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Pashtun Soldiers under Intelligence Scanner in Pakistan

Are We Preparing for Another Bangladesh by alienating Pashtun servicemen ?

*Waqas Ahmed*

Editor, Digital Media- Daily Pakistan Global.

Inputs from highly placed source in agency revealed  that Pashtuns officers and troops are eyed with suspicion of ethnic and  interrogated by ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) on the grounds of few  for conniving with PTM and foreign agencies. About half of the of the investigated Pashtun officers and soldiers are from Multan based II Corps of Pakistan Army.

Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies are intensely monitoring Pashtun army officers and soldiers serving in army, Frontier Corps and Levies. With every passing day suspicion is rising in security establishment. Since audacious suicide attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi by Baloch freedom fighters; senior intelligence officers were pointing the fingers towards serving Baloch and Pashtun soldiers for conniving with Baloch insurgents. The Karachi attack was planned for almost year and Baloch insurgents were operating from hotel located at Lyari locality of Karachi.without getting arrested. The officers concluded that many serving Pashtun officers in local police and couple of serving army officers were hand in glove of perpetrators of Karachi attack. Pashtuns are perceived to be the weakest links in chain. Due to rising Pashtun storm loyalty of Pashtuns  in uniform is being questioned. To avert a large scale mutiny a rigourous scan is undertaken.

The level of suspicion regarding Pashtun servicemen sharply grown when on January 1, 2019 Tehrik E Taliban fighters attacked ISI interrogation facility situated within Loralai Cantonment attacked in which 5 army men martyred. The ISI interrogation facility was well guarded and too much difficult to access for the outsiders. But TTP fighters could easily circumvent and reach there. They killed 5 troops and injured scores others. Though all TTP fighters eliminated by Pakistani forces, the psychological blow which it dealt was immense. The ISI and Pakistan Military Intelligence joint interrogation zeroed in on two Pashtun officers and dozen troops deployed in same cantonment and in the vicinity.

Pashtun officers and troops would be biggest threat is assessed by Pakistan Army and ISI

After two stunning attacks on unexpected targets, i.e. Karachi Chinese Consulate and Loralai Cantonment intelligence community was baffled. Scores of Pashtun army and intelligence officers were already under scanner and then followed another audacious attack on Loralai DIG office. But before that ISI has rounded up about 11 Pashtun army and FC officers along with 87 Pashtun troops for conniving with perpetrators of attacks and for having contacts with foreign intelligence agencies.

Pakistan Army bans social media use.

Trying to find out way to stop poaching its Pashtun officers and soldiers by foreign agencies and Pashtun terrorist groups, the ISI forced Pakistan Army to issue notification banning use of social media by armed forces personnel.

New Wall of Pashtun alienation from Pakistani mainstream society just visibly risen.

With hounding near about 100 Pashtun officers and troops under charges of terrorism and for having ties with Pashtun nationalist groups, the Pashtun community will get segregated further in months to come. Pashtuns are about 15% in Pakistan's population, which is largest ethnic/ linguistic group after Punjabis. But due to their natural fighting skills and staunch Sunni Muslim credentials, Pashtuns are about 40% in Pakistani armed forces, paramilitary troops and police force.

When high handed actions against Pashtun army officers and troops will spread within Pashtun society, it will prove counter productive for Pakistan Army and increasing numbers of Pashtuns serving in armed forces in various capacities will lend their services to the enemy forces and Pashtun Nationalist Movements.

Alarm bells are ringing since murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud. Pashtun Tahafuz Movement successfully exploited the discontent which followed. But it would be fatal mistake to alienate and segregate Pashtuns in Pakistani Armed Forces.

With assertive foreign agencies sitting on Pakistan's doorsteps to hunt, exploit and widen ethnic divides; Pakistani agencies must restrain themselves from doing anything that could set a wave of Pashtun Nationalism among its armed forces.

Will interrogation of Pashtun servicemen create another Bangladesh like situation in near future?

Answer is YES, such blunt moves are definitely going to create foundation for another Bangladesh on Western Frontier of Pakistan. Pashtuns are always building blocks of Pakistan's security apparatus since the very beginning. Pakistan deployed Pashtun tribesmen to conquer Kashmir in 1948, they were vanguards in 1971 Bangladesh war. Even Pakistan Army chiefs were Pashtuns. There are many core commanders from Pashtun community. So mass suspicion and rampant persecution of Pashtun officers and troops would create such a situation, which no COAS want to face.

The day on which Pashtuns, as a ethnic and linguistic minority of Pakistan will start raising the demand for separate Pashtun Nation, the very idea of Pakistan envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam will witness its funeral and that would be worst day for Pakistani Nationalism.

The high headed must be careful lest with such atrocious actions against Pashtun servicmen, PTM slogan of "Da Sanga Azadi Da? will get natural boost.

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