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How India’s web of deceit works

September 3, 2010

India’s adeptness at propaganda and moving swiftly against states in the neighbourhood who do not accept its desires is certainly to be marvelled at. In fact, Pakistan could learn valuable lessons on how India conducts its external propaganda to bolster its overt diplomacy and even the US could take a lesson or two from its strategic ally in this field. After all, for over six decades it has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community not only with regard to its repression of the Kashmiri people through its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, but also to the reality of its commitment to the UN to allow a UN-supervised plebiscite in there.

There are some who believe that it is more a case of realpolitik – all about markets, the power of the Indian diaspora and so on – than being blinded by Indian propaganda that has prevented the major powers from compelling India to move in fulfilling UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. However, while this may also be part of the explanation, the factor of rapid and effective Indian propaganda cannot be neglected either and in this area, India has the support of a number of commentators overseas especially in the West – who for one reason or another (either Islamophobia or simple enchantment with all things Indian, which ironically also tend to include what are essentially Pakistani elements) have chosen to become crusaders for the Indian state.

Merely looking at very recent developments will explain what I have been trying to highlight. China refused to give a visa to an Indian army general who had been commander in the Northern Area Command responsible for Jammu and Kashmir – which China also recognises as disputed territory. The Chinese said they were unwilling to “welcome” General Jaswal because he “controlled” a disputed area, Jammu and Kashmir. Of course, India responded in the normal overt fashion by refusing permission to two Chinese officials to join the course at the National Defence College and followed this up by cancelling a visit to Beijing by an Indian military delegation. But the more interesting response was more covert and far more damaging not just for China but also for Pakistan.

This was the springing into action of Indophile and rabidly anti-Pakistan analyst Selig Harrison. He was the Bureau Chief of one of the major US papers in New Delhi in the eighties and he began giving the Indian position on issues since then. Those who can recall the US-led war against the Soviets in Afghanistan will recall the bitter tirades of Selig Harrison against Pakistan in those days also. Now, is it not an interesting coincidence that he writes a new diatribe in The New York Times (26 August) – which many Pakistani media outlets see but most ignore wisely as mere propaganda given Harris-on’s background – about Pakistan and China immediately after the Chinese refused the visa to the Indian general? Suddenly, sitting in New York, he has written a most imaginative article claiming the Chinese army (7000-11000 soldiers he claims) had marched into Gilgit Baltistan to take de facto control of the area and he also claimed this whole region was in revolt against Pakistan. This is a bizarre claim given how for the first time the people of this area have been brought into the mainstream of the national political edifice. Of course he claims this area is closed to the world but yet he seems to have open access to all events unfolding there!

Of course there is a perfectly legitimate Pakistani agenda to build road and rail links from Gwadar port north into China – given the value of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). In fact it has been successive Pakistani governments that have been seeking rail and more road links from the Arabian Sea through to China and now there is the Iran to China energy pipeline project also. Given how the Chinese are also bolstering their rail links into India, why Harrison would only find the Pakistan-China communications suspicious is puzzling until one understands his obsessive anti-Pakistan bent of mind. While Harrison concedes that some soldiers may well be there for the purpose of building the road and rail infrastructure as happened in the case of the KKH, he cannot rid himself of plugging the Indian propagandist viewpoint that something else must necessarily be afoot!

Nor is this all. Selig Harrison has let his imagination run riot on this one and declared that there is a mystery surrounding 22 tunnels in “secret location” from where even Pakistanis are barred – but which again he seems to be privy to so easily. While he concedes that these tunnels would be necessary for the gas pipeline project from Iran to China across the Karakorum’s through Gilgit, his India-dominated fantasy conjectures up the vision of these being used as missile storage sites. He does not say whether the sites would be for Chinese missiles or Pakistani ones. If it is the latter, why should it be a concern given how India is also deploying missiles in strategic locations. As for China, it does not need these sites to target India as it has enough access from its own territory. And historically China, unlike the US, has not sought military bases overseas.

After his fanciful conjectures, Harrison concludes that because Pakistan is facilitating China’s access to the Gulf, it is not a US “ally”! This is so absurd that even an obsessively anti-Pakistan analyst should have thought twice before writing it. After all that Pakistan has sacrificed for the US in its misguided “war on terror”, if the US still does not consider Pakistan an “ally” then so be it. In any case, most Pakistanis have never considered the US an ally in the true sense of the word. To expect Pakistan to renege on its strategic and constant ally China for recognition of ally status by a fickle US is a ridiculous demand and even the excessively pro-US government that is in place presently in Pakistan cannot afford to take this suicidal step.

The one sane conclusion Harrison reaches is that the Kashmir issue needs to be settled but he refers to Kashmiri demands for “autonomy” on both sides of the LoC which shows how wide off the mark he is. All he needs to do is remove his India blinkers so that he can see that Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir are seeking freedom not autonomy and generation after generation of Kashmiris is dying for this Azadi. Nor, as he claims, is the US uniquely situated to play a “moderating role” in Kashmir. In fact, the US has lost all credibility after it declared that the brutal killings by Indian security forces in Occupied Kashmir were India’s internal matter. India giving autonomy to Kashmir will not resolve the problem as the latest uprising of Kashmiri youth shows only too glaringly. As for Pakistan supporting the freedom struggle, even the most passionate India supporter will admit that the latest uprising of the stone-pelting youth is entirely indigenous and not under any outside force’s control. Perhaps it is time Mr Harrison got real on this region rather than simply giving in to his own imagination on what Pakistan and India are all about. His view does not gel with ground realities and it is time his half-truths and hidden agenda were exposed on all fronts.

To complete the pattern of India’s adept propaganda, no sooner had Harrison article appeared then India went to town, expressing concern over what was happening in Gilgit Baltistan and Chinese inroads there! See the cycle: Visa refused to Indian general by China, Harrison article appears, India finds pretext to take up diplomatically, what is a non-issue? Meanwhile what are we doing as such webs of deceit are spun around us?

http://www.youtube.com/user/ericssonmultimedia?v=P8gHT3Xgz9A&feature=pyv&ad=5065562076&kw=india&gclid=CJuk4dqt66MCFcRA6wodr2492Q

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