Sunday, March 24, 2019

BRICS Declaration: Pakistan Soul Searching on Jehadi Terror

Pakistan is in a strange situation. On one side, its citizens are seeing their country move rapidly towards abyss, and on the other side, they – despite their opposition – cannot (or will not, at least completely) back the banishment and complete destruction of the Jehadi system. Jehad is not the product of some people, but a system. And this system is sustained by the mindset and an ethos. Unless the Jehadi system is tackled, the run to the abyss of self destruction cannot be halted for Pakistan.

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BRICS Declaration and Chinese Slap

In the recently concluded BRICS summit, thanks to some deft diplomacy of Modi-Doval combine, China had to fall in line with India’s call to isolate Pakistan and the Jehadi organizations in that country.  This is what the declaration said:

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.”

China signed on to this declaration which named clearly the organizations residing and located within Pakistan!  Something that China was loathe to do earlier.

Post this, even Khwaja Asif, the Pakistan Foreign Minister called for some reality check within his own country.

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During an appearance at Geo News channel, he admitted that outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are operating from their soil. According to an India Todayreport, Asif said, “we should impose some restrictions on the activities of the elements like LeT and JeM, so that we can show the global community that we have put our house in order.”

But there are many forces within Pakistan, who don’t see this slap from BRICS – and signing on by China – as anything bad or even worth noting!  The Defense Minister had a very different take from the Pakistani Foreign Minister:

“We reject the declaration (released by member countries) at the BRICS Summit,” Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir said during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence.

Dastgir claimed that Pakistan has no “safe haven” for terrorists on its soil.

Note the same always repeated lie of “no safe haven” when we all know that Hafeez Saeed has launched his own political party – to “make Pakistan a real Islamic State”!

 

So who is Dastgir kidding really?

China, on the other hand, is now trying to balance things out with its “friend” (or is it vassal state?) Pakistan by saying things like –  Pakistan does not get “full credit” for its efforts to battle terrorism by “some countries”.

Of course, recently Donald Trump has made his intentions to be tough on Pakistan very clear!  He has asked Pakistan to “do more on terror”, which hasn’t gone down well in Pakistan.

In a stern speech Aug. 21, the U.S. president laid out a new militarized policy for the region, saying he would send more American troops to Afghanistan and insisting that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in Islamist militants or face possible sanctions, such as cutting aid or revoking its status as a major non-NATO ally.

Now, the Trump administration has also shut down Habib Bank’s NY offices and slapped a fine for its involvement in terror financing.  Habib Bank is Pakistan’s largest bank!

In another jolt to Pakistan, the US has shut down the country’s largest lender Habib Bank’s operations in New York and slapped a fine of $225 million for its failure to comply with laws aimed to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit financial transactions.

So, naturally a sense of isolation is seeping in within the society in general.  The world knows and it is not happy about the terrorism from Pakistan!  Watch this panel discussion on Pakistani TV.

In this scenario, I have noticed in the past few years at least, a raising of voice by many concerned citizens in Pakistan, who are asking uncomfortable questions. These voices are those who can see what is wrong, and are getting the consequences correct as well. They know that any more pussy-footing on part of citizenry and the state machinery in terms of Jehad and terrorism and Islamist ideology can only spell doom.

Is it “Islam vs Pakistan”?

I aver that they are still falling short. And they know that as well. My view is that the very fight between these few – though increasing – voices and the Jehadi system (which includes state and non-state actors working in tandem) is a skewed fight. For, the fight is between Islam and Pakistan.

As absurd as this suggestion may seem, the people on the two sides of the divide have very familiar arguments. On one side are these fresh (and increasingly strong) voices who argue that they want their country to be strong, and it wouldn’t be so, unless the entire economy is strong etc. I call them Nationalists. They are for a strong Pakistan.

On the other side are those who maintain, sustain and grow the Jehadi system. They argue along the beaten down lines of how Islam and Muslims are in danger and how it is an affront to Islam that the world is ganging up against it by blaming Muslims. I call them Islamists. They are for a strong Islamic Ummah (Pan-Islamic “Nation”).

By a quirk of its own inherent nature and structural history, Pakistan’s survival and Islam’s thriving are inversely