Is India Behind Propaganda Against Pakistan's Ambassador-Designate Masood Khan?

Is India Behind Propaganda Against Pakistan's Ambassador-Designate Masood Khan?

In recent days, some Indian groups and media has excoriated Masood Khan, Pakistan’s nominee as ambassador to the US, and mischaracterised him as a terrorist sympathiser, thus exposing their own methodology for disseminating disinformation and spreading fake news. They have repeatedly asked "Who is Masood Khan?" and then painted him in the darkest colors.

The truth is that he is one person who could not be called a terrorist sympathizer by any stretch. This is a pure fabrication.

Masood Khan is a moderate and liberal diplomat. Throughout his diplomatic career and as President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he has strongly campaigned against terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations. For the resolution of inter-state disputes, including with India, he has advocated peaceful means and multilateral diplomacy.

The international community, including high ranking US officials who have worked with him in bilateral settings or in different forum, know Masood Khan well.

Khan is an ardent supporter of Pakistan-US relations, which he considers a central plank of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Recognising the US as a pre-eminent nation in the world order, he believes that its continued leadership will ensure stasis and equilibrium. He is of the view that closer ties with the US will benefit Pakistan in the areas of trade and investment, tech sector, higher education, agriculture, among others. Stronger Pak-US relations will also create the conditions for strategic stability in the region.

At the 2005 World Society Information Summit, as Chair of the Internet Governance Committee, the Pakistani diplomat-turned-politicians was instrumental in resolving the difference on the Internet Governance between the US and the European Union, as well as between the US-EU and third world nations.

Similarly, as President of the 2006 Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, Masood Khan worked closely with American diplomats, Ambassador Christina Rocca and Don Mahley, to craft a historic consensus at a time when the BWC regime was in a state of disrepair.

As Pakistan Sherpa for the US-led Nuclear Security Summits, from 2009 to 2015, Masood Khan successfully worked with the American lead team, headed by Gary Samore and Laura Holgate, to steer the process towards constructive engagement and consensus. He also remained in close touch with Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller to ensure success of the process.

Ambassador Masood Khan has tirelessly worked to promote global agenda on human rights, international humanitarian law, immigration and labor rights. He also took the initiative to start a structured dialogue between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union, which survives up to this day.

While representing Pakistan in the UN Security Council in 2012-13, he worked closely with prominent US Ambassadors – Susan Rice, who later on became National Security Adviser, and Samantha Power, who presently heads USAID – to build consensus on counter-terrorism and peacekeeping. During this period, he also worked diligently on climate change and sustainable development.

Though Masood Khan does not mince his words when it comes to defending Pakistan’s national interests – be it Pakistan’s security, nuclear issues, Kashmir – he has always been respected and acknowledged by his Indian diplomatic counterparts for his professionalism, integrity and fair play.

During his presidency of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (2016-21), he told scores of conferences in Pakistan and abroad that war between Pakistan and India was not an option and that the only path open for both nations was dialogue, third party mediation or an UN-led process according to the UN Charter.

As soon as Masood Khan’s credentials for Ambassador the US were conveyed to Washington D.C, Indian disinfo web became active with its typical machinations. It first got two false articles on Masood Khan published by two known Pakistan baiters and Islamophobes and them circulated them in Indian newspapers, and then presented them as something ‘authentic’ coming from the US. Several top Indian TV networks broadcast programmes demonising Masood Khan based on those “facts”.

Recently, the same cabal enlisted the support of a US congressman, Scott Perry, from Pennsylvania to recycle and peddle the same falsehoods. The gullible, or not so gullible, congressman used the same piffle to malign Masood Khan and requested President Biden to reject his credentials. By doing so, the congressman did a big disservice to the prestigious US Congress by being duped by some unscrupulous Indian groups.

After the ‘release’ of the Congressman’s letter, the Indian media went berserk. Wall to wall coverage of Masood Khan in the print media and prime time TV networks breathlessly ranted against Masood Khan and the state of Pakistan. As if they were bringing down a titan and as if Pakistan had committed a cardinal sin by nominating their envoy whose credentials seem unblemished.

The question is why are some Indian groups so neuralgic and paranoid about Masood Khan, who they believe single-handedly, just being an envoy to the US, can hurt India interests. They f0rget he is going as ambassador the US, not to India. And, moreover, there is this “third country” principle, which prohibits ambassadors working against another country in a foreign land. All you can do is to voice your principled position on your national policy.

Is it possible that this uproar against Masood Khan is driven by the Indian agenda in an endeavor to continue to drive a wedge between the US and Pakistan, which have been and remain strategic allies? Do they want to keep Pakistan-US relations weak; and believe Masood Khan, given his past record, can act as a catalyst to turn things around in DC?

The story the Indian groups have concocted against Masood Khan is pathetic. They have made four allegations against him: 1) calling Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri who was gunned down in 2016, a hero;

2) saying that the US should not have banned Hizb ul Mujahideen, a Kashmir resistance group;

3) sharing podium “willingly” with Fazlur Rahman Khalil, a designated person by the US as a terrorist;

4) supporting Jamaat-i-Islamic, a terrorist organization; and

5) appealing to the US two years ago to consider releasing Afia Siddiqui, convicted on charges of terrorism.

On the first and second points, the position of Masood Khan is no different from the entire leadership of Pakistan. Such statements are made in routine, on July 8 every year, to reflect public sentiment. They are not a call for Jihad or war, because the decision to declare war is the sole prerogative of the state and not individuals or groups. As per our information, Masood Khan does not know Fazlur Rahman Kahlil of Harkat ul Ansar. It is probable the said individual may have been an attendee of a big political rally or conference. Masood Khan, as AJK President, would normally address a rally and leave shortly thereafter because of his busy schedule. As far as Jamaat-i-Islamic is concerned, it is not a terrorist group. It is a political party that participates in election, sits in the parliament and is part of the political spectrum. Masood Khan is not a member of the party or its supporter. Finally, successive Pakistani governments have appealed to the US government to consider releasing Afia Siddique in accordance with the provisions of the US. No extrajudicial demand has been made by anybody.

All these charges against Masood Khan and Pakistan are trumped up. This edifice has no foundation; no underpinnings. Truth and diplomacy should prevail.