US IS BLAMING PAKISTAN TO COVER ITS OWN FAILURES IN AFGHANISTAN: PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

The United States policy in Afghanistan is framed by defeated US generals and can never succeed with the baggage of defeat it carries, Pakistan has said blaming the US for singling out Pakistan to cover its own failures in the war ravaged south Asian nation.

“The US generals who faced defeat in Afghanistan in the last 15 years have formed the structure for the policy for this region,” remarked Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif* while speaking on the floor of the country’s senate today, adding that “no objective policy can be formed when it is baggage of defeat” and is bound to fail, a Geo News report said.

The report further quoted Asif saying “when the US holds Pakistan responsible, it, in fact, tries to brush its own defeat under the carpet.” Asif also informed the senate of Pakistan that he told this to the US in unequivocal terms, both during his visit to the US in September and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Pakistan visit on October 24, first by a senior US government official after US President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy on August 21 where he blamed Pakistan for being a safe terror haven and harbouring terrorists who hurt US interests in Afghanistan, especially the Haqqani Network.

During his visit, Tillerson had reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, something which had seen strong reactions from Khawaja Asif and the Pakistani parliament.

Blaming the US and other international forces fighting in Afghanistan of being inept, Asif then had hit back saying it was indeed the central reason behind the prolonged Afghanistan crisis. He had further added that the “terrorist attacks were not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil and there were no terrorist safe havens in the country,” be it the Haqqani Network or others while its senate chairman had called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable, “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country.”

Pakistan has also dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif recently said in an interview, even if the facts say otherwise. According to a USAID report, the US aid to Pakistan till 2012 stood at $60 Billion. Also, in the last five years alone, since 2011, Pakistan has received some $15 Billion in aid from America, including military and financial assistance.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

Last month, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN ARMY’S NO TO ITS FOREIGN MINISTER’S OFFER TO US FOR JOINT OPERATION AGAINST HAQQANIS

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.

©SantoshChaubey

INDIA’S PRIME MINISTER IS A TERRORIST, RSS A TERROR OUTFIT: PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The growing international pressure, it seems, has taken over Pakistan’s ruling corridors and it utter frustration, they are now resorting even to using derogatory words for India and its ruling dispensation that has successfully worked to isolate Pakistan on its terror track record.

We just saw a frustrated Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi terrorist during a television interview.

While answering a question about India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calling Pakistan a terror exporter nation at the United Nations General Assembly recently, Asif said it was in fact India that was ruled by a terrorist prime minister and a terrorist party.

On Geo News’ Capital Talk, Asif said the Indian prime minister had blood of Gujarati Muslims on his hands. He further went on to say that India was being ruled by a terrorist party, the RSS, and the BJP was its companion.

Link to the video clip on Geo News’ website: 

https://www.geo.tv/latest/160846-conflict-among-institutes-would-harm-country-khawaja-asif

Sushma’s address to the UNGA on September 23 in New York mentioned Pakistan multiple times linking it with terror and said that “Pakistan seemed only engaged in fighting India.” Sushma speech showed mirror to Pakistan for its double-dealings and treachery and held it responsible for the aborting the peace process between the two countries.

Clearly making a distinction between the two countries and showing Pakistan its real place, Sushma said Pakistan had become a hopeless case and it had nothing to offer to the world and indeed to its own people apart from terrorism.

The fact indeed is, Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists and uses terror as state policy tool. It exports terrorism not only to its neighbouring countries like India and Afghanistan but is also increasingly becoming isolated as a terror haven for groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban who perpetrate terror globally.

US President Donald Trump has declared Pakistan a terror haven and has indicated that the US soon could end Pakistan’s US ally status. The BRICS that has China as a founding member also talked tough on terror clearly warning terror havens like Pakistan to crackdown on terrorists in its declaration issued last month.

It has created a sense of panic in Pakistan’s ruling circles, be it its civilian government or its military. Though they deny it, their contradicting responses confirm it.

A day after the BRICS Declaration, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir rejected it saying Pakistan had no terror safe havens, only to be contradicted by Khawaja Asif the next day who accepted presence of terror groups in Pakistan including India centric terror groups LeT and JeM and went on to say that his country must rein-in terror groups to avoid international embarrassment.

While Asif was trying to be straightforward, his country’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa chose to warn the US, “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.” Pakistan’s parliament has also taken on its foreign minister and prime minister for letting the country down after Asif repeated the same arguments on the sidelines of the UNGA and the Pakistani PM endorsed it.

PS: We should also not forget that it was Khawaja Asif only who used to nuke India every other before surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in last September and its first anniversary just passed on September 29.

Before September 2016’s surgical strike, the favourite line of Khawaja Asif happened to be that Pakistan will eliminate India with its tactical nuclear weapons if it tried to impose war on Pakistan.

The same Khawaja Asif, after the surgical strike on the intervening night of September 28-29, was stuttering while accepting that there was an aggression by India and ‘if India tries it again, Pakistan will give befitting reply’ (and not that ‘Pakistan will nuke and eliminate India), before toeing the line of Pakistan’s army. He had gone on to say even this that ‘India and Pakistan cannot take risk of a nuclear holocaust’.

©SantoshChaubey

INCREASING INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FORCES PAKISTAN TO TALK OF A NEW FOREIGN POLICY NARRATIVE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

A day after accepting presence of terror groups in Pakistan, its Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has now said that his country’s needs a “new but correct direction in foreign policy narrative aimed at bridging the gap in the perception of Pakistan and some members of the international community on the issue of fighting terrorism.”

He was speaking after a three day meet of selected Pakistani envoys from countries like US, India, Russia and China to deliberate over increasing international criticism for allowing terrorists to use its soil to perpetrate terror in other countries.

“Asif said a new foreign policy narrative has been evolved and this would be finalized after input by the National Security Committee and the Parliament”, Radio Pakistan reported. The meet was organized to brainstorm on important foreign policy issues and “had in depth discussions on the new policy of the United States for South Asia and Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring countries especially India.”

US and India prominently figured in the three-day deliberations, the Radio Pakistan report indicates, “Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States briefed the participants on the US policy which helped crystallize many issues. Similarly, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India also briefed the conference about Pakistan-India relations.”

Though the frank admission by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister on presence of terror groups on its soil has come immediately after the BRICS Declaration which not only named and shamed terrorist groups like LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network and TTP, operating from inside Pakistan but also explicitly warned it, without naming it, when it said that it was primarily the responsibility of countries to prevent and counter terrorism, a course correction by Pakistan had become unavoidable given the incessant warnings by the only superpower of the world, the US, which is also a major aid provide to Pakistan, helping it with over $15 Billion in last five years.

Pakistan finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially after being repeatedly criticised for offering a safe haven to terrorists by US which even today warned it to change its approach towards terror groups. “We look to the Pakistan government to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region,” a US States Department spokesperson said.

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests. The BRICS Declaration only added to it.

It has created a sense of panic in Pakistan’s ruling establishment. Though they deny it, their contradicting responses confirm it. A day after the BRICS Declaration, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir rejected it saying Pakistan had no terror safe havens.

But yesterday, in an interview, Khawaja Asif admitted presence of terror groups in Pakistan including India centric terror groups LeT and JeM and went on to say that his country must rein-in terror groups to avoid international embarrassment and needed a clean break from the country’s past. And today, when he emphasised on the need of new foreign policy narrative for Pakistan, it came in the backdrop of Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s assertion that “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.”

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN’S DEFENCE MIN AT IT AGAIN: DARES INDIA TO CONDUCT A SURGICAL STRIKE

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

Pakistan has done it again, with its senate and top political leadership bragging about their military might and how they would teach India a lesson that would make it ‘forget making claims of even a fake surgical strike’ in Pakistan.

According to a Radio Pakistan report, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khwaja said ‘if India tried to make any effort to carry out surgical strikes in future these will be responded with full force and they will forget to carry out even faked strikes in future.’

Pakistan’s senate today passed a resolution to condemn prime minister Narendra Modi’s statement where he called Pakistan ‘mother-ship of terrorism’ without naming it. During the BRICS Summit held in Goa in October 2016, Narendra Modi had said that ‘the most serious direct threat to our eco prosperity is terrorism; Tragically, its mother-ship is a country in India’s neighbourhood’. Condemning Pakistan for using terror as state policy, Modi had said that ‘this country shelters not just terrorists. It nurtures a mindset. A mindset that loudly proclaims that terrorism is justifiable for political gains.’

Passing anti-India resolutions in Pakistan’s senate is a regular scene and, it seems, is a favourite pastime, and during one such spectacle today, its defence minister, while terming India’s surgical strike in September 2016 as fake, said that India violated the ceasefire over 300 times last year in which 45 Pakistani civilians lost their lives. He went on to aggrandize his statement to the extent to say that ‘India was also involved in such violations with other neighbouring countries including Nepal and Bangladesh’.

The resolution said that the international community had rejected ‘baseless propaganda’ by India ‘attributing terrorism to Pakistan’ and ‘the statement made by the Indian Premier was an effort to divert the attention of the International Community from the Indian atrocities against the people of Occupied Kashmir’. Continuing Pakistan’s Kashmir rant, Khawaja Asif said that ‘Pakistan will continue political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination’.

Khawaja Asif is speaking in a similar tone that he used to go with before India conducted its highly successful surgical strike deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September 2016 destroying many terror camps and killing dozens of terrorists. The surgical strike had left Pakistan shocked to the extent that its leaders initially didn’t know how to react on it and later on toed the Pakistan’s Army line of denying the surgical strike to save their face and humiliated bravado.

Before September’s surgical strike, the favourite line of Khawaja Asif happened to be that it will eliminate India with its tactical nuclear weapons if India tried to impose war on Pakistan.

After the Uri terror strike on September 18, 2016, that killed 19 of our soldiers, most of them sleeping, Pakistan had started feeling the heat as there was intense demand in India that the country should take some decisive, concrete against Pakistan this time. To handle this, and to thwart any serious response by the Indian establishment, (and buoyed by the past precedent, when India had hesitated to take any tough measure), the Pakistani ruling elite started blackmailing and threatening India with their so-called tactical or nuclear weapons.

The same Khawaja Asif, after the surgical strike on the intervening night of September 28-29, was stuttering while accepting that there was an aggression by India and ‘if India tries it again, Pakistan will give befitting reply’ (and not that ‘Pakistan will nuke and eliminate India), before toeing the line of Pakistan’s army. He had gone on to say even this that ‘India and Pakistan cannot take risk of a nuclear holocaust’.

Today’s development in the Pakistani senate seems more of a response to the Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s warning that, if needed, India will conduct surgical strike again. Like the Uri attack had forced Pakistan to issue threats to India to thwart any counter move, General Rawat’s open warning this time might have forced the Pakistani ruling establishment to issue a veiled threat to India again.

But see what a successful surgical strike has done. The ‘befitting reply by the Pakistan’ had no mention of tactical, nuclear weapons this time.

©SantoshChaubey

KHAWAJA ASIF: FROM ‘ELIMINATING INDIA’ TO ‘NO TO NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST’

Though Pakistan is trying hard to deny India the glory that a successful Surgical Strike by India against terrorists in Pakistan controlled territory of Jammu & Kashmir has brought, we can easily gauge the sentiments in Pakistan, by the pre and post strike body language of its leaders.

After the Uri terror strike, that killed 19 of our soldiers, most of them sleeping, Pakistan had started feeling the heat as there was intense demand in India that the country should take some decisive, concrete against Pakistan this time.

To handle this, and to thwart any serious response by the Indian establishment, (and buoyed by the past precedent, when India had hesitated to take any tough measure), the Pakistani ruling elite started blackmailing and threatening India with their so-called tactical or nuclear weapons. And it reflects so perfectly in the body language and changing statements of Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s defence minister.

After the Uri attack but the before the Surgical Strike, the favourite line of Khawaja Asif happened to be that it will eliminate India with its tactical (read nuclear) weapons if India tried to impose war on Pakistan. See the body language and carefree attitude here (in this video) while he delivers threat (bluster) to India here.

Now see this. This video clip shows same Khawaja Asif post the Surgical Strike on the intervening night of September 28-29. See how resigned he looks, as if he has been slammed left, right and centre. The look on his face clearly shows that the Pakistani ruling elite had not expected a Surgical Strike from India even in dreams and was in a state of shock, not knowing how to respond. He stutters while accepting that there was an aggression by India and if India tries it again, Pakistan will give befitting reply (and not that ‘Pakistan will nuke and eliminate India).

And what about this tweet on October 3 from Dunya News, a Pakistani news channel.

Dunya News @DunyaNews
India-Pakistan cannot take risk of a nuclear holocaust, we will keep supporting the right of freedom of our Kashmiri brothers: @KhawajaMAsif

Now it is indicator of complete realization (and surrender) in the ruling Pakistani establishment. In just a week, from September 26 to October 3, Khawaja Asif has travelled from ‘we will nuke and eliminate India’ to ‘India and Pakistan cannot risk a nuclear holocaust’.

But old habits die hard.

So it will take some time before Pakistan can recalibrate its strategy and response to a bold, new India who is asserting herself on the global stage and who is ready to take on minnows like Pakistan who have gone rogue with nuclear power, both militarily as well as diplomatically.

Till then, let them say whatever they want to propagandize. Why should we care.

©SantoshChaubey