The Pakistan army has said no to the joint operation offer given by its foreign minister Khawaja Asif to the United States of America against the Haqqani Network.
Recently, while speaking in a TV interview, Khawaja Asif had said “his government had offered American authorities to visit Pakistan with evidence of Haqqani network’s safe havens in the country and if found, the Pakistani troops along with the US would destroy them once and for all.”
Asif Ghafoor, director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and Pakistan army’s spokesperson said “Pakistan’s soil will not be used for joint operations”. Ghafoor said there was no concept of joint operations on the soil of Pakistan while speaking on a TV programme on the rescue of five foreigners, a Canadian, his American wife and their three children, from Pakistan’s border areas along Afghanistan.
Khawaja Asif’s offer to US for a joint operation against the Haqqani network also drew criticism from political quarters. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, former interior minister of Pakistan lashed out at Asif saying “sovereign nations never allow other countries to conduct operations inside their territory.”
Khawaja Asif was also widely criticised last month when he accepted presence of terror groups in Pakistan while he was in the US for the United Nations General Assembly. He called Haqqanis, Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other terror outfits liabilities and pressed that his country needed to put its house in order. Reacting on Asif remarks, cricketer turned politician Imran Khan said Pakistan didn’t need enemies when it had such a foreign minister.
CIVILIAN VS MILITARY
Asif Ghafoor’s comments are also emblematic of the rift between Pakistan’s civilian government and its powerful military that has ruled for most of its independent history since 1947.
By flatly rejecting a proposal of its civilian government, the army again sent out the message that who was the real boss in Pakistan even if it meant Pakistan’s desperate efforts to mend ties with the US, its historical ally and one of the largest aid donors. The US has been blaming Pakistan for double-dealings and harbouring terrorists including the Haqqanis who regularly attack US interests in Afghanistan and has warned that it may soon end Pakistan’s US ally status.
Growing US criticism has forced Pakistan’s civilian government to look for ways to placate the only super power of the world but the Pakistan army, with its narrow China centric vision, fails to see the point. Last month, when Pakistani foreign minister was talking of putting a new foreign policy in place after a meeting of Pakistan’s foreign envoys, its army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa was singing a different tune with his assertion that “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.”
THE SURGICAL STRIKE CHAOS
The surgical strike carried out by India last year in September inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to avenge the Uri terror attack by Pakistan based terrorists that killed our 19 soldiers, most of them sleeping, is a classic example to see this civilian-military rift in Pakistan.
After the Surgical Strikes, first reactions came from Pakistan’s civilian establishment. Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who had to resigns recently due to corruption charges against him, said it was an act of ‘naked aggression’ by the Indian Army. Khawaja Asif, who was Pakistan’s defence minister then, initially said yes there were such incidents over the night but if India did so again, we would give a strong reply. So they accepted the Surgical Strikes.
But after its all powerful military issued a denial, dismissing the very existence of the Surgical Strikes, in a desperate bid to save its face, Pakistan’s civilian establishment had no other option but to toe the line. And soon the whole Pakistan, including its media, started speaking in the language of its army – and the line was – no surgical strike took place and it was a mere Line of Control (LoC) aggression. But the episode caused Pakistan a great deal of embarrassment.