Pakistan’s Misplaced Expectations

Pakistan’s has shown its belligerence once again; Major-General Asif Gafoor, Director-General Inter- Services Public Relations, recently threatened India of 10 surgical strikes if New Delhi dared to launch such an attack against Pakistan. This, of course, is the usual language of a military General, but the very fact that he glossed over the surgical strike Indian forces launched against Pakistan a year ago, killing about 20 terrorists camping on Pakistani side, shows that the easiest way out for Pakistan is to deny that any such strike ever took place. If that is the strategy Islamabad has adopted for, it can always spare itself the need to take any retaliatory action.

Indian Home Minister Raj Nath Singh has made it clear to the Indian security forces that they should avoid firing the first bullet but if they are shot at, they need not count the bullets they fire in retaliation.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has been urging the international community to acknowledge and reward Pakistan for its contribution in curbing terrorism. However, no one is impressed by Pakistan’s clamour. The world knows how Pakistan has been aiding, abetting and sheltering several terrorist organizations on its soil to attack India, Afghanistan and Iran.

Afghan leaders mince no words in blaming Pakistan for sheltering the Afghan Taliban to launch attacks in Afghanistan. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, this week, in another scathing attack on Islamabad has said that Pakistan would be held accountable on terrorism. A US Senator, Ted Poe has clearly stated that he wants Pakistan to be formally declared as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) team which visited Pakistan also remained unimpressed by Pakistan’s action against terrorists on its territory. Suffice to assume that the financial embargo against Islamabad would continue. One wonders whom the Pakistani military generals and civil leaders are trying to impress by talking about its so called contribution in dealing with terrorism.

Gen. Gafoor also said that recent elections in Pakistan were held in a free and fair atmosphere. He also claimed the media in Pakistan to be independent. With these statements, Gen. Gafoor betrayed where the real power centre lies in Pakistan. The world wants Pakistan’s civil government to take charge and deal firmly with terror outfits who launch attacks in neighbouring countries.  Instead, the Pakistani civilian government succumbs to pressure from the military on each important issue. The latest example of this is the removal of a very senior judge of the Lahore High Court, Justice Shoukat Aziz Sidiqqui from his post just because he criticized the ISI for exerting pressure on the judiciary to secure favourable judgments. Earlier, the Lahore High Court had rejected a petition against Justice Sidiqqui who was tipped to be the next Chief Justice of the High Court. In this situation, it would be naive to expect Pakistan’s civil government to act against the terrorist outfits which the Pak army considers its strategic assets. It is been widely rumoured that Prime Minister Imran Khan simply toes the line of the all powerful military establishment.

Meanwhile, India summoned a senior official of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and issued a demarche on the fatal casualties of Indian soldiers during an attempted cross border infiltration by Pakistani terrorists in Sunderbani Sector in Jammu and Kashmir. Two Pakistani armed intruders were killed by the Indian security forces during the ensuing firefight. India condemned the provocative action by Pakistan in the strongest terms. This reveals Islamabad’s complicity in aiding and abetting terrorism and exposes the hollowness of Pakistan’s deceitful claims to promote constructive engagement and desire for peace.

It is needless to add that the victim card being played by Islamabad will keep on proving counterproductive for the country as long as it lacks sincerity and good intentions.

Script: Ashok Handoo, Political Commentator