Recently, the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan was invited as the Chief Guest at the Passing Out Parade of the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, UK. He indeed was the first Pakistani to be the sovereign representative of the Queen of England during the sovereign parade.
Gen Bajwa began his address with the greetings ‘Assalamu Alaikum’. Analyzed through the Indian prism and perspective of the global war on terror, his entire address seems to be riddled with hypocrisy. He offered the sagacious wisdom that the primary role of armed forces is not to prosecute wars, but to prevent them. One wonders what the General has to say about Pakistan’s jihadi concept of war i.e. “to make India bleed through thousands cuts.” Deceit not deception has been the intrinsic attribute of Pakistan’s concept of warfare. The primary reliance on jihadis as spearhead or instrument, in the Pakistan Military’s mode of warfare is almost instinctive.
After its very birth Pakistan exposed its umbilical with Jihad when it unleashed its rapacious tribal jihadis on India in October 1947 to capture Kashmir, then it repeated the same by way of Op Gibraltar in 1965. Again in 1971 two Jamiat-e-Islami brigades, Al Badr Brigade and Al Shams Brigade, were let loose on by the Pakistan Army on own fellow Bengali Muslims in the erstwhile East Pakistan. Even in the ongoing Pakistan Military orchestrated proxy war against India irregular Jihadis are chief weapons. The regular jihadis i.e. the military, is basically to rule the country.
The Fraud of Democracy
Recently the fraud of democracy in Pakistan was on full display when Gen Bajwa broke the established diplomatic protocols by beseeching the US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, to exercise her good offices for grant of $1.2 billion bailout package from the IMF.
Despite knowing the contours of political reality of power structure in Pakistan, wherein the military exercises control of all consequential aspects of governance, Pakistan, along with 110 countries, was invited for the “US Summit on Democracy” in Dec 2021. Ironically, Bangladesh was left out. Was this invitation merely to balance India? When the invitation was not reiterated, Imran declined it, citing reasons of “sovereignty”. China and CPEC, could be the overriding reason, because the Chinese Foreign Ministry had quoted that by declining the invitation. Pakistan had demonstrated its ‘real iron brother’ role.
The New Cold War
A Cold War type geopolitics seems to be brewing in Pakistan, the difference being that in this new Cold War China has replaced USSR as the principal adversary of the US. Pakistan’s polity is totally polarized between the US Camp and the Chinese Camp. Pakistan military is very much a political entity. All through Imran’s posturing has been anti-American, while Gen Bajwa has hedging his preferences between the US and China. In one of the interviews Bajwa said that Pakistan is not given to camp politics and stressed that the best of weapons still came from the US. This statement created acute discomfort in Beijing. The rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, a close US ally has accelerated after the ushering in of Shahbaz Sharif government. The Saudi dispensation has reportedly decided to bail out Pakistan economically by renewing $3 bn deposit at the State Bank of Pakistan. This would enable Pakistan to secure the $1.2 billion payment from IMF that it desperately needs.
The Imran Khan dispensation had tried to play Turkey against Saudi Arabia at the OIC. Imran has repeatedly conveyed his admiration for the strategic autonomy displayed by India in the Russia- Ukraine conflict, much to the chagrin of the US and the Pak Army.
Dynastic Parties Easy Traps
This kind of dynamics is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. Even during the 1971 War Bhutto, as opposed to Yahya, was secretly in the Soviet camp. It is for this reason that Zia, mentored by the CIA, since the days he commanded a Pakistani brigade in Jordan, hanged him in preparation for the war against Soviet Union in Afghanistan. It is natural for Cold War rivals to secretly partner political parties and players in countries of strategic concern. Dynastic parties are easier to trap. The secret MOU signed by a dynastic party of India with China should be analyzed in this backdrop. In a non dynastic party this kind of an anti national activity would have caused revolts and splits.
The mood of Indians generally swings with the mood of the West vis-à-vis Pakistan. The mood of the West w.r.t. Pakistan is predicated on strategic imperatives. For the West Pakistan’s strategic importance has never diminished, it is another matter that India, courtesy the Indo- Pacific strategy imperative and the economy has surpassed Pakistan in strategic and geopolitical reckoning.
It is the strategic location of Pakistan that keeps it alive despite its sinful creation and existence. Shahbaz Sharif tweeted “Gen Bajwa’s address at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, UK as chief guest is not just a matter of honor for the armed forces but also for Pakistan. This is recognition of Pakistan-UK strategic partnership and success of our armed forces in war on terror.” What is the import of this strategic partnership? Is it to kill NATO forces or ISAF in Afghanistan? To chase away the ISAF from Afghanistan? To shelter Taliban in Pakistan? To provide safe haven to Al Qaeda in Pakistan? It should be remembered that it was Maulana Masood Azhar who sowed the seeds of global jihad in the United Kingdom.
Masood Azhar Brought Global Jihad in UK
Masood Azhar entered Britain in 1993 and visited the mosques and seminaries in the country including the Darul Uloom Bury which accepts students between 11 and 23. There are about 1400 mosques in the country, half of which is under the control of Deobandis. In his lectures in the mosques, he exhorted muslim youth to come to Pakistan and undergo weapons training to fulfill their obligation of Jihad. He was also on a fund raising and recruitment mission. In the process of spreading the jihadi ideology at various places he chastised the muslim audiences that a significant portion of Quran deals with the aspect of killing enemies of Islam in the name of Allah.
Before visiting Britain, Masood Azhar had supplied 400 jihadis to Osama Bin Laden for jihadi attacks in Somalia. During that period Osama was based in Sudan. A portion of the jihadi network that Masood Azhar had created in the UK for jihad in Kashmir later merged with the ISIS.. It is the Pakistan Army which in 2001 helped Osama Bin Laden to escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan, wherein he was sheltered till 2011. In this perioda faction of the Pakistan created Taliban I. e. the Haqqani group, made common cause with Al Qaeda, so did the LeT.
In the overall analysis therefore, Masood Azhar is the key figure in jihadisation of Muslims in Britain. Hehas deep links with Al Qaeda and Taliban, and in turn Masood Azhar’s JeM is a strategic arm of the Pak Army, which is helmed by Gen Qamar Bajwa. Hence, in effect, the British had invited the jihadi-in-chief as the chief guest at the Passing Out Parade of Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
Legitimising Pak Sponsored Jihad
Amongst those who passed out were 41 cadets from 26 countries. By inviting Gen Bajwa as the chief guest Britain has legitimized Pak Army sponsored jihad in the Indian sub-continent, and at the global scale. Actually the process of legitimizing has always been there. Two successive Pak Army instructors, Maj Ukbah Malik and Maj Umrah Farooq were posted at the RMC, Sandhurst wherein they trained the British cadets. Britain has also been inviting Pak Army delegations to participate in competitions like Cambrian Patrol.
Does the UK take jihadi terrorism seriously? There are no simple answers to this question? Most jihadi terrorist attacks in the West have Pakistani footprints. Three out of four jihadi inspired attacks involve muslims of Pakistani origin. In the 7/7 London bombings, three of the four perpetrators were British muslims of Pakistani origin.
The main perpetrators Shehzad Tanveer, Mohammad Siddique Khan and Habib Hussain were second generation British muslims of Pakistani origin and each one of them had traveled to Pakistan to receive jihadi training. Reportedly 3000 British muslims travel to Pakistan every year to receive training in jihadi summer schools. British Pakistanis liberally fund these institutions. The three main madrasas funded by the British Muslims in Pakistan are: Jamia Binoria in Karachi, Jamiat-ul-Islamia in Azad Jashmir and Haqqania Seminary in KP.
Why is UK beholden to Pakistan?
Why is then UK beholden to Pakistan? Is it because it welcomes any criminal or transnational terrorist organizations which has money? Khalistanis, LTTE and Kashmiri militant organisations are some examples. It is for these reason that London is considered as the fugitive capital of the world. The fugitives bring lot of money. Every dynastic politicians and rulers in Asia and Africa have properties in the UK. In fact London thrives on ill -gotten wealth.
Most Pakistani senior army officers have their money parked in western countries specially Britain, Canada and the US—in that order.
The other reason for Britain’s indulgence towards Pakistan could be vote-bank. There are 12 lakh British Muslims of Pakistani descent. The Pak ISI has stranglehold over them. The Pakistani muslims enjoy disproportionate influence over the other 18 million Muslims. Out of the 650 parliamentary constituencies, there are 39 constituencies which have more than 1000 muslim votes.
Given the small population of Britain which is about six crores this vote chunk in many constituencies can be decisive.
Theocratic issues have a critical role in giving impetus to Pak inspired global jihad in Britain. Protestantism that gave birth to multi- party democracy in Europe is on a sharp decline. Sunday congregation in Churches is rather exception. Churches have been converted to hotels and golf courses. The institution of family is in disarray. In comparison fundamentalist Islam is highly organized and on a missionary mode to fill the vacuum.
Historically, this is not new for Britain. Had the British not pandered to fundamentalist Islam, Pakistan would not have come into existence, the Kashmir problem would not have festered. After partition it strategically suited Britain to promote jihad in Pakistan and secularism in India.
And finally, it is worthwhile to decipher the strategic and geopolitical prism through which Britain looks at Pakistan. Strategically, post Brexit, Britain began investing vigorously in the Commonwealth or to say, the Anglo sphere. The targeting of Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers allegedly by Iran in the Gulf of Oman, unnerved Britain. Consequently it decided to regain its strategic space in the region, for which it thinks Pakistan can be most useful. Gen Bajwa had visited Britain in 2019 as well. During the visit he had comprehensive strategic dialogue with the Chief of Defence Staff Gen Nick Carter. Moreover, the shift in the strategic focus of the US, from Persian Gulf to the Indo- Pacific region has created a vacuum which Britain feels obliged to fulfill.
In his address at the Passing Out Parade at Sandhurst, Gen Bajwa said : “…this is a recognition of Pakistan-UK strategic partnership and the success of our armed forces in the war on terror.” The bogey of war on terror bandied by Pakistan is only for the consumption of the West. Pakistan’s iron clad brother has been compulsorily vetoing international action against Masood Azhar, his brother Rauf Azhar, Hafeez Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi at the UN. In this war against jihadi terror, India therefore has fewer genuine partners. The euphoria over killing of Osama Bin Laden and Al Zawahari may be just a political smoke screen for consumption of the credulous political constituencies.
At Sandhurst Bajwa also quoted Liddle Hart who said:“…an officer who has not studied military history as science, is of little use beyond the rank of Captain.” Surely Liddle Hart did not mean the science of jihadi war!! Moreover, in the war between Science and Fundamentalist Islam in Pakistan, Science died long ago.