COAS’ candid address at Munich

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NEWS & VIEWS
Mohammad Jamil
ADDRESSING Munich Security Conference, COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that few countries achieved as much success as Pakistan did in the war against terror. He recounted Pakistan’s achievements and stated: “Pakistan has been instrumental in disrupting and decimating Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and Pakistan. More than 35,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in the war against terrorism and over 48,000 are critically wounded or disabled whereas the financial cost is exceeding US $250 billion which is shared fractionally by the global partners. I can say with pride and conviction that there are no organized terrorist camps on our side of the border,” he added. He reminded that after spending more than 1.4 trillion, the situation in Afghanistan can best be described as a stalemate. He also dismissed the propaganda that Pakistan provided safe havens to the Taliban and Haqqani Network.
He showed mirror to the US and the West politely yet in a candid and frank manner and said: “But to my reckoning the cause of stalemate is not only the Haqqani Network or Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA), as they had almost been defeated 13 years ago; it was the pursuit of a wrong strategy, which led to their resurrection.” He recounted steps taken by Pakistan whereby a great majority of Pakistani religious scholars representing all schools of thought issued fatwa against violence, extremism and terrorism in the name of religion. Of course, Pakistan has taken measures, conducted operations – Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasaad – and passed laws to deal with terrorism with iron hands. He said: “Pakistan still has nearly 2.7 Million Afghan refugees in the country, whose concentrations are routinely used by TTA and Haqqani Network to recruit, morph and melt. It is time for these refugees to be repatriated with dignity.”
The Army Chief stated that Jihadism is a misnomer, as Jihad is a highly evolved concept that underlines myriad struggles against tyranny of all types; and Muslims are taught that control of self is the most elevated form of Jihad. He also said that ‘the Frankenstein’ was actually created by the liberal free world, with willing but myopic cooperation from our side after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Therefore, we all are responsible for making the world population in general and Muslim population in particular, hostage to this extremist ideology.” He referred to March 10, 1982, when President Ronald Reagan, dedicated the March 22nd launch of the Columbia Space Shuttle to the valiant Afghan Mujahedeens or Jihadis and termed their struggle against the Soviet occupation forces as a representation of `man’s highest aspirations for freedom’. General Qamar Bajwa did not dwell on the regime change policy of the US, as it would have provoked the US and the West.
The fact remains that the US and the West have been creating Frankenstein monsters of imperialism that later poses a serious threat to them as well as to the world at large. West European countries have a field day during colonial era, and have been involved rank adventurism. For a companion, they invariably, look to the present-day world’s sole super power, the United States, for help, which still stumbling from the hangover of the long-gone cold war is more often than not ready to oblige. At times, European adventurists responded to the US summons to become part of its own adventurisms, as in Iraq to oust the long-time autocrat Saddam Hussein to reshape the Middle East in line with its overbearing neoconservatives’ dream. With the use of massive military power, the compulsive adventurist not only had the Libyan autocrat toppled but also saw him being assassinated by the resistance gunmen.
Earlier, when Soviet forces had entered Afghanistan, what was said to be on the request of the Afghan government under the treaty signed between the then Soviet Union and Afghanistan, the US and the West supported the jihadi groups and warlords to resist the Soviet forces. When 9/11 events took place, Afghanistan was being dominated by the people who were earlier lauded as freedom fighters when they fought against the Soviets. They had supported the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden who was their find and was projected as a legend that left luxurious life to fight the infidels. Earlier Iraq then Libya and now Syria slipping down and down in a treacherous quagmire for their maddening and strategic designs. Libya has turned out to be a lawless land, and no government worth the name. The country stands parceled out between the numerous uncontrollable militias and divided up on the eastern and western fault lines as well as on tribal and confessional lines.
The COAS further remarked that that 1970s were nothing less than a disaster for Pakistan, but even the separation of the Eastern part of our country and the political upheavals thereafter, did not change the society as deeply as the events of 1979 – the year the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution. A syllabus was designed in one of the western universities for seminaries wherein jihad was fed to young minds in a concentrated dose without context or explanation with the able intellectual assistance of free world. He said: “An exception was created, using a ‘self defence’ clause to justify declaration of jihad by Non State Actors. Young men were recruited from all over the world, radicalized and then left and disowned after they had achieved the objective – the success. The country is harvesting what we sowed 40 years back.”
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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