4 Threat Matrix: Pakistani military calls HRW report 'a pack of lies,' and 'fabricated'

Written by Bill Roggio on February 2, 2013 11:53 AM to 4 Threat Matrix

Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/02/hrw_report_a_pack_of_lies_paki.php

The Inter-Services Public Relations division (or ISPR) of the Pakistani military lashed out today against Human Rights Watch for its World Report for 2013, which accuses Pakistan's military and intelligence services of supporting terrorist groups that conduct sectarian attacks. The ISPR's press release practiced little "public relations," calling the HRW report "a pack of lies," "fabricated," and other such terms. The ISPR statement is reproduced below, in full, for your amusement:

A spokesman of ISPR has termed the Human Rights Watch (HRW) recent report a pack of lies, propaganda driven and totally biased. He said it is yet another attempt to malign Pakistan and its institutions through fabricated and unverified reports, Completely favouring an anti Pakistan agenda. The HRW has based its opinion on imprecise facts and biased views.

The HRW report seems to be a clear attempt to further fuel already ongoing scectarian violence and to create chaos and disorder in Pakistan. HRW has no credibility and has been criticized world wide for raising controversies through its biased reports and funding from certain quarters and its reports have been rejected by many countries of the world.

Here are some excerpts from the HRW report [in italics] which very likely raised the ire of the Pakistani military establishment. HRW accused the Pakistani military and government of:

1) turning a blind eye to the Lashkar-e Jhangvi's slaughter of Shia and other minorities (it does; Malik Ishaq, the group's leader, was freed from prison in 2011 despite plotting attacks from jail);

Sunni militant groups, including those with known links to the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, and affiliated paramilitaries--such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi--operated with widespread impunity across Pakistan, as law enforcement officials effectively turned a blind eye to attacks.

2) persecuting Ahmadis, who have been blatantly discriminated against;

Members of the Ahmadi religious community continued to be a major target for blasphemy prosecutions and subjected to specific anti-Ahmadi laws across Pakistan. They faced increasing social discrimination as militant groups used provisions of the law to prevent Ahmadis from "posing as Muslims," forced the demolition of Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, barred Ahmadis from using their mosques in Rawalpindi, and vandalized Ahmadi graves across Punjab province. In most instances, Punjab provincial officials supported militants' demands instead of protecting Ahmadis and their mosques and graveyards.

3) assassinating and 'disappearing' Balochi rebels and sabotaging reconciliation efforts (while this isn't a topic of LWJ's coverage, HRW's characterization matches our observations);

The human rights crisis continued to worsen in the mineral-rich province of Balochistan. Human Rights Watch recorded continued enforced disappearances and killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps. Baloch nationalists and other militant groups also stepped up attacks on non-Baloch civilians. Pakistan's military continued to publicly resist government reconciliation efforts and attempts to locate ethnic Baloch who had been subject to "disappearances." Pakistan's government appeared powerless to rein in the military's abuses. As a result, large numbers of Hazara community members sought asylum abroad.

4) subverting freedom of the press and targeting journalists (most notably, Syed Saleem Shahzad was assassinated by the Pakistani military in 2011 for reporting on the military and intelligence services' links to terror groups, including al Qaeda);

A climate of fear impeded media coverage of the state security forces and militant groups. Journalists rarely reported on human rights abuses by the military in counterterrorism operations, and the Taliban and other armed groups regularly threatened media outlets over their coverage.

5) the "alleged persistent support for the Haqqani network."

The US remained the largest donor of development and military aid to Pakistan, but relations remained abysmal through much of 2012. The US rejected apologizing for the "Salala Attack," prompting Pakistan to ban the movement of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan. The routes were only reopened in July after the US offered a formulation of regret that Pakistan found acceptable. Major areas of bilateral tension remained, particularly Pakistan's alleged persistent support for the Haqqani network, a militant group that US officials accused of targeting US troops in Afghanistan. In September, the US declared the Haqqani network a terrorist body.

The Pakistani military might have been well advised to ignore the report rather than draw attention to it. The report actually was relatively soft on the Pakistani government and the military. No names were named, and few specific instances were mentioned. Nor did the report detail the complicity of the government and military in actively supporting terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, the plethora of Taliban factions in the tribal areas and beyond, and the Afghan Taliban.

If anything, the ISPR (read: military/ISI) response shows just who wears the pants in the relationship between the military and the Pakistani government. You'd expect the government to handle such issues, and to react with a bit more tact.