Tag Archive | "PAKISTAN"

Protests in Pakistan Turn Violent, Emerging Role of “Other Forces”

Featured image: Zahid Amid (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In Pakistan Street protests have affected cities like Imamabad, and is spreading in other cities as well. About six persons have died and more than two hundred have been injured. PTI has reported that the police aided by paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Constabulary yesterday launched a massive operation against activists of Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek Pakistan religious groups who had blocked a key highway to Islamabad for nearly three weeks. The protesters have been laying siege to the capital for about three weeks demanding removal of Law Minister Zahid Hamid for changes in a law related to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood) oath in the Elections Act 2017.They alleged the action undermined Islamic beliefs and linked it to blasphemy. The government has already amended the law and restored the original oath but the hard line clerics refused to call of the protests until the minister is sacked.

The real power holder former PM Nawaz Sharif is believed to have given a thought to remove the Minister in order to pacify the protests; present government is under much pressure due to political problems which emerged since the revelations of Panama Papers, and strict actions taken by Judiciary have made the government weak and in all likelihood in next elections it may find itself in troubles in electoral battles. The present protest is a continuation of the politically unstable Pakistan since the revelations of Panama Papers.

The root cause of the political problems started when on right grounds Judiciary removed PM Sharif on misdeeds in Panama Papers. The new PM is not capable to manage the affairs of the state. He is transitory PM knowing well that he has been on the position just due to grace of Nawaz family.

Elections in Pakistan are due to take place in 2018 and the prospects of Nawaz’s party are not very strong at the moment. Moreover the external pressures from world on the containment of terrorism has placed stress on the political leaders of country.

In these backgrounds the protest assumes importance. As the elected political leadership has proved unsuccessful to control the developments in the country. Now they have asked for the help from army which is already eyeing for increased role in the political space in the country particularly after the departure of Nawaz Sharif.

Army has taken a recommendatory view so far by advising government to take steps with cautions. The Army chief Gen. Bajwa are in touch with Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi and has asked to deal the protest peacefully, and violence should be avoided from both sides.

Source: Countercurrents

There is also alternative analysis that army may come in direct conflict with the conservative elements and Pakistan may find itself more into trouble. The release of Hafiz Saeed is also not good for the political system of the country as these are major destabilizing elements of the country. Their activities if supported more by army and establishment of more hardliners in the socio-politico milieu of the country do not suggest good things to come.

The recent developments in Pakistan are result of the non nation building in the country. Several countries are passing through this phase but Pakistan has emerged as a classical case where army, terrorists and conservative elements have come to stay in the political world of the country and have prevented genuine development of democratic elements in the country.

In next few days the developments will take a new path and it is hoped that Pakistan is able to control the situation but major question remains unanswered which forces are in real terms responsible for such developments? And why Pakistan is getting into fragmentation? Role of army will be observed in the days to come. Terrorists and fundamentalist have engulfed the society. Can governance manage these or army is about to enter more aggressively in the governance?

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Pakistan in An Emerging Multipolar World: ASGA Strategy for the Afro-Pacific


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s “Global South” connectivity potential via the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden (ASGA).


Reconceptualizing the Indian Ocean as an African one can help to craft creative strategies for maximizing Pakistan’s strategic significance in the emerging Multipolar World Order through a reinvigorated naval strategy that capitalizes on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s “Global South” connectivity potential via the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden (ASGA).

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the so-called “Indo-Pacific”, which the author himself has admittedly used in a geographic sense to describe both oceans but which has recently taken on subtle political connotations when employed by Western and Mainstream Media commentators. These voices have started to trumpet the “Indo-Pacific” term in order to provocatively suggest that India is a rising global superpower that is in some way or another capable of “containing” China, thereby “justifying” the 100-year-long military-strategic partnership that the US is unprecedentedly building with it for this purpose. The irony, however, is that the Indian Ocean is named after India, which in turn received its name because of the Indus River that’s nowadays located mostly in Pakistan. Moreover, the “Indus” isn’t even an indigenous term, as the locals refer to it as “Sindh”, ergo the Pakistani province of the same name.

From The Indian Ocean To The African One

All etymological issues aside, the case could equally – and in some cases, even more convincingly – be made for calling the “Indian Ocean” (or whatever other name is used to refer to it in the context of the subcontinent’s civilization[s]) the African Ocean. Using the Indian subcontinent as the basis for describing this body of water is only relevant insomuch as one takes into account the spread of its historic civilization across mainland and insular Southeast Asia in this ocean’s eastern half, but this Indo-centric view ignores the similarly large spread of African civilization across this ocean’s western half even though it mostly occurred as a result of slavery and indentured servitude. Conveniently left out of the global narrative because of the liberal zeitgeist of “political correctness”, Arab slave traders were responsible for spreading African civilization into the Mideast and as far away as Persia, thereby giving it a larger geographic scope than its Indian counterpart.

Another argument in favor of conceptualizing the Indian Ocean as the African Ocean is that it would be more representative of the many countries that are expected to form the basis of China’s “South-South” engagement in the emerging Multipolar World Order. Not only does the vast majority of China’s trade traverse through this body of water, but it will inevitably begin to be increasingly concentrated on the African landmass as the People’s Republic pioneers new trade routes and develops new marketplaces as destinations for its excess production. In fact, one of the driving motivations behind China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) global vision of New Silk Road connectivity is to stave off socio-economic challenges caused by the country’s overproduction crisis long enough for Beijing to transition its structural model from a secondary to a tertiary one.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor


The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) indispensably provides the People’s Republic with reliable non-Malacca overland access to the African Ocean and further afield to this neologism’s namesake continent, which thus ensures the security of China’s trade routes with the “Global South” by avoiding any unnecessary entanglements in the ever-complicated geostrategic environments of the South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, and Bay of Bengal. Instead of transiting the long way through these regional waters and potentially risking disruption by the US and its allied Indo-Japanese navies, China could use CPEC’s terminal port of Gwadar as its base of trading operations for greatly shortening its Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOC) with Africa by focusing more on strengthening connectivity via the more easily defensible Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden (ASGA).

The logic behind this is that Ethiopia, which is the second-most populous country in Africa and the world’s fastest-growing economy, is China’s premier partner in the continent, and Beijing just built the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway as a de-facto Horn of African Silk Road for efficiently accessing this landlocked but rising African Great Power. Seeing as how Ethiopian-Chinese trade will in all likelihood begin to transit across CPEC en route to the People’s Republic, it makes sense for the Pakistani Navy to begin proactively safeguarding the ASGA SLOC between Gwadar and Djibouti together with the Chinese. Not only could this allow Pakistan to enhance its economic and political presence in Africa via “CPEC diplomacy”, especially in the event that it could also acquire a base in Djibouti or at the very least end up using the Chinese one there, but it could give Islamabad’s strategists the necessary experience for crafting a more comprehensive connectivity policy with the African Ocean’s similar OBOR-linked ports in Kenya’s Mombasa and Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam.

Ethiopia’s Strategic Edge

As an added benefit, Pakistan might even be able to one day “balance” the divergent interests of its traditional Arab partners in the Horn of Africa if it’s successful in establishing excellent working relations with Ethiopia, nearly half the population of which is Muslim and presumably receptive to Islamabad’s soft power sway. Ethiopia’s ambitious plan to build a massive dam on the Blue Nile has roiled Egypt, which considers this to be a threat to its national security, and Cairo has accordingly taken steps to put pressure on Addis Ababa. One of these has been that Egypt’s close UAE ally exploited the disastrous Saudi-led War on Yemen to establish military bases in the neighboring country of Eritrea and the internationally unrecognized polity of “Somaliland” along Ethiopia’s northeastern periphery, which not only allows Abu Dhabi to influence the SLOC on both sides of the Bab el Mandeb, but to crucially exert influence into the Horn of African hinterland against Addis Ababa in the event that Cairo decides to strike the landlocked country.

Complicating matters, however, is that Qatar has taken advantage of the “Gulf Cold War” to enter into a fast-moving rapprochement with Ethiopia in order to spite Egypt and its monarchic allies, even though Doha and Addis Ababa had at one point broken off diplomatic relations a little more a decade ago over Ethiopia’s concern that the thumb-shaped country was supporting instability within its borders. Ethiopia also blocked Al Jazeera in 2013 as well. Nevertheless, both sides saw an opportunity to put the past behind them and accelerate relations out of their shared interest in countering Cairo and its regional “containment” policy against both of them. Bearing in mind that Pakistan is on great terms with all of the Arab players involved in this, it could gain unparalleled strategic leverage with them if it improved its relations with Ethiopia in accordance with the ASGA plan and placed itself in a position to “balance” all the parties involved. Through these means, Pakistan could become a crucial force for stability in China’s most important continental region for OBOR investments at the pivotal maritime crossroads of Afro-Eurasian trade.

Chinese Maritime Silk Road

Chinese Maritime Silk Road

Piercing India’s Missile Defense Shield

Last but certainly not least, Pakistan’s ASGA strategy for the Afro-Pacific could provide the much-needed impetus for directing more funds towards the country’s naval modernization program, relying on the publicly plausible reason of protecting the SLOC in the Arabian Sean-Gulf of Aden region but also clandestinely improving Pakistan’s nuclear triad through advancements in submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) technology. It’s no secret that India is investing in missile defense capabilities in order to neutralize the credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear second-strike deterrent and therefore gain a hegemonic advantage over it by perpetually keeping Pakistan in a state of strategic blackmail. This state of affairs would expectedly be exploited in order to force the South Asian state into submission and could therefore potentially pose an existential threat to CPEC – and by extent, to China too – under this scenario.

The most surefire way to offset India’s plans is to develop Pakistan’s SLBM program in order to ensure that Islamabad can always defend itself in the event that New Delhi launches a nuclear first strike against it, which would thus preserve the balance of power between these two rivals and accordingly diminish the prospects of war between them, however much this is to the US’ anti-CPEC chagrin. For this reason, China should support Pakistan’s ASGA strategy in both its public and clandestine forms, encouraging it to play a more proactive role in safeguarding the SLOC between Gwadar and Djibouti (and eventually, Gwadar and the East African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam) so that there’s a justifiable reason for increasing naval investments in order to secretly fund a more robust SLBM program for piercing India’s missile defense shield.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the fundamentals of Hybrid War is language and the subconscious ideas that are transmitted through select words, which is why it’s so important to use the most accurate terms in conveying a given side’s intentions and correspondingly countering those of their adversaries. The recent trend in talking about the “Indo-Pacific” is a perfect case in point because the terminology no longer refers to the innocent idea of both oceans but has been perverted to carry unipolar geostrategic connotations about “containing” China. The only suitable recourse in this case is to introduce another word to more accurately convey what some analysts mean when talking about this body of water and drawing attention to its importance to China’s global trade routes, particularly as it relates to Africa’s growing role in the Multipolar World Order. Therefore, it’s necessary to reconceptualize the “Indian Ocean” as the African Ocean and then work on popularizing this term in the wider strategic discourse.

Following that, it’s then easier to understand why CPEC’s terminal port of Gwadar should be paired with Djibouti, Mombasa, and Dar es Salaam in facilitating “Global South” trade between China and Africa, the SLOC of which could be protected by the Pakistani Navy out of the self-interest that Islamabad also has in securing its own trade routes with the continent. Furthermore, Pakistan stands to gain immense strategic benefits if it can clinch a comprehensive and fast-moving partnership with Ethiopia that puts it in a position to “balance” relations between the Horn of African country and Egypt, as well as between the two rival states’ feuding Gulf allies. Should it work out as planned, then Pakistan would acquire an unparalleled importance to its partners that it could later leverage on a bilateral basis to advance its pecuniary, military, and other interests with each of them.

Altogether, the success of Pakistan’s ASGA strategy would also allow the country to justify more funding for its naval forces, which could provide a publicly plausible cover for investing in the SLBM technology that’s going to become absolutely necessary for piercing India’s missile defense shield in the next decade. It’s not to say that Pakistan can’t develop this program on its own and without ASGA, but just that appearances are very important and that it might be more acceptable to its domestic and international audiences if it does so under the pretense of investing in its surface convoys and trade ships, both of which would inevitably be empowered by more funding but which additionally serve to disguise the redirection of some financial assets to SLBM-related projects. One way or another, Pakistan is going to have to counter India’s efforts to neutralize its nuclear second-strike capabilities, and if it can do so while also profiting in a commercial and geostrategic sense, then it will have discovered the ultimate win-win policy for carrying out this urgent task.

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US Threatens Pakistan as Part of New Afghan War Drive. Islamabad Seeks Beijing’s Support

US government officials have begun to spell out the meaning of Trump’s threat to punish Pakistan if it does not suppress Afghan insurgents operating from its border regions. These punishments include not just cuts to aid and payments for services rendered in fighting the Afghan war, but also encouraging India, Pakistan’s arch-rival, to play a larger role in Afghanistan, and a more pro-Indian stance on the seven-decade-old Kashmir dispute.

India has repeatedly boasted of its readiness to mount military raids inside Pakistan, even if they risk provoking all-out war between South Asia’s rival nuclear powers.

Rattled by Washington’s threats, Islamabad has turned to Beijing for support, further heightening tensions in a region where India and China are engaged in their most serious border stand-off since their 1962 border war, and Indian and Pakistani troops routinely exchange fatal artillery barrages across the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Trump insisted that Pakistan must “immediately” change course and stop “harboring criminals and terrorists” in his Monday evening speech outlining plans for a massive US escalation of the Afghan war. Elaborating on this, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a Tuesday press conference that Washington’s relations with Islamabad will henceforth be determined by whether it heeds US demands on the conduct of the Afghan war. Those who provide “safe haven” for terrorists have been “put on notice,” he declared, “warned (and) forewarned.”

Failure to comply, Tillerson suggested, would cost Islamabad financially and result in a further downgrading in relations, or worse. Asked what specific actions Washington might take against a recalcitrant Pakistan, he said,

“We have some leverage that’s been discussed in terms of the amount of aid and military assistance we give them; their status as a non-NATO alliance partner. All of that can be put on the table.”

Although Tillerson did not mention it, senior Trump administration officials are known to have considered threatening Pakistan with designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Such a designation would automatically entail the loss of all US financial support and scrapping of all US arms sales, and likely lead to the sanctioning of government and military officials.

Lisa Curtis, who last month was named deputy assistant to the president and senior White House director for South and Central Asia, called, in a report issued by the Heritage Foundation last February, for the “terrorist state” designation to be held in reserve for use beyond the Trump administration’s “first year.”

Tillerson also indicated that the US will resume the drone strikes that have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and terrorized the impoverished population of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The former Exxon CEO refused to directly answer a question at Tuesday’s press conference about the drone strikes, which are a flagrant violation of international law. But in sidestepping the question, he declared,

“We are going to attack terrorists wherever they live.”

The US military-security establishment, along with Democratic and Republican Party leaders, has long blamed the resilience of the Afghan insurgency on Pakistan’s reputed failure to crack down on the Taliban and its allies, especially the Haqqani Network.

The reality is that Washington and its NATO allies are waging a brutal neo-colonial war of occupation, propping up a corrupt and reviled puppet government in Kabul with night raids, drone strikes and other acts of terror.

Consequently, the Taliban, notwithstanding its reactionary Islamist ideology, is able to draw on widespread popular support. Pentagon officials themselves concede that, despite the US spending close to a trillion dollars, losing more than 2,400 troops, and raining death on one of the world’s most impoverished countries for the past 16 years, the Taliban insurgency is the strongest it has been since American forces invaded the country in October 2001.

Mentioned only in passing by Tillerson on Tuesday was the other element in Washington’s double-pronged threat to Pakistan: Trump’s call for India to become more involved in Afghanistan, especially in the provision of economic assistance.

India lost no time in welcoming Trump’s new Afghan war strategy, which includes among its core elements removing all restraints on US commanders targeting civilian areas and otherwise using the US war machine as they see fit.

“We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists,” said an Indian External Affairs Ministry statement.

India’s corporate media has lauded Trump’s endorsement of India in his Afghan speech as a “key security and economic partner” of US imperialism. In an op-ed column titled, “Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy presents India a chance to increase sphere of influence in South Asia,” Firstpost senior editor Sreemoy Talukdar termed Trump’s Afghan policy a “loud” endorsement—one that has huge implications for India in South Asia, where it jostles for influence with a mercantile China.”

To the dismay of Pakistan’s ruling elite, New Delhi has supplanted Islamabad over the past dozen years as American imperialism’s principal regional ally. With the aim of building up India as a counter-weight to China, Washington has showered India with strategic favours,

Under Narendra Modi and his three year-old Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, the Indo-US strategic alliance has undergone a qualitative transformation. India has parroted Washington’s provocative stances on the South China Sea and North Korea disputes, dramatically increased its military-strategic cooperation with America’s principal Asia-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia, and thrown open its ports and bases to routine use by US warships and fighter jets.

The US establishment, be it National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and the rest of Trump’s cabal of generals, or the liberals of the New York Times, accuse Islamabad of playing a “double game”—that is, of fighting the Pakistan Taliban and providing logistical support to the US war in Afghanistan, while surreptitiously protecting the Haqqani Network and other elements of the Taliban with close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

This is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It was the CIA that instructed the Pakistani ISI in the use of Islamist militia as proxy forces. At America’s behest, Islamabad helped organize and train the Mujihadeen who were used to draw the Soviet Union into the Afghan civil war, then to bleed it militarily for the next decade.

Moreover, the US has repeatedly employed Islamist militia and terror groups, including in regime-change operations in Libya and Syria. And it has done so while cynically claiming they are the target of the “war on terror” that successive US administrations have invoked as the pretext for military interventions in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia and for sweeping attacks on democratic rights at home.

Pakistan’s maintenance of ties with sections of the Taliban is bound up with its strategic aim of securing a major say in any political settlement of the Afghan war and its mounting anxiety over the “global Indo-US strategic alliance.”

For years, Islamabad has been warning Washington that its strategic embrace of India is fueling an arms and nuclear arms race in South Asia and encouraging Indian belligerence. But these warnings have been curtly dismissed. At most, Washington would agree to somewhat curb India’s ambitions in Afghanistan. Now even that is being set aside.

As the US has downgraded its relations with Pakistan, Islamabad has increasingly turned to its “all-weather friend,” China, to offset Indian pressure. Beijing, for its part, long sought to woo New Delhi with offers of investment, including a leading role in its One Belt-One Road Eurasian infrastructure-building scheme. But with India under Modi emerging as a frontline state in Washington’s military-strategic offensive against China, Beijing’s stance has changed markedly.

Over the past two months, Chinese government officials and the state-owned media have repeatedly threatened India with a border war unless it withdraws its troops from a remote Himalayan ridge, long under Beijing’s control but also claimed by Bhutan.

Underscoring the extent to which the US drive to harness India to its war drive against China has drawn South Asia into the maelstrom of great power conflict and is polarizing the region along India-US versus China-Pakistan lines, Beijing has given Islamabad a strong show of support in the wake of Trump’s Afghan war speech.

First, a Chinese Foreign Ministry representative came to Pakistan’s defence, saying the country had made “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” to the fight against terrorism. Then, the Chinese foreign minister, who was already in Pakistan on a previously scheduled visit, agreed in meetings with the Pakistani leadership to “maintain the momentum” of high level military-security and economic cooperation. This is to include Beijing and Islamabad enhancing policy coordination in the “emerging global and regional situation” and pressing forward with the development of the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Russia has also made clear its opposition to Washington’s plans to intensify the Afghan War and bully Pakistan. Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said Tuesday,

“Putting pressure [on Pakistan] may seriously destabilize the region-wide security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.”

Traditionally, Russia has enjoyed very close relations with India. But New Delhi’s alignment with Washington is placing the Indo-Russian strategic partnership under severe strain.

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Distortion of History: BSNs Observe Black Day


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By Sajjad Shaukat

In order to pollute the minds of the patriot people of the Baluchistan province against the

federation of Pakistan, every year Baloch Sub Nationalists (BSNs) observe March 27 as a black

day on alleged annexation of Kallat state with Pakistan in 1948.

During this very day, shutter down strikes in small and far-flung areas of Balochistan and

demonstrations of small attendance by exiled BSNs take place. As these hostile elements, while

following the foreign agenda of the anti-Pakistan countries distort the historical facts; the Baloch

must need to know the actual perspective about accession of Kallat state with Pakistan.

No doubt, Baloch leaders and people of Balochistan played a vital role in creation of Pakistan,

and ultimately succeeded under the leadership and guidance of Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali

Jinnah in achieving Pakistan as an independent state. In fact, Balochistan is an integral part of

Pakistan with a history of supporting Resolution of Pakistan-1940, which envisaged creation of a

separate homeland for Muslim majority areas of the Sub-continent, as the Baloch had strongly

opposed plan of the united India.

Unfortunately, there are still been certain dissident elements which not only opposed the idea of

Two Nation Theory-the fundamental ideological base for creation of Pakistan, but also left no

stone unturned in polluting the minds of the innocent Baloch by distorting the history of

Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan. In reality, before the independence of Pakistan, the

territories which are now consolidated into the province of Balochistan did not constitute a

settled province. Apart from Quetta District that was administrated under civil law, the rest of the territory was under Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The then government of British India constituted a special body of tribal elders known as “SHAHI JIRGA” for consultation by

Assistant Governor General (AGG) on local issues relating to British Balochistan.

On June 29, 1947, “SHAHI JIRGA” of the British Balochistan as representative body of AGG along with elected members of Quetta Municipal Body unanimously passed a resolution of forming part of Pakistan. The State of Kalat had customary over lordship on the princely states of Kharan,

Makran and Lasbela. As these three states decided to join Pakistan in March 1948, the Khan of

Kalat (KoK) also acceded with Pakistan on March 27, 1948. The brother of KoK Shehzada

Abdul Karim of Kakat having mustered 130 tribesmen started insurgency in 1948 which never

took off ground and the matter was brought under control.

Regretfully, Baloch Sub Nationalists (BSNs) distort history of accession of Kalat with Pakistan

and give reference of the so-called insurgency of 1948 by brother of KoK, whereas the document

of accession of State of Kalat with Pakistan was signed by KoK himself as legitimate ruler of

State of Kalat.

Notably, as a result of the general elections 2013, the government led by the nationalist leader

Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was established in Balochistan, while on

December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were largely held in a peaceful manner in the province.

However, these elections proved that majority of the Baloch are loyal to the federation, and do

not favour separation of the Balachistan, as they have rejected the case of separatists, being

projected by anti-Pakistan powers.

Even a Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 212, had disclosed

that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan. This

survey has also proved that some external entities have been conducting acts of sabotage in the

province by backing the minority groups.

As regards the deteriorating situation of Balochistan and the missing persons, everyone knows

that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Salvation Front (BSF) and their affiliated

outfits, including another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for

secession of the province gets logistic support from American CIA, Indian RAW, and Israeli

Mossad. In the past few years, these militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and

the security personnel in the province. They also massacred many persons through suicide

attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. Therefore, they are responsible for

dumped bodies and extrajudicial killings in the province. On a number of occasions, these

insurgent groups claimed responsibility for their subversive acts. A majority of the disappeared

individuals are also in the detention centers (Farrari Camps) which are being run by foreign-

assisted Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) who want to continue old system of feudalism in the

province so as to maintain their status, prestige and influence at the cost of people of the


It is mentionable that India, US and Israel have been internationalizing the Balochistan issue in

accordance with their secret goals. In this respect, in connivance with the Baloch separatist

leaders who have taken refuge in Switzerland, Sweden, US and London, these foreign elements

use media, various NGOs and human rights organizations for false propaganda against

Pakistan’s security  agencies in relation to extrajudicial killings, mutilated bodies and the missing persons.

Nevertheless, during this vary day, it is also of particular attention that since, the government of

the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many militants and their leaders have surrendered their arms and

decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province.

Besides, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by

the successful military operation Zarb-e- Azb which has also been extended to Balochistan where peace has been restored. But, it is misfortune that based in Afghanistan; external secret agencies such as CIA, RAW and Mossad have, again, started subversive activities in Balochistan. As part of the double, game, these agencies are using the separatist elements and terrorist organizations like the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA), including other similar outfits in creating unrest in Balochistan, as recent terror attacks in the province has proved.

Now, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is their special target. Taking cognizance of historical facts, the idea of observing Black Day must be denounced by all the segments of society, while the majority of the Baloch has already rejected the call for shutter down strike. But, these anti-Pakistan aims of the separatist elements also needs to be countered by our own historians, analysts and media persons by giving true perspective of history and denouncing the hostile elements who distorting the facts in order to advance their vested interests.

These internal entities of Pakistan must point out that People of Balochistan, especially the youth are very loyal and patriotic Pakistanis who believe in unity and sovereignty of the country. They cannot be misled by elusive designs of greedy leaders who plan to observe March 27 as Black Day.

Particularly, media must proactively project the role of Baloch leaders in creation of Pakistan

and in defending the state of Pakistan. For the purpose, talk shows must be held giving correct

perspective of historical records by explaining the process of accession of State of Kalat with

Pakistan and internal rift between KoK and his brother.

Our own intellectuals must indicate that insurgency of 1948 which started by Shehzada Abdul

Karim of Kakat never took off, because it was not supported by other realist Baloch leaders, and

it was based on misguided thoughts suggested by few Indian Congress leaders. The aim was to

destabilize Pakistan by creating militancy in Balochistan.

Returning to our earlier discussion, last year, Baloch Sub Nationalists and Baloch Salvation

Front called for a shutter down strike in Balochistan on March 27 to observe it as Black Day.

Since it is the date of legal accession of State of Kalat with Pakistan, therefore, the strike call was

based on negative contemplation and wicked designs to misguide the Baloch, especially the

youth. In order to obtain the foreign agenda against Pakistan, these hostile elements who distort

the history, want that every year, this Black Day should be observed.


Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Pakistan Shrine Attack Kills Sparks Fierce Crackdown

  • A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi.
    A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi. | Photo: Reuters
The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years.

Pakistani security forces killed at least 39 suspected militants Friday, a day after the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing that killed more than 80 worshippers at a Sufi shrine, the biggest in a spate of attacks this week across the country.

RELATED: 4 Indian Soldiers, 4 Militants Dead in Kashmir Gun Battles

The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years, killing at least 88 people and highlighting the threat of militant groups.

The security response was swift.

“Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made,” the military said in an operations update on Friday evening.

“Terrorists will be targeted ruthlessly, indiscriminately, anywhere and everywhere. No let up,” an armed forces spokesman added in a tweet.

With authorities facing angry criticism for failing to tighten security before the shrine bomber struck, analysts warned that the wave of violence pointed to a major escalation in Islamist militants’ attempts to destabilize the region.

“This is a virtual declaration of war against the state of Pakistan,” said Imtiaz Gul, head of the independent Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.

ANALYSIS: No Country for Women: India Enters 2017 with ‘Mass Molestation’ 

With pressure growing for action, Pakistan demanded that neighboring Afghanistan hand over 76 “terrorists” it said were sheltering over the border.

The bombings over five days have hit all four of Pakistan’s provinces and two major cities, shaking a nascent sense that the worst of the country’s militant violence may be in the past.

A series of military operations against insurgent groups operating in Pakistan had encouraged hopes that their leaders were scattered.

“But this has led to a degree of complacency within our civil-military leadership that perhaps they have completely destroyed these elements, or broken their back,” Gul said.

If so, that impression has been shattered in recent days.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan Shrine Attack Kills Sparks Fierce Crackdown

Pakistan: Who is Behind Lahore Terror Attack?


By Sajjad Shaukat

At least 13 people were killed and 85 injured on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber

struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan

during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

Seven police officials, including two senior officers—SSP Operations Zahid Gondal of Punjab

Police and DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin were among those killed in the attack.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan

Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s

Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on

February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

It is mentionable that the final cricket match of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL),

being played in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) was to be held in just a few weeks’ time at

Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium—nearly six kilometers away from the blast site. The return of

cricket to Pakistan was being touted as a successful demonstration of the PSL final in

Lahore—a move which could have presented the country as a safe nation to the world.

PSL chairman Najam Sethi, on many occasions, had said that foreign players participating in

the league have signed contracts which abide them to play the final in Lahore; however, they

have always quoted security as an issue. Hopefully Sethi and the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket

Board (PCB) Shaharyar Khan and the Pakistani players were helping to convince the foreign

ones to come to Pakistan for the PSL final match. Hence, apart from other sinister aims,

especially India is behind the latest explosion in Lahore to sabotage the final cricket match.

Besides, at least 24 people had been killed and over 50 injured in a powerful explosion that

ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, this

year. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in


At least 65 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when a blast struck at

the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016.

The Middle East-based movement of the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL)

had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency. ISIS had also

claimed responsibility for a terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, which left at

least 60 individuals dead on October 24, 2016.

Earlier, the affiliated faction of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide

bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in an attack at the

government-run Civil Hospital.

In fact, the armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists

by the successful military operation Zarb-e- Azb which has also been extended to other parts of

the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken

the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of

terror attempts.

Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to

the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have

surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province,

peace has been restored in Balochistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, FATA (Tribal

Areas) and Karachi. But, it is due to lack of effective management mechanism at the Pak-Afghan

border that as part of the double game, the US-led India and Israel have again started acts of

sabotage in Pakistan to destabilize the latter. They are also trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC).

It was part of ploy that two terrorist groups accepted responsibility for the terror assault at the

Police Training College in Quetta to divert the attention from the US-led India and Israel.

Based in Afghanistan, operatives of CIA, Mossad and RAW which are well-penetrated in the

terrorist outfits like ISIS, TTP and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to

destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by

arranging the subversive activities.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher

Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the

initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e-

Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication

intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan

intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With

latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed

terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani Intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These

external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and

Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to

carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the

Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the

Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location

among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further

increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the

eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the

latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

As regards Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist

groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including

Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i- Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the

Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In

the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb

blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had

kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian

diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on

Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and

Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to

obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has

exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with

Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed, Director General of Inter-Services Public

Relations (ISPR) Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s

arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active

officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a

jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for

India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and

Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I

promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was

to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other

terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted

various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute

the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s secret agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country,

working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan.

In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who

were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy

network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They

were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially

have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is

frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access

through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside

Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control

management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this


Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the

border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre- long trench

with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by

Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be

extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan

officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous

border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started

unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani

citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop

Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British

representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of

Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in

1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any

construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by

the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad

and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan.

Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-

related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also

facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides

to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of

deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and

continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and

Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the

progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences.

However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences

through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both

sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic

dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an

effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an

establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to

conduct cross border terrorism.

Returning to our earlier discussion, with the assistance of CIA and Mossad, particularly Indian

RAW is behind the terror attack in Lahore.


Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan: Who is Behind Lahore Terror Attack?

Samjhota Express Incident Revisited


Image result for India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat

On the midnight of 18-19 February 2007, India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train was bombed in

which 68 Pakistani nationals were killed. A Hindu extremist leader Swami Aseemanand, a leader

of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has confessed that he was involved in several bombings

incidents. He also claimed to have been a part of the incident.

In fact, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails in every field at the cost of other

minority groups. It is even supported by Indian defense forces secretly. This could be judged

from the incident, when on April 6, 2008 in the house of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in Nanded,

a bomb went off. The investigation proved that these militants were found in the bomb-making

and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra

arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they

were helping in training the Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosive

RDX, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further

disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed that in 2007, he was involved in bombing of Samjhota

express, which burnt alive 70 Pakistanis.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) was convinced that Sadhu Swami Aseemanand, a

Hindu right-wing leader was directly involved in the Samjhota Express blast. Sources in NIA

further pointed out that besides Lt. Col. Purohit, other Indian army officials were also behind that

train-bombing. In this regard, a court in Panchkula, Haryana has recorded Aseemanand’s

statement which confirmed the NIA inquiry.

Aseemanand’s statement in the Samjhota Express blast case was recorded under Section 164 of

the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate. His earlier admission was recorded in the

Mecca Masjid case, which was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Sadhu Aseemanand stuck to his confession that Hindutva radicals were behind the bomb attack

on the Samjhota Express. Aseemanand, Aka Naba and Kumar Sarkar, named absconding

Hindutva militants—Ramji Kaisangra and Sandeep Dange as the key plotters in that terror


Sources of the NIA also disclosed that the confession in connection with the Samjhota Express

blast practically rules out the involvement of other groups.

In the Samjhota Express case, the probe team has found that the bomb used in the train waskept

in a suitcase that was bought from a shop of Indore’s Kothari Market. The suitcase had cloth

covers stitched by an Indian local tailor. The NIA was now trying to get details of those who

bought the suitcase and covers.

It is notable that Dr. J C Batra, who is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, was

asked to give opinion on Aseemanand’s confession. He appeared very defensive and as usual

started accusing Pakistan’s its primary intelligence agency ISI—its so-called history for such

activities, alleging that even this could be an ISI plot. He further said that Swami’s statement

does not have much legal value as circumstantial evidence is also needed, while adding that RSS

is being wrongly implicated and there could be others involved who are not being exposed. In

this regard, a Pakistani parliamentarian, Mr. Mian Abdul Sattar, parliamentary secretary for

planning and development, who was accompanying him, later stated that that he was told by Mr

JC Batra that the Indian Army was involved in this case and there “are efforts to shield it from

getting exposed”.

Swami Aseemanand also confessed in the court that several RSS preachers and Sang activists

were directly involved in planning, financing and executing Malegaon, Samjhauta Express,

Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. He stated that various leaders of Hindu communal organizations

including Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi

Kalyan Ashram were also behind these blasts.

It is mentionable that in various tapes, LT. Col Purohit said, “We are all on the same plane,

Hindu Rashtra (Nation)”. He even claimed that Gen. J J Singh is “with us”. (Former Singh was

Army Chief till Sept. 2007). Significantly, Purohit mentioned that “one of our own captain had

visited Israel”, and demanded “continuous supply of arms, training, an office with a saffron flag

in Tel Aviv, political asylum and support for our cause of a Hindu Nation in the UN.” The

Israelis, he added, gave “a very positive response.”

In this context, exposing the nexus between Bhartia Janta Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya

Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the then Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde disclosed on

January 20, 2013 that organized training camps run by the fundamentalist parties, RSS and BJP

were promoting Hindu Terrorism. He also explained that these extremist parties were behind the

Samjhauta Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts. He added, “We will have to think

about it (Saffron terrorism) seriously…Hindu extremist parties BJP and RSS were involved

many times in Hindu Muslim violence in India, especially Gujarat and Babri masjid incident.”

The then India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid endorsed Shinde’s statement, saying

that it was based on facts. Meanwhile, Indian Home Secretary R K Singh revealed that during

investigation the government had found ten names of the Hindu extremists, associated with RSS,

who were involved in these terror attacks including Ajmer Sharif.

Similarly on July 19, 2013, the Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-

attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001

were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.

While, India has always accused Pakistan’s ISI of these acts of terrorism, but it is quite silent

over Hindutva-terror which has obtained a new face, under the fundamentalist Indian Prime

Minister Narendra Modi, as Indian RAW, country’s high officials and fundamentalist parties

have co-relationship.

Nevertheless, despite the confessions of Swami Aseemanand, instead of taking action against the

culprits of the Samjhota Express explosion, the Supreme Court of India accepted the bail of

Swami Aseemanand after the covert interference of the Modi-led authorities who changed the

investigations in this respect in order to weaken the case.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in India, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Samjhota Express Incident Revisited

Pakistani crackdown on extremists: One hand works to neutralise the other

Pakistani militant leader Hafez Saeed

By James M. Dorsey

Pakistan has put one of the world’s most wanted men under house arrest in a half-hearted crackdown on a militant group with close ties to the military and intelligence, in a bid to persuade President Donald Trump from adding the country to those whose citizens were last week banned from travelling to the United States.

Pakistani media reports and analysts said the move against Hafez Muhammad Saeed (pictured above), a leader of the banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its alleged front, Jamaat-ud-Din (JuD), came after US officials days before the inauguration of Mr Trump gave Pakistan until 31 January to respond to complaints by the Bangkok-based Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) about various JuD financial transactions.

Mr Saeed is believed to be among others responsible for the 2008 attacks on 12 targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Hotel, a train station, a café and a Jewish centre. Some 164 people were killed and more than 300 wounded. The US government has a bounty of $10 million on Mr Saeed for information leading to his capture.

Writing in The News, Pakistani investigative reporter Azaz Syed said US officials had told Pakistan’s ambassador in a meeting on 11 January that “if the objections raised in the report were not addressed, the US may put Pakistan in the blacklist of the countries in the International Cooperative Review Group (ICRG)”.

Symbolic detention

Apparently pre-warned that action may be taken against him, Mr Saeed suggested during a press conference in Islamabad three days later that JuD may start operating under a new name, a practice frequently adopted by militant groups with government acquiescence. Mr Saeed hinted that the new name would be Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir (Kashmir Freedom Movement).

Mr Syed, in a telephone interview alongside other analysts, said the move against Mr Saeed, several other JuD leaders and the group itself, were cosmetic. The symbolism was evident in the fact that Mr Saeed was confined to his home in Lahore that was declared a sub-jail rather than carted off to prison.

The symbolism was also reflected in public displays such as the removal of JuD flags from streets and the hoisting of Pakistani flags at the group’s 81-hectare headquarters in Muridke, a city of two and three-storey pillboxes famous for its fruits and vegetables, 22 kilometres north of Lahore. The International Crisis Group has reported that the complex, which contains an ultra-conservative religious school and housing for 3,000 students and staff, was built in 1998 with Saudi funding.

Links with Saudi Arabia

Mr Saeed has had longstanding links to Saudi Arabia, and the kingdom-backed Ahle-Hadith movement, a group whose ultra-conservative religious views are most closely aligned with Saudi-supported forms of Wahhabism and Salafis. A graduate of an Ahle-Hadith madrassa and King Saud University in Riyadh, Mr Saeed, backed by Saudi money founded Islamic schools in which potential jihadis not only studied Islam but also acquired computer and communication skills.

Mr Saeed was appointed in the 1980s by General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq as a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, an advisory body of clerics and scholars established to assist the Pakistani government in bringing laws in line with the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad. He has long left that post.

While studying in Saudi Arabia, Mr Saeed reportedly met with Saudi scholars involved in the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was those scholars who launched him in his career as a militant. Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian scholar who taught in Saudi Arabia, before founding the precursor to Al-Qaeda, is believed to have been one of LeT’s original inspirations.

“Nothing has changed”

Analysts and journalists compared the moves against Mr Saeed and JuD to an announcement in October by the State Bank of Pakistan that it had frozen the accounts of more than 2,000 people associated with political violence. Major groups like JuD, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), which focus mainly on Kashmir, were not included in the list.

“Nothing has changed,” one analyst said.

The degree of official protection Mr Saeed and his group have enjoyed over the years has long been an issue of concern to the United States.

US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer noted in a cable in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, published by Wikileaks, that JuD “is still operating in multiple locations in Pakistan, and that the group continues to openly raise funds. It is unclear what, if any, steps the GOP [Government of Pakistan] has taken to freeze JUD’s assets or otherwise implement UN [Resolution] 1267 sanctions, which include an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo”.

An earlier cable warned that charities connected to LeT and JeM that had been funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had increased the local population’s dependence on extremist groups and undermined the influence of moderate Sufi religious leaders.

Mr Saeed was in recent years a familiar figure in the news and in the public eye. In December he attended, alongside other prominent militants such as HuM founder Fazlur Khalil Rehman, a solidarity rally in the Pakistani Kashmir capital of Muzaffarabad.

Mr Rehman is a specially designated terrorist on the US Treasury Department’s list who counts a Saudi among his wives. He operates a madrassah [religious school] guarded by AK-47-toting guards on the outskirts of Islamabad. Mr Rehman, a signatory of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring the International Front Against Jews and Crusaders, has leveraged his close ties to the Pakistani world of militancy, his advocacy of armed struggle in Kashmir and his well-established connections to the Pakistani military and intelligence to position himself as a go-between.

Mr Saeed was accorded VIP treatment two weeks after the Muzaffarabad rally on board a state-owned Pakistan International Airways flight to the Baloch capital of Quetta where he gave a news conference together with Shahzain Bugti, the government-backed grandson of killed Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Months earlier, Mr Saeed headed a pro-Kashmir Azadi or Freedom caravan of buses, trucks, and cars from Lahore to Islamabad that stretched for kilometres along the Grand Trunk road that connects the two cities. The caravan swelled as it travelled the 270-kilometre-long road under the slogan: “The cure to India is nothing but jihad,” participants shouted.

In another twist of irony, Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority has tasked an institute run by a former JuD official who left the group because of a labour dispute rather than ideological differences with research on reform of madrassas, the religious schools many of which are suspected of being breeding grounds for political violence. The issue may be one of only appearance, given that the institute’s researchers make a serious impression in interviews. It nonetheless raises questions.

Cracking down on JuD may solve Pakistan’s most immediate potential issue with the United States. However, it does little to tackle the fundamental problem represented by JuD: a belief in key branches of the state that militant groups can serve a geopolitical purpose without endangering the fabric of society, a fabric that has already been infused by ultra-conservative strands of Islam, many of which are akin to Saudi Arabia’s puritan interpretation of the religion.

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