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Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila by Brig,(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Rejoinder to Dr. Subhash Kapila

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Dr. Subhash Kapila has written an article in Eurasia Review the theme of which is,Afghanistan cannot be abandoned to China-Pakistan-Russia Troika. A highly melancholic and distressful picture has been painted by the writer in a bid to remind Donald Trump Administration that Afghanistan is slipping out of the hands of the US and unless urgent and immediate measures are taken to forestall the impending strategic loss, Afghanistan would be lost for good which will have grave consequences for the sole super power. A persuasive wake-up call has been given to inviting Trump to act before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Subhash malevolently suggests that China-Pakistan axis now complemented by Russia will overturn the stability of the region. He has rung alarm bells that amidst the din of US Presidential election, Afghanistan has seemingly disappeared from the radar screen of USA and the Troika has fully exploited the vacuum to exploit it to its own advantage and to the disadvantage of Washington.

 

 

 

He sprinkles salt on the emotive feelings of USA by lamenting that the US huge investment and loss of lives of thousands of American soldiers have all gone waste owing to double dealing of Pakistan which the US has been claiming to be its strategic ally. He warned the new US policy makers that the Troika is fully poised to seize the strategic turf of Afghanistan and thus deprive the USA of its influence in Central Asia and Southwest Asia.

One may ask Subhash as to why no concern was shown by him or any Indian writer when the Troika of USA-India-Afghanistan assisted by UK and Israel was formed in 2002 to target Pakistan. The Troika that has caused excessive pain and anguish to Pakistan and its people is still active. All these years, Pakistan was maliciously maligned, ridiculed and discredited and mercilessly bled without any remorse. The objective of the Troika and its supporters was to create chaos and destabilize the whole region which was peaceful till 9/11.

India was in the lead to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and fragment Pakistan.

The US installed puppet regimes of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani wholly under the perverse influence of India played a lead role in bleeding Pakistan by allowing so many hostile agencies to use Afghan soil for the accomplishment of their ominous designs.

The vilest sin of the so-called allies of Pakistan was its pretension of friendship and continuously stabbing Pakistan in the guise of friends. Worst was that Pakistan was distrusted and asked to do more against the terrorists funded, trained and equipped by the Troika and was humiliated by saying that it was either incompetent or an accomplice.

Driven by the desire to become the unchallenged policeman of the region and a bulwark against China, India assisted by its strategic allies has been constantly weaving webs of intrigue and subversion and striving hard to encircle and isolate Pakistan.

Proxy wars were ignited in FATA, Baluchistan, and Karachi to politically destabilize Pakistan, weaken its economy and pin down a sizeable size of Army within the three conflict zones so as to create conducive conditions for launching India’s much trumped up Cold Start Doctrine and destroy Pakistan’s armed forces.

India’s national security adviser has admitted that Pakistan has been subjected to his defensive-offensive doctrine to dislocate it through covert war. India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has vowed to break Pakistan into ten pieces. Modi has openly admitted that he has established direct links with anti-Pakistan elements in Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir. He confessed India’s central role in creating Bangladesh in 1971 and has often stated that pain will be caused to Pakistan. This is done by way of acts of terror against innocent civilians including school children, resorting to unprovoked firing across the LoC in Kashmir, and resorting to water terrorism. Pakistan has been repeatedly warned to lay its hands off Kashmir or else lose Baluchistan.

Pakistan has miraculously survived the onslaughts of the Troika and has stunned the world by controlling foreign supported terrorism after recapturing 19 administrative units from the TTP and its allied groups and up sticking all the bases in the northwest, breaking the back of separatist movement in Baluchistan and restoring order in lawless Karachi by dismantling the militant infrastructure of MQM and banned groups. Army, Rangers and Frontier Corps assisted by air force have achieved this miracle of re-establishing writ of the State in all parts of the country. Eighty-five of terrorism has been controlled.

Random terror attacks are now wholly planned and executed from Kunar and Nangarhar in Afghanistan under the patronage of RAW ad NDS and supervised by CIA.

Consequent to the new wave of terrorism last month, Operation Rad-e-Fasaad has been launched as a follow-up of Operation Zarb-e-Azb to net facilitators, handlers, and financiers of terrorists and to demolish sleeping cells in urban centres. The scope of this operation has been extended to all parts of the country, and all the three services are taking part in it to cleanse Pakistan from the presence of paid mercenaries and fifth columnists.

Implementation of 20 points of National Action Plan is being religiously expedited to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Afghan refugees are being returned and management of western border radically improved to prevent infiltration of terrorists.

Terrorism can however not be rooted out unless root causes that heighten extremism are addressed, and the bases in Afghanistan, as well as the patrons stoking terrorism, remain operative.

Pakistan has overcome energy crisis, considerably improved its macroeconomics and its stature in the world. Operationalization of CPEC, hosting of ECO meeting and holding of PSL cricket finals in Lahore have broken the myth of isolation.

Pakistan has made its defense impregnable by raising the level of minimum nuclear deterrence to full spectrum deterrence. Robust conventional and nuclear capability together with stable political and economic conditions have thwarted India’s desire to attack Pakistan overtly.

India and its strategic allies have been stopped in their tracks and left with no choice but to contend with covert war supplemented with propaganda war and coercive tactics to give vent to their pent-up anger.

India which is the chief villain of peace is deeply perturbed and is shedding tears over its failures and loss of billions spent on proxies to detach FATA, Baluchistan, Karachi and AJK from Pakistan, or to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program. The rapid progress made by CPEC has made the deadly Troika more rancorous.

Finding that its nasty game plan has run into snags with little chance of recovery, and above all Afghanistan is slithering away because of a resurgence of Taliban and ostensible insouciance of Washington, India is once again making efforts to provoke Trump and ruffle his feathers, the way it had efficaciously prevailed upon George Bush and Obama. It is now working on a new theme of demonizing so-called Troika of China-Russia-Pakistan, which is so far not in existence and is an illusion. Subhash is among the propaganda brigade selling this illusory theme and is suggesting that the so-called Troika have hegemonic and military designs against Afghanistan.

CPEC is an economic venture aimed at promoting peace and friend socalled Troika have hegemony in the region as a whole. It promises goodwill, harmony, and mutual prosperity through connectivity. Both China and Pakistan shun war mongering, proxy wars and psy operations to disparage others. The duo is bereft of colonial or quasi-colonial designs against any country. Since its memo is altogether different from the imperialist agenda of Indo-US-Israel, it threatens to unravel the global ambitions of the trio.

Whereas Afghanistan has not accepted the British demarcated Durand Line as a border with Pakistan and has been supportive of Pakhtunistan stunt, Pakistan has no disputes with Afghanistan and has always treated it as a brotherly Muslim neighbor.

Repeated invitations to India and Afghanistan to join CPEC and reap its benefits have been turned down. Both are complacent that CPEC will be a non-starter without an inclusion of peaceful Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that they are getting isolated. Moreover, a new route from Kazakhstan via Wakhan corridor is in pipeline which will bypass Afghanistan.

While China and Pakistan have jointly embarked upon the journey of peace and friendship and are attracting many countries, Russia is still hesitant and has so far not formally joined the bandwagon of CPEC which has great potential and has grandiose plans to link South Asia with Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa and eventually Europe.

Russia’s hesitation is owing to the fear of losing defence and economic markets in India. However, seeing the bright scope of CPEC and motivated by its age-old quest for warm waters, Russia will sooner than later abandon India because of Indo-US military agreements and gravitate towards CPEC. Recent developments have given a loud message to India that Russia is tilting towards Pakistan.

One of the reasons of Russia’s tilt is worsening security situation in Afghanistan which has turned into a big mess and is beyond the capacity of USA and Ghani regime to sort it out. Growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan has alarmed Moscow since the declared objective of this branch of Daesh is to re-establish ancient Khorasan, which comprised of parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The runaway TTP leaders Fazlullah, Khalid Omar and several others have tagged their names with Khorasani and have made Kunar-Nuristan as the base camp for the making of Khorasan.

Russia knows that CIA, Mossad, and RAW are secretly aligned with Daesh and are killing two birds with one stone. The threat of Daesh has impelled Russia to evince greater interest in Afghan affairs and there are reports that it is supplying arms to the Taliban to enable them to tackle the new threat. Some are saying, that Moscow might intervene in Afghanistan the way it had intervened in Syria on the pretext of grappling with Daesh.

If so, it might trigger a proxy war between the two big powers which will prolong the agony of people of Afghanistan as well as of Pakistan because of the spillover effect. This is exactly what India wants so as to retain its nuisance value in Afghanistan.

Will Trump get enticed and blindly jump into the same inferno from which Obama had extracted 1, 30,000 troops in December 2014 with great difficulty, and lose whatever prestige the US is left with by reinforcing failure?

Or else, he will stick to his policy of curtailing defence expenditure and pull out the 12000 strong Resolute Support Group and stop paying $8.1 billion annually to the corrupt regime in Kabul and inept Afghan security forces?

Or he takes a saner decision by making USA part of Russia-China-Pakistan grouping to arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan and also opt to join CPEC and improve the economy of USA?

Making a realistic appraisal of the ground situation, the last option seems more viable and profitable for the USA, while the second option is dicey, and the first option will spell disaster.

The writer is retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre and Member Executive Council Ex-Servicemen Society. Takes part in TV programs. asifharoonraja@gmail.com       

 

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Pakistan’s bloopers Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan’s bloopers

Asif Haroon Raja

Inconsequential Western Pacts

In search for security in the face of India’s belligerence and dangerous designs together with Afghanistan’s hostility, Pakistan blundered to join SEATO and CENTO in 1954 and earned the hostility of Afghanistan, former Soviet Union and China. India took these western pacts as an excuse to make a U turn on Kashmir issue.

The defense pacts helped Pakistan under Ayub Khan to develop its economy and defensive capability, but the pacts were designed to contain communism and not to provide security against India or to help in resolving Kashmir dispute. These pacts proved inconsequential during the wars with India in 1965 and 1971 and played no role in preventing truncation of Pakistan in 1971.

Despite the fact that Pakistan played a key role in the China-US détente in 1971, enabling USA to withdraw its forces from Vietnam, the US always kept India above Pakistan, knowingly that India was aligned with Soviet Union.

Supply of arms by the US and western countries to India after the Indo-Sino border clash in 1962 impelled Pakistan to lean on China since arms provided by the two rival camps had tilted the military balance in favor of India. This shift irked USA.  

War against Soviets and Fallout Effects

Pakistan again blundered to let the US make FATA a launching pad and use Jihadis as proxies to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan in 1980s in return for $3.5 billion economic/military assistance spread over 5 years. Although the Jihad directed by the ISI achieved its goal of ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan, but Pakistan had to suffer at the hands of nexus as well as that of Al-Zulfiqar throughout the 10-year war.

The Afghan Jihad gifted Pakistan with drug and Kalashnikov cultures which militarized the society and intensified sectarianism. It also bred misgivings in Pak-Iran relations.  

Instead of rewarding Pakistan for the huge price it paid to defeat a super power and for paving the way for the US to become sole super power, it was not only left high and dry by self-serving USA but also punished for pursuing nuclear program, which it had ignored till 1989, by imposing harsh sanctions in 1990. Worst was Indo-US embrace in 1991 followed by Indo-Israel alignment, giving shape to Indo-US-Israel axis, which raised the specter of Islamic bomb.

Sanctions under Jewish AIPAC inspired Pressler Amendment weakened Pakistan’s economy, multiplied its debt, impacted the democratic era (1988-1999) and handicapped Pakistan to combat fallout effects of Afghan war.

The only positive outcome of the bloody war was the completion of nuclear program under Gen Ziaul Haq, which was otherwise not possible. It raised the stature of Pakistan among the Muslim world. Fear of bomb in the basement prevented India under Rajiv Gandhi from converting Indian Exercise Brass-tacks into full-fledged war in 1986/87. Likewise, war over Kashmir in 1990/91 in the wake of armed uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir was also averted due to nuclear factor.  Benazir rather than fulfilling American agenda of rolling back nuclear program enhanced missile program.

In the First Gulf War in 1991, while Egypt got its $7 billion external debt waived off without deploying a single soldier, as a reward for legitimizing the US-NATO intervention in the Gulf, Pakistan got nothing despite deploying over 10,000 troops in Saudi Arabia because of the then Army chief’s pro-Saddam statements which annoyed Saudi Arabia and USA. 

Pakistan’s support to the Taliban from 1996 till September 2001 antagonized Northern Alliance (an amalgam of non-Pashtun Afghans under Ahmad Shah Masood) and brought them under the influence of Iran, India, West and Russia.

War on Terror after 9/11

Pakistan once again blundered after 9/11 by ditching friendly regime of Taliban in Afghanistan at the behest of Washington and befriending untrustworthy USA that had left Pakistan in a lurch during its testing times.

Pakistan learnt no lesson from the repeated betrayals and happily accepted all the demands of USA under the fond hope that this time it will not deceive and will compensate for its past wrongs by making Pakistan prosperous in return for fighting the US imposed war on terror on its soil. But the US had a fixed agenda of disabling Pakistan’s nuclear program covertly, separating Baluchistan and making Pakistan a secular state. Gen Musharraf and not Pakistan was made the darling of the west.  

Pakistan after earning the animosity of Taliban on account of its full support to the US to occupy Afghanistan also antagonized the tribesmen of FATA when the Army launched an operation in South Waziristan (SW) in 2003 at the bidding of USA to flush-out Al-Qaeda and its supporters.

Pakistani Taliban started a guerrilla war against the Army and in December 2007 formed Tehrik-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) under Baitullah Mehsud with tentacles in all the seven agencies of FATA.

The Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban believing in one ideology are in collusion and pursue shared goal of establishing Islamic Emirate. The two entities had however divided their areas of responsibility; Taliban confining their fight in Afghanistan against occupying forces and their collaborators and the TTP fighting against Pak security forces. Their partner Al-Qaeda remained operative on both sides of the divide. Haqqani network aligned with Taliban headquartered itself in North Waziristan (NW) and remained friendly toward Pakistan till their ouster in June 2014. 

The TTP was hijacked by foreign agencies in its formative years and was heavily funded, equipped and trained to fight Pak Army and to convert Swat, Bajaur, SW and NW into fortresses.

Annoyed by Musharraf regime’s decision to impose ban and freeze funds in 2002/03, Kashmir focused Jihadi groups and other militant groups veered towards TTP. By 2013, an amalgam of over 60 militant groups had come under the wings of Hakimullah led TTP in NW.

TTP leaders had pledged allegiance to Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar in 2008 and had accepted him as Ameerul Momineen. Their pledge remained intact till mid 2014 after which many pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakar Baghdadi since they had got a wind of death of Mulla Omar in April 2013 which was intentionally kept secret.

Syria-Iraq based ISIS has made inroads in Afghanistan with the help of India and has established itself at Nangarhar and is in collusion with Khalid Omer Khurasani led Jamaat-e-Ahrar, an offshoot of TTP and with Fazlullah. The two had fled from Mohmand Agency and Swat to Afghanistan after the military operation Rah-e-Rast in 2009. Fazlullah was nominated Ameer of TTP after the death of Hakimullah in early 2014. 

Operation Zarb e Azb launched in June 2014 succeeded in pushing out all militant groups including HN from their last stronghold in NW. All the runaway TTP leaders and fighters have been given sanctuaries by NDS and RAW at Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar from where they are undertaking cross border terrorism inside Pakistan. HN is fighting its war from eastern Afghanistan, its traditional stronghold.  

The US, India, Afghanistan, Israel, NATO strategic partners based in Kabul since November 2001 have been constantly weaving plans and conspiracies to harm Pakistan. They have been fueling terrorism in Pakistan with the help of their paid proxies in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi and at the same time pressing Pakistan to do more.

Unable to stabilize Afghanistan after fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda for 15 years, both Kabul and Washington are blaming Pakistan for its failures. The duo wants Pakistan to fight elements of Afghan Taliban and HN, supposedly in FATA and Baluchistan, and to force them to lay down arms and sign their drafted agreement.

Field commanders of Taliban movement disfavor peace talks since they have suffered the most. After forcing USA to pullout bulk of ISAF troops in December 2014, they have gained a definite edge over the ANSF supported by a small US-NATO force and initiative is in their hands. 29 districts are in their full control and 34 districts are being contested. They don’t want to come to terms with collaborators who have plunged the country into the vortex of vices which they had eliminated during their 5-year rule. They don’t want an agreement on dictated terms and without meeting their basic demands.  The Taliban and HN feel that Pakistan is once again siding with their opponents to undermine their sacrifices. In its bid to please the US and unpopular unity government in Kabul, Pakistan is fast losing whatever goodwill Taliban have for it.

India has successfully brainwashed all segments of Afghan society and poisoned their minds against Pakistan. There is widespread hatred against Pakistan both at government and people to people levels.

Destabilized Afghanistan suit USA and India since it enables both to retain their presence and continue with their covert operations.

Entry of Russia in Afghan Affairs

After China, Russia has begun to slowly make inroads into Afghanistan. Its entry in Afghan affairs is likely to change the dynamics of Afghan imbroglio.

The newly emerging politico-economic axis of Russia-China-Central Asian Republics-Pakistan which is drawing strength from CPEC is likely to grow stronger if Iran and Turkey, both resentful of USA joins it.

There are reports that Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban to tackle the threat from the ISIS, aspiring to establish Khurasan State. Russia is also pleading the Taliban case in the UN for taking off their names from the blacklist. The Taliban have exuded confidence in the Russia-China-Pakistan grouping to pursue peace in Afghanistan.

Supply of arms to the Taliban by Russia is worrisome for Kabul and Washington. After all, Moscow has not forgotten and forgiven the perverse role of USA in its fragmentation. Provision of stingers to the Mujahidin in 1988 had forced the Soviets to hasten their exit from Afghanistan. To avenge its humiliation, Russia may be aspiring to make Afghanistan a graveyard of USA. This wish is achievable if it supplies surface to air missiles to the Taliban, enabling them to contest the airpower. If so, it will make the position of 12000 strong Resolute Support Group based in five military bases tenuous.          

Pakistan’s Responses

Pakistani leaders have been dancing to the tunes of America, myopically thinking that by abiding to its dictates, Pakistan will remain safe and so will be their power and wealth. Lure of dollars and fear of USA were other factors which made the weak-kneed and morally corrupt rulers to stick to their policy of appeasement. They made no change in this self-defeating policy despite suffering colossal human and financial losses. 

While the US has spent $1.7 trillion in Iraq war, and over $1 trillion in war in Afghanistan including $104.1 billion in its reconstruction, it grieves over $20 billion given to Pakistan in the last 15 years, 50% of which is CSF (close support fund – repayment of provisions and services provided by Pakistan). As against this meagre assistance, Pakistan has incurred an economic loss of $118 billion in fighting the war and has also suffered 60,000 fatalities.

Excessive tilt of USA towards India as exhibited by Indo-US economic, defence and civil nuclear deals, revelations made by Raymond Davis in January 2011 about American dangerous agenda, stealth raid in Abbottabad in May 2011 followed by Memo scandal in October and deadly assault on Salala in November that year, do more mantra, condition based aid and stoppage of CSF brought no change in Pakistan’s US centric foreign policy.

India’s open ended belligerence when seen in context with ever growing Indo-US collaboration culminating into 3 military agreements in 2016 and the US outright biased stance against Pakistan having a direct bearing on security of Pakistan forced our policy makers to lean more heavily upon China and to get closer to Russia.

Tiding over energy crisis, righting economic indicators, curbing terrorism and above all CPEC have helped in improving the overall economic health and image of Pakistan and instilled confidence in the rulers to confront internal and external challenges more confidently.

However, the US enchantment that was at the verge of fizzling out has been reinvigorated by Donald Trump’s telephonic chat with Nawaz Sharif. He showered heaps of praises upon him and Pakistan, referring him as a terrific guy, rating Pakistanis among the most intelligent people, amazing and exceptional. These accolades coming from the most freakish and bigoted US President astounded all and sundry. Anti-Nawaz and anti-Pakistan elements were expecting a roughshod treatment from loudmouthed Trump. His unexpected tributes and exclusion of Pakistan from the banned Muslim States has made Nawaz and his team rapturous and they are still in a state of ecstasy. Idea of getting out of the US spell has been shelved.

While the Muslim world is tense and scared, Pak leadership is relaxed and appears to be all set to once again get duped and fall into the deceptive trap and get bled. They are optimistic that the US under Trump will not betray Pakistan and will be more friendly and cooperative in addressing socio-economic and security concerns. This confidence has been further bolstered by friendly chat of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with US Secretary Defence Mattis and US Commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson, both admiring Pakistan’s sacrifices and role in war on terror and wanting a holistic review of Pak-US relations.   

Future Challenges

The challenges faced by Pakistan are however far from over. Up to 80% success has been achieved against terrorism which had become an existential threat to the existence of Pakistan. The current government deserve credit for giving a go-ahead to intelligence driven operations in NW, Baluchistan and Karachi, and the national action plan. However, the Army, Rangers, FC and ISI deserve special applause for achieving spectacular results in all the three troubled regions.

100% results couldn’t be achieved due to safe havens provided to the runaways of TTP in Afghanistan, backing to BLA, BRA and BLF in Baluchistan by foreign agencies, and obstacles created by Sindh administration in Karachi. All random acts of terror in Pakistan emanate from Afghanistan.

On the economic front, notwithstanding upturned macro-economic indicators, bullish stock exchange, healthy foreign exchange reserves and fast-paced development works, constantly increasing debt burden is a matter of anxiety. Not so satisfactory progress on 20-point NAP needs acceleration.  

Management of western border by Pakistan is not to the liking of Kabul and India since it will curtail cross border terrorism. This process as well as return of Afghan refugees, rehabilitation of displaced persons and FATA reforms must continue without any letup. Likewise Rangers operation in Karachi must reach its logical end at the earliest.  

Success in war on terror, economic turnaround, CPEC, and Russian support have defeated India’s plan to isolate Pakistan and to get it declared a terrorist state. Although Pakistan today stands on a stronger wicket, agenda of Indo-Afghan-US nexus against Pakistan remain unchanged.

Till 2008, Russia was anti-Pakistan and pro-India. Change in regional dynamics has brought a thaw in Pak-Russia relations and the latter is now keen to develop stronger economic and defence ties with Pakistan. Russia is mindful of the Afghanistan based Daesh and wants Pakistan’s cooperation to build a firewall against the emerging threat. For this reason, Russia is taking deep interest in Afghan affairs and has cultivated ties with Taliban much to the chagrin of Kabul regime and Washington. Russo-China-Pakistan grouping aimed at restoring peace in Afghanistan and CPEC has once again enhanced the importance of Pakistan. Friendly regime in Kabul is a geostrategic necessity for Pakistan.    

Recommendations.

Pakistan policy makers will have to play their cards shrewdly and configure the foreign policy best suited to guard Pakistan’s national interests. While keeping USA and EU in good humor and engaged in mutually beneficial economic/military cooperation, but without compromising core interests and dignity, efforts should be made to further expand economic/military cooperation with Russia, draw it towards CPEC and to make Pakistan member of Eurasian Economic Union.  Besides veering Iran into CPEC, Gwadar port should augment Chahbahar port. Land, air, maritime and internal security must be strengthened to ward off external threats and treacherous designs. Focus should be on getting rid of foreign crutches and instead strengthening own economic legs by drawing full benefits from the emerging opportunities provided by CPEC so as to make Pakistan politically, economically and militarily self-reliant.

The writer is retired Brig, war veteran, defense analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja.gmail.

Additional Reading from

Geo-Strategic Significance of Pakistan

1- INTRODUCTION:

Pakistan is located at a region which has great political, economic and strategic location. It has been hub of activities of great powers for last 20 years. It has witnessed intervention of three great powers i-e Britain, USSR, and USA. Its significance was further enhanced during cold war when it becomes ally of US policy of containment of USSR and now the post cold war era has witnessed its significance particularly after the events of 9/11.

2- PAKISTAN GEOGRAPHICALLY LOCATION:

Location: Southern Asia lies between 24 and 36.75 northern latitude and between 61 and 7505 eastern longitude.
Area: 7, 96000 sq.km.
Towards north apart from the state of Kashmir is china. It shares 400 km long boarder with china.
Towards north Tajikistan though no boarder but a narrow strip as Wahkhan strip separate the two.
Towards east, Punjab-Rajasthan boarders which is 1650 km long
Towards west, Afghanistan border of 2250 km.
Towards south, Arabian sea / Indian Ocean. Coastal belt is about 700 km.
Pakistan significance is enhanced as it lies near the Persian Gulf where 65% of the world’s oil is produced.

3- STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE:

a) Proximity of great powers:

Pakistan is located at the junction of great powers. In its neighbor’s one world power Russia and the other emerging power china lies. Any alliance among world powers enhances its significance. This factor has been utilized by Pakistan after 9/11. Security and business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a front line role in the war against terrorism. Apart from this US interest in the region to contain the growing china, nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan and to benefit from the market of India. Today the political scenario of the region is tinged with preemption policy and US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran’s nuclear program, India’s geopolitical muscles (new strategic deal with US) to gain hegemony and to counter the rise of china. Which has earned all the qualities to change unipolar world into bipolar world? In all these issues, Pakistan is directly or indirectly involved especially after al-Qeada operations. The American think tank has repeatedly accepted that war against terrorism could never be won without the help of Pakistan. Pakistan has rigorously fought and an ongoing operation in Waziristan is also targeting the suspected Taliban in the bordering area.

b) Gateway to central Asia-(oil and energy game):

Central Asia is the center stage of new Great games. Western quest for resources- oil and energy resources in the central Asia. After USSR decline, new quest started which is as manifested by politics of oil. Pakistan is located very close to the oil rich Middle Eastern countries. The belt started from Iran and extended to Saudi Arabia. Thus, Pakistan can influence shipment of oil. Iran is struggling to export its surplus gas and oil to eastern countries, Qatar, Pakistan and Turkmenistan pipeline projects highlight the position.

In the energy scarce world, Pakistan is located in the hub of energy rich countries i-e Iran and Afghanistan: both are energy abundant while India and China are lacking. China finds way to Indian Ocean and Arabian sea through Karakoram highway,

c) Significance as a Transit economy:

Pakistan has the potential to develop transit economy on account is its strategic location, land locked Afghanistan now at the phase of reconstruction finds its ways through Pakistan. China with its fastest economy growth rate of 9% us developing southern provinces because its own part is 4500 km away from Sinkiang but Gwadar is 2500 km away. Moreover, Pakistan offers central Asian regions the shortest route of 2600 km as compared to Iran 4500 km or turkey 5000 km. Gwadar port with its deep waters attracts the trade ships of China, CAR and south east Asian countries., also the coastal belt of Balochistan can provide outlet to china’s western provinces to have access to middles eastern markets with the development of coastal highways and motorways.

d) Important link in the chain of Muslim countries:

If we look at the map of Muslim countries, Pakistan occupies a central location. Towards west of Iran, china extends to North Africa. Thus it can actively participate in the activities of Muslim world-economic development, transport of resources and above all combat terrorism.

e) Only Muslim country with nuclear capability:

In the region Pakistan is the only Muslim country having nuclear capability which has great influence on the political, socio-economic activities in the region and the maintenance of status quo in the region.
f) China’s link to the Middle East:

Pakistan is the only direct and shortest link between China and the Middle East. Imagine the impact of China on the Middle East, if this link is fully functional. Gwadar Port located in proximity of Arabian Gulf and Central Asian Republics provide it unique opportunity to serve both. Pakistan needs to capitalize on them through better diplomatic ties with Arab states and CARs. It is therefore anticipated that oil reserves and other resources of CARs would gradually become the focus of world attention in coming years. However, in case of “exports to and from CARs” a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is must. The port will also help in promoting trade with Gulf States possessing 63% of world’s oil reserves and will prove instrumental in promoting trans-shipment essentially of containerized cargo besides unlocking the development potential for hinterland. The most important factor that makes Gwadar Port strategically unique is the location with respect to other major ports in the region, which are all located on the other side ofthe sea. Gwadar port being towards north can easily provide services and facilities to CARs, Afghanistan and China.

g) Reduce Indian hegemony in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean:

India has a shared interests with the U.S. and NATO in the subjection of Pakistan. Pakistan would cease to be a client state of the U.S. or a manageable state, because of a likely revolution that would occur in the scenario of a broader war in the Middle East against Iran or a far larger Eurasian war involving China and Russia. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such a revolutionary government in Islamabad would be a threat to Indian national security, NATO operations in Afghanistan, and Israel. It is in the shared interests of the U.S., NATO, Israel, and India to neutralize such a strategic and tactical threat from emerging in Pakistan. This is why NATO has underpinned the objective of balkanizing Pakistan and why the U.S. has talked about taking over Pakistani nuclear facilities via the U.S. military. The subjection of Pakistan is also territorially and militarily to the advantage of New Delhi, because it would eliminate a rival and allow India to gain territory that in the view of many Indians was lost with the partition of India in 1947.

4- CONCLUSION / ANALYSIS:

Geo strategic means the importance of a country or a region as by virtue of its geographical location. Stephen Cohn describes this importance “while history has been unkind with Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit.”

Pakistan is a junction of south Asia, west Asia and central Asia; a way from resource efficient countries to resource deficient countries. The world is facing energy crises and terrorism. Pakistan is a route for transportation and a front line state against terrorism. Moreover Pakistan has been traditionally ally of emerging economic giant; china. So in the vague of any change in world politics, Pakistan’s geo-strategic significance would further be enhanced.

 

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Uproar over Missing bloggers

Asif Haroon Raja

The recently approved Pakistan Electronic Crime Act by the Parliament and promulgation of cybercrime law specifying punishments to the wrongdoers operating in the world of media with absolute callousness have alarmed the dissidents and made them cautious. In the last 12 days, five social media activists including blogger Salman Haider have gone missing from Islamabad and Lahore. The other four are Waqar Goraya, Amir Saeed, Ahmad Raza and Samar Abbas (President of Civil Progressive Alliance). Their supporters are suspecting that they have been kidnapped to gag their freedom of speech on social media. A large number of human rights activists and some political leaders staged protest rallies in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi on January 10, demanding speedy recovery of missing media activists and trial of those who had kidnapped them. The well-known liberals espousing right of freedom of speech were Tahira Abdullah, Dr, Farzana Bari, Pervez Hoodbhhoy, Afrasiab Khattak, Akhundzada and Farhatullah Babar. The electronic media is making hue and cry, completely ignoring the fact that the five missing persons particularly Salman had been spewing venom against Islam, religious beliefs, and the govt. For the last few years, liberal fascists and extremist seculars have been relentlessly fanning germs of hatred in the society through social media. Although the strength of so-called enlightened and progressive segment is very small, but they have taken full advantage of social media free of restrictions to impose their anti-Islam and anti-state thoughts on the people of Pakistan and to mislead them.

Salman is in the vanguard of hate mongers. He had opened three twitter and Facebook accounts, namely Bhainsa (buffalo), Mochi (cobbler), Roshni (Light). He was posting anti-government, anti-institutions and anti-Islam noxious posts on these accounts. All his posts were highly toxic. Large numbers of complaints had been registered against him demanding the closure of these injurious accounts and taking strict action against the culprit (s). The operator of these dubious accounts was however too cunning to get caught. He would keep changing the names of his accounts to remain safe from the hand of the law. He had hired the services of a cyber expert, who helped him in keeping his identity hidden. It took the investigating agencies lot of time and effort to trace the operator Salman operating the three accounts.

Salman projected himself as an intellectual and a poet, but it was gathered that he was employed as a teacher in Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi. It implied that he had been injecting hatred in the minds of students. Further investigations revealed that it was not only Salman but a whole network involved in clandestine activities and was operating from abroad. Most of the operators are based in foreign countries. The goal of this network is to give strength to anti-Islam lobbies/groups in Pakistan and it is also in collusion with separatist groups in Baluchistan.

The United Nations and international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch voiced concern about the disappearances. Human Rights lawyer Jibran Nasir has filed an application with Supreme Court requesting judicial intervention. Vested groups linked with social media and certain political parties are making noise over the missing five activists and pressurizing the government to locate them at the earliest. They are also highly upset over the dismissal of a columnist writing articles against premier institutions in English newspaper. He is now fanning poison through social media from abroad. Earlier on, they had made a lot of noise over putting columnist Cyril on ECL on account of writing a slanderous article in Dawn newspaper which was a breach of security. Instead of taking him to task for writing a fake story whether fed to him or at his own, the government was grilled for the security leak.

 

 

 

Hussain Haqqani, the former ambassador in Washington, is among the sympathizers of dissident bloggers and he is expressing his deep anguish over their disappearance. He was the manufacturer of infamous Memo which he had presented to the then CJCSC Admiral Mike Mullen in October 2011. The Memo was a certificate to harness Pakistan’s military establishment, place the ISI under Ministry of Interior, open up nuclear program and then roll it back, and to allow the NATO to barge in freely into FATA. Another fascist liberal and pro-India journalist Imtiaz Alam who recently was in the forefront to promote Indian theme of ‘isolation of Pakistan’, has the brashness to write in his article “Wages of freedom in a state of inquisition” in The News dated January 12, 2016 that the Memo was manufactured by Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to divert attention from the humiliation of “Get Osama bin Laden stealth Mission” on May 2, 2011. He forgets that by then the fallout effects of the Abbottabad episode had settled down. He also ignores the fact that the US and not Pakistan was humiliated on account of stabbing its close ally in the back. But for Kayani-Pasha pro-active stance, Haqqani would not have abandoned his office of the ambassador. Later on, when the noose of Supreme Court had tightened around his neck, President Zardari and PM Gilani helped him to flee to the safe shores of USA. Since then, he has been spitting venom against Pakistan.

Tariq Fateh based in Canada is another poisonous snake. About two months ago, he had visited a university in East Punjab (India) and while delivering a lecture to the students he spoke in favor of RAW and against Kashmiri Mujahideen. Some students got so angry that they gave him a sound thrashing. Fateh retweeted in favor of Salman after he went missing. These like-minded enlightened liberals support each other’s point of view and share their posts/tweets with fervor. In order to become the darling of the West, these liberal fascists go to any length to earn the goodwill of their western paymasters. They are deliberately provoking the Islamists and elbowing them to lose their patience so that they could make their threatening remarks as an excuse to cry out that their lives are in danger and hence should be granted asylum in western countries. The West, particularly UK has traditionally welcomed traitors, rebels and anti-Islam persons with open arms. The possibility of Salman going underground after learning that his accounts have been traced and quietly sneaking out to seek asylum abroad cannot be ruled out.

The supporters of Salman are straining their lungs and making all out efforts to portray Salman as innocent, tolerant, civilized, enlightened and peaceful. They are trying to inculcate an impression that he and his four comrades have been picked up by the intelligence agencies. This kind of propaganda has also remained in fashion in Baluchistan where few dozen missing Baloch were shown as few thousands. Later on, it was found that most of the missing persons had joined BLA, BRA, and BLF and were residing in Farari camps established in the hills in interior Baluchistan, or in Afghanistan. Some who tried to escape and return home were brutally killed and their mutilated bodies were dumped on the roadside and the blame was put on the Frontier Corps/intelligence agencies. Indian propaganda machinery assisted by pro-Indian and anti-Army lobbies in Pakistan drummed up the issues of missing persons, mutilated bodies and mass graves to hide the crimes of 7.50 lacs Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir, where they are breaking all records of state terrorism against hapless Kashmiris since 1989.

Incurable Imtiaz Alam has recalled the issue of missing persons while shedding tears over the disappearance of anti-state bloggers and has felt no shame in mentioning that the ISI and IB are involved in the racket and none else. Since the SAFMA he heads is entirely funded by RAW, he dare not make a mention of this outfit whose involvement in Baluchistan since 2003 has now been revealed in full details by the arrested RAW agent and serving naval commander Kalbushan Yadav. Concrete proofs have been handed over to the UN and the US by Pakistan. Instead of carrying out self-accountability and reforming himself, Imtiaz wants to reform the ISI. He is least concerned about ‘All Dark’ side of RAW but wants a darker side of ISI quashed. He has cleverly fused the issue of missing persons in Baluchistan (separatists) with the disappearance of five social activists, implying slyly that the kidnappers in both cases are common.   

Bhainsa account which had remained offline for two days has once again been opened but all the lethal posts have been deleted. The last post on this account indicated that Pakistan’s elite Cyber Force has taken control of this page. It was stated that henceforth the said account would indulge in healthy criticism and post pro-Pakistan and constructive posts. The purpose is to mitigate the venom of earlier posts.   

The Ulemas have sought harsh punishment for the secular blogger Salman and his gang for deriding and besmirching Islam and religious beliefs and terming Islam as ‘bloody Islam’. They have taken exception to the blogger’s statement that ‘Islam and Pakistan can go to hell’, and for censuring the seven pillars of Islam. The Ulemas say that renunciation of even one pillar discards a Muslim from the fold of Islam. Taking strong notice of their blasphemous and anti-state utterances, Ulemas have urged the government that a case against the culprits should be registered under constitutional clauses 29ABC and 298 and their cases referred to the court for trial and award of exemplary punishment.

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defense analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com         

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Real Democracy By Col.Riaz Jafri (Retd)

LETTER TO EDITOR

January 9th, 2017

Real Democracy

The PPP and PPP-P have set a real good example for all to follow by holding their intra party elections.  It’s another matter that no one offered to stand against the father(Zardari) and the son (Bilawal). But could they be blamed for it?

Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
30 Westridge 1
Rawalpindi 46000
Pakistan
E.mail: jafri@rifiela.com

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Arab Leaders and Aleppo- Insanity Overtakes Humanity By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

 Aleppo

 
 
[Photo: A general view showing damages after what activists said was an airstrike with explosive barrels from forces loyal to President al-Assad in Al-Shaar area in Aleppo] 

December 142016

Arab Leaders and Aleppo- Insanity Overtakes Humanity

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

Does Authoritarian Insanity have another Name?

Authoritarian leaders kill people just as butcher slaughters cattle. Casual allusion and changing power metaphors hardly distinguish between people and animals across the Arab world.  The cycle of the dreadful humanitarian crisis unfolding in Aleppo is baffling – as if global humanity and institutions do not exist for other than Americans and Europeans. All advancements of knowledge-based humanity, laws and preservation of life and human dignity and international institutions appear null and void. Our failure to grasp the compelling realities of authoritarian atrocities against the helpless civilians makes us feel we are standing at one of the darkest timelines of history.Is the surrender of Aleppo to powerful insanity inevitable?  Given the informed and resourceful 21st century global community, we were capable to avert the bombardment and to extend security and sense of humanity to the besieged population. Yet, the UNO Security Council and US-Russia kept on talking and talking about paper resolution, abstract dialogue and no concrete action to preserve human dignity and freedom. The abyss of horrors unfolding tells of the deliberate rapes of women and execution of the civilian population by the Assad forces as stated by the outgoing UN SG Ban-Ki Moon. The fallen Aleppo brings shame and disgrace to all the Arab leaders and the global humanity for being indifferent to the ever growing humanitarian crisis.  

Where are the Muslim scholars and intellectuals to claim sense of honesty about what is happening on the ground? If values of human life and wisdom were the signs of intelligence and responsibility, the situation warranted an urgent powerful intervention to safeguard the entrenched people of Aleppo. Witnessing the authoritarian cruelty, bombardment and the on-going cold blooded massacres of innocent civilians in Aleppo, the conscientious Arab masses wonder if there are any Arab leaders to offer sense of security to the people.  Shocking as it is to discover that there are no Arab leaders to protect the people in conflict situations. They are foreign agents of influence imposed on the helpless Arabian people.

The entrenched people kept on calling upon global humanity to come to rescue them but it was an illusion turned fantasy and nothing else. The global humanity, the UNO, America and humanitarian protection laws are just empty words devoid of life, morality and just written in school books with dry ink that means nothing to the suffering humanity in Aleppo.  Today, Shamy, a 15 year old girl from Aleppo sending SOS on Twitter as if there is a living global mankind listening to her in extreme adversity.  Abdullah, a 72 year old man carried his seventy year old wounded wife on a wooden cart and was waiting for medical help but shell fell and an Al-Jazeera reporter showed the clips how she died there in split second, but Abdullah kept on moving with the dead body in search of the unknown.

London-based Al-Jazeera moderator asked 15 year old school girl Aminah Abubaker, if she was safe and had enough food. She answered, “For two weeks we are hiding in the basement watching deaths and destruction and nowhere to go and no food and no shops around here. Is this catastrophic humanitarian crisis out of the nowhere? The inhuman political metaphor is sugarcoated by Syria’s enriched neighbors –  a treacherous cluster of petro-dollar economic prosperity to furbish modernism that prevails in palaces, not amongst the masses.

While Steffan de Mustara, Kerry and Larove pretend to be talking about a ceasefire and safe corridor to allow humanitarian aid and the civilians to depart from the bombardment in Aleppo, it was all a malicious stage drama to cover-up the political failure.    For five years, millions are forcibly displaced to become unwelcomed refugees in European continents, several millions killed and others waiting to be consumed by the insanity of the Assad regime and its military allies. Are these official honest and rational or do they think the global mankind is blind. The game is the same “do nothing” and talk loud. In a global age of knowledge and information, Arab leaders cannot pretend being ignorant and unaware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding daily on the television screen. The alleged war crimes are just a scenario for the uncertain future, but reality warranted swift action to safeguard the human lives entrapped in the war zones, and honor of Muslims and their habitats across Aleppo, Idlib, Baghdad, Mosul and Yemen. None of the puppets had courage and will to challenge the deliberate pillage and insanity imposed by the Assad forces and the superpowers. Are there no Arab Generals and no Arab armies to help the believers?  If not, why do these leaders spent billions of dollars to acquire weapons from the US and Europeans? How could the rest of the Arab leaders differentiate between their role and what is being carried out by the Assad regime? Are they all sadistic criminals and violent robbers of peoples’ right, human dignity and future? Isn’t the same insane egoism and militarism that brought downfall of Saddam Hussein, Ghaddafi and many others in the region?

All Arab leaders must be held accountable for the crimes committed against the Syrian people. To uplift their own images, when overwhelming crimes against humanity are shown by the global news media, some affluent Arab leaders take asylum in the shadow of British dwindling leadership at a gathering in Bahrain and others sent foreign ministers to Paris to mourn their own wishful thinking for failure to oust the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Often Arab leaders say next to nothing to global audience. But one of the foreign ministers spoke of Islamic extremism emerging out of Aleppo if nothing was done.  The cynical minds know nothing about the realities on the ground. Who will do what to safeguard the besieged people of Aleppo for over several years, is not clear. It is the ruthless forces of Syrian Government and its military Allies Russia, Iran and Shiite army of Hezbollah that are fighting against the civilian population opposing the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Ironically America, Britain and France had already destabilized the entire Arab region by continuous aerial bombardment and deaths and destruction to which the frontline Arab countries were an essential component. None of the Arab leaders had any imagination or capacity on how to deal with political problems and approach conflict management and security paradigm. It is always the Master – USA and Britain that dictate the oil exporting Arab states in their affairs. All of the secretive police apparatus are operated by the same egomaniac masters. It is unthinkable to imagine that Bashar Al-Assad  and his allies could ever escape the accountability by time and history.

Are the Arab Rulers Waiting to See the End Game?

Sigmund Freud (Civilization and its Discontent, 1930) noted that “the inclination to aggression is an original self-subsisting instinctual disposition in man, and that it constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization.”  The Arab Middle East is no exception.  In view of the unstoppable cycle of political killings and daily bloodbaths across Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and spill-over to other oil producing Arab nations – and reactionary militancy against the authoritarian rule and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures –  is the Arab world coming to its own end because of the sadistic dictators?  The Arab rulers and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented governance. Perhaps, the worst is yet to come, surrender to foreign forces as there are no leaders to think of the future or the Arab armies to defend the people. Borrowed weapons and corrupt and failed rulers cannot extend moral or intellectual security to the masses. The question is how to decode treachery, greed, incompetence and dead conscience to tell the future generation – the real story of the Arab ruler’s aggressiveness and drudgery interjected and internalized in egoistic conscience to manage the governance.

Wars suck out positive human thinking and creative energies to articulate a sustainable future.How should humanity view contemporary Arab societies, their war-torn bloody cultures operated by foreign mercenaries and few authoritarian dictators?  What kind of message of civility, moral and intellectual values do they convey to the watchful eyes of the global community? What happened to their Islamic culture, values and glorious civilization? Was the petrodollar a conspiracy (“fitna”) to disconnect the Arab people from Islamic culture and civilization? Contemporary global affairs warrant intelligent and competent leadership not kings, not military dictators or dull princes occupying splendid palaces away from the people. Leaders manage the crisis when facts of life warrant change and adaptability to the future. Often crisis unity people of reason but not the Arab rulers.

The Syrian war will end as it cannot go for ever. Its ripple effects will haunt present and future generations. The people’s struggle could soon move to other neighboring Arab societies encouraging masses to rise against the authoritarian regimes for people-oriented Islamic governance. The super powers and Iran appear to be on the wrong side of time and history. If Iranian had Islamic consciousness and unity of the Ummah (nation) as its policy aim, it was immaterial whether Assad remains in power or not. Professing sectarian shiisim and taking sides with monsters of history and talking about Muslim unity make no sense by the Iranian speaker of the Majlis. They all breathe in self-geared illusions of wishful thinking. While the concerned mankind is shocked by the atrocities and horrors carried out by the Assad regime and Russians, ironically in West Aleppo others are celebrating the victory of insanity over the humanity. History speaks its own language that all those leaders and nations claiming to be most powerful on the planet were destroyed by their own designs and wicked strategies. Those dictators and political monsters that willfully brutalized the humanity should not go unchallenged for their crimes and accountability.

 

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012. His forthcoming book is entitled: One Humanity and The Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution

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