RAJA JAVED ALI BHATTI
Praveen Swami in his apparently innocent and well-meaning article titled ‘The Time might have come for India and Pakistan to talk’ has made designed distortions in the recent past history of the two archrivals. Messages have been conveyed in a subtle way under the guise of revival of talks and friendship. The motivation behind writing this article is the floating rumors in India about the possible Indo-Pakistan talks that were abruptly stalled by India after the attacks in Mumbai on 26 Nov 2008.
He says that for weeks rumors have proliferated in New Delhi’s diplomatic and policy communities on the existence of a secret India-Pakistan diplomatic channel on Kashmir. The rumor mill adds color to the story by asserting that India’s NSA Ajit Doval visited Islamabad secretly. Another version talk of a meeting held between high officials in London and Washington. Topics for discussion ranged from the fate of Kashmir, to the future of Afghanistan, and to the trial of Kulbushan Jadhav, incarcerated in Pakistan on espionage charges. He shrewdly omitted terrorism charges.
He erroneously claims that after the Sept 18, 2016 terror attack on an Indian army camp at Uri, when Modi directed the Indian military to adopt an aggressive posture by striking across the LoC whenever any attack took place in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), accordingly a surgical strike was conducted on so-called launch pads of militants in AJK on 29 Sept 2016. He claims that since then, there has not been a single Jihadi attack in India. In other words, the so-called surgical strike deterred Pakistan.
This is an absolute false claim and travesty of truth since no Jihadi attack was ever launched in India or IOK from Pakistani soil under state sponsorship and no surgical strike has ever been launched by IAF other than the one on 24 February 2019 in reaction to the Pulwama terror attack on 14 February 2019 for which Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Pakistan were wrongly accused by India. Pakistan effectively gave a hard blow to India on 26th and 27th February. The world press has covered all the events in copious details.
It is now an established fact that Pakistan was blamed by India for all the terror attacks which took place in India between 2001 and 2008. JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba and ISI were held responsible. This was done under a well-calculated plan to get Pakistan declared a terror abetting state. These included the attack on Indian Parliament in Dec 2001, Samjhota Express train in 2007 in which 60 Pakistanis were burnt to death, Malegaon and Hyderabad Mecca mosque and Mumbai attacks. In each attack, Muslims were the victims.
Indian investigator chief inspector Hemant Karkare investigating Malegaon terror attack arrested a gang and proved before the law court that all the attacks were conducted by local Hindu extremists belonging to Abhinov outfit which was headed by a serving Lt Col Srikant Purohit. The accused confessed their crimes. Fake Hindu saint Aseemanand also reconfirmed it and so did the authors of 4 books written by Indian and German authors. India’s Home Ministry officials like Sushil and Atish Sharma submitted affidavits in the Supreme Court asserting that the Mumbai attacks were an in-house affair and masterminded by RAW-Mossad-CIA to demonize Pakistan and Kashmiri Mujahideen.
It is unfortunate that Pakistan tied to its policy of appeasement didn’t put India on the mat, particularly after India failed to furnish an iota of evidence to substantiate its charges. After Mumbai attacks, India cut off diplomatic relations with Pakistan, stalled composite dialogue, stopped Samjhota train service and declared terrorism as an inexcusable sin more important than the Kashmir issue. Like in 2002, India deployed its strike formations against Pakistan and threatened to launch an offensive under its Cold Start Doctrine. The US and the West fully supported India’s version and pressed Pakistan to allow IAF to conduct surgical strikes on Muredke and so-called militant camps in AJK. The Indian jets took off to strike the intended targets but had to fly back when Pak F-16s confronted them. The whole drama was drummed up and sensationalized on concocted charges. Since then, Pakistan has been bending over backwards to resume talks but India has continually spurned it.
Encouraged by Pakistan’s muteness, India continued to build a narrative to paint Pakistan as a terror abetting country and India a victim of terrorism. To strengthen its narrative, India continued to stage false flag operations in IOK which included engineered attacks in Udhampur, Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama. On each occasion, Pakistan sought evidence and extended full cooperation to India but the latter couldn’t furnish shred of evidence since those were stage-managed. Pakistan on the other hand has tons of evidence to prove that India is the biggest terrorist state in the region and has shared it with all concerned. Above all, Pakistan has a serving Navy Commander Kulbushan in its custody who confessed his acts of subversion in Baluchistan, Mekran Coast and Karachi and has been awarded death sentence. He has sought mercy but sticks to his original stance that he is guilty.
Praveen repeated the oft-parroted narrative that IAF successfully destroyed the sanctuary of JeM at Balakot, which had been blamed for the Pulwama attacks. Factually the air intrusion on February 22, 2019 was a complete fiasco. 3 Israeli supplied precision guided Spike missiles were hurriedly dropped on a hilltop by Mirage 2000s, which felled few pine trees. Diplomatic community was escorted by the then DG ISPR Maj Gen Ghafoor to the site and the true picture was widely commented by the world media. It was a huge embarrassment for IAF and India.
In order to hide RAW-NDS massive cross-border terrorism against Pakistan from Afghan soil from 2002 till to-date, Praveen cleverly quoted Afghanistan intelligence (NDS) claiming that the ISI was running a cell in Nangarhar, led by Kashmiri Jihad commander Abdul Gani Dar, to train Indian jihadists. It is a well-established fact that the two agencies have provided safe havens to several banned runaway militant groups and had established 70 training camps/centres to train and equip proxies. At Nangarhar, Ajit Doval brought ISIS elements from Iraq and Syria in 2014 and were married with Jamaat al Ahrar, an offshoot of TTP. Nangarhar became a bastion of ISIS (Khurasan) which was eventually cleared by the Taliban in 2019.
Praveen brings out another revelation that at a May 27, 2014 meeting, outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave Prime Minister Modi a set of unsigned notes, containing records of secret negotiations to seal a Kashmir deal with Pakistan’s former military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf. In essence, the deal involved autonomy for Kashmir — in return for the Line of Control becoming a permanent border. This could be nearer to truth since Musharraf had offered out-of-box solution to India. But for the lawyers’ movement which sprang in March 2007 and led to ouster of Musharraf, the shady deal on Kashmir with LoC as an international border would have materialized.
Praveen says that New Delhi might not be willing to countenance autonomy for Kashmir today — but it is possible that Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Qamar Bajwa, might be willing to discuss options. Among the ideas floated during these negotiations was hiving off Gilgit — a region Islamabad has long claimed sovereignty over, arguing it seceded from undivided Kashmir prior to independence — from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India, in turPeacen, was to closely integrate Ladakh.
To conclude, one can say that this is a one-sided view and kite flying at best, particularly at a time when China and India are confronting each other. There is no way Pakistan can afford to be seen negotiating with India behind China’s back. People of Pakistan are otherwise suspecting that Kashmir has been bartered away. They are feeling upset over non-action of the rulers to provide relief to the Kashmiris in distress. In any case, what has India to offer? Nothing, except platitudes and false promises.