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December 3, 2020

India no longer big threat, says former ISI chief

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December 3, 2020

LAHORE: Former ISI chief Lt-Gen (R) Asad Durrani says India is no longer a big threat because of the mess it created after illegally annexing the disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Durrani, while speaking to a foreign broadcast on Wednesday, said: “After what India did to IOJK, there is no threat to us on the eastern border. We should not lower our guard against a Balakot-like misadventure though, but Indians are so caught up in their own mess that they have little time to care about Pakistan.”

He said: “Pakistan is facing three types of challenges -- economy, political instability and social cohesion.”

“There are some areas like Balochistan where there is unrest among people who feel politically alienated and deprived. The economy is in bad shape.... The government’s credibility is bad because people believe it has been brought into power by the military.”

He believes Pakistan is facing inherent internal problems, including the most dangerous one. “To me Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey pose new challenges,” he added.

Durrani said military’s interference in political affairs was a reality but detrimental to the country. “Whether it [military’s interference] should or should not be is a debate that has not led us anywhere thus far. Our experience tells us that whenever the military intervened, the political parties ostracised staged a comeback,” Durrani said.

“Ayub Khan was supposed to keep Zulfikar Ali Bhutto out, but he staged a comeback and got elected. After Ziaul Haq, Benazir Bhutto came to power.”

The same thing happened during the regime of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. “The two parties which he thought should be kept out – PPP and PML-N – were elected to power. So, this political engineering is harmful,” he said.

“Imran Khan's biggest problem is the impression that he did not come to power by himself and that he came with a khaki burden. Some people don't learn from history because they say we will create our own history,” Durrani added.

The former ISI chief believes changing the status of Gilgit-Baltistan will be a blow to the Kashmir cause. “When I was looking after the affairs of Kashmir, a close friend of mine, Yusuf, explained to me that the day we made the mistake of changing Gilgit-Baltistan status, it would be a big blow to our Kashmir cause," he said. “You may give more rights to GB, if you want to, but it should not be forcibly made a province of Pakistan.”

He said the Balochistan problem could have been “better handled in three ways: politically, economically and socially. But we took it and made it a province and it is not being handled till date”.

Durrani said he was also opposed to the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered tribal Areas (Fata) with KP as the “500-year-old system there is running better than ours in some respects".