AVM (r) Shehzad Chaudhary; Image Courtesy of Express Tribune
It was a pleasant surprise to see Mehr Abbasi conduct a reasonable show against religious extremism and violence. The only guest who made any sense and highlighted the root of the issue was the independent scholar, Sherbano Walajahi. To her credit, Mehr Abbasi asked some tough questions and was honest in our appraisal of religious extremism. Still, the only ones with the guts to mention and condemn the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were the women.
The men, which included Shafqat Mehmood of PTI, Miftah Ismail of PML N and army propagandist, (Retired) Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Shehzad Chaudhary were predictable in their vague and dishonest analysis.
AVM (r) Chaudhary highlighted the symptoms of religious radicalism, slammed civilian “governance” and inspite of clear evidence to the contrary, reverted to the Iran-Saudi proxy war theory. He conveniently forgot to mention the central role of his own institute, the Army in creating, maintaining and protecting Takfiri Deobandi-Salafi terrorists belonging to ASWJ, TTP and Jaish Mohammad as well as the LeT.
He repeated the same rubbish that was earlier peddled by the likes of Ejaz Haider. In their view, what is happening in Baluchistan is a multiple proxy war. As per (Retd) Air Vice Marshall Shehzad, the large scale massacres of innocent Shia civilians by LeJ is described as a proxy war between Iran on one side and Saudi/Qatar on the other.
Someone should ask AVM (r) Chaudhary whether it is Iranian proxies who are identifying and massacring bus passengers by name, shooting girl students in the head, blowing up schools, mosques, sufi shrines, imambargahs and market places. Someone should ask AVM Chaudhary whether Malik Ishaq and his LeJ are from Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab or from Tehran!
Both Sherbano and Mehr Abbasi repeatedly pointed out that Punjab was the home base and breeding ground for the most dangerous groups – a point that caused some discomfort to PML N’s Miftah Ismail as well as AVM (r) Shehzad Chaudhary.
However, unlike Miftah Ismail, Shehzad Chaudhary was more belligerent in his obfuscation. Coming from someone whose institution is the single biggest cause of terrorism in Pakistan, AVM (r) Chaudhary was strident in lambasting civilian institutes for the Dera Ismail Khan jail break. He very conveniently forgot to mention the role of his own institute in not only creating but fostering and allowing the Taliban monsters to keep growing. In the specific instance of DIK, he conveniently omitted the fact that multiple army checkpoints did nothing to either stop or prevent the attack or chase the attackers after the jail break.
Speaking of the civilian PTI government of KP where DIK is located, Shafqat Mehmood engaged in the typical wishy washy double speak which conveyed nothing. His response to extremism and the ways to combat it were typical responses from an out-of-depth and clueless management consulting trainee. They were clearly not expected from a leading spokesperson of a major political party. Then again, when the party is the Taliban apologist PTI, this comes as no surprise.
When Ms. Sheherbano requested specifics, this career turncoat politician (Shafqat Mehmood) chastised her for interfering with his propaganda. The moderator being Mehr Bukhari was far more gracious with the three Taliban apologists than she was with the late Governor Taseer.
The only guest who was honest was Ms. Sheharbano. She is the only who highlighted the root causes of extremism and who, unlike the other Taliban apologists and obfuscators, identified the terrorists groups and perpetrators by name. The most dishonest and misleading comments came from AVM (r) Chaudhary.