Let’s blame India, again

athar-abbas.jpg

Major General Athar Abbas, the Director General of Inter Services Public Relations.

Its time to play let’s blame India again. As Pakistani security forces advance in South Waziristan, senior military and government officials continue to point the finger at India for backing the Taliban. The latest statements come from the military’s top spokesman and the minister of information. From the Associated Press of Pakistan:

The security forces have found substantial evidence of Indian involvement for assisting terrorists in South Waziristan Agency, Director General ISPR [Inter Services Public Relations] Major General Athar Abbas said. “Indian literature and weapons under the use of terrorists have been recovered from South Waziristan and more evidence is being gathered,” he said addressing a joint media briefing on Operation Rah e Nijat here Monday.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Secretary Information Suhail Mansoor and Principal Information Officer Ch. Rashid Ahmed were also present.

“We have sent all the proves of Indian involvement to the Foreign Office for their onward presentation at the appropriate forum,” he said.

Again, this bears repeating:

If the Pakistani government and military have extensive evidence of their arch-rival backing the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, why did they cut a deal with Sufi Mohammed, Mullah Fazlullah’s father-in-law and a known front man for the Taliban, this spring?

And why did they just cut peace deals, again, with Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir?

Why were Pakistani officials in negotiations with Baitullah Mehsud last summer in an attempt to end hostilities?

Why would a senior Pakistani general describe Baitullah as “a patriot” when tensions between Indian and Pakistan flared late last year after the Mumbai assault? If Baitullah was an agent of RAW (the Research and Analysis Wing, Indian’s intelligence service), wouldn’t that make him a traitor? And what does that say about the Corps Commander who feted Baitullah? Why does he still command an Army Corps?

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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20 Comments

  • ali says:

    The Pakistani government explains the Malakand Accord as a gambit required to demonstrate the viciousness of the TTP to the public, and finally swing public opinion against them. This explanation certainly fits the facts, since polls in Pakistan had previously shown people to support peace talks as an instrument, their previous failures not withstanding.
    Cutting peace deals with Bahadur and Nazir is frustrating to watch, but these groups (and Haqqani) aren’t directly threatening Pakistan right now, and it appears the army is trying to prioritize who it takes on given the paltry number of personnel it is recommitting away from the Indian border.
    The remark about Baitullah being a patriot is ridiculous, no question. It is also true that the Army has been populated significantly by officers following the Deobandi sect, and who have a history of supporting the Taliban. Remember that the Taliban were openly allies of Pakistan pre 9/11. It seems to me there still significant numbers of such zealots in the army. However, public sentiment in Pakistan has swung massively against the Taliban, as it should given the carnage this month.
    However, there’s a significant amount of testimony outside Pakistan backing the claim about Indian involvement.
    Arun Shourie, the Indian parlimentarian, had this to say in his speech to the Lok Sabha after 26/11 (//www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239206):
    “Eleven, the time when large armies could be sent across the borders — [it is said a lot that we should attack Pakistan]– that time has gone. The time when large bodies of armies could be sent across the borders has gone. There are no training camps to bomb. But Pakistan gives us the clue what we should be doing to make them register a cause, that is, look at the violence in Kashmir in the last year-and-a-half that has gone down because Pakistan has been preoccupied in its own problems. So, keep it preoccupied in its own problems in Baluchistan, in Gilgit Baltistan, in PoK.”
    Vikram Sood, the former R&AW chief, had much the same to say (//soodvikram.blogspot.com/2009_01_05_archive.htm)
    As did B Raman (//www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239124): A divided Pakistan, a bleeding Pakistan, a Pakistan ever on the verge of collapse without actually collapsing–that should be our objective till it stops using terrorism against India.
    The opinion expressed by these Indians is basically that the conventional projection of force is denied by Pakistan’s nukes, so unconventional force should be used.
    There’s a great article here (//www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?262535) explaining why Pakistan is so paranoid about India. In two words: Bangladesh, 1971
    The evidence I’ve given you so far is sabre-rattling by mainstream Indian politicians and officials. There are also statements by Americans.
    There’s the heatedly disputed article in Foreign Policy:
    ‘While the U.S. media has frequently reported on Pakistani ties to jihadi elements launching attacks in Afghanistan, it has less often mentioned that India supports insurgent forces attacking Pakistan, the former intelligence official said. “The Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the former intelligence official who served in both countries said. “The same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shooting at American soldiers are getting support from India. India should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”‘
    The problem with this claim is that it, and its rebuttals, were both by anonymous sources. Not so Christina Fair of RAND (//www.foreignaffairs.com/discussions/roundtables/whats-the-problem-with-pakistan):
    “I think it would be a mistake to completely disregard Pakistan’s regional perceptions due to doubts about Indian competence in executing covert operations. That misses the point entirely. And I think it is unfair to dismiss the notion that Pakistan’s apprehensions about Afghanistan stem in part from its security competition with India. Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan.”
    Ultimately, Pakistan has enough problems to fix of its own, and it is always going to come out with a black eye if it takes India on given the size discrepancy. It needs to aggressively pursue the Mumbai terrorists and pursue peace. However, India’s stated intent and actions cannot be swept under the rug.

  • ali says:

    I think I missed the link to the foreign policy article I mentioned above. It is here: //thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/02/16/can_the_intel_community_defuse_india_pakistan_tensions

  • Spooky says:

    If these were Baloch seperatists, you would make sense. Not so for the Taliban. An unstable Pakistan is not in India’s best interests. The difference between now and 1971 is that Pakistan has nukes now and them getting loose means India will be the first to get hit.
    BTW, can we officially give a nickname to Gen. Abbas? I was thinking “Pindi Pete” would work…

  • ali says:

    I don’t see why India should want to destabilize Pakistani either, but then what are we to make of the quotes by these Indians? Why then does India support the Baloch? Doesn’t add up.
    We know the ‘Taliban’ aren’t a coherent group. There are the Pakistan-backed Haqqanis, the Pakistan-neutral (for now) North Waziristanis, and the anti-Pakistan groups in Southern Punjab and S. Waziristan. I’m not suggesting India backs the Taliban wholesale, but would you put it beyond them to funnel weapons and support to individual groups they think can inflict the most damage on the Pakistani Army? If they calculate that the Pakistanis will eventually put these groups down, it fits B Raman’s proposed strategy of “a Pakistan ever on the verge of collapse without actually collapsing”
    Anyway, all I’m saying is, it’s much more plausible than Bill implies.
    The army has released this picture: //www.app.com.pk/photo/photo_lib/02-11-2009/01cdc82ef6c8a425842649f19bc09cea.jpg
    among others. The ISPR is hardly credible, but what do you make of it?
    The gallery at //www.app.com.pk/photo/index.php?cname=fresh has fresh pictures from Waziristan, and is worth checking out by the way. Some of it looks staged, but the amount of equipment captured looks sizable. The real metric of success there however, is to put it bluntly, body bags.

  • Aditya says:

    @ Ali:
    “The army has released this picture: //www.app.com.pk/photo/photo_lib/02-11-2009/01cdc82ef6c8a425842649f19bc09cea.jpg
    Pai army is do dumb, they show chinese shells as Indians!
    THE LEFT MOST weapon has chinese markings!! Plus india doesnot use 82 mm mortars!
    India makes 81mm mortas which are incompatible with 82!!

  • Render says:

    uh-huh…
    “The army has released this picture: //www.app.com.pk/photo/photo_lib/02-11-2009/01cdc82ef6c8a425842649f19bc09cea.jpg
    among others.”
    1: The tank shell on the left is a Chinese 105mm armor piercing round. The Chinese lettering is a give away.
    2: The Indian Army does not use 82mm mortars. Like the Pakistani Army, the Indian Army uses 81mm mortars on the UK/US pattern. Pakistani Ordnance Factories also does not produce 82mm mortar ammo. Those 82mm mortar rounds are fairly distinctive. Most Comblock/WARPAC 82mm mortar ammo has grooves around or just below the thickest part of the body, the rounds in the photo are smooth. 81mm mortar rounds manufactured by POF are smooth bodied and share the distinctive fuse and tail assemblies seen in those photos. As seen here…
    //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6b/Bomb_Shells_produced_at_POF_WAH.jpg
    The photos from that second gallery that show a row of rifles are a joke.
    A couple of single shot shotguns, a couple of PPsH-43 submachine guns (never Indian issue), some bolt action hunting rifles, and the remainder a row of elderly Lee-Enfields. Not a single AK series in the bunch.
    I’m assuming there is a reason why the markings on the 12.7mm guns were not shown in close-up. DsHK 12.7mm heavy machine guns are made/copied in India, Pakistan, and China.
    I’m also assuming there is no explanation for the 82mm Norinco Type W99 automatic mortar that is seen in that second series of photos. The Type 99 is not used by the Indian Army, nor is its predecesser the Russian made 2B9 Vasilek.
    TRY
    AGAIN,
    R

  • Wazir says:

    Chotiyay,
    1. If India has a hand in all this then why didn’t they do so before Pak took a U-turn on Taliban’s.
    2. Indian Politicians are saying the right thing that let Pak fight their own war which is keeping them busy, doesn’t mean they have a hand in it.
    Pakistan is fighting a war within, secular Muslims against the Taliban conservative Islamic movement whose aim and objective (which was not in the past but in the future) is to replace the current corrupt democratic system with one of Sharia Law(Islamic Law), which the TTP claims themselves. Would India really want a Shari Pakistan? Non in the world wants that. This split in the Pak Population in due to the U-turn on Taliban under US pressure, because Pak has given allegiance to US which Holy Quran doesn’t Allow. TTP is a hardcore Islamic movement and the Islamic principals don’t allow them to seek help from Idol worshippers (India) or Israel (jews) against the secular Muslims (or hypocrites). Pak Army only uses their media propagation to keep the heart and mind of an ordinary Paki on their side. And majority of Pakistan dumb, Ignorant, Islamic-illiterate population believes in them. Pak army has to point figure to someone to hide their loses. If it really was India involvement in Pak, Pak would have retaliated in Kashmir but we don’t see that happening.
    If India indeed is helping the Taliban’s then they are inviting their own destruction because Taliban are the kind of Muslim which ruled India for some 800 years. Unlike secular Pak Army.

  • Abheek says:

    Ali – Try and put yourself into our shoes.
    We Indians have suffered endlessly till now because of your Jihadi Machine (that you tend to call the Pak Military).
    Over couple of Million of our Hindu brothers have been driven out of Kashmir by now. Why because of your JMs evil designs to gain something that is truely ours.
    We have been attacked endlessly from your side – Remember Zia’s Thousand Cut policy?
    All the wars have been started by your JM
    Our Hindu brothers and Sisters in Bangaldesh were killed, raped, looted – Why? Because your JM was not willing to transfer power to democratically elected Mujib’s Awami League.
    Hindus (and non-Muslims in general) continue to face descrimination even today in your ‘Pakistan – the land of the pure’
    Your JM and government continues to support LeTs and other terrorist organization (Blue eyed boys of Paki establishment) that create havoc in our country – Should I put the math in front of you as to how many of my fellow countrymen have died till date because of them?
    The continued ISI support (it should be renamed ITO – International Terrorist Organization) to separatist organizations in India like ULFA, Bodo and lately the maoist is big cause of concern for us.
    No wonder anyone will be tempted to give back in the same coin. After all, lets not forget that we Indians didn’t start the fire – YOU DID IT.

  • davidp says:

    Ali,
    Standard Indian mortars appear to be 81mm not the 82mm in the picture. Also the left hand munition (grey, perforated) appears to have a chinese character on it, suggesting it’s not Indian.
    ISPR is very non-credible.

  • Xavier says:

    Ali,
    Its really silly to blame someone else when Pakistan has raised. nurtured and used Taliban for its interests since 1992. (Read Ahmed Rashid).
    I don;t think the Indians are involved, because they don’t need to get involved. There is enough drug/extortion/charity(individuals from Saudi, UAE etc) money. These people always have the will to fight. Since Pakistan is eating from the Western hands the government is obvious target for Islamists. I don’t know where/why India needs to get into the equation.
    They may enjoy the show though.
    Coming to 1971: refer to Pak army General statements (from wikipedia as reported by Rummel)
    “The genocide and gendercidal atrocities were also perpetrated by lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers. These “willing executioners”

  • Spooky says:

    The Baloch are similar to the Kashmiris. Tit for tat. If Pakistan stopped supporting Kashmir seperatists, India would stop supporting Balochis (assuming its even true that they are, I was only using it as an example). Taliban are far more rabid and far more dangerous to both countries integrity.

  • bard207 says:

    Ali,
    In the picture with the brown mortar shells, I would like to ask you about the gray device to the far left in that picture.
    Mortar Shells
    Why would India put what looks like Chinese writing on something?
    In regards to the brown mortar shells, does Pakistan use mortars of that size?

  • Ben says:

    Indian support for Balochi separatism would make sense, though there doesn’t seem to be much solid intelligence to confirm this — at least, that’s been published in open sources. Indian support for the Taliban, however, would be ridiculous. Look at the Indian newspapers; they’re terrified that the Taliban will somehow migrate from Waziristan to Kashmir and threaten India itself. If India were to provide covert support for the TTP and this ever leaked to the press, it would be the political equivalent of a nuclear explosion. Furthermore, India presumably has learned some lessons about picking proxies since RAW trained and equipped the LTTE in the 1980s — who then went on to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.

  • gfgwgc says:

    Ali quotes the opinion of member of the opposition and a retired RAW chief and calls it official policy.
    I have no doubt India is reinforcing its influence in Iran and Afghanistan but so what? All three of these countries have significant land border with Pakistan, all three have been harmed by groups originating within Pakistan and all three have cordial, historic relationship with one another. It is therefore natural for their common interests vis-a-vis Pakistan to be aligned. To get from there to actually supporting terrorists within Pakistan is farfetched to say the least. Let’s see some concrete evidence, please.

  • gfgwgc says:

    Ali quotes the opinion of member of the opposition and a retired RAW chief and calls it official policy.
    I have no doubt India is reinforcing its influence in Iran and Afghanistan but so what? All three of these countries have significant land border with Pakistan, all three have been harmed by groups originating within Pakistan and all three have cordial, historic relationship with one another. It is therefore natural for their common interests vis-a-vis Pakistan to be aligned. To get from there to actually supporting terrorists within Pakistan is farfetched to say the least. Let’s see some concrete evidence, please.

  • srv says:

    Ali quotes Ms christina fair
    But she says ‘Pakistanis Have Blown My Comments Out Of Proportion’
    //www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?261113

  • Paul says:

    Clearly, what’s needed here is an article on this subject in one of our national newspapers with a headline of “Pakistani Military Makes Peace Deals With Indian Terrorist Front Groups.” Then it gets picked up by some of the Pakistani newspapers and the Pakistani people start to ask why the military is making peace deals with Indians. I can’t think of a faster way to make this go away.

  • ali says:

    First, I posted the link to the pictures precisely because I am wary of ISPR spin. These pictures are going to be brandished all over Pakistan soon, and hearing what a group of experts have to say on the matter helps rein in the more fantastic of the conspiracy theories circulating in Pakistan today. The unanimous opinion that these mortars cannot be Indian is very persuasive, and since I don’t know the first thing about military hardware, I will presume the responses here are credible unless the ISPR provides further proof that this material is Indian. As someone mentioned above, that in itself won’t settle anything, and we need to see some proof that India is actually behind the supply. One hopes that the evidence that Pakistani officials keep referring to is more substantive than merely this picture, otherwise they’ll only continue losing credibility.
    Second, some of you have talked about the Chinese shell on the left. There was a lot of weaponry laid out very close together, and I don’t think those are part of the exhibit, but that that was simply a poor cropping job by the APP.
    Third, I agree that India is far more likely to back the Baloch insurgents than it is to back the Taliban. In fact, I’m certain India wouldn’t back the Taliban wholesale. However, the Taliban aren’t a force, they’re an umbrella group that includes hardened zealots, tribal bandits more interested in expanding their sphere of influence than in establishing an ‘Islamic emirate’ and petty criminals alike. My thesis was simply that it is conceivable that India might back particular groups that it thinks will remain a thorn in Pakistan’s side, without reaching a position of power. Before the ISPR claim, I found this unlikely because of the huge risk of blowback. Having heard what the experts here have to say about what we know of the ISPR claim, I’m happy to return to that position.
    @Xavier: I don’t know if you’ve read the article I’ve linked to when I talked about 1971, but it accepts Pakistani atrocities against the Bengalis at the time. So too does the official government investigation, the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission. It is forever a black mark on Pakistan’s governance that having accepted that excessive force was used, we never followed up and punished those responsible.
    Reading about West Pakistan’s treatment of East Pakistan, it is clear that we set the stage for the breakup of Pakistan ourselves. In Pakistan, Bangladeshi independence is viewed with sadness only to the extent that it resulted in Pakistan being broken up, but widely accepted as beneficial to Bengali welfare. That is one side of the story.
    The other side is Indian interference. It is widely accepted that the Indians were strongly backing the Mukhti Bahni rebels, and that constituted an act of aggression. What the story linked to points out is that the lesson the Pakistani defense establishment took from 1971 was that India is an existentialist threat. Whether that was justified or not was not part of the story. If you read the article, you’ll see that the claim made is rather limited, and seems reasonable.
    My cursory reading of Pakistan’s misadventures viz India is that they take limited tactical lessons from past conflicts, and try to apply them without thought for strategic concerns. Support for the Kashmiri insurgency only stepped up after India supported the Bengal insurgency in 1971. The Kargil debacle was seen by the Pakistani establishment merely as payback for Siachen. That it would scuttle the ongoing peace process wasn’t taken into consideration. In both cases, the fact that it is not in Pakistan’s interest to engage in hostilities with a neighbor many times its size was forgotten.
    @gfgwgc: I never called the quotes official policy. However, if Indian intelligence did decide to conduct covert ops in Pakistan, they won’t declare it in Parliament, would they? The fact that very senior officials have proposed such a strategy recently is however, suggestive.
    Finally, I’ve had the good fortune to visit India during the brief thaw of relations after the 2002 stand down. I found the people in the cities largely welcoming, and mostly concerned more with development than Pakistan. They were also genuinely warm, and to a person wished for better ties. I also had the privilege of being able to host a conference for Indians in Pakistan the following year, and they enjoyed visiting Pakistan as much as I had enjoyed visiting them. I believe that one of the only options we have to untangle this whole mess is to continue allowing our citizens across the border.
    I’m rather certain that Pakistan’s failure to pursue the Mumbai perpetrators, and these statements by Indian policymakers will poison the minds of the next generation. We’ve managed to set our relations back decades.
    I should also point out that while my experience in India was overwhelmingly positive, I also drove past the headquarters of the Shiv Sena (the hardliner Hindu coalition partners of the BJP government at the time) in New Delhi. On their outer perimeter walls, they had made a map of India that included Pakistan, and signs calling for the forceful reunification of ‘Mother India’. That episode convinced me that Pakistan shouldn’t be aggressive towards India, and we should work for peace, but we also need to retain a robust defensive force.

  • gfgwgc says:

    Clearly the well-informed followers of this site are not easily fooled. However, the pakistani public – confused and horrified by what is happening to their country – needs answers.
    India has always made for good scapegoats and a reliable distraction for the true culprits. Pakistani school books teach kids to fear and hate “hindu” India and the plight of the Kashmiris and indian muslims are blown out of proportion in their national discourse. Pakistani press does well to selectively publish any news story that reflects india in a poor light.
    Until such time as the ordinary pakistani willingly continues to take such bait, the real perpetrators of their misery will continue to get away with bloody murder.
    I see little hope for that country.

  • Lilo says:

    The present attacks by TTP is due to its current operational strategy i.e hitting the nearest enemy first.
    Inspite of this it makes no sense for india to support Taliban or its imitations simply because we know that the axe they are grinding in the skirmishes with PA is ultimately for us. For TTP and Taliban( of afghan proper ) india is the second most hated enemy after USA .. even PA (whom they consider to be munafiq) will always come a distant third .
    A simple glance at history should leave no doubt –
    * At the height of afghan civil war we supported NA which is the sworn enemy of Taliban.
    * The collective trauma and humiliation suffered by indian people and govt respectively during the hijacking of IC-814 (release of terrorists and throat slitting of Rupin katyal ) can never be forgotten and forgiven. If an indian politician inspite of this is responsible for any double dealing with taliban at this stage (even for short term strategic gains) he can kiss his career good bye .
    * The bitter experiences of indian govt with brindanwale and prabhakaran in the 1980s and the experience of pakistan with fundamentalist groups till date has made it all the more clear that using terror groups is like dealing with poisonous snakes which ultimately bite the hand which pats it. IMHO India cut off all its support to fundementalist grps 15 years back in line with its global ambitions and never looked back.
    * In a most recent incident and also immediately post 26/11, TTP claimed that they will fight along side PA against india in any war which may break out.
    Therefore it makes no sense to say that india is supporting taliban or TTP . India neither supports them or even funds them in any way – because we know that every paisa spent on taliban will be used against us ultimately.
    Coming to the folk who say that TTP can in no way function without external support they are all conveniently forgetting the long access taliban in afghan and FATA had to sophisticated weapons and explosives from
    * abandoned soviet ammo depots
    * ISI & CIA funded arms supplied & stockpiled over decades.
    * The local weapons manufacturing and selling shops of FATA.
    * The long prevalent gun culture of FATA
    Its plain to see that TTP have all the weapons they need and can make more if they want with their drug money. They are a completely self sustaining terrorist org with little need for external support.
    All the finger pointing by the PA to india in S.W is simply to divert the attention from their mistakes over the past 3 decades.
    also
    [quote] Indian counselates in Afghanistan doesnt mean to aid Taliban. they are there to create its influence. they are helping Afghan governemnt. if they were abetting Taliban then the US, NATO and Afghan government would definitely do something. they are helping Afghan government. and its in their best interests to see Taliban not come to power. otherwise they will lose all their clout.[quote]
    All the above is specifically a reply to ali’s claim

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