After the horrendous attack in Pulwama in Kashmir, which killed 41 of our security personnel, India gave a befitting reply to Pakistan in an early morning air strike in Balakot, where Jaish e Mohammed ( JeM) jihadis were being trained to commit more atrocities against India. It has been reported by several news channels and in print that the airstrike was highly successful.
Francesca Marino, wrote in Firstpost that according to her sources on the ground, at least 40 bodies were first seen loaded onto ambulances to remove them from the site but actual figures could not be verified as the Pakistani Army arrived soon after the strike to cordon off the area and even confiscated mobile phones from the ambulance drivers and medical staff to make sure no news got out. This is no surprise since they successfully hid Osama bin Laden for six years. She added: “A former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer known locally as “Colonel Salim” was killed in the bombing, sources said, while a “Colonel Zarar Zakri” was injured. Mufti Moeen, a Jaish-e-Mohammed instructor from Peshawar, and improvised explosive device-fabrication expert Usman Ghani were also killed in the bombing.”
BBC News also reported from the villagers living around 10 kilometres away that there had been a series of explosions in the forest and their homes shook. Later it was revealed that there was a JeM Madrassa or training facility there. The Pakistani Army’s cleaning up exercise at this site was so secretive that even local police were not allowed in. Much later, Maulana Ammar, a top JeM commander, admitted over a vitriolic video that this was a place where jihadis were trained and the bombs had killed them. He swore to launch jihad against India.
This is itself enough proof for the naysayers both in India and Pakistan who want evidence. It is especially cruel for politicians and some media bigwigs to question the authenticity of the attack by our brave pilots and the meticulous planning and intelligence that went into it. They feed into Pakistan’s narrative. It is shocking to hear the Pakistani media and politicians quoting Indian journalists and politicians to establish that nothing happened. Such people don’t do justice to our armed forces by demanding proof.
It is disturbing, to say the least, that some of the lies peddled by the Pakistani media have been taken up by international media. One such lie is that two of our aircraft were shot down when Pakistan tried to cross over the Line of Control into India. It is widely known that it was one MIG Bison and the courageous pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, brought down a Pakistani F-16. Pakistan is too ashamed to admit this and even acknowledge what happened to their pilot. It is alleged that he came down in Pakistani territory and was beaten up so badly by the locals, who thought he was Indian, that he died of his wounds in hospital.
Even while Pakistan is trying to make peace overtures, their Foreign Minister lies to BBC and CNN. Shah Mehmood Qureshi actually tied himself in knots when interviewed by these channels on the whereabouts of Masood Azhar. He said he was in Pakistan but housebound and sick. When asked if he was in touch with him, he said that some people were. It was quite surreal as when questioned directly he seemed to both deny and accept the same question. He also said India needs to give evidence of Masood’s connection with the attack in India. He conveniently forgot that this is a terrorist that was caught in the 1990s in Kashmir and squealed to the Indian authorities. It is a fact that the Indians were startled when Masood Azhar, even before questioning, started babbling on his colleagues, their hideouts and all their plans when not even asked! Terrified like a lump of shivering jelly.
Qureshi also forgot that it was this outfit that later attacked the Indian Parliament and subsequently was the mastermind for the attacks in Uri and Pathankot. India not only gave them evidence to drown them with, but also enough to get the outfit proscribed by the United Nations and other civilised countries. It has also come out in a piece of evidence filled dossier that Masood was closely associated with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and even gave a banquet for him when he was released after an Indian Airline plane was hijacked and we got a planeload of civilians back for him and his other colleagues.
In fact, every single act of terror against India has been seen, written about and made world news. Reams have been written about the Lashkar-e-Taiba and JeM; nations have censured Pakistan for over 30 years, and yet the foreign minister of Pakistan tells CNN and BBC he wants more proof! In addition to all the evidence from India, their own former Chief of the Army and President of Pakistan, General Musharraf, said in a televised interview that JeM was a terrorist organisation and had tried to kill him! Qureshi, clearly, is a pathological liar. And they actually want the world to believe that they want peace. How can anyone with even half-a-brain ever trust such a country?
The moment Pakistani leaders are put in a corner they scream – “see what India is doing in Kashmir. What about the human rights of Kashmiris”?I want to ask them what about the human rights of our soldiers and security personnel who face gunfire every single day by terrorists equipped and trained by Pakistan. They could easily bomb their hideouts, it would take seconds. But no, they actually put themselves in the line of fire to save civilian casualties!
Every single day I see brave hearts’ funerals; every single day I see stricken widows and their children in shock beside the body of their loved one. And yet we are told we don’t take care of the Kashmiris. For God’s sake, they ethnically cleansed the valley of four lakh Hindus and families, what about their human rights? Kashmir has had a Kashmiri Muslim leader for the last 70 years, should they not be in the dock for their mishandling of the problem. Get these politicians and their flunkies out of Kashmir. They have been spewing hatred against India for years. Cut off their pipelines of funding. Put the leaders of hate groups in jail for national security; anyone with a hotline to Pakistan must be called out and jailed for they are the ones that keep a simmering conflict alive and not only have the blood of our security forces on their hands but also encourage the youth to fight while their own children have cushy jobs abroad.
How dare they ask us to talk to Pakistan, when it holds a fig leaf in one hand and a bomb in the other. It is time we call out Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terror. For even their highest- ranking cabinet minister speaks the language of terror.
This is what Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said on the floor of the Pakistani Parliament just a few days ago:“Jihad is a duty in Islam. Those who avoid Jihad are not Muslims. I have good relations with Mirwaiz Mohammad, Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani.” He admitted that our forces struck Balakot, he was clearly out for revenge. Do we need further proof of Pakistan’s intentions?
The only way to get Pakistan to stop its terror factories is by making their Deep State suffer—The ISI and the Pakistan Army. For this we would first have to get Pakistan to be shunned like South Africa was during apartheid. No economic dealings with them by the countries that stand against terror; strict sanctions like the ones imposed on South Africa; it should not be allowed in world sporting events; no foreign visas for their officers; cancel dual citizenship for Pakistanis who serve in the forces. If we can hurt the Deep State, we will be doing a service to the Pakistani population. As it is, they complain that their passport is the worst to have in the world along with Somalia. I have no gripe with the Pakistanis who want peace but I don’t trust the Army and am dismayed that they get the biggest chunk of the scarce resources that Pakistan should spend on welfare of its citizens.
But for this to happen we need the world to stand by us and we have to be the first to take up declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terror. China will rebel against this but we have a huge trade deficit with China. I get the feeling that with some good negotiations and friendly powers on our side, we can convince even China—after all, China too is concerned of terrorists creating tensions on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Much is at stake for China too.
Freelance journalist Ashali Varma has authored the biography of her father late Lt. Gen. PS Bhagat — ‘The Victoria Cross: A Love Story’. She was executive producer with the International Commentary Service Inc, New York in 1990. She was the executive publisher of The Earth Times, New York (1992- 98). She has also worked as the editor of Choices Magazine, United Nations Development Programme. She writes on various issues including human rights, population and sustainable development. This article was first published on 5 March in the TOI blog, No Free Lunch of 5 March 2019