By Sajjad Shaukat for VT Islamabad
On February 11, this year, some media entities pointed out that Counter-Terrorism Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had issued summoned to the Pakistani Journalist and activist Gul Bukhari-a critic of the military. At present, she is living in the United Kingdom.
Afterward, a circulated document on the media said that FIA’s Counter-Terrorism Wing had initiated 35 inquiries against the “anti-state elements, who were involved in spreading inciteful propaganda against national security agencies, judiciary, and the government”.
The document disclosed that most of the cases were related to cyber-terrorism, adding that inquiries were launched “against militant groups Balochistan Liberation Army, Haqqani Network and elements who were involved in incitement while sitting abroad”.
It is notable that some media outlets reported on February 9, 2020, that a former spokesperson and the leading member of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan fled to Turkey after escaping from a prison in Pakistan. The escape of Ehsan, who was involved in the murder of thousands of Pakistanis through bloody terror attacks especially in Lahore, including the targeting of education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Sources are unable to confirm Ehsan’s claim that he is in Turkey.
Meanwhile, on January 27, this year, Pakistan’s police revealed that they have arrested prominent rights activist Manzoor Pashteen-the leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which is known for its harsh criticism of the country’s military for alleged enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in order to complete the anti-Pakistan agenda of some foreign powers.
Arrested in Bahrain through Interpol, Gilman Pashteen who is PTM’s activist and is a close friend of Manzoor Pashteen strongly condemned Manzoor’s arrest.
In this respect, the Bahrain Mirror. Com wrote on February 7, 2020: “Bahrain is to deport a Pakistani resident Geelaman Pashteen to his country…who is an active advocate of the rights of Pashtuns facing persecution in Pakistan…According to information…Pashteen was arrested on Wednesday (February 6, 2020) by the Bahraini security authorities under the pretext of a red notice against him from the Interpol”.
It is mentioned that the anti-state group-the PTM held a public crowd in Bannu on January 12, this year, during which prominent leaders, including Manzoor Pashteen and MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, addressed the gathering. In a video circulating on SM, Ali Wazir is being seen addressing a crowd in Bannu where he said that “we will cut down the barbed wires and fences which Pak Army has erected on Pak-Afghan border and use them to hang soldiers”.
Many times such statements have also been made by Afghanistan-based TTP and its representatives to criticize Pakistan and its security forces. But, Manzoor Pashteen never condemned violence against Afghans by the US-Afghan forces and externally sponsored Islamic State group ISIS.
As India has been experiencing violent protests across the country against the Anti-Muslim law, Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA)/(The National Register of Citizenship) in wake of continued lockdown in the Indian occupied Kashmir and violations of Line of Control (LoC) by shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir, likes of PTM have been pushed by the foreign Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) to instigate violence in Pakistan.
It is noteworthy that three people were killed and five soldiers injured in a clash between security forces and Pashtun PTM protesters on May 26, 2019, in North Waziristan.
In this connection, DG of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asif Ghafoor said: “a group led by Mohsin Javed and Ali Wazir, assaulted Kharqamar check post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district…five soldiers were injured due to the firing of the group…three individuals who attacked the check post lost their lives during the exchange of firing. MNA Ali Wazir along with eight others has been arrested while Mohsin Javed is at large…Only a few are inciting and using the people against state institutions for the vested agenda. No one will be allowed to undo the gains of decades-long national struggle and sacrifices, especially of brave Pakistani tribals…Some of the people have become agents of foreign forces. They are misguiding people by doing propaganda against the state.”
In this context, police registered an FIR against the PTM workers for shouting slogans against the army and Pakistan—the protesters hurled stones at the army post and that armed supporters of Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar attacked the security post and opened fire.
In fact, PTM was erected as a bogey by hostile agencies in the name of Pashtuns. Three leaders were created from a local breakaway faction of Awami National Party (ANP) and activists of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Mohsin Dawar, who was courted in the US by Hussain Haqqani’s (Former Ambassador of Pakistan in the US) SAATH forum and Stimson center has become a pawn in the hands of anti-Pakistan agencies, mainly operating from Afghanistan. PTM leaders are pursuing the agenda through a web having signatures of foreign Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).
Case of the US Army veteran Colonel, Lawrence Sellin can be quoted as a new example. Colonel Sellin has started tweeting on anti-Pakistan themes about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, Balochistan, Sub-nationalism (Pashtun, Sindhi, Mohajir, Baloch). He has been following the narratives mostly of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Indian RAW. He also writes anti-Pakistan Blogs and articles. The Baloch, PTM, sub-nationalists and Hussain Haqqani are his followers on twitter.
After reverses in Afghanistan and likely peace deal between the US and Taliban, PTM leadership finds its space squeezed on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border. Therefore, RAW and NDS are trying gimmicks and tricks in this losing battle and the resurrection of PTM bogie is a last-ditch effort to save face.
Under the cover of fighting terrorism, these foreign agencies which are also in collaboration with the NDS and are supporting the militants of ISIS and TTP, including their linked outfits which have been conducting terror-assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the secret strategy of the US-led countries—a double game of America. Besides Pakistan, these terrorist groups have also been destabilizing Tibetan regions of China and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan through subversive activities.
Particularly, India and the Afghan government which wants to prolong the stay of NATO forces in Afghanistan are also playing a double game with America. New Delhi knows that after the withdrawal of the NATO forces, the Taliban will eliminate the secret network of RAW, TTP, the NDS and Israeli Mossad in that lawless country. Hence, these intelligence agencies are especially using the terrorists of TTP and ISIS in wakening Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is of particular attention that this was the first time in the history of Pakistan that polling was held for elections of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly in the merged tribal districts of FATA on July 20, 2019. In August 2019, 21 MPAs who were elected from merged districts, joined KP Assembly. But, PTM had opposed these elections. Pakistan Army played a key role in restoring peace in the tribal regions. Therefore, almost all political parties nominated their candidates for the constituencies, as the political activities have gained peace. The army made strenuous efforts to bring the people of FATA in the mainstream of the country.
Perhaps, the mainstreaming of tribal districts and their masses’ participation in elections pained TTP leaders the most. TTP has perpetrated most of its attacks in KP and Pashtuns, which are a major victim of their terrorist activities. It is exploiting Pashtun card for nefarious propaganda. However, the participation of masses of tribal areas in political activities proves that they believe in peaceful democratic governance.
The tribal regions remained troubled for over a decade ever since the US-led so-called war on terror started. Pakistan’s Armed Forces and particularly Army have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, while the country’s primary intelligence agency ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants and thwarting a number of terror attempts. Besides other provinces, peace has been restored in the KP. In this respect, thousands of terrorists were killed and a huge quantity of explosives seized during the operations of the security agencies.
Notably, to sustain the hard-earned peace, Pakistan Army also started the fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It would stop preventing illegal cross-border movement—including those of terrorists who enter Pakistan from Afghanistan’s side and bring the drug-weapon trade to a halt. The fencing of the Pak-Afghan border which is 2,611-kilometre is expected to be completed by 2020 whereas 643 kilometers –462 kilometers in KP and 181 kilometers in Balochistan have been covered so far. 843 border posts are planned, out of which 233 have been completed, while the construction of 140 posts is underway. As Pakistan Armed Forces have are currently engaged in consolidating the Pak-Afghan border through fencing to completely neutralize the infiltrations from Afghanistan, an orchestrated campaign through sponsored media and activation of the PTM to incite the Pashtoon population has been accelerated.
It is due to the huge sacrifices of Army and other law-enforcement agencies that improvement in the security situation in the tribal areas became possible. The number of check posts has also decreased by 31 percent in the past three years, resulting in growing trade activities. Roads have been improved for connectivity with other areas of the country, including FATA. In this connection, more than 800-kilometers of roads have been constructed in the tribal districts as part of the communication network, thus reducing the time to one-thirds.
It is worth-mentioning that external powers that have been supporting the Baloch Sub-Nationalists (BSNs) are also behind the PTM as part of their unfinished agenda against Pakistan. They leave no stone unturned in misguiding the people of the Balochistan and particularly those of the KP by creating one after another issue.
In this regard, the emergence of the PTM at a crucial time, which is being paid by anti-Pakistan hostile elements and countries, aims at accentuating the ethnic cleavages of the country, influence the Pashtun population in pursuance of strategic objectives of the foreign powers. PTM which is actually a veritable political entity of TTP and wants to accomplish its nefarious designs against Pakistan and its Army has opposed the amalgamation of FATA/PATA with KP province.
It is because of the Army’s development-works in the tribal areas that the PTM has failed in instigating the public against the federation of the country. While an amalgamation of FATA/PATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will result in multiple benefits for the people by overcoming their multi-faceted problems. Therefore, the merger of FATA/PATA with the KP was welcomed by the tribal people.
It is a positive dimension for the tribal people, as they have got rid of colonialism which continued after the partition of the Sub-continent. The tribal Sardars (Lords) who continued British practices were in favor of the division of FATA/PATA and KP. Now, this merger is likely to upset sub-nationalist tendencies, being manipulated by Pakistan’s external enemies and some internal entities.
Hence, despite foreign funding and international support, anti-Pakistan and anti-sate PTM was not able to bluff the people of erstwhile FATA or Pakhtuns living in KP and Balochistan. Having lost its credibility after the arrest of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, PTM is like a dead donkey.
Undoubtedly, the case of Gul Bukhari, escape of Ehsanullah Ehsan and the arrest of Gilaman Pashteen in Bahrain are interconnected, having foreign connections, raising the questions as to how many anti-state activists abroad are hiding behind a specific agenda and funds of HIAS to destabilize Pakistan, as it is only nuclear in the Islamic World.
About Author: 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. He can be reached at [email protected]