After suffering losses of over 50,000 Pakistanis and billions of dollars, the national mood began to look hopeless. Taliban was attacking in Waziristan and tribal areas. Sectarian groups were attacking in Sindh and Punjab. PTI and PAT had put up roadblocks in the capital both literally and figuratively. Polio was spreading, and education was not. There was no international attention to Kashmir situation, and too much international attention to Balochistan situation. Pakistan felt like was starting to tear at the seams. In recent weeks, though, things have changed. There has been a marked improvement in the national mood. Whatever the facts, it feels like things are turning around. There are some reasons for this: For the first time since long, polio cases have declined this year. Militant attacks have declined also. Most significantly, though, we have finally identified an enemy that the entire nation can unite against regardless of geography, ethnicity, or sect: India. However while declines in polio cases and militant attacks are positives, the rise of anti-India rhetoric could actually reverse these trends.
I cannot argue that RAW has no hand in any problems of Pakistan. It is definitely believable that that they are providing support to some Baloch separatists in similar way to how they provided support to some Bengali separatists decades ago. It must be noted that no one has presented any actual evidence, though. There are only claims that it exists and we are left to take someone’s word for it. Like I said this is easy enough in the case of Balochistan however it strained credibility when the same was extended to MQM which is a major political party of Pakistan. This does not mean that certain elements within MQM are not responsible for criminal behavior just like certain elements in every political party, but terming MQM as a RAW operation is hard to believe without some actual proof. Things got even harder to believe when accusations did not stop there. RAW was blamed for murder of Sabeen Mahmud. RAW was blamed for Safoora massacre. Both turned out to be the work not of RAW but of young, educated, Pakistanis who had been brainwashed by jihadi ideology.
This was a turning point where a strong leadership could have made the decision to finally take the jihadi threat head on. Instead, GHQ gave the unprecedented announcement that RAW will be blamed for all our problems, and the civilians quickly followed suit. Now, instead of talking about the threat of sectarianism, or heavy handed tactics in Balochistan, or the growing extremism among young educated people, we are pretending that our problems are a result of India’s anger over China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which didn’t even exist until recently. This voluntary amnesia is bad enough, but what is even worst is that anyone will be stamped as a fool or a traitor who dares to point out that the people carrying out these attacks have all turned out to be not RAW agents but Pakistanis brainwashed by extremism.
The thinking may be that anti-India sentiments will be whipped up to keep the nation united while security agencies tackle the real enemies and the civilians turn up the heat on Delhi, but this too involves a willing blindness to the fact that anti-India rhetoric is a core part of extremist ideology and by using the same thing, we are opening the door for more people to become radicalised. Ayesha Siddiqa pointed out in a recent piece that “educated boys from the middle class randomly joining militancy is not a new phenomenon”. What is most worrying, though, is what she points out in the last paragraph:
The fact that our education system provides greater publicity of and a stepping-stone towards radicalism is a known fact. Now, with the perceived threat from India’s RAW, the likelihood of the youth turning away from radicalism is even more abysmal.
By blaming RAW for everything, we have distracted attention away from the real threat which is the rise of extremism among the population. We are also adding fuel to that fire by confirming one of the fundamental tenants of extremist ideology which is that India is at the root of all the nation’s problems and the jihadis are the real “nationalists” who are defending the “fortress of Islam”. RAW may be providing support to some militant groups, we have no way of knowing for certain. But if we continue down this path of giving RAW credit for every problem we face, they we will be doing their work for them.