Drumming-up war frenzy
Guided by its military establishment, Pakistan continues its campaign of aggression and disinformation against India — necessitating a suitable response
Pakistan continues to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons even in its own media space and it's never a very savoury piece to relish. It's mostly anti-India, anti-west and critical of the allies of India. The most recent such undesirable news item hogging the media slots is a sensational disclosure by the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi while addressing the newspersons in the UAE on December 18 that India has plans to conduct military surgical strikes against Pakistan. The Minister, expected to be diplomatic, suave and mature, claimed that his information was based on credible intelligence reports from the Pakistani agencies. The minuscule number of press present at the media meet didn't seem to be impressed or convinced by the frenzied tenor of the visiting Foreign Minister of Pakistan. It appeared more aggressive in tone when the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan was capable of a military retaliation should India embark on military strikes. They (the media) were also surprised why a third country was used by the Minister using belligerent rhetoric to target India whipping up a warlike hysteria. Such apprehensions were further stretched when Shah Mehmood Qureshi called upon the international community to help de-escalate the brewing tension between the two neighbours. Very interestingly, however, any talk about a surgical strike or military intervention was conspicuously absent in the Indian media let alone in a foreign country.
Back home in Islamabad, the National Security Advisor, Moeed Yusuf corroborated such fears and added more fuel to the fire by blatantly alleging that on December 18, a vehicle belonging to the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) came under fire resorted by the Indian troops in Chirikot sector in Kashmir amid heightened tension on the border. The Government of India, however, has denied any such happening. It would, therefore, appear that analytically it's the Pakistan military which is feeding all the 'credible intelligence' to its ministers to drum up a warlike scene ostensibly to hide all the developments taking place in Pakistan which is not palatable to the present dispensation. This includes rising pressure by the political opposition on the military and the civilian government for a change in the government by early next year for which plans are afoot to hold a long march to Islamabad.
This argument fills in convincingly when Prime Minister Imran Khan averred on December 18 that the recent criticism of the Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Ahmad Bajwa by PML-N, Nawaz Sharif has led to widespread anger within the Pakistani Army. Credible sources, in the meantime, say that such statements made by the PM or the FM have their scripts prepared by the Army/ISI. They merely read it aloud presuming it will be heard by a wider audience.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has come to notice for becoming extra active in social media and a concerted disinformation campaign, engaging aggressively to spread lies or manufacturing a kind of warmongering to draw global attention. However, in this tirade, there seems to be very little or no coordination at all between their Foreign Ministry and National Security and Strategic Policy Planning Division. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tweeting extensively in the social media trying to portray India as a sponsor of terror in Pakistan, leaving very meagre space to the counter-terror outfits to speak to lend credence to any argument. Moeed Yusuf, the head and Advisor of National Security and Strategic Policy Planning, has been advocating steps against India including preparing a dossier against India in an apparent bid to show her in dim light. It's clear that Yusuf, whose approach has been largely amateurish, is not in sync with the policy planners of the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. His earlier stint as the Vice President of the US Institute of Peace (USIP) is not coming handy in addressing the country's security concerns. Most of the statements coming from the Pakistan NSA and the Foreign Ministry lack complete credibility and it seems they are in a defensive and panic mode or clueless in the absence of a proper roadmap.
Continuing with the ongoing psychological warfare, the Pakistani Army has also stepped up its virulent campaign again essentially to hide behind its weaknesses. 'Hilal Times', an Army-run newspaper circulated in Urdu and English, has of late been carrying news targeting Indian security establishment as part of their disinformation. However, the author of such writeups, retired Lt Generals and some more may have been in all likelihood, working for some Indian agency. That said, such propaganda against India and her allies is expected to continue and to counter it, it would appear advisable to chalk out equally aggressive measures to neutralise them with a robust mechanism of disinformation and psychological warfare and hopefully, that will work for our hostile neighbour.
The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal