Evidence Against Indian Terrorism: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

In January, government sources reported that Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel “presented evidence to the United States (US) which shows India’s involvement in the various terrorist incidents that have occurred in Pakistan”. However when asked by reporters about this evidence, the US appeared puzzled and said they were unaware of any delivery.

Now questions about the reality of evidence are not coming from Washington, they are coming from Islamabad.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was told on Thursday that dossiers given to the United States and United Nations Secretary General on India’s alleged involvement in terrorism in Pakistan did not contain ‘material evidence’.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which met with Senator Nuzhat Sadiq in the chair, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the dossiers instead contained the “pattern and narrative” of Indian involvement.

Sadly, this report did not surprise anyone. When official photos were released of the dossiers being delivered, many commented that it didn’t look like there was much there.

Maleeha Lodhi delivers dossiers on Indian involvement

Creating more confusion, though, was that the same day that media reported Sartaj Aziz’s statement about lack of material evidence, the same media also reported a statement by Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah that “the dossiers contain ‘hard’ and ‘irrefutable’ evidence”.

Which is the truth? Which is a lie? Both Sartaj Aziz and Qazi Khalilullah cannot both be correct. Either there is irrefutable evidence or there isn’t. Both are government officials of the same government, and both are singing a different tune. It is sadly something that we have become immune to. We know we are being misled, but we allow it as long as we are being misled to believe what we want to believe instead of having to face any reality that we don’t like.

The reality of the mysterious dossiers is known only to government high ups in Pakistan and US. The only thing we can know of them is what we are told. In Pakistan, what we are told is contradictory. Maybe to find the truth we should look at what the reaction has been from Washington…which is nothing.

Could Husain Haqqani’s Advise Actually Help the Kashmiri Cause?

husain haqqani

Husain Haqqani has always been willing to speak his mind even when it does not follow the popular opinion. His willingness to point out when the emperor is wearing no clothes has earned him the hatred of many of his fellow countrymen but it has also earned him a place advising multiple Prime Ministers and serving as Ambassador to the US which is known as the hardest job in the world. These are positions that are difficult because success requires someone who is able to give correct advise and not simply tell the powers that be what they want to hear. This is why Haqqani’s scientist-like fixation with facts and evidence even when they are inconvenient and unpopular has made him both listened to around the world and equally controversial at home. Husain Haqqani found himself in the spot light again after it was reported that he has said that Pakistan no longer enjoys international support on Kashmir. The reaction to these reports has been emotional as can be expected given both the issue and the speaker, but if we can set our emotions aside, could Haqqani’s advise actually help the Kashmiri cause?

UN Security Council Resolution 47 is the backbone to our case for Kashmir, and it is routinely reminded by the Foreign Office and our politicians and diplomats at the UN. However, it must be noted that this resolution was passed in 1948 – before most of Pakistani people were even born. Despite constant pressure from our side, the UN has been almost silent on the issue since. It is a silence that is very meaningful, too. In 2010, the UN removed Kashmir from the list of disputed territory despite Pakistan’s protest. Pakistan’s acting envoy to UN at the time Amjad Hussain Sial said he hoped it was an accidental oversight. But what kind of wishful thinking is this? Even if it is true, it means that Kashmir issue is so unimportant to the rest of the world that they forgot it even exists? Hardly an endorsement of our strategy.

Five years later, Husain Haqqani has said what everyone knows but nobody is willing to admit: Pakistan’s position on Kashmir does not have international support. This is clear even from the very obvious fact that our leaders give media statements about pressing our case at the UN, but never actually make any difference when they do. Does this mean our position is wrong? Obviously not. Does it mean that we should give up? Of course not. It only means that our strategy till date is clearly not working. If something doesn’t work, you don’t do more of it, you try something else. If we want a resolution to Kashmir we need to find a new way of supporting the Kashmiri cause. For decades we have tried to help Kashmir using the way of jihad and pressure tactics, and what has it gotten us? Our position actually has less international support than when we started. You don’t have to like Husain Haqqani to know that he is right on this one. If we really want to help the Kashmiri cause, we need to stop stubbornly letting our own ego decide our strategy and listen to new ideas.

Reputation and Repercussions

Maleeha Lodhi at UN

Despite the efforts of China to protect us from living up to our promises regarding economic sanctions against terrorists, the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) has announced that it will be closely monitoring Pakistan’s enforcement of sanctions on designated terrorist groups through the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). Specifically mentioned were Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and Dawood Ibrahim.

This latest announcement follows recent reports that supposed economic sanctions are having virtually no effect on banned groups in Pakistan, including Hafiz Saeed openly mocking the idea that government can do anything to stop him.

“I meet thousands of people every day, I am open and among them,” he said, laughing at his office in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

And the government has been equally timid in the face of Hafiz Saeed’s lieutenant, the convicted terrorist Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

“A lot of questions are raised, that ‘so and so’ is roaming free, or ‘so and so’ is speaking [publically], but that is not part of what listing of an individual entails,” said Tasneem Aslam, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

“There is no bar on moving within the country. There is no bar on speaking, and there is no requirement of keeping people behind bars.”

It seems the world’s patience for these double games is running out, and this just at the moment when we would like to plead our own case before the UN.

Rumours of Indian support for subversive activities reached new heights with the publication of BBC’s story that MQM received funding and training from India, and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi has reportedly been summoned to Islamabad to discuss presenting our case before the global forum. This is an important move and one that should have been taken earlier if we have actual proof. However, that proof must be more than simply a BBC report. There are two reasons for this.

First reason is that everyone has already seen the BBC report – it is already one week old – and the allegations are nothing new. The ‘authoritative Pakistani source’ appears to be none other than MQM’s Tariq Mir, and that too is hardly likely to impress anyone at the UN. Let us be honest: We have a credibility problem, largely due to the reasons noted in the first part of this post. We have a proven history of telling the world one thing and then doing, well, something a little different if it suits us. If we take our complaint about India’s subversive activities without strong proofs while we are facing strong criticism over terrorism, it will be embarrassing and only worsen our already suffering reputation.

This brings us to the second reason why we need more than BBC’s report: If we insist on the authenticity of BBC’s story about Indian activities, what will we say about other BBC reports that are not so kind to our own activities such as the documentary ‘Secret Pakistan’ that claims that Pakistan is playing a double game and supporting terrorists.

Or the BBC report that says Pakistan is prepared to sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia?

If we walk into the UN and demand action based on one BBC report, we must be prepared to answer serious and uncomfortable questions about other BBC reports.

If we have evidence of India’s involvement in supporting subversive activities, we should present that evidence before the UN. We must also be prepared to answer why we are only doing so now. Most importantly, the evidence we present must be fool proof and our presentation must be made with the understanding that we our making our case having just had our own reputation for reliability put in doubt by the UN Security Council.

Leading the fight for religious tolerance abroad, failing at home

Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat rally

Our diplomats achieved another notable success this week when the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution tabled by Pakistan on Combating Religious Intolerance and Discrimination. The resolution was presented on behalf of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an international organisation founded in 1969 consisting of 57 member states and has been presented as part of a broader effort to counter Islamophobia. Indeed, the resolution is an impressive achievement and worthy of praise. But we should be asking ourselves whether we are living up to our own demands.

Is is important to understand that the UN did not adopt a resolution condemning Islamophbia, it adopted a resolution condemning religious discrimination and intolerance. A full copy of the resolution is linked here so you can read it yourself.

It is worth noting that section 1 of the resolution:

“Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups, in particular when condoned by Governments…”

This could easily be considered a description of the situation in Pakistan. Setting aside for the moment the issue of terrorist attacks and target killings, before any shot is even fired there is “derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief.” Anti-Ahmedi conferences are held regularly which project hate and incite violence based on their belief.

Shia too are not only openly killed, but are openly defamed and stereotyped by groups like ASWJ that operate with impunity and some believe the support of the state.

The resolution tabled by Pakistan’s diplomats and approved by the United Nations is deserving of praise. Now it is time to prove whether our words are hollow.

Is Maleeha Lodhi The Next Colin Powell?

Will Maleeha Lodhi be the next Colin Powell?

Maleeha Lodhi is in an unforunate position. Less than eight weeks ago she was appointed as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, a great honour, with a special mission to advance Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. While there she has taken a strong position that “peace needed a fast, not a slow track“. Her attempts at diplomacy at the UN are being openly undermined, however, by the words and actions from certain quarters back home.

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