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September 28: “Surgical Strikes”, Indian Blinding Pellets Atrocities in Kashmir By Sajjad Shaukat

September 28: “Surgical Strikes,” Indian Army Blinding Pellets Atrocities in Kashmir 

By Sajjad Shaukat

On September 18, 2016, Indian media had said that four “fidayeen,” highly-trained militants who were carrying guns and grenades stormed a base in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and killed at least 17 soldiers in one of the most deadly attacks on security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in two decades. The four attackers were killed by the army, as an Indian army officer told the BBC.

 

 

 

 

After the Uri episode, without any investigation, India’s top civil and military officials, including their media started propaganda against Pakistan by accusing that the militants who target the Uri base came from Pakistan’s side of Azad Kashmir and the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba controlled by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were involved in it. Under the mask of the Uri base assault, India started mobilization of troops near the LoC to wage a limited war with Pakistan, while considering surgical strikes on the Azad Kashmir.

In this regard, a senior Home Ministry official and a spokesman of the Indian army allegedly said, “It is clearly a case of cross-border terror attack…the militants infiltrated across the Line of Control from Pakistan before attacking the base in Uri.”

 

 

 

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh called Pakistan “a terrorist state” and army Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that troops were “ready to give a befitting response.”

In this respect, Pakistan rejected allegations that it was involved in the assault at the Uri base. Pakistan Foreign Office representative Nafees Zakaria stated, “India must probe the assault before pointing towards others…they immediately blame Pakistan before any investigation. We reject this.” He added, “Putting the blame on Pakistan was an old strategy of India.

The Adviser to the then Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz categorically rejected India’s “baseless and irresponsible” accusations against Pakistan following the attack on Indian troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), calling it a “blatant” attempt to divert attention from the fast deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Indian held Kashmir since the death of Burhan Wani.”

In fact, with the help of Indian intelligence agencies, especially RAW, India itself arranged and orchestrated the drama of the Uri base attack not only to defame Pakistan, but also to achieve a number of sinister aims.

Since the false flag terror attack at a military base in Uri, the BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan. After deployment of heavy arms and weapons on the LoC, Indian forces have increased troops and continued shelling in Pakistani side of Kashmir. And Pakistani troops are giving a matching response to Indian unprovoked firing across the LoC.

Meanwhile, the then Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhaag had claimed on September 29, 2016 that Indian Army conducted surgical strikes inside Pakistan’s side of Kashmir on the September 28, 2016.

Indian officials stated that the strikes targeted areas close to the LoC, where they believed militants congregate for their final briefings before sneaking across the LoC.  An Indian security source stated that the operation began with Indian forces firing artillery across the frontier to provide cover for three to four teams of 70–80 commandos from the 4th and 9th battalions of the Parachute Regiment at several separate points of the LoC.  Teams from 4 Para crossed the LoC in the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district, with teams from 9 Para simultaneously crossing the LoC in Poonch district—the special forces teams had travelled 1–3 km on foot, and had begun destroying the terrorist bases with hand-held grenade and 84 mm rocket launchers. The teams then swiftly returned to the Indian side of the Line of Control, suffering only one casualty, a soldier wounded after tripping a land mine.

But, the myth of Indian surgical strikes was exposed, when in a statement, DG of Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt. Gen, Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects. This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is a fabrication of truth.” He repeatedly stated that Pakistani troops have been giving equal response to Indian unprovoked firing across the LoC.

Differences also arose between Indian civil and military leadership—as to how cover the falsehood. In this regard, Indian Prime Minister Modi and country’s Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh had decided to prepare a ‘fake video’ of surgical strikes so as to pacify the Indian public, media and the opposition parties.

Online sources suggest that opposition parties in the Indian Congress also demanded to show proof of the surgical strikes, while in the Indian public and politicians demanded the resignation of Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhaag. In these circumstances, Gen. Dalbir Singh had retired as the Army chief and Gen. Bipin Rawat took over the charge as army chief.

Indian media reported that the “appointment of the new Army chief had ignited a political debate with the Janata Dal United (A political party of India), calling it the 1983 emergency-like situation. While, the government had linked the appointment with security reasons in context with Pakistan, China, and terrorism, the Congress party has described the appointment as whimsical cherry picking.”

It is notable that Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat on May 4, this year hinted at retaliatory action against Pakistan, while India blamed the latter for the killing and mutilation of Indian army soldiers across the LoC, despite, Pakistan repeatedly rejected New Delhi’s false allegations.

In this connection, Gen Rawat, while referring to the earlier incident stated, “The Indian army has beefed up its counter-infiltration postures near the LoC…Terrorists are trying to infiltrate.

Like each year, infiltration will commence. We are taking measures. We have beefed up our counter-infiltration postures.”

However, in response to the Indian threat, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 5, 2016 rejected claims by his Indian counterpart about the “so-called surgical strikes” and their possible recurrence. According to ISPR, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa made it clear that “Pakistan Armed Forces were fully geared to respond to any aggression by India.”

In the recent past, during his visit at the LoC, Gen. Bajwa stated that Pakistan’s armed forces are fully prepared to defend the country against any aggression.

It is noteworthy that the representatives of The Washington Post and The New York Times, who visited the villages adjoining LoC in the disputed Kashmir region, had reported that the people they met there told them that there were no surgical strikes.

In this context, Indian Express wrote on October 5, 2016, “Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam attacked BJP even as he continued to face flak from several quarters for suggesting army’s surgical strikes could be “fake” Unfazed by the heat, even from within his party, Nirupam fired a fresh salvo accusing BJP of trying to extract political mileage out of the national security issue with eyes set on ensuing elections in the state to be held next year.”

It is mentionable that since July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in wake of continued sieges and prolonged curfews, Indian forces have martyred several innocent persons who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.

In wake of new phase of uprising in the Indian Held Kashmir, pressure on the BJP-led Indian government of Modi has been mounting both domestically and internationally to resolve the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan. But, under the directions of the Modi government, Indian security forces continue atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris.

Nevertheless, IOK has been witnessing an unprecedented movement and open rebellion against illegitimate occupation of India. Over 200 people have been martyred and 22,000 injured due to ruthless repression of Indian armed forces since 2016—a large number of the dead and the injured have been youngsters.

The pellet guns used by security forces have damaged the faces of 1800 people and more than 1200 people have partially or wholly lost their eyesight since 2016. Reportedly, Indian army has also started using chemical weapons and smell shelling against innocent protesters in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.

For the last six months, life in IOK has remained mostly paralyzed due to continual curfews.  Besides the prolonged curfew, media blackout has also been imposed cutting off the communication channels. Squeezed by the brutal oppression at the hands of Indian Armed forces, the youth have lost patience and through “mob resistance”, they are creating problems for occupied forces. “Wanism” has become leading spirit of their third Intifada in Indian Occupied Kashmir.  

Indian forces are also using stage managed incidents to kill Kashmiri youth and gag their voice /demand for independence. An alarming increase in such staged dramas has been witnessed these days, as Indian media extends coverage to any activity to blame Kashmiri freedom activists and Pakistan. 

Apart from the oppressive activities, the Delhi government in collaboration with State coalition government led by Mehbooba Mufti is engaged in making demographic changes on lines of Israeli model of building residential ghettos (Sainakbastiyan)/ industrial zones to settle Hindu Pundits and other communities. In this regard, land was procured in Sri Nagar and Annat Nag to build two towns each in these areas. Reportedly, over sixty thousands families are to be settled in these towns.   

Off late, in another smear attempt, New Delhi is contemplating to abrogate Article 35A of the Indian constitution unilaterally, without undergoing the formality of obtaining concurrence from the IOK government/legislature. Article 35A is part of the executive order issued by the president of India called Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. The president issued this Order on 14 May 1954 under Article 370 of the constitution of India to legitimize the Indian occupation of IOK. The article prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) residents.

Jahangir Iqbal Ghanie, Jammu and Kashmir’s Advocate General, told a newspaper that three petitions have challenged the article in the Indian Supreme Court, but in the two other petitions, no notice was issued to the state government. A bench headed by Justice J S Khehar will hear the petitions challenging Article 35A in October 2017.  Earlier the top court had favoured hearing of the matter by a five-judge constitution bench to determine, if Article is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse. The court had said that a three-judge bench will hear the matter and refer it to a five-judge bench if necessary.

The issue has also triggered an unlikely camaraderie. Perhaps for the first time in decades, political parties cutting across the political spectrum in the Valley are on the same page, as they all want to preserve Article 35A. Joint Resistance Leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik asked the Kashmir bar associations, Kashmiri diaspora all over the world to hold peaceful protest demonstration against “conspiracies” to scrap the state subject law as the issue is a “matter of life and death” for people of J&K. Reportedly, IOK Chief Minister and opposition parties have also objected to any tinkering with the article.

Most people believe this is the Centre’s design to change the demographic character of the Muslim majority state. Some fear that the centre might entice the Hindus to buy land and property in Jammu, Samba and other districts. That will change the demographic character of the Jammu region as well. Such a sit will result in another mass uprising and Indian Held Kashmir will become Palestine, where life will become an everyday fight for survival.

Some feel that move to abrogate Article 35A will have huge ramifications on the ground as the article was included in the Constitution top reserve IOK peoples land rights. Keeping for UN General Assembly’s annual session, being held in late September, some felt that the timing of the move is quite crucial, as New Delhi wants to trigger violence in the valley through provocating the people on abrogation of 35A and killing innocent Kashmiri people in fake encounters to project to the world that such activities are externally instigated. 

There is also a sinister campaign to target APHC leadership by implicating them in financial scams and link it to terror funding by Pakistan. It is clear ploy to create a wedge between APHC old guards and youth of Kashmir.

As a matter of fact, under the cover of the false flag operation at the Uri base, New Delhi’s main aim was to continue war-mongering diplomacy against Pakistan and to deflect the attention of the international community from the new phase of Kashmiri Intifada in wake of pressure which has been mounting on the Modi government both domestically and internationally to resolve the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan in wake of differences between Indian security forces which have been deployed at the LoC.

While, differences existed between Indian security forces on the increase of troops—a renowned newspaper of Pakistan and some online sources disclosed that a serious rift has been reported from the Line of Control region between Indian Army officials and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel.

Nonetheless, India orchestrated the drama of the terror attack at the Uri base to obtain various sinister designs against Pakistan in the Indian Held Kashmir where Indian atrocities continue unabated, while the myth of its surgical strikes inside Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir was clearly exposed.

 

Indian Army Atrocities and Barbarism in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this the world’s first mass blinding?

A bloody summer of protest in Kashmir has been met with a ruthless response from Indian security forces, who fired hundreds of thousands of metal pellets into crowds of civilians, leaving hundreds blinded.

by 

The Guardian, UK

 

For the past month, while the attention of the world has been fixed on every dramatic twist in the US presidential election, the renewal of armed conflict between India and Pakistan has barely touched the headlines. In the past few weeks, the two nuclear states have, between them, killed two dozen civilians and injured scores of others in exchanges of artillery fire across the disputed border – known as the “line of control” – that divides Kashmir into parts controlled by India and Pakistan.

The latest flare-up in the long-running war of attrition between the two countries comes on the heels of a bloody summer of protest and repression in Kashmir that has now been erased from memory by the banging of war drums in Delhi and Islamabad. Since July, when the killing of a young militant leader sparked a furious civilian uprising across the Kashmir valley, the Indian state has responded with singular ruthlessness, killing more than 90 people. Most shocking of all has been the breaking up of demonstrations with “non-lethal” pellet ammunition, which has blinded hundreds of Kashmiri civilians.

In four months, 17,000 adults and children have been injured, nearly five thousand have been arrested, and an entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir.

All this has been quickly forgotten in the past two months. On 18 September, a small group of jihadi fighters, widely believed to have come from Pakistan, staged a commando raid on an Indian army camp near the northern Kashmir town of Uri, killing 19 Indian soldiers – the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in two decades. Indian politicians quickly blamed Pakistan, which the country’s home minister described as a “terrorist state”, while Pakistani leaders made the implausible claim that India had staged the attack itself to distract from the protests in Kashmir.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, who came into office promising to take a harder line with Pakistan, announced that “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished”. At the end of September, India retaliated with what it called a “surgical strike” against alleged militant camps in Pakistan-controlled territory, which, according to an army statement, “caused significant damage to terrorists”. Pakistan denied the attack ever took place – claiming that there had been nothing more than the usual exchange of fire across the border. Meanwhile, an ugly war of words continued to escalate in TV news studios, some of which were refurbished as pop-up war rooms.

Since then, the relationship between the two countries, which is at the best of times characterised by varying degrees of hate – depending upon the political temperature in Kashmir – has soured to the point where both are now suddenly finding spies in each others’ diplomatic missions. A tit-for-tat nearly every day, on TV, on social media, in ambassadorial corps – even in the realm of culture, where India has effectively banned Pakistani actors from working in Bollywood, and Pakistan has banned the screening of Indian films in cinemas. According to recent reports, civilians caught in the crossfire have been evacuated, hundreds of schools shut, and local residents pressed into service to ferry supplies to troops stationed high in the Himalayas. As always, the victims of the artillery duels have been the civilians living on either side of a border that did not exist until the middle of the 20th century.

In the war of words that has followed the bloodshed in Uri, the brutal oppression of protest in Kashmir has been largely ignored. Indeed, the Indian state, aided by a near-militaristic TV news media, has used the Uri attack and its aftermath to cover up a surge of killings, maimings and blindings in one of the longest-running conflicts in the world. This is the story of the bloody summer that Kashmiris have endured – and of why they will not forget it.


On 8 July, a militant rebel leader, Burhan Wani, was shot dead by Indian armed forces and police in a remote Kashmir village. The killing sparked a series of spontaneous demonstrations and protests, which, in a matter of days, turned into a reinvigorated popular revolt against India’s dominion over this disputed state.

Wani’s path to militancy began in another one of Kashmir’s bloody summers – back in 2010, when Indian security forces killed 120 protesters. Wani, who was then 15 years old, is said to have joined a small group of homegrown militants after he and his brother were humiliated and abused by Indian soldiers. Over the next few years, he became Kashmir’s most famous militant commander, and acquired something of a cult following among young Kashmiris, who saw him as a symbol of resistance against Indian occupation. Wani was a new breed of militant: unlike the first generation of Kashmir separatist fighters in the early 1990s, he did not cross over into Pakistan; he didn’t use a nom de guerre, and he amassed a huge following on social media, where he issued brazen challenges to the Indian state. It was therefore no surprise that thousands attended Wani’s funeral in his hometown of Tral – or that those who could not get there organised their own funeral services across the Kashmir valley.

As Kashmiris took to the streets, police and paramilitaries were deployed in large numbers across the region. Thousands of young protesters charged at the armed forces with stones and slogans demanding freedom. Indian forces responded with lethal effect, firing bullets, CS gas, and metal pellets into the crowds. In less than four days, nearly 50 people were killed and thousands injured. More people took to the streets to protest against these killings, and the Indian forces and Kashmiri police killed and injured more of them. A cycle of protests connected to the funerals of those protesters were, in turn, fired upon, resulting in yet more killings and blindings. By the end of July, India was faced with a full-scale popular revolt in Kashmir.

An Indian policeman aims a pellet gun towards Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar in July.
 

 An Indian policeman aims a pellet gun towards Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar in July. Composite: Syed Shahriyar/Syed Shahriyar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The most recent figures put the number of dead at 94, including a young Kashmiri academic who was battered to death by Indian soldiers, and an 11-year-old boy, whose body, riddled with hundreds of pellets, was found on the outskirts of Srinagar, the joint capital of Kashmir, in mid-September. Shockingly, more than 500 people, most of them young, were shot in the face with the pump-action “pellet guns” that the Indian forces routinely use to suppress protests. These weapons discharge hundreds of small metal pellets, or birdshot, capable of piercing the eye.

As the uprising continued, the armed forces, by their own admission, fired nearly 4,000 cartridges at stone-throwing demonstrators, crowds protesting against police brutality, and even onlookers. This means that they sent, by one recent estimate, 1.3m metal balls hurtling towards public gatherings predominantly made up of young unarmed people.

Children as young as four and five now have multiple pellets in their retinas, blinding them partially, or fully, for life. At the start of September, doctors at Kashmir’s main hospital reported that on average, one person had their eyes ruptured by pellets every other hour since 9 July. “It means 12 eye surgeries per day,” one doctor told a local newspaper. “It is shocking.”

On 12 July, the fourth day of the protests, the state government, which is run by a controversial coalition between Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a local ally, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), finally issued its first official statement on the use of the so-called “non-lethal” pellet guns. A spokesperson for the government, representing the PDP, described its position to the media: “We disapprove of it … But we will have to persist with this necessary evil till we find a non-lethal alternative.”

There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and willfully shooting at people to blind them

At first, the statement appeared as a typical soundbite, the sort of thing that officials must compose and recite with studied ambiguity for the press – the “government version”, as its known. But I was struck by its cavalier defence of state violence and brutalisation. It was obvious that this was not the spokesman’s personal view; it was a clear articulation of the intent of the Indian state in Kashmir: we have no choice but to shoot people in the eyes.

This was an unprecedented expression of state violence. There is no other recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and wilfully shooting at people to blind them. At the end of August, according to data obtained by one of India’s national newspapers, nearly 6,000 civilians had been injuredand at least 972 of them had suffered injuries to their eyes.

According to official records at SMHS, the main hospital in Srinagar, 570 people sought treatment after their eyeballs were ruptured by metal pellets. Ophthalmologists at the hospital performed more surgeries in three days – from 10 to 12 July – than they had in the past three years. Many of the wounded were protesters, but not all. Not one of them deserved to be robbed of their sight.

By 14 August, as India prepared to celebrate its Independence Day, Kashmir was under a near total blackout. I briefly lost touch with my parents, as the state cut off all telephones and the internet. I was reminded, once again, of the lines of the late Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali, which still echo 20 years after he wrote them: “The city from where no news can come / is now so visible in its curfewed night / that the worst is precise.” Just before the shutdown, I had talked to my youngest sister over WhatsApp – she was a little girl in the 90s, when Kashmir witnessed the first rebellion against Indian rule. “I’d never imagined my [three-year-old] child would see everything that I saw as a child,” she told me.

Rebellion against India’s rule over Kashmir is neither new nor surprising – and the brutality of the state’s response is equally familiar. In the 1990s, India came down hard on a widespread uprising in the Kashmir valley – killing, torturing, disappearing, and imprisoning thousands. Some estimates put the number of people killed since 1989 at 70,000. Some 8,000 non-combatants are thought to have been disappeared, and 6,000 are believed to have been buried in mass graves. Human rights reports have identified thousands of cases of torture, including shocking techniques such as “simulated drowning, striping flesh with razor blades and piping petrol into anuses”. According to a 2012 report in the Guardian, government documents revealed that one group of security agents had “lopped off the limbs of suspects and fed prisoners with their own flesh”.

In southern Kashmir, four girls, aged between 13 and 18, were shot in their faces as recently as last week

Years later, very little has changed in the Indian state’s response to the demand for self-determination from the people of Kashmir. In a matter of four to five weeks this summer, Indian troops, with a clear mandate to be unsparing, wounded over 10,000 people. One of the youngest – five-year old Zohra – was admitted to a hospital in Srinagar with lacerations to her abdomen and legs. Fourteen-year-old Insha was in the family kitchen when a swarm of pellets pierced her face. She has lost vision in both eyes. In southern Kashmir, four girls, aged between 13 and 18, were shot in their faces last week. The prognosis for the youngest of these, 13-year-old Ifra Jan, “is not good”, a doctor said. It is doubtful that these little girls posed a threat to the military force – estimated at 700,000 soldiers and police – stationed in Kashmir.

As the showers of metal pellets were unleashed upon protesters, bystanders and homebound schoolchildren, hospitals in Kashmir began to resemble scenes from the great wars of the 20th century. Rows of beds with blindfolded boys and girls on them, parents waiting anxiously, doctors and paramedics in attendance around the clock. On occasion, police and spies also infiltrated the wards to compile profiles of the injured, in order to place them under surveillance after their release. The wounded were brought in by the dozen, like birds in the hunting season.

All of this was incomprehensible, even to longtime observers of violence in Kashmir. One of the largest military forces on the planet could not be waging a war against seeing. Perhaps a few aberrations, a crowd-control tactic gone woefully wrong – one hoped so, but the numbers kept piling up, eye after mutilated eye popping up on the screens of phones and computers, as journalists began to publish their reports.

As none of the powerful men who run Kashmir from Delhi expressed qualms about the blinding of children, it became clear that in its hubris the Indian state had decided that snatching vision from a few hundred young people was a fair price to pay for keeping Kashmir in check. Perhaps itself blinded by a strain of arrogance peculiar to occupying powers, it continued to pummel a subject population into submission.


The phrase Raqs-e-Bismil, used in mystic Persian poetry to denote the passion of the devoted, translates as the “dance of the wounded”. In the slaughterhouse of the Kashmir valley, even the grievously injured – with pellet-scarred eyes or broken limbs – have remained defiant. “We have even got some patients whose guts are perforated and they are asking when they can go back and join the protests,” one doctor reported.

Two-and-a-half decades of rebellion in Kashmir have hardened the indifference of India’s political and intellectual classes to the human cost of the country’s repressive tactics in the valley. Amid rising nationalist fervour, any sense of the basic rights of a suffering population has been eroded or vanished entirely. The hostility now appears to be total, unbridgeable, and for those on the receiving end, unbearable. Powerful TV studios urge the state to be more aggressively macho, while actively suppressing or distorting news from Kashmir. One prominent newspaper ran an online poll about the continued use of the pellets that had wounded and blinded so many Kashmiris – a clear majority voted in support. Eminent columnists speak calmly of the need for “harsh love” toward civilian protesters to rationalise the state’s ruthless response. And the Twitter account for a government initiative, Digital India, posted a poem calling for the army to murder Kashmiris until they surrender.

As images from Kashmir began to circulate on the internet – despite frequent attempts to block communications, including at least one midnight raid on the offices of a local newspaper, and a blanket ban on one English daily, the Kashmir Reader – pictures of the wounded emerged by the dozen, many of them looking as though they had ruptured fruits where their eyes should have been. On the second day of the protests, more than 50 people were admitted to the main hospital in Srinagar. Medics and parents were desperate to save vision in at least one eye for those who had been shot, attempting to extract the jagged and irregular pellets. “This only happens in a war-like situation,” a surgeon sent from Delhi later said.

A Kashmiri protester who was shot by Indian security forces in Srinagar, in July 2016.

 A Kashmiri protester who was shot by Indian security forces in Srinagar, in July 2016. Photograph: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images

The protocol for the use of these crowd control weapons is to aim at the legs to disperse demonstrators. But it seems that the paramilitaries and the police have been deliberately firing into faces. Some may only have minor wounds, some will suffer limited loss of vision, some will lose one eye, some both, and some will be impaired for life, but the pitiless assault on protesting adolescents forces us to ask one question: is the Indian state happy to blind a generation?

It is inconceivable that policy mandarins in Delhi or their advisers in Kashmir could be unaware of the destructive power of “non-lethal weapons”. Earlier this year, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations and Physicians for Human Rights published a report titled “Lethal in Disguise”. “Pellet rounds”, it stated, “cause an indiscriminate spray of ammunition that spreads widely and cannot be aimed …” They, therefore, “are not only likely to be lethal at close range, but are likely to be inaccurate and indiscriminate at longer ranges, even those recommended by manufacturers for safety”.


Many countries have banned police from using ammunition meant for hunting animals. The multidirectional spray of pellets was designed to catch prey in flight. But many countries have continued to use them as a means of force to control civilian demonstrators.

In Israel, security forces often deploy lethal and “non-lethal” ammunition against Palestinian protesters, and crowd-control weapons have blinded at least five young Palestinians in the last two years. The use of rubber bullets by police was banned in the Spanish region of Catalonia in 2014, after at least seven people were blinded by them on the streets of Barcelona.

In 2011, months after the uprising in Tahrir Square that toppled an Egyptian dictator, a young police lieutenant, Mohamed el-Shenawy, became infamous for firing pellets into the eyes of protesters against Egypt’s military government. His exemplary skill at blinding civilians earned him the nickname the “Eye Sniper”, and his notoriety as a symbol of ongoing state brutality eventually led to a three-year jail sentence.

Will India prosecute its own eye snipers? Or outlaw the use of these weapons?

In the country’s present hypernationalist mood, every kind of other is a suspicious figure, a ready-made scapegoat for any failure that befalls the politicians determined to make India great again: the secessionist Kashmiri, the impure Dalit, the traitorous beef-eating Muslim, the woman who speaks her mind, the anti-national journalist, the dissenting writer. Any voices who might call for a ban on these “non-lethal” guns are certain to be ignored. To the contrary, ministers and police, and their demagogues and cheerleaders, have continued to advocate the use of both pellets and bullets against protesting crowds in Kashmir: unruly cattle must be reined in at any cost.

Because Kashmiris have become accustomed to the violence inflicted on them – as they are to the indifference of the world – when pellets were first sprayed at protesters in the heated summer of 2010, most people processed this as nothing more than a new misfortune; just another element of the war in Kashmir. If one were to draw a diagram of the assaults inflicted on Kashmiri bodies over the decades, hardly a single part would remain unmarked: in the 1990s, when the violence was at its worst, the eyes were spared; now they seem to have become a favourite target. The victims of such tactics, consciously and not, cultivate reserves of tolerance for pain, but also a capacity to remember.

I remember, too. I grew up amid the darkness of the late 80s and early 90s. I remember that most of us teenagers innately understood that being abused, slapped, or beaten with batons and rifle butts by an Indian trooper was a bit of a joke when compared to the horrors that others endured in the dungeons of Kashmir. (One of the most notorious torture centres, Papa II – a colonial-era building on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar – was refurbished and redecorated, and served as the stately residence of the late pro-India politician Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. His daughter, as the current chief minister, now presides over the brutalisation of another generation of Kashmiri youth.)

I remember that the war in those years taught us to treat corpses and shrouds as reminders of passing time, which was measured for the young in massacres and assassinations. I recall, too, the tragic rupture in the Kashmiri body politic when an atmosphere of fear and loathing forced out the Kashmiri Pandits – a Hindu minority that had cohabited with Muslim Kashmiris for centuries – in an almost overnight exodusmany of them targeted and killed by separatist militants. Sanjay Tickoo, who runs an organisation for the welfare of Kashmiri Hindus, says: “Over the past 20 years, we estimate that 650 Pandits were killed in the valley.” I don’t know what happened to Sunil and Rajesh, my childhood mates from the primary school we all attended near an idyllic river bend in Verinag in south Kashmir.

Growing up, I experienced a brutal, bleak time, as India’s response to the uprising included the grotesque policy of “catch and kill”, under which combatants and non-combatants alike were dispatched in summary executions or tortured to death. And yet, I don’t remember such a vengeful assault on ordinary people as we are seeing now. Buoyed by a belligerent nationalist at the helm in Delhi, the security forces on the ground perhaps feel emboldened to unleash a more widespread cruelty.

In 2013, an affecting photo essay by journalist Zahid Rafiq in the New York Times documented a few of the stories of those who had been blinded by pellets. It remains a grim testament to the darkness in Kashmir – even though the blindings at that time, amid hundreds dead, did not attract too much notice. At the time, hardly any Indian civil society group or human rights organisation thought fit to speak up about such a wicked crime. The wanton demonisation of the Kashmiri Muslim, a project that some media organisations in India take particular pleasure in, was perhaps fully realised even then. It certainly is now, when thousandsfed on a daily diet of nationalist fury, take to social media to celebrate the killing, maiming, and blinding of young Kashmiris.


That the government in Kashmir – a collection of local elites comprising career politicians, technocrats, and chancers loyal to India – considers pellet guns a “necessary evil”, might make us feel grateful. At least they acknowledge the “evil” part – perhaps to address their own guilty consciences.

A few days into this summer’s uprising, the Kashmir Observer, a local English-language daily, reported that the local government had deployed a fleet of brand new ambulances to securely ferry visiting VIPs to picnic spots in the valley. This was while protesters were being killed, maimed and blinded – and while the ambulances carrying them to hospitals were coming under fire from security forces.

Victims of police shooting who have been blinded in one or both eyes in hospital in Srinagar.

 Victims of police shooting who have been blinded in one or both eyes in hospital in Srinagar. Photograph: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

An ophthalmologist at the main hospital in Kashmir told the Indian Express in July: “For the first time the foreign bodies are irregular edged, which causes more damage once it strikes the eye.” Irregular, sharp edges? I had assumed that the pellets fired at protesters – like rubber or plastic bullets, were round discoid things. It turns out that there exist different kinds of pellets, and in 2016, some Indian forces are using the jagged variety – which inflict greater damage to flesh and eyes alike, and which doctors say is far more difficult to remove.

How did India get here? How is it all right for a constitutionally democratic and secular, modern nation to blind scores of civilians in a region it controls? Not an authoritarian state, not a crackpot dictatorship, not a rogue nation or warlord outside of legal and ethical commitments to international statutes, but a democratic country, a member of the comity of nations. How are India’s leaders, thinkers and its thundering televised custodians of public and private morality, all untroubled by the sight of a child whose heart has been penetrated by metal pellets? This is the kind of cruelty we expect from Assad’s Syria, not the world’s largest democracy.

Historically, such an inhuman response to an uprising – to mass dissent – has been the province of empires and tyrants. A modern democratic nation rarely unleashes such violence, except upon victims whom it does not regard as its own people. It is quite clear that for India and its rulers, Kashmiris have been subjects and not citizens for as long as Kashmiris have refused Indian rule. You do not shower projectiles that target eyes and viscera on a people you consider your own. In snatching away the vision of Kashmiri children, the Indian state has decisively announced that it has only one message: you must be servile and submissive, and if you refuse, we will unleash our fury.

With a hubris derived from its might and military dominion over Kashmir, the state convinces itself that it has the power to inflict blindness. In no time, then, it blinds itself too – to the character of democracy that is its central founding principle. The harsh repression of Kashmiri protests, the Nobel prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen declared in July, is “the biggest blot on India’s democracy”.

It is hard not to see this mood of brutality connected, at the very least in its tenor, to the larger register of extreme violence, by both state and non-state actors, that has come to be normalised over the last couple of decades.

There has been some dissent in India. Journalists, activists, even some politicians, have written elegiac columns and essays on the savage response to the rebellion in Kashmir. They have implored their government to cease the brutality, to be kind, and to talk to Kashmiris. But it appears that the Indian government, clouded by a newfound chauvinism and a hunger for votes, is in no mood to listen to the nation’s voices of sanity. In August, only a few days after Indian forces in Srinagar murdered a 21-year-old cash-machine watchman by firing 300 pellets into his body from close range, the Indian prime minister used a speech on Kashmir to taunt Pakistan over its own atrocities against separatists in the province of Balochistan, where the Pakistani army has inflicted forced disappearances and summary executions on the Baloch people. “Pakistan forgets that it bombs its own citizens using fighter planes,” he said. But Modi chose to forget that his own forces had, by then, killed scores of young Kashmiris.


We need to interrogate the circumstances that have led to the deliberate blinding of hundreds of young people at the hands of armed forces in Kashmir, before this too is forgotten. As some of the wounded have begun to heal, some accounts have suggested that the damage may have been less severe than initially feared – that perhaps many of those who underwent eye surgery will regain “some vision” in at least one eye. This might make one feel better – relieved that its not worse – but there is something wrong with that kind of moral reckoning, akin to the Indian security officials who continue to maintain that pellet guns must be used because the alternative would be worse. One security official told an Indian news website that pellet guns had actually “saved lives”: “It is unfortunate that there have been eye injuries but the pellets are less lethal than getting hit by bullets.”

So we might ask: what if the armed forces stationed in Kashmir had fired live bullets instead? Imagine the death toll! But this doesn’t compute: in 2016, the security forces have already killed nearly 100 civilians. Is that an acceptable number?

In a year or two, as India, and Pakistan, continue to harp on their territorialist positions, there will arrive a season of surface calm – a “return to normalcy” – in Kashmir. People will shop, marry off their children, and celebrate an uncurfewed Eid. They will also welcome tourists in their blighted land.

But when this new generation of freedom-seekers grows up into blinded, maimed, adulthood, they will carry our guilt-ridden consciences for us. They will remember more than they have seen. They will certainly remember the country that did this to them.

 

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Indian RAW agent Kulbushan Jadhav sentenced to death

Indian RAW agent Kulbushan Jadhav sentenced to death

 

 

RAWALPINDI: Indian RAW Agent Kulbushan Jadhav who was arrested from Balochistan on espionage charges, has been sentenced to death through a Field General Court Martial, the ISPR said Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed death sentence awarded by the FGCM under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA).

According to an ISPR press release, Kulbushan Sundir Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel was arrested on March 3, 2016, through a Counter-Intelligence Operation from Mashkel area of Balochistan for his involvement in espionage and sabotage actives in Pakistan.

Jadhav was believed to be an on-duty officer for the Indian Navy.

“The spy has been tried through Field General Court-martial (FGCM) under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and awarded death sentence. Today, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed death sentence awarded by FGCM.

“RAW agent Commander Kulbushan Jadhav was tired under GGCM under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of official Secret Act of 1923.”

“The FGCM found Jadhav guilty of all charges. He confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAQ to plan, coordinate and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi,” said the press release.

 

Pakistan sentences Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav to death

Reference:By News Desk
Published: April 10, 2017

Pakistan on Monday sentenced Indian spy Kalbushan Yadav to death.

“Indian RAW Agent / Naval officer 41558Z Commander Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel was arrested on March 3, 2016 through a Counter Intelligence Operation from Mashkel, Balochistan, for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

“The spy has been tried through Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and awarded death sentence. Today COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM.

Analysis: Kulbhushan Yadav’s RAW move

Yadav was tried by FGCM under section 59 of PAA 1952 and Section 3 of official Secret Act of 1923. FGCM found Yadhav guilty of all the charges, the statement added.

Further, Yadav confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/ sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.
The accused was provided with defending officer as per legal provisions.

Army chief vows to pursue Kulbhushancase to finish

Yadav, an Indian Navy commander, and agent of the RAW, was arrested in a raid near the Pak-Afghan border town of Chaman in March last year. He was earlier posted at Chabahar port in southeastern Iran where he lived with his wife and two children and possessed a genuine Indian passport but with a fake name, Hussein Mubarak Patel.

The bilateral dialogue process between Islamabad and New Delhi was suspended after Yadav’s arrest.  Yadav, in a video confession circulated shortly after his arrest, admitted to carrying out subversive activities inside Pakistan for India’s premier intelligence agency.

Peace process with India seemingly suspended after Yadav’s arrest

India had sought consular access to Yadav, however, Pakistan refused its request.

Pakistan believes that India is using covert means to foment violence in the country with an aim to undermine the multi billion dollar ‘one belt, one road’ initiative of China. The recent surge in terrorist attacks in the country has once again brought the India intelligence agencies’ role in backing the terrorism in Pakistan to the spotlight.

Security officials claim that RAW was using certain militant outfits operating out of Afghanistan to carry out terrorist attacks in the country. The current Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is considered to be the architect of this policy called ‘offensive-defensive’ that advocates a policy of supporting proxies to create trouble inside Pakistan.

 

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Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila by Brig,(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Dr. Subhash Kapila has written an article in Eurasia Review the theme of which is,Afghanistan cannot be abandoned to China-Pakistan-Russia Troika. A highly melancholic and distressful picture has been painted by the writer in a bid to remind Donald Trump Administration that Afghanistan is slipping out of the hands of the US and unless urgent and immediate measures are taken to forestall the impending strategic loss, Afghanistan would be lost for good which will have grave consequences for the sole super power. A persuasive wake-up call has been given to inviting Trump to act before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Subhash malevolently suggests that China-Pakistan axis now complemented by Russia will overturn the stability of the region. He has rung alarm bells that amidst the din of US Presidential election, Afghanistan has seemingly disappeared from the radar screen of USA and the Troika has fully exploited the vacuum to exploit it to its own advantage and to the disadvantage of Washington.

 

 

 

He sprinkles salt on the emotive feelings of USA by lamenting that the US huge investment and loss of lives of thousands of American soldiers have all gone waste owing to double dealing of Pakistan which the US has been claiming to be its strategic ally. He warned the new US policy makers that the Troika is fully poised to seize the strategic turf of Afghanistan and thus deprive the USA of its influence in Central Asia and Southwest Asia.

One may ask Subhash as to why no concern was shown by him or any Indian writer when the Troika of USA-India-Afghanistan assisted by UK and Israel was formed in 2002 to target Pakistan. The Troika that has caused excessive pain and anguish to Pakistan and its people is still active. All these years, Pakistan was maliciously maligned, ridiculed and discredited and mercilessly bled without any remorse. The objective of the Troika and its supporters was to create chaos and destabilize the whole region which was peaceful till 9/11.

India was in the lead to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and fragment Pakistan.

The US installed puppet regimes of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani wholly under the perverse influence of India played a lead role in bleeding Pakistan by allowing so many hostile agencies to use Afghan soil for the accomplishment of their ominous designs.

The vilest sin of the so-called allies of Pakistan was its pretension of friendship and continuously stabbing Pakistan in the guise of friends. Worst was that Pakistan was distrusted and asked to do more against the terrorists funded, trained and equipped by the Troika and was humiliated by saying that it was either incompetent or an accomplice.

Driven by the desire to become the unchallenged policeman of the region and a bulwark against China, India assisted by its strategic allies has been constantly weaving webs of intrigue and subversion and striving hard to encircle and isolate Pakistan.

Proxy wars were ignited in FATA, Baluchistan, and Karachi to politically destabilize Pakistan, weaken its economy and pin down a sizeable size of Army within the three conflict zones so as to create conducive conditions for launching India’s much trumped up Cold Start Doctrine and destroy Pakistan’s armed forces.

India’s national security adviser has admitted that Pakistan has been subjected to his defensive-offensive doctrine to dislocate it through covert war. India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has vowed to break Pakistan into ten pieces. Modi has openly admitted that he has established direct links with anti-Pakistan elements in Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir. He confessed India’s central role in creating Bangladesh in 1971 and has often stated that pain will be caused to Pakistan. This is done by way of acts of terror against innocent civilians including school children, resorting to unprovoked firing across the LoC in Kashmir, and resorting to water terrorism. Pakistan has been repeatedly warned to lay its hands off Kashmir or else lose Baluchistan.

Pakistan has miraculously survived the onslaughts of the Troika and has stunned the world by controlling foreign supported terrorism after recapturing 19 administrative units from the TTP and its allied groups and up sticking all the bases in the northwest, breaking the back of separatist movement in Baluchistan and restoring order in lawless Karachi by dismantling the militant infrastructure of MQM and banned groups. Army, Rangers and Frontier Corps assisted by air force have achieved this miracle of re-establishing writ of the State in all parts of the country. Eighty-five of terrorism has been controlled.

Random terror attacks are now wholly planned and executed from Kunar and Nangarhar in Afghanistan under the patronage of RAW ad NDS and supervised by CIA.

Consequent to the new wave of terrorism last month, Operation Rad-e-Fasaad has been launched as a follow-up of Operation Zarb-e-Azb to net facilitators, handlers, and financiers of terrorists and to demolish sleeping cells in urban centres. The scope of this operation has been extended to all parts of the country, and all the three services are taking part in it to cleanse Pakistan from the presence of paid mercenaries and fifth columnists.

Implementation of 20 points of National Action Plan is being religiously expedited to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Afghan refugees are being returned and management of western border radically improved to prevent infiltration of terrorists.

Terrorism can however not be rooted out unless root causes that heighten extremism are addressed, and the bases in Afghanistan, as well as the patrons stoking terrorism, remain operative.

Pakistan has overcome energy crisis, considerably improved its macroeconomics and its stature in the world. Operationalization of CPEC, hosting of ECO meeting and holding of PSL cricket finals in Lahore have broken the myth of isolation.

Pakistan has made its defense impregnable by raising the level of minimum nuclear deterrence to full spectrum deterrence. Robust conventional and nuclear capability together with stable political and economic conditions have thwarted India’s desire to attack Pakistan overtly.

India and its strategic allies have been stopped in their tracks and left with no choice but to contend with covert war supplemented with propaganda war and coercive tactics to give vent to their pent-up anger.

India which is the chief villain of peace is deeply perturbed and is shedding tears over its failures and loss of billions spent on proxies to detach FATA, Baluchistan, Karachi and AJK from Pakistan, or to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program. The rapid progress made by CPEC has made the deadly Troika more rancorous.

Finding that its nasty game plan has run into snags with little chance of recovery, and above all Afghanistan is slithering away because of a resurgence of Taliban and ostensible insouciance of Washington, India is once again making efforts to provoke Trump and ruffle his feathers, the way it had efficaciously prevailed upon George Bush and Obama. It is now working on a new theme of demonizing so-called Troika of China-Russia-Pakistan, which is so far not in existence and is an illusion. Subhash is among the propaganda brigade selling this illusory theme and is suggesting that the so-called Troika have hegemonic and military designs against Afghanistan.

CPEC is an economic venture aimed at promoting peace and friend socalled Troika have hegemony in the region as a whole. It promises goodwill, harmony, and mutual prosperity through connectivity. Both China and Pakistan shun war mongering, proxy wars and psy operations to disparage others. The duo is bereft of colonial or quasi-colonial designs against any country. Since its memo is altogether different from the imperialist agenda of Indo-US-Israel, it threatens to unravel the global ambitions of the trio.

Whereas Afghanistan has not accepted the British demarcated Durand Line as a border with Pakistan and has been supportive of Pakhtunistan stunt, Pakistan has no disputes with Afghanistan and has always treated it as a brotherly Muslim neighbor.

Repeated invitations to India and Afghanistan to join CPEC and reap its benefits have been turned down. Both are complacent that CPEC will be a non-starter without an inclusion of peaceful Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that they are getting isolated. Moreover, a new route from Kazakhstan via Wakhan corridor is in pipeline which will bypass Afghanistan.

While China and Pakistan have jointly embarked upon the journey of peace and friendship and are attracting many countries, Russia is still hesitant and has so far not formally joined the bandwagon of CPEC which has great potential and has grandiose plans to link South Asia with Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa and eventually Europe.

Russia’s hesitation is owing to the fear of losing defence and economic markets in India. However, seeing the bright scope of CPEC and motivated by its age-old quest for warm waters, Russia will sooner than later abandon India because of Indo-US military agreements and gravitate towards CPEC. Recent developments have given a loud message to India that Russia is tilting towards Pakistan.

One of the reasons of Russia’s tilt is worsening security situation in Afghanistan which has turned into a big mess and is beyond the capacity of USA and Ghani regime to sort it out. Growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan has alarmed Moscow since the declared objective of this branch of Daesh is to re-establish ancient Khorasan, which comprised of parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The runaway TTP leaders Fazlullah, Khalid Omar and several others have tagged their names with Khorasani and have made Kunar-Nuristan as the base camp for the making of Khorasan.

Russia knows that CIA, Mossad, and RAW are secretly aligned with Daesh and are killing two birds with one stone. The threat of Daesh has impelled Russia to evince greater interest in Afghan affairs and there are reports that it is supplying arms to the Taliban to enable them to tackle the new threat. Some are saying, that Moscow might intervene in Afghanistan the way it had intervened in Syria on the pretext of grappling with Daesh.

If so, it might trigger a proxy war between the two big powers which will prolong the agony of people of Afghanistan as well as of Pakistan because of the spillover effect. This is exactly what India wants so as to retain its nuisance value in Afghanistan.

Will Trump get enticed and blindly jump into the same inferno from which Obama had extracted 1, 30,000 troops in December 2014 with great difficulty, and lose whatever prestige the US is left with by reinforcing failure?

Or else, he will stick to his policy of curtailing defence expenditure and pull out the 12000 strong Resolute Support Group and stop paying $8.1 billion annually to the corrupt regime in Kabul and inept Afghan security forces?

Or he takes a saner decision by making USA part of Russia-China-Pakistan grouping to arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan and also opt to join CPEC and improve the economy of USA?

Making a realistic appraisal of the ground situation, the last option seems more viable and profitable for the USA, while the second option is dicey, and the first option will spell disaster.

The writer is retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre and Member Executive Council Ex-Servicemen Society. Takes part in TV programs. asifharoonraja@gmail.com       

 

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The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan By Sajjad Shaukat

 

The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan

By

Sajjad Shaukat

 

 

 

 

 

A BABY’S BOTTLE LIES AS A SYMBOL OF BRUTALITY OF INDIA’S INTELLIGENCE AGENCY RAW TRAINED AFGHAN SUICIDE BOMBING AT THE SHRINE
OF SUFI SAINT LAL SHAHBAZ QALANDAR AT SEHWAN SHARIF, SINDH, PAKISTAN
CRUELTY HAS NO LIMIT IN HINDUISM

 

 

 

 

Additional Reading

Image result for Ajit Doval RAW Emblem

India’s Intelligence Service RAW trains suicide bombers in Afghanistan to kill innocent poverty stricken Pakistani citizens, who go to Sufi shrines to seek solace from life’s problems.

At least 70 dead as bomb rips through Lal Shahbaz shrine in Sehwan, Sindh

 

 

 

 

Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb which has also been extended to other provinces of the country. While, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies, especially primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. But, the new wave of terrorism which started in the beginning of this year, having a connection in Afghanistan has, again, enveloped Pakistan.

 

In this regard, at least 88 people were martyred and 343 were injured on February 17, this year when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh province of Pakistan. 

 

Terrorist organization, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

On February 15, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around seven people dead. One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.

 

At least 13 people were killed on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

 

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

 

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on February 13, 2017, in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

 

Besides, more than 24 people had been killed in an explosion which ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, 2017. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in Parachinar.

 

At least 65 people were killed when a blast struck at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016. ISIL had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

 

Earlier, the affiliated group of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016, in an assault at the government-run Civil Hospital.

 

However, the suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the worst single attack since the TTP militants massacred about 150 students at an army school in Peshawar in December 2014. Pakistan’s military and civil high officials strongly condemned the attack and recent terror attacks by pointing out their connection in Afghanistan.

 

In this respect, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.

 

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had soon after the Sehwan shrine attack announced the closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.

 

According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa appealed to the nation to stay calm by saying, “our security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed…each drop of nation’s blood shall be avenged and avenged immediately…no more restraint for anyone.”

 

Gen. Javed Bajwa had called Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through the telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.

 

Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organizations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

 

In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.

 

Taking note of the terror assault in Sehwan, including the recent ones, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies.

 

In a similar message to Kabul, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against JuA and terrorist’s sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

 

The Foreign Office of Pakistan said that Afghanistan had been asked to address concerns about the presence of terrorist groups on its soil, which are behind the latest wave of terrorism in the country.

 

It is notable that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference on February 17, this year claimed that the suspects involved in planning and carrying out the Feb 13 suicide bombing on a protest at Lahore’s Charing Cross (Mall Road) belonged to Afghanistan. Sharif also announced the arrest of the facilitator of the attacker, Anwar-ul-Haq who he said belonged to Fata’s Bajaur Agency which neighbours Afghanistan. The suspect’s confessional statement was aired during the briefing. The suspect stated, “I was associated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and they trained me”, adding that he has visited Afghanistan around 15 to 20 times.

 

The police officers involved in the investigation into the incident of Mall Road, Lahore revealed that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is an offshoot of the Tehreek-i-Taliban.

 

Nevertheless, Pakistan has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks since Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) announced its ‘Operation Ghazi’. The Afghanistan-based JuA had in the announcement also hinted at the unification of TTP splinter groups.

 

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher Afgan had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e- Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

 

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW, and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With the latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become the center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

 

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India, and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

 

In case of Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochistan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China, and Iran.

 

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with the then Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheeda and former Director General of ISPR Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

 

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and Balochistan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other terrorists. During an investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s security agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country, working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan. In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country. 

 

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially have their connection in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides an opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the effective counter-terrorism measures strong border, control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.

 

Taking cognizance of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of the 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous border, situated between both the countries.

 

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016, when Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop Pakistan from the construction of a gate. 

 

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared borderline by British representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in 1947. So, it is a declared borderline and Afghan government has no right to object on any construction along with the Durand line.

 

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

 

Pakistan is committed to tackling the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan. Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

 

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

 

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences. However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up. Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic dialogue, focused on short, medium and long-term solutions. As a trust-building initiative, an effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an establishment will also plug in many loopholes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to conduct cross-border terrorism. 

 

We may conclude that besides the previous terror-events, the recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have a connection in Afghanistan.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: The US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic_pak@hotmail.com

 

Courtesy Veterans Today

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India’s penchant for false flag operations by Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India’s penchant for false flag operations

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

India’s notorious intelligence agency RAW has mastered the art of spy warfare and has earned an ill-repute of interfering in neighboring countries through covert means for the achievement of India’s sinister objectives. It carries out covert and psychological operations to weaken target countries and create conducive conditions for the Indian military to deliver the hammer on the internally weakened foe in war. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldive, Bhutan, Sikkim have all been lacerated by RAW. And now it is actively involved in three zones of Pakistan using Afghanistan, Iran and London as bases of operation. Among the many tools employed to unravel the target, RAW employs the tool of false flag operation to put the blame of the crime committed by India at the doorstep of its foe to build pressure and to defame its opponent. RAW has been resorting to this immoral activity against Pakistan since long.

RAW in complicity with former KGB masterminded the creation of Bangladesh. In January 1971, RAW conducted a false flag operation in the form of hijacking of Ganga passenger airplane from India to Lahore supposedly by Kashmiri militants. Purpose behind it was to cut off east-west air flights of Pakistan so as to give free hand to Mujibur Rehman and his cronies to speed up its secession plan and create Bangladesh. Once Mujib created a state within state in East Pakistan in March 1971 and soaked the streets of Dacca and other major towns of East Pakistan with non-Bengalis blood with the help of Indian trained, equipped and brainwashed Mukti Bahini, Pakistan had to send reinforcements through long circuitous air route via Colombo to restore law and order. East Pakistan remained cut off from West Pakistan till the very end and enabled Indian armed forces to barge in against a small marooned and fatigued military force heavily involved in fighting province wide insurgency for nine months. Battle of East Pakistan had been won on the psychological plane before the military instrument was applied.

In 1999, an Indian plane was hijacked to Kabul. The then Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh carried out negotiations while the ruling Taliban became the mediators. Maulana Azhar Mahmood, leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad involved in Jihad in occupied Kashmir and three others jailed in India were released in exchange of releasing the passengers and the plane. This event gave a handle to India to intensify its propaganda that Pakistan was supporting terrorism in Kashmir and India was a victim of cross border terrorism.

Chittisinghpura incident was played in occupied Kashmir on the occasion of visit of Bill Clinton to India in March 2000. A dozen Sikhs were gunned down by RAW operatives but the blame was put on Kashmiri Mujahideen and Pakistan. Objectives were to present Kashmir freedom movement as terrorism, Pakistan as abettor of terrorism and to antagonise Sikhs against Pakistan.

Terror attack on Indian Parliament by a handful of militants on December 13, 2001 was again a false flag operation to extract concessions from Pakistan. Indian propagandists termed the attack as another 9/11 and blamed Pakistan even before carrying out preliminary investigations. India carried out biggest ever deployment of Indian forces along the entire length of the border and activation of forward air bases and moving forward naval battle ships in the high seas. Pakistan military responded with equal grit and determination and forced the fire breathing Indian military to pull back after 10 months military standoff. However, on the political plane, Gen Musharraf gave in to Indo-US pressure.

In order to appease India, he banned six Kashmir-focussed Jihadi groups, ceased their funds, thinned out troops in Azad Kashmir and took effective measures to prevent movement across the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan also allowed India to build a fence all along the LoC and fortify it. Kashmir desk was made redundant. (This had been done earlier on in 1995-97 when uprising in occupied Kashmir had peaked and Pakistan opted for reconciliation and composite dialogue). This unwise policy had reduced the combat strength of Kashmiri freedom fighters from 15000 to 1500 when Kargil venture was launched). Another fall out was that RAW with the help of Mossad succeeded in penetrating Harkatul Mujahideen and several leading Jihadi groups in Kashmir to defame Kashmiri freedom fighters. Faran group was RAW created which targeted foreigners in occupied Kashmir. India then adopted draconian measures to break the movement.

Musharraf gave a unilateral commitment to India that he will not allow Pakistan soil to be used for cross border terrorism against India or occupied Kashmir, or Afghanistan. All these one-sided concessions were doled out to please USA, appease India and to induce India to sign a peace treaty and resume composite dialogue. Pakistan is paying a very heavy price for those myopic decisions. India silenced the eastern front and made our leaders swim in the pool of smugness that all core issues including Kashmir will be resolved through talks. Having duped them, India then activated western front by opening up four Pakistan-specific Indian Consulates and deploying 14 intelligence units in Afghanistan. Indian Consulates in Zahidan, Siestan and Mashad also became operative in Baluchistan.

From 2001 till 2008, all acts of terror taking place in India which included Samjhota Express train blasts killing over 50 Pakistanis, blasts in Mecca mosque Hyderabad and mosque in Malegaon were all put in the basket of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Pakistan. Purpose was to keep Pakistan under pressure; establish a link between LeT and ISI and brand the latter as a terror abetting outfit. This was done despite the fact that LeT was operating in occupied Kashmir and had been banned in 2003 and its offshoot Jamaat ud Dawa was operating as an educational/technical/charitable institution under Hafiz Saeed in bustling town of Muredke, which was open for all.

Mumbai attacks by ten terrorists on November 26, 2008 was yet another false flag operation designed to achieve several objectives. It was aimed at deflecting the attention of the world from occupied Kashmir where armed movement had suddenly transformed into unarmed movement after Amarnath land issue and had flabbergasted the Indian policy makers; to halt composite dialogue which had covered ground and had reached a stage of taking decisions; to get LeT declared as terrorist organization by the UN and the US; to brand ISI as a rogue organization; to carryout air strikes against alleged training camps in Muredke and Azad Kashmir; and lastly to destabilise Karachi with the help of MQM and TTP

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Directs RAW’s Terrorism Against Pakistan

 

 

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The other important objective was to get rid of Maharashtra chief inspector of anti-terrorism Hemant Karkare who had made a stunning revelation that Hindu terrorist group Abhinov Bharat and some other groups under the patronage of Indian military intelligence were directly involved in acts of terror from 2000 to 2008. He had gathered sufficient evidence to get them convicted and punished. In this, Lt Col Srikant Purohit was the main character, who confessed that he was involved in bombing of Samjhota Express. Absconding Jatin Chatterjee belonging to Abhinov Bharat was arrested for his involvement in Mecca Mosque blast that had left 9 people dead.

Karkare was bumped off in Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008. The case compiled by Karkare has been dumped even after Satish Varma of Home Ministry of Manmohan administration submitted affidavit in the Indian court that Hindu terrorists were involved in acts of terror. Hindu priest Aseemanand was another culprit who confessed to the magistrate on December 18, 2010 of his involvement in Samjhota Express incident and other terror acts. He has been released on bail. Former Indian Home Minister Suchil Kumar’s article published in Washington Post dated January 20, 2013 gave detailed account of Hindu terrorism in India. There are over 100 Hindu terror groups in India under the patronage of RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP, all part of Sangh Parivar who have communalized Indian politics and unleashed forces of terrorism. They are patronised by RAW and Indian Military Intelligence to promote Hindutva in India. None has been added in the UN or US terror lists.

Dialogue suspended in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks have yet not restarted since India has made terrorism and not Kashmir as the core issue for discussion to promote peace and friendship between the two archrivals.

In January 2013, another drama of beheading of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir was played up to reinvigorate cross border terrorism charge against Pakistan. It was alleged that the attackers dressed in uniform had come from Pakistan. This was made into an excuse to heat up the LoC and carryout merciless firing on the villages located along the LoC and the deployed Pakistani troops. Offensive statements were hurled by the then Army chief Gen VK Singh (the one who claimed to have raised and trained a special technical unit for cross border terrorism in Pakistan, and after retirement joined BJP). That was the year when the incident of Indian spy Sarabjit Singh awarded death sentence since long was drummed up when he was killed by a prison-mate in Kot Lakhpat jail. In reaction, Pakistani Sanaullah Niazi interned in Jammu jail and set to get released was murdered by Hindu prison-mate at the behest of RAW.

After the change of government in India in June 2014, when Nawaz Sharif attended Modi’s coronation ceremony in Delhi and extended a hand of friendship, it was generally opined that the atmosphere had improved and the scheduled foreign secretary level talks in August 2014 would take place under better atmosphere. India however cancelled the talks on the flimsy plea as to why Pak High Commissioner in Delhi had invited the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders whereas it was a norm. This act infuriated the Indian leaders and on the false pretext that Pak soldiers had carried out ceasefire violation in Kashmir heated up the border and undertook massive firing and shelling all along the LoC as well as Working Boundary in Sialkot sector from August onwards till as late as last quarter of 2015. This offensive military posture was further made vicious by acrimonious statements of Indian political leaders and vandalism of Shiv Sena activists against Pakistani sports persons, media persons, artists, book writers and exhibition holders in India.

During this period, three false flag operations were carried out to keep the charge of terrorism against Pakistan alive. One was in the high seas across Gujarat coast by declaring Pakistani fishing boat as terror boat and destroying it. Indian DG Coast Guard revealed the whole truth for which he was sacked. The next was a manipulated drama in which three gunmen dressed in Army uniforms allegedly crossed the border, and opened fire on a bus and then attacked a police station in Dina Nagar, Gurdaspur District on July 27, 2015. This was followed by another one in Udhampur on August 5 in which two terrorists attacked a BSF convoy. India blamed Pakistan for both but the ill-conceived dramas backfired.

Now the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad has been blamed for the recent attack on Pathankot airbase on January 2, 2016. This was done without carrying out preliminary operations and tackling the eight terrorists. It took the Indian security forces which included commandoes and army four days to clear the airbase. India has been unable to give an explanation to such a poor response particularly when information about the impending attack had been received two days before and 200 commandoes had been deployed for the security of airbase, counter terrorism force and internal security force inside the base kept on high alert and the deployed infantry division made more vigilant along the border.

Indian national adviser Ajit Doval who was personally overlooking the counter operation came under pungent criticism on his abject failure. He is to be held responsible for a blotched up false flag operation if it was so, while Indian security forces are to be blamed for their inept response action. Although Pakistan is extending full cooperation, it is suspected that Pathankot attack was engineered to counter the heavy dozier of RAW’s involvement in FATA and Balochistan handed over to the UN by Pakistan and also to find an excuse to put off dialogue.

India is extremely concerned about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which she says is unacceptable. One cannot over rule the possibility of another false flag operation by RAW on a bigger scale to give India a reason to carry out yet another massive deployment like in 2002 and force Pakistan to do the same at a time when the Army is heavily engaged in the three conflict zones and is also taking care of the CPEC while the politicians are squabbling over petty matters and Pak media is spreading gloom.

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst/columnist/book writer, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors. He is a Defence Analyst and among founding Members of Pakistan Think Tank.

asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

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