Questioning anti-Pakistan Iranian policy makes us anti Shia?


By Dr Shahid Qureshi :-

In past, few years the Iranian narrative towards Pakistan has changed with increase in their love affair with India but not acknowledged by the Pakistani establishment for various reasons: (a) are they in denial (b) ignoring it (c) being complacent and complicit (d) or all the above. They don’t know about chain of Indian consulates on the borders of Pakistan starting from Afghanistan to Iran up to the port of Chabhar ‘base station of Indian Agency RAW.

Vali Nasr wrote in Foreign Affairs, July/August 2006, ‘When the Shiites Rise’, “By toppling Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has liberated and empowered Iraq’s Shiite majority and has helped launch a broad Shiite revival that will upset the sectarian balance in Iraq and the Middle East for years to come. This development is rattling some Sunni Arab governments, but for Washington, it could be a chance to build bridges with the region’s Shiites, especially in Iran”.

The great game of weakening Pakistan was going on for few years but now it has taken pace and no one seems to be bothered?

As an observer of the above great game against Pakistan, I had a unique experience on 5th April 2017, when three Pakistani half time or full time journalists fighting for the Iranian corner on Pakistani soil i.e. The High Commission in London after the informal off camera briefing of the Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor.

Well the General was relaxed, open and confident which I must appreciate but as I told Imran Khan once: ‘when you answer long question with short answer than you will be a true politician’. That is beside the point using this opportunity I asked him a question and a comment coming out of his speech about the role and responsibilities of media persons.

My Question was linked with the Iran’s pro India policies and use of Pakistani Shias as asset. I asked the General that: “

“In the context of toppling of RAW agent Kulbushan Yadav network which lead to the arrest of over 472 agents in Pakistan including two employees of the Khana-e-Farhang Iran Multan as well as confessions of Uzair Balooch who hold the Iranian citizenship with different name and admitted to been involved in terrorism in Karachi as well as Baluchistan to sabotage the CPEC project as well as damage Gawadar Port.

More recently, on 28th March 2017, few days ago, a German Court has sentenced a Pakistani Mustafa Haider for over 4 years Jail for spying for Iran. “The court found that Mustafa, who came to Germany from Karachi in 2012, was paid 2,000 euros ($2,170) for his intelligence activity. It is on the record that over 5000 Pakistani Shias from Paracchinar and Gilgit Baltistan went to Iran for military training and later joined the war in Syria against the anti-Asad forces. Some of them who were killed their families are helped with pensions and offered nationality.  Experts believe that Iran is continuing with the policy of using Shias in various Muslim and other countries including Pakistan for its political objectives as an asset same as Israelis are using Jews around the world as assets. That is one of the major problem which Muslim countries objected to Iran as interference in the sovereignty. I have not seen any protest to Iran from the Pakistani foreign office asking Iran to stop recruiting Pakistani Shias for military training and spying.”

Pakistan should protect its communities from becoming a target of terrorism and both Iranian – Saudi proxy war must end on our soil.

During his speech, The General quite rightly mentioned about the important role and responsibility of the media persons and journalists as well as scope of media. I informed the General about the situation of media persons and journalists in United Kingdom. I mentioned to the General that since you have counted so many things which media can do for Pakistan to build a soft image as well as protect the Pakistani narrative in international media. The ground reality is that majority of the journalists or media person in the UK are not getting paid appropriately by their media groups and some are even working for free.

So, when you (Government of Pakistan) give money to the media bosses it should make sure that they are paying their employees working on the ground. That is in my view is a matter of ‘national security’ for following reasons: (a) These people who are walking around with colorful microphone and logos must be taking salaries or earnings from some other sources (b) These people don’t have any stakes or proper training as how to respect the hosts instructions. (c) Why would someone want to work for free in a country like UK where people are getting paid hourly basis, that is the most important question? (d) I will be very suspicious if someone come and say that I will cook free for you. If I am so naive to hire such an individual to cook for me and my family, I have put their lives at risk and I could be poisoned at any time? It is not a joke as there is no such thing as free lunch.

Well proof is in the pudding, one reporter asked The General about “Pakistani officials meeting the leaders of the banned outfits”, that is a typical pro Indian / Iran Shia narrative question being to every visiting minister in London by the reporter of that community group.

The second question asked to the General Asif Ghafoor by a Shia sect reporter was about the appointment of General Raheel Sharif as head of the Muslim Task Force and so much so he asked him an operational question as “would soldiers form (Shia) community ‘with Shia sounding names’ be excluded from the contingent joining the task force”.?

That is a line coming from somewhere else. The question one ask why this person was given access to this meeting in first place? This is a question coming from a low paid or free working reporter of a TV channel who has successfully put Pakistani Army spokesperson on the defensive. No?

The so called reporter questioning the formation of Pakistani military contingent for Muslim Forces Alliance lead by General Raheel Sharif based in Saudi Arabia was seemingly ignorant about formation of Shia Army according to Iranian General Retired General Mohammad Ali Falaki, who said: “We formed Shiite army to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen” “The Shiite Liberation Army is currently fighting on three fronts – Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he told Mashregh news agency, which is close to the IRGC, in an interview.  He said Pakistanis have their ‘Zeynabioun’ militia group, Iraqis have their ‘Heydarioun’ while the Lebanese have Hezbollah.”

Read More: Iranian general: We formed Shiite army to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

It is a matter of pride that a Pakistani General (Raheel Sharif) is asked to lead such a force which will increase the image of Pakistan in the Muslim World and this is also not a Sunni alliance as Azerbaijan, best friend of Pakistan, a Shia dominated county is member of this military alliance. As Pakistani, we should be proud of General Raheel Sharif’s appointment and look after our own national interests.

While talking to me at a reception in London Pakistani Director General Military Operation (DGMO) Major General. Sahir Shamshad beautifully summarized by saying: “Iran is our neighbour and Saudi Arabia is our ally”.

More Reading:

Vali Nasr’s Shia Revival in Pakistan and Sunnis of Iran

11th November 2016

Vali Nasr’s Shia Revival in Pakistan and Sunnis of Iran

‘The Shia Strategy in Iraq and Pakistan’

Zafar Hashmi in an article published on 11th January 2005

Indian Spying Ring – Over 400 men connected to Yadav nabbed in Pakistan

Indian Spying Ring – Over 400 men connected to Yadav nabbed in Pakistan

(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), Turkish TV, LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015, March 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Khomeini and visited Tehran University. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He is a PhD in Political Psychology and studied Law at a British University. He speaks at the Cambridge University)