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Role of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia By Sajjad Shaukat

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Role of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia

By Sajjad Shaukat


The role of Pakistan Army in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has again come to limelight, as Pakistan decided to send more troops in that country. Many Indian newspapers and media anchors started spreading disinformation that Pakistan Army would be used by Riyadh in case of war against Yemen and Iran. In one way or the other, even some politicians and media analysts of Pakistan also misperceive the function of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia.   


In this respect, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on February 1, this year and Saudi vice president of the Council of Ministers on February 2. Gen. Qamar Bajwa discussed matters of mutual interest and military ties between Islamabad and the Riyadh. 


But, without knowing the real role of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia, the opposition in the National Assembly (lower house) raised concerns over reports of sending Pakistan Army troops to Saudi Arabia.


In this regard, on February 19, 2018, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir gave briefing to the Senate (upper house) regarding deployment of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia—cooperation between the two countries and the terms of engagement under which the troops will be sent to the Kingdom.


Dastgir stated that 1600 Pakistani troops are currently deployed in Saudi Arabia and 10,000 Saudi troops are currently receiving training in Pakistan…more than 1,000 troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia over a few months’ time, bringing the tally of Pakistani troops deployed to 2,600…The apprehension that our troops will become entangled in the Yemen war is incorrect…the current and future deployments will be within the remits of the agreement…Pakistani forces have acquired new skills at a huge price due to the ongoing war against terror and will help in training the Saudi troops.”


Earlier, a press release from Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also said on February 15, 2018, “A Pakistan army contingent will be stationed in Saudi Arabia on a training and advisory mission…The announcement followed a meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador, Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki, and Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa earlier today at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. The contingent will join Pakistani troops that are already stationed in Saudi Arabia and will not be deployed outside the Kingdom…Pakistan already has around 1180 troops in Saudi Arabia under a 1982 bilateral agreement.”


It is notable that during the 1970s, Islamabad signed defence protocols with several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Jordon and the United Arab Emirates under which Pakistan Armed Forces were dispatched to these countries to impart professional training. A majority of the officials of the Armed Forces were sent to these countries on deputation, their tenure was two or three years.

It is mentionable that Pakistan is one of the 41 members of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) which is being headed by Pakistan’s former army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif.


Taking note of the rumours that IMCTC or Saudi-led military alliance of Sunni countries was formed against the Shia states-Iran and Yemen, Gen. Raheel Sharif has made it clear in 2017 that he supports unity of the Islamic Ummah.


It is noteworthy that Pakistan’s military capabilities qualify it to play a balancing role in the Muslim World in general and the Middle East in particular.


In this connection, when a rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran widened in the aftermath of the execution of the prominent Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr as part of Riyadh’s executions of 47 persons on terrorism charges, on January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries like Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, including Sudan broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. But, Islamabad continued her ties with Tehran.


Notably, on January 5, 2016, the Adviser to Pakistan’s former Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz said before the National Assembly. Pakistan is concerned over recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran…the Muslim World faces grave dangers in the situation.”


The statement followed criticism from opposition parties which lashed out at the government in the National Assembly for not coming up with a clear stance on the situation arising out in the region because of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and called for a parliamentary briefing on the issue. Aziz also gave an in-camera briefing to the National Assembly on the Saudi-Iran tensions.


Aziz maintained that Pakistan will continue to play its positive and mediatory role to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and it advocates unity among the Muslim countries.


For the purpose, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif had visited Saudi Arabia and Iran. They held meetings with their rulers in a bid to defuse tensions between the two countries. They called for resolution of the crisis through peaceful means in the larger interest of the Muslim world.


Meanwhile, in his meeting with the Iranian Defence Minister Hosse Dehghan in Islamabad, Gen. Raheel Sharif had reiterated that “Pakistan takes Iran as a very important neighbouring Muslim country and the people of Pakistan have a great affinity with their Iranian brothers.” The Iranian defence minister thanked Gen. Raheel and the people of Pakistan for their efforts to bolster regional security.


And during the trip of Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman at Islamabad, Pakistan’s prime minister and chief of army staff had assured him to defuse tension between the two brother countries. His visit came just four days after the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir visited Islamabad.

While, some media analysts had misinterpreted the statements of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Raheel Sharif by saying that during their interactions with the rulers of Saudi Arabia, they preferred Riyadh over Tehran. However, it was not true, as Islamabad had decided to play a mediatory role between the two Muslim countries as part of a balanced approach in the Middle East. But, foreign enemies of the Islamic World manipulated the statements Pakistan’s civil and military officials who clarified that Pakistan Armed Forces are also stationed in Saudi Arabia for protection of the holy sites in Mecca and Medina, as their role would be defensive, not offensive.


Notably, despite the pressure of America, Pakistan had refused to send its troops to Syria in support of the US-backed forces which wanted to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Similarly, in 2015, Riyadh insisted upon Islamabad to send its forces to join the Saudi-led coalition to conduct aerial strikes on Yemen. Pakistan had refused to participate in the air strikes. Instead, Pakistan’s parliament had passed a unanimous resolution on April 9, 2015, which stated, “The war in Yemen is not sectarian in nature, but has the potential of turning into a sectarian conflict which will have critical fallout in the region, including Pakistan.” It urged the government “to stay neutral in the Saudi-Yemen conflict” and to “avoid being drawn into a broader sectarian conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.” It called upon “warring factions in Yemen to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue.” The resolution urged Islamabad to play a diplomatic role to end the crisis.


It is of particular attention that during his trip to Iran, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa who met with Iranian civil and military leaders, said on November 7, 2017, that Pakistan was determined to expand its ties with Iran in all spheres, including expansion of its military and defence cooperation with Tehran.


It is worth mentioning that the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias in wake of the war on terror. For the purpose, a study of Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force. Its report which was released on December 27, 2004, advocated that Sunni-Shia sectarian division should be exploited to promote the US objectives in the Muslim World. The report was first implemented in Iraq.


In 2004, major terror-attacks were carried out against the Shias. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis, targeting each other’s mosques and religious leaders through bomb blasts, suicide attacks etc.


After Iraq’s experiment, more deadly pattern of sectarian strife and clashes have been conducted in Pakistan. With the assistance of American CIA, Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW have arranged a number of attacks on mosques and religious leaders of Shias and Sunnis through the militant groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jundullah (God’s soldiers) and Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL). These outfits kidnapped and killed many Iranian nationals in Pakistan, including Iranian diplomats. ISIS and Jundollah conducted many subversive acts in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. In this connection, Tehran has directly accused CIA of funding these types of terror attacks.


Hinting towards the US and Israel, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had disclosed, “The bloody actions being committed in Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are aimed at creating a division between the Shias and Sunnis…those who carry out these terrorist actions are directly or indirectly foreign agents.”


Pakistan’s leading Ulemas (Religious scholars) of the Shia-Sunni sects, including politicians have repeatedly pointed out that external conspiracies were being hatched to destroy peace in the country through sectarian divide.


It is worth mentioning that when last year, Saudi Arabia along with the several Gulf States severed diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting terrorist groups, Pakistan did not cut off its relations with Qatar.


In fact, anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan elements, including some Arab countries and their media are spreading rumours by projecting the negative role of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia in order to create a rift between Pakistan and Iran as well Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Such a disinformation can be judged from the reply of Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria in relation to deployment of Pakistani troops in Qatar. In a statement on June 11, 2017, Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria termed the reports appearing in some foreign media outlets about the deployment of Pakistani troops in Qatar as “completely fabricated and baseless.”


Nonetheless, the role of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia is to help in training the Saudi troops and to provide advisory services.




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Asia’s quiet superpower: Pakistan Army’s teetering balance between Saudi and Iran by Kamal Alam

Courtesy Middle East Eye

With a Pakistani general leading a Saudi-led terror-fighting force, Islamabad has the chance once again to be the region’s final guarantor

When one thinks of the Pakistan Army, one does not instinctively think of a force that is relevant to conflicts in the Middle East. Yet increasingly – and without actually being involved in any operations – it is the most influential military in the region. 

Who will lead the Islamic NATO, a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif

It has trained more Arab armies than any other country and has been present both in a combat role in the Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973 and also provided mentorship as the Gulf countries’ armies were founded.

This is mostly thanks to the legacy of the British Indian Army, which was one-third Muslim, and which the British relied on to pacify the hostility of Arab Muslims when it marched through Jerusalem, Damascus, and Baghdad. After India’s partition in 1947, these troops became the founders of the Pakistan military and thus began a long relationship that exists to this day.

The British Indian Army enter Baghdad in 1917 with Lt Gen Federick Stanley Maude (Wikicommons)

After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army, and Iran’s rising influence across the Middle East, the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have looked to Pakistan as the final guarantor.

When the current Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa recently stated that Pakistan views Saudi Arabia’s protection as its own, it was seen as an indirect warning to Iran and the terrorist groups threatening Saudi Arabia.

And who will lead the “Islamic NATO”, a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif.

Surprise announcements

Though it was rumoured for a good year before his retirement, when Defence Minister Khwaja Asif confirmed Sharif’s appointment to the “Muslim NATO” a few weeks ago, it came as a surprise to the Pakistani parliament in much the same way as the announcement two years ago that Pakistan was to participate in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

There was a furore in the GCC when, after the surprise announcement, the Pakistani military eventually refused the role in Yemen in 2015. The UAE even canceled visa waivers for Pakistani military officials, a process that had existed for decades, while leading Kuwait and Saudi state-owned media attacked Pakistan and how it had back-stabbed its “brothers” in the Gulf.

In June 2014, Pakistan army soldiers gather before the start of a military operation against the Taliban in the main town of Miranshah in North Waziristan (AFP)

Pakistan itself has split down the middle over Yemen. The majority of the military was apparently in favour of the army’s participation. However, given Operation Zarb e Azb, in which the army was targeting cross-border violence and domestic terrorist groups on the Afghan border in North Waziristan, the military was overstretched fighting its own war on terror.

Ultimately, Pakistan did not take part in Yemen with troops on the ground but did provide border support to guard Saudi sovereignty and offer advice during the air campaign.

However, two years down the line, with Pakistan military’s operations winding down in the northwest of its country, there is increased stability within the army and, tactically speaking, troops are now available. So the question of a more active role for Pakistan in Yemen may arise again. 

One of the main reasons Saudi Arabia is going back to Pakistan for help, despite its previous refusal in Yemen, is that Pakistan and General Raheel Sharif himself warned that ground operations in Yemen were futile given the terrain, and proximity to the sea making impractical the use of the hammer and anvil tactic – and they were proven right.

While Pakistan will definitely not put troops in Yemen (Sharif has made that clear), the army can help by mediating conflict resolution mechanisms it used with success in Waziristan and Swat Valley. 

The obvious choice

General Raheel Sharif is an obvious choice for the Muslim NATO role given his tremendous popularity in the Arab world particularly in Saudi.

For decades, the Saudis and other Gulf royals have treated the Pakistan Army and its chief as special guests

As army chief, he has made six official visits to Saudi Arabia, brought the Qataris into Pakistan’s military orbit and put the Egyptian-Pakistan relationship back on track by becoming the first Pakistani in his position to visit Cairo in over two decades. In 2014, Sharif was the only non-head of state present at the GCC military exercise, Abdullah’s Shield.

There are also close historic ties between Saudi and Pakistan that make Sharif an easy choice. For decades, the Saudis and other Gulf royals have treated the Pakistan Army and its chief as special guests; there has been a talk of Pakistan providing a nuclear umbrella against Iran, and a potential hammer if one were needed to protect the GCC.

Indeed in Bahrain, Iran and several international organisations accused Pakistan of supporting the suppression of protestors at the behest of the Saudis.

When the Saudi embassy was attacked by a mob in Tehran last year after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric, Sharif undertook a three-day diplomatic initiative that led him first to Saudi and then to Iran to mediate between the two countries and calm fears of an escalation given already fraught relations over the Syrian and Yemen conflicts.

An Iranian protester holds a sign bearing the name of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a protest against his execution by Saudi authorities on 3 January 2016, outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran (AFP)

There were also unconfirmed reports bordering on fake news that Pakistan had threatened to nuke Iran if it dared to attack Saudi Arabia.  

At this moment, there are 158 Saudi military cadets in the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad, a record of any overseas force in any military academy in the world. There is also another historic first for the Pakistan Army: it has become the first Muslim country to have a permanent instructor at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The instructor, Major Uqbah Malik, is a platoon commander with several Arab cadets under his command along with British cadets. 

For the last two years, the chief guests at the Pakistan Air Force’s Academy in Risalpur have been the heads of the Iraqi and Saudi defence forces. There were a dozen Iraqi cadets last year and more this year.

Similarly, in Damascus, Pakistan sent one of its top air force generals as ambassador to smooth tensions and act as a back-door mediator between Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Sharif’s successor, current army chief Qamar Bajwa’s first official overseas trip was a recent three-day visit to Saudi Arabia. It was no coincidence that Sharif was also in Saudi at the same time performing his Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage at the invitation of the Saudi king. There were also many videos shared over social media of Raheel Sharif being mobbed as a hero as Saudi Special Forces guarded him.


Iran-Saudi mediator?

Along with its vast military resources, deployed over the last decades to fight on behalf of various Arab states and its role as the largest trainer of Arab armies, Pakistan’s role as a peacemaker between several warring capitals has been crucial.

In fact, the UN Centre of Excellence on COIN and peacekeeping is in Islamabad, where the Pakistan army trains other armies from around the world on how to do conflict resolution in war time.

Sharif has made it clear he will only carry on in his current job if Iran is included in the military alliance so it does not just become a Sunni alliance

Could Pakistan play such a role in mediating between Saudi and Iran?

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979, Pakistan has drifted away from Tehran and has been seen as too close to the Saudis to be an honest peace broker between Riyadh and Tehran.

Two decades ago, Pakistan’s army played a leading role in mediating an end to the Iraq-Iran war, something the late Iranian president Rafsanjani specifically appreciated.

While for some, Sharif’s appointment has been seen as a message to Iran that Pakistan is abandoning its neutral role between the two countries, it would seem that an opportunity has again presented the Pakistan military to take a lead. Sharif has made it clear he will only carry on in his role as head of the military alliance if Iran is included so it does not just become a Sunni front.

Then Pakistan Army Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif arrives for a visit in Sri Lanka in June 2015 (AFP)

Notably, the Pakistan army is the only non-sectarian army in the Muslim world – it has had Shia Hazara chief of staffs, Sunnis, and several Christian generals. Given this, Pakistan is well-positioned to balance Iran and Saudi Arabia’s tensions.

There are potential opportunities and problems for Pakistan here. If it is not careful and is seen as being too close to Saudi, it could further exacerbate its fragile domestic sectarian balance and make trouble for Pakistan domestically.

But if the new alliance holds, Pakistan stands to benefit greatly, especially with the Turkish support of the country.

– Kamal Alam is a Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He specialises in the contemporary military history of the Arab world and Pakistan, he is a Fellow for Syrian Affairs at The Institute for Statecraft and is a visiting lecturer at several military staff colleges across the Middle East, Pakistan and the UK.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: In January 2016, then Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif (R) meets with Deputy Crown Prince and Saudi Minister of Defence Mohammed bin Salman in Rawalpindi, Pakistan (AFP)

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Youm-e-Shuhada: The Real Heroes By Sajjad Shaukat






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Every year, the Pakistan Army commemorates Youm-e-Shuhada (Martyrs Day) on April 30 and the whole nation joins it to pay tribute to the departed souls of those valiant army officials who sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of the country and its people.

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Several ceremonies are being held at the Garrisons all over the country, but the main ceremony is being held at Yadqar-e-Shuhada, General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi. The families and relatives of the martyrs (Shuhada), serving and retired officers including people, belonging to various segments of society are invited to attend a function at the GHQ to pay tribute to the national heroes. Similarly, a sizeable number of near and dear ones of the martyrs are invited to attend the functions at the Corps Headquarters.

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This time, Youm-e-Shuhada has come at a time when Pakistan and its armed forces have been facing a different war, while enemy is also different, which employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external challenges. In these terms, Pakistan is in the state of new war.

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In this respect, our Armed Forces have almost successfully obtained their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) including Khyber Agency through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire nation by their terror-acts. Pakistan has perennially been facing subversive activities and sectarian violence in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the country including tribal areas where security forces are coping with the militants.

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Externally, Pak Army and Rangers have boldly been responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir and Working Boundary in Sialkot. While, the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda. In this context, BJP leader Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, a staunch promoter of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) stated on July 12, 2014 that India needed only two years to defeat Pakistan militarily, and the only solution of Kashmir was war, as “there is no peaceful, solution.

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And, Pakistan’s security forces have also faced cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan side, encountering heavily-armed militants who from time to time, targeted Army’s check posts, and other civil and military installations.


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However, services of Pak Army cannot be explained in words. They always make us proud. They stood first in the time of national crisis and natural calamities. Their untiring sincere efforts mark the defence of Pakistan with an ultimate assurance to safeguard the country at all heads.


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We are proud to have such great sons, because these are the heroes who really make history— the martyrs. The sacrifices of our Shuhada are what make our defence unconquerable.




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Pakistan’s armed forces are our strategic assets and first line of defence. Whether it be frustrating enemy’s nefarious designs on the borders and fighting off internal enemies, horrifying the state or it may be the difficult times of natural catastrophes, these bold soldiers have strengthened and fortified the motherland by leaving no stone unturned. Every Pakistani salutes to those brave sons of the soil, who always ensure our safety by keeping the frontiers safe. The alertness and resolve of our soldiers in looking out—day and night for all internal and external enemies, and who are always ready to confront the mayhem of severe conditions from the scorching deserts to the icy glaciers in the face of death with no fear—help the persons in tiring times of calamities, leaving their families behind in their determination to provide protection to all the families of our country, and thus make them real national heroes.


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Today, the whole nation stands by our soldiers who are guarding our borders and days will prove that the war against terrorism will not finish us, while the terrorists themselves will be eliminated by our valiant soldiers who desire to be martyrs and are not afraid of death. Caravans of Shuhada will continue forever. We salute all the soldiers of Pakistan, who are sacrificing their today for our tomorrow. However, surely martyrs are gladly giving up their bodies to torture and death-the trustworthy heroes of our history.


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Nevertheless, the importance of the Youm-e-Shuhada, this year has been increased, as the nation stood by forces when they have also been made target of malevolent campaign, being launched by the anti-Pakistan foreign entities.


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In this regard, while playing national songs on the occasion, the TV channels must also give a matching response to the hostile forces which are working against the integrity of the country, and are distorting the image of Pak Army.



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It is mentionable that last year, while offering Fateha for the martyrs Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif delivered a remarkable speech at Yadgar-e-Shuhada ceremony. He said, “The commitment of Pakistan armed forces to democracy and the Constitution is a matter of satisfaction and also a matter of huge significance.” Gen. Raheel Sharif’s declaration of his devotion to media’s freedom and his tributes to the media were highly significant. He pointed out, “The people and the Army are on the same page on all the important matters.”

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Gen. Raheel Sharif also expressed the Army’s point of view on terrorism and the Kashmir issue, and elaborated, He supports every attempt made for eliminating terrorism.” And, he convincingly highlighted the importance of the Kashmir issue, saying, “Pakistan is a peace-loving country, but if the country is ever subjected to aggression, it is fully capable of giving a befitting reply.”


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Besides, stressing the need of unity among all segments of society, he concluded, “Pakistan’s armed forces are keeping a close vigil on the internal and external challenges and were fully capable of meeting all the threats to the security of the country…the armed forces remained alert round the clock for the defence of the motherland.”




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Nonetheless, during this very day, the Yaum-e-Shuhada, people of Pakistan laud the unparalleled sacrifices of the soldiers, paying them tribute, as they are the real heroes of the country.

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


Email: [email protected]



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US imposed war now our own war by Brig Gen(R) Asif Haroon Raja

US imposed war now our own war

Pakistan is burning in the flames of war on terror since 2003. Fratricidal war has claimed 55, 973 human lives and the numbers of injured run into hundreds of thousands. This appalling figure of casualties owing to over 5000 bomb blasts, hundreds of suicide and terrorist attacks surpasses the total fatalities suffered in the 1948, 1965 and 1971 wars and local conflicts with India. While wars/conflicts with India were of very short duration, this war is being continuously fought for over a decade and still there are no signs of its termination. It has given birth to more than 60 terrorist groups and all have married up to fight the security forces and cause harm to Pakistan. The war has caused Pakistan an economic loss of over $80 billion while the social trauma suffered by the people is incalculable.
The war on terror was started by the US and its allies in Afghanistan in October 2001 but was treacherously shifted into Pakistan. The ISAF comprising military contingents from over 40 countries handed over the security to 350,000 strong Afghan Army and Police, trained and equipped by the US and British military trainers on December 28, 2014. Although ‘Operation Endurance’ has come to a humiliating end since it failed to achieve any of the stated objectives, the US has announced launching a fresh operation codenamed ‘Resolute’ from 01 January 2015 onwards with the help of Afghan security forces backed by 12000 residual force stationed in 8 military bases. This force is likely to stay on till end 2016 in accordance with Bilateral Security Agreement and in return the US and its allies would provide $8 billion economic/military assistance annually to bolster Ashraf Ghani’s not so stable regime and to keep Taliban out of power if they refuse to share power.
This step has been taken grudgingly in the backdrop of the wide scale criticism the US had to face on account of abandoning Afghanistan in 1989 in haste after all its objectives were achieved by the Afghan Mujahideen assisted by Pakistan. Leaving them in a lurch without forming a broad based interim government and helping in reconstruction of devastated country resulted in bloody internecine war between various Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan. It is generally opined that but for the US blunder, Afghanistan may have become a peaceful and prosperous country. This great betrayal bred frustration, resentment, anger and hatred against USA.
Bloody civil war from 1990 to 1994 gave rise to war lordism, religious extremism and also gave birth to Al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden, who was the blue-eyed boy of CIA during Afghan Jihad. Although the Taliban stabilized the country after taking over in 1996, but the fallout effects of the nine-year war and the instability of the civil war in Afghanistan was entirely borne by Pakistan. Presence of over three million Afghan refugees added to the socio-economic burden and security problems. The democratic era from October 1988 till October 1999 remained enmeshed in internal squabbles and paid little heed to control arms smuggling, drug peddling and sectarianism duly propped up by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Economic sanctions levied by the US in 1990 had also impacted the democratic rule. When PML-N government started to deliver by dealing with sectarian threat firmly, it was axed by Gen Musharraf on October 11, 1999.
9/11 changed the geopolitics of the world. The whole focus shifted towards terrorism and Pakistan was sucked into the GWOT. After occupying Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan, the US and its strategic allies cleverly shifted the direction of terrorism towards Pakistan under a calculated program. To start with FATA which was peaceful was made restive by forcing Pakistan to break the 1948 Agreement with the tribesmen by sending regular troops into South Waziristan. Insurgency was then ignited in Balochistan which was also peaceful. Nawabs of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes readily agreed to play the foreign game.  KP and other parts of Pakistan were subsequently made turbulent.
Whereas Pakistan was made an ally to fight GWOT in return for monetary benefits, in actuality it was a target. Pakistan was on the hit-list of India, Israel and USA after it had conducted nuclear tests in May 1988 to neutralize Indian nuclear belligerence. In fact, India considers Pakistan a thorn in its flesh. Reason of its undiminished animus is Pakistan’s principled stand to maintain good neighborly relations based on equality and refusal to accept Indian hegemony. India also resents Pakistan’s stance on disputed Kashmir, which it foolishly claims to be its integral part. Armed freedom movement in occupied Kashmir since 1989 keeps Indian leaders scared. They keep devising Chankyan strategies to maintain illegal control over occupied Kashmir. They also resort to lies and engineer false flag operations to keep Pakistan on the defensive.
indianconsulatesinafghansitan1Ever since India became a strategic partner of the US, Indian leaders have been constantly whispering into the ears of US leaders that Pakistan is abetting and aiding terrorism in Kashmir and that it should be declared a terrorist state and Kashmiri fighters seeking right of self-determination as terrorists. New laws framed on terrorism after 9/11 provided an opportunity to India to paint Kashmiri freedom movement as terrorism and to project Pakistan military/ISI as abettors of cross border terrorism.
Installation of India friendly regime under Hamid Karzai in Kabul by the US made it easy for India to undertake covert war against Pakistan from Afghan soil at a massive level. RAW duly beefed up by 17 Indian intelligence units, four Consulates and Embassy was backed by CIA, Mossad, MI-6, BND, Afghan government/intelligence to destabilize, denuclearize, de-Islamize and balkanize Pakistan. Biggest intelligence centre was set up at Sehra Neward north of Kabul where heads of six intelligence agencies sat under one roof to cook up plans to undermine Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran, Middle East and also to gain influence over resource rich Central Asian region. Ironically, ISI was excluded although Pakistan is immediate neighbor of Afghanistan and was nominated as front line state. 
RAW was made the overall in-charge to conduct clandestine war against Pakistan because of the expertise it had gained in 1971 East Pakistan insurgency, Balochistan insurgency in 1970s and sabotage/subversion in Pakistan in 1980s. RAW had a hand in training militant wing of MQM and Al-Zulfiqar. TTP in FATA, BLA, BRA and BLF in Balochistan were raised, funded, equipped and trained by foreign agencies to achieve their sinister objectives. RAW established 70 training camps in Afghanistan along Pak-Afghan border. It also helped Baloch insurgents in establishing over 60 Farari camps in interior Balochistan.
In FATA, CIA and FBI established outposts on the pretext of nabbing al-Qaeda runaways. On the quiet the two agencies established an outfit called Spider Web, whose task was to kill all pro-Pakistan Maliks, elders and clerics, shunt out civil administration and create space for anti-Pakistan TTP to take control over FATA. Over 400 were gunned down. ISI was pushed to the back seat and intelligence acquisition and dissemination taken over by CIA. Even immigration on airports in major cities was taken over by FBI. In 2008, Blackwater got established in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi. It became easier for RAW to outsource this outfit for performing its dirty works. While Kerry Lugar Bill facilitated large numbers of NGOs with a precise agenda to step in, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani helped thousands of CIA agents and Special Operation operatives to sneak in without ISI clearance in 2010-11.
On one hand trained and well equipped terrorists were launched to create chaos and fear in Pakistan and also hit specified targets like GHQ, ISI set ups, PC-3 Orion, AWACs, airports, on the other hand Pak Army was belittled and accused of being either complicit or not doing enough. Pakistan was repeatedly told by the US to do more and India and Afghanistan joined the chorus. To make their coercive tactics more biting, an orchestrated defamation campaign was launched by Indo-US-western-Israeli media. Pakistan was dubbed as nursery of terrorism, most dangerous place in the world and a failing state. Its nuclear program was censured on the plea that it was vulnerable to fall into wrong hands because of lack of security. Idea behind multi-pronged bashing was to exhaust Pakistan socially, politically, economically and militarily, make it vulnerable to Indian aggression and force Islamabad to abandon its nuclear program in return for survival. India’s war terrorism is also part of the overall scheme to make Pakistan subservient.      
This discriminatory attitude against an ally which had put the security of the state at stake to fight the US dictated war on its own territory and against its own people and had sacrificed the most was most unfortunate. To rub salt in Pakistan’s wounds, the US continued to bestow India with all possible goodies despite the fact that it didn’t contribute a single soldier in the GWOT and created problems for ISAF. Likewise, the US continued to support highly corrupt, inept and unpopular regime of Karzai for 13 years.
Once the stark reality dawned upon the US leadership in December 2010 that ISAF was in no position to win the war and defeat was inevitable, it not only declared its drawdown plan starting July 2011 and ending in December 2014, but also established secret contacts with Taliban to arrive at a political settlement and ensure safe exit. This effort failed because of Karzai’s fickleness and US lack of sincerity. Pentagon didn’t like Obama’s decision and started selling a fake story that Taliban had been pushed on the back foot and sooner than later the pendulum would swing in ISAF’s favor. To hide its failings, Pakistan was chosen as the scapegoat and all its failings put in Pakistan’s basket. It was in this context that intense pressure was put on Pakistan to launch a major operation in North Waziristan. When Pakistan didn’t comply, it was punished by undertaking false flag operation in Abbottabad in May 2011 and then a revengeful attack on Salala border posts in November that year.  
Unlike Soviet forces which withdrew under Geneva Accord, ISAF troops have withdrawn without an agreement and leaving everything in a state of flux. Unlike Pak military’s brilliant successes against foreign supported militants in FATA and in Balochistan, the ISAF together with ANSF couldn’t achieve single battle victory against Afghan Taliban despite two troop surges and huge resources. Pakistan and not ISAF broke the back of Al-Qaeda by nabbing 600 of its leaders/operatives. All the societal vices that were doctored by Taliban during their five year rule under insalubrious circumstances have reappeared in a big way and Afghanistan has become the biggest narcotic state in the world. Despite investing $1.4 trillion, Afghanistan continues to grind in poverty and suffer from women disempowerment, illiteracy, corruption and insecurity. 65% Americans feel the war was needless.
While the US-NATO has lost the war, Pak Army under the valiant leadership of Gen Raheel Shareef has taken up the gauntlet to root out all manifestations of extremism and terrorism from Pakistan no matter what the cost. He has stated that losing war on terror is not an option. The Army had remained handicapped because of lack of political will, failure of civilian administration to take over secured areas, too many flaws in investigative and criminal justice system to prosecute and convict terrorists, ban on hanging, heavily politicized police, unproductive dharnas and above all foreign interference. Peshawar tragedy in which 132 children were martyred by fiends has galvanized the whole nation. Moratorium on hanging has been lifted and few terrorists hanged. Political/religious leaders stand behind the Army and have resolved to collectively fight the menace. Unanimously agreed upon 20-point Action Plan has been devised and committees formed to monitor progress. Despite initial reservations, all have agreed to amend the constitution and set up special military courts for 2 years to ensure speedy justice. These are need of the nation and not that of Army. Happily, Kabul has come on board and is willing to fully cooperate in fighting terrorism.  
To ensure 100% results, all concerned will have to perform on war footing. Politicians will have to display greater maturity and become role models by changing their lifestyle. Bureaucracy should shun its lethargic way of sitting over files and creating unnecessary impediments. The judiciary must come out of its hibernation and carryout in-house refurbishment to deliver evenhanded, cheap and speedy justice to all. The media should change its course and show greater patriotism and sense of responsibility. Civil administration should play its part more efficiently and honestly. Ulema and Mashaikhs should strive to bridge the religious divides. Academic circles must guide the youth towards productive channels and inculcating in them sense of nationalism. Last but not least, grievances of the have-nots must be addressed on priority.      
The writer is retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Member oard of Directors TFP. [email protected]                   

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Does ISIS Exist in Pakistan? By Sajjad Shaukat

           Recently, propaganda intensified that the militant outfit Daish or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has its presence in Pakistan. Besides some newspapers and media anchors of some TV channels also misperceived that ISIS has penetrated into Pakistan. In fact, they made their observation on the basis of media announcements by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders and Indian media.


Although ISIS does not exist in Pakistan, yet Pakistan government, law-enforcing agencies, media and civil society must exercise high degree of vigilance against any possible ingress by any elements like ISIS. Despite this, existence of ISIS in Pakistan needs special analysis, as its presence can not merely be propagated on the basis of wall chalking or media announcements of the TTP leaders and India.


As regards this militant outfit, on 29 June 2014, ISIS proclaimed a worldwide caliphate by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, based in Iraq. It claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims, while ISIS’s actions have been widely criticized around the world, with many Islamic communities judging the group to be unrepresentative of Islam. One of ISIS’s goals has been to establish a radical Sunni Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant region, which covers Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine etc., and southern region of Turkey. It is widely known for its violent propaganda which includes Internet videos of beheadings. The UNO and Amnesty International have held this group responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes. ISIS group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UNO and the European Union.


Some reports suggest that as part of the double game, American CIA has also been supporting the militants of the ISIS to overthrow the Shia regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Another aim is to spread sectarian violence in the Islamic countries.


However, besides some Islamic countries, a majority of the religious extremists from the Western World and especially India has joined the ISIS. In this context, a deliberate oblivion on the part of the West about ISIS recruits from their countries also exposes their duplicity and hypocrisy.


images-14It is notable that although various kinds of terror attacks in Pakistan have been conducted by the TTP and its banned affiliated groups in the past few years, yet the massacre of 132 school children at Army Public School and College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 proved a watershed, as it has given a final wake up call to the nation to unite against these ruthless terrorists.


In this respect, the armed forces of Pakistan have conducted several successful military operations against the terrorists; the most recent one being operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has successfully broken the backbone of militants. Frustrated by their failures, these insurgents are resorting to coward acts like attack on innocent children in Peshawar.


Taking note of the school attack, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as part of the operation, several terrorists have been killed during air strikes. Gen. Raheel stated, “We are extremely saddened, but our resolve has taken new height”, and added “We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination.”


Undoubtedly, as a result of ongoing operations in Waziristan and Khyber Agency especially operation Zarb-e-Azb, militants are finding no place other than Afghanistan to flee and save their skin.


In this context, Gen. Raheel accompanied by the DG of Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), rushed to Kabul on December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani and the ISAF commander, he presented evidence of the Peshawar massacre’s linkage with TTP sanctuaries in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. He also asked the extradition of TTP chief Mullah Fazlluah, and handing over to Pakistan. In response, they assured him to take action against the TTP.


In fact, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where external secret agencies, especially Indian RAW are sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements and TTP insurgents in Pakistan. Posing themselves as Pakistani Taliban, these enemies have joined TTP and other banned extremist outfits. In the recent years, especially TTP’s insurgents and its affiliated banned groups conducted many terror-activities in various regions of the country like suicide attacks, ruthless beheadings of tribesmen, assaults on security personnel and prominent figures including Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs as part of the scheme to create chaotic situation in the country.


It is of particular attention that spokesman of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Usama Mehmood and some other militant groups have also condemned the TTP in relation to the massacre of innocent children at Peshawar school.


Nevertheless, after Peshawar incident, strong public reaction against extremism/terrorism and dislike for Taliban/TTP elements—has been equally condemned by the political leadership as a national policy, showing solidarity with the armed forces. In this connection, on January 2, this year, political and military leaders agreed on a draft of legislative measures which would pave the way for establishment of special military trial courts. The participants also reiterated the commitment for dismantling and destroying all forms of terrorism and terrorist networks operating within the country. It was unanimously resolved that the 20 points enunciated in the All Parties Conference (APC) Resolution of December 24, 2014 shall be acted upon expeditiously—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment, will be enforced soon after its approval from the parliament.


Meanwhile, media has reported that an Indian person namely Mehdi Masoor of Banglore remained affiliated with ISIS, and is running a pro-ISIS tweeter account. So question arises as to how India justifies its propaganda of ISIS linkage with Pakistan?  As a matter of fact, New Delhi has been frustrated by the successes achieved against the Taliban/TTP insurgents by Zarb-e-Azb. Therefore, sinister aim of Indian false propaganda about the presence of ISIS in Pakistan is to distort country’s image in the eyes of international community, while ISIS does not exist in Pakistan.


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


Email: [email protected]


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