For the second consecutive day on Monday, 16 November, the Imran Khan government alleged India of active ‘planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities against Pakistan’. “The presence of ISIL and AQIS in India as highlighted in recent UN reports indicate that India is emerging as a hotbed of UN-designated international terrorist organisations and posing a great risk to the region,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Islamabad.
The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi had rubbished a day earlier Pakistan’s efforts to paint itself as the ‘victim of terror’ and India as the ‘perpetrator’.
“We have seen media reports on a press conference by the Pakistani establishment. This is yet another futile anti-India propaganda exercise. The so-called claims of ‘proof’ against India enjoy no credibility, are fabricated and represent figments of imagination,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
Pakistan’s Dossier And Charges Against India
On Sunday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi shared the dais with military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar in a press conference, an uncommon sight, accusing Indian intelligence agencies of operating from across the Afghanistan border as it planned terror strikes against the country.
The civilian minister and the uniformed spokesperson, in a dramatic media appearance, among scores of charges also accused India of trying to target Chinese investments in Pakistan and PoK and sponsoring banned organisations including UN-designated terrorist groups Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Baluch Liberation Army.
“We have irrefutable facts that we will present before the nation and international community through this dossier,” Qureshi claimed referring to a dossier prepared by the Pakistani government and establishment to be shared with the United Nations, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) and the veto-wielding P5 members of the UN Security Council.
Imran On Sticky Wicket; Anti-India Dossier To Deflect Attention?
Incidentally, the joint press conference comes at a time when Imran Khan is facing the wrath of an united opposition which has been calling him as the ‘selected’ and not ‘elected’ prime minister, accusing him of having won the 2018 general elections through military interference.
The event was held on a day when controversial elections were being held for 23 seats of the legislative assembly in Gilgit-Baltistan, which India had rejected earlier as an illegal step to try to change status quo of the occupied region.
And the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement), an alliance of 11 opposition parties formed on 20 September, is drawing massive crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic to its protests rallies – part of an ‘action plan’ to oust the Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government. These rallies have been held in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta as well as Imran Khan’s stronghold of Swat.
The alliance, including the four big opposition parties of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan People’s Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur), and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, along with some smaller ones like the Baloch National Party and the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), are channelising increasing public discontent at price rise, inflation, joblessness and economic downslide that the country is grappling with.
“A heartfelt thanks to the people of my hometown for coming out in such large numbers. This was a referendum that demanded justice for all past incidents of state terrorism & announced a refusal to be used as cannon fodder in State's future war projects #PashtunLongMarch2MiranShah,” tweeted Mohsin Dawar , a member of the National Assembly heading PTM, on Sunday.
Direct ‘Attacks’ On Pakistani Army & ISI
While the National Accountability Bureau has been accused of targeting scores of opposition leaders including the bigwigs on allegations of graft under political pressure, be it Bilawal Bhutto or Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the opposition is mincing no words in its attacks against Imran Khan.
In a first, the opposition has also attacked the army and ISI chiefs by name.
PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who is living in London in exile following his ouster as PM after the Supreme Court held him guilty for corruption, for the first time earlier in October 2020, directly named Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI head Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for ‘interfering’ in the 2018 to install the ‘puppet regime’ of Imran Khan. Sharif was addressing a joint rally organised by the opposition in Gujranwala via video conferencing.
On the other hand, as with the economy and power supply situation, Imran Khan is struggling with his coalition partners as well.
The PMLQ, whose support is crucial for PTI in the crucial Punjab province, chose to stay away from a luncheon meeting hosted by the prime minister earlier in November as per local media reports. And the direct attacks on the ISI head as well as Army Chief – who is currently on an extension of his term – has hardly helped the situation.
Pakistan Is Yet To Get Sympathy On Its Anti-India Campaign
It is this interplay of domestic politics that Indian officials are pointing at as the reason for Pakistan’s dramatic dossier outburst. “The press conference was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani establishment to shift focus from its internal political and economic failures. It also seeks to justify cross-border terrorism, including ceasefire violations and infiltration across the LoC and IB,” the MEA spokesperson added on Monday in his response.
Sources in Delhi meanwhile also denied any existence of certain intelligence officials that Pakistan has named in its dossier, and maintain that the Indian ambassador in Afghanistan travels only to oversee ‘India aided development projects’.
Pakistan, which has in the past tried submitting similar dossiers outlining India’s alleged role in subversion activities in Balochistan, is yet to meet with any sympathetic international response or solidarity on the issue.
Shifting focus to India will hardly be of help in getting off the grey list hook of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Perhaps in anticipation of a cold response once again, Qureshi on Sunday chose to say that “whether world powers acknowledge it or not, India is a threat to the entire region.”
(Smita Sharma is an independent journalist and tweets at @Smita_Sharma.This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)