As tensions between India and Pakistan continue to surge over the line of control, former Pakistan ISI chief Asad Durrani said that the greatest threat to the country isn’t India. As far as external dangers are concerned, the retired general pointed towards Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey as new challenges.
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In an interview with BBC Urdu, Durrani said that Pakistan is not threatened by India but is mired with its internal problems, including political instability and the plummeting economy.
“India is no longer the biggest threat to us,” he said.
Elaborating on the internal issues of Pakistan, Durrani said in the interview that the country 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 stated.
He added that Pakistan’s decision to change the status of Gilgit-Baltistan will prove to be disadvantageous to the cause of Kashmir.
“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, without revealing who Yusuf was.
“You may give more rights to Gilgit-Baltistan if you want to, but it should not be forcibly made a province of Pakistan,” said Durrani, who was the director-general of the Pakistani intelligence agency from 1990 to 1993. Has also served as the ambassador of Pakistan to Germany and Saudi Arabia.
Durrani’s new book, Honour among Spies was recently published, which has once again brought him in the spotlight.
How A Book landed Him In A Soup
In 2018, Durrani found himself in a tight spot after he co-authored a book titled The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace with former RAW chief A S Dulat. Durrani was held guilty by the Pakistani Army’s Court of inquiry for violating the military code of conduct.
His pensions and other retirement benefits were curtailed. The book discussed some thorny topics, including terrorism, the Mumbai attacks, and the Kashmir issue.
He also said that there is no denying that military interference in political affairs, but it is detrimental to the country.
Talking about Kashmir, Durrani took shots at India’s decision to scrap Article 370 on August 5, 2019. The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided into the union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and was stripped of its special status and autonomy.
Durrani said that India pulled itself into a mess after the move in Kashmir and that it is no longer a threat to Pakistan on the eastern border.
“After what India did to Kashmir, there is no threat to us on the eastern border. We should not lower our guard against a Balakot-like misadventure though, but they [Indian] are so caught up in their own mess that they have little time to care about Pakistan.” According to him, the external challenges are now arising from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Threats From Middle-East
With warming relations between Israel and other Gulf nations especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s long-standing loathing for Israel has suffered a massive blow that was earlier backed by the Middle-East nations.
Moreover, as these peace deals between Arab nations and Israel are brokered by the United States, Pakistan’s alliances with Turkey and China have escalated its problems with the US-led alliance which includes the powerful and wealthy Arab world.
Pakistan has seen its ties deteriorating with many of these nations, which have snubbed the country on multiple occasions, especially on the Kashmir issue, and openly endorsed India. The UAE even awarded its highest civilian award to Indian PM Narendra Modi.
Analysts believe that Pakistan PM Imran Khan plans to forge a non-Arab alliance with Iran and Turkey, and hopes for support from the bigwigs, China and Russia will only end up antagonizing the Arab world and US-led grouping.
If the Arab world actually withdraws its support from Pakistan, Islamabad could see an economic collapse as the country receives annual remittance worth billions of dollars from these nations. And if Pakistan dumps Turkey and China who have been the biggest supporters of Pakistan, it could pose a massive security challenge.
According to experts talking to the EurAsian Times, Pakistan is in a ‘spot’ to recognize Israel. Doing so would result in internal mayhem and not recognizing the Jewish nation would be economic suicide. This is what Durrani hinted at, while not really elaborating.