans have a long history of resisting occupation. The US has not learned anything from the British and Russian invasions of Afghanistan. Therefore, the US expects Pakistan and its army to crush the Afghan resistance in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army is cooperating with the US but not blindly complying with US dictates. It has refused to repeat the tragic history of Afghan jihad.
Pakistan is blamed for “sponsoring terrorism” instead of the actual evil-doer, India. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche rightly described evil as “whatever springs from weakness.” Due to visionless leadership, Pakistan is an economically weak country; hence it is easy to label it as an evil state.
At a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it was proposed that Pakistan be placed on a watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism. Humans can ignore and turn a blind eye to certain situations but I fail to understand how one can call the victim of terrorism a terrorist. It also means that many people heading the international organizations either have no time to critically examine the news they are being fed, or are happy to be deceived by vested interests.
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said at a recent Munich conference: “The presence of terrorists of various hues and colors cannot be ruled out. However, today, I can say with pride and conviction that there are no organized terrorist camps on our side of the border. Pakistan Army has waged a relentless and bloody fight against terrorism and violent extremism, at a monumental human and material cost. Over 35,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives, over 48,000 are critically wounded or disabled with a financial cost exceeding US$250 Billion – only a fraction of which is actually shared by our global partners.” The BJP-led government in India sees Pakistan finally resolving the internal security problems that have badly damaged Pakistan over the past eight years. The Pakistani army has effectively tackled Karachi’s lawlessness situation and successfully fought and defeated two insurgencies in Baluchistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. I have no doubt that the Pakistan army fully understands the hidden motives and objectives of international defamation campaigns, but domestic bashing by mainstream political parties could derail the ongoing battle against radicals and extremists.
(The author Atta Rasool Malik hails from semi-tribal areas of Pakistan. He is a veteran and holds an MPhil degree in international relations’ from National Defence University in Islamabad. His interests include politics of South Asia, the Middle East and Islamic & Jewish theology.)
By Atta Rasool Malik