Speaking to ANI on April 17, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said the world’s attention was focused on containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. India too was doing its bit by sending medical teams to countries like Nepal and the Maldives. But “Pakistan is only exporting terror. This doesn’t augur well.” The Chief’s concern is also concern of all Indians, less those aligned across the border.
After the news about QJ Bajwa, Pakistani army chief having been quarantined for COVID-19 along with his spouse, he has not shown up. But the mindset of Pakistani military is same as Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), membership of which is open to retired military officers. At one time Gen Javed Nassir, former ISI chief held an important position in TJ hierarchy. Not only has the Grand Mufti of Mecca criticized TJ, on February 11, 2019, advisor to Minister of Islamic Affairs of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), wrote on the Al Jazeera website that TJ is a more dangerous terrorist organization than the Muslim Brotherhood, and TJ recruit terrorists for other terrorist organizations, because of which KSA has banned this organization.
Significantly, the Saudi official also stated that TJ are not loyal to the state in which they live; they are a state within a state. The surprising part is that with all this evidence on record in addition to similar musings by Farhan Zahid, a Pakistani counter-terrorist specialist in 2015 (as reported in these columns earlier), the TJ were having a rollicking time in India and would have continued to do so, had they not contributed to spreading COVID-19. An earlier request for the TJ meet to be held in Aurangabad had been turned down by the Maharashtra Police. Revealing who agreed to the TJ meet at Markaz Nizamuddin in heart of the Capital, even facilitated visas and why would create chaos and is best left hoping better sense would prevail in future.
Suhaib Rumi, TJs Faislabad chief in Pakistan died of Covid-19 on April 17. But ISI continues to use TJ to spread Covid-19 in regions like Balochistan, where 24 Covid-19-infected TJ members were reportedly inducted to add to ongoing genocide unleashed by the Pakistani army against the Balochis. The SP, District Kharan in his a letter number 3563-64/(vi)Covid-19/PA dated April 15 to DIG Kalat Range confirmed the presence of 22 COVID-19 infected TJ members.
Intelligence reports indicate, Pakistan army recently dug up 30-40 year old mass graves in Balochistan in Awaran District of Balochistan, killed scores of innocent Balochis and buried them in the same graves, covering them with sand and telling locals these people died because of Covid-19 and had to be buried. Naturally the UNHCR will not squeak, being on the payroll of Beijing – similar to WHO. Same goes for Washington because of the pro-Pakistan lobby in Capitol Hill, one reason also why the US has banned the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). China wants full decimation of Baloch resistance for smooth running of the CPEC. That is why it gifted four attack helicopters to Pakistan four years back to assist army operations in Balochistan.
In November 2018, Niaz Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of Punjab University in Pakistan publicly stated that terrorists were making it to the top ranks in the Pakistani army, saying, “A terrorist had made it to high rank in the Pakistani Army. In fact he was working for the Taliban and had killed many soldiers during the Swat Operation (in 2009).
In Swat there was an army major, who went on leave three-four times and every time he told his subordinate soldiers not to retaliate to the Taliban’s firing as per an understanding (undercover deal) between Taliban and the Army”. Ahmed had to retract his statement later because of a petition filed against him and Governor of Punjab asking for his removal.
But the statement confirms what was already known – Musharrarf himself being a top terrorist. Pakistani officers say they are from the ‘Army of Allah’, don’t mention Pakistan. So the Pakistani army is synonymous to TJ – a state within a state.
Pakistan too is battling COVID-19 and has requested India for medicines but it is ruled by the army with the same mindset as TJ – who consider COVID-19 fait accompli as Allah’s punishment; numbers destined to die must but jihad should carry on. The country is in dire straits financially but it will not be allowed to sink by China and othere. Pakistan has requested China for ease in payment obligations of $30 billion plus against power projects under CPEC to tide over economic hardship and help secure discounts and savings on power purchases from IPPs as circular debt liabilities have crossed Rs2 trillion.
According to PM Imran Khan, Pakistan’s capacity payments could go beyond Rs1.5 trillion in a few years, which would be beyond repayment capacity of people. Pakistan has been on the ‘Grey List’ of FATF since June 2018 despite plenty defaults. It is actively supported by Turkey and Malaysia who also together with Pakistan pose as the saviours of the Islamists. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled his intention to emerge as the ‘imam’ of the new Caliphate he hopes to lead by 2023; centenary of Turkish Republic. Colonel Okan Altinay of Turkish Army who knew intimate details of Erdogan’s links with terrorist organizations and ISIS operating within Turkey was recently killed in Lebanon under mysterious circumstances.
With China as the Chairman of FATF, it perhaps is a matter of time when Pakistan would be able slip out of the ‘Grey List’. Kashmir is opium of the Pakistani military and on Kashmir Pakistan is actively supported by China, Turkey and Malaysia, though OIC’s efforts to hold a meet on Kashmir were dented by Saudi Arabia. On the terror front, Pakistan has complete support of China.
Pakistan’s ISI is linked to numerous terrorist organizations including ISKP/ISIS, Al Qaeda and AQIS. In a recent operation in Afghanistan on a terrorist camp to kill the ISKP commander who claimed responsibility for the recent attack on the Kabul Gurdwara, the Afghan National Army found five cadres of LeT. This indicates such training is being undertaken for terrorist operations both in India and Afghanistan.
A recent report indicates that Islamic charities linked to terror groups in Pakistan are being funded by the US government. In January 2020, ‘InterAction’ founded in 1984 and presently having 180 members received $5 million from the US. Over the last decade ‘InterAction’ received tens of millions of diollars from the US Agency for International Development and the State Department (USAID).
A Washington DC-based platform ‘Together Project’ launched in 2017 has five controversial Islamic charities as its core – Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD), Islamic Relief (IR) USA, Zakat Foundation (ZF), American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) and United Muslim Relief (UMR) — all linked to radical groups in the Middle East and Pakistan. IR-USA is a branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which is designated a terrorist organization by UAE, Germany and Sweden because of its links with Muslim Brotherhood, HHRD organizes conferences in Pakistan with Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and the Milli Muslim League which respectively are charitable and political wings of LeT. FATF has done little to punish Pakistan for not curbing terror financing to these organizations. Obviously CIA is privy to all this.
When Hillary Clinton wrote in her book ‘Hard Choices’ she prefers to work through NGOs and charities, she probably spoke for all US administrations.
So why should Pakistan stop exporting terror? At the same time, we need to closely monitor developments in China. Despite consolidating total power unto himself and ruthlessly killing dissenters, President Xi Jinping is apparently under tremendous pressure. Chairing a politburo meeting recently he was forced to revise COVID-19 related deaths in Wuhan – increasing the numbers by 50%. He is probably still lying – CIA estimates a million deaths. But this by itself is terrible come down for a man who has positioned himself as demi-God, relegating even Mao Zhedong. The world is accusing the P4 lab in Wuhan squarely for the virus outbreak that is wreaking havoc worldwide.
Xi is also downplaying Covid-19 deaths and infections across China. One report says 200,000 Chinese companies have gone bankrupt which even if exaggerated means plenty internal unrest. US, Japan, South Korea and EU want to move their companies out of China. COVID-19 will also adversely affect China’s BRI projects. Xi may therefore look to divert attention.
An Indian delegation from the National Defence College visiting Beijing in 2000 was briefed by Chinese officials that outer limit for assimilating Taiwan in mainland China is 2025. China may be tempted to exploit the situation that US and Europe are in with Donald Trump appreciating 65,000 COVID-19 deaths, Britain being called ‘Sick Man of Europe’ and other European countries in similar disarray. Is there a maverick in Xi Jinping?
When China invaded Vietnam in 1979 to teach them a lesson, Xi was a secretary in China’s Ministry of National Defence. It is a different issue that Vietnam taught China such a lesson which Xi will unlikely forget in his lifetime. But with China Daily boasting in 2018 that Wuhan is a repository of 15,000 viruses, Xi could be having more biological weapons to surprise the US and allies.
However, should Xi mount an invasion on Taiwan exploiting ongoing global chaos, he might as well be prepared for a Western response on China’s economic centres and seat of the CPC, latter considered the real virus that threatens the world, not China Virus or Wuhan Virus. How will China respond thereafter and against how many countries and whether nuclear weapons come into remains a question but Xi should risk this only if he wants the end of humanity.
A second option for Xi to divert attention is in the SCS which is heating up with Chinese naval manouvres, while aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has gone off the scene due COVID-19 hitting its crew. US has warned China it has adequate firepower in Western Pacific but China believes in testing redlines of adversaries. China could orchestrate incident (s) at sea hoping its mainland will remain untouched. Such an action aiming to attack American pride is a possibility.
A third softer option for Xi to divert attention is to activate the LAC with India without warning (cold start?) on broad front exploiting areas not permanently held, with or without intent to come deeper – create Doklam-like situations. Friendships don’t matter when retaining power is at stake. China’s friendship towards India anyway is pseudo. This is a possibility that can hardly be discounted, especially when we are battling COVID-19 amid lockdowns and there are constraints on mobilization. This may be another reason why Pakistan is acting uppity.