Flights of fancy

Apr 17, 2014, 07:31 IST | Vikram Sood

The recent article ‘RAW Fully Exposed’ (The News, April 12, 2014) by Air Marshal (retd) Khurshid Anwar Mirza of the PAF, naturally aroused curiosity not only about what had been written but also about the author. Mercifully for Google, I found some interesting details about the author. The former Director General of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan also harboured some political ambitions but without any notable success. There was difficulty in searching the National Security Forum Lahore to which Air Marshal Mirza belongs and is run by retired armed forces officers.

Target India: Militant groups in Pakistan have been able to undertake attacks on India far beyond Kashmir, including the 2008 multi-day siege of Mumbai, says Christine Fair, in her article ‘Ten fictions that Pakistani defense officials love to peddle’. Pic/Getty Images

A description by the travel writer Alexander Frater (who also wrote Chasing the Monsoon) gives a glimpse of the Air Marshal’s mindset when he describes his first meeting in his book The Blue Horizon. To quote, “The first [meeting] was with Air Marshal Khurshid Anwar Mirza … who spent half an hour lecturing me on Soviet plans for the invasion of Gwadar … Pakistani agents in Kabul had seen documents which made it clear that Gwadar was to be the warm water port they coveted for centuries … when I innocently referred to Gwadar, [it] instantly lit his afterburners and made him loop the loop. He jumped up, talking a streak, and it was only when he reached the bit about plucky Pakistanis defenders being nuked by the Ivans that the orchestrated throat-clearing of his aides finally brought him down to earth again.”

The point is that the Air Marshal has obviously given to his flights of fancy. In his article he claims RAW had entrenched itself in Afghanistan to become the main perpetrator of terrorism in Pakistan in collusion with Khad and Mossad and elements of the CIA. Incidentally Khad was wound up n 2001 and replaced by the National Directorate of Security or Amniyat. Apart from the litany of complaints, the remedies suggested are interesting. A much greater role for the armed forces in “coordinating the activities of the secret agencies, to provide operational guidance and support to the civil armed forces to effectively counter insurgency in Balochistan and terrorism emanating from FATA.” He also recommends a high-powered National Security Council which obviously implies an even greater role for the armed forces. Finally, he wants the armed forces to take over the trial of terrorists. There, we now have a mindset that sees threats that do not exist and seeks perpetuation of the primacy of the armed forces.

The March 2008 article by former Army Chief ‘General Mirza Aslam Beg Warns of Conspiracies Against Pakistan’ is of the same genre. He imagined, among other things there was enough information to identify the dimensions of a Great Game to destabilise the region. The nerve centre was at Jabal-us-Seraj, manned and operated by CIA, RAW, Mossad, MI-6 and BND (German intelligence) with out-posts are Sarobi and Kandahar against Pakistan. Faizabad, against China; Mazar-e-Sharif, against Russia and Central Asian States and Herat against Iran and much more.

Unfortunately when ‘responsible’ members of the armed forces come out with fiction then notables like Hafiz Saeed and Zaid Mohammed merely embellish these statements with their own versions. It is these statements that lead to a continued state of denial in sections of the Pakistan establishments encouraging extremists and there can be no effective tackling of these home- grown problems.

Christine Fair, in her January 31 2014 article ‘Ten fictions that Pakistani defense officials love to peddle’, also debunks the claim that Pakistan had an enduring interest with peace with India as follows. She says, “Pakistan has started every war with India over Kashmir and then failed to win any of them. Pakistan continues to sustain a flotilla of militant groups whose stated objectives are to coerce India to make some concession to Pakistan on Kashmir and generally to foment communal violence between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. These groups now operate throughout India. Under Pakistan’s expanding nuclear umbrella, these groups have been able to undertake attacks far beyond Kashmir, including the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, the 2006 attack on Mumbai’s commuter rail system and the 2008 multi-day siege of Mumbai among numerous other lesser known rampages. While it is true that Pakistan must implement a defence policy based on India’s defence capabilities rather than assumptions about India’s most magnanimous intentions, it is also true that India would have no interest in Pakistan if it were not for the numerous terrorist groups that Pakistan supports.”

Is anyone in Pakistan paying attention? Especially to the meaning of the last sentence?

The writer is a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

Go to top