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Pathankot terror attack: Leading Pak diplomat reveals strong military hold over Nawaz Sharif government

By Our Representative
In an opinion piece, whose contents Indian policy makers can ignore at their own peril, a leading Pakistani diplomat has pointed towards strong Pakistani military hold over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, saying even the US and NATO countries believe the Pathankot terror attack was “planned and supervised” from Pakistan by elements associated with the intelligence establishment, directly or indirectly.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who has been ambassador to the US, India and China, and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan has said in an article “Pathankot and power plays” in leading Pakistani daily “Dawn” that “it is not yet clear” what was military’s attitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “stopover” in Lahore.
Qazi recalls how “Kargil happened after Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore in 1999” and “Mumbai occurred after progress in the backchannel talks of the mid-2000s”, insisting, “now Pathankot takes place after another Lahore yatra”, making one wonder if Sharif has been “reined in by the boys to let him know who is boss.”
Referring to the participation of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in a meeting chaired by Sharif to “consider” information provided by India on Pak terror attack, the diplomat says, it should not mean the military “appreciates the Prime Minister’s attempts to wrest exclusive control over Pakistan’s India policy.”
“In Pakistan, the concept of civil-military relations is dubious”, the top diplomat says, adding, “It excludes civil society. It provides cover for civilian political delinquency and military political ambition, whether working in tandem or at cross purposes. It has become the antithesis of democracy.”
Calling the Pak military the “principal cause of incoherent, inconsistent and irrational policies on major domestic and external issues, including policy towards India”, he says, “It provides a convenient context for unprincipled politicians to protest the reduction of political space for the discharge of their ‘democratic responsibilities’ by unelected and undemocratic institutions.”
Pointing towards how weak Sharif is vis-à-vis Pak military, Qazi says, “We do not know whether the Prime Pinister is aware of his longer-term responsibilities towards the people of Pakistan, other than throwing money and concrete about, all of which will have to be paid for by the people.”
He adds, “We do not know whether he is interested in summoning the commitment and courage to face down challenges to his political authority and credibility. We do not know whether US admiration for his handling of Pathankot will last. We do not even know the nature of his political calculus.”
Calling India’s ‘actionable intelligence’ regarding the attack on the Pathankot airbase, including “mobile phone conversations between the attackers and suspected handlers in Pakistan, a Jaish-e-Mohammad letter, DNA samples of the attackers, their voice record samples, etc.” were “credible leads”, Quzi wonders if Sharif has the capacity to act on them.
If he does not act, Quazi says, “The worst assumptions about Pakistan’s international conduct will continue to be made by the international community. A repeat of the Mumbai stand-off would expose Pakistan to ridicule and ignominy. Pakistan could come under immense international pressure, including the threat of sanctions, if it is seen not to be cooperating with India in the hunt for possible suspects.”
“If the responses of the rulers of Pakistan convey the message that they are unwilling or unable to control the cross-border activities of anti-Indian and anti-Kabul Jihadis until Kashmir is resolved and Kabul has a ‘friendly’ government, they will do more harm to Pakistan than any enemy could wish for”, he warns.

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