By Tilak Devasher
New Delhi [India] 19 October (ANI): An interview given by Moeed Yusuf, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s national security adviser and strategic policy planning, provided to an Indian media platform recently, made headlines in Pakistan. In some circles, it was even seen as a much-needed victory against the backdrop of the storm of protest by the Opposition.
What is the real role of Moeed Yusuf? A decision issued by the Chair of the Islamabad High Court in August 2020 stated that non-elected advisers and special assistants to the prime minister cannot exercise executive or administrative powers in carrying out government functions; any executive function performed will be deemed to have been taken illegally, and therefore no longer valid. Most importantly, according to court rulings, special advisers and assistants are not even authorized to speak on behalf of the government.
According to the same assessment, the PM’s advisor has no role in the policy affairs of a ministry. Pakistan has Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, so how do non-elected advisers make policy statements?
For example, Yusuf asserted that no decision had yet been made to make Gilgit Baltistan (GB) a province and GB would be included in the vote on the day the voting took place. Such policy statements are not only illegal and invalid but also raise the question of whether the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Kashmiri Affairs have been dismissed or so incompetent that they are handing over responsibility in foreign policy and Kashmir affairs to unelected advisers?
Yusuf may have tried to avoid this breach by projecting himself the equivalent of India’s National Security Advisor (NSA). Unfortunately, he didn’t. Pakistan’s last NSA was Lt. Gen. Naseer Janjua (retired) who resigned in June 2018 after Imran Khan’s government came to power.
So, Yusuf doesn’t have the standi locus to make statements like he does to speak on behalf of the Pakistani government. On this basis alone, entire interviews can be discarded and are best viewed as individual views.
This article could end here but it is necessary to expose the untruth and half-truths that Yusuf made with the full knowledge and support of Imran Khan and through him in the army.
For starters, the interviews, which were conducted at the highest levels in Pakistan, pegged the lie that India was sending messages to Pakistan showing a desire to engage in dialogue. After painting India as the applicant, the interview allowed Yusuf to name the Kashmir-centered prerequisites Pakistan considered necessary for initiating dialogue.
It allows a cheap pulse for its domestic audience that Pakistan is not desperate for dialogue but is laying down difficult conditions before talks can take place. Yusuf must have recognized the absurdity of this condition and the logical conclusion is that if the offer of talks is not basically a bluff, then in a convoluted manner it is an indication that Pakistan is seeking talks.
In short, trying to convey the message that Pakistan was not too interested in dialogue with India, he was just the opposite. However, Yusuf’s efforts were in vain when a spokesman for the Indian MEA later denied claims that India was sending any messages for dialogue.
The more nasty board in the interview tries to force equality between Pakistan and India on the issue of terrorism. He tried to do this by linking to India, the individual who carried out specific attacks in Pakistan such as the Army Public Schools in 2014. Although Yusuf thought this would be sensational, it actually failed because it was not supported by any evidence nor was he convinced why the information was not was revealed before.
In Kashmir, Yusuf said that India has scored its own goals with the change of 05 August 2019, staring at the explosion, must save itself from embarrassment and reverse the course. This raises the question that if India is in a swamp, Pakistan should rejoice, then why should Yusuf be concerned?
Obviously, it is because India has handled the situation with maturity, belying Pakistan’s hopes and Yusuf articulates Pakistan’s frustration so that the situation doesn’t explode.
Yusuf’s underlying argument is that India has become a ‘rogue state’ because it never complied with the UN Charter and UN resolutions and now India has officially violated them. Yusuf clearly hasn’t read the UN resolutions and the step-by-step approach they have put in place for holding the vote. Perhaps it would be good for him to reread the resolution carefully and realize that it was Pakistan that did not follow the resolution and violated the UN resolution and not India.
The extraordinary assertion that Yusuf made was that Pakistan did not recognize the instrument of accession because it was signed under pressure. He, like others before him, had completely ruled out a Pak-sponsored invasion of the so-called muggers on 22 October 1947 which created the Kashmir problem in the first place.
Pakistan had directly planned and carried out the invasion despite having a Standing Agreement with the Maharaja. There is documentary evidence to suggest that Jinnah and Liaquat Ali were on board.
The options before the Maharaja were striking – accept the plunder and destruction of his kingdom or ask for help. He chose the last option but according to Yusuf, he made the suspect’s accession instrument !!! What Yusuf implied was that faced with an invasion, the Maharaja had to agree to Pakistan and then the instrument would become valid.
In Kulbhushan Yadav, Yusuf was also very weak. He claims that the two consular accesses granted are unhindered but they are just that. He insisted that India should choose Pakistani lawyers even after it was shown to him that as far back as April 2017, the Lahore High Court Bar Association had said that action would be taken against Pakistani lawyers defending Kulbhushan Jadhav.
Against such setbacks, how can India expect Pakistani lawyers to defend Jadhav? Joseph could not answer it well.
Regarding the Mumbai terror attacks, which realized Pakistan was buying time, Yusuf accused India of deliberately delaying sending witnesses and sharing evidence.
According to him, this was done to continue to accuse Pakistan of terrorism. This is indeed an absurd argument
The escape door that Yusuf uses is to claim a lofty moral ground, that at the instructions of his prime minister, he wants to talk about the future – ‘to talk to you how we can move forward, how can we solve our problems, not to bring up past matters . ‘
In other words, India should sweep Pakistani terrorist activity under the carpet and forget about it. Joseph had to realize that this was not going to happen. The precious lives of Indians have been lost that the country does not want to forget. Pakistan must accept that regardless of its terrorist activity in India there will be no movement forward and India will bring up its past with full satisfaction.
Where Yusuf is perhaps most self-destructive is his rejection of the Uighur genocide. He stated that the Uighurs were not a problem, ‘… I tell you as a responsible official, we know everything we need to know about the Uighurs and everything in China as they do about us. We have no worries, no worries at all. ‘This is not just an outright lie given the growing body of credible evidence, but it will haunt Joseph for a long time.
Defending the boss is admirable, but for Yusuf to claim that Imran Khan is a strategic thinker is ridiculous and humorous. Imran Khan’s track record is none other than being a strategic thinker while statements like that make Yusuf’s credibility too bad.
Overall, the most striking thing about the interview is the series of untruths and half-truths that Yusuf peddled. In the process, however, he uncovers Pakistan’s strategy to try to damage the Indian brand before India takes a seat on the UN Security Council.
(Disclaimer: The author of this opinion article is Tilak Devasher, who is the author of three well-known books on Pakistan and Member of the National Security Advisory Council) (ANI)
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