Talk about Dalits, reach out to Modi haters, use Media – Pakistan’s new Kashmir policy

In wake of Modi government’s diplomatic onslaught against Pakistan coupled with surgical strikes by the army, Pakistan is working out a new strategy to counter India. A committee consisting of members of the Pakistani senate has come out with a report that has some tactical suggestions for the government of Pakistan.

OpIndia.com has in its possession the aforementioned report i.e. the policy document adopted by the committee constituted to guide Pakistan Government on “policy guidelines in view of the latest situation developing between India and Pakistan.” A detailed analysis of this document (pdf link) throws some interesting insights.

Background of the Committee

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The Senate of Pakistan is like an “Upper House” which gives equal representation to all federation units of the state and is constituted by elected Members. Members represent Pakistani people and are expected to “defend and promote national interests.” On 22nd July 2016 this legislating body had passed a unanimous resolution condemning the killing of Burhan Wani and atrocities by Indian Army.

The 13 member Committee was formed vide a resolution dated 26th September 2016 i.e. after the Uri Attack. On 29th September 2016 the Committee was briefed by none less than Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defense along with Secretary Defense and Sartaj Aziz, Advisor Foreign Affairs. On 4th October the Committee adopted the policy document unanimously.

Recommended policy to counter India

The policy paper starts with repeating usual rhetoric about Indian excesses in Kashmir, but it appears to be conceding that Pakistan has been cornered and isolated by India in recent weeks.

The paper declares that the stand taken by the current Indian government has been the most aggressive by any government since 1971, when both the countries went to war over independence of Bangladesh. It also expresses concern over the fact that Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka decided not to attend the SAARC summit, and expectedly, blames India for it.

But most interesting aspect is the kind of steps it suggests the government of Pakistan to take to counter India’s efforts of pressurizing and isolating Pakistan.

These are some of those recommended steps:

  1. The policy calls for a Media Coordination Committee with select Journalists as members to “counter Indian propaganda” and specifically promote a media strategy.
  2. It calls for periodical briefings of foreign media and optimal use of social media.
  3. It calls for setting up a “soft power office” (Aman ki Asha?) to highlight cultural and economic outputs.
  4. The policy stresses on the need to hire International lobbyists and strategic communication firms to “change global narrative”.
  5. The Policy document calls for highlighting the “fault-lines” in the Indian society. They specifically mention Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits as “alienated” sections about whom narrative should be built.
  6. The Policy also calls to target Modi and RSS ideology, and suggests reaching out to those in India who are “opposed to Modi’s extremism”. Policy specifically talks about reaching out to people in Political parties, Media, and Civil Society.

There are total of 22 points that further repeats old policies like building a Kashmir narrative where extremism is entirely blamed on India marginalizing the Kashmiri youth, and to tell USA that Pakistan won’t be able to help in US “war on terror” if India continues to engage it along its eastern borders.

However, the 5th and 6th points in this article show that what was once a covert strategy to create “fault-lines” within India is now an overt and open state policy of the Pakistan government, where they are seeking help from elements of the Indian society.

Sign of things to come

It seems Pakistan won’t need to try too hard as some sections in the Indian society are already doing what the policy would want them to do.

For example, the mainstream media ran a series of “attack on church” stories, most of which turned out to be fake or exaggerated, but it highlighted a “fault line” as desired by policy document. Similarly, the editorial policy of many Indian newspapers to mention castes of victim or perpetrator even if the crime is not caste related, is doing what the Pakistan’s policy documents suggests.

The Kashmir narrative where a youth is just frustrated by lack of jobs and government apathy is also a popular narrative being peddled by many in the Indian media. Such journalists sidestep the issue of Islamic radicalization that is being trigged by Pakistan’s agencies and other global events.

And instead of Pakistan reaching out to Modi haters, politicians like Manishankar Aiyar themselves have reached out to Pakistani and said “remove Modi and bring us”. Recently Arvind Kejriwal too got support from Pakistan over his comments on surgical strikes.

It almost appears that Pakistani senate came up with the policy after observing the conduct of Indian media and some politicians. Or maybe that was the “beta testing” of the policy before the document was made public?

Nonetheless, implementation of these strategies is now a public stated policy which will be backed by steps like hiring international lobbyists, as the policy document declares. This means that a lot of money is also on offer for those who are willing to help Pakistan in implementing this policy i.e. any more Ghulam Nabi Fais will be created.

So next time you are exposed to a narrative that sounds aligned to what Pakistan considers a part of its strategy to counter India, do make a little effort to find out if the journalist/activist/organization was chasing the “truth” or chasing the lobbying money.

Articles on Corporate Laws, Policy, Economics and Politics.
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