Pakistan is finally admitting that it is being globally isolated, and, according to reports in the press there, there is a growing friction between the country’s civilian government and the army.
During a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), Rana Muhammad Afzal, demanded action against non-state actors, especially Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed. India maintains that Saeed planned the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and has been demanding action against him.
Though the Pakistani foreign office denied that the government has asked the military to act against terrorists, Rana’s statements calls the foreign office’s bluff.
Rana recalled a recent trip to France where he was sent to explain the worsening situation in Kashmir. As soon as he attempted to explain the human rights situation in Kashmir, he was asked about Saeed. “Which eggs is Hafiz Saeed laying for us that we are nurturing him?” Rana said at the standing committee meeting. He also attacked the country’s foreign policy, asking why the government is not able to put Saeed on leash.
Opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan, of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), echoed the view. Addressing a joint session of parliament, he said that Islamabad was isolated as it has given freedom to non-state actors.
“The government has been completely unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on non-state actors according to the National Action Plan,” he said. Such actors continue to carry out protests, rallies and giving speeches in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi, he said.
On Thursday, India also voiced its concerns on the Defence of Pakistan Committee (Difa e Pakistan) allowing banned terrorists to hold rallies. “We have always voiced our concerns at the freedom available to internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti-India activities openly,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Noted strategic expert and author Ahmed Rashid the two Sharifs, Nawaz and Raheel, had maintained a tenuous political relationship: the army — in some consultation with the prime minister— has overall control of Pakistan’s foreign and nuclear policy, as well as its counterterrorism strategy in Karachi and along the border with Afghanistan. In turn, the civilian government could run the economy, and, most significantly, keep control of the prime minister’s home province of Punjab — the most populous region of the country, which includes Lahore. Ironically, most of the India-specific terrorists are located in this province.
Facing international heat, Pakistan’s political and military leadership have now devised a three point strategy. Quoting sources, Geo News said that the first strategy aims at completely disarming these organisations and a clear message to be sent to their financiers to stop funding them.
The second involves providing a way for large organisations to be incorporated into the political mainstream. The third and the final strategy is to find ways for promoting the moral and welfare activities of these organisations.
According to sources, a one-point strategy will be formulated to deal with banned organisations, which function by changing their names. A committee, headed by General (retd) Nasir Janjua and the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been formed to provide clear orders to provinces. This committee will present its report to the prime minister in two weeks.
Asked if these steps will address India’s concerns, a senior government official here said that they would wait for concrete actions. Swarup said it is usual for Pakistan to deny the terrorism sponsored from its soil against its neighbours. “Elimination of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansoor was met with similar denials. But we all know the truth,” he added.
Experts here also believe that even though unrest in Kashmir had put India on the backfoot, the attacks in Uri and other places have definitely turned against Pakistan in global capitals. Brigadier Rumel Dahiya, deputy director general of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), said that India’s diplomatic offensive launched post the Uri-attacks has found echo as stamina against terrorism is coming to the brim all over the world.
Swarup said that pressure by India has yielded results. “You have already seen the pressure that we have brought to bear internationally on Pakistan to cease support to cross-border terrorism. You have all seen the result at the UNGA. You have all seen the result at SAARC. You have all seen the statements by major countries like the US and Russia,” he said.