Mushkilaat. That is the Urdu word for difficulties. It is a word that predominantly characterizes the year 2020. These difficulties challenged the nation and the Armed Forces, testing our resolve once more. The country was faced with the aggressive stance of a neighbor that has moved decisively in a more avowedly majoritarian direction, the effects of which were felt in the form of various disturbing events: revocation of article 370 and 35A, Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020, the Balakot airstrike and escalation along the LoC. Furthermore, the recent report by the EU DisinfoLab released on December 9, 2020 uncovering 15 years of Information Operations (IOs) indicates India’s attempts at discrediting Pakistan on a massive scale. The disinformation and influence operation was termed a Category Six operation, the highest grade of the Ben Nimmo’s breakout scale. It is important to note that an IO is graded in Category Six if it triggers a policy response or some other form of concrete action, or if it includes a call for violence.
Although these challenges are not new, the world seems to be just realizing the breadth of aggression being directed towards Pakistan. What’s more, instead of being discouraged the hostile party seems set on deliberately repeating the same mistakes of the past despite knowing the risks and repercussions associated with its series of actions. This is obvious from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister’s statement during a presser in UAE which hinted at India’s designs to escalate the situation in order to divert attention from its internal situation. This makes it clear how it has refused to act like a responsible state, a responsibility which Pakistan has urged upon time and again.
Earlier, in a joint press conference by Foreign Minister and DG ISPR, irrefutable evidence related to India’s plan was shared in the form of a dossier which indicates how it is using terrorist organizations as a part of its grand design to destabilize Pakistan. Besides the objectives to create obstacles in Pakistan’s progress towards peace and economic stability, and creating chaos and political instability in the country, the EU DisinfoLab reports of 2019 and 2020 show how its objective is not just limited to this but also aims to discredit Pakistan internationally and push its agenda on the international level. This is not an isolated effort but an agenda pushed through multiple means, rather a narrative informed by its motives. The domestic discussion on Indian news channels is rife with strong anti-Pakistan sentiments, even boosting unfounded reports that further this particular agenda. An Indian channel known for its allegiance to BJP was recently fined by the UK communications regulator Ofcom for broadcasting hate speech and pejorative references against Pakistani nation.
This hatred is also obvious in its brazen targeting of civilians, and now even UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) personnel, along the LoC. During his recent LoC visit, COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, spoke of the Indian provocations along the LoC, “Indian provocations particularly recent targeting of UNMOGIP vehicles are a threat to regional peace and stability. Indian Army shall always get befitting response to any misadventure or aggression. Pakistan Army shall take measures to protect innocent civilians along the LoC and defend honor, dignity and territorial integrity of the motherland at all costs.”
Besides these challenges, for Pakistan, much like the rest of the world, the year 2020 was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic – a public health, humanitarian and development emergency. For the first time since 1945, the entire world has been affected by a common threat, putting it at war against the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has severely affected the national and global economies, and Pakistan is no exception, harming the poorest and the most vulnerable in our societies, threatening to push more into poverty. But as with all other challenges the country has dealt with, the Pakistan Armed Forces, professionals and people came together as one to tackle it.
The challenges confronting Pakistan as we enter 2021 are quite many but let’s bear in mind that this nation has overcome overwhelming odds in the past. Together, we will confront and overcome these challenges as well, as one nation. Pakistan Armed Forces are cognizant of all challenges faced by Pakistan and fully prepared to confront them with the support of the nation. As COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, reiterated during a field exercise near Gujranwala, “Pakistan Armed Forces, with the support of our great nation, are fully prepared to vanquish threats in all domains.” However, while we are doing our part, the world powers must realise the threat India is posing to the entire region with its hegemonic designs and the desire to consolidate power.
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