9 May

The fear of big, bad India is a key factor in policy formulation in Pakistan, as it has always been. Whether it is our “Kashmir policy”, our interference in Afghanistan, or what is supposedly to be the stimulus for economic progress and growth in Pakistan, i.e. CPEC, every step we take, whether it is forward or backward, is shaped by security considerations tied to our neighbour.

It is unsurprising then that we would go so far as to glorify terrorists in our media. The same establishment that abducts bloggers, at its whim and fancy, and is feeding off a huge proportion of our budget is the very same institution that has made Ehsanullah Ehsan, a known terrorist responsible for the blood of thousands of Pakistanis, a “hero”: another one of the establishment’s blue-eyed boys.

The DG ISPR, on 26th April 2017, announced that Ehsanullah Ehsan had exposed “hostile foreign agenda” within Pakistan, and “designs to destabilize Pakistan”. It is truly alarming that Pakistan has one of the world’s best-ranked intelligence agencies, and yet it takes such immense pride in constantly being the victim of “hostile foreign agenda”. The military that has lost hundreds and thousands of lives to the terrorism that has gripped this country for decades now is the same military that allowed Ehsanullah Ehsan a prime time slot for his anti-India tale to be aired. One can try and take some time to digest that but to no avail.

US-based security expert, Arif Jamal recently told DW that the ISPR-released video of Ehsanullah Ehsan “has made a saint out of a top terrorist”. The fact is that it becomes largely irrelevant to the grander scheme of things that India is sending in funds, and possibly equipment, to train rogue elements within our own state. In the modern world, unfortunately, there is inter-state intrigue between even the most developed countries. Yet, in Pakistan, it seems like the national narrative is exactly where the military establishment wants it to be: stand united against India – nothing more, nothing less.

Without fear of India, of course, people would have the ability to ask far more pressing questions. Why are undemocratic institutions shaping domestic and foreign policy even today after a smooth transition between two democratic governments? Why is there no crack-down, whether through Radd-ul-Fasaad or otherwise, against known hate-preachers, such as Lal Masjid’s notorious Abdul Aziz, or Bol TV’s Aamir Liaqat? Why have there been no consequences for the DG ISPR’s announcement of the COAS’ rejection of the civil government’s report on Dawn leaks? The answers to these questions require us to break free of the shackles that our own establishment has placed on us, for no other reason but the fact that they sincerely and genuinely believe “national interest” is the military’s interest.

There is no denying Indian involvement in destabilizing Pakistan but the fact that we still use that as a reason not to protect ourselves, in the long-term, against this apparent threat is alarming. It is as though human lives are all interchangeable and mere tools to some greater policy design that has never even been coherently articulated or planned.

Nawaz Sharif goes to India and the entire state apparatus turns up the heat on him: how dare civilians think they have a right to mend relations with a permanent neighbour? We’ll recall and condemn the blood on Modi’s hands but will never utter a word against the blood of our own people on our establishment’s hands, be it our brothers and sisters in Balochistan and FATA, or those with no option but to send their children to Madressahs, where they will be manufactured for Jihad – the State seems to still ignorantly believe that the Jihadi outpour will be in Kashmir. Kashmir has its own indigenous struggle for freedom and we certainly don’t need to be complicating already challenging times for them by sending in our boys.

While the phenomenon of radicalization spread across Pakistan like wildfire, the situation in India is fast catching up. We have our Mashal Khan, Shahzad Masih, Shama Bibi, and countless other victims of “mob justice” while India has its Pehlu Khan, Muhammad Ikhlaq, and several others who lost their lives to enraged mobs. The fire exists on both sides and poorly thought out security and strategic considerations are being used as grounds to fan the flames.

We are the society that makes heroes out of terrorists and self-confessed murderers; a society that has civil and military leadership so entranced by the sight of dollars that human life has lost its value entirely. People are angry: from your airports to your general stores, there is immense frustration breeding while flawed policies continue to radicalize the young and old alike. India bashing is still a priority; asking for the boots to take over is still our solution to deeply embedded problems created by those very boots; we are victims by choice of circumstances that we have made by refusing to take responsibility for what happens within our borders.

The violence is symptomatic of a far more frightening disease: this need to constantly be seen as the victim of circumstances out with our control. No accountability for where our taxpayer’s money is going when the military we equip is unable, despite several military operations, to defeat terrorism. Similarly, no accountability for why our civil government has refused to undertake criminal justice reform, instead leaning on the military to continue on through military courts, God forbid the civilian government may actually have to use half its brain to decide what sort of a legal system is required to deal with Pakistan’s current circumstances.

There are actors and do-ers: we, in Pakistan, are just passive receivers. We unite in condemning terrorist attacks but drift off into finger pointing and neighbour-blaming whenever the time comes to speak of policy reform. What we’ve had for the last many years is clearly not working. Is it anti-Pakistan to want better? Is it anti-Pakistan to want to see a peaceful, progressive society where one can express a thought without fear of dangerous labeling? Is it anti-Pakistan to spend our time and effort on our rich culture, languages and art rather than spending our time manufacturing bombs and missiles? If it’s anti-Pakistan to want to see a stable, democratic Pakistan, then our conceptions of our national identity need some serious re-evaluation.



2 Responses to “Anti-Pakistan?”

  1. Colors of my life May 9, 2017 at 5:27 am #

    What I understand, you need to be in shit to clean the shit.

    I have stopped watching TV ages ago now, Alhamdolillah. So what I can say, this guy might have helped the Army, in linking the missing pieces or the many tactics and way terrorist comes in or help in tracing them.

  2. Aftab May 9, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

    U need a lot of effort to understand the dynamics of this war on terror. World’s mightiest army is unable to control even a single province in Afghanistan. Your army has cleaned almost 3. Its very easy to critisize on military and make fun of their actions or label them as ghaddars. I suggest u should visit waziristan just once to get an insight. It will lve u better educated. And finally a request… plz stop blaming army and stop publishing anti army sentiments. It hurts to thise who are associated with their lives with this institution.
    Hope it will have some positives .

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