Times Glo Magazine 2nd Edition: Rise of terrorism in South Asia
Cyberattacks: A Threat To South Asian Stability
Transformation of ICT:
The constant threat of cyberattacks has made living difficult for everyone, but it has wider ramifications for national security. Information and communication technology has transformed in the final decade of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. States, non-state actors, and even people use communication networks and computer systems for daily operations. Life has become impossible without digital tools because of this hyper-reliance on them.
Dependence on information and communication technologies has helped to boost global connectivity and economic development. But there were a lot of vulnerabilities brought on by this reliance on digital tools. Cyberattacks have already harmed many countries’ bilateral ties, and Pakistan and India are no exception.
When an adversary state or person causes a disturbance, cybersecurity is compromised. Threats can come from various places in cyberspace, including states, non-state groups, and criminal gangs. When an enemy state causes the disruption, cybersecurity is compromised.
Cyber-attacks have the potential to cause a variety of disruptions, from cyber intrusion for espionage to targeting vital infrastructure that could have kinetic effects undermining a state’s national security. Hackers can potentially steal large sums of money and things that are crucial for a government or other organization to steal. Malware and viruses can wreak havoc on a computer system, disrupting the information flow.
Cyber terrorism: A New Threat To South Asia:
The political climate in South Asia also saw the emergence of a new danger. Cyber terrorism is the new form of this danger. Although there haven’t been any significant cyberattacks, India and Pakistan frequently participate in minor cyberattacks. Most of these attacks target websites pertaining to media organizations and government institutions and deface them. When a website is hacked, the attacker frequently uploads inappropriate material or images to those websites.
The term “Indian Cyber Army” is typically used to refer to Indian hackers, while “Pakistan’s Cyber Army” is used to refer to Pakistani hackers. Most of the time, Pakistan or India took responsibility for these attacks. Although this vandalism has no visible bodily effects, it does affect society. The public is led to think that their state’s cybersecurity system no longer protects them, which disturbs the minds of elected officials.
Additionally, Pakistan and India frequently engage in cyber-attacks for spying. Both states attempt to steal crucial information that could help them in future efforts. We observe a dramatic increase in cyberattacks from both parties whenever tensions between two states along the line of control in the disputed Kashmir region soar.
The threat of cyberattacks on both parties was extremely high in February 2019 following the Pulwama incident. Fearing a significant cyberattack from Pakistan, the Indian government has ordered its cybersecurity organization to expand its capabilities. On the other hand, the official also requested that Pakistani authorities strengthen their cybersecurity. This was done due to the Indian side’s cyberattacks, which were intensifying quickly.
Cyberattacks Can Lead To Disasters:
Since more than 70 years ago, India and Pakistan have been at odds with one another, and there is no sign of an end in mind. There are, therefore, good possibilities that they will use cyberspace to further their national interests. Attacks by offensive cyber actors on a state’s vital infrastructure might trigger a traditional reaction from the adversary.
Escalation can introduce a nuclear device into the battlefield when it spirals out of control. The issue with online is that it can sometimes be very challenging to pin down the offenders. A third party could exploit a crisis by attacking India’s or Pakistan’s vital assets. A Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) report states, “Tomorrow’s terrorists may be able to do more harm with a keyboard than with a bomb.”
A Way Forward:
India and Pakistan, therefore, have limited choices to reduce this new threat of cyberattacks, but the good news is that they still do. Creating cyber standards is the first and most crucial of them. Each nation can work together to establish cyber standards. Norms denote proper conduct for both parties. A tacit understanding between the two parties that they won’t attack important or strategic infrastructure.
Second, both nations can create formal frameworks to govern their shared cyberspace. When a catastrophe strikes, this institutional framework will be crucial. Building cyber security CBMs that the rest of the world can emulate can be done by India and Pakistan.
Finding points of agreement between Islamabad and New Delhi, creating communication channels, and sharing accountability for these tasks among all parties are potential solutions to this problem. Cyber CBMs can contribute to maintaining regional stability, opening the door for Pakistan and India to work together and develop confidence.
Finally, the best method to address this cyber terrorism is to find a peaceful solution to the long-standing conflict between South Asian neighbors. The Kashmir conflict is the most significant of them, so experts refer to it as a nuclear flashpoint. With the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute, friendly ties between the two states will subsequently be established, ultimately eliminating the security quandary and the war threat between them.
CPEC and Terrorism in South Asia
The resurgence of terrorism in South Asia in recent years has constantly threatened the CPEC. Over the recent decades, regionalism in South Asia has necessitated collective endeavors to aid weaker economies, ethnoreligious cleavages, and political fragmentation and subsequently address the entrenched diversion primarily between the two main regional actors, India and Pakistan.
The idea of an Economic Corridor has been the focal point of foreign policy strategies to facilitate the greater integration of the Asian region.
Encapsulating President Xi Jinping’s strategic vision of revitalizing the ancient Silk Road into the majestic Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to enhance economic and regional connectivity, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor came to the limelight in 2015 as the epicenter of this project.
The CPEC is a Beijing-financed infrastructure project comprising highways, rail networks, Special Economic Zones, and other energy projects to be completed by 2030.
Beijing and Islamabad are significant to this multi-billion-dollar venture worth $62 billion. However, given the resurgence of terrorism in South Asia, the project faces multifaceted security risks to its timely implementation and operationalization.
The critical location and scope of CPEC create security concerns for the project’s infrastructure, workers, and investors and threaten the whole business environment.
The Balochistan factor:
The prime location of CPEC’s infrastructure-based projects is the Balochistan region which has a horrible history of long-running separatist insurgency marked by violence and terrorism.
Baloch resistance primarily emanates from the grievances of Baloch nationalists, given the exploitation of resources and underdevelopment of the region for decades. The recent wave of insurgency in the Balochistan region has been beleaguered by massive development projects in Gwadar by the central government, mainly excluding the welfare of the locals.
The resurgence of terrorism in the region, therefore, adds another layer of complexity to the security situation in Balochistan, making it a challenging environment for infrastructure development. Balochistan Liberation Army’s growing capabilities are assumed to have the support base from the TTP.
We can find various high-profile terrorist attacks by ethnic separatists in Pakistan, constantly targeting Chinese nationals and infrastructure projects. The history of targeted attacks against Chinese nationals is not new.
Whether it’s the 2018 suicide bombing that killed three Chinese engineers in Balochistan province, the July 2022 attack on a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani nationals to the construction site of the Dasu hydropower project, killing nine Chinese engineers, the suicide terrorist attack on Karachi Confucius institute at Karachi University by a female Baloch separatist, or the most recent targeted attack on Chinese Dentist in Karachi in September last year, all create hurdles for the successful implementation of the CPEC.
Complex Security Situation of Pakistan and CPEC under Threat:
The CPEC faces multifaceted security concerns, given the resurgence of terrorism. The security risks can therefore cause delays in the implementation of the projects, economic slowdowns, political instability, and inter-state tensions. There is an increased fear that the local terrorist groups, primarily Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and international Jihadi organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, might exploit the numerous opportunities of CPEC to carry out malpractices detrimental to the country’s economic prosperity and region’s stability.
Moreover, inter-state tensions due to the resurgence of terrorism also complicate the security situation for CPEC. For instance, the attacks on the CPEC have raised questions about Pakistan’s ability to provide adequate security to Chinese workers and investments, leading to a strained relationship between the two countries, with China compelling Pakistan to take more robust measures to ensure the security of the CPEC.
Equation with India
India has also expressed concerns about the security implications of CPEC as it passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, on which India has its claims. Since the CPEC provides China greater access to the Indian Ocean, it could also encircle India.
Though India has not been directly affected by the attacks on the CPEC, the security situation surrounding the project has added to the already tense relations between India and Pakistan. If there are any attacks on the CPEC project, it is likely to escalate tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, further straining their already fragile relationship. These tensions can impact the implementation of infrastructure projects and overall regional stability and cooperation.
The western front of Pakistan faces strained relations with Iran over cross-border terrorism. The Pak-Iran border has long been expected to serve as a support base for the Balochistan Liberation Army. Iran has also accused Pakistan of not doing enough to control the activities of terrorist groups operating along the border, which has led to cross-border attacks and instability.
Afghanistan, which shares a border with Pakistan, has also been affected by the security situation surrounding the CPEC. The attacks on the CPEC have raised concerns about the spillover of violence into Afghanistan. Some terrorist groups responsible for the attacks are believed to have links to the Taliban and other extremist groups operating in Afghanistan.
The CPEC has also led to concerns about China’s increasing influence in the region and its potential impact on the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
CPEC as a Crucial Facet of Pakistan’s Anti-terror Campaign:
Given its increased vulnerability of Pakistan to the threats of terrorism and separatism, the credibility and timely implementation of the CPEC has consistently been under question, and China also views Pakistan’s security with an eye of suspicion. In this regard, it is critical to view CPEC as a crucial facet of Pakistan’s Anti-terror campaign. To mitigate the project’s security risks, China and Pakistan have taken several measures to improve security along the CPEC route.
These measures include deploying additional security personnel, establishing a dedicated security force to protect Chinese nationals and projects, and developing a coordinated security plan for the entire CPEC route. The project’s association with terrorism in South Asia has raised concerns about its long-term impact on regional stability and security. It is important for all parties involved to address these concerns and work towards a peaceful resolution of the underlying issues.
Hanafi and Salafi Sectarianism in Afghanistan
Institutionalization of the Taliban’s brand of Islam neither lasted nor developed into a viable state; the establishment of the regime had political implications far beyond Afghanistan(The Taliban and the Crisis of afghanistan.pdf).The influence of Taliban widened in their initials as countering the paved contradiction between various groups and warlords in Afghanistan. Soon it became a stallion for a particular sect.
The recent events in Afghanistan which involve the abuse of power by some hardliner Hanafi school contingents against the Salafi School approve the point made initially. How bad it possibly could be? The interest is in the trajectory of Taliban acceptance or rejection on a global scale, hence this subject is not addressed. The central theme of this writing where we witness the rising tensions between the Hanafi School and the Salafi School will have prolonged impacts on the region and the sectarian division in the region.
A group (ISK) popular for fundamentally preaching barbarity would be taking on a group (Taliban) being fundamentally popular previously and now unpopular administratively and managerially. Afghan Taliban and the Islamic State of Khurasan (Islamic State wing for Pakistan and Afghanistan), the initial claims to be an Emirate which is restricted to Afghanistan and some particular areas in Pakistan, they have some inclination towards Nationalist identity in Afghanistan and now an addition of Hanafi School prioritizes its identity more after coming to power.
The Islamic State manifests a concept of Caliphate under one strong Caliph, experienced in Syria and Iraq. The American evacuation infringed both the organizations as Taliban rose to power, lacking forces and resources to control the entire Afghanistan and additionally disturbances appeared in the Panjshir valley. Now they are facing a more brutal and deadly enemy, more organized and capable than Taliban.
Beginning the War
The contention between various Muslims religious schools is part of every second history, however, the current evolution especially on part of Islamic State after 2014 and replacing Al-Qaeda in its military capabilities and extending its roots to all geographical localities, attracting hardliners by all means possible. This passed a shock wave especially in Afghanistan as the Islamic State posed inevitable daring danger for the Taliban.
The Hanafi and Salafi Schools are in contention after Taliban approached Islamic states command in 2016 in Syria not to open a parallel front in Afghanistan. The Taliban got their answer when the Islamic State took most part of the Nangrahar and Kunar provinces in Afghanistan. The Taliban on grounds and the Afghan and United States somehow outnumbered the Islamic State of Khurasan, hundreds killed and others surrendered. Sheikh Nuristani, a prominent Salafi scholar ensured Taliban of his loyalty and not siding against them.
However after 15th, 2021, some particular groups of Taliban targeted Salafi Scholars and Individuals. Beginning with Sheikh Mutawakil, Dr.Niazi a Salafi Scholars initially creating fan base for Islamic state however both has later expressed their allegiances to Afghan Taliban. These events also include the killing of ISK leader for the region Muhammad Khurasani, while Taliban took a prison in Jalalabad amid Afghan Army escape. However the death of leader was answered by ISK, attacking the evacuation process on Kabul Airport resulting in hundreds dead, making sure their presence in the urban areas like Kabul.
Followed by this a number of similar events went through Afghanistan which tensed the situation even across the borders. The oathed Tahreek Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban) has found some individuals turning towards ISK including a Hafiz Saeed responsible for founding Islamic State in the Region, creating a troublesome situation for the support of Afghan Taliban in the Region.
The real bad could happen if the Taliban government is further disorganized by the continuous attacks of ISK in erstwhile Afghanistan as UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) noted ISK responsible for 12% attacks in Afghanistan. UNAMA measured the increase of 118% in 2018 and in 2019 ISK was responsible for 1773 causalities in first quarter of 2019; however, there was decrease in the ISK attacks where the organization carried out 34 attacks causing 673 civilian causalities which was a 45% decrease in comparison to 2019. In 2021 there was the ISK stood at 9% which was a 1% increase.(unama_poc_midyear_report_2021_26_july.pdf)
Afghan Taliban can attract a good chunk of Sectarian following due to Hanafi origins; however the influence of hardliners in ISK and their increasing Support among local Afghan individuals and their approach of replacing Al-Qaida as an international organization is another contrasting concept.
In such case and Scenario we can easily switch to agree with Tarzi and Robert D. Crews, as Taliban to tackle this situation is to be dealing in their own manner and that could possibly be one of these two; increasing Madrassas (Religious Schools) of Hanafi Sects and secondly, approaching a more hardliner approach to stop the flow of own individuals towards ISK.
This both approaches have their own disadvantages. Taliban turning to religious schools may led to diverting attentions as it is considered a valuable source of support and power among religious individuals inside one particular organization. This could also make them soft targets for ISK. Secondly, approaching a more hardliner approach in the state would evidently result to production of new groups which would prove catastrophic for Taliban and Afghanistan.
While Taliban are a Pashtun group makes almost half of the total Afghan Population, rest are Tajik, Uzbeks, Hazaras and other small minorities which had explicitly impartial relations with the Taliban following the Russian evacuation and the Beginning of civil war, followed by the rise of Taliban and then their government. The Hazaras prominently Shia Muslims has been struck hard by the Taliban from time to time due to their sectarian contradictions. The very same Shia Muslims has been targeted by Islamic state in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There was a voice of some neo-Taliban holding the offices and enforcing the moderate form of Sharia in Afghanistan to attract the common masses by opening educational institutions to women and encouraging their participation in other fields of social practices. But with the rising influence of ISK, leadership contention in Al-Qaeda after Al-Zawahari, Taliban less appeal towards public, public disorder and unrest in Northern Afghanistan, absence of central command Mullah Haibatullah, divisions between moderate and hardliner Taliban and American attacks on Taliban commanders has stiffened the case. The ISK is hitting hard and benefiting from the vacuumed space left by the Taliban Fighters.
The support for ISK comes both from the Fundamental and traditional circles, that is, the Pashtun code of conduct rests in vengeance which is mostly not favoring the Taliban and that is obviously in disbanded Afghan Army, the fundamentals inside Afghan Taliban and their aides in Pakistani Taliban may look towards the ISK as the Afghan Taliban seems to be falling of favor even by the religious allies like East-Uzbekistan movement which is favoring Yaghours(a minority Muslims in china) has switched-off their allegiances with Afghan Taliban.
Additionally the Taliban fighters who deserted from TTP and found ISK, also looks for prominent support from Islamic state against Pakistan, these fighters has been annoyed by the less support of Afghan Taliban in their voyage against Pakistan Army.
All these situations will be enough to balance the ground for both organizations to run for Sectarian power struggle in Afghanistan and influence the bordering Pakistan and Iran. The sectarian contention by both Hanafi and Salafi against the Shia has common grounds back in the Afghan Civil war, but now all three of them are challenging each other, previously Hanafi Taliban has somehow agreed to take war under the Salafi Al-Qaeda but that motive came from the perspective of respect. Hanafi Pashtun Taliban has always opposed their replacement in their respective localities.
The Northern Alliance comprised of Uzbeks, Tajik and Hazara has always resisted Taliban, but a possible alliance could not be rejected as in the Afghan Civil war, there were events when they switched alliances against one another. This may be mean but could possibly result political compromises as well, against a more fundamental Islamic state which has never aligned to another group and enforces its own ideology.
The Islamic state of Khurasan has proven its strategic efficiency against the Afghan Taliban. The ground once lost by the Afghan Army is now open for ISK. Members from other groups like Quetta Shura has joined the ISK, believing strengthening the belief in Internationalization of Jihad, including the Current chief of ISK, Abu-Shahab-Al- Mahajir. This sectarian conflict will also shuffle the Pashtun centralism of power which rests in Kandahar. The possibility of Alliances is due to the uncreative strength of the Northern alliance’s against Taliban and for the later to reduce burden on their advancing forces against ISK in certain regions of Afghanistan.
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014)
Shortly after the Second World War, a young man from Aracataca got on stage in Zipaquirá and delivered an improvised speech. One of his phrases stuck in the minds of the people listening, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” he said, who had died that same year, “who, like El Cid, knows how to win battles after death.”
The people loved the way he had put it, and the simple yet memorable phrase began to appear on street posters and even on portraits of Roosevelt in the windows of stores. “And so my first public success was not as a poet or novelist,” he wrote in his autobiography, “but as an orator, and what is even worse, as a political orator.”
Like most artists, after repeated setbacks, he turned his back on literature and believed his future was in scriptwriting. “Cinema is much more noble and reproductive than literature,” he explained to a friend in 1965. “Imagine that I am now receiving ten thousand pesos for reviewing a script. And to think that I have wasted so much time of my life writing short stories and reportage. Besides, everything in literature seems to be already written. Literature is great to enjoy as a reader… not as a writer.”
When García Márquez sat down to write One Hundred Years of Solitude in fall 1965, his emotional state was identical to his feelings while he was writing his first book Leaf Storm. He described himself this way then: “I see him perfectly: he is a thirty-eight year old man who believes that he will not write anything else in his life, that this is his last chance, and who tries to put everything – everything he remembers and everything he has learned from all the authors he has read.”
García Márquez was, indeed, doubtful about committing to writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. His doubts had grown into a dreadful writer’s block. Critic Emir Rodríguez saw it first-hand: “When I met Gabo in Mexico in 1964, I saw a man who lived in hell for not being able to write the great novel that he has thought out and written mentally even in its smallest details.”
But five triggering events during the summer and fall of 1965 brought García Márquez back to the writing of One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book that has been translated into 46 languages and has sold over 50 million copies.
First, in July, the critic Luis Harss interviewed him for a book of conversations with ten major Latin American writers.
Second, in July, García Márquez signed a comprehensive contract with literary agent Carmen Balcells, who, aware of the international boom in Latin American literature, had travelled across the Americas to recruit as many clients as possible for her agency.
Third, at the end of August, García Márquez attended a momentous talk by his mentor Carlos Fuentes (“You start by writing to live. You end by writing so as not to die.”) on how to become a bestselling, cosmopolitan writer.
Fourth, between August and October, international media outlets such as Life en Español, The Times Literary Supplement, and Papel Literario published articles on new and old Latin American writers, including García Márquez.
And fifth, for the first time in his life he signed contracts with major international commercial presses to publish all his previous and future work in Spanish and English.
During the summer of 1965, while driving from Mexico City to Acapulco for a vacation with his wife and two children, a cow crossed the road in front of his car. He stopped abruptly. Right there on the road, in a stroke of brilliant insight, the writer came up with the first sentence of a novel that would change world literature: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
Now there was not a second to lose. The writer turned his car around and rushed back home to Mexico City. Eighteen months later, he emerged from his studio with a completed manuscript. A book about which journalist William Kennedy wrote, “the first piece of literature since the book of Genesis that should be the required reading for the entire human race.”
Márquez came into my life rather late, like under two decades back but it was love at first sight. For that I thank my son Babur Ghani. Since then, we have stayed together, if not through books, then through quotes or through the characters that roam all around us, every day every moment. More importantly through life, that he infuses with death. Like Love In The Times Of Cholera, like Chronicles Of A Death Foretold, like One Hundred Years Of Solitude.
Gabrielle Bellot Writes, “For the Colombian author, death and time were intimately linked; to die, after all, is to have one’s time stop. Death happens in time, but is also timeless and timelessness, something exemplified by García Márquez’s frequent equation of a lack of motion—being frozen in time—with being dead. This perhaps appears most clearly in an early short story, “The Sea of Lost Time,” wherein two men dive to the bottom of a sea that a village throws corpses into—“the sea of the dead”—and find it contains frozen fragments of the past, as well as countless corpses and roses: a beautiful bizarre space, lost to most clocks, where death blooms.
We all get inspired by visual images, so did Gabo but then he put these inspirations into writings. So, it comes as no surprise that he had a long and involved history with film. He was a script writer, film critic, director. He founded and served as executive director of the Film Institute in Havana, was the head of the Latin American Film Foundation, and wrote several screenplays.
British director Mike Newell filmed Love In The Times Of Cholera in Cartagena, Colombia.
His novel Of Love and Other Demons was adapted. The same novel was adapted by Hungarian composer Peter Eotvos to form the opera Love and Other Demons. Starting with the Blue Lobster in 1954, which he wrote and directed, Marquez wrote 25 scripts.
I have read and read and read and have wanted and wanted and wanted to write but only like Marquez and if only I could see magic in the ordinary. If I was to learn one and only one language, it would be Spanish and Russian and German so I could read Marquez and Dostoevsky and Nietzsche in the language they wrote in
Did-you-knows about Marquez:
- He was inspired to write by an incorrect translation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis-wrong version”
- He had a strong interest in politics, and was a committed socialist, probably influenced by his grandfather (“the Colonel”). Marquez had a strongly leftist, anti-imperialist worldview, which makes itself apparent in his political writings. He vocally opposed opposed a number of Latin American dictatorships, and was even present in Caracas for the 1958 coup d’etat that ousted Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez.
- As a result, he was labeled a subversive in the United States. Marquez’s political views, especially his criticisms of what he viewed as American imperialism, earned him the ire of the US Government. He was systematically denied visas until Bill Clinton became the President and lifted the ban, because One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of his favorite books.
- He never let anyone adapt One Hundred Years of Solitude into a film, because, in his words, “(t)hey would cast someone like Robert Redford and most of us do not have relatives who look like Robert Redford.” Charles Bronson would probably have been acceptable to Gabo.
- He was close to his grandfather, a retired army man who inspired the novel “No One Writes to the Colonel.”
“With the passing of Gabriel García Márquez, the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers — and one of my favorites from the time I was young”, President Barack Obama
The Kargil Conflict 1999, Separating Fact from Fiction-Book Review
About the Author
The book “Kargil Conflict 1999, Separating Fact from Fiction” is written by Shireen M Mazari and published by Feroz sons Islamabad in 2003. Author joined Quaid e Azam University Islamabad as Associate Professor later led the department of Strategic Studies as Head of Department before joining Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in 2002. She started her political career in 2008 after joining Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. She has been Minister for Human Rights during Imran Khan’s government from 2018 to 2022.
This book was written under the banner of government funded Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad during Musharraf regime as an effort of Pakistan’s version of account of Kargil Conflict to the world. Book becomes significant as being one of the earliest academic works on the conflict when information and communication gap from the government did extreme loss to Pakistan.
Even the perceptions and assumptions based on half knowledge or Indian side of version still persist among the masses without viewing the second party’s stance. Ms. Shireen Mazari interviewed key military officials during the battles and decision making and national politicians along with books and articles written by Indian officers and analysts. This book is divided into seven chapters and a prologue briefly narrating the Siachen dispute. Chapters include Introduction, Background, Military geography, Conflict, Conclusion of conflict, Lessons from the conflict and Conclusion of the book.
It was agreed between India and Pakistan in Shimla agreement to respect the sanctity of Line Of Control by both sides. Siachen and other ingressions across LOC by India after the Shimla pact 1972 effectively rendered the agreement to respect the sanctity of border breached. The area north of Point NJ 9842 on LOC was not demarcated after the partition and Kashmir war because it wasn’t inhabitable at the time.
This is where Siachen glacier is located near the Chinese border in north. India in 1984 without consultation with Pakistan sent its troops and captured the 1000 miles square area under Operation Meghdoot. Afterwards India in similar fashion captured area in Qamar sector south of Siachen glacier in 1988 across the LOC. There have always been unoccupied patches of LOC between Various sectors.
After the insurgency of Kashmir flared up in late 1980s and early 90s, India increased the troops presence to fight militants which author has called freedom fighters. The sanctity of LOC has been violated multiple times by these ingressions and unprovoked shelling of civilian populations along the border causing fatalities among non-combatants. Indian military started interdiction of supplies in 1992 on Muzaffarabad-Neelum highway forcing Pakistan to build two alternate bypasses of Leswa and Keran.
In early 1999, Pakistan intelligence picked hints of a new buildup of forces by India around Kargil region concurrent with the statements of political and military leaders of the country. This raised the fears of old Indian method of transgression into Pakistani territory by force. Force Command Northern Areas or FCNA was alerted and instructed to prepare for preemptive advance up to border to prevent any such Indian move.
Author has stressed that such military practices continued 1971 onwards and never amounted to act of war and escalation ladder was restrained. It was India who raised the ante by introducing Indian Air force and Bofor guns significantly altering the balance of forces.
Pakistan didn’t follow suit to introduce PAF to avoid the escalation into a wider conflict between two nuclear armed nations. Pakistan never possessed offensive capabilities in this theater and didn’t even have a wish to do so.
Author maintains that Pakistani troops only went a kilometer or two deep into Indian side to prevent any Indian advance and didn’t want to capture Kargil or interdict its supply route through Srinagar-Leh highway as it was achievable from Pakistani territory. Hostilities began on 3 May 1999 and ended on 26 July with Pakistani troops withdrawing to their territory after Nawaz Sharif’s dash to Washington.
India bombed the Pakistani positions by Air force and blasted it with Bofor guns capturing only 10-11% of territory. Shireen Mazari denies another claim that Pakistani troops ran out of supply due to negligence of commanders and fragility of supply line. She says that troops were well supplied for the mission assigned to them which was to deny Indian troops any advance into own territory.
Shireen Mazari maintains that Pakistan Army held the upper hand at tactical level humiliating Indian troops despite their numerical and technical superiority on the ground. Although, strategically and politically whole conflict was mishandled due to poor leadership and lack of a long-term strategy. The fallout was due to ill timed responses by top leadership of the country at political, communication and diplomatic levels.
Pakistan couldn’t build the narrative of its own in right time and had to face the consequences when International community refused to believe it’s side of version. Author also categorically refutes the claims of independent military action without any permission from top political leadership of the country.
She maintains that incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was repeatedly briefed about the situation developing in Kargil from January 1999 but he failed to respond systematically to the challenge on strategic and diplomatic level. This narrative was built by civilian leadership after things started to fall out with military leadership after Kargil to save the faces in public.
Due to the perception bias created by India for Pakistani aggression across and Line Of Control and Pakistan’s consent to it led to the negative outcome for the country. This perception of Pakistan as a reckless nuclear state gave more credence to the belief that it might plunge the region into nuclear annihilation through its continued hostilities.
India skillfully deployed its diplomatic and communication resources into building the narrative of its innocence and victim hood. The legacy of secrecy from British times and information blackout by government led to only one voice in whole world to listen to and that was of India giving it immense advantage in lobbying support of International Community.
Myths have vilified Pakistan as unprofessional military force due to one sided propaganda. United States initially decided to stay out if fray but as situation developed and Indian lobbying gained momentum, it had to come in and diffuse the situation of so called nuclear exchange. Pakistan never deployed its nuclear forces during the kargil conflict which has been later confessed by Indian Army Chief at the time of conflict.
Kargil conflict manifested the professional conduct of Pakistan army as it held its ground against superior forces. But then the information gap between government and public made the political situation untenable domestically as Indian news channels bombarded the populace with their side of narrative which further led to confusion at home.
Even ministers and Parliament was kept in dark failing to generate a coherent national response. No information of talks between American President Bill Clinton and Nawaz Sharif was provided to even cabinet members and a small kitchen cabinet influenced the thinking of Prime Minister. Late diplomatic response gave India much needed lead in lobbying against Pakistan.
Although as the book was written during Martial Law regime of Musharraf who was commanding Pakistan Army at the time of Kargil conflict it mainly blamed Nawaz Sharif and India exempting military generals of their alleged roles in fiasco. Although it doesn’t give the exact numbers of troops participating, dead, wounded or any battle accounts of conflict but still this book is a good read to know the official Pakistani account of Musharraf regime.
Terrorism in Pakistan: A need for a Joint Plan of Action
The recent wave of terrorism:
In the city of Peshawar, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province close to the Afghan border, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device inside a crowded mosque on January 30, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 200 others. The assault, one of the worst to strike Pakistan in recent memory, took place deep within the Police Lines area, a high-security sector that houses the local police secretariat. A new wave of terrorism has been underway in Pakistan all over again.
Shortly after the incident, a commander with ties to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed credit on Twitter. However, a TTP representative later denied any involvement in the attack. Regardless, the magnitude of the blast, which follows a steep increase in terrorist incidents in Pakistan in recent months, does not augur well for Pakistan’s government as they work to manage several challenges at home.
The most recent attack now emphasizes the requirement for thoroughly examining the nation’s counterterrorism policies and devising a joint action plan backed by all stakeholders. But it is uncertain if Pakistan’s leaders can successfully address the country’s escalating security concerns amid a backdrop of expanding socioeconomic instability and political polarisation.
Blame Games by our Politicians
When taken out of this environment, clear policies only contribute to the evolution of societal agreement, as they did following the APS attack. Any vague strategy conveys confusion at all levels. It weakens the counterterrorism apparatuses’ resolve, and the powerful among them find an easy way to place the load on the less capable parts, as is happening now. The government and opposition blame each other for the rise in terrorist occurrences in the country, and political groups frequently engage in skirmishes.
It’s interesting how they emphasize the importance of maintaining national cohesion in the face of terrorism right away. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently did this while speaking before the apex committee meeting in Peshawar. They nevertheless conclude by criticizing their political rivals. Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI, frequently attacks Islamabad’s current government.
Is TTP involved?
There is no doubt that the TTP and its affiliates have increased their targeting of police and law-enforcement officials in recent months as they have attempted to extend operational activities outside of the province. Even if the TTP, which has waged on-and-off insurgencies against the Pakistani state for almost 15 years, does choose to distance itself from this heinous attack, it is impossible to deny that the group and its affiliates have done so. Since November, the TTP has reportedly launched up to 100 assaults.
According to Pakistan’s top decision-makers, the TTP has reportedly benefited greatly from havens made accessible to them in neighboring Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in 2021. The Afghan Taliban is reluctant to take action against the group because it sees the TTP as a helpful weapon against the Pakistani government. By providing shelter to the TTP, the Afghan Taliban can express its strategic independence from Pakistan’s security system. Furthermore, even if it was already limited before the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul, Islamabad’s influence on them has decreased with time.
Pakistani authorities have therefore adopted a “carrot-and-stick” strategy. They have conducted many covert, intelligence-based operations within Afghanistan, targeting specific TTP commanders while also attempting to engage with the TTP in private meetings hosted by the Afghan Taliban.
While there have allegedly been tactical victories in these operations, including the killing of senior TTP commander Khalid Khorasani last year, the dual policy does not appear to have been as successful for Pakistan as it had hoped. The TTP abruptly broke a five-month truce in November as the Pakistan Army intensified counterterrorism operations in the border region. Additionally, the TTP claimed in its initial statement that the attack on the Peshawar Police Lines was vengeance for Khorasani’s murder.
Political turmoil is providing room for terrorism
Unfortunately, the resurgence of violence across Pakistan has exacerbated the country’s already gravely concerning socio-political and ethnic fault lines rather than inspiring a concerted effort to combat terrorism.
To pressure the ruling coalition in Islamabad to call for early elections, the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP, Pakistan’s two largest provinces, both held by the opposition party of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, were dissolved earlier in January. So, there is a potential threat that the TTP would attempt to take advantage of an untimely political void even though caretaker governments have since been sworn in to govern both provinces until elections can be held in the next 90 days.
Thus, the ongoing political tussle is providing room for terrorism to grow. The strategic targeting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s civilian law-enforcement organizations by militant groups appears cunningly calculated in light of this vacuum; it is intended to highlight the provincial government’s state weaknesses and incapacity to combat violent militancy as well as to encourage the TTP and its affiliates to recruit terrorists.
An economic crisis has added to the political one that currently affects Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves fell to their lowest level since 2014 this month. A national power outage that hit Pakistani cities last month left the country’s weak economy in the dark. Pakistan’s cash-strapped officials are desperately hoping that the IMF will grant a loan of $1.1 billion. However, the current stagnation in negotiations with the international monetary institution does not augur well for Pakistan’s economy.
What we need is A Joint Action Plan!
It is evident that Pakistan desperately needs some degree of political stability to address a wide range of economic and security concerns successfully. To secure free and fair democratic transitions later this year, the political and military leaders of the nation must ultimately work closely together. This can be the foundation for legitimate political mandates that enable difficult economic, political, and security choices.
Without that stability, Pakistan’s economic problems might trigger significant societal discontent, further widening the window for more terrorist violence. The administration and opposition, however, do not share the same viewpoints, but they can build a consensus on this issue.
In recent press releases, security institutions have demonstrated their commitment to fighting terrorism but still need to devise a plan. It is challenging to develop a plan that reflects national resolve and is supported by the government and civil society. Creating or rebuilding a narrative this time will be less effective than creating a joint action plan. Otherwise, Pakistan will keep on moving towards more and more Chaos.
THE QUAID-E-AZAM UNIVERSITY EXPERIMENT-Narrated by EX-IB Chief IHSAN GHANI
In August 2022, my colleague, Dr. Farhan Zahid PSP DIG called and asked me if I would be interested in teaching a semester on Terrorism and Counterterrorism at Quaid e Azam University (QAU) that he taught earlier? Teach? Me? Really? “Sure”, I said. The university contacted me, and we agreed on the modalities. “Eat at Majeed Huts”, were my daughter’s directions from the UK.
I had been to the University once or twice for a talk but never to regularly teach a semester. Didn’t know much about it but the rankings were quite high and I was keen on my new role. So, I got the syllabus, prepared the first few modules and was set to go.
Laptop on my shoulder and Socrates in my head (I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.), on 26th September 2022, I went for the class at the awkward time of 2 PM, my afternoon siesta time. So where do I go, I wondered after reaching the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR)? Someone guided me to the office and was asked to sit down on a broken chair for a while till someone came to take me to the classroom.
In a quick and rather judgmental glance, the few students present in the class appeared a cocktail of keen, disinterested, apprehensive, don’t-care lot. At the podium, I opened my laptop, asked someone to connect me to the multimedia system. “It’s not working”, I was told. “Am I actually at QAU, top ranked in all the parallel universes?”.
I looked around at the classroom and found broken chairs, hanging electric wires, dangling electric switches, peeling distemper. We did the introductions, and I began teaching. The next day was better, and we started sailing.
I developed an understanding with the students, acknowledging those who were rather regular, appreciated those who sought knowledge, sympathised with those who wanted to have cushy time, was concerned about those who just happened to be there, and was empathetic with those who never wanted to be there.
There was nostalgia about my own student days, where despite strict disciplined environment at Cadet College Kohat and Pakistan Navy Engineering College, we endeavoured to avoid studies. I could see myself among the students.
Books and movies have been with me all through my life and thus my lectures were studded with references to books and movies. I tried to lure my students to reading and to join my Book Club, which they did. Some out of curiosity, some peer compulsion and some because of love for books.
When the date for the monthly Book Club meeting arrived and theme of discussion resonated with their subject (“16th December, from 1971 to 2014”), I invited them all to participate. It was a sight to behold, the bright young boys and girls in their colourful attires mixed with the old and not so old members of the Club.
We missed classes due to my visit abroad, students’ strike due to the Bara Koh bypass issues, political agitations etc. but we made up for the lost time through online sessions and extra classes.
Mid-term exams came in November, and I decided against ratta and for Socrates. Breaking the tradition of written exams, I opted for simulation exercises based on the modules they had studied. Students were apprehensive but results were outstanding, I was thrilled, and we all loved the stimulating activity.
One day, as usual when “I” was waiting for the students to join the class, I had a little chit chat with those present and asked them what career path they had in mind. CSS and going abroad dominated, with few exceptions. A little discussion ensued, and the Class Representative asked me if I would be willing to hold an interactive session with the SPIR students on “Is bureaucracy a worthy career?”. I agreed and a few days later I spoke to them on the subject.
After the session, the students took me to Majeed Huts for late lunch, that I thoroughly enjoyed, specially the “Crises Dish”. A few days later, as promised I reciprocated the gesture and invited the class for High Tea to my house.
Things stayed well and calm till submissions of assignments, Thought Papers, and final exams neared. Requests for grace marks ensued, some acquiesced to, some politely declined and some ignored.
So, how was the experiment? I loved it despite the lows of poor students’ attendance but that was compensated by the regulars, casual attitude but that too was compensated by the keen ones, poor administration, neglect and infrastructure but even that too was compensated by the students’ enthusiasm.
To end, I wish all my students (now friends) a bright future with the advice to seek knowledge and not just degrees.
*Yes, the title is taken from the “Stanford Prison Experiment”, a 2015 film (highly recommended).
*The Author is a Former Inspector General of KP, Director General of the Intelligence Bureau, and National Coordinator NACTA*