“Are we going to surrender [to TTP] once again?” — Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan
Islamabad has always alleged that Indian consulates in Afghanistan were being used as covert bases by its spy agency Research and Analysis Wing [RAW] for orchestrating subversive activities inside Pakistan. It also maintained that the Ashraf Ghani government and Afghanistan’s spy agency National Directorate of Security [NDS] was helping RAW in sponsoring terrorist activities by providing arms, munitions and funds to anti-Pakistan terrorist groups. Infact, while releasing its December 2020 dossier on this issue, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, boasted that Islamabad had “irrefutable facts” regarding India sponsoring Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan [TTP].
On August 24, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting [IB] Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry appeared very happy, and he had good reasons to feel elated. This was the time when the Rawalpindi-sponsored Taliban juggernaut had swept across entire country and was now firmly in control of Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan had finally been rid of two existential enemies -one, the pro-India Ashraf Ghani government alongwith its NDS, and two, Indian diplomatic staff stationed in Afghanistan, who as per Islamabad’s allegations were essentially spies specifically tasked by New Delhi to destabilise Pakistan by orchestrating terrorist attacks.
The exuberant IB minister told the media that “We should be satisfied to know with regards to the TTP, that for the first time the process of Indian funding [to TTP]-which had been going on for a long time-has ended and at this time they are in disarray.” Making it clear that “These internal challenges [of combatting TTP] are not a problem for us,” Chaudhry logically concluded that “once they [TTP and Balochi groups fighting Islamabad’s exploitation of their natural resources of Balochistan] stop having a funding stream from abroad then it will be a big blow for them and the rest we will handle ourselves.” As quid pro quo for having hosted Taliban for two decades, he was sanguine that Taliban authorities would act on this “[as] Pakistan’s top terrorists from the BLA [Balochistan Liberation Army] and TTP are sitting in Afghanistan, and we want them.”
Considering the exceptional bonhomie shared between Pakistan and Taliban government of Afghanistan, the IB minister’s expectation that “We hope we will have cooperation from Afghanistan on this” is a fair expectation; so is his unbounded confidence in Pakistan army that makes him believe that “inside the country we will look at these matters ourselves.” However, in a shocking development, Islamabad decided to negotiate with TTP in less than three months after Chaudhry’s exceptionally optimistic belief that without RAW and NDS sponsorship, the powerful Pakistan army would be able to decimate TTP.
So, it’s evident that contrary to Islamabad’s expectations, TTP hasn’t been weakened at all and thus, it’s amply clear that Pakistan’s claim of TTP being sponsored by India is nothing but a big fat lie!
With TTP being responsible for the 2014 APS Peshawar carnage in which 147 people [including 132 school children who were predominantly wards of defence personnel] lost their lives, how any self-respecting government can even think of initiating a “reconciliation process” is indeed perplexing and even the Supreme Court of Pakistan seems to be visibly shaken by Islamabad’s decision. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan [CJP] Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan summoned Prime Minister [PM] Imran Khan and during the ensuing hearing, made the following pejorative observations:
- CJP Gulzar noted that, “You are in power. The government is also yours. What did you do? You brought those guilty [TTP] to the negotiating table.”
- Justice Amin noted that “we [Government of Pakistan] are bringing them [TTP] back to the negotiating table instead of taking action against them?” adding, “Are we going to surrender once again?”
- Justice Ahsan also drew attention of Khan to the fact that “The satisfaction of the parents [whose children died in the APS attack] is necessary.”
While the bench hauled the government over coals, it also made stinging observations on Pakistan army and its spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI]. Noting that “We have the sixth largest army in the world,” Justice Amin reminded the PM that Pakistan wasn’t a small country. CJP queried, “Where do the intelligence [agencies] disappear when it comes to the protection of their own citizens?” He also asked, “Was a case registered against the former army chief and others responsible? “ On Attorney General’s reply that nothing adverse had emerged in the APS Peshawar massacre inquiry, CJP retorted- “There is such a huge intelligence system in the country. Billions of rupees are spent on it. There is also a claim that we are the best intelligence agency in the world. So much is being spent on intelligence but the results are zero.”
Justice Ahsan maintained that the agencies concerned “should have known there would be a reaction to the operation [Zarb-e-Azb] in tribal areas,” adding that, “The easiest and most sensitive target were children.” Terming it a “failure of security” he maintained that it was “not possible that the terrorists [involved in APS Peshawar attack] did not have inside support.” CJP made a stinging attack on senior army officers by saying that while accountability process should have commenced from the top, action was taken only against those at the lowest levels- school guards and soldiers, while “the higher-ups took salaries and benefits and left.”
Could there be a more disparaging commentary on an army’s professional competence? Surprisingly, as the government prepares to go ahead with its “reconciliatory process” involving those responsible for the 2014 APS Peshawar massacre, Rawalpindi remains unfazed even though the majority of the victims in this dastardly attack were children of the army’s rank and file!