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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Pulwama Black Swan

Updated: Feb 1, 2020

The theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying that presumed black swans did not exist. Juvenal's phrase was a common expression in 16th century London as a statement of impossibility. The London expression derives from the Old World presumption that all swans must be white because all historical records of swans reported that they had white feathers. In that context, a black swan was impossible or at least nonexistent. However, in 1697, Dutch explorers led by Willem de Vlamingh became the first Europeans to see black swans, in Western Australia. The term subsequently metamorphosed to connote the idea that a perceived impossibility might later be disproven. In the 19th century, John Stuart Mill used the black swan logical fallacy as a new term to identify falsification. Black swan events were discussed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2001 book Fooled By Randomness, which concerned financial events. His 2007 book The Black Swan extended the metaphor to events outside of financial markets. Taleb regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as "black swans"—undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the September 11, 2001 attacks as examples of black swan events.

Since early 90s, capitalizing on her large diaspora and ingress in international media and think tanks, India has shown commendable improvement in her international image by picking up Western ideas and mimicking every aspect of life i.e. dress, food, dance, music, movies, print and electronic media, language, technology, military and more importantly her Deep State’s capability to launch independent or joint clandestine operations. That has given India a false sense of bigness, adding to her disproportionate obduracy that only serves outdated Hindutva doctrine of Maha Bharat or greater India callously followed by ruling extremist party BJP with its militant wing RSS; nevertheless, to the dismay of greater majority and millions of minorities that stands bewildered in the face of crumbling image of secular democratic India. Indian media continues to malign her minorities and smaller neighbouring countries in order to put a blanket on her persecution of minorities (particularly Muslims, Sikhs, Christians). In the background of 9/11 incident in New York in 2001, Indian intelligence agencies were ultra quick to pick up the idea as they do for Hollywood movies, and soon started indulging in arranging mini Black Swan/ stage managed events of sabotage and espionage in her own country like Samjhota Express burning, attack on parliament, Mumbai attack on a hotel, Pathankot base attack and more recently Palwama Fidayeen ( suicide) attack on a convoy of paramilitary force by a Kashmiri freedom fighter who reportedly was already under custody of Indian Intelligence. Although no solid evidence was ever made public, within seconds the blame was put on Pakistan despite Indian own investigations later on pointing out towards either stage managed operations or indigenous retaliatory action by centrifugal forces. Ironically, far greater and repeated espionage operations in Pakistan with clear evidence of Indian hand resulting in killing of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians and paramilitary forces seldom got coverage or due condemnation by international media and community, thanks to Indian domination of electronic and print media and consequent successful propaganda, which must be making Chankaya Kutalaya proud and Goebbels turn in his grave.

Many analysts all over the world including even some Indians had predicted months ago likelihood of a mini Black Swan operation before Indian state elections, as heightened tension along Pakistan-India borders and such like cowardly incidents always serve sitting government in India to get more votes. But Pulwama incident on 14th Feb 2019 was timed well to serve India in a multiple ways i.e. sabotage Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) visit to Pakistan on 18 Feb and if that did not work, exploit the same during his subsequent visit to India, managed similar incident through a proxy in Iran in the same time-frame and created comparable narrative by Iran that perhaps was already uneasy with MBS visit to Pakistan, parallel incidents in Afghanistan in the same time-frame and create a common front from the West, further defame Taliban by linking it with Kashmiri Freedom Struggle to sabotage ongoing peace efforts in Afghanistan and undermine Pakistan constructive role, create yet another fissure in Pak-USA relations (the only country greatly upset by president Trump’s announcement of withdrawing forces from Afghanistan is India in addition to incumbent Afghan government that will deprive them of playing proxies from the Western front), get some respite for under trial serving spy Commander Kulbashan Jadhev in ICJ who was caught from inside Pakistan running espionage campaign to undermine CPEC, further antagonize incumbent Afghan government feeling cut out and isolated, attempt to tarnish Pakistan’s image that is quickly emerged with leaps and bounds on the international front in the last five months under new PTI government in Pakistan, disturb Pakistan’s improving internal front to provide some relief to under scrutiny Pakistani politicians who had been invested by India and served their purpose well, utilize anti Pakistan feelings created to gain votes that fell in the lap of Congress in the last quarter of the year 2018 with BJP’s defeat in three major states and in two states dissident political parties retaining power, address resurgence of Indian national congress party infused with fresh blood i.e. Piryanka Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi, mitigate pro Pakistan feelings among Sikh community due to opening up of Karatrpur corridor duly appreciated by international community too, justify further squeeze on three rivers water flowing into Pakistan and pave the way for walking out of Indus River Water treaty and finally provide legality and poor logic to extreme brutal killings of civilians, mass murder, rape, arson and pellet guns blinding of youth in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Too many birds to kill with one stone indeed!

Conversely, such an incident by just its timings alone is highly against Pakistan’s interest from all angles. After MBS visit and pretty useful investment of US $ 20 Billion plus, followed by lined up visits by Turkish and Malaysian heads of states; besides Russian prospective big investment in Pakistan is not only getting Pakistan on the long awaited road to economic prosperity but also greatly improving Pakistan’s diplomatic relevance, which obviously will contribute in furthering geo-strategic importance, security and compliment Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, Indus Water and other lingering disputes with India at UNO as well as on all other international forums.

The Prime Minster of Pakistan has given a befitting response to Indian allegations and created war hysteria followed by clear cut instructions to National Security Committee for keeping a befitting response ready against any Indian misadventure. While UNO, USA and other important countries have not supported Indian current allegations and are trying to diffuse the highly unwise tension created by Modi and his hawks, even the thought of an open conflict between two nuclear powers is considered madness beyond measure. It is time for Indian politically aware masses to choose the right party and better leadership for themselves in the forthcoming state elections that can live and let live all its neighbours as well as provide solace to badly maltreated minorities. The indigenous freedom struggle in Indian occupied Kashmir has reached a point where any further attempt to quell it by force will only act as a force multiplier; therefore, earlier India stops carnage and gives right of self determination to the people of Kashmir according to UN Resolutions, the better for her as well as for the peace in the region. India needs to understand that thousand lies cannot invalidate one truth.

·         Saleem Qamar Butt, SI (M) is a retired senior Army officer with rich experience in Military & Intelligence Diplomacy and is a writer and consultant on Strategic Analysis for many newspapers, magazines and Pakistan Television Network. (Mail:, Website: )

22 February 2019

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