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Archive for category Asif Haroon Raja (Retd):Pakistan Army

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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Rejoinder to Imtiaz Alam By Brig Asif H. Raja

Rejoinder to Imtiaz Alam

 

ScreenHunter_41 May. 20 09.11

 

 

 

by

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

Imtiaz Alam is a senior journalist who writes articles and hosts programs on TV channels. He also heads SAFMA, a dubious organization which reportedly is sponsored by RAW. SAFMA in league with Aman ki Asha, another shady organization co-hosted by Jang-Geo Group and Indian media group is also patronized by RAW. 

The two have been working in tandem to improve Indo-Pakistan relations and to promote peace and friendship between the two arch rivals. 

Notwithstanding the apparent noble intentions, in practical terms the duo has always been espousing the cause of India and undermining Pakistan. In a subtle manner a message conveyed that it is futile for Pakistan to stand up against the military might of India, which is five times superior and its economy is shining.

 Alam says India has more than eight times bigger economy in terms of GDP and will become 3rd largest economy in next three decades. Its defence spending is 1.8% of its GDP and defence budget now stands at $50 billion a year. In contrast, Pakistan in his view is out in the cold.

 

The message given by him and his ilk is to accept the ground reality and succumb to India’s demand of accepting its regional hegemony and to forget about Kashmir by accepting the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border between the two Kashmirs. Only then will the two can live as peaceful and friendly neighbors and peace will help the two to prosper economically. 

The two groups have all along blamed Pakistan for maintaining an aggressive posture on Kashmir and promoting Jihadi culture in Kashmir by supporting non-state actors to bleed India. Alam says that successive governments of Pakistan have been taking a cyclic course of an arms race with India. He has advised Pakistani leaders to say no to arms race to avoid self-immolation. The two suspicious outfits have gone underground ever since extremist BJP under a terrorist Narendra Modi has gained power in India and embarrassed India’s farce of secularism, which had kept the world fascinated and impressed for a very long time.

 

Imtiaz Alam is a committed Indian fan and being a secular has derided Islamists in Pakistan, dubbing all of them as extremists and terrorists. 

In the past, he always criticised Pak Army and ISI, saying they have been using Jihadis as their strategic assets. He also criticises government’s policies on Kashmir, defence, nuclear, or its dealings with India. His write-ups in newspapers and stance on electronic media testifies his bent of mind.

 In his recent article “When will we say no to the arms race” dated May 19, 2016 in ‘The News’, he has twisted facts of Indo-Pak history to berate Pakistan’s military rulers in particular and to project India in good light.

He contends that Pakistan joined western military blocks to counter balance India but doesn’t highlight the distressing circumstances under which Pakistan was created and the plethora of problems loaded upon newly born state by India to ensure its death in the crib. 

He didn’t mention about India gobbling up 565 princely states including two-thirds Kashmir and the states wanting to join Pakistan, annexation of Sikkim, Diu and Goa after 1947 and its threatening posture against Pakistan which impelled Pakistan to seek security under the umbrella of western pacts.

 

He callously mentions that Pakistan relied upon non-state actors from the beginning and used them in 1948 war in Kashmir. This is travesty of truth.

Going by Partition plan, Kashmir was to become part of Pakistan, but it was annexed by Indian military in October 1947. But for the voluntary dash of tribesmen from FATA, whole of Kashmir would have been seized by India. Pakistan government had no role or control over the tribesmen who had gone there to save the Muslim Kashmiris getting massacred by Dogra Army. 

Ever since Kashmir has become the bone of contention between the two neighbors and the two have gone to war in 1965 and in 1971.

 

Alam contends that Indian military’s drubbing at the hands of Chinese in 1962 conflict encouraged Ayub Khan to launch Operation Gibraltar in August 1965, which then triggered 1965 war. Why he hesitates to write that Ayub Khan didn’t exploit the precarious condition of India in 1962 and went to the extent of proposing joint defence to India against communism?

Why he overlooked the fact that despite series of UN resolutions and Nehru’s pledge to grant right of self-determination to Kashmiris and holding a plebiscite under the auspices of the UN, India didn’t honor. India’s u turn and its expansion and modernization of armed forces with the help of Soviet, western and American military assistance after 1962, which had begun to tilt the military balance in favor of India had impelled Pakistan to launch Operation Gibraltar. Alam didn’t say anything that while Operation Gibraltar was in a disputed territory which was in India’s illegal occupation, India stealthily crossed the international border on 6th September 1965 without declaring war with the aim of destroying Pakistan’s armed forces but failed.

 

While describing the 1971 crisis in erstwhile East Pakistan, Alam brazenly twists historical facts by saying that rather than transferring power to Mujibur Rahman led Awami League that had won the elections, Gen Yahya opted for a military action in March 1971 in East Pakistan with the support of non-state actors Al-Shams and Al-Badr which resulted in over one million civilian casualties. By saying this at a time when Hasina Wajid’s regime is busy hanging aged Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on account of so-called 1971 war crimes, he has further sprinkled salt on the wounds of Islamists in Bangladesh but delighted India and Bangladesh rulers.

 Rather than paying tributes to them, who had fought the rebels along with Pak Army to save the motherland, he declared them as non-state actors (rebels) and ignored brutal Mukti Bahinis.

 

Either he has no clue of history or he has published the dictated script given by his patrons.  Why does he forget that for almost 15 days Gen Yahya and his team sat with Mujib and his team in Dacca and gave in to all his six points and much more and announced him as PM of Pakistan. 

This he did at a time when Mujib had rebelled against the state on 01 March 1971 and his goons had massacred over 1, 50, 000 non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis (Biharis) and raped women with utmost ferocity and barbarity. A state within state had been created and people of East Pakistan (mostly terrorised by Mukti Bahinis) had defied central authority.

 The Indian and western media had remained tight-lipped over their atrocities, (and so is Alam even after learning the whole truth about 1971 conspiracy). When Yahya learnt that Mujib and his henchmen had made up their mind to break away from Pakistan and any solution within the concept of united Pakistan was unacceptable to them, he ordered the military action on the night of 25 March 1971 to save Pakistan from disintegrating. At that time Al-Shams and Al-Badar were not in existence.  

 

The rebellion was suppressed by the lone 14 Infantry Division and by May 1971 order was restored in the entire province and a civilian Bengali governor Malik was installed. Casualties were in few thousands and not a million as claimed by Alam. 

Mujib and his stalwarts after creation of Bangladesh had bloated the figure of casualties to 3 million and rape of 300,000 women. Alam must be agreeing to these bizarre figures. Al-Badr and Al-Shams were created as Razaqars essentially for village defences during the counter insurgency operations and for rear areas security during war because of paucity of troops. Once order was restored, general amnesty was announced for all the Awami League leaders based in India and the refugees but India blocked them. 

All attempts made by Pakistan to find a political settlement were turned down by haughty Indira Gandhi. Indian leaders were smelling blood and they didn’t want to miss a chance of century (as stated by Subramanian). Pakistan internal matter was made into Indian issue. Mukti Bahinis were eulogized and Pak military demonized as human eating monsters and rapists by Indian media as well as western media.

 

 

Alam in his article has put the entire blame on Field Marshal Ayub Khan and Gen Yahya Khan and skipped role of ZA Bhutto and that of Mujib in the 1971 tragedy. Thereafter, in a way he holds a grudge against Bhutto for rebuilding a defeated Army and putting up a confrontationist national security paradigm despite signing Simla agreement. 

He forgets that soon after creating Bangladesh, India embarked upon an ambitious force modernization program with the help of USSR and also carried out nuclear explosion in August 1974. At the same time, Sindh and Baluchistan were given as new targets for subversion to RAW in 1973. We all know that RAW in league with KGB and KHAD had fully supported Baloch insurgency from 1973 to 1978 and had also supported Sindhu Desh movement in Sindh. So what should have Bhutto done and why should he not have laid the foundation of nuclear program when India had expansionist designs and had not reconciled to existence of Pakistan? Kashmir issue was virtually frozen after Simla agreement and flawed policy of bilateralism introduced to bar third party intervention.

 

Alam then picks up his stick against Gen Ziaul Haq accusing him of creating non-state jihadi actors and making Pakistan an undeclared nuclear weapon power. He skips the role of US which in actuality brought in Jihadis from 70 Muslim countries, funded and militarized madrassas and funded the proxy war in Afghanistan. He fails to mention that Zia’s strategy was a 100% success story. 

He also fails to mention that the US abandonment of Afghanistan in haste had led to civil war and Pakistan had to suffer the consequences. Another point which he missed was the Pressler Amendment which became a cause for rise in debts and political instability. Consequently the democratic era failed to pay any heed to ill effects of Afghan imbroglio. So to say that the erstwhile western patrons subjected Pakistan to sanctions in the aftermath of nuclear explosions in 1998 will not be correct. Those were additional sanctions.

 

Rather than condemning India’s nuclear explosions, he sees Pakistan’s response negatively. In his view Pakistan under Nawaz should have pursued Gen Zia’s strategy of nuclear ambiguity rather than putting the bomb in the open shelf. In his view Pakistan’s nuclear response led to nuclear arms race. He intentionally overlooked Zia’s series of proposals to make South Asia Nuclear Free Zone which were out rightly rejected by India. Pakistan didn’t want to sign NPT and CTBT unilaterally when India refused to sign. 

Yet, India was awarded civil nuclear deal by USA in 2008 and then made member of Nuclear Suppliers Group to enable India to give fillip to its weaponized nuclear program. Conversely, Pakistan’s nuclear program became an eyesore for India, Israel and USA and all sorts of objections were raised.  

 

Alam then dwells on India’s future grandiose plans of becoming a big power and a bulwark against China. He rightly highlights that in partnership with USA, India under Maritime security and joint strategic vision for Asia-Pacific, and naval cooperation in Indian Ocean is leaving Pakistan far behind and creating unbridgeable asymmetry on conventional plane. At the same time he adds that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and war heads are more than India’s stocks and is geared towards becoming the fifth largest nuclear power by 2025. (Stolen from biased western analysts). He then subtly makes a mention of Pakistan’s tactical nukes and their use on its own soil to thwart Indian intrusion, and Pakistan’s preference for first-strike option.

 

After describing the horrors of nuclear war and relating it to Mutually Assured Destruction, Alam belittles concept of deterrence saying it’s a flawed doctrine. He then dwells upon Pakistan’s minimum nuclear deterrence now jumping to full spectrum nuclear deterrence and lists out the types of missiles Pakistan has to counter India’s Cold Start doctrine and continental triad nuclear doctrine. He then delivers the best punch by asserting that in response to Pakistan’s use of non-state actors (strategic assets), Ajit Doval’s passive-aggressive and aggressive doctrine is in full play by co-opting proxies from within and from Afghanistan.

 

One wonders why Alam is shy of making a mention that the main reasons of arms race and nuclearisation of South Asia are unresolved Kashmir issue, India’s intransigence and belligerent attitude. Why doesn’t he say that India has always aspired for Akhand Bharat and wants to become a regional hegemon in South Asia, Indian Ocean including Arabian Sea? He looks the other way to Pakistan’s military strategy which is defensive in nature and its nuclear program which is meant to safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Pakistan has no territorial claims with any neighbor and has desired peaceful relations with all. India’s military strategy on the other hand is offensive in nature and imperialist in design and has disputes with all its neighbors. India uses proxy war, Chankyan tactics and propaganda as tools to achieve its sinister objectives.

 Since 1989, India is constantly raising its defence budget which now totals $50 billion annually and is feverishly buying sophisticated war machines for the three services of Indian military and testing new range of nuclear tipped missiles to disable Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence.

 

It will be too simplistic and naïve to think that India’s  conventional and nuclear build up is meant to confront China. After the 1962 humiliating defeat, India will never ever try to flex its military muscles against China. More so, Great Himalayas stand as a barrier between the two neighbors which prevent classical invasion by any side.

 Over 70% of India’s strike formations and air bases are deployed against Pakistan. The latter cannot match Indian military superiority which is 5:1, but Pakistan strives to maintain strategic balance of 3:1 and reinforces it with nuclear deterrence. Big powers have always played a role in tilting the military balance in favor of India and currently the US is going out of the way to help its strategic partner India in expanding and upgrading its conventional and nuclear capabilities. 

This process has been going on since 1993. At the same time the US has been objecting to Pakistan’s acquisitions from China and denying its bare minimum defence needs. Blockage of F-16s and close support fund are the recent examples.

 

In the 1980s, Russia helped India to build its navy. Nuclear powered Chakra submarine and Talwar Frigates fitted with nuclear tipped Brahmo missiles were provided by Russia. Now the US in its bid to dominate Indian Ocean is helping Indian Navy to become a blue water navy. India has developed intermediate range K-4 nuclear ballistic missiles which will be fitted on Arihant submarines. K-5 missiles are also being built.

 This will nuclearise Indian Ocean and jeopardise the security of 32 littoral states situated around it. Pakistan will be faced with land based and sea based nuclear and missile threats which will further exacerbate its security. On May 15, India conducted an interceptor missile test of its advanced air defence Ashwin and Israel has provided the technology. These developments have altered the strategic balance and forced Pakistan to counter the newly emerged threat. 

 

Alam is reinforcing Indo-US unjust stance by advising Pakistan not to upgrade its defence capabilities. 

It is utterly unfair on part of Alam to equate Pakistan with India by saying both are indulging in arms race and in nuclearisation of the region.  His claim that Pakistan is solely responsible for making use of non-state actors is untrue. I am sure he must be knowing who created and supported Mukti Bahini and LTTE, and now who is supporting TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF, and MQM.

 

I will advise my friend to go through articles written by Indians, or see Pakistan specific programs aired by Indian TV channels. None has ever advised Indian rulers to cut down defence budget, or to show restraint, or to solve Kashmir issue. Jingoism in India against Pakistan is at its peak and so are covert operations in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi by RAW. Arrested Indian naval officer Kal Bhushan Yadav, working for RAW has spilled the beans and reconfirmed Pakistan’s stated position that RAW is deeply involved in destabilizing Pakistan. 

RAW agents in dozens are being rounded up and the figure has crossed 400. Combing operation is going on in urban centres to demolish all sorts of foreign networks.

 

The writer is defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan.asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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