Rawalpindi facilitates TTP resurgence, spews anti-India propaganda

Representative photo

Rather than providing answers, Director General [DG] of Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations [ISPR] Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhary’s maiden press conference on Tuesday only ended up raising more questions.
However, it would be wrong to blame him for the same because defending Rawalpindi’s specious narrative has never been an easy job-especially when it has to be done before a discerning audience. Nevertheless, DGISPR did a fairly good job in defending the indefensible.

Rawalpindi-Terrorist Relationship
While the DGISPR maintained that relationship between the Army and terrorists is only of “kinetic operations,” Rawalpindi’s past record most definitely doesn’t seem to suggest so. Noted Pakistani nuclear physicist, activist and author Pervez Hoodbhoy points out that “Direct negotiation between the army and terrorist groups is nothing new but has never produced results,” [Emphasis added] and his incisive observation is certainly based on facts.

Readers would recall that in May 2004, the Pakistan Army oversaw the signing of a peace accord with Nek Mohammad Wazir, a notorious terrorist leader from South Waziristan. Since it was signed at Shakai, this accord is commonly referred to as the ‘Shakai agreement’ and the terms of this agreement were [to say the least], outrageously ridiculous.

In return for stopping attacks on Pakistani security forces and government and not providing sanctuary to foreign terrorists, Wazir and his cohorts were granted amnesty and the terrorists apprehended during military operations would be released, the government agreed to  pay a princely sum of Rs. 40,000,000 as compensation for casualties and collateral damage.

The most ludicrous part of this accord was that Rawalpindi agreed to allow Wazir’s terrorist group to retain their weapons and the fact that this agreement lasted for 50 days is in itself a wonder. That Wazir didn’t sign this agreement under pressure became evident the very next day after signing this agreement, when he made it clear during a radio interview that no agreement could stop him from hosting the Chechen and Al Qaeda terrorists.

Luckily, with Wazir being ‘droned’ by the US two months later, Rawalpindi was saved from further embarrassment for having pandered to the terrorists.However, the 2006 Waziristan Accord signed in Miranshah was the most appalling, with photographs of senior Pakistan Army officers joyously embracing the very terrorists who had the blood of Pakistani soldiers and civilians on their hands. Once again, de-weaponisation was inexplicably excluded and PTI chairman Imran Khan had aptly remarked that the “Waziristan [accord] has been a disaster; there’s been a disgraceful withdrawal from there. The Pakistan Army has been defeated [Emphasis added].

By entering into a ceasefire agreement with the butchers of Army Public School Peshawar students and secretly releasing several Tehreek-e-Taliban [TTP] terrorist including top notch leaders like Ehsanullah Ehsan through an orchestrated ‘escape’ [alongwith his entire family], it’s amply clear that Rawalpindi’s relations with terrorists are more than just “kinetic operations”!

Furthermore, the recent killing of Brig Mustafa Kamal Barki of Pakistan Army in the TTP stronghold of the Angoor Adda area in South Waziristan lends credence to suspicions that Rawalpindi hasn’t yet stopped secret negotiations with TTP. It’s no secret that Brig Barki was working with Pakistan Army’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] and was a key negotiator in the latest round of Rawalpindi-TTP talks.
So, its obvious that by mentioning that “holding dialogue with the banned TTP was the decision of the then-government of Pakistan and they have openly admitted this as well” .DGISPR is clearly trying to shift focus from Rawalpindi’s deep complicity in these secret negotiations and release of hard core TTP leaders. Could TTP terrorist Muslim Khan [sentenced to death for killing 31 civil and military personnel] have been released by Islamabad without explicit approval of Rawalpindi?

Indian ‘Aggression’
Maj Gen Chaudhary reminded the media that during his very first visit to the Line of Control [LoC] army chief Gen Asim Munir had made it clear that the Pakistani armed forces would defend every inch of the country and warned that in doing so, Rawalpindi could even “take the war to enemy territory” [emphasis added].

However, what DGISPR showcased as Gen Munir’s zero tolerance as regards Pakistan’s sovereignty, pales on his disclosure about rampant aggressive actions of the Indian army and Rawalpindi’s apparently meek response.

As per DGISPR, the India army committed 56 small-scale ceasefire violations [including 22 incidents of ceasefire speculative fire], 3 air space violations, 25 tactical air violations, and 3 ceasefire violations. In addition, the Pakistan Army has allegedly shot down six Indian spy quadcopters along the LoC.

If true, then the natural question that arises is, why didn’t Pakistan follow the routine practice of revealing details of such flagrant aggressive actions immediately on occurrence to apprise the international community about India’s irresponsible behaviour?

While it has all the time in the world to wax eloquent on the imaginary ‘atrocities’ in J&K, its stoic silence on the alleged provocative actions by the Indian army is inexplicable and DGISPR’s mention of “small scale” ceasefire violations doesn’t make any sense at all since every ceasefire violation is tantamount to a potential threat to peace and tranquillity and hence a serious affair.  

There can be only two plausible reasons to explain Rawalpindi’s silence and meek response even though the Indian army allegedly violated the ceasefire in various ways nearly a hundred times. One, because Rawalpindi feared that any retaliation on its part would escalate tension and invite massive Indian retribution; two, that these allegations are untrue.

Gen Munir’s menacing threat of taking war to enemy territory rules out fear of escalation being the reason behind Rawalpindi’s apparent lack of retaliation to Indian army’s belligerence. Hence, it is amply clear that DGISPR’s claims regarding ceasefire violations are patently fabricated. However, some may ask as to what does the Pakistan Army gain by levelling these false charges?The answer isn’t too hard to find.
Just the other day, Pakistan’s defence ministry [read Rawalpindi] submitted a report to Pakistan’s supreme court requesting postponement of elections. Dawn, which accessed this document, has revealed that it mentioned how “despite a ceasefire understanding in place, India continued to challenge Pakistan’s response capacity through frequent violations along the Line of Control [LOC] and international borders.”

Doesn’t the need to buttress this claim alongwith the critical requirement for Rawalpindi to portray India as an existential threat to Pakistan in order to preserve its own relevance and justify the extra-constitutional power it enjoys, explain DGISPR suddenly pulling out the ceasefire violation ‘rabbit’ out of his hat?

Rawalpindi’s Omission and Commission

Even if one was to accept DGISPR’s stand that the onus of entering into dialogue with TTP rests solely with Islamabad, wasn’t it Rawalpindi’s constitutional responsibility to ensure that this serious threat which openly challenges writ of the government and endangers lives of both Pakistani security force personnel and civilians alike isn’t allowed to gain a foothold on Pakistani soil?

Isn’t it Rawalpindi’s brazen apathy towards TTP resurgence in the erstwhile Tribal areas responsible for the current crisis? When Swat Valley residents took to streets in August last year demanding action against growing TTP presence in the area, why did ISPR rubbish ground realities by saying that “During the past few days, a misperception about the alleged presence of large number of proscribed-organisation TTP’s armed members in Swat Valley has been created on social media”? [Emphasis added].

Most importantly, why did ISPR dismiss clear signs of TTP build up in Swat by saying “Presence of small number of armed men on few mountain tops between Swat and Dir has been observed, located far away from population”? [Emphasis added]. So, despite DGISPR’s spirited attempt to play down Pakistan Army’s perceptible acts of omission and commission, Rawalpindi nevertheless has a lot to answer for its questionable role in dealing with TTP and muted response to alleged ceasefire violations by Indian army along the LoC!

Postscript: In a piece giving source-based inputs on a secret Pakistan Army-TTP ‘peace deal’ published in August last year, British-Pakistani journalist and columnist Gul Bukhari wrote, “Had a handful of loudmouths like myself not raised a stink about the specifics of the [Pakistan army’s] secret deal with a terror outfit [TTP] signing away fundamental rights of citizens in return for “peace”, the matter may never even have reached Parliament.”

Now, if DGISPR’s claim that it was the Government of Pakistan and not Rawalpindi that was brokering a peace deal with TTP, then it’s obvious that Ms Bukhari is obviously lying and if this is really so, then why hasn’t ISPR rebutted Ms Bukhari’s claim about secret Rawalpindi-TTP deals till date? 

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