By Sajjad Shaukat
Unlike the past wars, the arena of war has changed. In the ongoing era, besides subversive tactics, non-lethal weapons like propaganda can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a target country.
In this regard, overtly, US high officials state that they seek stability in Pakistan, but covertly, they continue to destabilize this lonely ‘nuclearised’ country in the Islamic World. With the assistance of Indo-Israeli lobbies which are working in Europe and well-penetrated in the US administration, their media manipulate any development, or incident which takes place in Pakistan. For this purpose, with the support of Pakistan’s some internal entities, particularly their media have accelerated deliberate propaganda campaign against Pak Army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).
In this context, as part of another propaganda assault on Pakistan, a ceremony regarding book review of the “The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan” authored by Syed Aqil Shah was held at South Asia Institute, Columbia University, New York on September 29, 2014. About 30 researchers, scholars, faculty members and students attended the event, though the event was moderated by Syed Akbar Zaidi—the writer blamed Pak Army for being power hungry and responsible for most of the ills faced by the country.
The highlights of the book-presentation and question/answer session left no stone unturned in distorting facts. Quite contrary to the ground realities, it said, ISI killed journalist Saleem Shehzad and is responsible for the attack on Geo media group’s anchor Hamid Mir. There is a Media Management Wing in ISI which controls the journalists and media. PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PAT head, Dr. Tahirul Qadri are puppets of Pakistan Army. The session misperceived that Army will not let Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to normalize relations with India.
The session of the book ceremony pointed out that Pakistan’s Army Generals wrongly consider USA and India responsible for nurturing Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Baloch insurgents.
Pakistani Generals are little taught about the Constitution and Democracy. The senior officers attending courses at National Defence University (NDU) are taught that civilian politicians are incompetent and not capable to handle security issues and foreign relations. It indicated that Punjabi Army never killed people in Punjab; carried out military operations in other provinces like Sindh, Balochistan, FATA etc. And Army will again resort to coup, if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sacks Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif.
Although book findings are based on interviews with senior Army Generals, Green Book and dozens of other Army’s publications and periodicals, yet it only follows the propaganda line of Pakistan’s external enemies, as its false observations prove.
While, author of the book, Aqil Shah is a Pakistani Pashtoon and US national; his book has been recently published by Harvard University Press. He holds a doctorate degree in political science form Columbia University. He taught at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), University of Illinois, University of Chicago and University of Columbia. In connivance with the US and Indian lobbies, Aqil Shah has been holding such events at different places to malign Pak Army and ISI.
However, Aqil Shah and other participants of the book ceremony must know that the concerned judicial commission of the Supreme Court of Pakistan already made it clear in its findings that there was no evidence of ISI’s involvement in the murder of the journalist Saleem Shehzad.
Similarly, there was no evidence that this agency was behind the attack on Hamid Mir. It is notable that leaders of various political and religious parties including all the segments of society had condemned the Geo TV channel, and launched protest-processions, showing solidarity with Pakistan’s Armed Forces and ISI, as deducing hastily outcome of the assault on Hamid Mir, this media group defamed ISI including its DG. In this connection, foreign media including India and human rights groups reactivated their campaign against Pakistan, its army and ISI by projecting the so-called propaganda of the Geo TV, and by favouring the misconceptions of Hamid Mir. And there is no Media Management Wing in ISI to control the journalists and media.
It is noteworthy that when last year, some political leaders were dragging Pak Army and ISI by accusing the latter for backing Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, and there was rumours of military take over or martial law in wake of sit-ins by the PTI and PAT at Islamabad, DG of ISPR Maj-Gen. Asim Bajwa repeatedly elaborated, “Pakistan Army supports democracy and constitution.” The army chief in his address on Youm-i-Shuhuda (Martyrs’ Day) clearly said that the army believes in constitution and democracy.”
The elements like Aqil Shah have an agenda to spoil civil-military relations—to create division between the Armed Forces, distorting their image in the eyes of general masses including Gen. Raheel Sharif. But all these observations proved untrue, as Army did not take any step like military take over or martial law.
It is also brought to the notice of Aqil Shah that in 2011, during the Memogate case, some internal and external entities including media commentators were saying that martial law would be imposed in the country. As Army was acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs, therefore, the previous government completed its tenure.
Moreover, Pakistani Generals are thoroughly taught about the constitution and democracy. The senior officers at NDU are not taught about incompetency of politicians, and their incapability in handling security issues and foreign relations.
Aqil Shah’s attention is also diverted towards the facts that since the leader of the fundamentalist party BJP and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi came to power; India accelerated cross-border shelling inside Pakistan’s areas. India’s main aim is to delay the Pak-India peace process, as it is not serious in resolving all issues, especially main dispute of Kashmir with Islamabad. In past too, New Delhi made pretexts to cancel peace talks, while shifting the blame to Pakistan. For example, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, India postponed the dialogue process. Again, in 2008, India cancelled the ‘composite dialogue’ on the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks.
Particularly, on May 27, 2014 Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with Prime Minister Sharif in the oath-taking ceremony proved faultless, because Modi raised baseless issues of cross-border terrorism as pre-conditions to advance the Pak-Indian dialogue. He said that slow pace of trial against the terrorists of the Mumbai 26/11 terror case; being held in Pakistan is main hurdle.
But, Indian prime minister ignored the fact that on July 19, 2013, the Indian former home ministry and ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws. So, it is author’s misinformation that Pak Army will not let Nawaz Sharif to normalize relations with India.
It is mentionable that Indian RAW has well-established its network in Afghanistan, and with the tactical assistance of anti-Pakistan secret agencies like CIA and Israeli Mossad, it is fully backing cross-border incursions including terror-activities in various regions of Pakistan. Besides, Pakistani Taliban insurgents and leader of the TTP Maulvi Fazlullah who are supported by these external elements are present in Kunar and Nuristan provinces in Afghanistan. But, the US-led forces in Afghanistan failed to hunt down these terrorists. In this context, Gen. Raheel along with the DG ISI went to Kabul on December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani and the ISAF commander, he presented evidence of linkage between the recent massacre of children at Peshawar school and TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
Undoubtedly, cordial civil-military relations could be judged after the Peshawar incident, as on January 2, this year, political and military leaders agreed on a draft of legislative measures which paved the way for establishment of special military trial courts to dismantle all forms of terrorism and terrorist networks—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment was enforced after its approval from the parliament.
While, Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as part of ongoing operations in Waziristan and Khyber Agency, especially the operation, Zarb-e-Azb, several terrorists have been killed during air strikes.
And, Pak Army never discriminated between Punjabis and non-Punjabis. It was due to uncontrolled violent events in Sindh, Balochistan and FATA that Army was compelled to conduct military operations, but with the public support.
Nonetheless, Syed Aqil Shah’s book and ceremony-presentations are another propaganda assault on Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations