- Sep 26, 2018
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Journalists Hamid Mir and Nasim Zehra purport that former army chief Gen (retd) Bajwa deliberately portrayed the Pakistan armed forces as weak and poorly supplied, in order to achieve a 'deal' on Kashmir with Indian PM Modi and 'win the Nobel Peace Prize'.
On the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, bombshell revelations were made by journalist Hamid Mir on a news show hosted by Nasim Zehra. Mir listed some assertions he attributed to former Pakistan army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa on the capabilities – or lack thereof – of Pakistan’s military forces, which Zehra also confirmed that the former Pakistan Army chief had said. Hamid Mir alleged that Gen (retd) Bajwa made a “compromise” on the Kashmir dispute with India.
Both seasoned journalists castigated Gen (retd) Bajwa for orchestrating what Mir purported was a “compromise” or “deal” (sauda in Urdu) on the Kashmir issue, in favour of India’s Modi regime. When Mir brought up the context of a specific statement he attributed to the former chief of army staff (COAS), he referred to Zehra also being present on that occasion and having challenged the army chief at that time.
Mir began by referring to a sauda or ‘deal’ made by Gen (retd) Bajwa on Kashmir, a long-standing bilateral dispute with India, which has yet to see the light of day. Mir says that after Gen (retd) Bajwa arranged the February 2021 ceasefire with India in Kashmir, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi – vilified in Pakistan for his Hindutvist posture and anti-Muslim rhetoric – was to make an official visit to Pakistan.
Earlier in January this year, Mir revealed that Modi had agreed to visit Pakistan on April 9, 2021 to perform the annual four-day pilgrimage to the Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Lasbela, Balochistan. However, now Mir says that the Foreign Office (FO), including the foreign minister at the time, was unaware of this visit. When then-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi found out, he immediately went to then-prime minister Imran Khan to ask if he knew anything.
According to Mir, premier Khan told foreign minister Qureshi that Gen (retd) Bajwa and then-DG ISI Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed “had said that they were talking to Ajit Doval”, but did not inform him that Modi would be coming to Pakistan. Mir asserts that the civilian leadership, including the prime minister and foreign minister, were unaware of this move being orchestrated by the-then army chief. While he would eventually torpedo efforts for rapprochement with India, PM Khan nevertheless told his spymaster Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed to take the FO “on board” the initiative, after which Gen (retd) Bajwa arrived at the FO “with all his forces” to give Pakistan’s diplomatic corps a “lecture”.
Hamid Mir said this was the same “lecture” that the-then army chief Gen (retd) Bajwa had given to some 25 journalists, including him and Nasim Zehra, at the army’s general headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. He clarified that he was not referring to a seminar at the National Defence University (NDU), but to a meeting with the army chief at GHQ. Mir said that in this “lecture”, Gen (retd) Bajwa had lamented that Pakistan did not have functional tanks or enough fuel for troop logistics.
Nasim Zehra confirmed what Mir said, and added that, “normally such an army chief [who makes statements like these] should be court martialed”. She also said that “telling 25 journalists means you are telling the world”, and that she could no longer restrain herself from publicly asking for accountability of the former military commander.Hamid Mir alleged that former army chief Gen (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa said on multiple occasions that Pakistan’s tanks and jet fighters “did not work”
Mir recalled that at the time the army chief made this statement, Mir knew Gen (retd) Bajwa was wrong. He also saw that Zehra was angered at Gen (retd) Bajwa’s remarks and she confronted him in the GHQ auditorium “when the army chief was telling us this story” where the corps commanders are usually assembled.
Mir returns to how the FO also confronted Gen (retd) Bajwa when he gave them a similar “lecture”. He says that foreign minister Qureshi arranged for senior retired diplomats as well as the foreign secretary to come and explain to Gen (retd) Bajwa that this was a “trap being set by India”. They even said that Gen (retd) Bajwa’s doctrine was incompatible with Pakistan’s avowed position as well as its national interests. At this, the-then army chief was aghast and said, “but Modi is visiting Pakistan in April”. Mir confirms that this is April 2021; after the Modi government had rescinded Articles 35A and 370 of its constitution on August 5, 2019, revoking the autonomy that Kashmir enjoyed. Zehra reiterates that Gen (retd) Bajwa wanted Indian PM Modi to visit Pakistan “after he had digested Kashmir”.
Hamid Mir says that despite August 5, 2019, Gen (retd) Bajwa had arranged the date of PM Modi’s visit to Pakistan, thanks to Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed and Ajit Doval. Mir goes on to say that Gen (retd) Bajwa’s ambitions were to resolve the Kashmir dispute – or “freeze” it for twenty years – in order to secure the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as a third term as Pakistan’s powerful COAS.
Mir goes on to say that former premier Khan is routinely lambasting the former army chief for ousting his government, but has said nothing about this betrayal of Kashmir by that same army chief. Mir says that he asked former foreign minister Qureshi about this, who confirmed it to him privately, but would not go on the record without approval from Khan, who is also his party chairman.
Nasim Zehra interjects that a military chief “giving a public statement” that their tanks and planes don’t work, is “absolutely unacceptable”. Both Mir and Zehra contrasted this expression of weakness to the Pakistan air force’s (PAF) Operation ‘Swift Retort’ of February 27, 2019 where the PAF not only defended Pakistani airspace against a night-time Indian air force raid, but also responded by bombing Indian military targets in Kashmir, and shooting down an Indian fighter jet whose pilot was captured. Both journalists ridiculed the former army chief for saying that his tanks and planes don’t work, when his soldiers were getting martyred on the border and in terror attacks.Nasim Zehra said any military chief who tells the world that his forces are incapable of fighting “should be court martialed”
Mir went further in exposing Gen (retd) Bajwa’s pettiness, by saying that the army chief would pay attention to what journalists said about him, would watch vlogs, and would compare his salary to that of anchorpersons. Mir said that in nearly every meeting, Gen (retd) Bajwa used to compete with journalists, saying the latter earned a salary greater than he did. Mir says it was ironic that the military chief enjoyed exorbitant perks and privileges due to his official powers, but was whining about mediapersons earning more salary than him.
Mir says that what Gen (retd) Bajwa has done to the Kashmir cause, and to Pakistan’s principled stance on the issue, has destabilized Kashmiris so much that they still have not been able to come to terms with it. Mir speaks of a video message recorded by late Kashmiri Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, which he sent to his close associates in Pakistan. Mir says he has heard and seen that message, in which Geelani said that Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa was “more dangerous than Gen (retd) Musharraf”.
Zehra says that despite these machinations at the top echelons of power, the Kashmiri people continue to fight for their freedom and their right to self determination. She added that the people of Pakistan, by and large, also stood with the people of Kashmir, no matter what compromises the country’s leaders – elected and otherwise – made on issues of national interest. Mir says that the Kashmiri struggle continued despite the betrayals of Gen (retd) Ayub Khan and Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
Before the show concluded, Mir also spoke about former Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) prime minister Raja Farooq Haider telling former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif in London that Gen (retd) Bajwa had told him at least two days in advance about India’s move to “capture Kashmir” by abrogating the disputed region’s autonomy enshrined in Articles 35A and 370 of the Indian constitution. Haider told Sharif that he was flabbergasted at the report, and demanded the army chief “attack” Indian-held Kashmir. But then-army chief Gen (retd) Bajwa was immediately reluctant, and told then-AJK PM Haider that the Pakistan Army was in no position to attack India.When AJK premier Raja Farooq Haider demanded Gen (retd) Bajwa “attack India” to pre-empt their constitutional revisions of August 2019, Gen (retd) Bajwa told Haider that “Pakistan is in no position to attack India”
When Nasim Zehra asked Mir if this was confirmed, Mir went on to say that he asked former AJK premier Raja Farooq Haider to come on his news show and state these facts on the record. In response, Haider told Mir that confirming these details or divulging related information could be a violation of state secrets. Mir suggested Zehra also invite the former AJK PM to her show, and let him share his side of the story.
These explosive revelations come as incumbent Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is slated to visit India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) moot in Goa next month (May 2023). Both South Asian neighbours – traditional adversaries who have fought wars with each other and also have nuclear weapons – have a tense bilateral relationship that has shut down since August 2019, and late last year (in December 2022) Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar demanded Pakistan first “clean up its act and try to be a good neighbour”.
The last time Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited Pakistan was in December 2015 on a private visit to Lahore, at the invitation of then-premier Nawaz Sharif. However, the unprecedented move was widely rumoured to have angered the-then military establishment, which sowed the seeds for his disqualification and eventually instituted a hybrid regime that put the entire Pakistani state under the military’s control, with ‘project Imran Khan‘ as its democratic façade.
Hamid Mir claims that former Pakistan Army chief Gen Bajwa betrayed Kashmir, and wanted Indian PM Modi to visit Pakistan in April 2021.