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“Pakistan: Elections or Revulsion against Hall of Shame” By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

Uncommon Thought

“Pakistan: Elections or Revulsion against Hall of Shame”

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

15 July 2018
Narwaz Sharif, Pakistan

 

 

[Photo: Nawaz Sharif (right end of row) at the kickoff of a USAID rural water project(WAPDA) in Pakistan.]

Editor’s Note

Will Pakistan ever recover from imperialism? Will the entire region do so? Will the world? The wounds of imperialism reverberate down through the generations of nations and peoples. The corruption of spirit that imperialism engenders tears apart both culture and social structure that leaves a system that no longer functions holistically. Under “normal” social development, a culture (a shared system of values, beliefs, and norms), continually reinforces and reproduces social structures (organized social institutions like family, economy, and polity) that in turn reinforces and reproduces the shared culture.With imperialism, the culture and social structure of the imperialists prevail or are insinuated into another society. Only those areas considered as “important” by the empire are truly transformed. Often, the imperialists will select (or leverage) one group within the society to be their proxies or henchmen within the host society. This disrupts normal patterns but also places internal groups into conflict. Often, the group selected is not the dominant group within the society, but one that will need the ongoing support of the empire in order to maintain power, but also survival. For without the backing of the empire, the people might rise up and not just overthrow, but obliterate the “collaborators”.

I believe that imperialism – first the British and the American (as reflected by one arm of that power, USAID above) – are at the root of the corruption that seems all too typical of Pakistani politics. How Pakistan or other nations might reclaim their integrity and build societies that work for the people is a question I cannot answer. Problematically, the societal system has been permanently damaged, and whatever replaces it must be something different than the pre-imperialist form because by now no one remembers that state. However, to even start that process a nation must remove the boot of the imperialists from its neck.

Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

Are the Pakistanis Living In A Fantasy World?

The logic of the July 25th parliamentary elections in Pakistan is questionable for being a ceremonial stunt to undermine the reality of a highly corrupted and disoriented political culture.  For decades, Pakistan has lacked the systematic working capacity to organize fair and honest election campaigns representing the interest of the masses. At the forefront of this charade is the intent to hold elections on a short time span. Why was the interim government was not formed a year or at least six months ahead of the planned elections?  Given the extremely hot climate and the month of Ramadhan in between, it should have been a rational discourse. These facts should have helped to organize the necessary systematic mechanics of an election body to plan and organize all facets of complex elections. Because of the missing political accountability, and fearful of the on-going legal actions against Sharif brothers, the whole scenario of hurriedly arranged interim government tells a lot.  The Sharif regime had no interest and no priority to hold fair elections or to transfer power to another legitimate political party. They were all sadistic maniacs full of greed and deliberate mismanagement to dehumanize the Pakistani masses. Leaders are supposed to enjoin a vision of the future, creative thinking and selflessness, ethical character, a sense of positive thinking and commitment to serve the interests of the people. None of these is reflected in the profiles of any politicians in the recent history of Pakistan.Pakistan needs a major change in its constitutional framework, political system and the role and responsibilities of the political establishments. None of this is available in any rational context. If Pakistan is to spearhead a sustainable democracy, it needs major planned changes – a new constitution, a Presidential system of governance (elected directly by the people), new political institutions enriched with young, educated and people having a clear vision articulating a sustainable socio-economic and political future for the country. This rebuilding of the nation cannot be done by just one group or one party already operating in a highly corrupt and dysfunctional manner, and lacking political legitimacy. Have you ever read “Pakistan- Enigma of Change” (1999);  “Pakistan: Leaders or Political Monsters” (2015), and “Pakistan in Search of Political Change”, (2015) by this author?  Our nation has been robbed by its own so-called political leaders- Bhutto, and a few Military Generals, Zardari, Sharifs and Musharraf.  Truthfully, none were leaders except being military-backed opportunists and thumb lickers who could be used for all purposes in all seasons – legitimate or illegitimate – this is Pakistan’s junk history for the last 50 or more years. How could you imagine regaining that precious time and opportunities for change and development for socio-economic, political, moral and intellectual infrastructures to sustain the present and reconstruct nationhood?  Could this forthcoming July 25 elections take any remedial steps for what is required to be undertaken by hundreds and thousands of thinking people, strategic planners and political experts? Those who imagine miracles out of nothing must be living in a self-engineered fantasy world – a world that does not correspond to the prevalent realities of the 21st century.

Could Pakistanis Learn from Others and the Challenges of Time?

South Korea sentenced President Park to 20 years or more on corruption charges. It was done in a visible systematic legal framework. Why could Pakistanis not hold Zardari, Ms. Bhutto, Sharif and Musharaf to the same legal criterion action?  Is Pakistan a legally dysfunctional State? See how the Brazilian legal system dealt with the past two presidents. Now, see how Malaysia handled Najib Razik’s corruption scandal as he is being held for trial.  If the Pakistani political elite and judiciary were honest and effective, should they have not taken tangible measures to exercise the legal accountability in a public court of law against so many political gangsters?

Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years on corruption charges, but he will not serve the sentence because he has already fled the country. Why did the higher court allow him to leave the country? Were the Supreme Court judges ignorant of the fact that he could leave the country and avoid all measures of legal accountability?  Likely not as this was nothing new in Pakistani political culture.

Rationality and truth have their own language. Everywhere the blame game is used by corrupt politicians to cover up their cruel impulses. Their insane egoism does not recognize its own incompetence, criminality and failure. Across the nation, agonizing situations warrant urgent attention to deal with insecurity, conflict prevention and conflict management, Pakistani Taliban’s terrorism, problems in responsible governance, disdain trade and commerce and to revitalize sustainable national unity. The dismissed PM Sharif and his colleagues amassed wealth, stole the nation’s time and opportunities for political change and killed peaceful civilian demonstrators. They react like paranoid maniacs as if the masses are the problem. If conscientious Pakistanis living abroad are concerned about the decadent political culture and rebuilding of the moral, intellectual and economic-political infrastructures, the ruling elite will ensure to deprive them the opportunity to be heard at a national level. When people are forced to live in political darkness, they lose the sense of rational direction.

These corrupt leaders demonstrated a dehumanized gutted culture of naïve politics, be it inside the Higher Courts, National Assembly or the political powerhouses. It makes no sense in the 21st century knowledge-based age of reason and political accountability.  People’s pain, political agony and continuing sufferings cannot be transformed into a single portrait to show to the global audience. All of the political monsters have stolen time and looted the wealth and positive energies of the people. At a glance, Pakistan appears to be reaching a dead-ended political discourse. The political misfortune needs a high power jolt of intervention to pave a smooth way out of the stagnated political culture of the few. People are the legitimate force for change if there is any hope of democracy still operational in Pakistan.

 

Leaders or Monsters of History – Pakistanis Should Look in the Mirror

The military dictator – Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharifs – could never have come into power unless the nation had lost its sense of rationality, purpose and meaning of its existence. These sadistic monsters have institutionalized chaos and fear, demoralization of a moral society and dehumanization of an intelligent nation, and have transferred these naïve traits and values to the psychological-social-economic and political spheres of the mainstream thinking hub of the nation.

Pakistani politics is operated by those who have absolutely no qualifications to be at the helm of political power – yet they are continuously engaged in systematic degradation of the educated and intelligent young generations of Pakistanis who are deprived of opportunities to participate in the national politics. The contemporary history of political degeneration includes generals, neo-colonial feudal lords, members of the assemblies, and a few family-vested houses of political power, ministers or prime ministers; they have the distinction of all acting in unison against the interest of the people of Pakistan.  Political power is an aphrodisiac. Do the people belong to this mad scrum overwhelmingly witnessed across the peoples’ movement against the oligarchy? To an impartial observer, the scene is clear that the wrong people are conducting the political governance where reason and legal justice are outlawed. This contradicts the essence of the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. It appears logical to think that at some point soon, those who are fit to lead must take over from those who are unfit to govern with credibility. It could be a bloodless coup – or it could be a bloody insurrection. One way or another, the process of phasing out the obsolete and phasing-in the fair and much desired and deserving must happen.  Are Pakistan’s freedom and futuristic integrity being sacrificed for the few dumb and dull criminals who wish to extend their power beyond the domains of reason and honesty?  It will be extremely harmful and deeply flawed and dangerous ethos to the interests of the people if Sharif brethren –Bhutto’s family including Zardari reemerge in the outcome of the July 25, 2018 elections and are allowed to continue the crime-riddled political governance while their legitimacy is under sharp questioning. The path to peaceful change and political success requires the wise and informed to establish an organized council of responsible oversight to move-in to the void once the despots are ousted. That is an essential component of any public uprising determined to manifest genuine and sustainable political change and legal justice.

In “Pakistan:  Reflections on the 70th Independence Day:  Imperatives of Optimism and Future-Making,” (Uncommon Thought Journal, USA: 8/15/2017), this author made the following observations:

The political elite and the people live in a conflicting time zone being unable to understand the meaning and essence of the Pakistan Freedom Movement. This purpose needs unwavering public commitment and continuous struggle for political change. It needs not to be invented, it is living in the mind and spirit of the people, it just needs to be revitalized and better organized as the momentum is waiting for the grieving people. Pakistan urgently needs a saviour, not Sharif, Bhuttos or the few Generals. The solution must come from the thinking people of the new educated generation – the intelligent Pakistanis to facilitate hope and optimism for a sustainable future of the beleaguered nation. This should be the framework of the message and active agenda for change and reformation as the core of the celebration of Pakistan’s 70thIndependence Day.

 

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

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Pakistan’s bloopers Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan’s bloopers

Asif Haroon Raja

Inconsequential Western Pacts

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

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

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

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

War against Soviets and Fallout Effects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War on Terror after 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entry of Russia in Afghan Affairs

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

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

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

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

Pakistan’s Responses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations.

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

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

Additional Reading from

Geo-Strategic Significance of Pakistan

1- INTRODUCTION:

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

2- PAKISTAN GEOGRAPHICALLY LOCATION:

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

3- STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE:

a) Proximity of great powers:

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

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

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

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

c) Significance as a Transit economy:

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

d) Important link in the chain of Muslim countries:

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

e) Only Muslim country with nuclear capability:

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

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

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

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

4- CONCLUSION / ANALYSIS:

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

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

 

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The Big Power Game

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We are the problem and none else Asif Haroon Raja

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene III, L. 140-141)

 

We are the problem and none else

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Pakistan suffers from multiple ailments. None care to carry out an appraisal as to what is wrong with Pakistan and why Pakistan is perpetually sick and not getting cured. Over a period of time, we seem to have lost our direction and have gone astray. The society as a whole is sunk in the pool of moral degeneration. High morals, principles, ethics, values, respect, brotherhood, affections and honesty are all stories of the past. Lies, deception, crookery, thuggery and corruption have become norms. Majority has chosen dishonesty as a way of life. In the past these traits were mostly found among the elites but now these have permeated down to the lowest class of people. All prefer to live in hypocrisy, mendacity, and squalor. People are averse to speaking the truth since telling the truth requires courage and character. Afraid of consequences, we go the easy way and in the process we have become addicted to lying. Those who say that these characteristics are found in every country of the world, and each human being has these tendencies may not be speaking the whole truth since these collective diseases are in abundance in Pakistan and are not seen anywhere else.

 

It is hard to get food items free of adulteration. Pure ghee is made out of fats of dead dogs and donkeys. Meat of donkeys and dead cows/buffaloes are sold in meat shops. Drugs including lifesaving drugs are spurious. We consume contaminated spices, cooking oil, milk and soft drinks. Fakery in all our dealings is rampant. Child labor, child abuse, human trafficking, hoarding, black marketing, smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, extortion are common. Lower courts and police can easily be swayed or bought. Police instead of catching the culprits and criminals gets in league with them. Hand of law fall upon the poor only. Our law makers are the biggest violators of rule of law. They either break or bend laws to suit their convenience. We indulge in them rather than striving to overcome them. We may deny it but the world perceives us that way. Instead of working hard to overcome our weak areas we lament and blame others for our failings.  

 

Sickness is within ourselves. The students choose to plagiarize and cheat. Men and women enter into marriage under false pretenses. Pompousness and vulgar show of wealth by the rich is in fashion, and so is nepotism and sycophancy. Suffering from superiority complex, the elites look down upon the poor. Problem lies with those who allow religion to give them a sense of false complacency. And those who pander to the powerful and the mighty, and ignore the weak and the frightened.

 

May I hazard to ask them who their gods are? Not Allah, surely. Their gods are flawed beings whom they admire and worship, and their own base selves. Parents who chastise their children, but never spend time with them, explaining right from wrong, the problem lies with them. And they try to assuage their children with toys and electronics, cars and jewels. Problem lies with the teaching community in schools and colleges who fall much short of acting as role models for the students.

 

Undoubtedly, Pakistan suffers from leadership crisis and is saddled with corrupt leaders and legislators who care a lot for their vested interests but little for national interests, but we are responsible for electing them again and again. We get swayed by their false promises and forget their past follies. We think in terms of political party affiliations, ethnic, linguistic and caste basis and pay little heed to national interests.  As a result, we are a divided nation and despite being a nuclear power and blessed with strong armed forces, everyone whips Pakistan. While Corruption is eating into the vitals of the country like a termite, terrorism is jolting the very foundations of Pakistan.    

 

Isn’t it high time to stop thinking that the problem is the army, the politicians, the mullahs, the nation? The problem is us. We are the problem. The same students who plagiarise their papers, who cheat in their exams, are clamoring at rallies screaming for “Inquilab”. The same women and men who point fingers at the immoral leaders are cheating on their spouses. The same men who lambast the feudals and industrialists are cheating on their taxes and not paying their electricity bills. The same people who donate so much money to the poor are underpaying their servants. 
Each and every person in Pakistan contributes to this system. We are the problem. 
And each person who says, “Not me, I’m honest” is the biggest liar of all. 

Nuclear might, strong army, and full coffers will neither make us a strong nation, nor will help in making us morally strong and virtuous. Each one of us will have to carry out self-accountability and put his/her own house in order rather than finding faults in others. Home is the best training centre followed by the educational institute to guide the youth towards constructive channels. These two reformatory laboratories need to play their role effectively. Once we bridge the societal divides and get united, improve our moral fibre and follow the righteous path as inscribed in the Quran and taught by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), only then will Allah shower His blessings, and grant us an upright, honest, pious and bold leader who will cure the diseases of Pakistan and make it healthy and prosperous. Only then we as a nation will be able to confront the internal and external challenges squarely and lead an honorable life.    

 

 

The writer is a defence analyst, columnist, and author of five books. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

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Bi-polarity to gasping uni-polarity by By Brig Asif H. Raja

PAKISTAN PAYS HIGH COSTS:

For US 12 Yr War on Terror:

Close to 50,000 Deaths,

over $100 Billion in losses,

Citizens Insecure

 

 

 

 

 

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Bi-polarity to gasping uni-polarity

By 

Brig Asif H. Raja 

December 31, 2015

 

[ Editor’s Note: Although this is a scholarly read, which is always dense material, I suggest you read this and save it to a file. Raja is known as one of the top strategic writers in Pakistan, where intellectual competition is fierce. There is no flair and flash here, but information.

Some of it you will be familiar with, but the value of a piece like this is having so much of it in one article, and new material that you did not know. Another bonus is the additional context that can help you get a better handle on connecting the dots and seeing through the disinformation smokescreens that are continually blown in our faces.

Don’t be embarrassed by having to read it twice… or more. I always have to, as there is so much information in here you just can’t absorb it all in one pass unless you are Mr. photographic memory, like Gordon.

 

This building up of our general background database brain power gives us “defense in depth”, which helps us pick up on all the ring around the rosy games being played on us now, even in Alt media, which has been heavily infiltrated because it was necessary and inexpensive to do, where people can be bought for pennies on the dollar vs. the think tank and corporate media route, which takes tons of cash.

Raja is the real deal and has always been our “go to” guy for his expertise areas. People like this are what has make VT what it is today — the long term relationships, our staying power and track record of not getting sucked into being a pipeline for bogus stories, which is an industrial-scale business today Jim W. Dean ]

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End of Bi-Polar World.

Our crazy world can be a mind bender at times

During the Cold War, proxy wars were common because the two superpowers didn’t dare to fight each other directly due to nuclear deterrence. The US-led West demonized the USSR and scared the world to keep away from the monster of communism.

The US projected itself as the champion of democracy and human rights and guardian of the free world. The CIA was used covertly, and NATO overtly, to spread the US’ area of influence. The KGB, assisted by the Warsaw Pact military alliance of seven Eastern European States, did the same.

The arms race between the two superpowers impacted the economy of USSR. Its economy was further battered in the Afghan war.

With its military and nuclear power intact, the huge Soviet Empire fragmented from within on December 15, 1991, and broke into 15 smaller States, and the USSR shrank to the Russian Federation. The US emerged as the sole superpower, putting an end to a bi-polar world and giving way to a uni-polar world.

Islam Projected as Chief Threat

The Neocons in the US and the American Jewish lobby mulled over how to make the 21st century the ‘American Century’ and to rule the world for the next hundred years. For the achievement of this goal, a convincing motive had to be manufactured. The New World Order (NWO), conceived by George W. Bush senior in 1989, was modified and the Red Army threat was replaced with a green flag threat. Islam was hyped and projected as the chief threat to US-dominated capitalism and international order.

Within the Muslim world, radical States such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Somalia and Iran were marked as ‘dangerous’. This was confirmed by Patrick Buchman in 2003. Samuel Huntington gave credence to this theme in 1990s by writing in his book ‘Clash of Civilizations’ that, in the future, wars would no longer take place between countries but between cultures, and that the best candidate for the upcoming divide would be between Islam and the West.

Brzezinski’s Concept of Eurasia

One of the major reasons of projecting Islam as the major threat to US hegemony was the concept of US uni-polarism propounded by Brzezinski in 1970s. For the achievement of this ambitious objective, he like the earlier strategists held Eurasia as the key region, the capture of which would ensure control over Africa and facilitate world domination.

Eurasia is the largest continent where lay treasures of the world. For effective control of Eurasia, he had recommended establishment of western front in Europe and southern front in Asia complementing each other. He was categorical in his assessment that whosoever controlled Eurasia dominated the world.

NATO made Relevant

NATO had lost its relevance to exist after the end of Cold War and dismantlement of Warsaw Pact for which it had been created. Some way had to be found to keep it operational. NATO was tasked to expand eastward and integrate as many East European, Baltic and Caucasus States. It got heavily involved in Balkans.

Once its membership jumped from 16 to 28 States, it was made into a global task force. The western front was thus maintained and not dissolved. Paradoxically, the western front was reinforced after dismantling the southern front in Afghanistan in 1989.

Establishment of Two Fronts

Having consolidated and expanded NATO in the 1990s, the US hawks then waited for an opportunity or an excuse to establish southern front in Asia for which Afghanistan and Iraq had been earmarked as target countries in the modified draft of NWO in 1997. 9/11, whether real or engineered, provided the excuse the US was eagerly looking for to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq.

Demolition of Afghanistan in November 2001 and Iraq in 2003 undertaken by George W Bush junior led neo-cons (Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) were aimed at establishing a secure southern front to complement the western front that was established by merging Eastern Europe into European Union in early 1990s. The underlying idea behind the establishment of two fronts was to disrupt and occupy Central Asia, capture all its energy resources and thus gain control over whole of Eurasian continent as propounded by Brzezinski.

Russia under Boris Yeltsin

Russia under drunkard Boris Yeltsin remained economically dependent upon USA and Western Europe to survive. Yeltsin’s lackadaisical approach allowed NATO and CIA to extend their outreach into Eastern Europe and re-integrate it into Western Europe.

CIA was actively involved in fomenting color revolutions in Eastern Europe, Baltic, Caucasus and Central Asia. Biggest breakthroughs were fall of Berlin wall and reunification of Germany, breakup of Yugoslavia into six independent States and disintegration of Czechoslovakia.

NATO’s eastward drive towards the heartland of Russia and the US insistence to deploy Missile Defense Shield were hostile steps and in violation of the US-Russia treaty signed in 1990 that the US will not threaten Russia’s security interests.

Russia under Vladimir Putin

In the new millennium, the situation began to change when Russia came under Putin in 1999. Since then, he has remained in power at a stretch and held both the appointments of President and PM. He resolved to rebuild weakened Russia and regain part if not all the glory of demolished Soviet Empire.

He started to reassert Russia’s authority in global politics as well as over its breakaway Republics by making good use of its oil and gas resources. EU became dependent upon Gazprom for gas. Six Central Asian Republics are the soft belly of Russia, on which the US has its eyes since long and which Russia can ill-afford to lose. Both Russia and China are keeping this vital region in their loop with the help of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

In order to keep resurgent Russia under control, Bush administration embarked upon a highly expensive and controversial Missile Defence Shield (MDS) program under the plea of safeguarding USA from rogue States like North Korea and Iran. Poland and Czech Republic were persuaded to deploy components of the MDS. Putin expressed his concerns asserting that the MDS was Russia focused and threatened to counter the threat. It strained US-Russia relations.            

Russo-US Encounters

After the CIA inspired rose revolution in Georgia which brought down President Eduard Shevardnadze and brought in pro-western President Mikhail Saakashvilli to power in 2004, the first serious Russian encounter with the US took place in Georgia in August 2008 when Russian troops invaded Georgia on August 8, 2008 and by 10th occupied several Georgian cities and bulk of breakaway South Ossetia as well as Abkhazia. Since then, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are firmly in control of Moscow.

The next standoff between the two took place in Ukraine. When the government of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014, he fled to Russia. Putin reacted by sending Russian troops and seizing Crimea in early March and amassing 40,000 troops along eastern border of Ukraine.

Sevastopol seaport in Crimea is an important Russian naval base which it cannot afford to lose. In a popular referendum held on March 16, Crimeans voted to join Russia. After ratification by the two houses of Russian Parliament, annexation of Crimea was formalized on March 21.

Ten cities of Eastern Ukraine are heavily populated by Russian speaking and pro-Russia people. Unrest is going on in several cities and militants urged Moscow to send in Russian troops. Although NATO showed restraint by desisting from moving towards Ukraine’s western border, situation is still tense.

While Putin is using gas as a weapon to tighten up Ukraine, EU which is itself heavily dependent upon Russian oil and gas, at the behest of USA has imposed sanctions and threatened to apply further sanctions to force Russia to lay its hands off Ukraine. The US accused Russia for attacking Ukraine on trumped-up pretext and has hurled a warning, giving rise to fears that another Cold War is in the offing.

Turbulent Middle East

The US controlled strategically important Middle East by propping up authoritarian regimes and establishing GCC comprising six Gulf States and making Iran under Reza Shah Pahlavi as the policeman of the Persian Gulf. In addition, Israel was created in 1948 at the cost of Palestinians. It was economically and militarily bolstered to bully the Arab States.

While the US succeeded in neutralizing Egypt through Camp David Accord in 1979, it lost Iran in March 1979 after Imam Khomeini took over power. Another emerging power Iraq, seen as an obstacle in the way of Israel to become unchallenged power of the region was weakened through 8-year war with Iran, First Gulf War in 1991 and imposition of harsh sanctions.

Invasion of Iraq

When these incapacitating acts failed to bring down Saddam, the US under George W Bush led neo-cons and Jews chalked out a grand plan to change the boundaries of the Middle East, replace radical rulers with compliant and secular rulers, harness oil resources and make Israel the super power of Middle East.

The plan envisaged piecemeal annexation of Arab States. The first axe fell upon Iraq in March 2003 after pasting trumped up charges. Although occupation forces left Iraq in 2011, they have left behind embers of sectarianism. Hardly a day passes without suicide attack/bomb blast.

Regime Change in Libya

Taking advantage of the Arab Spring, insurgency was fomented by CIA in Libya in 2011 to bring down Qaddafi regime. Handfuls of Libyan rebels mostly living in exile were instigated by CIA to start an armed rebellion.

UK and France led the assault and within months Libya was destroyed, the regime toppled and Qaddafi brutally murdered. Chaos in Libya was premeditated because Libya was a stable African society in North Africa and Qaddafi had made it into a real welfare State.

He wanted to use the water, oil and financial resources of Libya and the intelligence of the Libyan people for the reconstruction of Africa. In order to solidify African Union, Qaddafi wanted to build an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African common currency.

Moreover, Qaddafi had moved to take over the Arab banking corporation in Bahrain, and the Libyan leadership had over $200 billion in foreign reserves. Common currency for Africa would have been a threat to Western Europe and North America and a real danger to Euro as well as to the US dollar.

Besides, Chinese had become the dominant force in infrastructure development within Libya. There were over 36,000 Chinese involved in railway, road, water, agriculture, and other forms. Libyan-Pakistan defence ties had grown manifold and Libya had placed a big order for purchasing defence equipment from Pakistan.

While Libya was playing ball with Russia and China, it was also very friendly with the west and cooperating with them since 2004 but still was viewed as unpredictable by western oil and defence tycoons.

To save euro/dollar and to capture Libyan oil, Qaddafi had to be removed. Although Libyan oil is now being controlled by the US/western companies, political and security situation is highly unstable.

Syrian Crisis

Syrian crisis from March 2011 onwards saw Russia, Iran and Hezbollah standing behind Bashar al Assad and the US, EU, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf States supporting Syrian Sunni rebels wanting to bring down Assad’s Alawite regime. When government forces gained an edge over the rebels in mid-2013, a chemical weapons attack on a Syrian town north of Damascus was engineered and drummed up.

Making it an excuse, the US ordered NATO to strike Syrian defence infrastructure with cruise missiles. However, at the 11th hour, Obama took a u turn in the wake of Putin’s mediation, offering to dismantle Syrian chemical stockpiles. The US backtracking tensed US-Saudi relations. While the western threat receded, Syria got engulfed in a new crisis in which the Islamic militias are fighting among each other as well as Assad forces, much to the delight of Israel.

Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL)

The ISIL initially linked with al-Qaeda is pitched against Free Syrian Army (Sunni Syrian rebels), Syrian Revolutionary Front, Army of Mujahideen, Islamic Front (supported by Saudi Arabia) and Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front). Ghuraba al-Shams group is in clash with Nusra Front.

Jundul Aqsa and Jaish al Muhajireen are independent. ISIL has emerged as the strongest group and is in control of almost half of Syrian territory in northeast and one third of northwestern Iraqi territory and has formed a caliphate. While the US-NATO air power jumped into the fray of Iraq and Syria in August 2014 to defeat ISIL, Russian air force joined the war in Syria to prop up Assad regime from 30 September 2015 onwards and has enabled the Syrian Army to recover some ground in southwest.

The important city of Deraa has been taken over. After downing of Russian jet by Turkey, relations between the two countries have strained. However, more and more countries are getting aligned to defeat ISIL, known as Daesh, which is termed as a global threat.

Iran’s Defiance

Iran under Khomeini completed full cycle of Islamic revolution and became militarily stronger and a staunch opponent of US and Israel. Iran added to its military muscle by embarking upon nuclear program in 2002, which it maintained was meant for peaceful purposes.

Both Israel and the US backed by the EU alleged that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon and exerted extreme diplomatic pressure together with four rounds of sanctions and military threats to force Tehran to abandon its program. Covert war was initiated by CIA to affect a regime change.

Replacement of outspoken anti-US/Israel Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with moderate pro-western Hassan Rouhani belonging to Reformist Party in June 2013 brought a change in US stance and it chose to befriend Iran after the latter signed interim nuclear deal in November 2013 pledging that it would roll back its nuclear program in return for easing of economic sanctions.

Thaw in Iran-US relations further strained Saudi-US relations since Riyadh has considered Iran as a threat to Sunni Arab regimes. Rift between Riyadh and Doha over latter’s refusal to refrain from supporting Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere was another cause of concern for Saudi Kingdom.

Fears of Gulf States

Gulf Arab States want an interim government in Damascus and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. Gulf kingdoms also have serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its dangerous designs in the Middle East.

The Shia crescent formed by Syria, Hezbollah dominated Lebanon, Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq is seen as a big threat to Sunni kingdoms in Middle East. Suspecting that Shia uprising in Bahrain in 2011 was Iran inspired, Saudi led Gulf Force was dashed to quash it.

They fear Iran’s potential nuclear weapons capability and deeply distrust the Americans for their overtures to Tehran and civilian nuclear deal which is likely to strengthen Iran. Saudi Arabia is also wary of Iran’s meddlesome role in Yemen where it is supporting Yemeni Houthi rebels and impelled Riyadh to form a joint Arab force of ten countries and launch air war against Houthis in March this year which is still continuing.

Saudi Arabia is also fearful of ISIS, which has threatened to capture Mecca and Medina, and has recently announced formation of 34-member alliance of Muslim countries, which excludes Shia ruled Muslim countries.

Turkey’s Phenomenal Economic Growth

Despite being the leader of seculars within the Muslim world since Kamal Ataturk days and member of NATO, Turkey has not been given membership of EU. In the 1990s, Turkey economy had become sick and it came under heavy debt of IMF. Its economy however began to progress dramatically when AKP led by Tayyip Erdogon took over in 2002 and made the country Islamic Republic.

While Turkish constitution is secular, in practice it is Islamist. Within less than a decade it solved political, judicial, financial and economic problems. By 2005 all loans of IMF were cleared and in 2007 Turkey was in a position to extend loan to IMF and EU countries.

Today it is 16th largest economy in the world and is in a position to lead the Muslim world. Its output has reached $820 billion and has $400 billion worth trade. It has 27 trade partners all over the world and in a decade it attracted $120 billion FSD. Stunning economic progress made by the incumbent government coupled with Erdogon’s tough stand taken against Israel after the incident of peace flotilla in the high seas in 2009 has become a cause of worry for the US led west.

It is suspected that a willful vicious propaganda has been launched by the US based cleric Gullen and his supporters in Turkey, secular and liberal forces and western media to undermine and bring down the government. However, Erdogon has reasserted his authority as a result of last elections. Because of his tiff with Russia, he is mending fences with Israel to meet country’s gas needs.

Pakistan

Pakistan has emerged as the sole Muslim country with nuclear capability backed by robust armed forces with reasonably strong defence industrial and technical base and plenty of skilled labor force. Pakistan’s nuclear capability is an eyesore for the US, India and Israel. India is more vexed since nuclear parity has blunted its blackmailing tactics and imperialist designs.

The US is concerned about Sino-Pakistan conviviality since the future role assigned to India cannot be accomplished without breaking up Pakistan or making it a compliant State of India. It is vying to wean away Central Asian Republics (CARs) brimming with natural resources from Sino-Russo influence and for piping out oil and gas for western markets through Port Gawadar.

Indo-US-Israeli nexus has been striving hard since 1980s to denuclearize Pakistan and make it a Satellite State of India. Their efforts were stepped up after 2001 and they nearly succeeded in declaring Pakistan a failing and ungovernable State when the PPP regime was in power. Besides several articles written by Americans including Lt Col Ralph Peters article “Blood Borders” indicating balkanized Pakistan, revelation made by Carlotta Gall that Pakistan and not Afghanistan was the real target lent strength to the assertions that the US cannot be relied upon.

Consequent to change of government in Pakistan in May 2013 and changing alignments in Middle East, Riyadh, Bahrain and other Gulf States have begun to lean more heavily upon Pakistan. Pak-Turk cooperation also keyed up. South Korea offered to make investments in Pakistan.

While Russia has come closer, China has invested $46 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a game changer for Pakistan. Iran has agreed to resume stalled Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project has been approved.

Notwithstanding positive developments, what is worrying for Pakistan is not so friendly behavior of Afghanistan and Iran and growing strategic partnership of Iran and Afghanistan with India. Development of North-South Corridor connecting Mumbai with Bandar Abbas Port in Iran, fast track development of Chahbahar Port in Iran by India and linking it with Afghanistan and Central Asia through road-rail network are aimed at undermining Gawadar Port, encircling Pakistan and gaining access to CARs markets.

India under extremist Narendra Modi, known for his anti-Muslim/Pakistan stance and not so friendly Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani and pro-India Dr. Abdullah does not auger well for Pakistan. Although of late Modi is giving friendly signals, his change of heart is certainly not out of sincerity of purpose but owing to changed geopolitical environment. Sooner than later he is likely to revert to his belligerent policy.

The US has helped in easing tensions between India and Pakistan as well as between Afghanistan and Pakistan. India agreed to abandon its belligerent policy because of fast improving internal socio-politico-economic-security conditions of Pakistan and its success in combating terrorism.

Kabul has softened its stance owing to resurgence of Taliban and having realised that only Pakistan can help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. All have agreed to resume dialogue and cooperate with each other in fighting terrorism and in solving Afghan tangle through negotiations and in improving socio-economic conditions of South Asia.

Russo-China-US Altering Relationship

During the Cold War, USSR and China, the two largest Communist States fell apart in 1960 owing to political, cultural and ideological differences. Sino-US détente in 1972 further distanced USSR from China. Gorbachev mended fences with China in 1989 and today the two neighbors have become close allies. China has emerged as the chief rival of USA with all the trappings of future super power.

The US leans upon India to help it in encircling and containing phenomenal rise of China. The US in league with India is trying hard to win over as many littoral States around the Indian Ocean to check China’s ingress into the Indian Ocean laced with critical choke points and Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC).

It is building coalitions with regional allies like Australia, Japan and the Philippines, and partners like Vietnam and India to bring Indian Ocean under full control to ensure uninterrupted flow of oil. Washington is currently promoting an ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept, which connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans as part of its approach towards Indian Ocean.

Haunted by the threat to its corporate capitalism because of China’s economic model which has lifted 300 million Chinese out of poverty; American writers are accusing China of endangering global stability.

Although China’s strategic focus continues to be on the Pacific, China’s priority will always be on protecting its energy security interests by way of securing the SLOC, spreading from the Gulf to the South China Sea. China is hectically building artificial islands in South China Sea to militarily check its backyard while the US is keen to increase its influence over SLOC in this Sea.

Both are resorting to shadow boxing. China is keen to develop Gawadar seaport so that its navy could checkmate Indo-US dominance of Indian Ocean and protect the SLOC, vital for the country’s energy imports. China has made deep inroads in the Middle East and Africa which include many Littoral States.

Ongoing construction of old Silk Route through CPEC from Kashgar to Gawadar and Karachi since March 2015 has the potential to make the region prosperous and self-reliant. It will however upset Indo-US game-plan of developing an alternative Silk Route in which the duo would be major beneficiaries.

Uni-polar World Gasping for Life

In 1992, the US emerged as the unchallenged sole superpower. In 2001 when George W. Bush triggered the Global War on Terror and the whole world fell in line, the US was economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily the strongest nation in the world. It was the largest aid-giver and leader of the First world.

It had a $15-trillion economy, and was looked at with awe and envy for being the “sole superpower.” In little over two decades, uni-polarism has begun to totter and it is speculated that the all-powerful US is fast running out of steam, and sooner than later uni-polarity will be replaced by multi-polarity.

Many say that the era of the US global hegemony is over. While Putin is looked at with respect for his deft handling of critical situations, American elite judge Obama as a weak president responsible for the loss of global clout which the US enjoyed.

Today the US is burdened with a national debt of $ 16.3 trillion and a total debt close to $ 59 trillion with very little chance of recovery in the foreseeable future despite the discovery of Shale gas. Apart from the debt which it has accumulated because of its craze for foreign adventures, the US leadership has also amassed tons of hate against America around the world, raging particularly in the Muslim world.

This is in spite of the US doling out aid/grants to the needy countries generously and making substantive contributions in terms of science and technology. Still, the US is presently one of the most hated nations on earth.

The US track record during and after the Cold War is that it has always attacked economically and militarily poor countries. Excepting Israel and India, the aid it lends to its allies is always attached with tough conditions and for self-serving purposes. Besides bloody wars, destabilization of elected governments or regime change through gruesome covert operations is another favorite hobby of American leaders. Pakistan has suffered the most at the hands of US and its ally India.

Among the major reasons of USA’s decline are its dual standards and discriminatory policy with regard to Palestinian and Kashmir issues and its subservience to Israel, aggressive policies of pre-emption and unilateralism, anti-Islam/Muslim policy, its grandiose plans to redraw the boundaries of the Middle East and to take control of oil resources, lust for untapped mineral resources of Central Asia, over indulgence in highly expensive war on terror and in covert wars to neo-colonize the Muslim world.

All its high-flying objectives have gone for a six after it got stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan. Last but not least, the 2008 global recession has badly impacted the US and European economies. Rag-tag Afghan Mujahideen having humbled the Soviet Empire have now rolled the honor and prestige of the sole super/hyper power in dust.

The US sudden and rapid decline has made its self-created financial institutions like IMF and World Bank weary and defiant. They are not favoring the US suggestion to create alternative financial institutions to counter BRICS. While majority of Latin American States have moved out of the influence of North America, even Europe led by Germany and France is showing signs of non-cooperation.

Putin is cleverly playing upon the sensitivities of European countries to draw a wedge between Europe and USA. China has reduced American influence in Africa to insignificance and is raring to become an economic superpower by 2025. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States crave for US friendship no more.

New power centres have emerged and new alignments are shaping up. The invincible NATO is breaking up after its humiliation in Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan. Despite using excessive force, Islam couldn’t be undermined. Rather, it has gained ground and biggest conversion rate to Islam is in USA. Growing isolation of the US in the world has blurred ‘American Century’ dream.

The US can recover ground if the leadership changes its posture from arrogance to affability, restrain Pentagon from adventurism, CIA from covert operations and media from propaganda war, gets rid of perverse influence of Israel, India and UK, decentralize power concentrated in the hands of 1% American elites, formulate even-handed global policies to make the world peaceful and last but not least, mend fences with the Muslim world.      

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The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books; member Executive Council Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society; Director Measac Research Centre and Director Board of Governors Pakistan Thinkers Forum; who takes part in TV talk shows. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

Brig.Raja is a Defence Analyst on International Defence Related Issues and Distinguished Member of Pakistan Think Tank.

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