News & Views
JUNAID Qureshi son of Hashim Qureshi Chairman ‘Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party’, which stands for an independent Kashmir, has pasted a so-called study paper captioned ‘Pakistan’s Army: New Chief, traditional institutional interests’ on his facebook page. The authors distorted the history, resorted to conjectures and half-truths and tried to create differences between the people and military and between the provinces of Pakistan. Junaid Qureshi is Director European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) and very active member of his team working/propagating against Pakistan in Europe. He has strong links with RAW-supported Kashmiri expatriates from Europe and continues to defame Pakistan and Pak Army in his articles and treases. In its first para, the EFSAS study discussed appointment of General Qamar Bajwa as Pakistan’s 16th Chief of Army Staff on November 29, 2016 as a successor to General Raheel Sharif.
It stated: “In Pakistan, the army has a history of overshadowing political landscape – the democratically elected civilian government in reality has very limited authority or control over critical matters of national importance such as foreign policy and security.” The treatise/study comprised more than 5500 words, and focused on the history of Pakistan military’s influence in politics since independence, especially Punjabis’ domination because during recruitment the British had given preference to martial races from Punjab. It appears that the authors borrowed the material from Ayesha Siddiqa’s book to criticize military for engaging in business ventures, industries and establishing housing societies. It read: “The legacy of Punjabis’ domination in the Pakistani army continues till today. A disproportionately large number of the top level positions in the Pakistan army are still held by the Punjabis. Four Chiefs of Army since independence have been Punjabi, including General Qamar Javed Bajwa.”
A report in Indian Express of December 7, 2016 read: “Pakistan got its first Punjabi Army Chief, General Tikka Khan, only in 1972, 25 years after independence. Five Punjabi generals, not including Bajwa, have headed the Army since then — Punjabis have occupied the top post for only 28 of the 69 years of Pakistan’s existence. Seven — fewer than half — of the 16 Chiefs so far have been Punjabis. Until 2007, only 4 out of 13 Chiefs were Punjabis, who account for 56% of Pakistan’s population and enjoy an upper hand in the military and bureaucracy. Just 1 out of 4 military dictators has been a Punjabi.” In this backdrop, it is quite normal and logical, as population of Punjab is more than the populations of the three provinces put together. It belies the claim about disproportionately large number of top level positions in Pakistan army.
It would be appropriate to give some background of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, formed by Hashim Qureshi after leaving Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front of Maqbool Bhat. He had accused JKLF of working for the ISI, just to find justification to work for Indian RAW. In July 2016, Hashim Qureshi led organization Democratic Liberation Party (DLP) had expelled Junaid Qureshi from party for his ‘anti-Kashmir’ remarks on a New Delhi based news channel. Party spokesperson informed CNS that the decision was unanimously taken at an Executive Council meeting presided by party vice president Muhammad Aafaq Khan. He said: “Junaid Qureshi violated the rules of the party and went on air hurting sentiments of Kashmiri people. He indulged in indiscipline as the party believes in ‘Independent Kashmir’. He added that the party supports program of united Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Maqbool Bhat, who had reportedly masterminded hijacking Indian Airlines plane to highlight the Kashmir issue internationally had chosen Hashim Qureshi for the hijacking who along with his cousin Ashraf Qureshi hijacked an Indian Airlines plane on 30 January 1971 (Ganga) en route from Srinagar to Jammu and brought the plane to Lahore, Pakistan. Then prime minister ZA Bhutto had lauded the high-jacking, but later there was speculation that India had used Maqbool Bhat and Hashim Qureshi to place a ban on Pakistan’s flights over Indian territory. Anyhow, they were the only two Kashmiris who had been charged under the Enemy Ordinance Act in Pakistan as well as India. Unfortunately, Hashim Qureshi became tool in the hands of RAW, and raised the slogan of independent Kashmir to dilute the UNSC resolution bestowing on the people of Kashmir the right to join Pakistan or India under the aegis of United Nations.
Writing about the role of Pakistan military during civil war in former East Pakistan, the study continued to paint Pakistan in poor light, and exaggerated the death toll to three million Bengalis. Sarmila Bose, a noted British academic and senior research associate at the Centre for International Studies at Oxford University, in her book ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War’ had moved back and forth between Pakistan and Bangladesh, seeing and interviewing mainly retired Pakistani officers in the west, and survivors of killings and their relatives in the east, as well as members of the non-Bengali and non-Muslim minorities in the quest for truth. She underlined how stretched the Pakistani forces were, and how perplexed they were in the face of a Bengali hostility. Her investigations revealed the death toll was between fifty thousand to one hundred thousand including Benglis and non-Bengalis, and not three million as claimed by Bangladesh.
The study dwelt at length on the appointment of army chiefs since independence, and the objective appeared to be an effort not only to denigrate Pakistan military but to create differences between the military and the people of Pakistan. However, they failed to achieve their objective, as people of Pakistan hold its military in very high esteem. They understand that enemies of Pakistan want to weaken it, and since they find Pakistan’s armed forces as the biggest hurdle, they use all the ruses and subterfuges to denigrate Pakistan military. A few US law makers and members of the US administration also were involved in denigrating Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agencies vis-à-vis Balochistan, but people of Balochistan stand by the armed forces, and they admire military’s contribution in recruiting young Baloch in the army, and also for providing education and health facilities to the people of Balochistan.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.