Pakistan's military policy is killing the nation-state

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 15, 2016 16:16 hrs
Indo Pak

We have provided Pakistan proof on the Pathankot attack. It is clinching. Call records, DNA samples and voice samples have been given to the Pakistan team. But how does DNA sample matter to a country without any DNA? Pakistan believes that there is 'no proof' even if you catch someone alive like Ajmal Kasab. 

It was a forgone conclusion that the Nuclear Security Summit at Washington held in the first week of April was to be overwhelmingly focused on Pakistan. Accordingly, the Pakistan military, the custodian of nuclear weapons, suffering from prosecution complex, made it impossible for Nawaz Sharif to go for the Summit. Nawaz is the Prime Minister of Pakistan and like all other prime ministers he has little control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme. 

The attack on Pathankot airbase therefore was with the objective of sabotaging his participation in the Summit. The military's façade of sharing Pathankot intelligence was to win the goodwill of US and its allies before the Summit. It was a ploy to buy temporary reprieve. 

Its aim was to take the sting out of the global concern about the insecurity and proliferation aspects of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Having lulled Nawaz Sharif and the US in run-up to the Summit, the Pakistan military then pulled the rug under the feet of Nawaz Sharif by conjuring Kulbhushan Jadhav and back tracking on the investigation after the visit of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to Pathankot. 

It cost nothing to the military-intelligence establishment in unleashing the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) cadres on Pathankot. All jihadi tanzims including the JeM are part of the 'Jihadi-Narco-Terror Network'. They sustain on drug money and have cross border operatives and beneficiaries including in the security establishment. 

As per the script, when the moment arrived of proscribing the JeM, the Chinese used their Veto power to salvage Pakistan and redeem Maulana Masood Azhar. 

The preferential treatment to JeM or say mollycoddling of Masood Azhar, a Punjabi, incited the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) comprising mainly Pashtuns to subject Iqbal Park in Lahore to suicide attack in which more than 70 people were killed including women and children. The TTP has mainly been bearing the onslaught of the Pakistan Army all over the country including in FATA where operation Zarb-e-Azb has rendered thousands homeless and has orphaned countless children. The blow back in Punjab was thus expected. The JIT drama thus cost Pakistan heavily. 

Pakistan, particularly its military, is a prisoner of its own jihadi agenda. Jihadi organizations have ensured that India-Pak enmity is effectively translated into 'Hindu versus Muslim' narrative. Jihad inherently has global designs; it cannot be confined against one country. It is for this reason that many jihadi outfits have rebelled against the narrow narrative of the Pakistani military and turned hostile to the Pakistan State. 

They have refused to be slaves of 'Pakistan versus India' or 'Pakistan versus Afghan government' agenda. ISIS therefore has a great future in Pakistan or may be even the Indian Subcontinent.

Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed are basically global jihadis. The latest reports based on the archival research of the BBC reveal that Azhar had extensively toured the UK in 1993. He delivered some 40 speeches in different mosques, predominantly Deobandi. It may be mentioned that more than 40 percent of mosques in Britain are under the control of Deobandis. The report suggests that Azhar was the first to fan the ideology of modern jihadist militancy in Britain. 

A serious question emerges why did China, which is tormented by Uighur jihadists in Xinjiang and has recently banned burqas in the capital city of Urmuqi, come to the aid of JeM and Pakistan by using its Veto? 

Plausibly there are two reasons, i.e. first, the Chinese would like to keep India unsettled through Pak jihadi outfits, as it makes a strategic thrust through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and all the way to the Gwadar port through Pakistan's longer axis by way of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

Secondly, both Pakistan and China need the goodwill and indulgence of the Punjab based militant groups for security of the CPEC. Amongst the highway networks envisaged for the CPEC, the stretch between Lahore and Karachi has been designated as a 'priority project', while the Eastern highway Abottabad – Quetta (linking finally to Gwadar port) has been designated a 'short term project'. The Lahore-Karachi segment passes close to the Bahawalpur area, which is under the influence of the JeM. 

No one should underestimate the influence of these jihadi groups in Punjab. It has recently been evidenced in the massive outpour of support after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, killer of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Tasir, and the popularity of parallel Shariat courts run by Hafiz Saeed's JuD. 

In the international fora, ignominy is not new to Pakistan. Nevertheless, the latitude to Pakistan by the US and its allies, notwithstanding the exigencies in Afghanistan, is inexplicable. China on the other hand is known for pursuing its strategic agenda and foreign policy objectives though rouge states like North Korea. Pakistan in China's reckoning belongs to the same category. As long as jihadi outfits thrive, Pakistan will continue to be the rouge and the client state that China desires. 

The Pakistan military has abundantly demonstrated that it cannot abandon the jihadi outfits till it amalgamates India's J&K and till it imposes its own regime in Kabul in perpetuity. Hence the Pakistan government may have no status or influence in country's foreign policy but for the Pakistan military the jihadi tanzims are an important strategic component. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's so called 'impromptu' visit to Pakistan was one way by Nawaz Sharif to make a serious bid to claim his legitimate role in determining the foreign policy of the country. The battle is on. 

The disconnect between the government and the Pakistan military has cast dark shadows over Pakistan's nation-state status. The Army is controlling Karachi, it is bombing FATA, it is facing insurgency in Baluchistan, it is deployed in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and now after the JIT affair it is in Punjab. Never in the history of Pakistan has the Army been so bedeviled internally. Never before has it been so stretched. It is unable to cope up the blowback of jihad against India and Afghanistan. 61 hangings by the military courts in Pakistan have not given any respite from the blowback. 

It is not in India's interest in containing the blowback jihad or makes things easy for Pakistan's military. 

Khaled Ahmed, a respected Pakistan columnist, earlier in Pakistan's Foreign Service had a decade earlier observed: "Pakistan is falling, because it is a warrior state and is not supposed to last. It is wedded to the ideal of war in which ideological rulers accept the possibility of annihilation (Shahddat), as a consequence of righteous war."

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RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW. He is the author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan.