Friday, October 7, 2016

Voices within Pakistan criticise state support to terrorism

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani daily Dawn's report on the "discussions" at a recent high-level huddle of top civilian and military leaders, rejected by the Nawaz Sharif government, created palaver across the country on Thursday.
The lack of substance in government clarification, issued twice with changes, only indicated the degree of the military's unhappiness with the report, sources said.

The word 'half-truth' in the original statement, describing the contents of the newspaper report, was replaced with 'fabrication' in the revised version. The clarification also had a paragraph absolving the Army and the ISI in clear terms -- under duress or afterthought?

"The (Dawn) story only confirms poor civil-military relations in an opaque political system where the military wields influence over foreign policy," Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to the US, told TOI . "It's good that civilians realize Pakistan's isolation. It's bad that some do not see how Pakistan is risking its global position by not acting against internationally designated terrorists. I hope our military leaders also would want action against those deemed terrorists by the world. Positive relations with India would be in Pakistan's interest," Haqqani added.

Aitzaz Ahsan, a PPP stalwart and ex-home minister, said the reason for Pakistan's isolation is that it gives freedom to non-state actors. "The government has been completely unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on non-state actors. Just saying that we believe Pakistan has no hand in the Uri attack is not a categorical denial. It implies that we don't know if our non-state actors are behind it,"Aitzaz said.

London-based analyst Amir Ghauri said, "Nawaz is attempting a triple win - action against religious hardliners; gain a few inches of political space lost to military in the last three years; and cement his political credentials," Ghauri said.

"India would love to see a civil-military confrontation escalate in Pakistan to ease domestic and international pressure due to Kashmir uprising. By accusing Pakistan of backing groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) or Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), and by pulling out of the SAARC summit, India might have forced Pakistan's hand a little, but I think Sharif and not Modi may prove to be gaining the most from this situation," Ghauri added. 

Senior journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai said JeM's Maulana Masood Azhar has not made any public statement for long, but the government appears to have made up its mind to control the activities of JuD and its chief leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

Saleem Sethi, an analyst, said the Dawn report seemed a calculated move. With Gen Sharif retiring at November-end, the PM thinks it's the best time to assert himself and tilt the balance in favour of civilian rule, he said.

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