Gen Raheel, Kashmir, and ‘Non-State Actors’

Gen Raheel at IDEAS 2014

COAS Gen Raheel gave an important comment during recent IDEAS 2014 expo in Karachi about the importance of solving Kashmir crisis and the role of ‘non-state actors’ in harming the national security.

“In contemporary geopolitics, the battles are no longer between state and non-state actors but are with supra-individuals, those individuals who exploit both the national and international space for their desired objectives. These supra-individuals have the capacity to manipulate networks, organisations and state institutions to create waves of instability and create discord at the centre of the state institutions. Explosions are still a viable tool of war, but implosions are the new defeat mechanisms.”

As if to emphasise his point, a few hours later a band of jihadi militants launched a deadly attack in Kashmir.

Militants in Indian-held Kashmir attacked an Indian army camp Friday, triggering a fierce gun-battle that left 11 Indian troops and six suspected assailants dead, officials said.

The attack is no surprise. Jihadi groups have been openly warning of their plans to increase attacks since long. These attacks were certainly carried out by ‘non-state actors’, but the question is how they were able to carry out attacks without the knowledge of ISI and Army who are watching the area with a careful eye.

With this back drop, the Army chief’s words are very interesting. Not only did he suggest that non-state actors were making Pakistan less secure, he came very close to naming names. The Army chief did not name any names when he mentioned that Pakistan’s current enemy includes “supra-individuals have the capacity to manipulate networks, organisations and state institutions to create waves of instability” who “lives within us and looks like us”, but the definition is not hard to place.

Hafiz Saeed and Gen Hamid Gul

“Explosions are still a viable tool of war, but implosions are the new defeat mechanisms.” –COAS Gen Raheel

Why Is Everyone Out To Malign Pakistan?

Foreign Office

It has become a routine part of the Foreign Office’s job these days: Denying allegations of Pakistani involvement in this or that. Let us assume for the sake of argument that the Foreign Office is correct in all of its denials and each of the allegations lodged against Pakistan are meant to malign the country. The question remains, why is everyone out to malign us?

On Thursday,  the Foreign Office issued a statement rejecting Afghan claims that Pakistan is involved in terrorist attacks.

“We reiterate our categorical rejection of the Afghan allegations of involvement in terrorist attacks, insurgent activities or cross-border shelling. We also firmly reject any statements casting aspersions on Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

This denial was issued the same day that the Foreign Office denied Indian claims that Pakistan’s diplomat in Colombo was an ISI agent plotting attacks against foreign consulates.

But it’s not just India and Afghanistan that are making such claims against Pakistan.

The Foreign Office has also had to deny Chinese claims that jihadi militants carrying out attacks in Xinjiang were being trained in Pakistan.

Sometimes, the denials come back to haunt us. The Foreign Office denied Iranian claims that missing border guards were being held in Pakistan, only to watch the Iranians released by Pakistani militants a few weeks later.

Pakistan strongly denied claims of former American military chief Admiral Mullen that Haqqani militants were a ‘veritable arm of ISI’, only to watch former DG ISPR Gen Abbas admit that Haqqani militants were being managed by intelligence agencies.

As seen in this brief list of examples, it’s not just Western countries that are making these accusations against Pakistan. Even our ‘all weather friend’ China is doing. In the latest allegations of our diplomat working for nefarious purposes in Sri Lanka, the claims were not actually originated in India but Malaysia – an Islamic country.

Whether or not these allegations are all true or all lies should be investigated properly so that we don’t continue to experience embarrassments such as happened when our denials become proven hollow. At the same time, we should also be reflecting on why Pakistan faces so many allegations from every corner of the globe.

Are Military Operations Cover For Afghan Taliban?

With the government’s cease fire with Taliban having expired, military has recently resumed operations against suspected anti-Pakistan militants. Airstrikes in Khyber last week killed 37, and Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique has said that PAF is ready to tackle all challenges. While all of this was going on in the headlines, however, another operation was taking place in North Waziristan where 300 Pakistan-based jihadis launched a cross-border attack into Afghanistan.

This raises several important questions. Is the Pakistan military still operating under the false belief in ‘Good Taliban’ and ‘Bad Taliban’? How could such a large scale militant operation be carried out without the knowledge of intelligence agencies? And what does it mean for our own national security if our Western border remains so porous that hundreds of foreign jihadi militants can come and go without detection?

These questions are not likely to be asked openly in our current media environment, but they should be weighing heavily in our minds anyway.

Government’s Anti-Terrorism Strategy: Trimming the branches to prevent felling the tree

Since Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan accepted the government’s offer of a ceasefire, militant attacks have continued to kill Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. A suicide bomber killed 11 and injured dozens more in Islamabad on Monday. The following day, jihadi militants shot dead a truck driver and his helper in Khyber Agency, telling reporters that they are not bound by the TTP’s agreements with the government. On Wednesday, jihadis killed 8 people including six Frontier Corps personnel in an IED attack in Hangu. Some are starting to ask whether it is complicity or cowardice that has officials like Interior Minister Nisar continuing to peddle the tired old canard of ‘foreign hand’ every time jihadis carry out an attack, but the fact that the government continues to frame the national security situation as a problem of talking with some militants and fighting others gives away the real thinking behind our confused security policy.

Continue reading

Is Pakistan Being Dragged Into A Regional Sectarian War?

Army chief General Raheel Sharif meets with Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Military operations against Taliban militants in North Waziristan give some hope for a much welcome change in direction in national security policy. Support for jihadi groups in Afghanistan, whether active or passive, resulted in blow back that has killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis. America learned the lesson on 9/11 of how the jihadi monster will turn on its patron, and now we too have suffered even more from the terrorists, but have we actually learned the lesson? While there may finally be action against Taliban militants in North Waziristan, there remains the question of support for jihadi groups in Kashmir. And now, there is increasing worry that the military is getting involved with a new regional war – one that threatens to be even more disastrous than we have ever witnessed.

Continue reading