'Pak Politicians Want To Resolve Kashmir - Military Won't Allow This'

22 June 2014
Times of India
Aarti Tikoo Singh

New Delhi: Arif Jamal is a Pakistani journalist and South Asia expert based in America. His first book Shadow War analysed the Pakistan army's operations in Kashmir. Having researched the Lashkar-e-Taiba for his new book Call for Transnational Jihad, Jamal spoke with Aarti Tikoo Singh about challenges Pakistani politicians face in battling terror groups, dynamics between Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi, his view of the Pakistani military - and why he's a harsh critic of Imran Khan: After Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan's PM, there were hopes for stability. Yet, Pakistan's making news for terror strikes, blasphemy cases, persecuting journalists, etc - why? Well, i think Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sincerely wants to create peace in Pakistan. However, he cannot achieve this goal without reining in the Pakistani military. While Islamist proteges of the Pakistani military kill their opponents, the military itself is involved in the indiscriminate murders of nationalists and secularists in Balochistan and Sindh as well as of journalists. The Sharif government is helpless before the military. On the one hand, the Pakistani military has unleashed Islamist organisations like the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) to turn Baloch and Sindhi nationalists and secularists into jihadists. On the other hand, they kidnap, tor-ture and kill those they consider incorrigible. Recently, the Pakistani military unleashed forces against the Geo group - one of the allegations against the group is that Geo revealed the Pakistani iden-tity of Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 terrorists arrested during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Despite these strains, the first meeting between PM Sharif and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been termed positive - can the two make real progress on tough topics like Kashmir? I think PM Sharif has a sincere desire for peace with India and inside Pakistan - he understands this is the best thing that can happen to Pakistan. There is a tremendous desire among Pakistani politicians to resolve Kashmir and other conflicts with India - Pakistani politicians understand that conflicts with India are bad for both Pakistan's democracy and economy. However, the Pakistani military plays a disproportionate role in politics. The Pakistani military will never allow friendly relations with India because that means closing the jihad factory. Now, i hope i'm proved wrong but it seems the Pakistani military would be eventually defeated by Muslim extremists. If that happens, it will spell disaster. Given the limitations on Pakistani politici-ans, why are you such a harsh critic of Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI)? Isn't this a strong political alter-native? I am a harsh critic of Imran Khan for several reasons including how he supports introducing Islamic punishments in Pakistan - but does not want us to talk about his life. Imran Khan can also do anything for personal or political gains. Imran Khan was the only Pakistani politician who criticised a ban on the JuD in 2008 in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. He's playing into the hands of the Pakistani military and jihadists just to be able to come to power - no wonder Imran Khan and Hafiz Saeed are leading the military's campaign against the Geo group. It may come as a surprise that the political vocabulary, such as national ghariat and hameeyat, that Imran uses were terms introduced by Hafiz Saeed in the early 1990s - the PTI is soft Taliban.