Pakistan’s powerful Army is unlikely to change its decades old policy of supporting non-State actors for conducting terrorist activities against its neighbours, a top Mohajir leader said as Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.
“It’s hard to see a significant shift in the US-Pakistan relationship based on this visit alone. The Pakistani military will have to radically transform its current policy of harbouring and supporting religious extremist elements before Pakistan could expect a significant improvement in relations with the US,” Nadeem Nusrat, head of the US-based Voice of Karachi, told PTI.
Representing the Mohajirs based in the US, the Voice of Karachi has planned a series of peaceful protests during Mr. Khan’s visit against human rights violations by the Pakistani security forces.
Mohajirs are Urdu-speaking people who migrated from India during partition. A large number of Mohajirs reside in Sindh province’s urban areas – notably in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur.
Mr. Nusrat said that Pakistan, or to be precise, its military establishment, has repeatedly deceived the US by supporting elements that are a threat to American interests and the national security.
“The past US Administrations, for one reason or another, continued to ignore this apparent deception but the current Administration is different. Pakistan now has to demonstrate a meaningful shift in its past policies clearly, or it is likely to face even more financial challenges and growing diplomatic isolation,” Mr. Nusrat said.
The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
“Pakistani military establishment, which runs Pakistan, has for long treated religious extremist outfits such as Jamat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammad, etc. as national, or security assets. Some experts believe that these outfits are an extension of the Pakistani military. The real question here is: Can Pakistani Military abandon its prized assets such as JuD and the Taliban? The answer is an emphatic no,” he said in response to a question.
Mr. Nusrat said JuD chief Saeed may be in prison today, but this hasn’t happened for the first time. Saeed has been arrested many times in the past, he noted.
He said that if the country’s leadership, in particular the generals, want Pakistan to become a respectful, viable, prosperous and progressive state, they will have to admit that Pakistan is not home to its Punjabi population alone.
“They will have to allow every ethnic and religious group in Pakistan – Mohajirs, Balochs, Pashtuns, Hazaras, Gilgitis, Baltistanis, Ahmadis, Shias, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, moderate Muslims – enjoy equal rights and take an equal stake in its affairs. Creating Greater Karachi will be a significant first step in this direction,” he said.
The Greater Karachi map that he presented includes Karachi, Hyderabad, and all other Mohajir-majority areas, barring Sukkur, which are part of urban Sindh.
“Pakistan will also have to respect its neighbours and their sovereignty. The era of using proxies to cause terror at home and in neighbouring countries to achieve the so-called security objectives is well and truly over. It is now time to establish a deep friendly relationship with Pakistan’s all neighbours,” Nusrat added.
The residents of Karachi, Mohajirs in particular, see the United States of America as their natural ally and they need, desperately its help, he said in a letter to Trump on behalf of South Asian Minorities Alliance Foundation.
Alleging the residents of Karachi are being subject to human rights violation and suppression by security forces, Nusrat in his letter said that these intimidation tactics to politically control the population of Karachi through the denial of basic human needs and the right of representation are averse to the political and security interests of the US.
“If it continues, ISIS and other similar terrorist organisations can prey on the vulnerabilities of this Karachi population and find sanctuaries there.
“The Chinese influence is sneaking its way into the Karachi vicinity and may be in a position, with the direct or indirect approval of the Pakistan government, to lure those needy citizens of Karachi to work and thereby be bought into the influence of the Chinese government,” he said.
In his letter, Nusrat urged Trump that in his meeting with Khan, he raise the issue of fair representation for the people of Karachi. There must be a commitment by the national government that a larger percentage of taxes received from people of Karachi remains in the city to fund basic employment, housing, transportation and sanitary needs.
“There must be a crackdown on the draconian brutality of the actions of the quasi-military police force which is the source of deaths, kidnapping, enforces disappearances, political engineering and basic civil rights abuses,” Nusrat said.
South Asian Minorities Alliance Foundation and Voice of Karachi have planned a series of protest against Prime Minister Khan during his visit to the US.