Kargil – The Conflict Conundrum

Revisting Kargil – The Conflict Conundrum

In India-Pakistan relations, the past becomes the present and leaves unpleasant lessons for the future that remain largely unlearnt. Their disputes, no matter from whose side you look at them, remain unresolved, and the chasm has grown deeper.

May 3 will mark 25 years since the Kargil conflict began in 1999. Pakistan’s bid for scoring territorial gains failed, again. But not without turmoil and bloodshed on both sides, allowing those outside to influence and intervene.

Significantly, Kargil happened even as the two were engaged in peace moves, being nudged to talk by a world alarmed at their emergence as the two new nuclear powers. Not enough has been asked why the Good Samaritans also failed to anticipate the incoming events. For, Kargil happened within less than three months of the Lahore Declaration that the Prime Ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, signed on February 21, 1999.

Going by the adage that history repeats itself, it did in Kargil on two counts. As it had done in 1947 and 1965, Pakistan’s civil-military establishment first sent intruders. Two: it also caught India napping, yet again.

India discovered the intruders accidentally. Like a Muslim shepherd in the Kashmir Valley noticed Pakistanis in 1965, in 1999 Buddhist shepherd Tashi Namgyal looking for missing animals, saw Pakistani regulars in Pathan outfits, digging bunkers atop the Batalik mountain range. Both led to major conflicts.

The Indian Army took a while to discover that the militants were a façade for the Pakistan Army’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI), well-entrenched on the upper ridges, holding all the tactical aces. It was an uphill task, literally, for India. Facing stiff resistance, it deployed the Air Force and the Bofors gun. A victim of political controversy, it redeemed itself.

Young officers and men climbed 90-degree steep rock faces braving bullets and turning the story around. Mostly young soldiers in the 22-35 age group died on both sides. The official death toll on the Indian side was 527, while that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453. Pakistan dishonoured another 600 of its militant youths whose bodies it did not claim and collect. The Indian side had to perform the last rites.

BACKGROUND: In the Kargil region, the past practice on both sides was to leave high-altitude posts in the winter because of the extreme weather and reoccupy them with the advent of spring. In the winter of 1999, Pakistan reoccupied the forward positions and strategic heights of Kargil Drass and Batalik before the Indian forces could.

With the-then army chief, General Pervez Musharraf in the lead, the masterminds of Pakistan’s plan were Chief of General Staff, Lt Gen Aziz Khan, Commander 10 Corps Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed and Force Commander Northern Areas Maj Gen Javed Hassan.

“Operation Koh Paima” was launched in mid-October 1998 when Musharraf had not informed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Even the air and naval chiefs were not taken into confidence. The timing and the extent of Musharraf’s briefing to Nawaz and the operation’s failure triggered a civil-military power struggle which led to Musharraf ousting Nawaz.

As per Pakistani writer Tariq Aqil, Nawaz, with limited knowledge of military affairs, could not fathom the Indian Army’s capacity to respond. “He was under the delusion that the intruders would be successful and capture Kargil, forcing India to accept the final settlement of Kashmir and he would go down in history as the conqueror of Kashmir.” However, Nasim Zehra, in her book From Kargil to the Coup, writes that the army gave Sharif the first detailed briefing on the operation only on May 17. By this time, soldiers had already occupied positions across the LoC.

ALSO READ: Pakistan Army Can’t Be Confined To Barracks

The Pakistani planners had assumed that 1) Pakistan’s nuclear capability would forestall any major Indian move across the international border; 2) The International community will intervene at an early stage, leaving Pakistan in possession of gains across the LOC; 3.) China would adopt a favourable position on its side and the Indian Army would not muster adequate forces with high-altitude training and acclimatization.

All these proved wrong. Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz got the cold shoulder in Beijing. Nobody accepted Pakistan’s version that the Kashmiri freedom fighters were fighting the Indian forces and that the Pakistani army was not involved. US President Bill Clinton virtually ordered Nawaz to ensure the withdrawal of all Pakistani soldiers from the Indian positions they had occupied.

Pakistan launched Kargil to seize a tactical advantage over India. Its success was supposed to cut off links between Kashmir Valley and Ladakh by blocking National Highway no 1 (NH1). The Pakistani planners wanted to force India to withdraw from the Siachen glacier and come to the negotiating table to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

As things stand today, India continues to occupy an advantageous position in Siachen that it captured in 1984. After the Kargil experience, as things stand today, neither side wants to withdraw from this world’s highest battlefield.

The year 1999 ended with an Indian passenger aircraft hijacked, to Lahore and later to Kandahar. India had to release four Kashmiri militants to secure the release of the aircraft, the crew and the passengers. Yet, India launched the peace summit in Agra without adequate preparations, initiating it and then reneging from it.

Twenty-five years on, there is little discussion on these failed moves by India at the turn of the century. In Pakistan, veteran journalist-analyst Najam Sethi has said that Pakistan has lost all its wars with India since it planned and initiated them, but could not achieve any of its objectives.

Although limited in scale and geographical spread, the Kargil War prompted a deep strategic analysis in both countries. India debated its national security gaps. The Vajpayee government constituted the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) under K. Subrahmanyam to review the events leading to the Pakistani aggression and recommend measures to safeguard national security against armed intrusions. The committee noted that the political, bureaucratic, military and intelligence establishments had developed a vested interest in the status quo. It emphasised the need for a comprehensive review of the national security system, considering the Kargil experience, the ongoing proxy war and the ‘nuclearised’ security environment.

Retired Lt. Gen. B S Hooda says the Group of Ministers (GoM) report, which followed the KRC, “was arguably the most comprehensive examination of national security issues undertaken in independent India.” Four task forces were established to evaluate the intelligence apparatus, internal security, border management and defence management, underscoring the seriousness of the post-war assessment.

The two reports led to many changes in the management of national security. The National Technical Research Organisation was formed in 2004 to handle centralised communication and electronic intelligence. The Defence Intelligence Agency was formed to cater to the military’s specific intelligence needs. A multi-agency centre was set up to foster better inter-agency information-sharing and coordination.

The defence establishment underwent some restructuring. This included the creation of an Integrated Defence Staff, the founding of the Strategic Forces and Andaman and Nicobar Commands, and the devolution of financial and administrative powers to the three services. The appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff, as recommended by the GoM, was made in 2020.

Today, India is economically and militarily strong but needs constant vigilance, internally and externally. In Pakistan’s case, the core issues that drove it into an unwinnable conflict remain largely unaddressed. The military still controls the reins in the country, the rhetoric over Kashmir continues, the economy is in dire straits and state support to terrorist organisations persists.

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Electoral Engineering Season In Pakistan

Electoral Engineering Season In Pakistan

References to “Allah, the Army and America” sustaining Pakistan are oft-repeated, worn-out cliché. But the three remain omnipresent, with China emerging as the additional factor. Irrespective of their outcome, the February 8 elections may reinforce them.

Claiming to represent the divine, besides the Islamist parties that stay close to the military-civil ‘establishment’, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a militant group recognised by the Election Commission, has fielded more candidates than the three mainstream parties: Pakistan Muslim League of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Bhutto-Zardari family-run Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

This, plus the way Imran is sought to be kept in jail electorally side-lined, and the role reversal of Nawaz, clearly indicate that the army is engaged in engineering the elections.

If these two are active, America cannot be far behind. Indeed, this is Pakistan’s first “foreign policy” election indirectly involving the US. Washington, of course, denies any role.

Imran Khan made the diplomatic blunder of waving at his political rally a ‘cypher’, an official communication received from his ambassador in Washington. Khan interpreted it as America’s ‘conspiracy’ and ‘threat’ to remove him from power for his ‘independent’, “pro-China” policies. Nine days before the election, he was convicted of violating official secrets. After being acquitted twice, a third trial was held in jail to ensure his conviction.

Another conviction came the very next day for misusing Toshakhana, the government depository of gifts received from foreign dignitaries. Among many things, Khan retained, and sold in Dubai, an expensive wristwatch received from the Saudi Crown Prince Salman. But there is no such trial against others, including former President Asif Zardari, who bought a limousine received as a gift at a throwaway price.

Aided by the judiciary, the current army-backed caretaker government is openly working against Khan and is perceived as promoting Nawaz while keeping Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on stand-by. However, the future, if they play their cards well, belongs to Maryam Nawaz, in her late 40s and Bilawal, who is less than half the age of three-time premier Nawaz, 74, whom analysts consider the frontrunner in next month’s election, and Imran, 71.

The popular word, ‘ladla’, makes it easy to understand Pakistan’s political scene. It means the favourite of the military-civil ‘establishment’. He has changed from time to time. He remains in favour till he turns ‘rogue’, when he starts asserting himself. He is then removed by any means. Ladla’s choice and the dynamics of governance, even in Pakistan’s nominal democracy make this clash inevitable.

This is not to question the political acumen of Nawaz, Khan or anyone else. But everyone must fall in line to gain, and stay in, power. That is Pakistan’s unchanging reality.

Before Imran, Nawaz Sharif was the favourite thrice, till each time he asserted his political position. He was pushed out, first through street protests and then with the help of the top judiciary that convicted him on graft charges. The flawed verdicts against him have now been overturned, even as Imran’s convictions grow. There are prospects of a fourth shot at power for Nawaz.

ALSO READ: Pakistan – Hurtling From One Crisis To Another

In his third stint beginning in 2013, Nawaz grew assertive and eased out Army Chief Raheel Sharif. It was Imran’s turn to be promoted from a renowned cricketer to a political leader. With ‘electoral engineering’ conducted in 2018, he cobbled up a coalition with the help of turncoats, many of them from Nawaz’s party. For the next three years, Khan maintained that the army and he were “on the same page” till the army perceived that he was interfering in its internal affairs and playing favourites.

Back in 2018, Imran was portrayed as a ‘change’ candidate, promising to end dynastic politics, ensure accountability of corrupt politicians, reform the judiciary and create jobs for young people as part of a revamped economy.

But under his rule, the economy collapsed, the cost of living soared, many of his political opponents were jailed, media freedoms were curbed and human rights violations and attacks against journalists increased.

Today, Imran’s party, broken into many factions, is contesting without the cricket bat as the election symbol. Yet, there is a groundswell of support for him, especially from the vocal middle classes. Khan remains in the reckoning. Last month, working obviously with an eye on the future, his supporters in America enlisted two lobbyists for “strategic consulting”, to garner support from pro-democracy forces and alleviate domestic pressure.

Some analysts say Khan’s imprisonment and persecution could cause a “sympathy vote”, leading to a ‘hung’ National Assembly. Several candidates still loyal to Khan are contesting as Independents. Of 17,816 candidates, 11,785 are Independents.

That would bring into play another term popular in Pakistan’s political lexicon: Lota, a turncoat who, like a vessel without a base, rolls in unpredictable directions. Not a new phenomenon though, Lota is poised to play a crucial role in this election. The ‘electable’ among them – people with resources and ground-level support, are sought-after. Nawaz had the initial start in wooing Independents. Now Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP co-chairperson, says he would prefer to form “a government with the help of Independents” instead of any coalition with Nawaz or Imran.

But the army remains the prime mover. Dawn newspaper (January 24, 2024) quoted Army Chief, Gen Asim Munir saying that “incompetent people should not be elected, and lawmakers should be held accountable after the elections.” Also, a “five-year constitutional term does not give a license to a political government to misgovern for five years.”

What some analysts call the ‘Gen Asim Munir doctrine’ is no different from what the military felt and said about the political class under former military dictators – Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

While there is no indication that the military seeks to take over, it is apparent that it does not want to give a free hand to civilians either. The distrust of the politicians remains palpable.

The bottom line is that the elections do not guarantee political stability, economic recovery and narrowing of political and social polarization rampant in Pakistan for the last few years.

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Pakistan Army

Pakistan Air Force Foils Terror Attack At Mianwali Air Base

Pakistan’s Army had said that it has foiled a terror attack at the Mianwali Training Air Base in the Punjab province.

The ISPR says that 3 terrorists were neutralised while entering the base while the remaining 3 terrorists have been cornered due to timely and effective response by the troops. However, during the attack, some damage to three already grounded aircraft and a fuel bowser also occurred.

According to a press release from the Pakistan’s ISPR, on November 4 in the early hours of the day, Mianwali Training Air Base of Pakistan Air Force came under a failed terrorist attack which has been foiled by the swift and effective response of the troops.

The action of the troops has ensured the safety and security of personnel and assets says the release.

The ISPR said a comprehensive joint clearance and combing operation is in final stages to completely clear the area. ISPR says they remain committed to eliminating menace of terrorism from the country at all costs.

According to Pakistan media reports, a spokesperson of the Islamist terror group Tehreek-e-Jihad took responsibility for the attack on the Air Force base.

Earlier last week, terrorists launched two separate attacks on security forces in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

In the Tirah area of Khyber District, an Intelligence-Based Operation (IBO) was conducted, resulting in an intense exchange of fire.

As a result, one terrorist was killed, and two terrorists were injured and subsequently apprehended by security forces, the ISPR said in a statement.

These terrorists were found in possession of weapons and ammunition and had been actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces, as well as engaging in the targeted killing of innocent civilians in the area, as reported by ARY News.

In another incident, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated in the Sarwekai area of the South Waziristan District, where two soldiers, Sepoy Banaras Khan lost their lives in the line of duty. (ANI)

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China and Pakistan Indian Army

Indian Army Raising New Units To Counter China, Pak In Cyber Warfare

Amid the rising activities of adversaries China and Pakistan in the online domain to target India, the Indian Army has operationalised new specialist units to counter these threats and challenges under its cyber warfare initiatives.

The decision was taken during the Army Commanders Conference held in the third week of this month headed by Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande.
“To safeguard the communication networks and increase preparedness levels in this niche domain, Command Cyber Operations and Support Wings (CCOSW) are being raised in Indian Army,” government sources said here.

They said that Cyberspace has emerged as an important component of the military domain both in grey zone warfare as well as conventional operations,” they said.

Highlighting the importance and requirement of such specialist units, the sources said the expansion of cyber warfare capabilities by our adversaries has made the cyber domain more competitive and contested than ever before.

“The Indian Army today is rapidly migrating towards net centricity, which entails an increased reliance on modern communication systems at all levels,” they said.

Specifying the role of these new units, the sources said: “These organizations will assist the formations to undertake the mandated cyber security functions to strengthen the cyber security posture of the Indian Army.”

In the last few years, the Army has taken multiple steps to counter the aggression of adversaries in the form of virtual honey trapping and hacking.

The Defence Cyber Agency is working at the tri-services level to deal with these issues. (ANI)

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Leisurely Lives of Pakistan's Army Generals

The Leisurely Lives Of Pakistan’s Army Generals

An army’s role around the world is to protect its country from perceived and actual threats and to ensure national security. But in Pakistan, where extortion and corruption are rife, the army takes on the role of the mafia.

With a dubious record of toppling elected governments, installing puppet dictators, and plundering the country’s resources to fund the lavish lifestyles of its generals, the Pakistani army is truly unique in its functioning.

Most recently, General Qamar Jawed Bajwa has come under fire for what many are calling a questionable accumulation of wealth while he was head of the Pakistani Army.

A recent investigative report by the website, Fact Focus, out of Pakistan, revealed Pakistani Army General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and his family’s suspected financial and tax information.

The report raises many questions as to the Bajwa family’s disproportionate accumulation of wealth during the General’s tenure as Army Chief, and to the Army’s financial transactions in general.

In an ironic twist, Pakistan, instead of vowing to investigate the Bajwas’ financial situation, has ordered an investigation into what they call the “illegal” and “unwarranted leakage” of the family’s tax information.

Bajwa’s blue-eyed boy, Munir is appointed as Pakistan army chief; it will be business as usual with no heads rolling for the rampant corruption plaguing the Pakistani army. Financial mishandling, corruption, and influence peddling by generals for personal gain have been the subject of several scandals in Pakistan.

At the beginning of this year, data leaked from Credit Suisse, an investment banking firm registered in Switzerland, revealed information about 600 accounts linked to 1400 Pakistani citizens. Account-holders included several key politicians and generals, including the ex-ISI chief, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman Khan.

“Expose like this coming out is nothing new. It has been well-known for a long. We also know the case of a Pakistani General who fled from Pakistan and opened a chain of pizza huts in the US. So it’s nothing new”, says, Defence Expert Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd)

One of the Pakistani Army’s biggest scandals remains its appropriation and sale of land in the name of welfare and providing housing for its officer cadre.

On 27 August 2016, an article titled ‘Lust for Land’ was published in the Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn’. In the article, Pakistani freelance columnist and former civil servant, Irfan Husain, exposed the reality of multiplying defence societies and the Pakistani Army’s insatiable hunger for land.

Several other reports from Pakistan have claimed that the Pakistani Army is using government land to fulfill commercial interests.

The Army has built shopping malls, cinema halls, and marriage halls on government land.

The military appears interested in many lands and commercial entities, ranging from petrol pumps to huge industrial plants.

Money earned by rentals of these properties is being given to the families of Army officers.

In Pakistan, many petitions have also been filed over the failure to implement laws to protect lands from the military mafia.

Though the Supreme Court of Pakistan has criticized the military establishment in the past for their involvement in commercial pursuits, the practice continues.

While Pakistan has descended into a deep economic crisis, military officers have been given taxpayer-funded land allocations worth millions.

J S Sodhi further added, “Well the fact that today Pakistan is on the brink of being declared a bankrupt nation. They have no money with them. We have seen the recent floods in which one-third of Pakistan was under water.”

Pakistan recently ranked 140th out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021 by Transparency International, dropping 16 spots from the previous year.

In Pakistan, corruption is so ingrained within the military that it seems unlikely that the appointment of a new General, or even of new political leadership will be able to change the functioning of the country’s most powerful institution.

As Pakistan descends deeper into economic and political instability, the Army’s top leaders continue to enjoy an enrichment of power and finances. (ANI)

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Pakistan army chief General Asim Munir

Lt Gen Asim Munir Takes Command As Pakistan’s Army chief

Pakistan army General Asim Munir on Tuesday took over the command from outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Marking an end to his six-year tenure as the most powerful person in the country, Bajwa passed the baton of command to Lt Gen Munir at a ceremony held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The hype and hoopla created over the appointment of Pakistan’s new army chief came to rest after General Asim Munir and General Sahir Shamshad Mirza were notified as the next chief of army staff (COAS) and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) respectively on November 24.

Munir, who was to retire on November 27, two days before Bajwa completed an extended tenure of almost six years, was among six generals in the race for the top post — a cause for much uncertainty and speculation till this week.

People familiar with the matter in Pakistan said Munir’s reputation as a straight military officer who played by the book helped him clinch the post.

There was an unprecedented hysteria and frenzy in Pakistan by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, his followers, and his social media brigade after the PTI government was thrown out of the power corridors of Islamabad in April. The government has accused Khan of making the appointment of the new army chief controversial for political gains.

For the last month, Pakistan was literally paralysed administratively and economically because of the delay in the appointment of the army chief who is considered the most powerful personality with all political stakeholders dying for his blessings.

Notably, Pakistan’s military has directly ruled the country of 220 million people for nearly half of its 75-year history.

Gen Munir was promoted to the rank of a three-star general in September 2018, but he took charge two months later. As such, his four-year tenure as Lt Gen ends on November 27, around the same time when incumbent Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa will be doffing their army uniform, reported Dawn.

Lt Gen Munir entered the service via the Officers Training School programme in Mangla and was commissioned into the Frontier Force Regiment.

He has been a close aide of Gen Bajwa ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under the outgoing army chief, who was then Commander X Corps.

Lt Gen Munir was later appointed Military Intelligence director general in early 2017, and in October next year was made the Inter-Services Intelligence chief, Dawn reported. (ANI)

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Pakistan and China Deadly Virus

Despite Global Concerns, Pak, China Working On Deadly Virus

While COVID-19 and its new variants still plague the world, Pakistan and China are continuing with bioweapons research in a secret facility near Rawalpindi.

The infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology and Pakistan Army-run, Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), has set up a highly-advanced scientific infrastructure to research deadly pathogens in Pakistan. The location of the facility remains a tightly guarded secret, reported Geo-Politik.
According to various global media reports, China is creating Covid-like pathogens in Pakistan that have the potential of causing virus contamination on a scale far higher than Covid.

The mystery deepened further in 2020 when Pakistan first denied such reports. The Foreign Office of Pakistan stated that “there is nothing secret about the Bio-Safety Level-3 (BSL-3) Laboratory of Pakistan referred to in the report, reported Geo-Politik.

Pakistan has been sharing information about the facility with the States Parties to the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BTWC) in its submission of Confidence Building Measures,” the FO said.

It added that the facility was meant for diagnostic and protective system improvement by Research and Development on emerging health threats, surveillance, and disease outbreak investigation.

The laboratory in question is a “Biosafety Level 4” facility (BSL-4) where the most dangerous and infective agents are tested and developed. The DSTO is located in Chaklala cantonment, Rawalpindi, and is headed by a two-star General, reported Geo-Politik.

Experts say that BSL-4 labs are used to study infectious agents and toxins that can cause life-threatening diseases for which there is no vaccine or therapy available.

Those in the intelligence and scientific community, watching the developments, warn that by using Pakistan, China had outsourced a highly contagious network of laboratories where antigens a hundred times more infectious than the present Covid could be created or `dropped in,’ reported Geo-Politik.

According to bioweapons experts, the joint collaboration between Pakistan’s lab, managed by the army, and a series of laboratories and institutions run by PLA, was not for scientific experiments but to weaponize pathogens.

The secret project carries the title: Collaboration for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Studies on Biological Control of Vector Transmitting Diseases. (ANI)

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Sindh Group Over Pak's Multan

Worlds Greatest Tragedy: Sindh Group Over Pak’s Multan Horror

Sohail Abro, Chairman of Jeay Sindh Freedom Movement (JSFM), a Sindhi nationalist party, has termed the recovery of dead bodies from Multan’s Nishtar Hospital roof in Pakistan’s Punjab province as a “great tragedy in human history.”

This comes after at least 200 rotting corpses were found on the roof of a hospital in Pakistan’s Multan city on Friday while several media reports said that the bodies were recovered in dubious circumstances, indicating that those people are forcibly disappeared, Baloch persons.
Chairman Sohail Abro, Vice Chairman Zubair Sindhi, General Secretary Ghulam Hussain Shabrani, Amar Azadi, Sudhu Sindhi, Hafeez Deshi, and Parh Sindhu, in their joint press statement, demanded from the United Nations that DNA testing should be performed on more than 500 human corpses found at Nishtar Hospital, Multan, to conclusively identify the victims and hand over the bodies to respective families.

They expressed suspicion that these are the bodies of thousands of political activists who were forcibly abducted from Sindh and Balochistan. Pakistan’s 70-year history has witnessed continuous human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings of political activists by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies such as ISI, Military intelligence and IB, with the direct involvement of the Pakistan Army and its secret services branches.

They further stated that the recently found bodies have proved that Pakistan is not an Islamic country, but a graveyard of human beings, where the state institutions massacre humanity instead of protecting the people, from 1971 till date the military operation in Sindh and Balochistan is a proof of this.

They appealed to the United Nations to take notice of the forced disappearances of political activists of Sindh and Balochistan, and conduct DNA tests on the recently found bodies. Furthermore, they urged that a case should be conducted against the terrorist state of Pakistan in the international court of justice for war crimes and human rights abuses.

“We appeal to European Union, the Indian government, and all permanent members of UNSC that the case should be conducted in the international court of justice for the violation of human rights, the massacre of humanity, and the violation of international norms.”

Pro-Baloch groups have voiced serious concern over the recovery of the dead bodies.

In a statement, the Baloch National Movement (BNM) spokesperson said that the dead bodies discovered on the roof of Multan hospital and the condition of the dead bodies concern them.

The spokesperson said that the news went viral on social media with gruesome videos and pictures that around 500 unidentified mutilated bodies were found.

“Those who were thrown on the roof inhumanely, whose flesh was being eaten by vultures and crows. These bodies were identified by Tariq Gujjar, adviser to the Chief Minister of Punjab. Despite this, the Pakistani media has suppressed this news. It also shows this reality is against Pakistani institutions that is why this news is being hidden in media,” the BNM spokesperson said.

“In this month, the bodies of 168 unidentified people were found in Punjab. Those who were declared unknown persons and buried,” the spokesperson added.

Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) chief Allah Nazar Baloch described the recovery of hundreds of dead bodies as a huge tragedy and urged the UN and the human rights agencies to take urgent notice of the gruesome incident. (ANI)

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Pervez Musharraf – A Warhorse and a Peacenik

Lord Tennyson’s line, “Home they brought her warrior dead” needs tweaking to suite the likely home-coming of Pakistan’s former ruler Pervez Musharraf. How about: “home they brought their warrior ill?”

Self-exiled in Dubai, the once-powerful army chief-turned-CEO-turned President has ceased to matter as an individual in Pakistan. But he is an exalted member of the institution that actually rules the country. Sentiment is one of forgive-and-forget, now that he is terminally ill and may want to pass his last days at home.

Only some hot heads want him tried for treason. As former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani said, the decision on Musharraf’s return will be taken ‘somewhere else’. No need to elaborate: such pointers are part of Pakistan’s political lore.

If ousted from power, unless jailed, exile on health ground is an intermittent theme in Pakistan. Musharraf has won unsolicited support from former premier Nawaz Sharif whom he had ousted and exiled to Saudi Arabia. Nawaz, now self-exiled in London, has asked that Musharraf’s return be facilitated by the government which his brother, Shehbaz Sharif, heads.

Actually, the brothers, like everyone, well understand the army’s mood. The army wants back its erstwhile chief. In that context, Musharraf remains relevant in Pakistan.

For, the country’s all-powerful force is under unprecedented strain, facing criticism from the very people that it pitch-forked to power through political and electoral engineering. If Nawaz was on warpath in 1993, 1999 and from London in the winter of 2021, the summer of 2022 witnesses Imran Khan’s scorching campaign.

The army says it is ‘neutral’. But Khan uses ‘neutrals’ as a plural pejorative, to keep on his firing line the men in uniform that are supposedly divided over him. He is defying conventional political wisdom that requires him to keep his tongue in check.

Media reports indicate a tussle between the chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt Gen. Hameed Faiz, the corps commander whom he forced out of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Worst is the speculation that the influential middle brass backs Imran and want to give him another chance.

It’s a moot point if Musharraf would have allowed such a situation. He launched the Kargil war on India, keeping some of the top brass, also his prime minister, in the dark. He lost, but he was still able to convince them all to rally to oust Nawaz.

For that matter, even Zia ul Haq, who removed Zulfiqar Bhutto was able to keep on the leash his generals through 12 years as the army chief, including a decade as the country’s President. Who knows, Zia would have held the two posts indefinitely, had he not been killed in a mysterious air crash. Bajwa has managed two extensions as the Chief. But caught in the political melee, he has been forced to announce that he is not ready for a third tenure.

ALSO READ: Pakistan Army Can’t Be Confined To Barracks

Times have changed. If direct army rule was relatively easier, although eventually bad for Pakistan, the one with politicians providing a democratic façade is proving to be increasingly problematic, and worse.

The army cannot just walk away – assuming it ever wants to. See the special powers just conferred on the ISI to vet all key civilian appointments. It was always there, informally. A formal government notification, makes it obvious, and embarrassing. A mix of appeasement and passing-the-buck, it is open to civilian criticism.

All this does not happen in India that is the other side of the South Asian coin. But interest has never lagged. Indians viewed Pakistan’s first army takeover by Ayub Khan with alarm. The civil servants threw a protective ring to insulate the political leadership from the military, and keep the latter away and down-graded. This ethos got cemented thanks to the conflicts in 1965 and 1971.

The Indian public interest in Pakistani generals grew from the 1980s onwards when the latter sought to reach out. Zia’s cricket diplomacy caused ripples. He managed to soften perceptions about himself by hosting many an Indian, among them, scribes.

This was despite the fact that Zia, keen to avenge the 1971 debacle, set the Indian Punjab on fire with militancy. His period saw hijacks of Indian aircraft, their release along with the passengers. This left Indians relieved, but seething and red-faced in the eyes of the world.

There was certain envy as Pakistan under Zia reaped the fruits – both money and military – for aiding the West-backed ‘jihad’ against the Russians in Afghanistan.

A Punjabi, Zia was from Jalandhar. But Musharraf, with his Purani Dilli roots, was special. He talked in-your-face to Indians. He surprised them, and the world, by joining George Bush Jr’s “war on terror” in Afghanistan.

If his dealing with Americans was time-serving and full of cunning, that with India was upfront and hostile. Indian aircraft being hijacked to Lahore and then Kandahar had the Musharraf stamp.

No Pakistani leader attempted battling India as did Musharraf. Four months after Nawaz hugged Vajpayee (whom he did not salute) in Lahore, Musharraf staged Kargil. Although he lost, he toppled Nawaz thereafter.

Though Pakistan initially claimed mujahideen were responsible for occupying the Kargil heights, Musharraf subsequently acknowledged in his autobiography In the Line of Fire that regular troops were part of the operation. He also admitted to Pakistan’s use and ‘export’ of militants as “state assets”.

His dealing with India was full of contradictions that remain difficult to fathom fully, objectively. From being the architect of the Kargil War, he was the architect of the closest ever deal India and Pakistan came to making on Jammu and Kashmir.

The December 13, 2001 terror attack on Indian Parliament complex took place under his watch. Just three weeks later, on January 6, 2002, with armed forces positioned eyeball-to-eyeball, he shook hands with a flummoxed Vajpayee, at the eleventh SAARC summit in Kathmandu.

To be sure, he was in charge when preparations for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks were made. India-Pakistan ties were never really the same again. He was politically downhill by then, and his peace initiative with India had unravelled.

Yet, his legacy must include the bold conciliatory moves, especially when he talked to Manmohan Singh, thinking and making “out of the box” proposals.

The proposed agreement was based on a four point formula that included no redrawing of borders, that the people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of the LoC would be allowed to move freely from one side to the other, an end to hostility and violence and terrorism and military forces on both sides being kept to the minimum, while ensuring self-governance on both sides of the LoC and consultative mechanisms to look at socio-economic issues.

Several local and international factors helped facilitate the secret talks. There was hopeful speculation that Musharraf and Manmohan Singh could share the Peace Nobel.

That brief period was, and remains, the only time India and Pakistan were at relative peace, when infiltration along LoC almost ceased and Bollywood films filled up Pakistan’s cinema theatres and help resurrect its fledgling film industry.

After terror attack at Pulwama, Musharraf said on February 23, 2019: “If we attack with one nuke, India may finish us with 20”. Was it, then, a late realisation of the futility of permanent enmity with India? We will never know.

The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com

Pakistan, The Hand of The Establishment

Imran Khan’s misadventures in office and his attempts to cling to power have come against the reality of numbers as he tried to use every method in the book to outwit the establishment. Although he hasn’t given up, the levers of power have moved on from his grasp. The Supreme Court and High Court had to intervene to bring a rolling rail back 

Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, came to power in 2018 promising delightful dreams of prosperity, fair deal, national prestige, honour of Pakistani passport in the world, houses for poor, jobs for youth, lawmaking, best governance, no corruption, accountability of the corrupt politicians and officers, no protocol, quality education, no loan from IMF, return of all loans, respect of the state institutions etc. However during his tenure he proved an utter failure to metalize all these promises and hopes.

March 2022 proved catastrophic to Prime Minister Imran Khan when he was ousted from power through no-confidence move presented by the opposition parties including PPP, Muslim League (N), ANP, PTM and other members in the national assembly. This was the time when Imran Khan decided to go for political shenanigans in and outside the assemblies.

Imran Khan, quoting an ambassador’s cable from the US, declared the no-confidence move as an American conspiracy because Imran Khan had refused the USA to give airbases likely to be utilized for surveillance of Afghanistan.

On this stand, he organized his ministers, Speakers and social media to blame and embarrass the military establishment of Pakistan with the aim to cripple the confidence of the establishment, election commission and courts.

He warned the ‘establishment’ that he would be more dangerous (Khatare nak) if ousted. His own assembly members had deserted therefore he tried to threaten these members, the Courts, Election Commission and anyone else with Constitutional prerogatives as he interpreted it. Imran Khan is not a Constitutional legal luminary. Therefore, things went problematic and a constitutional crisis emerged.

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At his alleged insistence, the Speaker did not allow the no-confidence move within due days as ordered in the Constitution of Pakistan. This was a violation. Being custodian of the constitution the Supreme Court of Pakistan handled the disorderly situation and ordered to act upon its orders. The Speaker once again used tactics to delay the assembly proceedings. However at midnight, the Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court opened and a prison van started moving along the Constitution Avenue.

This was entirely unexpected by the Prime Minster who had already requested the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to interfere as he was ready to resign if the opposition consented to hold fresh elections. This option was declined by the opposition allies, the PDM. The Prime Minster had to leave the PM house with dejected heart and he moved to his home silently.

The Assembly passed no-confidence move against Imran Khan but the PTI (Imran Khan’s party) decided to create hurdles in the way of the new government. The political misadventure continued and as the Speaker resigned, the Deputy Speaker tried to sabotage further processes. He finally accepted the resignations of the PTI members and then resigned himself.

The legal process to confirm the resignations was not adopted so it is still pending and proved another political misadventure. Mian Shahbaz Sharif was elected new Prime Minster. However President Arif Alvi considered the new government imported, traitors and funded by USA and decided to refuse to administer the oath. Consequently the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan took oath of the Prime Minister and his cabinet members. The new government was in place.

The Punjab Assembly was the next locus of the political games and intrigues. Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, the Speaker, first promised to side with the opposition but on the insistence of his son Moonas Elahi he chose to be the PTI candidate of Chief Minster against Mian Hamza Shahbaz. However the Speaker embarrassed the Deputy Speaker by issuing different statements and even issues orders though being CM candidate his powers were frozen.

Again, the Lahore High Court had to interfere. Yet again PTI and Muslim League (Q) tried to obstruct the process. They physically attacked the Deputy Speaker, Dost Mazari, to sabotage the voting process. After the skirmishes, the Police and the Assembly officials ensured voting for the CM office while PTI and Muslim League (Q) sensing clear defeat walked out of the assembly.

Mian Hamza Shahbaz won the CM office. Repeating the national farce again, the PTI Governor Umar Chattha refused to take oath from the newly elected CM and started correspondence with different offices including of the President.

The Muslim League(N) again had to knock at the High Court and Justice Ameer Ali Bhatti asked Dr. Arif Alvi to depute anyone else to ensure oath of the CM Punjab. This oath taking issue is still pending and the politicians are more concerned with their party line than the constitution and the state.

The current political situation of Pakistan has exposed the inability and incapability of the politicians to permit smooth running of processes. They are unable to cope with this sort of political crisis. Woefully, this ensures that Pakistan will have to suffer more in the coming years because of the leadership crisis. This further confirms that the political parties only can only function in office if the establishment supports them in the day-to-day affairs.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s political parties generally condemn the establishment’s role when they are in opposition but expect full support and behind the scene maneuverings when they are in the government. Imran khan was very happy when he was enjoying this support but as the establishment withdrew its political role, the government collapsed and Imran Khan started staging mass protest.

Imran Khan believes that use of religion and cursing the military Chief, USA, Courts and election commission would force them to rethink and give him support again. The foreign funding case, Tosha Khana scandal and his signatures on some other documents relating to medicine, flour, sugar subsidy etc. however could be very dangerous for his political career. Therefore, he has adopted the going-public policy to seek the establishment’s favour in the current and coming political happenings but it is likely to be another political misadventure bearing no positive results.

On the other hand, it is expected that the PTI will get something from the institutions because past history reveals that nuisance value does work and the leaders kicked out of the corridors of power are granted relief through deals reached with the levers of real power in Pakistan. Therefore, we can conclude that Imran Khan will survive in the political arena but he has damaged his party and relations with most countries due to his ill thought out statements, speeches and actions. As the song goes, ‘another one bites the dust’. In Pakistan as in most countries, the sunrise and sunset of a politician depends on those who hold real power behind the office.