Kashmir is not going to die now. It is going to be the centrepiece … watch video of our event here
This is coverage from The News about our recent event about the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. The probability of a major armed conflict between Pakistan and India seems to be receding and all chances seem to suggest that due to the intervention of certain foreign quarters, the standoff between the two countries has begun to subside. These views were expressed by former foreign secretary and diplomat Najmuddin Shaikh while addressing a gathering of the city’s intellectual elite and media at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday evening. The theme of the evening was, “The future of the current standoff between India and Pakistan”, the two speakers being Najmuddin Shaikh and Lt-Gen (retd) Tariq Waseem Ghazi, former defence secretary, Pakistan. Shaikh said that Kartarpur was an important element in the equation. He said that no substantial damage had been done and termed the repatriation of an Indian fighter pilot as a highly statesman-like gesture on the part of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He said that one Adil Ahmed Dar was arrested on September 10, 2017. Was he the same Adil Ahmed Dar that had been pinpointed by the US State Department dispatch? There has been no proof forthcoming from the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). Who is this Dar? He has been reported to be on the move constantly. Is he related to the Dar the US has pointed out? All the people pointed out are from India-held Kashmir and not from Pakistan as the Indian media would have the world believe, but they had no links with the (JeM). Thus, he said, the JeM had offered India and the world a propaganda victory. “Objective reality is much more important than perception,” Sheikh said.
He called upon the participants to objectively take stock of the situation and go back to the days of the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s. He said that under the tutelage of the US, the Pakistan government built a strong infrastructure to accommodate the Jihadis from the world over to bleed the Soviet Union white. He said:
It is not easy to dismantle that Jihadi structure overnight. It’ll take time, a couple of years to be dismantled and until then the curse will continue to haunt the country.
Lt-Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi, however, took a totally different stance. He said, “We have to look at the Indian government’s structure and the nature of the Indian decision-making process.” Pulwama was a totally homegrown phenomenon, he said. “It would be impossible to rig a vehicle so heavily with explosives in a high security area.”
He continued, “Everything that happens in India is of the nature of intelligence gathering. Intelligence comes in a very convoluted manner; thus, the insidious nature of the decision-making.”
The Indians, he said, made a miscalculation by concluding that Pakistan would not react to any military action. The Pakistan government, he said, felt that a stop had to be put to such happenings. We had to assess the results. He asked if the Pakistani move had been able to quell the public support to Modi.
“Shifting and shutting of madrasas should have been done much earlier. Now the Indians are reaping a propaganda victory because Modi has achieved what he wanted.
“Kashmir is not going to die now. It is going to be the centrepiece. The India-Israel nexus is going to figure prominently,” he said.
“Shutting down madressahs in the aftermath of Pulwama is wrong timing. We should have done it anyway but our doing it now has India pointing fingers at us, saying that ‘see Pakistan has had to take measures’ to prevent a repeat of the incident,” said a retired general on Saturday.
Retired Lt Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi, who also served as the defence secretary after his retirement from the army, was speaking at a programme on the future of the current stand-off between Pakistan and India at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.
“The trigger for the recent escalation between Pakistan and India is Pulwama, and Pulwama had nothing to do with us. It was nurtured and home-grown in India,” he said.
“The present Indian government’s decision-making is done by their prime minister with the national security adviser. The nature of the Indian government is the nature of the deep state which functions through misinformation, sabotage, etc, to carry out their plans or game of getting an extra five years in power. So it is [linked] to political benefit,” he added.
Gen Ghazi then reminded about the hype created by India earlier too about some surgical strikes in Pakistan, which he said was a lie. “But the whole thing was so hyped up by India that their people really thought that their forces came into the country via helicopters, attacked installations before being ‘helicoptered’ back.
“Since the surgical strikes had never taken place, Pakistan ignored whatever was being said by the other side. I think that the Indians this time miscalculated by thinking of doing the same kind of thing but contrary to what they thought Pakistan reacted in a limited but sure way to intercept their air attacks,” he said.
“It could also be that the payload dropped by the Indian pilots was also done just to show Pakistan that they could do it,” he added.
He then asked if the Indian prime minister’s support was reduced. “Well, no,” he answered his own question.
“So the current mood there is propelling everything. You don’t get into an escalation without any strategic advantages. The whole purpose of the episode could have also been isolating and sidelining Pakistan internationally and not really dismantling our military structures,” he said.
Earlier, former foreign secretary and ambassador Najmuddin Shaikh said that both Pakistan and India were still maintaining a high alert but the signs with the train and bus services started again suggest a return to normalcy.
“We should also not underestimate the significance of Kartarpur where the Indian government is said to be building a state-of-the-art facility worth $180 million for the pilgrims, which Pakistan would also reciprocate,” he said.
“Also there was no substantial damage done and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also defused the situation. Now there is no confrontation likely. Modi, too, needs to do no more for his election campaign,” he pointed out.
Providing a bit of background to the whole episode, ambassador Shaikh said that the Pulwama attack was said to be carried out by a perpetrator named Adil Ahmed Dar but he was arrested in India-held Kashmir and put in jail back on Sept 10, 2017. “Until Pulwama his family too had not heard of him. Then five days after the attack India says that he belonged to Jaish-i-Mohammad after which the JeM too claimed credit while helping the Indian propaganda,” he said.
“Then there is also the fact that all who were caught by India have self-confessed to belonging to Jaish-i-Mohammad. Meanwhile, it is also true that the explosives used in the attack were [obtained] locally as was the attack planned locally,” he said, adding that Pakistan should also take how things transpired very seriously. He concluded
We have to understand the objective ground realities and control the means of violence here. The sooner we do it the better.