The Economist London carried an article on 12th January titled “Praetorian Penury” that made certain fallacious and out of context claims about reasons behind Pakistan’s perennial woes and held Pakistan Army responsible for the permeating situation and challenges.  It is pertinent to point out at the outset that the publication is well known for its hostile attitude against Pakistan Army and has been carrying similar write-ups even in the past as part of a sustained campaign by the international lobbies to malign Pakistan and its armed forces. It is therefore imperative to expose the hollowness and falsehood of the claims made in the article.

There could not be a more preposterous proposition than to suggest that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was a threat to the world and that the poverty and maladministration which promoted instability in the country were attributable to it. First of all the fact is that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was India specific and it had to take that option due to the western backed nuclear programme of India and her exploding a nuclear device in 1974 which rang alarm bells for Pakistan. It in no way poses threat to the world. The decision to go nuclear was taken by an elected Prime Minister and not the Army. Security of the country takes precedence over everything else and is a universally accepted reality. It was nevertheless regrettable that Pakistan landed into the situation by the threats to her security from India rather than due to any aggressive design of her own.  The emerging circumstances surely led to allocation of more resources for strengthening defence capabilities of the country but that was not the predominant and the only factor responsible for poverty. It was attributable to a host of internal and external factors.

To say that Pakistan Army’s pre-eminence lies at the heart of Pakistan’s troubles and that it has defined and defended ideology in destructive ways, assuming the responsibility of defending Islam and has promoted the doctrine of persecution and paranoia by raising the bogey of security threats to the country which has also led to insurgencies in Balochistan and Pushtun areas, is yet another misconceived suggestion. Pakistan was created on the basis of an ideology and Pakistan’s constitution makes it incumbent upon the state to defend Islam. It is therefore the state ideology rather than a narrative propounded by the Army. As a state institute Army has undoubtedly the responsibility not only to defend territorial integrity of the country but also to make sure that its ideological foundations are not challenged or endangered.

The insurgencies in Balochistan and Pushtun areas that the article attributes to the alleged persecution and paranoia by the Army are a sequel to the inventions by the foreign powers to achieve their nefarious designs. Right from the creation of Pakistan, some regional powers have been fomenting trouble in Balochistan. First it were the former USSR and Iraq who promoted insurgency in that province and now it is India which is backing the insurgents and sponsoring acts of terrorism as corroborated by Kalbhushan Yadev in his confessional statement. Pakistan Army is on record to have undertaken tremendous development work in Balochistan and restoring peace in the province. It is indeed intellectual dishonesty to distort the facts.

The claim in the article that  India got involved in war with Pakistan in 1971 which culminated in emergence of Bangladesh to put an end to the genocide  that Pakistan had unleashed is the most perficious and malicious contention and a shameful attempt to hide the real facts.

Mujib was harbouring the idea of an independent Bangladesh for more than two decades before the 1971 war, which he publicly expressed when the Indian forces occupied East Pakistan, by saying that his dream of 24 years for an ‘Independent Bangladesh’ had been fulfilled. The Agartala Conspiracy Case instituted by Ayub Khan was a reality and not a set-up to discredit Mujib as claimed by his supporters. The Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Assembly, Shaukat Ali, who was one of the accused of the Agartala Conspiracy, on a point of order in the Assembly in 2010, confessed that charges read out to them were true stating that they formed a Shangram Parishad under Sheikh Mujib for secession of East Pakistan.

Tripura was actually the launching pad for offensive against the Pakistan Army for the Mukti Bahni and the Indian army. When Sheikh Hasina visited Tripura from January 11-12 in 2009, a Bangladeshi journalist Haroon Habib in an article published by The Hindu said that by visiting the state she was revisiting history as Tripura was the unofficial headquarter of the war of liberation.

The proposition in the article that Pakistan Army blocked rapprochement with India also belies the ground realities. Pakistan has made several overtures for resumption of dialogue to settle disputes with India including the core issue of Kashmir. The civilian and military leadership are on the same page in that regard. The COAS General Bajwa has repeatedly urged the need for resolving the contentious issues and living as peaceful neighbours. But all those moves which have been widely reported by the media were disdainfully dismissed by the Indian government. As is evident Pakistan Army is not obstructing rapprochement with India. Nevertheless, it takes two to tango and Pakistan cannot do it unilaterally.

The myth of Bombay attack having been carried out by a Pakistani citizen has also been exploded by the revelation that the main accused Ajmal Kasab was   Indian citizen. Times of India on 22/11/2018 made a shocking revelation that Ajmal Kasab who was hanged at Yerwada jail in Pune on 21 November 2012 had been issued a domicile certificate at Bidhoona Tehsil in Uttar Pardesh’s Aurariya district. The revelation unmasked the Indian plan of stage-managing the Bombay attack and using it as ploy to malign Pakistan. One wonders how the writer of the article could ignore that irrefutable reality?

Pakistan rejects terrorism in all its manifestations and has played a very significant role in the fight against it sustaining unimaginable losses in terms of men and material. It has taken indiscriminate action against all terrorist entities and made relentless efforts to promote Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan. Arranging the recent talks between Taliban and the US is an irrefutable testimony of her sincerity in that regard. Pakistan Army has played a sterling role in checking the burgeoning terrorism in its tracks by rendering unprecedented sacrifices. After the successful completion of operation in North Waziristan it is now engaged in culling the sympathizers and supporters of the terrorists within the country.

The pre-eminence of Pakistan Army is dictated by the security environment and threats to the integrity of the country emanating from the region as well as due to the fallout of the global politics. Under the circumstances it is a symbol of national unity and the nation backs the role that it is performing in addressing the confronted challenges and the fight against terrorism. Contrary to the image of a villain portrayed in the article it is in fact a benefactor of the nation in many ways.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist.