The Pakistan government is working to launch an all out “soft” war against India by hiring international lobbyists, strategic communication firms and journalists to end its isolation internationally and change its negative image to a positive, particularly in the aftermath of the Uri incident.
This week, the Pakistan Senate adopted a policy guideline report card prepared by a 13-member senate committee, “First Report Committee of the Whole”, which has given guidelines to the Pakistan government on ways to isolate India at the international level.
The 22-policy guidelines report, titled “Policy guidelines in view of the latest situation developing between India and Pakistan” has called for highlighting “India’s own fault-lines in their alienated Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits as well as the growing Maoist insurgency”. It has also called for reaching out to “those segments of Indian public opinion which are opposed to Modi’s extremism and his anti-Pakistan policies, including political parties, media, civil society organisations and human rights groups”.
The report advises that “A Media Coordination Committee (MCC) be constituted including selected journalists plus representatives of the Foreign Office, Ministry of Information, parliament and intelligence to prepare fact sheets and a counter-propaganda campaign against India and to design and promote a media strategy for continually highlighting the Kashmiri freedom struggle.” It also calls for “international conference on Kashmir” to “be organized supported and amplified.”
The report adds, “There should be periodical/ regular special briefings for the Foreign Media and the social media should also be utilized for publicizing Jammu and Kashmir issue.”
Explaining the need for these policy guidelines, the Senate committee has stated that Pakistan has not felt the kind of pressure that it was witnessing from the “Modi regime” since 1971. According to the committee, the “Balochistan Mantra” should be taken seriously as it has been repeated several times by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers.
“Not since 1971 has the Indian government gone to the extent of pressuring Pakistan as is being done by the Modi regime. There is a clear pattern in the behaviour of the Indian state and government in the last few months. Even before the recent wave of gross human rights violations, Narendra Modi started his vicious Pakistan bashing campaign with his speech in Washington on June 8, 2016 before the American Congress, followed by his August 15 independence day speech where he, for the first time, publicly referred to Balochistan, followed by his September 5 speech at the G-20 Summit in China. All three speeches had a very strong component targeting Pakistan with a view to maligning Pakistan. The Balochistan mantra of Modi, which should be taken seriously as a precursor to RAW-directed covert action, has been repeated by the Indian Foreign Minister during her September 26 speech at the UN General Assembly and it basically has its origin in the famous statement of the Indian Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser, former RAW chief Ajit Doval, that ‘if there is another Mumbai type terrorist attack, Pakistan will lose Balochistan’. India has actively sabotaged the SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016, announcing its boycott.”
The policy guidelines, prepared taking into account the “the present state of relation between Pakistan and India”, were formulated by the committee after being asked by the Pakistani Senate on 26 September. The report was presented before the House on 4 October.
The committee, despite mentioning the Uri terror attack in its report has not talked about the surgical strike that was carried out by India on 29 September.
The committee has suggested that two Pakistan based think tanks, the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), whose principal task is to study India, can be attached to the relevant committees of Parliament to devise ways to target Narendra Modi and his “RSS ideology of Hindutva”.
The committee has called for the Pakistani government to hire international lobbyists and strategic communication firms and reactivate the Pakistani community living abroad to change the global narrative. Clearly worried with the drift of things, the Senate Committee has stated that the Government of Pakistan should take a firm stance on the Indus Waters Treaty and highlight India’s credibility in this regard if it unilaterally abrogates its international treaty obligations.
The growing closeness between the United States and India too has been dealt with this committee, which has stated that the “Indo-US military axis” has been formed basically to counter China and to promote Indian hegemony in the region. “India has granted access to land, air and naval bases to the United States.”
The report has called for countering India’s initiative to isolate Pakistan amongst its neighbours in SAARC and among Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members. “Efforts to improve ties with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Iran and the Central Asian republics as well as Russia need to be redoubled, for which parliamentarians and parliamentary committees can play a pivotal role,” it says. The policy guidelines state the need to highlight Indian intervention in Pakistan and that the arrest of an “Indian spy” should have been, and should be, raised at various important international forums along with the alleged human rights violations in “Indian-Held Kashmir”.
As per the committee, the main thrust of Pakistan’s Kashmir narrative should revolve around a) violation of UN Charter Chapter 1 Article 1 and 2 by India, which guarantees rights of self-determination; b) violation of international declaration of human rights in Kashmir by the India forces with highest population to soldiers ratio 1:5; c) violation of Geneva Convention where prisoners and wounded have certain fundamental rights; d) “Indian violations along our eastern border will force Pakistan to pull troops employed to fight war on terror”; e) that the large number of marginalised youth in Jammu and Kashmir can be vulnerable to the incitement of extremist forces and trigger huge challenges for regional and global stability.
Also looking to strike a conciliatory note, which observers believe is meant for the international audience and may or may not be seriously followed especially in view of the intention of the Pakistan army and the ISI, the committee has called for restoring and expanding bilateral and Jammu and Kashmir-related confidence-building measures and urges the “nuclear neighbours (to) exercise serious caution and restraint when provoked”.
The policy guidelines have suggested that the two countries need to respect the agreed mechanisms for the maintenance of peace along the Line of Control by strong political leadership in both countries and that there is a need to work towards bringing about a climate in which both Pakistan and India can implement politically difficult decisions to build mutual trust and confidence, leading towards an honorable and amicable settlement of Jammu and Kashmir as well as peace and stability and the welfare of all people. The report adds that “efficacy and usefulness of back-channel talks between India and Pakistan should be restored”.
The report further states that “a loud and clear message needs to be sent across the world that Pakistan is fighting the largest inland war against the terrorism and violent extremism and there is no room for non-state actors.” The policy further goes on to say that “the soil of Pakistan should not be allowed to be used by violent non-state actors.”
The report also calls for the setting up of an international facts-finding commission “to investigate the ‘Uri incident’”.
The committee, while preparing the policy guidelines, was briefed by, among others, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defence along with Secretary Defence and Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs.