Manohar Parrikar: Diplomatic Equivalent of Internet Troll

Manohar Parrikar

Civil society activist Jibran Nasir recently noticed something on Twitter which understandably outraged him. Spokesperson ASWJ Hafiz Oneeb had posted the following Tweet:

Jibran Nasir was understandably upset and asked why Army was meeting with members of banned militant groups. The question could have been thought to be shouted into the wind, but thankfully it was actually heard and even responded by no less than the officer pictured:

Army was not “meeting” with ASWJ but warning them. ASWJ used the photo with a fake caption as part of their psychological operations to make people doubt their armed forces. It is a classic “divide and rule” strategy, but this time it was failed because the officer who was being defamed was alerted and able to give the correct view. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Could a similar strategy be taking place with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s shocking statements last week that suggested that India is promoting terrorism in Pakistan?

The Indian Minister’s remarks have earned strong responses. Sartaj Aziz offered the perfect response in his statement, which showed reason and maturity:

“It must be the first time that a minister of an elected government openly advocates use of terrorism in another country on the pretext of preventing terrorism from that country or its non-state actors.”

“Terrorism is our common enemy and it is vital for the two countries to work together to defeat this menace, from which Pakistan has suffered much more than almost any other country.”

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on the other hand jumped on Parrikar’s statement as proof of the worst of all fears:

“This is the worst kind of declaration by a state functionary of cabinet level which confirms that India is sponsoring terrorism against its neighbours in the name of preventing terrorist activities,” the minister said in a statement.

Actually, Parrikar’s statement does seem to to confirm India’s role in promoting terrorism in Pakistan…but if that’s the case…isn’t that a strange behaviour to publicly announce such activities?

There may be more – or less – to it than meets the eye. It has always been very common to blame India for all terrorism in Pakistan, and this has become even more prevalent after recent attacks. We have all heard claims of 35,000 RAW agents in Pakistan, but where are the arrests? Even recent attacks that were originally blamed on India such as Sabeen Mahmud killing and Safoora massacre turned out to be the product of jihadi terrorists, not Indian agents. So we should ask why would Parrikar try to claim responsibility for terrorism in Pakistan?

The answer is the same reason that jihadi groups are quick to claim responsibility for any attacks, whether they carried them out or not. It is why Taliban claim that they shoot down helicopters that they did not. It is why ASWJ claims to have meetings with Army when they are actually being warned by the same. By giving his statement, Parrikar has confirmed our worst fears and accomplished two important tasks: 1. He has made India seem more powerful than it really is and 2. He has distracted us from turning our attention against the real cause of terrorism which is the spread of extremist ideology.

Manohar Parrikar’s statement should be condemned not only by our Ministers but objected at the highest level at the UN. Boasting that India uses terrorist proxies is the height of irresponsibility, especially for a country that thinks it deserves a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. However we should not give the India more credit than is due and see this statement for what it really is. Manohar Parrikar’s statement is the diplomatic equivalent of internet trolling. Instead of losing too much sleep, our response should be the same: Blocked!

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