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We have noted that Pakistan has made its India-centric rhetoric bitter after the new Chief of Army Staff took office. It does not mean that the former COAS had adopted a conciliatory stance which is now reversed. Nonetheless, he was not the “Mullah General”; he spoke the language of a soldier.
In his farewell address, General Qamar Bajwa said that not 93 but only 34 thousand Pakistani soldiers had laid down their arms in the Bangladesh war and the rest comprised the auxiliary staff. He wanted to reduce the intensity of the outrage; otherwise, big or small numbers do not matter when national humiliation is the question.
On the other hand, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Pakistan foreign minister, addressing a Party gathering in his hometown in Sind was appealing to the Pakistan Supreme Court to do justice to his maternal grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose case of unjustifiable execution is pending before the Pakistan Supreme Court. In recounting the achievements and service rendered by his grandfather to the Pakistani nation, Bilawal said that Z A Bhutto had won the freedom of 93 thousand of Pakistani war prisoners in India in the Bangladesh war in 1971. The Pak Supreme Court has asked for a copy of Bilawal’s speech.
Now the army and the civilian government in Pakistan are at variance about the number of prisoners of war who were liberated by Z A Bhutto according to the terms of the Shimla Agreement.
We can guess the reason for Pakistani leaders to deepen their animosity against India at a time when the country faces many more serious issues such as the financial crisis, an economic crunch, skyrocketing prices, a bloody backlash from the Taliban and a host of other problems.
The civilian leadership in Pakistan has to reshape its anti-Indian narrative into an unkind critique of its own predecessors – something unprecedented in Pakistan’s military history. Bilawal Bhutto said that Gen Bajwa had approached some foreign leaders to bring pressure on India and urge the resumption of bilateral talks. That amounted to another humiliation for Pakistan, he claimed. India has indeed declined to talk to Pakistan arguing that terror and talks cannot go together.
We know that the US had been impressing upon Gen Bajwa the need to resolve outstanding issues with India. This is because Washington recognises India’s strategic importance as a Quad member and realises that New Delhi’s preoccupation with the nation’s western border does not augur well for the US agenda for the Quad.
We can presume two main reasons for Pakistan’s recent ire against India. Four of their leaders made statements in succession and the tone and tenor of all four speeches were almost the same. First Rana Sanaullah, the Interior Minister spoke against India to be followed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Khar. Then the foreign minister gave a press conference in the US in which he went berserk.
We know that falling into bouts of irrationality is a hereditary trait of the Bhuttos. Zulfikar had a fit at a meeting of the Security Council and tore his papers into pieces in full sight of the house. His daughter, Benazir, when she was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, addressed the crowds in Muzaffarabad in the early 1990s when jihadists and terrorists created mayhem in Kashmir. She tossed her head right and left and went on yelling “azaadi, azaadi and azaadi“. She had a method in the madness and thought of instigating the Kashmiri Muslims who had just begun to dream of independent Kashmir.
Sometimes, history is cruel to those who play with it. Little did she know that three decades later, when she would be no more, the same masses of “Azad Kashmir” would come out on the streets of Muzaffarabad in multitudes and demand azaadi from Pakistan, saying that they were trained by Benazir on how to bring the government to its knees.
So far, the latest on the list of Pakistan’s India bashers is one Mrs Marri who has demanded that Pakistan exercise the nuclear option against India. A country where lawmakers or senior government functionaries do not know what they are talking about has to be, justifiably, hopeless about its future.
This is one reason for the Pakistani leadership to run mad. The second reason is the debacle China had to face in its adventure in Tawang. China’s concern is that the reverses suffered in a border clash with India may dampen Pakistani morale, particularly her army. Therefore Beijing may have encouraged Pakistan to heighten tension with India by uttering un-parliamentary language in a prestigious world forum.
When Bilawal found that many former diplomats of Pakistan disapproved of his language in castigating India, he came out with an irrelevant clarification that the crude and uncouth language was not his but echoed that of others and particularly of Indian Muslims, for whom he had full sympathy.
Charity begins at home, goes the old saying. Before feigning sympathy for Indian Muslims, he should have explained the recourse to religious tenets like zarb-i-azab and gradual fasad to justify the killing of nearly 80,000 men, women and children in Northern Waziristan by the Pakistan army. The TTP that has vowed to avenge the genocide of their people are now labelled by Islamabad as ‘terrorists’. This is the distorted and mutilated story which Pakistan is now selling to the world community as its fight against terror only to cover its use of terror as state policy. This is Pakistan’s double speech on terrorism.
Bilawal has tried to malign the Indian Muslims for the abusive language he used against Prime Minister Modi while speaking to the international press in the US. He forgets that many Indian Muslims are among those who elected him thrice as Chief Minister of Gujarat and twice as the Prime Minister of India. Indian Muslims would like Bilawal to go through the Hamudu’r Rahman Report on the genocide of Bengalis during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. Nearly one million Bengalis, men, women and children (both Muslims and Hindus) were massacred and half a million women were raped by the Pakistan army. Bilawal should have spoken of the war waged by the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) for seceding from Pakistan. He should have spoken about how Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was chased away from the rostrum while trying to address a public rally in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Open a channel on Pakistani television and you will find the intellectuals, think tanks, retired Generals, top politicians, academics and media bosses endlessly debating the causes, course and consequences of economic and financial breakdown in Pakistan. They will bring in far-fetched reasons bandaged in technical phraseology so that a layman is unable to make out exactly what they intend to say. None among them will cite the fact that for the last thirty-odd years Pakistan has been spending a big chunk of its annual budget on sponsoring, abetting and promoting religion-based terrorism (or Jihadism) at home and abroad. The State has poured billions of rupees through hawala and other clandestine agencies into the Indian part of Kashmir for boosting armed insurgency in the valley at the cost of the bread and butter of its people. The destruction of Kashmir, its culture and heritage, caused by Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has caused the loss of thousands of innocent lives of Kashmiris. This epicenter of international terrorism hid Osama bin Laden at a hideout close to the GHQ for a long time, but then traded him away to the Americans allegedly for an unknown amount of money. This country permitted the US to fly a drone across its airspace to Afghanistan to kill Osama’s lieutenant Al-Zawahari in Afghanistan. And yet Osama is a hero to Pakistan.
Look at the irony. The mountains of money that Pakistan provides to the jihadists to foster terrorism in Kashmir and combat the Indian security forces ultimately fall in the hands of the latter who use it to support Kashmiri families that have been directly affected by terrorism. This is what Bilawal calls Pakistan’s sympathy for the Muslims of India.