By Sajjad Shaukat
When during the Musharraf regime, with the Chinese assistance, Pakistan initiated the construction of Gwadar deep-seaport in the Balochistan province in March 2002; sirens went off in the capitals of foreign countries, especially the US, India and Israel who took it as a threat to their global and regional plans.
Balochistan’s ideal strategic location, its abundant mineral resources like gas, coal and gold, entailing Pakistan’s close ties with China already pinches the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some Western countries like the UK which have been destabilizing Pakistan for their collective aims. But, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which infuriates them has become their special target.
While, India was openly opposing the CPEC and China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, the US also joined India in this respect. In this regard, on October 3, 2017, US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a part of which traverses Pakistan-Kashmir.”
America’s support for India’s opposition to the Chinese project was first reflected in the joint statement, issued by the two countries after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Donald Trump in June, this year.
Pakistan strongly dismissed the statement from the American defence chief that the multibillion-dollar road and rail network CPEC which is part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, passes through a disputed territory, urging the international community to focus on blatant human rights violations and ‘heinous crimes’ committed by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and reminded the US that Washington had also participated in an OBOR summit.”
Earlier, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry also dismissed Mattis’ statement, saying that the OBOR initiative was backed by the United Nations and that CPEC was an economic cooperation initiative.
In fact, being the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, Pakistan was already on the hit-list of the US-led India and Israel, including some Western countries. But, after the shift of the Great Game from Central Asia to Pakistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad, including British MI6 have been supporting target killings, suicide attacks, hostage-takings, sectarian and ethnic violence in various cities of the country, while backing separatist elements in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces. As part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, these secret agencies which have well-established their covert networks there and are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities.
While, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan province and Karachi. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan.
But, these foreign elements have, again, started terror attacks in Balochistan and other regions of the country which show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel want to weaken Pakistan and to damage the CPEC.
Overtly, American high officials remark that they seek stability in Pakistan, but covertly, they continue to destabilize it, especially with the assistance of India.
In this respect, terror attacks coincide with a continued propaganda campaign against Pakistan. Indo-Israeli lobbies which are well-penetrated in the US administration and Europe, research centers, think tanks, universities and so-called human rights groups leave no stone unturned in continuing their endless propaganda against Pakistan. Particularly, RAW is availing the opportunity of the US-led organized propaganda campaign against Pakistan.
Apart from other proved connections of the anti-Pakistan secret agencies, a blog or publication/study, under the caption, “Pakistan’s Army: New Chief, Traditional Institutional Interests” as it is part of the propaganda to distort the image of Pakistan and its armed forces and to create a rift between the key institutions of the country, while damaging the cause of Kashmir by supporting the Indian blame game against Pakistan. The study paper/publication by EFSAS, also available on Mr Qureshi’s Facebook page is part of the campaign against Pakistan. In the study paper, he touched different aspects started from Pakistan inception, covering important historical events like, emergence of Bangladesh, role of the armed forces in governing Pakistan, Balochistan issue, departure of Gen Raheel Sahrif, taking over of COAS office by Gen Bajwa and lastly PML (N) government. In short, Junaid Qureshi’s blog or publication/study paper clearly reflects that he is part of the double game of the US-led entities against Islamabad.
As part of the propaganda campaign against Pakistan, in its report, released on April 13, 2017 by Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) which is in partnership with Mahatma Gandhi International AISBL has especially mentioned the question of human rights in Pakistan.
The subject report has been featured under “Human Rights in South Asia Campaign” and portrayed complete Indian propaganda themes on the provinces of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Balochistan and Sindh. The report primarily focused on Gilgit-Baltistan and allegedly called it Pakistani occupied region where people have been deprived of their right of self-determination and declared presence of Pakistan’s military illegal.
Based on falsehood, the report also said that Pak-China project of the CPEC is breach of international law and is being implemented without consultation or compensation to the people of the area. It also allegedly stated the ruthless human rights violations in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
The report which referred to the Senge H. Hasnan Sering President of Gilgit Baltistan Institute claimed that CPEC will deprive 15-20 thousand jobs of GB peoples owing to relocation of dry port from Sost (A town and Customs check post, cross-border road between China and Pakistan) Gilgit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. In 2016, India had launched a propaganda campaign against Islamabad in relation to its narrative of so-called progressive marginalization of local populace, while Islamabad has already taken measures under Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, and people of the GB have their own government, elected Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and Gilgit-Baltistan Council. Pakistan government has also initiated a process of deliberations to give a constitutional cover to the area like the Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir (Azad Jammu and Kashmir).
Undoubtedly, GB is the gateway of CPEC into Pakistan, whereby GB’s strategic and socio-economic importance has increased manifold. Like Balochistan, the region has huge potential in trade with China, tourism, minerals, gems, precious stones, agriculture-farming and hydro power production. Therefore, GB’s people who are strengthening their association with Pakistan, pays no attention to the false propaganda.
Pakistan’s enemies project unfamiliar people like Senge H. Sering, Abdul Hamid Khan etc., who try to deceive the international community. Indian media also fabricated stories about so-called increasing presence of Pakistan’s armed forces in GB, but remains silent on huge presence of Indian military in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and their perennial atrocities on the Kashmir people. In connivance with the US and Israel, New Delhi has been using every possible tactic to create unrest in Pakistan in general and GB and Balochistan in particular to obstruct the CPEC project. In collaboration with CIA and Mossad, RAW has been involved in acts of sabotage, being conducted in Balochistan through Baloch sub-nationalists and other terrorists groups to hamper the progress of the Gwadar port which is the central point of the CPEC.
It is noteworthy that on March 24, 2016, Pakistan’s security forces disclosed that they arrested the serving agent of RAW in Balochistan. During investigation and in video, shown on Pakistan’s TV channels, RAW agent Kulbushan Yadav confessed that “he was the agent of RAW” and “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.
It is mentionable that Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj recognized, on June 1, 2015 that India strongly “opposes $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.”
In the recent past, Indian former Army Chief Gen. VK Singh openly admitted that during his tenure, he supervised special army unit, Tactical Support Division (TSD) on the instructions of the then defence minister to sponsor subversive acts in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan.
With the assistance of anti-Pakistan powers, New Delhi which has already been supporting separatism in Balochistan has also accelerated conspiracy against the province of Gilgit-Baltistan by backing the minority nationalist elements which claim an independent Balawaristan there. These external entities are also behind target killings and sectarian violence in these areas.
Particularly, RAW has played a key role in the Northern Areas in organizing a number of nationalist groups such as Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA), Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) etc.—and especially Balawaristan National Front (BNF) which plays a leading role, claiming that Chitral and Kohistan are inseparable parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, known as Balawaristan.
Indian plot could be witnessed from the self-contradictory statement of BNF leader Abdul Hameed Khan. In his exclusive interview with Indian Hindu Sitah (india.indymedia.org), he advocated total independence of Gilgit-Baltistan (Balawaristan), but emphasized integration with India. He also requested New Delhi for more political, diplomatic and media help for his movement.
With the help of the US-led entities like parliamentarians, media anchors, scholars and human rights groups, India manipulates the petty matters and local rivalries to damage the national interests of Pakistan.
It is notable that in November 2012, Institute for Gilgit-Baltistan Studies in its testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress called for demilitarization of Gilgit-Baltistan with a view to promoting genuine autonomy and democracy—for re-instatement of state subject rule and people to people contact between Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan. It said: “The US must persuade both India and Pakistan to open channels of economic and cultural activity between Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan and enable the UN to increase its role in Gilgit-Baltistan to protect the rights of natives.”
It is worth-mentioning that in November 2012, the UK based think tank, The Henry Jackson Society, in collaboration with the Washington-based Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, held an event titled “Gilgit-Baltistan: South-Central Asia’s Socio-Economic Integration and Regional Politics” at the House of Lords. One wonders as to why Britain allowed its think tanks to involve in anti-Pakistan activities. Lord Sir Clive Soley of Hammersmith had reportedly facilitated the discussion and the panel consisted of Mumtaz Khan, Executive Director of International Center for Peace and Democracy and Senge H. Sering, President of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies. The speakers said that revival of travel across the line of control between Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh would help reunite more than ten thousand divided family members after more than six decades.
Speaking on the occasion, Senge H. Sering had stated in the concluded remarks: “China’s role in South Asia will increase with the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, putting excessive pressure on the land, society and resources of Gilgit-Baltistan…Pakistan and China should respect the concerns of the locals in this regard”.
As regards, Balochistan, in the recent past, posters reading “Free Balochistan” appeared on vehicles in London. In this context, a statement released by the Pakistan’s Foreign Office said, “Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned British High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew on November 3, 2017 over slogans displayed on London cabs, saying, “That directly attack Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty…the high commissioner was informed that Pakistan, in line with the United Nations Charter, rejects actions and advertisements with malicious content that impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity…the “issue was also being raised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by our High Commissioner in London.”
In September this year, Islamabad had also summoned Swiss ambassador over the public display of anti-Pakistan posters by a group in Switzerland. A Foreign Office statement had said that a strong protest had been lodged with the ambassador over Swiss authorities, permitting the use of its territory for propaganda by elements linked with the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a ‘terrorist organisation perpetrating terrorism and violence in Pakistan’. It pointed out, “Any notion of ‘Free Baluchistan’ is a flagrant attack on [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.”
It is notable that Australian Foreign Minister Ms, Julie Bishop paid a two-day official visit to India from 18-19 July 2017. During the visit, she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to discuss issues of bilateral interest. She also had discussions with the Indian leadership about Indo-China standoff in Doklam (Disputed territories between Indo-China borders). Later, it was propagated through Indian media that Australian Foreign Minister criticized China on the issue of Indo-China Standoff at Doklam. Reality is that she intentionally avoided commenting on the issue to prevent any Chinese reaction, as China is the largest trading partner of Australia and it has the largest number of international students from China, which is the major source of foreign exchequer for Australia. Therefore, in all logical calculations, Australia can ill afford to appease New Delhi at the cost of Beijing.
Nevertheless, New Delhi and its strategic partners are covertly working on the policy to contain China, and they use every trick and deception in describing China in negative rhetoric. New Delhi had also raised objection to Neelam-Jhelum hydroelectric project, being constructed by Beijing on the grounds that it was a disputed territory. Since Islamabad took the decision to construct Bhasha Dam, India persuaded the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank which like other global institutes, are, directly or indirectly, under the influence of the US-led Jews, not to fund the project, as according to it the Northern Areas (GB) are a disputed territory.
It is of particular attention that while addressing a ceremony during his Bangladesh tour, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly admitted on June 7, 2015 that Indian forces helped Mukti Bahini (Terrorists) to turn East Pakistan into Bangladesh. He elaborated that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had played an active role in separating Bangladesh from Pakistan, and he had also come to Delhi in 1971 to participate in the Satyagraha Movement launched by Jana Sangh as a volunteer to garner support for the Mukti Bahini members.
In this context, during his address on the Independence Day of India on August 15, 2016, Modi went more aggressive in a diatribe against Islamabad by claiming that people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir are thankful to him for raising voice for their suppressed rights.
On the other side, against the false anti-Pakistan statement of Modi, huge rallies and demonstrations were held in Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, including some other cities of Pakistan. Opposing Indian intervention in Pakistan, the speakers on that occasion strongly condemned Prime Minister Modi’s aggressive designs against Pakistan. They urged international community, civilized world and human rights organizations to take serious notice of the Indian state terrorism—genocide of Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and interference in Pakistan’s provinces.
It is also of particular attention that showing double standards vis-à-vis Pakistan and India, silence and inaction of the US-led West on gross human rights violations in India such as unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, assaults on the Muslims and Christians, including their places of worships and property, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan and acceleration of state terrorism in the Indian Controlled Kashmir have encouraged the BJP-led fundamentalist government of Prime Minister Modi to continue extremist policies. Under Modi government, extremist Hindu groups like BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena have intensified religious and ethnic chauvinism in India, based on anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan approach.
Notably, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had led a high-level delegation to China and met Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart Li Keqiang on May 13, 2017. On the same day, Beijing and Islamabad signed three agreements pertaining to economic and technical cooperation of worth 3.4 billion Yuan for Gwadar port and East Bay expressway. In the meeting with the Chinese president, P.M. Sharif stated that the presence of all the chief ministers [of Pakistan’s provinces] shows the importance our nation gives to Pak-China ties. He added, “China is our strategic partner, and has always stood by our stance on the Kashmir issue…The benefits of the Chinese investment of $56 billion with regards to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will soon reach the common man in Pakistan.” Chinese rulers also expressed similar feelings.
Taking cognizance of the external threat of terrorism, Pakistan Army and Navy has ensured the security of Gwadar Port which has gained great importance and is vital for the success of CPEC.
Pakistan Navy being well aware of the challenges to the security of CPEC, is well geared up and organized to ensure the security of maritime prong of CPEC. In this connection, Pak Navy has established a comprehensive Coastal Security and Harbour Defence Organization including Task Force-88. This organization has the capabilities to ensure gapless monitoring of all coastal waters and respond to arising contingencies. Pak Navy is also establishing a separate Naval Base at Gwadar to house its assets to ensure the security of this important port and its seaward approaches. This Naval Base will be used by Pak Navy and the units of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency will be employed for security and defence of Gwadar Port. The Naval Base will not be used by any foreign navies, albeit Naval Ships from all countries are welcome for berthing at the port, while on port call to Gwadar as per normal practice.
Nonetheless, externally-sponsored new wave of terrorism coincide with venomous propaganda campaign, launched against Pakistan by America, India and Israel, including some Western countries such as the UK who are in collaboration in weakening the country, while Pakistan’s importance has, also, been increased owing to the China-Pakistan project of the CPEC which infuriates the US-led these powers.
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