The world always knew that the Pak deep state ruled the country from behind, was responsible for implementing employment of terror groups as part of state policy, had hidden Osama Bin Laden next to a major military training centre in Abbottabad and was openly flaunting and supporting international terrorists, Hafiz Saeed and Azar Masood. Everyone was also aware that the Taliban and Haqqani network operate only with the approval of the ISI and their every action is planned and coordinated in Pak. Their army was also behind rampant disappearances and random killings of its own nationals in North West Pak and POK.
No one in his right senses in Pak would ever openly condemn or criticize them. Those who attempted were either eliminated, vanished into wilderness never to be heard off again or disappeared for days and on return began singing a different tune. Ex-Pak ambassador Husain Haqqani, a known critic is in the US, aware that even if he ventures into a region, where Pak has influence, he would vanish.Taha Siddiqui, a journalist who criticized the army was beaten up and narrowly escaped abduction by the goons of the deep state. He now lives in constant fear.
The release of the ‘Dawn Leaks’, which was criticism of the deep state’s policy of employing terrorist organizations to push forward national agenda by their Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, led to serious retribution in Pak. The columnist was placed on the exit control list, the civilian government brought to its knees with a minister resigning and the newspaper itself threatened.Its recent publication of Nawaz’s interview led to it being banned in specific regions.
Suddenly there has been a spurt of critics, who have come out of the closet, either pushed to the wall or have felt that truth needs to be out. Each one has targeted the deep state openly, thereby revealing to the world the dark truth behind the activities of the deep state.
The first has been the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), led by its charismatic leader, Manzoor Pashteen. The movement is aimed, as stated by its leader Manzoor, ‘To expose what the army is doing against us’. As per the New York Times, this movement is doing the unthinkable in Pak, ‘openly accusing the powerful and popular military establishment of being ‘oppressors’ who kill or whisk away Pashtuns by the thousands’. Its criticism has hurt the army’s reputation and opened a pandora’s box of forced disappearances and torture. The army has been unable to challenge the criticism as it has no answers.
Hence, the movement has faced national blackout and editors have reported that any attempt to publish news on the rallies of the PTM or editorials concerning them has been blocked by the army. All attempts to thwart the movement without employing force have failed, including flooding a proposed rally ground with sewage water.
The deep state is hesitant to employ force as the movement has gained international standing due to effective use of social media. Their army chief even stated that the movement is an ‘engineered protest threatening to reverse counter terrorism efforts by the military’. Pak has regularly claimed a foreign hand is behind this movement, implying India, and has set up a counter movement termed Pakistan Zindabad Movement.
The next to jump on the bandwagon of critics is Nawaz Sharif, who in an interview to the Dawn stated that Mumbai attackers were from Pakistan and questioned why the trial of the accused had not been completed to date. He also claimed that Pak had isolated itself and its voice was unheeded amongst the international community. These comments immensely impacted the deep state that it asked for a meeting of their National Security Council. A statement issued post the meeting read ‘The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.’
Everyone, who is someone in the political circles jumped to criticize Nawaz for his comments and gain brownie points from the army. The Prime Minister and Nawaz’s brother and successor Shahbaz claimed he was quoted out of context. He was even threatened to be tried under treason charges. Nawaz dismissed his critics claiming that his comments were correct and factual.
The latest to be accused of going against the deep state is the ex-head of the ISI, Lt Gen Durrani. He alongside former Indian RAW chief, AS Dulat co-authored a book titled, ‘The spy chronicles: RAW, ISI and the illusion of peace.’ In the book, Durrani and Dulat share views and the involvement of the Pak deep state in protecting Osama and establishing the Hurriyat in Kashmir.
The book has again rattled the deep state, such that Durrani has been summoned to the GHQ to explain ‘his position on the views attributed by him’. The army added, ‘his action is a violation of the military code of conduct, applicable on all serving and retired military personnel’.Adding fuel to fire was Nawaz Sharif, who claimed that his comments led to the army asking for a meeting of the NSC, why has it kept silent now. He, as also senators cutting across party lines, openly criticized Durrani for his comments.
This sudden increase in criticism, opening doors on aspects which the Pak army has always kept suppressed even from its own populace, comes at a time when Pak is facing greater international isolation. There can never be better proof than one flowing from within, especially since most of those who have spoken have indepth knowledge on the topics they have raised. The fact that even the PTM is justified and has shaken the deep state is proved by the media blackout being imposed on them.
Pak is presently heading for being placed on the ‘Grey List’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This sudden spurt of internal revelations should now lead to it being placed in the ‘Black List’ alongside North Korea, as also greater international isolation. The US should lead the way for imposing sanctions on the leadership of the Pak army and its business organizations for supporting and abetting terror in the region. India should exploit these comments in multiple international forums, especially when Pak raises Kashmir, to expose their underbelly. Diplomatically, it cannot let this opportunity go.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CENJOWS.