PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | February 2019

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This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally.

In this Issue:

  1. A War-like Situation
  2. Elected Government has Complete Support of the Armed Forces: FM Qureshi
  3. Supreme Court puts Memo Case Suo Motu to Rest
  4. Saudi Crown Prince Meets COAS
  5. Former Chinese Military Chief of Staff Imprisoned
  6. Crisis in Venezuela

A War-like Situation

On February 14, a vehicle filled with explosives rammed into a convoy of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Occupied Kashmir, killing over 40 soldiers in what has been termed as the “worst attack in the disputed region in three decades.”[1] While India claims that proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) took responsibility of planning the attack, Pakistan maintains that JeM has not claimed to do so.[2] In fact, JeM was banned in Pakistan in 2002.

International media stories address the issue of “structural violence and political repression in Kashmir” [3] as responsible for turning the 19-year old young Kashmiri boy, Adil Ahmad Dar, into the suicide bomber behind what is now referred to as the Pulwama attack and narrate that as a young kid, a group of the Jammu and Kashmir police’s counterinsurgency unit, earlier called the Special Task Force, had stopped him on the way back from school and forced the boy to make a circle around their jeep on the ground with his nose. In addition, during mass protests in Kashmir in 2016, when Indian troops killed about 100 protesters and blinded several hundred, Mr. Dar was shot in his leg. After he joined the militants in March 2018, Indian troops raided their home, locked the inhabitants inside and set it on fire. [4]

Adil Ahmad Dar

In the aftermath of the Pulwama incident, the Indian Government blamed Pakistan and as protests erupted across India targeting Kashmiris, the Indian Government announced that it was withdrawing the most favoured nation (MFN) trade status for Pakistan and hiked tariffs to the extent of 200 per cent on imports from that country.[5] Here is the timeline of the scenario as it unfolded during February 2019:

  1. February 19, 2019; Video Message by Prime Minister: In a Video Message, Prime Minister Imran Khan offered to the Indian Government that Pakistan will take action against any individual if Delhi shares any actionable intelligence and evidence concerning Pulwama attack. He said that India blamed Pakistan without any evidence without thinking about what would be in it for Pakistan? He said India is stuck in the past and instead of moving towards resolution of the issue of Kashmir through dialogue, India continues to make Pakistan into a whipping boy.

    Kisi qisam ki aap tehqeeqaat ker wana chahte hain iss incidence mein, ke koi Pakistani iss mein mulawis tha, hum tayar hain. Agar aap ke paas koi actionable intelligence hai ke Pakistan involved hai, who aap hamain dain, mein aap ko guarantee kerta hoon ke hum action lain ge; aur action iss liye nahin lain ge ke hamain kisi ka pressure hai; action iss liye lain ge ke yeh Pakistan se dushmani ker rahain hai agar koi Pakistan ki zameen istemaal ker raha hai. [6]

    If the Indian Government wants us to undertake any investigation into this incidence, we are ready. If you [Indian Government] have any actionable evidence that Pakistan was involved [behind Pulwama incident], you give us that [evidence], and I guarantee to you that we will take action; and we won’t take action because we are under any pressure; we will take action because if anyone is using Pakistan’s soil [against India], it amounts to being anti-Pakistan.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan

    Prime Minister also warned India that if it takes any action against, Pakistan will have no choice but to retaliate. (Agar aap ye samajhte hain ke aap Pakistan pe kisi kisam ka hamla karain ge, Pakistan retaliate kerne ka sauche ga nahin, Pakistan retaliate karary ga!).

  1. February 22, 2019; NSC Meeting: Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of National Security Committee to discuss geo strategic and national security environment and situation arising after the Pulwama Incident. The official communique from the NSC meeting conveyed that the “State of Pakistan is not involved in any way, means or form” in the Pulwama which was conceived, planned and executed indigenously [in India].

    The NSC reiterated that Pakistan has sincerely offered investigation of the incident as well as the offer of dialogue on the issue of terrorism among other disputed issues and Pakistan expects India to positively respond to the offers.

    The NSC went on to say that “India also needs deep introspection to realize that why people of Indian Occupied Kashmir have lost fear of death. The violence by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir is highly counterproductive and the global community needs to play its part in resolving the long pending Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris.” Prime Minister also authorized Armed Forces of Pakistan to respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India.[7]

  2. February 26, 2019; Indian Attack

    : On February 26, Indian fighter jets came inside Pakistani territory. While the Indian Government claimed that Indian planes carried out a bombing raid that targeted the largest training base belonging to JeM and eliminated “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers [and] senior commanders,”[8] DG ISPR clarified that Indian aircrafts crossed across the LoC and when pursued by Pakistan Air Force, “released payload” towards Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in haste while escaping and neither a building was hit, nor there were any casualties.
  3. February 26, 2019; NSC Meeting: A special meeting of the National Security Committee “strongly rejected” Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties and termed it as the Indian government resorting to “self serving and reckless” action “done for domestic consumption being in election environment.”

    The NSC stated that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which “Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing.” The Forum also decided to requisition joint session of the Parliament while the Prime Minister summoned a special meeting of the National Command Authority.”[9]

    Later, in a press conference, DG ISPR said that now it is time for India to wait for Pakistan’s response which will come at “a point and time of our choosing.”[10]

  4. February 27, 2019; Pakistan’s Response: On February 27, Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace to “demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that Pakistan does not wish to escalate, but is fully prepared if forced into that paradigm.” DG ISPR confirmed that, in response to PAF strikes Indian Air Force crossed the LoC and the PAF shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace, one of which fell inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir while the other fell inside Indian occupied Kashmir. He also confirmed that Pakistan arrested one Indian pilot. [11]

    COAS with Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly ahead of Briefing to the Parliament
  5. February 27, 2019; In-Camera Briefing to the Parliament: Parliamentary leaders were briefed on the security situation by the Foreign Minister, DG ISPR and Chief of Army Staff in an in-camera briefing to the Parliament. Later, a statement issued by the National Assembly Secretariat said that the Parliament “unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the Government and it’s institutions unconditionally.” Following the briefing, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that parliamentary parties’ leaders had expressed their solidarity with the Armed Forces and the Government.[12] Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, was not part of the briefing to the Parliament.

  6. February 27, 2019; PM Addresses the Nation: In an address to the nation on February 27, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that following Pakistan’s retaliatory attack into Pakistan and capture of the Indian Pilot, it is now up to India not to further escalate the crisis between the two countries. He said that world history tells us that wars get prolonged due to miscalculation. Pakistan is ready to engage into a dialogue with India and better sense should prevail in India to engage with Pakistan. [13]

    Prime Minister speaking in the Parliament
  7. February 28, 2019; PM Announces Release of Indian Pilot: Addressing the joint session of Parliament, as Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that “as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody,” [14] the whole house, including treasury and opposition members, thumped their desks to welcome the announcement. International media and social media widely welcomed the initiative and announcement by the Pakistan Government.

  8. February 28, 2019; Situation Update: In a Situation Update [15] on February 28, 2019, the ISPR reported that Pakistan Army troops are at high alert along the Line of Control (LoC), with all required safeguards along Eastern Border in place, to thwart any Indian aggression. The ISPR press release stated that in the past 48 hours, Indian troops resorted to increased cease fire violations in Kotli, Khuiratta and Tatta Pani Sectors along the LoC and Indian deliberate firing on civilians resulted into shahadat of 4 citizens injuries of 2. The ISPR cautioned public “to stay mindful about rumour mills and stay responsible in use of social media.”

Elected Government has Complete Support of the Armed Forces: FM Qureshi

In an interview to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, [16] Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said that “after a very long time in Pakistan, there is a Government which has complete support of the Pakistan Armed Forces.” He went on to add that military and political leadership being on the same page offers a great opportunity to India, which it should avail for talks with Pakistan.

Mr. Qureshi also repeated the statement that the PTI Government enjoys support of the military in yet another interview given to the TRT World.[17]

Supreme Court puts Memo Case Suo Motu to Rest

Key characters in the Memo case

On February 14, Supreme Court said that it was the statutory duties of the authorities to pursue the matter of arrest of Mr. Hussain Haqqani, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, in the ‘Memo case’.[18] “It seems nothing to be done at this juncture that needs intervention of this Supreme Court,” the court observed while disposing off the case.

On a suo motu, the court had taken up a case pertaining to steps being taken by the government for ensuring implementation of the Supreme Court’s earlier directive to bring former Ambassador Haqqani back home. During the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Saeed Khosa, was reported as saying that “with the blessings of Allah Almighty, the State of Pakistan is strong and not weak to stumble over writing a memorandum.” [19]

Saudi Crown Prince Meets COAS

On February 18, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during his visit to Pakistan, reportedly had an important meeting with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Prime Minister’s House.[20] DG ISI, DG ISPR and DG MI were also present in the meeting.

According to the ISPR, “Regional security focusing on Middle East was discussed during the meeting.” Pakistan’s initiatives on the ongoing peace talks between the United States and Taliban were also discussed, it added.

International Developments

Former Chinese Military Chief of Staff Imprisoned

Mr. Fang Fenghui, Former Chinese Chief of Staff

On February 20, Chinese State media reported[21] that a former chief of staff of China’s military was sentenced to life in prison in President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-graft crackdown.

The AFP reported, quoting official news agency Xinhua, that Mr. Fang Fenghui was appointed to the People’s Liberation Army’s top post in 2012 and was convicted of accepting and offering bribes, and having an unclear source of a huge amount of assets. A military court sentenced Fang to life in prison, stripped him of political rights for life, and ordered the confiscation of all his personal assets. All of Fang’s recovered assets will be turned over to the state treasury.

Mr. Fang Fenghui was abruptly replaced in August 2017 amid a stand-off with India over a territorial dispute, and just days after he had met the US top brass to discuss North Korea. The general was transferred to the military prosecution authority on suspicion of bribery in January of last year, state media reported at the time.

China’s President Xi Jinping has reportedly sought to enhance his control over China’s two-million-strong military, the world’s largest, reshuffling its leadership and vowing to make it “world-class” by 2050. The military was ordered to pledge to be “absolutely loyal, honest and reliable to Xi” in new guidelines released by the Central Military Commission in 2017.

Crisis in Venezuela

Presidential Contenders in Venezuela: Mr. Nicolás Maduro (left) and Mr. Juan Guaidó (right)

The crisis on who is the legitimate president of Venezuela has deepened further as the President-elect, declared by the National Assembly, Mr. Juan Guaidó, has taken oath of office though Mr. Nicolás Maduro has held on to the presidency, backed by Venezuela’s Armed Forces that support him.

The two men have been at loggerheads for more than a month. While Mr. Guaidó has been recognised by more than 50 countries, Mr. Maduro, who is backed by China, Russia and Cuba, insists that he is the only legitimate president. After the May 2018 re-election, the results of which have not been recognized by the United States and Lima Group of mostly right-leaning Latin American governments due to low turnout and allegations of vote-buying by the government, in January 2019, Mr. Maduro went ahead with his inauguration for a second six-year term while Mr. Guaidó, assumed leadership of the National Assembly, and swore himself as interim president at the opposition’s rally. [22]

On February 3, US President Donald Trump, in an interview to CBS, said that military intervention was a possibility. “Certainly, it’s something that’s on the — it’s an option.”[23]

References

  1. The New York Times. Kashmir Suffers From the Worst Attack There in 30 Years. February 14, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/world/asia/pulwama-attack-kashmir.html?module=inline. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  2. YouTube. Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi Exclusive Interview on CNN Amanpour. February 28, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6iU8rM1_6Y (accessed March 05, 2019).
  3. The New York Times. The Young Suicide Bomber Who Brought India and Pakistan to the Brink of War. March 2, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/02/opinion/sunday/kashmir-india-pakistan.html. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  4. The New York Times. ‘By the time this video reaches you, I’ll be in Heaven’: The teen behind Kashmir’s deadliest attack. February 15, 2019. https://scroll.in/article/913338/by-the-time-this-video-reaches-you-ill-be-in-heaven-the-teen-behind-kashmirs-deadliest-attack. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  5. TRT World. India strikes Pakistan to quench public outrage over Pulwama attack. https://www.trtworld.com/asia/india-strikes-pakistan-to-quench-public-outrage-over-pulwama-attack-24505 (accessed March 05, 2019).
  6. YouTube. PM Imran Khan Address To The Nation | Pulwama | 19 Feb 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFHSVuoOikQ. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  7. PMO.Gov.PK. Website. Prime Minister Imran Khan today chaired a meeting of National Security Committee at Prime Minister’s Office. February 21, 2019. http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2699. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  8. The Independent.co.uk. Website. India-Pakistan crisis: Tensions rise over Kashmir after ‘surgical airstrike’ on militant training camp. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-pakistan-aircraft-bombing-pulwama-kashmir-balakot-fighter-jets-attack-a8796946.html. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  9. PMO.Gov.PK. Website. A special meeting of the National Security Committee chaired by the Prime Minister was held at Prime Minister’s office. February 26, 2019. http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2707. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  10. Dawn.com. ‘Time for India to wait for our response’: ISPR DG debunks New Delhi’s claims on LoC violation. February 26, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1466161. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  11. Dawn.Com. 2 Indian aircraft violating Pakistani airspace shot down; pilot arrested. February 27, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1466347. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  12. Dawn.Com. Website. Govt, army brief parliamentary leaders on Indian aggression at in-camera session. February 27, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1466415. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  13. YouTube. Prime Minister Imran Khan Address to Nation | 27 February 2019 | 92NewsHD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJUOuSnC288. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  14. Dawn.Com. Website. Indian pilot to be freed today as peace gesture: PM. March 01, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1466858. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  15. Inter Services Public Relations. Website. Situation Update. Due to prevailing environment Pakistan Army troops are at high alert along Line of control with all required safeguards along Eastern Border in place to thwart any Indian aggression. February 28, 2019. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5208. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  16. YouTube. Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi Exclusive Interview on CNN Amanpour. February 28, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6iU8rM1_6Y (accessed March 05, 2019).
  17. YouTube. One on One Express: Interview with Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistani Foreign Minister. February 28, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQoy1cEVgb0. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  18. PILDAT.Org. Website. Memo Scandal: PILDAT Quarterly Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan: January – March 2012. https://pildat.org/civil-military-relations1/pildat-quarterly-monitor-on-civil-military-relations-in-pakistan-january-march-2012 (accessed March 05, 2019).
  19. Dawn.Com. Website. Eight years on, SC disposes of memogate case. February 15, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1463939/eight-years-on-sc-disposes-of-memogate-case (accessed March 05, 2019).
  20. TheNews.Com.Pk. Website. MBS, COAS agree to bolster defence ties. February 19, 2019. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/433644-mbs-coas-agree-to-bolster-defence-ties. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  21. TheNews.Com.Pk. Website. Ex-Chinese military chief of staff jailed for life over graft. February 21, 2019. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/434622-ex-chinese-military-chief-of-staff-jailed-for-life-over-graft. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  22. Reuters.Com. Website. How Venezuela got here: a timeline of the political crisis. January 29, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-timeline/how-venezuela-got-here-a-timeline-of-the-political-crisis-idUSKCN1PN05S. (accessed March 05, 2019).
  23. Dawn.Com. Website. Sending troops to Venezuela an option, says Trump. February 4, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1461693/sending-troops-to-venezuela-an-option-says-trump. (accessed March 05, 2019).


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