Pak’s Lucrative Business

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Jun 2018 12:20:28

By BRIG. (RETD) S.N. SACHADEVA


The Pakistani army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) subverts, co-opts and kills with ruthless efficiency. It positions India as an enemy to justify the country’s bloated annual defence budget. Pakistan spends 3.6 per cent of its GDP on defence – twice India’s expenditure of 1.7 per cent of GDP. A large portion of the budget is siphoned off by the Pakistani army’s top brass and shared down the ranks in
time-honoured style.


SOME call it a “blood feud.” They are dead wrong. India and Pakistan are not caught in some existential Punjabiyat love-hate relationship. Pakistan is a State sponsor of terrorism. No other nation has used terror so ruthlessly as an instrument of State policy as Pakistan has done for decades -- principally against India but also against Afghanistan. For Rawalpindi terrorism, at its core, is a successful business model. The Pakistani army’s senior officers, retired and serving, own a third of the country’s land through benami entities. At one level, the Army operates like a multi-national corporation. It has a professional chain of command, discipline and frequent training exercises. At another level, it operates like a mafia, ordering assassinations of journalists and activists.
The Pakistani army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) subverts, co-opts and kills with ruthless efficiency. It positions India as an enemy to justify the country’s bloated annual defence budget. Pakistan spends 3.6 per cent of its GDP on defence – twice India’s expenditure of 1.7 per cent of GDP. A large portion of the budget is siphoned off by the Pakistani army’s top brass and shared down the ranks in time-honoured style. This system of patronage ensures loyalty.


A small portion of Pakistan’s inflated $10 billion defence budget is earmarked for its outsourced terror wings: Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahideen and other smaller outfits. Another slice is set aside for Hurriyat leaders in the Kashmir Valley who, after buying land with the money, pass on just enough to recruit young stone pelters.The ISI knows the value of messaging. To maintain the fiction of Kashmir being the core issue between India and Pakistan, it recognises that terrorism must be accompanied by effective communication. The ISI has a well-trained cadre of people who use the media to spread lies about how the Indian Army has brutalised ordinary Kashmiris. They appear regularly on Indian TV debates, accompanied by retired Pakistani armed forces officers and relatively unknown Pakistani journalists. Reputed Pakistani editors like Najam Sethi, who are not ISI ventriloquists, are rarely fielded in these debates. They have independent views. The ISI shuns them. So inexplicably do most Indian TV channels.


Indian channels instead provide oxygen to Pakistani non-entities who are briefed before each debate by their ISI handlers. Instead of inviting Afghan, Baloch and Bangladeshi journalists who can demolish the Pakistani army’s narrative, Indian channels allow themselves to become platforms for the ISI’s anti-Indian propaganda. Money means everything to the Generals in Rawalpindi. They, however, go to great lengths to hide this sordid truth. They have ready sepoys in the form of a cabal of Indian journalists. The supply is plentiful, especially in Delhi. Some in the Indian media genuinely believe in the India-Pakistan “blood feud” myth. Others are simply vulnerable to the money on offer. Track-2 meetings are a special attraction for those seeking junkets abroad. These seminars are organised by obscure “peace” organisations but function under the watchful eyes of ISI handlers.


Pakistan is controlled by its army. Elections are a sideshow. The media is allowed some elbow room to propagate the fiction of press freedom in Pakistan but for all practical purposes it is closely monitored by the army. If a newspaper or TV channel crosses the boundary set by the army, it is clinically punished as Dawn, Pakistan’s most respected newspaper, and Hamid Mir of Geo TV discovered at different times for different reasons during the past year.It is important in order for the Pakistani army’s business enterprise to succeed that terrorism against India flourishes and LoC ceasefire violations occur frequently. That keeps tensions at boiling point, the defence budget inflated and the Generals in Rawalpindi in good spirits. For them there is no better business than the business of proxy war. They know a real war with India would be ruinous for Pakistan.


That is why they want terror and talks to go together. One keeps the fund pipeline open, the other gives Islamabad a semblance of international respectability by being hyphenated with India. India is Pakistan’s meal ticket and Kashmir the main course.The last thing the Pakistani army wants is a final resolution to Kashmir. Take away the “dispute” and the army’s decades-long business model will collapse. Keep the pot boiling but never let it boil over. The more Indian journalists echo Pakistan’s “blood feud” theory, the more Islamabad justifies using the Kashmir Valley as a killing field to settle a “core dispute”.Indian politicians have long fallen for the rakish charm of Pakistan’s crooked leaders. Indira Gandhi was blindsided by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto into returning 93,000 Pakistani PoWs after the Bangladesh war.


Her father 24- years earlier had made the historical blunder of approaching the United Nations after the 1947-48 war in Kashmir. Every successive Indian prime minister has succumbed to Pakistan’s trickery. Atal Behari Vajpayee, Dr. Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi have each tried and failed to appease Pakistan with Insaniyat, Punjabiyat and offers of friendship. Each failed to understand the Pakistani army’s mind: It wants trade and diplomatic engagement with India as part of a package deal that includes State-sponsored terrorism. Without that the Pakistani army’s lucrative business model would fall apart. (INAV)