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Racial profiling of Pashtuns by Brig. (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Racial profiling of Pashtuns

Asif Haroon Raja

Ali Wazir has posted a video clip on social media showing Punjab Police manhandling some persons. He has craftily given a twist to the story by projecting the Pashtuns living in Punjab as the victims. I am sure, he must have been handsomely rewarded by RAW or NDS for this villainous act which has raised the tempers of the Pashtun community. Imran Khan added fuel to fire by giving a color to anti-terrorism drive in Punjab as racial profiling of the Pashtuns. Opposition leader Khurshid Shah sprinkled more oil on the hurt feelings of Pashtuns. The Pashtun nationalists took to twitter to vent their anger. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly has passed a resolution demanding an immediate halt to anti-Pashtun campaign in Punjab and has warned of dire consequences if it is not stopped. Asfand Wali threatened to oust Punjabis from KP. Pamphlets are in circulation. Within no time, Afghan social media posted series of fake videos to paint Pashtuns as victims of Punjab vandalism. Altaf Hussain sitting in London also sung the same song. Liberal and progays Marvi Sarmad tweeted in favor of Pashtuns. The speed with which all of them have ganged up for a fake cause is quite intriguing. None bothered to see that the clip going viral on social media relates to a 15 years old incident in Baluchistan province and not Punjab, in which suspected Afghans were rounded up by the police. The clip seems to be cleverly doctored. Notorious Jibran Nasir is the main instigator behind racial profiling memo.

 

 

 

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Coming weeks are likely to witness the shrill exchange of hot words and accusations between the KP and Punjab governments, duly aggravated by social media, which is already working on someone else’s agenda. The purpose behind exacerbating ethnic feelings is to drive a wedge between the Punjabis and Pashtuns. The two communities have been at peace and enjoying most cordial relations in all the provinces and never picked up arms against each other. Pashtuns settled in Punjab do not wish to return to KP.  

The juvenile reaction of nationalist Pashtuns is a consequence of the nationwide operation Raddul Fasaad that was launched in the wake of a new wave of terrorism unleashed from the soil of Afghanistan in which targets were struck in all the four provinces and almost 200 people were killed. It was gathered that the handlers and facilitators in each incident were from inside Pakistan. The whole trail has been unearthed after arresting the accomplices. The security forces have no political axe to grind and go after terrorists only who have no religion or ethnic identity.    

The main objective of the operation is to destroy leftover hideouts/camps of terrorists both sides of the Durand Line, get hold of handlers, facilitators, carriers and financiers of terrorists, demolish sleeping cells and terrorists network in urban centres, choke funds and supplies by  further improving border management, and expedite implementation of 20 points of National Action Plan (NAP). This operation in which all the three services are taking part under a coordinated plan had been necessitated in the wake of dangerous agenda of enemies of Pakistan to destabilize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. For the achievement of their sinister goals, they have been making all out efforts through paid proxies and propaganda war to make Pakistan insecure and to make CPEC less attractive for outsiders.

India has all along been resorting to subversive activities in Pakistan to breed misgivings, disenchantment and hatred between smaller provinces and Punjab on the basis of socio-politico-economic grievances, stir up provincialism by encouraging fissiparous tendencies, stoke ethnicity and sectarianism, widen religious divides and sharpen political polarization and befriend 5th columnists and disgruntled elements. India helped by its moles in Pakistan has been playing its role in making power centres fight with each other and in spoiling civil-military relations.

The purpose behind subversion is to keep Pakistan perpetually politically unstable, economically weak and internationally isolated and discredited. A segment of Pakistani media, NGOs, and pseudo-intellectuals on the payroll of foreign powers have been instrumental in sensationalizing weak points and undermining strengths.

Former NWFP was already in the grip of Pakhtun nationalism at the time of partition and Pakhtunistan stunt championed by Khan Brothers (associated with Indian Congress) and had the support of Kabul. The movement has still not died down since the likes of Asfandyar Wali and Mahmood Achakzai, helped by India and Afghanistan, carry forward this agenda. Billboards of ‘Greater Pakhtunistan’ were on display in KP during the last PPP rule. 

After successfully stoking Bengali nationalism and building hatred against West Pakistan in general and Punjab and Army in particular, India accomplished its mission of separating East Pakistan from the body of Pakistan in 1971.

RAW was next mandated to achieve similar results in Sindh and Baluchistan. Sindhi and Baloch nationalism were fueled in the two provinces to intensify hatred against Punjab and the Federation. RAW’s efforts gave birth to Sindhu Desh movement of Sindhi nationalists led by late GM Sayed in Sindh. Baloch insurgency led by Marris and Mengals in Baluchistan in the 1970s was a follow up of earlier rebellious tendencies of some Baloch Sardars and of Samad Achakzai in Baluchistan. Under the name of Baloch nationalism, settlers were targeted and forced to migrate. The Baloch insurgency was fully supported by KGB, RAW, and KHAD.

Having succeeded in subverting the Sindhis, RAW stimulated anti-Sindhi sentiments among the Urdu-speaking settlers in urban Sindh and pitted new Sindhis against old Sindhis, again on the basis of socio-economic grievances. Altaf Hussain established APSMO in 1978 and created MQM in 1984. RAW handed him the blueprint plan of Mujibur Rahman led Awami League, how to go about separating urban Sindh from rest of Pakistan and creating a new state for the Mohajirs. Altaf was glamorized and popularized among the Urdu speaking community as their hero. Besides blaming the Sindhis, Altaf and his disciples blamed the establishment and agencies for the woes of Mohajirs. This line was adopted to project the Mohajirs as victims and to hide fascist and terrorist activities of the MQM aimed at controlling Karachi and Hyderabad through terrorism. A stage came when the MQM militants indulged in bloody duels against the Sindhis and settlers from other ethnic communities in Karachi in the late 1980s. Three operations were launched in the 1990s to control MQM militancy.

After 9/11, FATA was created as a new conflict zone by RAW and its allied agencies to fan terrorism in Pakistan. TTP was created with an ostensible aim of demolishing the existing governing structure and replacing it with Sharia-based system and establishment of Islamic Emirate. The real aim was however to stoke chaos, pin down a sizeable portion of Army in the northwest, and destabilize the country. Despite launching several large size military operations such as Rah-e-Raast, Rah-e-Nijat and Zarb-e-Azb, and recapturing the entire space captured by the TTP and its affiliates, terrorism couldn’t be rooted out.

The reason is that Afghanistan that had been converted into a strategic launching pad for cross-border terrorism in Pakistan in 2002 is still fully operative. All the planners, executors and coordinators of covert war sit under one roof at Sehra Neward Intelligence Centre north of Kabul and their objectives against Pakistan remain unchanged. The other reason is the Pakistani power wielders providing protection and funds to the terrorists and the natural alignment of the religious right with the TTP and other so-called religiously motivated militant groups.

Former Army chief Gen Raheel was right in stating that terrorism cannot be rooted out unless financiers, handlers, and facilitators are taken to task and the nexus of financial terrorism, corruption and terrorism is broken. The military prong which achieved over 80% progress couldn’t achieve conclusive results because of the bases in Afghanistan and backing of terrorists by foreign patrons and local supporters.     

Baluchistan that was peaceful from 1979 to 2003, was made restive in 2004 and this time Bugtis were made to join the Marris and Mengals as well other Baloch nationalists to wage province-wide insurgency backed by RAW, NDS, CIA, MI-6, Mossad. Socio-economic deprivations were once again drummed up and Nawab Akbar Bugti was made into a hero to promote Baloch nationalism. Punjab was held responsible for the backwardness of the province. Mega development projects were objected to and the Army, FC and intelligence agencies demonized on the made-up allegations that they were responsible for the Baloch missing persons and mutilated bodies. Sectarianism was fanned by targeting Hazara community in Baluchistan.

In September 2001, Altaf residing in London since 1992, gave an undertaking to Tony Blair of MQM’s full support in the war on terror. From 2008 onward, the re-strengthened MQM undertook planned destabilization of Karachi, the economic hub of Pakistan, so as to further bleed Pakistan’s economy. A spate of target killings, kidnappings for ransom and extortion was unleashed and the daily score of target killers was 10-12. Altaf kept raising alarm bells about the threat of Taliban and Pashtun settlers to the peace of Karachi, which in actuality had been ruined by the Sindh ruling coalition of PPP, MQM, and ANP. Sindh had begun to die an economic death.

Karachi was stabilized after a targeted and intelligence based operation was launched by the Rangers equipped with police powers under Article 147 of the Constitution in September 2013. However, MQM which was mainly responsible for lawlessness made a hue and cry that the operation was not even-handed and was Mohajir focused. When the Rangers started nabbing the ones involved in financial terrorism and went after some in interior Sindh, the ruling PPP started creating impediments in the way of Rangers.

The RAW sponsored MQM in Karachi has got divided into four factions – MQM London, MQM Pakistan under Farooq Sattar, Pakistan Sar Zamin Party under Mustafa Kamal and MQM Haqiqi under Afaq. Its militant structure has been broken and Altaf is debarred from making speeches on phone to instigate violence. Altaf is now the most hated man in Pakistan and a red warrant for his arrest by Interpol has been issued. Ironically, he is now trying to portray himself as a friend of Pashtuns and is openly espousing the agenda of enemies to break Pakistan into pieces. He is equating Indian atrocities against Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir with Rangers operation in Karachi against Mohajirs. Like Mujib, he is threatening the government to stop operation Raddul Fasaad or else face annihilation of Army.  He is exhorting his followers to get ready for the final battle against the Army and is seeking another Gen Arora like General in India.   

PPP, MQM, and PTI demanded an operation in Punjab arguing that it was also prone to crime and terrorism. They quoted the presence of Punjabi Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah Sahaba and Chotu gang in South Punjab. This demand was put in with an eye on elections in 2018, hoping that action against Punjabi militants will dilute the vote bank of PML-N in Punjab.

Punjab government expressed reluctance on the plea that law and order situation in Punjab was under control and developments works were proceeding smoothly.  It was owing to persistent demand of other provinces and the terror attack in Lahore on February 13th that it was decided to include Punjab in the ambit of operation Raddul Fasaad as well.

Some Inferences

As a result of RAW’s subversion, Pakistan had to face Sindhu Desh movement and MRD movement in interior Sindh, Mohajir movement in urban Sindh, Baloch separatist movement in Baluchistan, low-keyed Saraiki movement in southern Punjab, TTP insurgency in the northwest, and Balwaristan movement in Gilgit-Baltistan, each aspiring for a separate state outside the concept of Pakistan. Effective measures taken by the incumbent government, security forces and law enforcement agencies has taken the wind out of the sails of all the movements/insurgencies. 

Till 9/11, India was the support base for all the rebel groups/political parties in Pakistan. After the occupation of Afghanistan by the US in November 2001, Afghanistan has become the operational base. RAW has also been making use of Iranian territory for carrying out sabotage and subversion in Baluchistan and Karachi. Rajgarh and Ramgarh in Rajasthan continue to be used for dispatching supplies to the terrorists in Sindh, interior Baluchistan, and southern Punjab.

The proxies undertaking terrorism in Pakistan are the TTP, its breakaway faction Jamaat-al- Ahrar (JA), Lashkar-e-Islam, LeJ, Al-Alami, IMU and TTA based at Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar since 2009. RAW and NDS have outsourced terrorism and have circulated a menu-like price list to all these groups. Rupees 4 million is spent on a single suicide mission.

In Baluchistan, major proxies are BLA, BRA, BLF that used to operate from interior Baluchistan but now mostly operate from Spin Boldak and Lashkargah in Afghanistan. Their leaders espousing separatist agenda are housed by Britain, America, and Switzerland. A red warrant has been issued against Brahamdagh Bugti. Large numbers of Baloch fighters have voluntarily forsaken militancy and joined the mainstream thereby taking the steam out of the separatist movement. 

In Baluchistan, major proxies are BLA, BRA, BLF that used to operate from interior Baluchistan but now mostly operate from Spin Boldak and Lashkargah in Afghanistan. Their leaders espousing separatist agenda are housed by Britain, America, and Switzerland. A red warrant has been issued against Brahamdagh Bugti. Large numbers of Baloch fighters have voluntarily forsaken militancy and joined the mainstream thereby taking the steam out of the separatist movement. 

Baluchistan has weak border management and 95% of its territory is in control of ill-trained and corruption-prone Levies that are controlled by Sardars. Owing to over a dozen crossing points, it is more vulnerable to infiltration and requires concrete steps to prevent cross-border movement.  

Foreign agencies have been fishing in the camps of 3 million Afghan refugees residing in KP and Baluchistan since 1979 to find handlers and facilitators as well as saboteurs. They take full advantage of the porous western border with negligible border control mechanism. Apart from the socio-economic burden, unregistered among them have become a security hazard and has forced the government to expedite their return and also to verify them. Vested groups are however making hue and cry and making it into a political issue. Arrest and interrogation of suspected Afghan refugees are being mixed up with Pakhtun racialism.     

Daesh joined up with JA and TTP and has made Nangarhar as its base camp for fighting Afghan Taliban as well as striking targets and making inroads in Pakistan. Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, supervising the whole covert war against Pakistan had facilitated Daesh marriage with JA-TTP in 2015.

All bases of TTP and its affiliates have been busted in the northwest and so have the Farari camps in interior Baluchistan. Since the start of 2015, all acts of terror emanate from Afghanistan right under the nose of NATO and CIA.

Afghan unity government which is a puppet in the hands of Washington and Delhi has adopted a hostile posture against Pakistan. It is averse to border management since it will prevent cross-border terrorism and also expose its oft-repeated claim that instability in Afghanistan is owing to terrorism springing from Pakistan. It has taken no step to dismantle safe havens of TTP and JA, and to close down Pakistan specific India consulates filled with RAW officers, or to rein in NDS.

For the first time, Pakistan has changed its defensive posture to offensive defence and has struck JA and TTP terror camps across the western border with precision. Western border has been closed. Pakistan has handed over a list of 76 most wanted terrorists belonging to these banned groups to Kabul for their extradition.

 An equally aggressive posture has been adopted along the LoC in Kashmir, which India has intentionally kept on the boil to distract the attention of the world from its atrocities in occupied Kashmir, which is slipping out of its hands. Gen Qamar Bajwa has given a loud message that he means business.    

Safety of the CPEC and Gwadar seaport has been ensured by deploying a division size force, while the Marine Force of Navy has been mandated to guard the coastline, exclusive economic zone and the sea lanes in the Arabian Sea.   

Frustrated by the failure of multiple covert efforts including pitting Deobandis against Barelivis, the enemies of Pakistan have devised a new plan to trigger Pashtun-Punjabi ethnic war to fail Operation Raddul Fasaad.

Punjab government will have to ensure evenhandedness in the ongoing operation in Punjab to allay the fears that Pashtuns are being racially profiled. At the same time, leaders of smaller provinces should also behave responsibly and avoid pouring scorn on Punjab for petty political gains.

Ongoing efforts to denigrate and topple the elected federal and Punjab governments will serve the interests of enemies only and will do no service to the country. What is needed is unity of federating units and a joint strategy to eliminate the scourge of extremism and terrorism.

There is a direct linkage between the terrorists and terror financing. This financing has a direct linkage with Mega Corruption lorded over by the politicians, particularly in Sindh who are raping the economic hub of the country like parasites. The police, the bureaucracy, and the judiciary in Sindh are playing the role of facilitators. Their thorough politicization has blunted the system of accountability.

No effort is in hand to reform the police, bureaucracy and criminal justice system. Till these flaws are doctored, NAP implemented in real earnest, the operational base of Afghanistan neutralized, and the border is effectively guarded, the military prong at its own will not be able to root out terrorism.

Lastly, law enforcement agencies will have to further polish the systems of investigation, intelligence gathering and sharing mechanism and rapid response system to achieve tangible results.     

The writer is a retired Brigadier, a war veteran, a defence analyst, a columnist, an author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, and is the Director of Measac Research Centre. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com  

 

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Subversive activities in Balochistan Asif Haroon Raja

Subversive activities in Balochistan

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan”. Chuck Hagel

 

ScreenHunter_57-May.-18-07.51It is an irrefutable reality that India’s prime intelligence agency RAW is leading terrorist activities in Baluchistan by using the soil of Afghanistan, harbouring and financing terrorists and projecting them as freedom fighters. This covert support is going on since 2002 and several other foreign agencies have also been supplementing RAW’s efforts. RAW had created Mukti Bahini, a militant wing of Awami League in former East Pakistan in late 1960s and in 1971 established 59 training camps all along the border to train, equip and launch them to sever eastern wing from West Pakistan. After accomplishing its mission, in 1973 RAW was assigned the task of subverting Sindh with the help of Sindhi nationalist parties. In conjunction with KGB and KHAD, RAW fully supported Baloch insurgency from 1973 to 1978; and again destabilised Pakistan in 1980s by supporting Al-Zulfiqar, a terrorist wing of PPP.

 

 

 

After the creation of MQM in 1984, RAW established links with the new party leadership and is still guiding and assisting it. Over one million weapons have been inducted in port city by RAW and other agencies as well as NATO to make the economic hub centre restive. Startling disclosures have been made by two recently arrested MQM terrorists Junaid and Tahir Lamba who revealed that RAW has been imparting training to MQM workers since 1996 at Dheradun to destabilize Karachi.

 

RAW is arming, training and funding banned terrorist groups Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and Baluchistan Lashkar headed by runaway Baloch rebel leaders. Pattern is similar to its support to Mukti Bahini in 1971. RAW established 9 training camps along Afghan-Pakistan border in 2003 to train Baloch dissidents. Later, in league with CIA, MI-6 and Afghan NDS, it set up 60 training camps in interior Baluchistan. Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan (100 miles away from Iran’s eastern border and same distance from Afghanistan’s southern border) was also used by CIA to foment insurgency and to assist Jundollah group.

 

Besides sabotage and subversion, Indo-US-Western propaganda machinery has been eulogising the heroics of the Baloch insurgents by projecting them as seekers of their socio-politico-economic rights. Atrocities of insurgents against non-Baloch settlers in Baluchistan, forcing over 100,000 to migrate, blatant target killings of pro-Pakistan Baloch and government officials, teachers/professors, Hazaras, kidnapping for ransom, blowing up gas pipelines, electric pylons/grids, railway lines, attacking trains, security forces, challenging the writ of the state, seeking foreign support to break up Pakistan, all these undesirable acts were looked the other way. No objections were raised by local and foreign media when exiled Baloch leaders sought intervention by India, or the US or NATO or the UN to help them liberate Baluchistan.  

 

Conversely, counter actions of the law enforcement agencies (LEA) to safeguard territorial integrity of the state are projected as violation of human rights. The government is also described in poor light having robbed the resources of the province.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propaganda themes are:

a. Successive governments have kept Baluchistan deprived and backward and are stealing Baloch mineral resources.

b. Punjab Army is anti-Baloch and has turned Baluchistan into a colony.

c. Army is carrying out genocide of Baloch.

    d. Over 18000 Baloch men and women have gone missing.

e. Agencies and FC are behind forced disappearances of Baloch and kill and dump policy to suppress Baloch people.    

 

CIA, MI-6, RAW, Mossad, Afghan NDS in unison have unremittingly utilized all sorts of covert and overt methods to foment unrest in Baluchistan. Grievances of the Baloch and the issue of missing persons/enforced disappearances and ‘kill and dump policy’ have been relentlessly played up for many years and in this several Pak TV channels, journalists, HRW and human rights activists have been promoting the foreign agenda to discredit intelligence agencies and Frontier Corps Baluchistan. Mama Qadeer who also supports the separatist agenda was lionised by certain TV channels particularly Geo. His long march from Quetta to Karachi and Islamabad from October 2013 till February 2014 in protest of non-recovery of missing persons was given wide publicity. There are hundreds of foreign funded NGOs promoting the cause of Baloch separatists and pursuing foreign agendas.

 

 

 

Grievances of the Baloch and the issue of missing persons/enforced disappearances and ‘kill and dump policy’ have been relentlessly played up for many years and in this several Pak TV channels, journalists, HRW and human rights activists have been promoting the foreign agenda to discredit intelligence agencies and Frontier Corps Balochistan. Mama Qadeer who also supports the separatist agenda was lionised by certain TV channels particularly Geo. His long march from Quetta to Karachi and Islamabad from October 2013 till February 2014 in protest of non-recovery of missing persons was given wide publicity. There are hundreds of foreign funded NGOs promoting the cause of Baloch separatists and pursuing foreign agendas.

 

RAW keeps changing tactics in rapid succession. A year back it hyphenated Pakistan with ISIS/Jehadis through ‘guided’ and misleading interviews. Uploading of a notorious terrorist Allah Nazar’s interview on a RAW-managed Indian propaganda website on ‘Online’ further confirmed the information at hand that India has been training, financing, arming and projecting terrorists to destabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan”. The thrust of the interview revolved around unproven allegations against Pakistan’s LEAs, intelligence agencies and Pak-China relations. Purpose behind it was to subtly gather the sympathies of civil society besides confusing things as the website introduced Allah Nazar as a so-called freedom movement leader fighting against Jehadi elements and ISIS.

 

Allah Nazar is a terrorist hailing from Awaran, Baluchistan as established after thorough perusal and verification of record of his activities spread over a period of many years. Pak agencies have gathered sufficient evidence which suggests that this person has been enjoying direct support of RAW for committing heinous crimes against humanity viz. killing of men, women and children, attacks on women university students and members of LEAs and blowing up of electric pylons as well as gas pipelines. These insane and murderous acts are being projected as deeds of a liberation movement.

 

It may be recalled that Allah Nazar and his group BLF continued to harass local population in Awaran, Punjgur and Kech districts for a number of years. However, he fled from the area on arrival of forces during earthquake relief activities in September 2013. People of the area felt immensely relieved after the arrival of forces and on their large scale relief efforts. Since then, Allah Nazar and his likeminded accomplices have fled to other areas known only to Indian RAW from where they are carrying out terrorist activities. Chinese working in Gwadar and other parts of Baluchistan have also been targeted by Baloch terrorists. Besides Allah Nazar, other Baloch rebel leaders living a luxurious life in exile since 2006 are Brahamdagh Bugti and Mehran Marri in Geneva, Hyrbyar Marri and Mir Suleman Khan Daud in London, Dr Khaliq Baloch in Washington.

 

Most sordid aspect of these anti-Pakistani activities is that they are not only Pakistan-specific but they also target Chinese interests. India is using terrorist elements in Baluchistan to threaten Chinese interests in the development of China-Pak Economic Corridor. The ink on the historic agreement had barely dried up when western media and foreign paid NGOs in Pakistan sprang into action and started drumming up Baluchistan insurgency. Sabeen Mahmud heading 2F NGO in Karachi hosted a seminar focussing on disappearance of Baloch nationalists and to demonise ISI/FC. This topic was initially scheduled in LUMS Lahore, but was cancelled on the intervention of Punjab government. Unfortunate Sabeen was purposely murdered by the schemers on the same day when she was driving home to earn sympathies of the public and to make ISI a suspect.

 

The next event which coincided with China President’s visit was the interview of Brahamdagh Bugti from Geneva which was given wide publicity by western media. His focal point was his fears about China-Pakistan corridor, which in his jaundiced view was aimed at colonizing Baluchistan. He urged his followers to resist. Late Nawab Akbar Bugti had also started the insurgency in 2004 on the plea that development of Gwadar would be against the interests of the Baloch. Rights activists also stepped up their propaganda accusing security forces of carrying out extra judicial killings of separatists in Baluchistan. Hussain Haqqani wrote an insidious article in Wall Street Journal in this timeframe, while Tariq Fateh sent anti-Pakistan tweets from Delhi. Activation of Baluchistan card indicates the nervousness of detractors of Pakistan who know that the envisaged corridor would drown all the sinister plans hatched by them to denuclearise and balkanise Pakistan.       

 

It must not be forgotten that only a third of population of Baluchistan is Balochi speaking which include Brahvis as well. More numbers of Baloch live in southern Punjab and Sindh who are educated, patriotic and well integrated with rest of people of Pakistan. Great numbers of Baloch youth are joining armed forces and paramilitary forces and trend to get educated is on the rise – thanks to dedicated efforts of the Army. Dr Malick’s regime helped by the federal government is working hard to alleviate the grievances of the Baloch and to bring back the misled Baloch leaders.

 

Passage of 18th Amendment allowing greater autonomy to provinces, allocation of extraordinary heavy development budget and establishment of nationalist government in Baluchistan has left the insurgents with no ground to grieve and seek independence. Baloch insurgency is made up of handful of insurgent groups, mostly belonging to Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes and except for Allah Nazar, all other rebel leaders are residing abroad enjoying the hospitality of their patrons. Insurgents represent only a few districts and they have no political party and are highly unpopular. They are disgruntled, exhausted, disenchanted and involved in infighting. Their patrons are vexed and vainly keep counseling them to unite for their lost cause.

 

Pakistan of today is alive to all these threats and challenges and the sitting government, headed by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, the entire political leadership and the army under the command of COAS Gen Raheel Sharif and other services’ chiefs are unanimous and in complete agreement with one another on the policy of ‘no surrender to such nefarious activities’. Establishment of Special Security Division to ensure security of foreign and local workers employed along the corridor is a wise step and will help in frustrating the baleful designs of anti-state elements.

The writer is a retired Brig/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Member Executive Council PESS, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors TFP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

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Indo-US encirclement plans By Asif Haroon Raja

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Indo-US encirclement plans

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

This US agenda for Pakistan prepared by the neo-cons after 9/11 was similar to that applied throughout the broader Middle East Central Asian region. US strategy, supported by covert intelligence operations, consisted in triggering ethnic and religious strife, abetting and financing secessionist movements while also weakening the institutions of the central government. The broader objective was to fracture the Nation State and redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

Pakistan under Gen Musharraf was induced in September 2001 to become coalition partner and frontline State to fight the US dictated Global War on Terror. By the time Musharraf was deposed, Pakistan had been sufficiently bled in the war and the TTP under Baitullah Mehsud had captured 18 administrative units in the northwest. His successor Gen Ashfaq Kayani managed to recapture 17 units in 2009 and 2010. It resulted in overstretching of 150,000 troops employed in Swat, Malakand and FATA, besides battle fatigue and wear and tear of equipment. He considered it prudent to let alone the last bastion of the militants in North Waziristan (NW) since it housed friendly groups of Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Haqqani network.

 

While he kept pending the operation, the US and its strategic allies kept applying pressure by holding back aid, intensifying drone strikes and the covert war. Inflow of funds and arms from Afghanistan to the militants and hesitancy on Pakistan’s part allowed disarrayed TTP and its affiliates to regroup in NW, marry up with additional groups including foreign groups, and spread its terror tentacles all over Pakistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur could do nothing to restrain Hakimullah Mehsud and later Fazlullah operating from Kunar.

 

Change of government in May 2013 opened vistas for peace talks with militants but acts of terrorism continued. Gen Kayani handed over the baton to Gen Raheel Sharif in November at a time when peace talks had run into difficulties. Incident of beheading of 23 captive FC soldiers by the men of Umar Khalid Khurasani in Mohmand Agency on February 18, 2014 and airing the video distressed him. It became difficult for Gen Raheel to see his men dying in acts of terror and the government insisting to give peace a chance without reciprocity from militants. He was constrained to hit back by launching selective surgical airstrikes against known hideouts. These strikes helped in dividing TTP in South Waziristan (SW) where Khalid Mehsud alias Sajna group rebelled and clashed with Sheharyar Mehsud group. Infighting weakened TTP and created better situation for striking it. Peace talks made no headway because the TTP refused to honor ceasefire, continued hitting military targets and made unreasonable demands of asking the Army to vacate SW and free militants before holding direct talks.

 

Matters came to a pass when the militants struck Jinnah airport in Karachi on June 8 and threatened to carryout similar attacks. The government and military leadership backed by all political parties and religious groups agreed to launch the much delayed operation in NW. Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched on June 15 preceded by airstrikes is delivering decisive results and is aimed at ridding the country of terror forever. Major towns of Miranshah and Mir Ali and 90% of territory have been cleared. Over 1000 terrorists have been killed, suicide jackets and IED making factories, ammunition and explosive dumps and hideouts destroyed and command & control centre dismantled. Many have surrendered. In anticipation to the much feared blowback in urban centres, the Army teams carried out hundreds of intelligence based raids against known hideouts in other parts of FATA and also nabbed terrorists in cities, thus preventing many attacks. Apart from dealing with terrorists, the Army is mindful of one million IDPs and is doing all it can take to make their stay in camps easy and to keep them motivated.

 

In spite of the fact that the ISAF-ANA combine has lost all battles against Taliban in Afghanistan and Pak Army has won all against array of militant groups supported by foreign powers, the US is still not satisfied and wants it to do more. On its part, it has taken no step to dismantle Fazlullah’s safe havens in Kunar and Nuristan from where his men are carrying out cross border terrorism. While deeply concerned over the threat posed by the IS in Syria-Iraq, it is still instigating India to deal with terror groups in Pakistan. Encouraged by Obama-Modi’s Pakistan focussed joint statement in Washington last month; Indian leaders are hurling threatening statements to vitiate the atmosphere.

 

Indian military calculatedly heated up the LoC in Kashmir and Working boundary in Sialkot sector on October 1 and has been resorting to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing/shelling, killing/injuring dozens of civilians and forcing large numbers to migrate to safer areas. Pak Army is responding to the aggression befittingly. Gen Raheel stated on 18th October that “let there be no doubt that any aggression against our beloved country will get a befitting response and no sacrifice will be too great in this sacred cause.” He added that lasting peace in the region could only come through with a fair and just resolution in accordance with the will of Kashmiri people as enshrined in UN Resolutions.  

 

Indian bouts of belligerence in various forms are a routine matter and are designed to keep Pakistan overawed and its attention deflected from Kashmir. Rather than resolving the core issue of Kashmir which is the main bone of contention between the two archrivals, India keeps harping upon terrorism. Composite dialogue is a farce to keep Kashmir issue on the back burner for good. Nothing good can be expected from bigoted and Hindutva loving Modi regime. India’s mindset can be gauged from the recent article written by Dr. Amarjit Singh in Indian Defence Review, June 2014 Edition. In his view, Pakistan has no right to exist and is a thorn in the flesh of India. In his desire to obliterate Pakistan, he suggests fragmenting it by absorbing whole of Kashmir into Indian Union, making Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab independent but under Indian control; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-FATA merged with southern/eastern Afghanistan and formed into Pakhtunistan, and northern Afghanistan comprising non-Pashtuns to shape into a separate country.

 

He is confident that the West will not shed tears on the demise of troublesome Pakistan. Finding the environment conducive, he forcefully urges the Indian leadership to knock out Pakistan when it is dizzy and imbalanced. His map and thoughts are similar to Lt Col Ralph Peters. Self-opinionated Amarjit doesn’t have the moral courage to say that it is India which has given tens of thousands of cuts to Pakistan from 1947 onwards and made it bleed profusely and that it is Pakistan which is the biggest victim of terrorism and India is an old hand in promoting terrorism in the region. But he is not the only one entertaining such devious thoughts.

 

The entire lot of Brahmin elite (2.8%) yearns to dismember Pakistan and for this purpose RAW has been employed in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi to do the needful as it had done in 1971. MI-6, CIA, Mossad and Afghan agencies are providing full assistance for the achievement of common objectives of destabilizing, denuclearizing, secularizing, balkanizing Pakistan and making it a Satellite State of India. Efforts are in hand to isolate Pakistan by spoiling Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran relations and also delinking it from China. A subtle propaganda has been unleashed to depict China’s investment in Pakistan as harmful. Pak-China planned joint venture of constructing ‘Economic Corridor’ and development of Gawadar are giving night mares to the US and India and schemes are being hatched  how to stop these projects. Unstable political conditions and establishment of interim government of technocrats or national government as suggested by some suit the conspirators to accomplish their nefarious objectives. Unproductive sit-ins without a roadmap are slowing down development works and foreign investments.

 

While India is continuously building up its naval power in the Indian Ocean, the US is trying to contain China by roping in Indian Ocean Littoral States within an ‘Indo-Pacific’ framework. Besides boosting economy, science and technology, China must step up its efforts to protect its energy security interests by securing Sea Lines of Communications in Indian Ocean by deploying bigger naval force and developing Gawadar into a deep seaport and a strong naval base. Only then it can hope to make profitable use of the planned ‘Energy Corridor’ linking Kashgar with Gawadar. Development of Gawadar seaport must be expedited to allow Chinese exporters to export goods to the markets in Africa. At the same time, greater understanding between Pak-China economic managers, foreign policy handlers, military and intelligence officials should be developed to accrue mutually beneficial gains in all the fields. Further fortification of Pak-China strategic relationship will help in thwarting Indo-US policy of encirclement.   

 

Internally what is urgently required in these critical times to frustrate the designs of enemies of Pakistan is political stability, unity between all political/religious parties/groups, harmonious civil-military relations and cooperation between State institutions.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books and Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

                  

 

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BRIG ASIF HAROON RAJA: War on terror ended to tackle titanic challenges

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PRE-WAR ON TERROR GLOBAL MAP

 

 

 

 

 

 

War on terror ended to tackle titanic challenges

Asif Haroon Raja

 

It takes lot of time and resources to produce a trained soldier and continuous efforts to keep him motivated to die for the defence of his country. Religion plays an important role in inculcating spirit of Jihad in a soldier. The military system however regulates this spirit and doesn’t let it go uncontrolled when not required. Throughout peacetime, soldiers are imparted rigorous training, their fighting skills are polished, and tactics taught how to outwit the enemy in the battlefield. They are told to keep honing their weapons, and to keep their equipment and vehicles in battle worthy condition. In addition to weapons and tactics training, regimental spirit de corps is inculcated in the soldiers through sports and training competitions and regimental past war history.

 

Since Jihad is integral to Islam and cannot be detached, regular religious sermons are given to keep the soldiers motivated and to prepare them mentally and physically to sacrifice their lives for the defence of motherland. Once the war breakout, Jihad is declared against the enemy. Control mechanisms are removed once the attacking force gets lined up for attack, or the aggressor tries to push its way through. With the cry of Allah 0 Akbar, battle of kill or get killed gets into motion. While those who perform well are decorated and respected, the Shaheeds are glorified and their next of kin hugely compensated. Their sacrifices are remembered each year on Yaum-e-Shuhada Day.  Those who turn yellow are looked down upon and are weeded out. 

 

There has been no major war with India since 1971 except for several military standoffs during which India itched to start a war but got restrained because of Pakistan’s nuclear and missiles capabilities and readiness of Pak armed forces to make its adventure extremely costly. Fourth war with nuclear overtones got narrowly averted during Kargil conflict in 1999. While Pakistan’s minimum nuclear deterrence has helped in thwarting Indo-Pak war for 42 years, Pakistan’s military remained immersed in another kind of war called ‘war on terror’ which has caused many times more fatalities than what it suffered during the three wars with India plus Rann of Katch and Kargil conflicts.  Civilian and military fatalities have reached up to 50,000.

 

The Army and paramilitary forces have been fighting a guerrilla war against highly motivated and fanatic home-grown militants in the northwest since 2003 without a break. Host of banned militant groups have come under the umbrella of TTP. In the southwest, paramilitary forces are up against Baloch rebels since 2004. The former pose as Islamists rejecting Pakistan’s constitution and democracy and desiring Shariah. They also aspire to establish Islamic caliphate in FATA. Conversely, the Baloch rebels are seculars who started insurgency in the name of socio-economic grievances but then changed course and raised the slogan of independence. BLA and BRA based in Balochistan Mountains are waging a guerrilla war without a leader since both Brahamdagh Bugti and Harbyar Marri are in exile. BLF is operating in Khuzdar region.

 

All these anti-Pakistan groups are patronized by CIA, RAW, MI-6, RAAM and Mossad from Afghanistan. India is leading the covert war against Pakistan by organizing 70 training camps along the northwestern and southwestern borders of Pakistan. Indian Embassy in Kabul, four Indian consulates and 17 intelligence units in Afghanistan are working with a missionary zeal to destabilize Pakistan. Indian Embassy in Tehran and consulates in Zahidan, Mashhad and Bandar Abbas are also supporting terrorist groups in Balochistan in addition to Spin Boldak route.          

 

Once the US-NATO forces exit from Afghanistan by December 2014, the Taliban on both sides of Durand Line will be left with no justifiable cause to continue fighting and spilling blood of the Muslim brethren of their own respective countries. If the US leaves behind a force in Afghanistan, it will give reason to the Taliban to continue fighting. In Pakistan, Kashmir will keep Jihadism alive. If India wants terrorism to end, it will have to make urgent and sincere efforts to resolve this chronic problem which can lead to nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Game of trickery and habitual delaying tactics and seeking one-sided concessions would not work any longer. Kashmir and other contentious issues like Siachin, Sir Creek and water will have to be resolved to remove points of friction which stir up religious extremism.

 

India must not forget that religious extremist groups imbued with religious fervor for over three decades cannot be convinced to abandon Jihad and join the mainstream of secular culture in which Westminster democracy has failed to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor and justice system has failed to deliver justice to have-nots. Pakistan has remained deficient of a genuine leader for 64 years. Leaders with feat of clay and living in regal style are out of sync with the people and have no moral authority to censure Islamists that their way of life is wrong and their demand for Shariah is illegal.

 

The leaders will first have to become role models in their personal conduct, ensure good governance, ensure equitable social justice and provide job opportunities to all and only then will they be able reach out to the downtrodden and say that they have something better to offer. Education which is confined to the privileged must be opened to all classes and uniformity achieved. All this which has been ignored require Herculean efforts based on sincerity of purpose and devotion.

 

Despite best efforts by our security forces and rendering huge sacrifices, TTP network aligned with several local Jihadist groups as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan could not be tamed. They have been striking soft and hard targets at will and the might of the military equipped with heavy guns, tanks, gunship helicopters and jets doesn’t overawe them. Even drones could do little to scare them. Their suicide bombing producing nurseries are functional and they are never short of new recruits. Teeming millions living below the poverty line destined to die as poor get easily recruited as fighters and suicide bombers.  

The TTP may become stronger if Taliban government get re-installed in Kabul after 2014 and may then disagree to ceasefire unless all their demands are accepted unconditionally. The militants could not have continued fighting for so long without external support and safe sanctuaries across the border. There is ample evidence of regular supply of weaponry and funds from across the western border. War on terror will continue as long as supply lines are open for militants. Paradoxically, the key to peace is with hardnosed Taliban.

While the US caught up in a blind alley in Afghanistan is clueless how to exit safely, Pakistan too has no strategy to end the futile war. Infighting among the Muslims suits the US designs; hence it would like the war to continue. It will make maximum use of drones while taking up a backseat in Afghanistan till 2024.

Opinions on war on terror whether it is our war or someone else’s war, and whether talks should be held with militants or not are sharply divided. Those claiming that it is not our war far exceeds those who think otherwise and view it as Pakistan’s existential war. This division in perceptions is to the advantage of militants and disfavors security forces embattled with militants. One thing is clear; this war was coercively imposed upon Pakistan and then terrorism was exported into Pakistan.  

The unparalleled enthusiasm shown by the people in casting their votes despite the terrorist attacks must have brought a sobering effect on the hardliners within TTP’s rank and file. They must be mindful of the hard reality that after 2014, their cause to fight the security forces will become weak and recruitment may slow down and eventually dry up. This is very much possible in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s determination to address the socio-economic-justice inequities.

 

Under the changed political environment in which anti-Taliban political parties are out of power and pro-Taliban parties have taken over power, the overall atmosphere has become conducive for a constructive dialogue with TTP. Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Munawar Hasan are better placed to accept TTP’s offer of talks and take the forward plunge and find a way out to stop this insane war which has caused colossal harm to both sides and to the country. Talks that have been stalled due to drone attack killing Hakimullah’s Deputy Waliur Rahman and six others in North Waziristan (NW) must be renewed. Termination of war is a pre-requisite to tackling the titanic challenges and clearing the huge mess left behind by Zardari regime.

 

Army will have to be co-opted in talks because without its active participation, no worthwhile deal can be brokered. TTP must be reminded of its history of backtracking and breaking peace deals and told not to repeat its past practice. It cannot have the pudding and eat it too. TTP is by design not halting terror attacks so as to sit on the negotiating table from position of strength. TTP must appreciate that the Army’s resolve to fight terrorism as demonstrated by its recent gains made in Tirah is as strong as ever. It can launch another successful operation in NW if required. 

 

Besides addressing FATA’s socio-economic grievances, their longstanding demand of introducing Nizam-e-Adal in FATA could be given serious consideration just the way TNSM’s demand was accepted while signing peace deal in Swat in February 2009. The US should be asked to fulfill its decade old promise of establishing ROZs in FATA. Like Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan, a similar or even better package can be offered for development of FATA on a crash program. In line with the trend of creating more provinces, FATA could be considered to be made a separate province called Qabailistan under its own chief minister and governor. Rather than having so many scouts in tribal belt, a centralized paramilitary force named as Qabailistan Scouts under Qabailistan Training Centre should be considered and the wild TTP after taming and disciplining it to be inducted in it. Cadet Colleges already functioning in South and North Waziristan will provide the requisite officer cadre for this force.              

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence and security analyst and columnist. Email:asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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