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Archive for October, 2021

Global Leadership, Peace and Conflict Resolutions beyond the Lens of Rationality by Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja 

Global Leadership, Peace and Conflict Resolutions beyond the Lens of Rationality

 

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja 

 

 

“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” 

(Howard Zinn, late American historian and distinguished scholar of peace, justice and humanity).

 

 

 

Leaders Speak Words Written by Specialists But See No Irony in their own Actions

The UNO was evolved to act as a tangible force for change and future-making to ensure the systematic safeguard of humanity from the “scourge of wars”, global peace, human security and a sustainable future for all on this planet. Not so, you watched the leaders speaking from the UN General Assembly podium uttering third-party written words of wisdom and forbearance with overweening pride and prejudice in their own agenda. More often when they claim honor and achievements, they dip into crass materialism, ignorance, violations of basic human rights, disregard of peace and security of mankind, inherent economic greed and perpetuated violence against the vulnerable and innocent habitants of this earth.

Our contemporary acclaimed political morality if there is any to a critical perceptive eye leans toward degeneration of the humanity and leadership claims and counter claims sound irrational and deceptive in pursuit of unbridled egoism and political power to deny reason and logic for transformation of much needed change and a peaceful future. We, the People of the globe must realize the truth and urgency at a time of challenging transformation and our sensual abilities for survival under circumstances of extreme geo-political problems – continuous wars, COVID -19 Pandemic, climate change and violations of human rights and dangers of insane cruelty in policies and practices to endanger our own future on this planet. The global institutions do not operate on human morality and intellect. The disclosure of ‘Pandora Papers’ reflect that reality.

The current global systems of political governance and leadership are overwhelmingly elite-class oriented and all global institutions are operated by pre-screened elite leaders who are disconnected to any relationship to ‘the people, by the people and for the people’ norm. In a rational sense, We, the People of the Planet have become lifeless digits, numbers and seamless legal entities to be used when needed at the ballot box and nothing else. What has changed from the authoritarianism of Hitler, Mussolini and the European engineered Two WW killing millions and millions for their own ideas and ideas of political governance? One wonders, if the advanced and secretive space weapons will be the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in a next overdue war or would it be the much possessed nuclear arsenals to extinguish life from this Plant? It appears contentious to predict scientifically and technologically based criterion to illustrate a logical definition of the end game between the conventional age of life and the beginning of an unknown new age of something beyond human imagination and history.

Contemporary Global Affairs under Rational Lens and Beyond

Looking at the contemporary world of acclaimed democracies, peace and national security of the states, almost everywhere frustration, cynicism and political endemic persists across the board. Political reasoning enforced by unilateral elite judgments view humanity just in a passing phrase for noble ideals of democracy and systems of governance devoid of legitimacy and public interest. Global leaders speak loud as actors at the UNO General Assembly but lack knowledge and wisdom to understand the pains and anguish of the victimized humanity. George Floyd continues to echo his voice across the US mainstream political activism: “I cannot breathe… I cannot breathe.” George Floyd is not dead; he is living in the living conscience and soul of the masses all over the world. You know that “Black Life Matters” is not a poltical slogan but a reality and demand of human conscience all over the planet. Imagine, how 10 million people of Kashmir must be breathing under locked up forcible occupation by Indian occupying force.  You won’t hear their desperate voices because of continuous lockdowns under the guise of democracy, security and bogus terrorism. Pakistanis watch them as spectators without any moral leadership. Syria, Yemen and Iraq are bombed and masses are crushed every day – what happened to the UNO Peace and Conflict Management responsibility? The new Arab Pharaohs kept in bondage by the American-European alliances offer no hope of freedom and peace to the masses. Palestinians are flogged mentally and physically by Israeli security strategies to disrupt their freedom and national identity. They are without any proactive or intelligent leadership to escape out of the box of inhumanity. Almost one million Rohinga refugees ask patiently why they were evicted forcibly from their homes in Myanmar. Do the world leaders care about the real human sufferings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is awful and a tragedy of conscience to be speaking of politics when mankind urgently needs an effective cure for the Covid-19 pandemic. We are One Humanity – natural disasters and fatalities know not any borders, flags and nationalities but surge like wildfire as being witnessed in the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Not so, American and the EU still buried in the past would not consider Russian Covid-19 vaccine already prepared and administered or Chinese vaccine because they are manufactured by the politically opposing sides. Again political absolutism heightens animosity and hatred rather than human understanding and cooperation for a precious cause of saving the lives on Earth. To save life of one human being is to safeguard the whole of humanity. We are all born equal One Humanity:- the Divine Message of Al-Qur’an clarifies the truth:

“Proclaim in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created,                                                                                                                    Created man (human being) out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood,                                                                                                    Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,  He Who taught (the use of)  the Pen,                                                                                    Taught man (human being) that which he knew not.”

Leaders at the annual UN Assembly compete for fame and honor but share no creative or practical ideas and workable ideals to protect the rights of humanity. Are we living and witnessing another world of global redundancy and foolishness where survival of the fittest is granted but masses are denied the reasoned and legitimate proposition of a sustainable future?  Were these not the historic factors leading to the Two World Wars?

Are We Witnessing a Decadent Culture of Human Morality and Intelligence?

We, the People, must be conscientious and attentive to a moral and intellectual compass of global political governance. We are moral human beings- a Creation of God created for a purpose in human life, enriched with intellect and wisdom much different than other animals moving on this earth. Our life, our rights, our dignity, our peace and security, our planet and our future cannot be traded-in at the UNO Forum. It is obvious that facts and truths vary in time and space, human destiny and casualty but human consciousness is waking up to the challenges of the 21st century defining the world of destiny and pulsation and the world of global conflicts and tensions- the world as we see it history linking us all into the nature of things of which we are an essential part; We, the People at the Heart of the God-given Universe, must seek our unity in changing fortunes of time and space or we could be destroyed by our obsessed ignorance and arrogance governing the global politics and human affairs. Leaders failed to lead us to any viable destiny for future-making. We must use an inward moral, intellectual and spiritual eye as being the Chief Creation of God to articulate an new culture of human communication to resolve problems across all the people and lands and to accord equal rights, peace and security to all, not the few arbitrarily conducting the UNO speaking forums.

Recall during the Two World Wars across Europe, millions and millions innocent civilians had perished in aerial bombings, political tyranny and forcible displacements. History is living not dead.  We the 21st century conscientious and informed citizens must realize to eliminate insanity, tyranny of destruction, violations of human rights, ethnic conflicts and religious bigotry.  Moses, Jesus and Mohammad preached the unity of mankind, respect and tolerance in adversity. None of the Messengers of God taught evil, intolerance and disrespect against the people. If we are witnessing it in the 21st century liberal democracies and immature leadership, it cannot flattened the moral, intellectual and political landscape as “No Man’s land” of any super powers or elsewhere. Violence, killings and maltreatment of the citizens cannot be transformed into virtue of democracy or clash of fanaticism disguised in any political ideals of the individuals, political agendas or so called leaders.

Late Professor Howard Zinn envisaged the future of mankind in the following words of wisdom:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international affairs-global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution. Lambert Academic Publications, Germany, 12/2019.

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Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region Part-3 Asif Haroon Raja

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region

Part-3

Asif Haroon Raja

The steep decline in America’s image and standing after 9/11 is a direct reflection of global distaste for the instruments of American hard power: the Iraq invasion, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture, rendition, and Blackwater’s killings of Iraqi civilians. – Shashi Tharoor

Unforgiving attitude of the losers

The Taliban’s meteoric victory has dejected the USA, Europe, India, Israel, Iran, liberals and seculars all over the world but has pleased the Islamists. Countries governed by parliamentary democracy and dictatorship are also upset.

The victorious Taliban after giving general amnesty to the collaborators, have neither carried out any retributions, nor demanded trials of those who had indulged in massive war crimes as was the case with the victors of the 2nd world war carrying out Nuremberg trials of the Germans, or sought war compensations.

The losing US-NATO are however, in black mood, and seem to be primed to avenge their defeat through means other than the military to teach a lesson to the Taliban as well as the convenient scapegoat Pakistan, which was first held responsible for the instability in Afghanistan and now for the victory of the Taliban, and for supporting the new regime.

Ironically the losers are trying to dictate terms to the victors and no one is asking them as to who has given them this right.

Governed by Islamophobia, Islamic Emirate is unacceptable to the prejudiced West, and is therefore finding faults in every good or bad act taken by the new regime in Kabul and is trying to unsettle them. They want them to fulfill their promises immediately. It is like asking a one-month old baby to start running.

The US controlled UN has not fulfilled its commitments given to the Palestinians and Kashmiris 74 years ago. Did the Kabul regime, the Afghan Army and India live up to the expectations of the US, or did the US fulfill its promises made to the Afghans in their 20-year rule?

The US after forcibly occupying Afghanistan chose to keep the heavy majority Afghan Pashtuns out of power and handed over the reins of power to the minority ethnic communities. Idea of an inclusive regime never occurred to the occupiers. The two puppet regimes were responsible for fomenting subversion in the region, deepening cleavages within the Afghan society and for creating a big mess. And yet the US tolerated the puppets and richly rewarded them simply because they governed the country as a so-called Islamic Republic under the US tailored constitution.   

Ill-intended demand of inclusive regime

The interim set-up in Kabul has not pleased the US, its strategic allies, and the neighbors of Afghanistan. All are insisting on an inclusive regime not realizing that how can revolutionary Taliban accommodate collaborators who aided and abetted foreign occupation, undertook mass killings and inflicted cruelties upon them. Traditionally, the revolutionaries undertook mass killings of their opponents. 

The Northern Alliance elements are though Muslims, but have a secular bent of mind and are predisposed to the western civilization and not to Pashtunwali code. They had extended their loyalties to the invading Soviet forces and also to the western forces and served them loyally. They showed no mercy to the oppressed Afghan Taliban.

Interestingly, none has insisted on selecting honest, upright and capable persons from various ethnic communities on merit.

There is no room for liberal political philosophy in Islam which had given birth to pro-rich and anti-poor deceitful modern democracy. 

Continuation of hostile policy

Yes, war is hell. It is awful. It involves human beings killing other human beings, sometimes innocent civilians. That is why we despise war. – John O. Brennan

The US is angry with Pakistan on account of refusing to provide a military base for counter terrorism purposes, its new policy of defiance and Imran Khan’s brashness to show mirror to the West. The US has got addicted to the pliant leaders and cannot tolerate defiant leaders.  

 

 

 

 

 

While Daesh-K has been activated to carry out acts of terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, other hostile measures undertaken so far are freezing of Afghanistan’s $9.5 billion in the US banks, suspension of financial assistance by the World Bank and the IMF, and pushing the Taliban regime to grant more freedom to the women and to induct bigger number of women in the parliament.

Hybrid war has been intensified to vilify Pakistan and to disconcert the new regime in Kabul.

The US know that since the Taliban cannot be browbeaten, purchased, tricked, or humbled, the only way to have a toehold in Afghanistan is to include the lackeys from Northern Alliance in the interim as well as in permanent set-up who can be easily manipulated to act as fifth columnists and to help in sabotaging peace and stability.    

To punish Pakistan, the TTP, BLA and Daesh-K have been brought under one umbrella to accelerate terrorism in former FATA and Baluchistan, sword of FATF hasn’t been removed, and cricket teams of New Zealand and UK have cancelled their tours on account of invented insecurity. Australian and West Indies teams are likely to follow suit. Indian hand in the cricket racket has been traced and proof sent to ICC.

Political polarization and terrorism have been further intensified by the detractors to project Pakistan as politically unstable and an insecure country in order to block foreign investment.

Instability in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan suits the spoilers since it will impede the progress of CPEC and will also prevent Afghanistan getting connected with it for which the Taliban have expressed their readiness.

Taliban’s amiability

Much to the chagrin of the spoilers, the Taliban are giving right signals to elicit support of the international community. They want to expand trade ties with other countries and have expressed willingness to induct more Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and also women in the cabinet. After operationalizing the badly damaged Kabul airport, they are seeking restoration of international flights. Their amiability will however be not at the cost of making compromises on Sharia laws.

The Taliban have forgiven their internal and external enemies, but have not forgotten their treachery. They have agreed to cooperate, but not at the cost of losing Islamic identity, Islamic culture and values. They have no intention of falling into their honeycombed trap promising moon and are taking measured steps sensibly. 

Pakistan’s stance

Since problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan are interlinked, the latter is keen to restore stability in Afghanistan at the earliest. It is right in saying that the Afghans having gone through four decades of turmoil need healing. Apart from dispatching humanitarian assistance, trading in local currency and lowering tariffs on import of fruits and vegetables, Pakistan is lobbying hard to convince the international community to send all possible assistance to stabilize the new regime.

In its view neglecting the Taliban would be disastrous for the region in particular and the world in general due to financial, food and health crises and rising poverty in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is making strenuous efforts to bring all the six neighbors of Afghanistan in one loop to tackle Afghanistan’s socio-economic issues regionally and has made good progress.

Terrorism major worry of Pakistan

Apart from economic woes, Pakistan’s major worry is continuing acts of terrorism. Reportedly, bulk of the TTP elements and its affiliated groups have moved into Pakistan and are regrouping in Loralai and Zhob. The TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud is dreaming of bringing back former FATA under his sway and to make it an Islamic Emirate. To win over the locals, the TTP is targeting law enforcement agencies only.

The Baloch groups led by BLA have teamed up with Dr. Allah Nazar’s Lashkar Baluchistan group. They are targeting security personnel and Chinese in Quetta, Awaran, Kharan, Turbat, Gwadar, Mastung, Sibi, Mach, and Bolan. BLA-Daesh-K terrorists are operating jointly from Nago hills in Mastung and are in contact with dacoit gangs in interior Sindh. A cell of Baloch rebels is functional at Sheerzan (Chahbahar) led by Rasool Bux. With the closure of Spin Boldak main supply route, the terrorists are receiving funds and weapons from India via Sindh, Mekran coast and Sistan.  

Several intelligence based operations have been conducted in Waziristan and Baluchistan, and good results achieved. Several militant leaders were gunned down and large caches of arms recovered. Speedy completion of fencing of southwestern border along with improved border management has become necessary.      

China’s role

China is keen to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan and has developed good understanding with the Taliban. Its flagship project of CPEC cannot perform optimally without stable Afghanistan and getting connected with CPEC through Peshawar-Kabul Highway. It has extended 200 million Yuan aid to Kabul, which includes 3 million corona vaccines. China’s foreign minister told his counterpart in Washington that it was unethical to freeze accounts of war-torn countries and advised him to unfreeze Kabul’s cash assets and to extend humanitarian assistance.

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, and Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

To be concluded

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Polish contribution to PAF and its Air Transport Command S.M. Hali The News

In 1947, when Pakistan was created as an independent country, the new government asked the British Air Force command for pointing out the most experienced and trusted pilots who would be able to help establish the air force in Pakistan.

The British professionals recommended Polish officers, pilots and technicians, who had gained fame in the Battle of Britain. After the war, they were unable to return home, since it was under Soviet occupation. There was no place for them in the Royal Air Force either.

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who also had the portfolio of the Defence Minister, did not hesitate in accepting the British recommendation and offered them three-year contracts with high salaries. 30 Polish officers chose to join the Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) as it was known then. (‘Royal’ was dropped on 23 March 1956 when Pakistan became a Republic). Thus, a small group of 30 Polish pilots, engineers and technicians led by Turowicz arrived in Pakistan in 1947.

RPAF made a humble beginning with two fighter and one transport squadrons, a negligible infrastructure, non-existent command structure, and almost nil maintenance facilities.

Within three weeks of independence, Indian hegemonic designs sparked off the first war between Pakistan and India. Pakistan’s young air arm was called upon to fly supply missions with one of the two war-weary Dakotas. Contending with the unpredictable weather, the difficult terrain, and the enemy fighters was an uphill task. The strength was replenished with two more Dakotas only as the skirmishes resumed the following winters.

It was in this milieu that Squadron Leader Wladyslaw Józef Marian Turowicz, who was only 39 years of age, together with his wife Zofia, and the Polish air and ground crew, set about helping establish RPAF. Turowicz and his team set up technical institutes in Karachi. He taught and revitalized the PAF Academy, where he worked as a chief scientist. His colleagues assisted him in imparting specialized technical training to RPAF technicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zofia, Turowicz’s wife, also contributed to the PAF in her own way. She taught gliding to Shaheen Air Cadets in Karachi and Rawalpindi, and applied mathematics and particle physics at Karachi University.

In 1952, Turowicz was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander, in 1959, to the rank of Group Captain, and in 1960 he became an Air Commodore and an Assistant Chief of Air Staff in charge of PAF’s Maintenance Branch.

 

 

In 1965, the first major Indo-Pak War broke out. As veterans of World War II, Turowicz and his fellow Poles had sufficient experience in aerial combat. They flew the legendary F-86 Sabres and joined their Pakistani comrades in defending Lahore’s skies against the invading Indian planes. After the war ended, Turowicz and his colleagues were hailed as national heroes in Pakistan. Along with his comrade Squadron Leader Anotnii Zbigniew Jedryszek, Air Commodore Turowicz and other Polish pilots were awarded the Sitara-e-Pakistan. During a grand ceremony in Pakistan’s new capital Islamabad, then President (Field Marshal) Ayub Khan granted honorary citizenships to these Polish officers for their bravery and sincerity in helping Pakistan in its hour of need.

Turowicz was killed in a car crash on January 8, 1980. He was buried with full military honours. For his meritorious service, Turowicz was honoured with many awards including the Sitara-i-Pakistan, the Tamgha-i-Pakistan, the Sitara-i-Khidmat, the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the Abdus Salam Award in Aeronautical Engineering and the ICTP Award in Space Physics. The Pakistan Air Force placed a memorial in honour of Air Commodore Turowicz at the PAF Museum while Suparco established the Wladyslaw Turowicz Space Complex in Lahore.

While the Polish pilots rendered yeoman services to the RPAF and later PAF fighter command and the technical services, some pilots and technicians joined the air transport command of the fledgling air force. Squadron Leader Wolanski commanded the prestigious No 6 Squadron, which is one of the oldest air force squadrons of the Subcontinent.

Squadron Leader Wolanski’s command extended from December 1948 to March 1949. Every Pakistani pilot knows him and his achievements. He supervised extensive and very daring night drop missions in the beleaguered Kashmir Valley using the intrepid but outdated Douglas Dakota DC-3 aircraft. Most of the sorties were conducted through the hubs of Risalpur and Peshawar. Under Squadron Leader Wolanski’s auspicious command, 437 air drop sorties were conducted at the challenging Bunji, Astor, Gilgit, Burzal and Skardu drop zones.

During his command, the Prime Minister and Defence Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan visited the squadron and lauded its services to the nation, especially under the command of Squadron Leader Wolanski.

It is also a historic landmark that during the tenure of command of Squadron Leader Wolanski, Gilgit airfield was completed on 22 February 1949 and the bold Polish Squadron Commander landed the first aircraft on the tricky Gilgit airfield, which still remains treacherous and has claimed a number of aircraft accidents during landing.

The Polish contribution to Pakistan Air Force is a matter of pride for the rank and file of this fighting force and speaks volumes for the bravery and enterprising skills of the pioneering Polish officers and men, who helped establish

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Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region Part-2 Brig.Gen(Retd)Asif Haroon Raja

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region

Part-2

Asif Haroon Raja

Situation in Afghanistan

 

 

The seven Mujahideen groups duly supported by Pakistan had fought, defeated and ousted the occupying Soviet forces in Feb 1989 after a 10-year bloody war. Left in a lurch by the USA, they got embroiled in a power struggle which led to a civil war in 1992. Tehreek-Taliban-Movement (TTA) under Mullah Omar originated in Kandahar in 1994 as a consequence of the highly disturbed security situation in Afghanistan. Mullah Ghani Baradar was Omar’s trusted deputy. The Taliban were able to capture over 90% territory less Panjshir enclave in northeastern Badakhshan province.

 

 

 

After taking over power in Oct 1996, Mullah Omar established Islamic Emirate and in no time restored normalcy. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE recognized the Taliban regime. Sharia laws helped the inexperienced rulers to make the society crimes and vices free. However, war with the Northern Alliance under Ahmed Shah Masoud duly supported by Russia, Iran and the West continued unabated in the Panjshir.       

When 9/11 happened, Afghanistan was a peaceful country. In spite of the US/UN sanctions the Taliban regime had managed to run the state affairs fairly well. Al-Qaeda was blamed for the attacks and the Taliban blamed for not handing over Osama bin Laden. These two reasons were played up to ignite the emotions of the Americans and to justify the invasion of Afghanistan in Oct 2001 and deposition of Taliban regime.    

After getting regrouped in FATA, the TTA resorted to guerrilla warfare to confront many times bigger and stronger enemies. Their strengths were religious ideology, valor, faith, will to die, suicide attacks and IEDs. All the Taliban leaders including Mullah Omar remained in hiding and couldn’t be traced by the CIA-FBI in spite of big head money announced for each wanted leader. Omar died in 2013 but his death was kept secret. His successor Mullah Mansour Akhtar operating as the de facto commander from 2013 onwards was elected the Ameer in end July 2015 after Omar’s death was revealed. He cultivated relations with Iran in order to procure arms.     

Once the tide swung in favor of the Taliban after the withdrawal of bulk of 140,000 foreign troops by Dec 2014 in accordance with Obama’s drawdown program, and it was established that the Taliban couldn’t be defeated on the battleground or divided, use of airpower and drones was maximized, peace talks with the Taliban through their political office at Doha stimulated, not to make the war-torn country peaceful, but to divide the TTA.

Map Courtesy

 

 

The Afghan national army was trained by the US, British and Indian instructors. Emphasis was on making them self-reliant to be able to fight the Taliban independently.

The CIA and RAW established Daesh-Khorasan (K) at Nangarhar in 2015 and was married up with Jamaat-al-Ahrar led by Khalid Khurasani, a breakaway faction of TTP. 

Elections were held in March 2016 in which only 10% voters from urban centres and Afghan refugees in Pakistan voted, and a unity regime formed in Sept that year in which Ashraf Ghani was appointed President and Dr. Abdullah CEO/PM. The two leaders remained locked in a power tussle which further weakened the governance and institutions, and the writ of the government got confined to Kabul only.

Corruption among the ruling regime scaled new heights and drug business kept flourishing making the country the biggest narcotic producing country of the world. Flow of dollars from the US modernized the major capital cities particularly Kabul, but also decayed the morality and values of the liberals and seculars. The downtrodden became poorer and they preferred to get recruited in TTA.  

The ANDSF also got corrupted and soldiers and policemen became addicted to drugs and other social vices including selling of weapons to the Taliban and becoming their informers. Officers minted money by recruiting ghost soldiers. Warlords and drug mafias kept filling their coffers and so did the US security and defence contractors. Raising and equipping ANA helped the US Military Industrial Complex to fatten the purses of the fat cats. The ANA on which $ 1.3 trillion was spent couldn’t win a single battle against the Taliban and in each confrontation they were rescued by NATO air support. The phenomenon of green-over-blue attacks and suicides propped up and suicide cases among occupational troops suffering from home sickness and post trauma stress disorder jumped up.

The Taliban managed their war expenditures through drug profits, seizure of NATO containers and levying tax on each passing container, or on development projects in areas under their influence. They earned $ 500 million annually from the US kitty.

These negative developments enabled India to further consolidate its influence in Afghanistan, keep the Kabul regime on a warpath with Islamabad, poison the ears of the Afghans against Pakistan, and to further bolster its clandestine operations in Pakistan.

Inequities and fault lines of the ruling regime made it unpopular, thereby giving reasons to the Taliban to dub it as illegitimate, and to refuse holding talks with it. ANA’s lack of will to fight allowed the Taliban to gain more and more space in all parts of the country.

The US government kept bestowing favors to India to enable it to achieve its ominous objectives against Pakistan. It kept pouring American taxpayers money in the kitty of Afghanistan to reinforce failure, while adopting a tight fisted and discriminatory policy against Pakistan.        

The US Alternative plans

Once the occupiers realized that stalemate on the battlefield favored the Taliban, and it was no longer possible to reverse the tide, the US made alternative plans so as not to lose Afghanistan. These were:-

  • The force level of the ANDSF was gradually raised to 352,000 (Army, commandos, air force and police) and was equipped with sophisticated weaponry. They were trained to fight the Taliban independently from mid-2013 onwards by handing over frontline security to them.
  • Divide Afghanistan on ethnic lines and hand over Eastern, Southern and parts of Western Afghanistan to the Taliban where they had a definite superiority. Retain Northern Afghanistan and integrate Central and Western parts including Kabul and Herat and continue fighting the Taliban. Major drawback in this option was the loss of the main supply route to Kabul via Torkham, and dependence upon the northern network which was dicey due to the unpredictability of Russia.
  • Instead of the whole of Northern Afghanistan, retain Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Bagram airbase.
  • In the backdrop of Panjshir Valley under Ahmad Shah Masoud having remained unconquered during the rule of the Taliban in the 1990s, it was considered as an option to give last ditch battle duly backed by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India’s air force was to supplement the US drone attacks from Farkhor air base in Tajikistan.
  • Another plan envisaged making use of Daesh-K stationed at Nangarhar in 2015, coupled with 20,000 Blackwater elements based in Bagram base to help the ANA in retaining control over the cities. This force structure guided by CIA, RAW and NDS was considered sufficient to fill the power vacuum after the departure of US-NATO troops.
  • Regroup TTP and Baloch rebel groups, bolster Daesh-K and bring them on one platform to continue destabilizing Pakistan.  
  • Return power to the Taliban peacefully through a peace deal under a policy of give-and-take, so as to retain influence in Afghanistan. The Doha agreement was signed after 18-month long negotiations with this intent in mind. For the accomplishment of this plan, Pakistan was to be pressured to convince the Taliban to share power with Ashraf Ghani regime and to keep political Islam at bay.    

New narratives after plans misfired

Once all the plans misfired and the Taliban abruptly seized power on Aug 15, the baffled occupiers had to undertake ill-planned and disorderly withdrawal. To hide their mortification, the spoilers led by the US came out with new themes and narratives to discredit the Taliban and Pakistan.

To start with, the Indo-US-Western-Israeli media blared fake news that the monsters helped by Pak Army are on the verge of snatching power and soon there will be chaos, bloodshed, civil war and refugee exodus and the Afghan women would again be shackled. This narrative remained in play till July when 90% of territory and majority of provinces including provincial capital cities had fallen and no case of human rights violation had taken place.

Taliban’s master stroke  

Learning lesson from their first takeover of power in 1996 in which about 8% of Panjshir Valley couldn’t be captured, and it had provided an opportunity to Russia, Iran, India and the West to support the Northern Alliance, this time the Taliban changed their strategy and focused more on capturing almost the whole of Northern Afghanistan including provinces of Badakshan and Kunduz as well as the palaces of Rashid Dostum, and then homing towards Kabul. Strategy of encirclement and choking of cities was adopted. After the fall of a provincial capital city, (34 in numbers), the Taliban prisoners were released who beefed up the combat strength.

All trade points with the six neighbors and inter-provincial toll plazas were captured and kept functional to earn income. 

Wherever the ANA soldiers didn’t put up a fight and surrendered, the Taliban forgave them. This led to a chain reaction and surrender became a norm thereby providing fillip to the conquests of the Taliban.

Unlike the Bolsheviks, the French and American revolutionaries, the Saudis, the Iranians and many others who butchered their fallen foes and raped their women, the Taliban announced general amnesty, which was unique. 

By treating the captured or surrendering Afghan Army soldiers humanely irrespective of their ethnic background, the Taliban neutralized them, thereby making their task of capturing major capital cities easier.

The other notable thing was that no incident of killing, theft, and rape took place in all the captured areas. Normal routine was not disrupted, and educational institutes, offices and businesses were not closed. Their benevolence won the hearts of the people and shattered the demonizing myths. Urban dwellers welcomed them and chanted pro-Taliban slogans which further shattered the morale of Afghan soldiers. Consequently, when the Taliban knocked at the gates of Kabul on Aug 14, they encountered no resistance.         

After dominating all the roads leading to Kabul and surrounding and choking the capital city, the Taliban succeeded in entering Kabul and capturing it without firing a bullet.

After the botched drama staged at Kabul airport, the mountainous Panjshir under son of Ahmad Shah Masoud and Amrullah Saleh was played up which had been stocked with huge dumps of armaments. The Taliban managed to capture it on Sept 6 and the two leaders fled to Tajikistan.

Divine intervention 

Notwithstanding willful efforts of the US led western world to economically incapacitate the newly formed interim Taliban regime on Sept 11, the latter today has huge caches of sophisticated armaments left behind by the foreign forces which include tanks, APCs, Humvis, artillery guns, rockets, small arms, jets, gunship helicopters, night vision goggles, radars, super computers etc. Damaged equipment is repairable. According to some estimates the equipment is worth $ 85 billion, sufficient to raise several corps and air force.

They have also been gifted well-developed infrastructure, eight high-tech military bases, schools, colleges and universities, airports, dry ports, modernized provincial capital cities particularly Kabul studded with large numbers of high quality shopping malls, plazas, hotels, restaurants, gaming clubs, parks, sports grounds, water filtration plants, sewerage system, hospitals, gas and electricity projects.

India gifted parliament building, two dams, Zaranj-Dilaram Highway, several educational institutes, healthcare in rural areas, and structured RAAM and NDS intelligence outfits.

The fleeing Afghan elites have also left behind plenty of foreign currency recovered from their palatial houses.

Afghanistan has trillions of dollars’ worth untapped mineral resources which the US couldn’t extract due to insecurity.

To be continued

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

 

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Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region Part-1 Asif Haroon Raja

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region

Part-1

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

Afghan Jihad against the Soviets

Pakistan under Gen Ziaul Haq was sucked into the Afghan Jihad as a result of forcible occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Red Army in Dec 1979. The Soviet intervention displaced 6 million Afghans, out of which 5 million were accommodated by Pakistan. About 3 million refugees are still residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and other parts of the country.

The Afghan Mujahideen and tribesmen from FATA and Malakand Division took part in the Jihad. Once the US came forward in support of the resistance war against the Soviet forces in June 1981, Jihad was glorified by the West and the Mujahideen were given the name of holy warriors. 1.3 million Afghans lost their lives in fighting the godless Soviet Empire.

The war culminated in victory of the Afghan Mujahideen and Pakistan in 1989, but the ten-year war had spillover effects on Pakistan and on Afghanistan that have still not been overcome. Cause of instability in the Af-Pak region was the sudden departure of the USA leaving the seven Mujahideen groups and Pakistan to fend for themselves.

Uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)

Fed up of suppressive policies of India and fake elections in IOK, inaction of the UNSC and lackluster support of Pakistan, disappointed the indolent Kashmiris. The Islamic revolution in Iran followed by Palestinian intifada and victory of the Afghan Mujahideen in Afghanistan broke their inertia, and they decided to launch an armed resistance against the occupying forces in Oct 1989 to free their land. The situation in Afghanistan being fluid, sudden flare up in IOK took Pakistan’s government under Benazir Bhutto by surprise. Had Gen Ziaul Haq been alive, he would have welcomed this development to settle old scores with India, but Benazir neither had much interest in Afghanistan nor in Kashmir and wanted friendly ties with India ruled by her Oxford buddy Rajiv Gandhi.    

No plans made to tackle fallout effects

Instead of taking the worsening situation in Afghanistan seriously where a civil war had erupted in 1992, and the deteriorating situation in IOK where 7 lacs Indian forces had unleashed a brutal campaign and were using rape and torture as weapons to quell the uprising, successive regimes in Pakistan from 1988 onwards paid little attention to the fallout effects of the two turbulent fronts. It had radicalized Pakistani society, upped religious extremism and sectarianism duly fueled by Saudi Arabia and Iran, brought in Kalashnikov and drug cultures, and stimulated Jihadism. The two mainstream parties PPP and PML-N wasted energies in fighting political battles, disparaging each other and taking greater interest in making big money than in safeguarding national interests. 

Downslide of Pakistan’s economy

Political instability together with bomb blasts in mosques and Imambargahs by militant groups of Shia-Sunni sects, instability in Afghanistan and India’s jingoism disturbed law and order and security situation, enfeebled the economy and surged up debt burden.

Another reason for the economic slump was the US leaving Pakistan in a lurch in 1990, imposing harsh economic and military sanctions and choosing to become a strategic partner of India. The US also declared the holy warriors including the CIA created Al-Qaeda as terrorists.

Uprising in IOK gave birth to six Jihadi groups in AJK. The US supported India’s narrative of cross border terrorism and threatened to declare Pakistan a terrorist state if it was found abetting terrorism in IOK.

Pakistan made no plans on how to deal with the altogether changed outlook of the US, how to support the uprising in IOK, to tackle rising religious intolerance and senseless political infighting.

Stuck in the Mud | Foreign Affairs

 

 

 

 

In 1987, Pak currency was stronger than all other South Asian countries. Pakistan’s economy was ahead of all other economies of the regional countries till 1990, but it began to decline and became dependent upon the loans given by the World Bank and the IMF during the 1990s. It eroded the moral integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Four governments were sacked by the President using Article 58-2B of the Constitution on charges of corruption and poor governance. 

Situation in Pakistan in Sept 2001

When 9/11 occurred, nuclear Pakistan under Gen Musharraf was a strong and peaceful country. India had been thrashed in the Kargil conflict in 1999 and it was on the defensive seeking peace. There were no suicide attacks or use of explosive laden vehicles. Notwithstanding the existence of MQM’s no-go areas in Karachi, the concept of safe havens of terrorists was unheard of.

Terrorism was blown up out of all proportions after 9/11 terror attacks and used by the USA as a justification to invade Muslim countries. New terrorism laws helped Israel and India to bracket Palestinian and Kashmiri freedom movements with terrorism. 47 countries of the world including 28 of NATO led by the US waged a relentless war on terror in Afghanistan which was chosen as the first target.

After the deposition of the Taliban regime in Nov 2001, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda withdrew to FATA and Pashtun belt of Baluchistan. The tribesmen governed by the spirit of Pashtunwali, welcomed their blood relatives and provided them houses. Both these regions were peaceful and its inhabitants highly patriotic and loyal to Pakistan.

Pakistan was coerced to send regular troops into Tirah Valley and next to South Waziristan (SW) to flush out Al-Qaeda and those who harbored them. In reaction to search and destroy operations, Pakistani Taliban emerged in SW in 2003. The TTP under Baitullah Mehsud came into existence in Dec 2006 after the drone attack on a religious seminary in Oct that year killing 80 students. Gen Musharraf owed it, dubbing the Madrassa a terrorist haven. Reaction came upon a training army camp at Dargai where a suicide bomber killed dozens of army recruits. Botched up operation against Lal Masjid in Jul 2007 gave birth to Punjabi Taliban and triggered suicide attacks in Islamabad and major urban centres of Punjab. In 2008, the TTP leaders pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar as their Ameerul Momeneen.

In Baluchistan, a military operation was launched in reaction to the insurgency of Marri-Bugti-Mengal Baloch tribes in 2004; and by 2006 it morphed into a separatist movement. Baloch rebel groups – BLA, BRA, BSO and BLUF fought the state forces.     

Expanding sway of TTP

Pak security forces kept chasing and fighting the foreign paid proxies in FATA that were funded, trained and equipped by CIA, RAW and NDS, at the bidding of the US.

Do more policy was not discarded even when it was ascertained that the Indo-US-Israel-Afghan nexus was bent upon denuclearizing Pakistan and making it a compliant state.

Taking advantage of Pakistan’s policy of appeasement, it was repeatedly accused of being an accomplice with militant groups. Not only the war bled Pak security forces and civilians extensively and impacted its economy, the government and the army also earned eternal enmity of the militant groups.

The TTP became so strong that it brought 19 administrative units in the northwest under its sway and it was feared that its militants would soon reach the outskirts of Islamabad from Buner. In Baluchistan, the interior had come under the strong influence of the rebels, and Quetta was frequently attacked with rockets. The majority of settlers had migrated to other provinces.

Afghan refugees

The well over 3 million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan since Dec 1979 became a national security threat. Apart from becoming a socio-economic burden, the refugees got involved in mega and petty crimes, and a segment on the payroll of foreign agencies provided refuge to the terrorists, facilitated them and acted as informers.

About one million reside in Peshawar and the surrounding country. A stage came when repeated attacks by Lashkar-e-Islam in Hayatabad locality, and TTP chapter under Afridi in Dara Adam Khel in suburbs of Peshawar forced the elite of Peshawar to migrate.

Till recently, about 40,000 Afghans crossed the border at Torkham and Chaman daily with no documents or identification. This was criminal disregard for public safety and security, which is a vital function of the state security apparatus.

Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani proved more hostile than India and caused more problems to Pakistan than India.

Recovery of lost spaces

The Army under Gen Kayani recovered lost spaces in 2009/10 in a series of military operations and re-established writ of the government, but a heavy price was paid.

Left with little ammunition to degrade Pakistan, it was subjected to highly injurious offensive acts in 2011 such as the Raymond Davis incident, stealth helicopters attack in Abbottabad to kill sick Osama Bin Laden, Memogate scandal and Apaches attack on a military post in Mohmand Agency.

Haqqani Network (HN)

Emphasis was shifted upon the Jalaluddin Haqqani group. Jalaluddin’s family had migrated from Khost to North Waziristan (NW) in the early 1980s during the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet forces. He was the favorite blue-eyed boy of the CIA and he was among the few Afghan Mujahideen leaders who had supped with Ronald Reagan in the White House.

This group had joined the Tehreek-Taliban-Afghanistan (TTA) in 1994/95 and accepted its head Mullah Omar as the Ameerul Momineen. They fell from the grace of Washington after NW based Sirajuddin, elder son of Jalaluddin rejected the offer made by the CIA in 2012 to break ties with the TTA and to share power with Hamid Karzai regime.

The group was targeted and named as HN when it expanded its sway in almost the whole of eastern Afghanistan. Several leaders of HN were blacklisted.

After the deadly attack in Kabul in 2013, the then US CJCSC Admiral Mike Mullen dubbed HN as the veritable arm of the ISI. Pressure was mounted on Pakistan to clear the safe haven of HN in NW. Drone war was stepped up in both parts of Waziristan.  

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in the last and strongest bastion of TTP in NW in June 2014 and in 2015 it was cleared of all militant groups including the TTP, HN, IMU, ETIM and Asian Tigers. These groups shifted to Afghanistan. MQM’s urban terrorism in Karachi-Hyderabad was crumpled by 2016. 85% terrorism was eliminated and the scale of terror attacks plunged. 

Highly prejudiced behavior of USA

Notwithstanding best results produced by the Pakistan security forces and also suffering the most while fighting and defeating the foreign paid proxies, Pakistan was mistrusted and mistreated by the USA.

The unprecedented covert war launched by RAW-NDS from the Afghan soil duly backed by the two puppet regimes in Kabul couldn’t have remained hidden from CIA, MI-6, NATO. They overlooked the safe havens provided to Pakistani terrorist groups in Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar, Khost, Spin Boldak, and also in Iran’s Sistan province bordering Baluchistan. Activities of Chahbahar based Indian spy Kalbushan in Baluchistan and Karachi from 2003 onwards couldn’t have remained off their radars.

Pakistan was repeatedly pressed by the US and the Kabul regime to either confront the Afghan Taliban-HN, or to force them to cease fire and arrive at a political settlement acceptable to them.

Washington forced Islamabad to extend full support to the anti-Pakistan Kabul regime at the cost of annoying the Taliban who never fired a shot against Pakistan. 

To cover up its follies and failures in Afghanistan, Pakistan was unjustly blamed. India, Afghanistan and the US in unison kept giving slurring names to malign and discredit Pakistan, which became a convenient scapegoat and a football to kick around. Each pat of appreciation was followed with three vicious kicks.

On one hand Pakistan was accused by the double-dealing USA of being in collusion with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for the instability in Afghanistan, and on the other hand it disrupted peace talks arranged by Pakistan, and also coerced it to compel the Taliban to lay down arms, negotiate and arrive at a political settlement, which should be to the liking of Washington and Kabul.

Criminally, the CIA fired 480 hellfire missiles using Reaper drones in FATA, mostly killing innocent elderly people, women and children.

CIA-NATO- MI-6 coordinated and supervised the biggest covert war and hybrid war conducted by RAW-NDS to fragment Pakistan. The perpetrators pretended to be innocent and victims of terrorism abetted by Pakistan, and callously indulged in lies and deceit. It was unparalleled that a non-NATO ally and a frontline state was treated so shamelessly and that too without remorse.                                                                                               The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan. asifharoonraja@gmail.com            

To be continued

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

     

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