Sabzar Ahmad: The Enemy of my Enemy

Sabzar Ahmad BhatThe situation in Kashmir is one of history’s greatest human rights tragedies, only made worse because it is virtually ignored by the world. What has since long been a case of occupiers ignoring the wishes of the people to decide their own fate has turned into the world’s first mass blinding. Now things have escalated even further as Indian officials are defending using innocent Kashmiris as human shield, and Indian Army Chief is terming it a ‘dirty war‘ and begging to kill more Kashmiris. Finally, Pakistan’s historical position of extending moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir is vindicated. However, it appears that once again our correct moral position is being used to extend support to another strategic blunder.

While the official line is that we are only providing moral and diplomatic support, the worst kept secret in the world is that powerful quarters also provide technical and logistic support to Kashmiri freedom fighters. This has been the official-unofficial policy since lashkar were first launched in 1947 in our failed attempt to secure Kashmir during partition. Groups like LeT hand Hizbul Mujahideen have always been considered as friends because of their ‘pro-Pakistan’ ideologies. The plan has always been that these groups would wrest Kashmir from Hindu India and hand it over to Islamic Pakistan. With India’s increased abuses, the time seems ripe for our strategy to finally succeed. As usual, though, things are never so simple, and now it appears that ‘the enemy of my enemy’ may not be as friendly as we expected.

Deep seated problems began to appear on the surface recently when Hizbul commander Zakir Musa openly called on mujahideen to drop the pretense of joining Pakistan and to fight to establish Khalifat in Kashmir. This caused a split in Hizbul, who distanced themselves from Zakir’s statement particularly his criticism of Hurriyat leadership. This rift was followed by the killing of Hizbul commander Sabzar Ahmad and there is some chatter that Sabzar was sold out by Zakir to advance his cause, there is also growing evidence that the mujahideen have moved past pro-Pakistan ideology.

Editorial in The News about Sabzar Ahmad’s killing even mentions the problem:

It is certainly true that Bhat was more rigid than Wani and that his uncompromising nature led him to threaten Hurriyat leaders. His style of leadership led top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa quit the group two weeks ago over what he called “ideological differences”.

While we are supporting Kashmir mujahideen, we are expecting them to support us also because ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This is a common party of our security strategy that has always come back to hurt us. Whether it was USA or Afghan Taliban, we have expected that if we support someone they will always support us also. Different groups have their own plans, though, and very often those who we are using are actually using us also.

We have our own plans that Kashmir will quit India and join Pakistan. Did we ever think that mujahideen have their own plans also?

mujahideenKashmir mujahideen are united against India, but this is the short term goal only. What if the longer term goal does not include democracy at all. Today, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But tomorrow?

Why gifting recovered arms to LEOs is a bad idea

seized weaponsPakistan Army has announced that it will gift thousands of weapons and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to police, Rangers and the Levies. At first this appears like a sound policy that is not only economical but also helps build camaraderie between security agencies. However, on second thought there are important reasons why this programme should be abandoned immediately.

LEAs regularly discover weapons caches when conducting raids, and often these weapons are claimed to be of foreign origin, suggesting links between suspected parties and hostile agencies. There have been some problems with these claims, though, such as when Rangers accused MQM of having a large cache of weapons stolen from NATO containers, only to have the US government clarify that they were not NATO weapons. These and other incidents have created some doubts about whether or not agencies are ‘planting’ weapons.

The fact is that tracing the origin of weapons is especially difficult, and sometimes impossible. By giving LEAs a treasure trove of illegal weapons used by terrorists, it will only open the flood gates of denials and doubts about whether future seizures are real or planted. Officials have thought of this, and are trying to take some measures.

These arms and ammunition recovered during various operations are properly being recorded and marked to ensure that none of these arms and ammunition is misappropriated or misused,” a senior security official said on condition of anonymity.

This is not enough, though. If the records are made and kept by the same agencies that are making arrests where weapons are found, how will we know that those records are not being manipulated or hidden? No, the best answer is that all weapons seized in raids should be destroyed in public, and all security personnel should be issued new arms whose serial numbers are recorded in official records.

Nobody wants to doubt the sincerity of our security personnel, especially when it is a matter of planting weapons. 99.99% of our LEOs are above reproach, but there are a few who get carried away such as in the killing of Sarfraz Shah and the torture death of Aftab Ahmed. Introducing thousands and thousands of illegal weapons into the system will only add to doubts at a time when national security dictates that all means should be taken to protect the credibility of the law enforcement system.

How will COAS respond to Gen Ghafoor’s possible violation of Article 243?

DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor Tweeted something incredible earlier today.

The General’s Tweet has received a lot of praise on social media from opponents of PMLN and Nawaz Sharif, but there is a serious problem here. Gen Ghafoor did not Tweet as a private citizen, but as “Official DG ISPR.” By doing so, he may have violated the Constitution.

Article 243 of the Constitution is quite clear:

243. Command of Armed Forces.-
(1) The Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces.

What would be the response of COAS Gen Bajwa if he found out that one of his subordinates Tweeted that he ‘rejected’ his notification? What would be the response of Gen Bajwa if his subordinates were openly operating outside the chain of command, making decisions and carrying out operations without approval?

In the worst cases, acts of insubordination would even be considered Mutiny under Section 31 of Pakistan Army Act 1952:

31. Mutiny and insubordination: Any person subject to this Act who commits any of the following offences, that is to say, –

(a) begins, incites, causes, or conspires with any other person to cause, or joins in, any mutiny in the military, naval or air forces of Pakistan or any forces co-operating therewith; or
(b) being present at any such mutiny, does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same; or
(c) knowing or having reason to believe in the existence of any such mutiny or any intention to commit such mutiny, or of any such conspiracy, does not without reasonable delay give information thereof to his commanding or other superior officer; or
(d) attempts to seduce any person in the military, naval or air forces of Pakistan from his duty or his allegiance to the Government of Pakistan; shall, on conviction by court-martial, be punished with death or with such less punishment as in this Act mentioned.

Gen Ghafoor’s mistake has now become Gen Bajwa’s problem since he is responsible for discipline inside the ranks. Gen Raheel famously dismissed officers for failing to live up to the high expectations of honour and behaviour expected in the Armed Forces. Now his DG ISPR is acting in open insubordination in possible violation of the Constitution.

How will COAS respond? Will he make an example of the ISPR chief to send a clear message about the importance of respecting rule of law and chain of command? Will he launch a commission to investigate problems of insubordination in the ranks? However the Army Chief chooses to respond will tell much about the internal order of the Armed Forces, and the state.

Kashmir Jihad Going The Way Of Afghanistan

Former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah has warned India that ‘you are losing Kashmir‘. India is unlikely to take his advise and abandon their military approach to putting down the anger that is spreading like wild fire due to the abuses that has caused an ‘epidemic of dead eyes‘. This is because Indian authorities suffer from an ideological blindness that does not allow them to see how their actions are actually counter to their own cause. Unfortunately, we also suffer from an ideological blindness about our policies and strategies in Kashmir.

There have been worrying signs for a while now. Members of Jamaatud Dawah, which has close ties with state agencies, have begun joining Daesh. Black flags of Daesh have been raised along side Pakistan flags in Kashmir. This practise has become so common that even Syed Ali Shah Geelani was forced to publicly comment on it. And now it appears that it is the Pakistani flags that may be disappearing as Kashmir militants are calling for jihad in Pakistan also:

We do love Pakistan because that country was created in the name of Islam. But there is no Islam at present. So, we are unhappy with it. We have to do Jihad with Pakistan as well.

Just as our support for Taliban in Afghanistan spun off the TTP to carry out deadly jihad in Pakistan, now it looks like our support for jihad in Kashmir is having the same effect.

Syria shows military alliances are not so simple

US fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Airfield in the first major military operation ordered by Donald Trump. In addition to the serious consequences of deteriorating situation in Syria, this attack highlights the reality that international alliances are not as simple today as they were during the bi-polar Cold War when one was aligned with either American or Soviet side. For Pakistan, the Syrian crisis could have serious consequences, including for our involvement in the controversial Islamic Military Alliance.

One of the greatest concerns about involvement in the Saudi-led military alliance was whether Saudi and Iran would be able to overcome differences and adopt a common policy. Members of the Islamic Military Alliance supporting the attack include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Bahrain. However, Iran has condemned the attack as “dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law.”

Russia has also opposed the American missile strike, while China has stayed neutral. The question facing Pakistan now is, how do we fit this reality into our new alliances? Do we support American intervention along with Saudi and Turkey and other Islamic nations? Or do we oppose the American aggression along with Iran and Russia? Or do we try to sit on the sidelines along with China? Is that even an option?

Unfortunately, military alliances are not as simple as slogans about “all weather friendships.” Each nation is going to do what is in its best interest, and unless we are going to be a vassal state who follows a lead whether right or wrong then we also must determine what is in our own interest instead of making decisions based purely on convenient alliances and imagined shared ideologies.