The brave General Raheel Sharif

Published: May 10, 2015
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The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and is currently pursuing PhD in 
civil-military relations from the University of Karachi

The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and is currently pursuing PhD in civil-military relations from the University of Karachi

Had he been on a beneficial extension or counting his days to retirement, I wouldn’t have expected him to speak out. But he is a man on a mission. Thus far, no military commander has so bluntly and so directly accused the Indian intelligence agency, RAW (it’s usually a veiled reference to ‘foreign governments and intelligence agencies’) of “whipping up terrorism in Pakistan”. This is General Raheel Sharif for you — a very popular military leader, who since the time he has taken over the military leadership, has turned the war on terror on its head with some remarkable military victories against terrorists under his belt already. To showcase his case as a military leader, he is determined to take back what the terrorists stole from his country — peace and tranquillity.

So for the general to accuse RAW of whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, not once but twice (the last time he did this was during his visit to Balochistan on April 15 where he warned “foreign governments and intelligence agencies” against their involvement in the insurgency there) should be seen in line with the policy of the Pakistani government which is “to do everything possible to take the war on terror to its logical conclusion”. RAW and its activities stand out predominantly in the cross hairs of the military’s anti-terrorism sight. It’s marked and like all ‘shadow and invisible wars’ that intelligence agencies fight, the Pakistani military’s twin response of both ‘detection’ and ‘elimination’ of this threat will now not only gain momentum but speed as well.

Over the years, India has successfully built a narrative that it is a victim of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. It is under the guise of such a narrative that the Indians have tried to block the worldview of their own intelligence agency planning, rolling out and executing terrorism as an instrument of its own state policy to destabilise Pakistan. No intelligence agency will ever undertake any cross-border actions in a neighbouring country without the political approval of its government. The host government not only defines the endpoint in the targeted country but also sets the limits (red lines) to its intelligence agencies’ reach. RAW’s actions in Pakistan have a definite political end and the planners and executors of such an end are not those who wear uniforms but are the people’s representatives who have been voted to power in the largest democracy in the world. Those in doubt of such an assessment can view Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s remarks almost a year ago about the Indian strategy to weaken Pakistan by promoting terrorism and separatism. The political shame that the planners and executors of such wars bring is that neither these proxy wars can be completely won nor those against which they are waged can be entirely defeated.

Even if I hypothetically assume that the state of Pakistan was involved in the Mumbai tragedy of 2008, what has India been able to do about it? Seven years later, Pakistan is still resolutely fighting to reverse the Indian-recommended, directed and imposed international isolation of Pakistan. The Pakistani national resolve and resilience coupled with an efficient military campaign against the terrorists has forced world opinion to retreat and take a backseat. We may have been accused of keeping ‘snakes in our backyard’ but the same country that levelled these accusations is now giving us the military machine to target these snakes. Our international isolation may top the Indian wish list but China stands with us not only as a partner in economic development but also as a great ally against any security threats that we may face. The warming of our relations with Afghanistan and the fact that now Afghan Army cadets are being trained in the Pakistan Military Academy speaks of the failure of the huge number of Indian consulates in Afghanistan to sell and market their anti-Pakistan narrative to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Our cricketers may also have been deprived of participation in the Indian Premier League but we have struggled along to now host Zimbabwe as the first team since 2009 to visit and play international matches in the country. The lesson is for all to see — we may stumble and fall, but we will rise again.

RAW-generated activities stem from the tacit understanding that the harmful consequences of fighting a legitimate war are far too many and what covert actions can achieve today, overt (direct confrontation) cannot. If General Raheel says that “RAW is whipping up terrorism in Pakistan”, it is not with an expectation that such a disclosure will force the Indian intelligence agency to limit its operations in Pakistan. It is to warn India not to provoke a reactive policy from Pakistan as the country will not sit with its hands tied. Pakistan may have withdrawn its policy of actively supporting the Kashmir cause but it still has interest and influence there. India may come to regret provoking a reactive policy by Pakistan. The tit-for-tat response may well be a contingency being considered in this ‘shadow war’ being imposed by the Indians on us. The big question is: is India miscalculating our response? Is Pakistan being considered too weak and too vulnerable a state?

Like militaries, intelligence agencies are never dealt massive defeats. The shadow wars fought by them are always won or lost by following the principle, ‘if you stab our back we will stab yours’. It’s the job of the politicians never to publicly acclaim the achievements of intelligence agencies and it is also their job to publicly disavow all allegations leveled against them. The most important job that Indian politics, led by the Modi government, is failing to do is to settle all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a process of dialogue. The continuity of the policy of fighting proxy wars is a failed policy. Its only eventual outcome can be to put the two countries in direct confrontation. This is something both countries should not desire.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Bairooni Haath
    May 10, 2015 - 1:33AM

    I guess the North Waziristan operation is not going so well! Pakistan army is looking for a scapegoat to hide its failure.Recommend

  • Insaaf
    May 10, 2015 - 1:56AM

    Sir, since ISI has not provided any proof of RAW involvement in Pakistan, are you implying that RAW is brilliant (and so good that they cannot be caught) and ISI is not? Recommend

  • Baba Jee
    May 10, 2015 - 2:27AM

    TC article.Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 10, 2015 - 2:54AM

    You are usually more convincingly than this……..there is little doubt that Raheel Sharif is visibly proactive but upto now results are more a media and optics dominated game and unless results percolate down to the people, he will be remembered as one you tried.Recommend

  • Deepwater
    May 10, 2015 - 3:12AM

    Gosh….great job!!! You’ve stitched together every conspiracy theory out there (plus thrown in China) into one rant. Congratulations also to the Generals, ISPR and civilian leaders for a great brainwashing job. Everything is coming together for Pakistan. They are now singing the old tune to updated lyrics.Recommend

  • a_writer
    May 10, 2015 - 3:21AM

    This is one totally brainwashed dude. After reading the litany of complaints, I went back and read the one line credential under his photo and the reason for his baseless rambling became clear.Recommend

  • Nadir
    May 10, 2015 - 3:26AM

    Perhaps if our intelligence agencies were less busy clamping down on the civil society, journalists, trolling liberals on social media, arranging dummy protests, etc; we wouldnt need to worry about foreign agencies operating in Pakistan? As for: “No intelligence agency will ever undertake any cross-border actions in a neighbouring country without the political approval of its government.” If so then they need to be accountable to the political leadership not GHQ. Recommend

  • Hassan
    May 10, 2015 - 4:35AM

    You need to give proofs, evidence before or after making a statement. Pak has been accusing India of sponsoring activities inside its territories, but when asked for proofs has never given one. This is all posturing to hide (possible) failures. Recommend

  • Varun
    May 10, 2015 - 4:44AM

    What’s the author trying to say here? That external intelligence agencies have covert operations in external territories? And Pakistan will have covert activities in India if the Indians don’t ‘stop’?

    What General Shareef said is at best rhetorical, to create an opinion piece out of it only more rhetoric.

    Regards.Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 10, 2015 - 5:54AM

    This doesn’t look like a message of strength but more of pain. More pain to come.Recommend

  • rama
    May 10, 2015 - 6:13AM

    Can author identify one person similar to former ISI chief Amid Gul (who is the godfather of terrorist ) in India or a single Indian terrorist like Sayeed/Lakvi or terrorist organization like LeT. Pakistan whining that it is victim of terrorism, yes it is victim of own creation.. Recommend

  • May 10, 2015 - 6:44AM

    @Deepwater:
    @Insaaf:
    @Hassan:
    Because proof is not provided to people like YOU. In a comment section.
    It is provided to United Nations, a toothless entity, or EU or other
    respectable nations. Not to Indian trolls on ET. Doubt you understand.
    Perhaps you can provide proof that RAW is an innocent Mother Theresa
    inspired NGO. Get a life.

    ET moderators, please print. answer to dense people.Recommend

  • X
    May 10, 2015 - 6:58AM

    Blame and deflect.

    Assuming India is creating all the instability in Balochistan (and Wazirstan too), and how much Pakistan must be suffering, why wait until now to educate the world?

    Mumbai – entirely understandable that, given your worldview, Indians or aliens did it. Lakhvi giving directions to the terrorists from Pakistan, Headley confirming the ISI’s involvement and Kasab – the terrorist getting caught, must be all a giant fabrication. Recommend

  • umesh guddad
    May 10, 2015 - 7:04AM

    Typical.It is necessary to understand why,and since when, India is undertaking such an initiative.Pakistan sent its army in the name of tribal insurgents in Kashmir in 1947,It supported armed Khalistani movement and is hand in glove with IM & SIMI. The so called Kashmiri militants attacked the Indian parliament and I find it hard to believe that Pakistan had no knowledge of this.If ISI can plan and execute the Mumbai massacre then why do you cry if India take child’s step in paying you back?American support,money from KSA,the nuclear umbrella has numbed you and you are unaware of what history would judge of you.Only Pakistan can do such mischief and only India has been tolerating it.I do not think there are any other examples in the world’s history.Recommend

  • wb
    May 10, 2015 - 8:09AM

    I want to ask all those thousands of readers who visit this page one simple question.

    Is there a single original idea in this regurgitation of the thousand times ruminated mediocrity?

    Why do these people even write and why does ET even publish, if there is not a single, A SINGLE, original thought.

    This rubbish has been vomited a thousand times by a thousand people on dozens of TV channels. And this man lapped it all up and vomited here.

    Please someone enlighten me one single original thought, idea, fact, notion that is expressed in this article.

    Please, I beg you.Recommend

  • Xoxo
    May 10, 2015 - 8:22AM

    I am glad that we are vocal about the issues of India harboring and supporting terrorists. The world needs to know that while Pakistan is falsely accused of inciting and supporting terrorism, the real problem lies east of the border. Recommend

  • Prakash
    May 10, 2015 - 9:37AM

    @Author:
    It doesn’t take much to be brave in a country where journalists start hailing the General simply for making an anti-India statement, howsoever unsubstantiated it might be.
    We may all hate Arnab Goswami, but at least he does his job!Recommend

  • Ravindra Sharma
    May 10, 2015 - 10:29AM

    A brave General ? Wrong notion sir , it is the nation that must be brave not the Generals because they are mortals and can be replaced any moment . So far as RAW is concerned it may be to some extent responsible but in India it is dais that ISI is the root of all evils in India then what is remedy ? The basic difference between RAW AND ISI IS that the former is controlled by civilian elected Govt whereas later is controlled by the Army and till both will either controlled by Govt or by Army peace will not prevail .Recommend

  • observer
    May 10, 2015 - 10:32AM

    the principle, ‘if you stab our back we will stab yours’.

    While the rest of the world was busy with ‘You scratch my back, I will scratch yours’ this gentle man has graduated to another level.

    We have a Shakespeare in our midst, or what?Recommend

  • wonderer
    May 10, 2015 - 10:46AM

    This is something I feel compelled to comment on, but I think it would be as pointless as the article itself. I shall wait for the following request to fructify.

    I have an idea for Fahd Husain to which I hope he will respond positively.

    He should write an article next Sunday on the same subject as this piece (The brave General Raheel Sharif) and touch on the same issues including RAW. It will be fun and also instructive to see the differences in perspective.Recommend

  • Dubya
    May 10, 2015 - 11:36AM

    With Generals like you in Pakistan India should disband RAW ….
    India will not need even an army to protect herself from Pakistan ….
    India will even not need to fire a single bullet to dismember Pakistan ….
    Keep it ONN General … Bravooo…. Asif ali Zardari is smiling for sure ….Recommend

  • lmao
    May 10, 2015 - 12:03PM

    @ baba jee — Ur two letters aptly summarize the article…. simply brilliant mate. Well done.Recommend

  • abcd
    May 10, 2015 - 12:23PM

    @Prakash:
    Who hates Arnab Goswami? All of us love him.Recommend

  • mind control
    May 10, 2015 - 12:43PM

    A. both ‘detection’ and ‘elimination’ of this threat will now not only gain momentum but speed as well.

    Really???
    Tell me Mr Newton Redux- Is it ever possible to have ‘Momentum’ but no ‘Speed’, or ‘Speed’ but no ‘Momentum’?

    B. India may come to regret provoking a reactive policy by Pakistan.

    Ah! Action/ Reaction, Newton seems to be the flavour of the day.
    But which one is the reaction Kasmir or Balochistan.

    C. The continuity of the policy of fighting proxy wars is a failed policy.

    OK. I hope that means no more Haqqqani Network/ Quetta Shura/ LeT/ JeM etc etc?Recommend

  • Pankaj
    May 10, 2015 - 1:05PM

    I Clap !!Recommend

  • observer
    May 10, 2015 - 1:48PM

    We may have been accused of keeping ‘snakes in our backyard’ but the same country that levelled these accusations is now giving us the military machine to target these snakes.

    Ummm. Errr..

    A. So, the ‘accusations’ of harbouring ‘snakes in your backyard’ were true.

    B. If NOT, who is being targeted by the borrowed ‘Military Machines’?Recommend

  • MFU
    May 10, 2015 - 2:28PM

    Good one!Recommend

  • Kushal
    May 11, 2015 - 1:58PM

    “Our cricketers may also have been deprived of participation in the Indian Premier League but we have struggled along to now host Zimbabwe as the first team since 2009 to visit and play international matches in the country. The lesson is for all to see — we may stumble and fall, but we will rise again.”

    You have a great sense of humor, Sir.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi
    May 11, 2015 - 1:59PM

    @Nadir:
    That’s your ignorance talking. You have been fed so much untruth about your own country’s agencies that now you become ignorant to real threat from outside (which is actually benefiting the enemy). Nice job (don’t be so liberal that it blinds you completely). Recommend

  • Bewildered
    May 11, 2015 - 5:22PM

    Judging from the reaction of the Indian commentators and the language they used, it is clear that the author has hit the nail on the head. Had this not been a moderated forum, the kind of slurs Indians must have thrown at the author would have been quite revealing of their true natures. As far as Indian involvement in promoting terrorism and separatism in Pakistan is concerned, only their track record is enough to convict them. Who doesn’t know Indian involvement in cultivating and inciting separatism and terrorism in East Pakistan and Sri Lanka.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    May 12, 2015 - 3:02PM

    For a military man to make political statements is not a brave act but fool hardy and equivalent to shooting in ones own feet. The COAS function is not to reason why but to do and die like a good soldier for which he was trained. The only thing separating the soldier from a gladiator is that the soldier can refuse to follow illegal orders in a democratic country.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • mazhar
    May 21, 2015 - 10:59PM

    a brilliant articke indeed, i can feel the agony and pain of a toothless tiger. they way indians have responded on authors article is really funny. recent IHK pro pak rally must b taken as a alarm… india must first tackle its internal issues besides red corridor… Recommend

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