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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/18/15

Unfolding Islamic Events in Mauritius

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Cashing in on the latest upsurge in Islamist activities in Mauritius, Pakistan has decided to make the Indian Ocean nation its new outpost for anti-India campaigning. Towards this end, Islamabad is sending retired Army Major General Raza Muhammad, who had closely worked with the Islamist militants during his stint in ISI (2011-13), as its envoy to Port Louis.

The appointment coincides with the "Islamic push" of the government of Sir Anerood Jugnauth as a part of its efforts to consolidate its hold over the minority Muslim community at home and to secure long term financial backing from the Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia. A Mauritius embassy is likely to be opened in Riyadh shortly to shore up bilateral ties. Raza has good contacts in Riyadh, where he was on deputation to the Saudi Army, retiring in April 2013.


This is not the first such diplomatic appointment for Pakistan nor will it be the last, since the Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) dominates foreign policy, and has recourse to proxies to further foreign policy goals. Pakistan has been regularly posting military men and time tested sleuths to its diplomatic missions in Asian countries, particularly Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

One such diplomat was sent back from Dhaka recently while another was exposed in Colombo late last year. In the middle of last year, two senior Pakistani diplomats were expelled from Sri Lanka on charges of aiding terror groups in southern India that had plans to target the US and Israeli consulates. The dubious distinction of being the first diplomat to be expelled by Bangladesh is held by a Pakistani.

Pakistan and Bangladeshi ties turned frosty after the Sheikh Hasina government put on trial 'the collaborators of Pakistani army' during Bangladesh's war of liberation in 1971. Death sentences meted out to some members of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), who had helped the Pakistani army carry out systematic genocide improved ties in recent weeks.


Yet, when Assistant Visa Officer Mohamed Mazhar Khan "secretly met one of his local contacts," Dhaka asked him to leave, in what has been described as 'a no fuss exercise'. Islamabad fretted and fumed but all in low key over the expulsion and the charge that Mazhar Khan was providing "funds to Muslim extremist groups and running a fake Indian currency racket". Documents seized from him revealed that he was in touch with members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), and that counterfeit currency was being used to fund terror groups such as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen in Bangladesh.

The 'expulsion' incident occurred some three weeks after Bangladeshi police arrested four suspected members of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, including a regional IS commander identified as Mohammad Sakhawatul Kabir, according to a German News Agency, DPA repor on Feb 5, 2015. His three associates have been identified as Nazrul Alam, a financier, Anwar Hossain, convicted in an explosions case, and Rabiul Islam.

Kabir told the Dhaka Police that he and his three associates had received training in Pakistan. "The cell he ran from Dhaka was planning to collect funds and weapons for attacks on Bangladeshi government targets. The aim of the attacks was to establish a caliphate in Bangladesh, Shaikh Nazmul Alam, deputy police commissioner with Dhaka's detective and criminal intelligence division, told reporters, thus confirming reports about the growing influence of Islamic State. Last year, Bangladesh police arrested eight people for their involvement with Islamic State.


The Khan expulsion is significant from another perspective. Investigations by Bangladeshi sleuths show that Khan had run a well-oiled syndicate that regularly pushed fake Indian currency notes (FICN) through the porous border into India's Assam and West Bengal provinces Retired armed forces officers, businessmen, police officers and academics were part of the racket, Khan's accomplice and local hoodlum Mohamed Mozibur Rahman confessed during interrogation. He was in touch with Khan's predecessor at the Pakistan High Commission as well, and travelled 22 times to Pakistan, 11 times to India, 22 times to Thailand in the past decade distributing fake Indian currency, Dhaka media quoted investigators as saying.

Mazhar Khan was not the first Pakistani diplomat to be declared persona non grata by Dhaka. That honour went to Irfanur Rehman Raja, Number Two in the Pakistani diplomatic mission, some fifteen years ago.

According to the BBC, the Deputy High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Irfanur Rehman Raja was withdrawn by the Pakistani Government in December 2000 after his comments on the Bangladesh Liberation War triggered a storm of protest in Dhaka. He had opened 'old wounds' when he rubbished the Bangladeshi assertion that nearly three million people were killed in the liberation war, and maintained that the number could at best be around 26,000. He also refused to apologize for the "War Crimes" committed against Bangladesh by Pakistani forces during the country's war of independence in 1971.

"With political and civil rights groups vociferously demanding his expulsion, the government of Bangladesh lodged a strongly worded protest with the Pakistani Government, forcing it to withdraw him", BBC reporters Moazzem Hossain (from Dhaka) and Susannah Price (from Islamabad) said in their dispatch titled, "Dhaka expels Pakistani diplomat" on Dec 15, 2000. In the process, Rehman Raja became the first "unwanted" foreign diplomat of Bangladesh.


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Rama Rao Malladi is New Delhi based senior journalist and distinguished commentator on South Asian and Central Asian issues. He is a regular contributor to several publications in and outside India. His articles are featured in News Blaze.Rama (more...)

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