By Manzoor Ahmed
After indulging in all kinds of terrorist activities, and getting one, knock-out punch in return, Pakistani leadership is back to its old game of subterfuge and deceit, which is no less than a Theatre of Absurd.
When Pakistan-trained and supported terrorists launched an unprovoked attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Kashmir in September, Pakistan went into its usual denial mode with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif running around the world capitals, making a joke of himself and his country, crying about how India was behind all the violence in the sub-continent. His ministers made similar noises accusing India of every crime under the Sun. The army chief, General Raheel Sharif, dreaming of an extension, strutted around saying his army was ready for any eventualities.
Then came the surgical strikes from India and New Delhi’s decision to go public with this. It was an unprecedented action and it caught both the Kakis in Rawalpindi and the feudal masters in Islamabad by surprise. They never expected India to respond with such speed and impact. At worst, they thought, India would made a louder noise at the UN and other world capitals and then keep quiet. The strikes undid them and their pretentions.
The one who got the maximum bruise was the strutting General who could not find a place to hide himself. He made a weak threat that he was prepared to respond to any threat from the enemy. But the whole world knew that when the surgical strike was happening, he was happily in deep slumber. The only way he and his Generals could get themselves an honourable exit was to concoct a lie, a regular practice with the army, that there was no surgical strike. The Pakistan Army said there was a firing incident at the Line of Control which killed two Pakistani soldiers. But there was no strike from the adversary, they wanted their people to believe.
Even if someone did, they would scratch their heads when they heard a police officer in Pakistan occupied Kashmir spoke to a television channel, notwithstanding it was a sting operation, that those who were killed in the Indian strike were quietly carted away in a truck in the dead of the night. Since those killed were terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), there was obviously no record of their whereabouts, at least officially. Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar would know but they would obviously choose to keep quiet. How can they tell their brainwashed cadre that their friends were killed by the Indian forces on the Pakistani soil, and not on any `jihad` and there would be no “paradise full of hoors“ for them.
Even if the lies have long legs, they do often tire out quickly and this is what happened to the story concocted by the Media Wing of the ISI, a dedicated wing of Pakistan Army entrusted to manage the news content in Pakistan and elsewhere about Pakistan Army and its interests. With no one really buying the idea of a false flag operation by India, the civilian and military leadership huddled together and came out with this grand scheme to fan out into all the world capitals and cry Kashmir. It was decided that all the diplomats and all others who were on the payroll of ISI in these capitals would launch a grand roadshow about Indian atrocities in Kashmir. Quickly, the diplomats of top countries in Islamabad were briefed about Pakistani delusions. The Generals flew to their forward bases and command headquarters to assure their men that there was no need to panic, they were not punched and it was but nothing tall tales made up by the Indians.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself took charge of this brigade of fabricators. So when he got his few minutes of fame and attention at the UN General Assembly, he vent his spleen, ranting and raging about India and Kashmir. He did not know, like the surgical strike, what awaited him from the Indian side. In a master stroke, Indian produced an articulate, junior but bright officer of the Indian Foreign Service to respond to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. She did it with elan, punching holes in what Mr Sharif had to say, presenting India’s position on terrorism and Kashmir squarely and leaving no one in the august assembly in doubt about Pakistan and its role in promoting terrorism in the world. It was an unseen slap but the sound reverberated throughout the world capitals. Wasn’t it a part of the Indian strike?
On top of it, wherever Prime Minister Sharif went, he was politely told that he should first fix his home, lock up the terrorists, stop their groups from carrying out attacks against other countries and then speak about anything else. So when he returned home, empty handed, and humiliated, another `master plan` was worked out, in collusion with General Raheel Sharif. The plan was simple: sow the seeds of confusion, drop red herrings wherever possible and let the confusion divert attention from Pakistan’s role as a terrorist sponsor.
So the diplomats began whining about how Pakistan was keen on opening dialogue with India but the latter was not interested. Even the Generals, most surprising, made similar noises. Then came the master stroke: a story was planted in the media that the civilian leadership had a pow wow with the military leadership over the fall-out of Uri. This was breaking news. The Punjab Chief, the younger scion of the Sharif family, Shahbaz Sharif, according to the news report, made the ISI chief squirm. Others also chipped in, saying that terrorists were making their life difficult—they cannot go anywhere without being asked about them. As if terrorists were now running Pakistan. This must end.
Did we read the story correct? Of course, it was denied, first partly and then fully but then that was part of the plan. The problem is elsewhere. It was Shahbaz Sharif’s government which was keen on granting over Rs 10 lakh as aid to Hafiz Saeed’s Jamat-udDawa (JuD) for running his educational institutions. There could have been other grants but this is one of the nuggets of news which happened to get published in a mainstream newspaper a year after the Mumbai attack of 1998. Does Shahbaz Sharif know that Saeed lives in Lahore and his entire terrorist operation is run from his Chauburji mosque complex and other complexes around Punjab. He also knows well that how Saeed cleaned all his bank accounts when there was an international outcry over the Mumbai attack and a big threat loomed in the form of defreezing of accounts of all terrorist groups in Pakistan. Why didn’t Punjab police find any leader worth his salt in the several hundred offices run by JuD in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks? And why is Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi free? And how come Saeed and his men are able to stand in any part of Lahore or Islamabad and talk about jihad against India and raise black flags much like ISIS in the middle east and they get away scot free?
But that story also seems to have fizzled out. No one is ready to believe Pakistan. Now it is for the people of Pakistan to put this question to their leaders: Why have we come to such a pass?