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Archive for category OUTRAGE AGAINST MUSLIM GENOCIDE

Inspired political instability in Pakistan by Brig.(Retd)Asif Haroon Raja

Inspired political instability in Pakistan

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

On October 11, 1999, a democratically elected government of PML-N was toppled by the military under Gen Pervez Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif (NS) was jailed and awarded life sentence on charges of hijacking and terrorism. Saudi Arabia came to his rescue and he was exiled for ten years. Benazir Bhutto (BB) was already in self-imposed exile. The Supreme Court legitimized military rule and authorized Musharraf to amend the constitution to his liking. With two mainstream leaders in exile, it became easy for Musharraf to carve out a King’s Party comprising turncoats from PML-N and PPP by applying coercive and blackmailing tactics.

Pakistan came under the black star after 9/11 when Musharraf agreed to become a coalition partner of US-NATO, render assistance to topple friendly Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and to help in installing the US selected Northern Alliance regime led by Hamid Karzai, which became anti-Pakistan and pro-India. Pakistan also agreed to become a frontline State to fight US imposed war on terror. Musharraf and his team didn’t realize that Afghanistan had been occupied by the USA under a preplanned strategy to destabilize the region and achieve its geostrategic and geo-economic objectives and that Pakistan was not an ally but a target.

Since then, Afghanistan is being bled by the occupying forces and the collaborators and Pakistan bled through proxies and drones. Pakistan has been striving hard to combat the existential threat of terrorism, achieve political stability, and improve its economy and to sail towards the shores of safety, security, progress, and prosperity. Terrorism couldn’t be eliminated since the ones demanding the elimination of terrorism secretly support terror groups in Pakistan and seek destabilization of Pakistan to achieve their hidden objectives.  

The socio-politico-economic situation became abysmal during the five years rule of the PPP under Zardari. The coalition of PPP-MQM-ANP installed by USA-UK in March 2008 with an ulterior motive reduced the country to a carcass. The rot was stymied when NS led PML-N government took over power in June 2013.

Improvement of internal security and the economy as a result of dedicated operations in Karachi, FATA and Baluchistan, better financial management and forthcoming CPEC couldn’t be digested by adversaries of Pakistan since it hampered their agenda of disabling Pakistan’s nuclear program. Likewise, development driven agenda didn’t suit the politicians in opposition.

A well-orchestrated hate campaign was unleashed by politicians, lobbies, media and social media against NS within one year of his rule to discredit him. Vilification campaign and demand for accountability should have been logically directed against massive wrongdoings of Zardari and company and anti-Pakistan MQM under Altaf working on RAW-MI-6 agenda, the effects of which are still being borne by the people of Pakistan.

Instead, the tirade has remained focused on ruling PML-N regime which has lifted all economic indicators from negative to positive, stabilized macro economy and restored the health of the sick economy to some degree. It has pulled out the country from the worst energy crisis and hopefully by March 2018 it would overcome power shortages. The lawless regions of FATA, parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Baluchistan and Karachi have been made stable and peaceful and the genie of terrorism controlled to quite an extent. Large numbers of mega development projects are in progress and foreign investment that had dried up is flowing in. Socio-economic deprivations of smaller provinces are likely to be addressed by the game-changing CPEC. Pakistan’s image that had sunk low has risen among the world comity and it has again become relevant.

While the ruling government has made substantial progress in the last 4 years, however, a lot is still to be done. Pakistan is still not out of the woods since internal and external security situation is tense, debt burden and trade deficit have increased and exports have dwindled. One reason that Pakistan has not overcome its multiple difficulties is the negative role of detractors within Pakistan that have constantly been creating hurdles in the way of progress and development. Secondly, PPP-led Sindh government is not serious in carrying out reforms and controlling corruption which is bleeding Karachi, the economic lifeline of Pakistan. Thirdly, RAW, NDS, CIA, Mossad, MI-6 nexus based in Afghanistan continues to abet terrorism in Pakistan and induce political instability.

Turning a deaf ear to the impressive progress made, power hungry and disgruntled politicians assisted by media downplay the positives by finding faults in development projects and drum beat the weak areas. They are leaving no stone unturned to disparage the image of NS and block the progress through negative tactics. This phenomenon of vilification campaign and impeding growth and development is not new.

Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and PPP under ZA Bhutto disturbed law and order situation by resorting to street agitation to overturn the stupendous all-round developments made by Ayub Khan during his 10-years rule. Economically and militarily strong Pakistan was unacceptable to the adversaries of Pakistan. After forcing Ayub Khan to resign, the duo deliberately created a political logjam for politically naïve Gen Yahya Khan. By tearing up Polish resolution at the UN, Bhutto made sure that the armed forces suffered immense humiliation at the hands of archrival India. Mujib and Bhutto were instrumental in the breakup of Pakistan into two in 1971. All this was done at the behest of foreign powers to cut Pakistan and its armed forces to size.

While Sheikh Mujib had galvanized Bengali nationalism by blaming West Pakistan for the backwardness of East Pakistan and had promised the moon to the Bengalis, Bhutto cast a spell of magic on the downtrodden people of West Pakistan by chanting the slogan of Roti, Kapra, Makan. Both brought people on the streets to paralyze and derail the system. Both lacked sincerity of purpose and their sole ambition was to gain power. While Mujib wanted the whole cake, Bhutto wanted half of it. Lust for power overrode national interests.

ZA Bhutto during his 7 years rule became a dictator. To curb political dissent, he created FSF and opened Dalai camp to torture his opponents. He washed away the gains made by Ayub Khan through his highly anomalous policy of nationalization which gave a deathly blow to the burgeoning industry of Pakistan, banking, and education. Indiscipline was inculcated by Bhutto by inciting the labor and working class to rebel against their employers. He misled the masses by blaming 22 rich families for keeping Pakistan backward. He ignored the hard fact that Indian leaders had predicted that Pakistan would collapse within six months under the weight of economics. Pakistan developed its economic legs to stand on because of the financial assets brought by these very industrialists who had opted to shift to Pakistan. Ironically, since the early 1990s, successive governments in Pakistan have been begging foreign investors and offering lucrative terms to induce them to invest in Pakistan, build industries, buy lands and install thermal power projects.   

Bhutto intensified New-Sindhi and Old-Sindhi antagonism in Sindh by introducing quota system and making the Sindhi language a compulsory subject in Sindh. He incensed Baloch and Pashtuns after he sacked provincial governments in Baluchistan and Frontier provinces and mounted an operation against the Baloch rebels. He supported Islamists in Afghanistan to counter the belligerence of Sardar Daud thereby stoking religious extremism and Jihadism in Pakistan which later on accelerated during the 10-year Afghan war and uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Bhutto promoted secularism which triggered religious extremism, deepened Islamic-secular divide and gave birth to PNA movement and led to his ouster.

While Bhutto started the Kahuta project to develop a nuclear bomb, uranium enriched nuclear program could not have seen the light of the day had Afghan war not taken place. Gen Ziaul Haq took full advantage of it and pursued it relentlessly and carried out cold tests in 1984. Fear of bomb in the basement kept India at bay. Zia crushed the PPP-led MRD movement in 1983 with dangerous connotations, since it had the full support of India. He had to deal with foreign supported Al-Zulfiqar movement together with KGB-RAW-KHAD nexus involved in terrorism.

Pakistan under Zia single-handedly managed the Afghan war and emerged victoriously. Zia had made up his mind to make Pakistan a truly Islamic State in the light of Quran and Sunnah and had envisioned a clear strategy how to go about playing up the Khalistan movement and Kashmiri freedom movement and taking the two movements to their logical ends. Had Zia lived longer, Afghanistan could have saved itself from the bloody civil war and would have remained ever obliged to Pakistan. Prejudiced PPP and seculars, however, portray him as the worst dictator and blame him for loading Pakistan with all the misfortunes.

The PPP under Benazir Bhutto (BB) symbolized poor governance, immorality, and corruption, thanks to her husband Zardari who became Mr. 10% in her first tenure and Mr. 20% in 2nd tenure. Both the civil and military establishments viewed BB as a security risk owing to her extraordinary softness towards her Oxford buddy Rajiv Gandhi and her commitment given to the USA that she would roll back the nuclear program. But for the provision of the list of Sikh leaders to India, Khalistan could have become a reality and IOK might have achieved independence since the Khalistan and Kashmir movements had almost linked up and Afghan Mujahideen under Gulbadin Hikmatyar had promised physical help. Thermal power has driven IPP agreement signed by BB in her second tenure amounted to giving control of electricity to foreign powers. It paved the way for the energy crisis.

As opposed to two shortened PPP regimes led by BB, two short-lived PML-N regimes under NS were comparatively better which saw some development works including motorway and above all Pakistan becoming the 7th nuclear power.

PPP under Zardari scaled new heights of corruption, nepotism, and ineptness. An abortive attempt was made to civilianize the ISI. The ill-omened Kerry-Lugar Bill opened the doors for NGOs, Blackwater and CIA agents which triggered urban terrorism. Helicopters assault in Abbottabad to get Osama bin Laden was aimed at tarnishing the image of Army and ISI. Hussain Haqqani at the behest of Zardari signed the Memo to virtually give Pakistan on contract to the USA. Gen Ashfaq Kayani and Lt Gen Shuja Pasha blocked the ominous effort and regained 17 administrative units in the northwest under the influence of RAW-NDS-CIA controlled TTP.

PPP and MQM looted and plundered national wealth with both hands and sucked the blood of Karachi which generates over 60% of Pakistan’s revenue. Corruption-ridden ANP derailed the railway and did nothing for KP. While Karachi became lawless, a separatist movement in Baluchistan gained considerable strength. All State Corporations were systematically destroyed and Pakistan’s external debt doubled. Pakistan got caught up in worst energy crisis because of which industries began to close down and many industrialists shifted to other countries. The country was brought to the brink of economic collapse and yet the PPP government was allowed to complete five years.

PTI under Imran Khan (IK) gained political space in 2011 as a result of misdoings of PPP and MQM, but instead of training its guns on the PPP and MQM, it locked horns with PML-N in Punjab since it knew that power resided in Punjab and nowhere else. The only silver lining in those dark days was the Shahbaz Sharif-led government in Punjab which kept things going despite highly unfavorable environments. Indefatigable Shahbaz’s outstanding performance paved the way for PML-N’s impressive victory in May 2013 elections.      

IK never reconciled with 2013 election results and for reasons best known to him imagined that he deserved to win. He married up with dubious Tahirul Qadri led PAT and single seater Sheikh Rashid to drumbeat the issue of rigging. They discounted the fact that PPP and not PML-N was in power that had made the transitional government to hold elections and that PTI had no roots in rural Pakistan. IK chose to emulate politics of agitation and defiance of Mujib and Bhutto to achieve his political ends. Following in their footsteps, he chanted the catchy slogan of ‘change’ and ‘Naya (new) Pakistan’. Like Bhutto, he too promotes liberalism and is germinating seeds of indiscipline among the youth. Previously his slogan was ‘justice’ and now his slogan is ‘corruption’.

IK has all along pursued politics of defiance and agitation to undermine the State and its institutions and freely indulges in mudslinging and unsubstantiated accusations to defame NS and his family. After failing to oust NS by staging a 126-day sit-in in Islamabad in 2014, and then trying to lock down Islamabad in October 2016, IK is now pinning hopes on Panama Papers case handled by Supreme Court Bench. He refuses to admit that name of NS is not included in the list of account holders in Fonseca Mossack Offshore Company, and that PML-N government will remain in power until next elections even if NS is sacked or he resigns. 

While giving long sermons on the ills of corruption, IK completely skips the fact that cupboards of most of his party leaders are filled with skeletons. He is oblivious of the enormous moral degeneration of the society as a whole. Moral turpitude of the nation has hit rock bottom and corruption is one small part of it which has permeated into the blood of all segments of the society. The ones accepting graft and the others doling out graft are equally guilty. IK has no plan for moral refurbishment of the society or how to eliminate corruption.

 

 

 

 

 

How will the corrupt be taken to task in the absence of effective accountability bill which is lying pending since 2010? If IK is so concerned about the eradication of corruption, why has he not agitated inside and outside the parliament to pass the accountability bill and make National Accountability Bureau (NAB) more effective and independent?

If he strongly feels that all elections including the 2013 elections were rigged, has he made any effort to reform electoral laws to prevent rigging in future? Without comprehensive electoral reforms, same lot of immoral politicians will get elected and keep shifting from one green pasture to the other to derive maximum material benefits.

Likewise, he has not pressurized the government to reform the criminal justice system and functioning of lower courts. Unless the judicial system is reformed, justice will remain confined to the elite class only and the ones involved in white collar crimes and mega corruption will never be netted. Similarly, crime and corruption cannot be tackled unless the police are depoliticized and investigative/prosecution systems streamlined.

PTI is a collection of turncoats from other parties. Each and every defector in his party has a blemished track record. How IK expects to make New Pakistan with such opportunists who have brought him under their sway? When he couldn’t convert KP into a role model province, how can he change the destiny of whole of Pakistan with a King’s Party, particularly when he has no political standing in Baluchistan and Sindh?

PTI, PPP and other political parties in opposition are ganging up to derail the political system by creating chaos and hampering growth and development. This is being done at a time when Pakistan is at an economic takeoff stage as a result of better governance and financial management and commissioning of CPEC. At the same time, it is up against external enemies and local detractors that are trying to sabotage progress. CPEC is an eyesore for India, USA, Iran, and Dubai.

Upset by the achievements made by Pakistan, the adversaries that had been collectively trying to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan since 2002 have intensified their efforts to block the development programs. The only option they are left with is to topple the ruling regime and foment political bedlam. This task has been undertaken by PTI and PPP.  

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) led the Gulf States have still not forgotten and forgiven the slight inflicted by Pakistan when its request for military support to tackle the threat posed by the Huthis in Yemen last year was impolitely turned down. The government had whittled under pressure of PTI and PPP. The fissures that were contracted with a lot of efforts are once again being widened by Iran inspired lobbies in Pakistan. Led by PTI, these lobbies in concert with media are applying pressure on the government to detach Pakistan from the 41-Member Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) sponsored by KSA to fight terrorism and to call back Gen Raheel Sharif, selected as head of the Alliance. The Same old logic of Iran’s sensibilities and misplaced danger of Shia-Sunni rift in Pakistan is being put forward.

Recently concluded Arab-Islamic-US Summit in Riyadh gave strength to these lobbies to state that their fears that the IMA was Iran-specific have come true after the vitriolic speeches made by Trump and King Salman. They upped the ante by painting a very dark picture with ominous ramifications for Pakistan. Pressure has been intensified to force the government to opt out of the Alliance, not realizing that such a step would fulfill the dream of India to isolate Pakistan. We have seen how KSA and its close allies have offensively reacted against Qatar, and it can treat Pakistan in a similar manner.

It must not be forgotten that KSA has always come to the rescue of Pakistan in its testing times, and has always been sympathetic towards Pakistan regardless of which political party or military ruler has been in power. It has taken pride in Pakistan’s armed forces and nuclear capability and has never threatened Pakistan. Same is not true for Iran. Gone are the days of Reza Shah Pahlavi. Attitudes in Iran have changed since the arrival of Ayatollahs and their officials have adopted an arrogant posture.

Under what pretext and logic the Iranian lobbies in Pakistan lobbied to stop Pakistan from dispatching troops to KSA when it was threatened by Iran supported Huthis? What moral right Iran has to militarily support Huthis in Yemen? In what way we were pitching ourselves against Iran? Pakistani troops would not have jumped into the cauldron of Yemen war but at best would have deployed a division size force along the Saudi-Yemeni border to defend the integrity of KSA. Has Pakistan not been sending troops in the past to KSA for training purposes and for the defense of Khana Kaaba, and when KSA was threatened by Iraq in 1991?

Once our myopic leaders opted to annoy KSA and the other Gulf States to please Iran, how did Iran reciprocate our gesture of staying out of Yemen war? Soon after, Iran stood with India and Afghanistan and signed Chahbahar agreement. Iran will never annoy India to please Pakistan but will annoy Pakistan to please India as was evident from Iran Army chief’s threat to Pakistan last May. It is closer to India and Northern Alliance ruled Afghanistan than with Pakistan.

This very lobby which is in a small minority but has also influenced many veterans has been consistently tarnishing the image of former COAS Gen Raheel Sharif with the sole purpose of forcing him to resign or compelling Pak government to call him back from Riyadh. It has been repeatedly stressed by the government that the IMA headed by Gen Raheel is directed against terrorism and is not against Iran or any other country and that whenever it transgresses its mandate, Pakistan will detach itself. But the lobbies are unprepared to buy it since they are solely worried about Iran’s interest and not of Pakistan and its armed forces and keep playing sectarian card. One may ask as to why they drum up proxy wars of KSA and not of Iran. Why do they want the IMA to fight Al-Qaeda, Daesh, and Taliban and to spare Iran’s proxies? KSA and not Iran is vulnerable to threats from proxies as well as from Iran-Iraq-Syria-Yemen-Hezbollah nexus.

Pakistan is faced with foreign funded proxies and Hybrid War. India wants to teach Pakistan a lesson. Afghanistan has become a hostile country. Indo-US-Afghan nexus has not changed its dangerous agenda against Pakistan. Iran is not friendly. Another storm stimulated by USA and Israel is building up in the already turbulent the Middle East as a result of heightened Iran-Saudi hostility and KSA-Qatar confrontation, which is giving shape to new alignments. Pakistan cannot remain unconcerned by these hazardous developments and its diplomacy is under test. Pakistan cannot afford to take sides and it will be its diplomatic success if it manages to stay neutral and act as a moderator to defuse KSA-Qatar tension and scale down KSA-Iran animosity.

It is, however, most unfortunate that our power hungry politicians backed by paid media are oblivious of the precarious geopolitical environments and are wholly interested in snatching power by hook or crook. Devoid of political power, they first provoked the Army to boot out NS and are now expectantly looking towards the Supreme Court to disqualify him whether he is an offender or not. Like PTI, PPP has also begun to flex its political muscles and is somehow very hopeful that it will regain power in the Centre and in all provinces.

The Author & Pakistan Think Tank Thought Leader

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brigadier, took part in the epic battle of Hilli in 1971 war, served as Defence Attache Egypt & Sudan, a defense analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraj@gmail.com     

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Impact of chemical & missile attacks in Syria By Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Impact of chemical & missile attacks in Syria

Asif Haroon Raja

“In the coming days the American people will learn that the (US) Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib”. Former DIA Col Patrick Lang 

The civil war was triggered in Syria in March 2011 by the Syrian rebels supported by the US, NATO, Saudi-led the Gulf States and Turkey. The war has wrought havoc and the country lay utterly ruined. Nearly 470,000 people including 5, 50,000 children have died in the conflict and 4.8 million have fled the country. The cities and infrastructure are destroyed, there is very little electricity, 80% are living in poverty, and the economy has shrunk by 55%. Syria war is the worst man-made disaster since 2nd World War. But for the Iranian and Hezbollah ground support and Russian air intervention in September 2015 in support of the beleaguered Bashar al-Assad regime, a regime change would have occurred a long time back and Assad would have met the fate of Saddam and Qaddafi.

There are dozens of militant groups operating in the country among which ISIS is the most powerful group, which has carved out its own caliphate under Abu Bakar Baghdadi stretching from Raqqa in Syria to Mosul in Iraq and is in control of oil and gas fields in northeastern Syria. Other prominent outfits are Free Syrian Army (FSA) led by Gen Idris, Al-Nusra Front led by Jeewani, Army of Conquest and Al-Qaeda.

A very serious situation had developed in Syria as a result of two chemical attacks on Ghouta near Damascus on August 21, 2013, killing hundreds of people including a large number of children. The ruling regime was blamed for the attacks. Egged on by Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara, Obama Administration, and NATO had finalised the plan for a direct military action and had deployed Tomahawk cruise missiles to bomb the defense infrastructure of Syrian armed forces. No proof was furnished and to this day its unknown who had fired Sarin tipped rockets. It was generally suspected that Mossad was behind the chemical weapon attack. The US Congress, the American public and British Parliament reeling under public pressure, and wary of the expanding war in the Middle East, had opposed military action fearing that it might trigger a world war. Donald Trump was among the opponents.

Vladimir Putin provided a way out to Obama by suggesting the destruction of chemical stockpiles of Syria in return for the cancellation of the air strikes. Obama relented thereby averting a bigger crisis, but at the cost of annoying Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Since that time, Russia under Putin started gaining a diplomatic edge over the USA in the Middle East. Putin overshadowed Obama after he physically intervened in the Syrian war.

It has now come to light that the Ghouta incident was a false flag attack by Saudi-sponsored Jihadists to secure the bombing in Damascus. As per Seymour Hersh, Turkey was behind it.

The US intervened in Syria by air in September 2014 to destroy ISIS but failed to achieve any results. Puzzlingly, the ISIS grew stronger and richer because of its unchecked oil trade extending right up to the Gulf of Mexico. It is speculated that the US never made any sincere effort since its real target was Assad and not ISIS.

In response to the formal request made by the Syrian government for military help against the rebels and Jihadist groups in July 2015, Russia sent military advisers. Moscow announced that it was extending military support to stabilize the legitimate government and create conditions for a political compromise. It initially stationed its jets at Khmeimim airbase and sent T-90 tanks, artillery and Special Operations Forces to an airbase near Latakia seaport in August 2015. On August 26, 2015, Syria-Russia Friendship Treaty was signed and in last week of September, a Joint Information Centre manned by representatives from Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran was established in Baghdad for coordination. USA, UK, and Turkey declined to join. Russian warships of Black Sea Fleet moved to East Mediterranean. Tartus naval base in Syria was used by Russia.

Russian air force began striking targets initially on Homs and Hama in northwestern Syria on September 30. Till January 2017, Russian jets carried out 19160 combat missions and delivered 71000 strikes on terrorist infrastructures. Russia employed Su-25, Su-35, Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, attack helicopters as well as cruise missiles. In December 2015, Sharyat airbase near Homs was made functional. From August 16, 2016, onward, Russian jets made use of Hamadan airbase in Iran. On October 15, 2016, Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov moved forward in support of Russian forces in Syria.    

Bolstered by Russia’s air support, the Syrian Army managed to recapture lost spaces including Homs, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, and Palmyra and considerably improved its position. Offensive launched against strategically located Aleppo in September 2016 came to a successful conclusion in December.

In August 2016, 4000 Turkish troops in conjunction with 7000 pro-Turkish Syrian rebels launched Operation Euphrates and since then have captured Jarabalus, al-Rai, and Al-Bab in northern Syria.

500 Special Forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines supported by US bombers joined the ground combat in Syria to bolster the efforts of the rebels named as moderates.

Raqqa, the capital of ISIS Caliphate, is surrounded by US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

With so many powers having materially intruded in war-torn Syria, it has become the most dangerous flashpoint. However, Israel which is the main instigator behind the strategy of fomenting chaos in the Middle East and toppling militarily and economically stronger Arab regimes so as to accomplish its dream of establishing Greater Israel, is dissatisfied with the ongoing status quo which is going in favor of President Assad and hence wants his removal at any cost.

While George Bush had pleased Israel by downing regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama had obliged Israel by way of stepping up the offensive in Afghanistan, starting Arab Spring, toppling regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, bisecting Sudan, making Somalia a failed State, and creating chaos in Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. However, the pro-war hawks in USA and Israel feel that Obama buckled down in Syria because of which the US prestige was severely dented.

Hence the reins of power were handed over to the most unpredictable and rash Donald Trump so as to outshine Putin and to put a fear of USA in the hearts of the world. He is assigned to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, legitimize Jewish Forward Settlements in Palestinian lands in West Bank and Gaza, and get rid of defiant Assad, linked with Iran and Hezbollah, who shows eyes to Israel. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt are also on the hit list of Israel.

The security situation in Syria took a sudden nosedive in the wake of a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun village in Idlib Province on 4 April 2017. True to their traditions, the US administration and the US-led western media joined by the Jewish controlled media hastened to pin the whole blame on Moscow-backed Assad regime. The pictorial war launched by the western media described the attack as most horrendous and gruesome. No sooner the news became viral on all media outlets, Trump while expressing his anguish over the killings of babies lost his cool and stated that he had changed his mind about Syria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon rushed to put forward military options and Trump gave a ‘go ahead’ signal without consulting the Congress or seeking approval of the UN. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley made hue and cry and warned that in case the UN tried to come in the way, the US will brush aside norms of diplomacy, international law, and the UN Charter and will go ahead on its own. This impetuous and disjointed decision to strike Syria was taken without gathering any proof of the Syrian regime’s involvement and without determining as to what kind of gas used – Sarin, Mustard or Chlorine. The knee-jerk reckless reaction was exactly similar to the impulsive reactions in Afghanistan in October 2001, in Iraq in March 2003 or in Libya in 2011.

Explanations given by Moscow and Damascus that the bombs were dropped on a chemical warehouse (Sarin gas) in use of the rebels were debunked and scoffed at arguing that if Sarin is bombed with incendiaries, it will be rendered INERT by the exceedingly high temperature of any blast. In their view, it just takes 150 °C to decompose Sarin into various forms of phosphorous. The average missile emits 2,480 °C (4,500 °F) which is way beyond what it would take to completely erase any Sarin.

Yet another claim that pictures of the White Helmets wearing only gas masks and no HAZMAT suits meant there wasn’t a Sarin attack was also laughed at. BBC also rubbished the claims.

The US didn’t deem it fit to take into account other possibilities like ISIS, which had used mustard gas on three occasions. The possibility of Mossad or CIA, notorious for undertaking suchlike perverted acts cannot be altogether ruled out; their aim being to provoke Trump and give him an excuse to launch a direct military action in Syria.

The point to note is as to why the urgency to opt for such a dangerous option that could spell disaster and particularly when Bush administration, CIA and Tony Blair had to cut a sorry figure on account of their over confidence that Saddam was in possession of WMDs. It has still not been proven that Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11 attacks.

The reason why the US took such a hasty and thoughtless decision was that none has been held accountable for the devastation inflicted upon the targeted Muslim countries without any plausible reason. Trump, who has been flexing his muscles since his takeover was desperate to show his power and direct assault in Syria has satiated his ego that he is a man of action.  

At 3.40 a.m. in the early hours of 7th April, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from the two Arleigh Burke – guided missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, deployed in the Mediterranean Sea on the Sharyad airfield in Homs province from where the alleged chemical attack had been carried out on the Khan Sheikhun village on April 4, killing 75 people including 10 children. Nine civilians including children were killed. The news that the airbase was completely destroyed and 99 jets destroyed were false.

The attack was hailed by Syria’s opposition, USA, NATO, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while it was condemned by Damascus and Tehran. Syrian government denied using chemical weapons and condemned the attack. Iran and Russia denounced the act terming it an act of aggression, which will damage Russia-US relations.

Russia has suspended military communications and agreements with the US. This has increased the risk of an accidental clash of two air forces operating in volatile Syria.

The blatant attack has ruined the prospects of thaw in USA-Russia relations and peace returning to Syria in the near future. There is no one in Trump’s Administration suggesting prudence. All are haughty and war crazy. Zionists have seized control of all powerhouses in USA and none can stop them from treading into dangerous domains having fatal consequences. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cautioned Moscow about the US intentions to boot out President Assad, the last thorn in the flesh of Israel. Another American string-puppet has been readied, who will happily share a bed with Israel and like Gen Sisi will approve Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

The regime change in Damascus will result in converting battle worthy Syrian Army into a NationalSisi Army like in Iraq, meant to fight terrorism only. It will deprive Russia of its sole toehold in the Middle East and dispossess it off the Gazprom gas pipeline to Europe via Syria. It will radically reduce the influence of Iran in Syria and enable the USA to construct its own gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe via Syria.

Unless Russia devises a new strategy to effectively deal with American belligerence and gets out of its dithering mode, the US might regain its influence that had declined substantially in the wake of its anti-Muslim and pro-Israel policies. As things stand at present, the US has taken advantage of Russia’s hesitancy after it had gained a definite political, diplomatic and military edge over the USA and had put its rival on the back foot. Russia waited for too long to go headlong in ousting ISIS from its power base in Raqqa. For unknown reasons, it called off its offensive several times after the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva commenced in February 2016.

In 2016, the ISIS was suffering defeats and losing ground in both Iraq and Syria. Knowing that the ISIS was CIA creation and is secretly backed by USA and Israel, Russia relied on Washington that it will help in eliminating the ISIS through joint efforts and then will cooperate in its efforts to restore peace and arrive at a political settlement under the umbrella of the UN. 

One wonders why Russia overlooked the US-Israel grand design. Russian had deployed S-300 and S-400 in November 2015 to improve air defence system against hostile air attacks. Why couldn’t it detect and strike the cruise missiles? Or it looked the other way since it had been making good use of 3M-14T cruise missiles against the rebels. Why didn’t Russia wake up when the US Special Forces were deployed to block Syrian Army’s advance towards Aleppo? These were fatal mistakes, which has once again made the position of Assad regime vulnerable.

With the battle of Mosul reaching the final stage and the ISIS almost wiped out by the Iraqi forces, the US in collusion with Turkey and the Kurds will now concentrate on snatching Raqqa from the ISIS so as to add a feather in its badgered cap that it has demolished the IS Caliphate. This milestone should have been achieved by Russo-Syrian forces.    

The USA is likely to dangle a carrot to Russia that to earn its cooperation, it will have to sacrifice Assad. Will Putin take the bait and relent? If he does so, he will cook his goose. China will hang on to its defensive strategy till 2025 and will focus on its six economic corridors to push forward its One-Belt-One-Road concept and hence will be of little use to Russia in its hour of trial in Syria.

Currently, President Xi is on an official tour in Washington and the two leaders are exchanging sweet smiles. Xi’s concerns will be high tariffs imposed by the USA on Chinese products and of course the militarized South China Sea.

While the offensive act will do little to alleviate Syria’s human rights crisis, it may improve Trump’s approval ratings or may backfire.   

Sharyat air base is one of the largest and most active base which is extensively used by Russian jets. The way it was ruthlessly bombed, the whole infrastructure, as well as the assets, deployed on it, should have been destroyed. Interestingly, very little damage was caused to hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars.

Having learnt about the impending attack, all jets less 5, troops and assets had been shifted. Missiles could do no damage to runways. Control towers were partially damaged but were functional. In less than 24 hours after the cruise missiles assault, five jets that were there and had survived flew off.

Americans are questioning as to why such a big risk was taken and what gains were made by firing $ 100 million worth missiles. Yet another handle has come in the hands of protestors in America to beat Trump with.      

Had this important air base along with assets been destroyed, it would have taken considerable time to reconstruct the airfield and make good the losses. It would have certainly rolled back the offensive capability of Syrian forces and dented Russia’s air capability, thereby tilting the balance in favor of the rebels.

A senior Turkish lawmaker Barish Akadash has claimed that Ankara supplied Sarin to foreign-backed militants in Syria. I have my doubts on this disclosure since there is a deep polarization in Turkey. Former DIA Col Lang has claimed that Trump’s decision to launch cruise missiles was based on a lie. He reveals that Russia had fully briefed the US that there was a target in Idlib, believed to a weapons/explosive depot of Islamic rebels. The storehouse had chemicals and not sarin. The chemicals included phosphates and chlorine. There was a strong wind blowing on that day which spread the chemicals and killed/injured the civilians. Trump had castigated George W. Bush for launching an unprovoked, unjustified attack on Iraq. He has committed the same blunder.

The game is on but the dice at present is loaded slightly in favor of USA.   

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. Takes part in TV talk shows and seminars, and delivers talks. email:asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

 by

Asif Haroon Raja

 

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The US leaders and media often cite Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world. If it is true, it didn’t attain this status at its own. Outsiders are responsible for making Pakistan a nursery of terrorism, or epicenter of terrorism, as recently described by Manmohan Singh, or the most dangerous country. Ironically, the ones responsible for converting a law abiding and peaceful country into a volatile country are today in the forefront censuring it. Till the onset of Afghan Jihad in 1980, Pakistan was a moderate and nonviolent country. It did suffer from the pangs of humiliation for having lost its most populous East Pakistan and  grieved over non-resolution of Kashmir dispute pending since January 1948 UNSC resolution. Both wounds had been inflicted upon Pakistan by its arch rival India. Pakistan had to perforce go nuclear in quest for its security because of India’s hostile posturing and nuclearisation.

 

Invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces in December 1979 brought five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. These refugees disturbed the peace of Frontier Province and Balochistan where bulk got permanently settled. 2.8 million Afghan refugees have still not returned to their homes and besides becoming an economic burden, have posed serious social and security hazards. Foreign agencies carrying an agenda to destabilize Pakistan have been recruiting bulk of terrorists from within them.

 

Once the US decided to back proxy war in Afghanistan, CIA commissioned thousands of Mujahideen from all over the Muslim world and with the assistance of ISI, motivated, trained and equipped them to assist Afghan Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet forces. Large number of seminaries imparting religious training to the under privileged children were tasked to impart military and motivational training as well and prepare them for Jihad. FATA and Pashtun belt of Balochistan contiguous to Afghanistan were converted into forward bases of operation from where young Jihadists were unleashed. For next nine years the youth were continuously recruited and launched to fight the holy war against evil empire. Saudi Arabia became the chief financer of Jihad. It provided heavy funds to Sunni Madrassahs only. ISI took upon itself as the chief coordinator of the entire war effort while CIA restricted its role to providing arms, funds and intelligence only.

 

The whole free world led by USA enthusiastically applauded the heroics of holy warriors and none cared about astronomical fatalities and critical injuries suffered by them. The maimed for life, widows and orphans were patted and told that it was a holy war fought for a noble cause and huge rewards awaited them in the life hereafter. The single point agenda of the US was to defeat the Soviet forces with the help of Muslim fighters. Not a single soldier of any country including Pakistan took part in the unmatched war between a super power and rag-tag, ill-clothed and ill-equipped Mujahideen.

 

None bothered about the ill-effects this long-drawn war will have upon this region in general and Pakistan in particular acting as the Frontline State. Although Pakistan was only supporting the proxy war and was not directly involved, but it remained in a state of war and it faced continuous onslaughts of KGB-RAW-KHAD nexus as well as attacks by Soviet trained Afghan pilots and soldiers in the form of air assaults, artillery barrages and missile/rockets attacks.  Throughout the nine-year war, Pakistan faced twin threat from its eastern and western borders. By virtue of occupation of Wakhan corridor by Soviet troops, USSR had become immediate neighbor of Pakistan and had hurled repeated threats to wind up training centres and stop meddling in Afghanistan or else be prepared for dire consequences. Moscow’s age-old dream of reaching warm waters of Arabian Sea through Balochistan haunted Gen Ziaul Haq, but he stoutly held his ground. Pakistan’s relentless support ultimately enabled the Mujahideen to achieve the miracle of the 20th century. They defeated the super power and pushed out Soviet forces from Afghanistan in February 1989.

 

All foreign Jihadists who had come from other countries were not accepted by their parent countries. They had no choice but to stay put and get settled in Afghanistan and in FATA since they had collectively fought the war and had developed camaraderie with the Afghans and tribesmen. The US who had enticed and displaced them and used them as cannon fodder to achieve its interests was morally bounded to resettle them. It was honor bound to help Pakistan in overcoming the after effects of the war. FATA that had acted as the major base for cross border operations deserved uplift in socio-economic and educational fields. Afghanistan required major rehabilitation and rebuilding after its devastation. Nothing of the sort happened.

 

The US coldheartedly abandoned Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jihadists and instead embraced India which had remained the camp follower of Soviet Union since 1947 and had also partnered Soviet Union in the Afghan war and had vociferously condemned US-Pakistan proxy war. This callous act opened the doors for religious fanaticism and militarism. Pakistan suffered throughout the Afghan war and continues to suffer to this day on account of the debris left behind by Soviet forces and proxy war. By the time last Soviet soldier left Afghan soil, Pakistani society had got radicalized owing to free flow of weapons and drugs from Afghanistan and onset of armed uprising in occupied Kashmir.

 

Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the fallout effects of the war got seriously hampered because of harsh sanctions imposed by USA under Pressler Amendment in October 1989 and political instability throughout the democratic era from 1988 to 1999. Besides, Iran and Saudi Arabia started fuelling sectarianism in Pakistan throughout 1990s in a big way. Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan and Majlis-e-Wahadat ul Hashmeen were funded by Iran and Sipah-e-Sahabha Pakistan, now named as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Sunni Deobandi) were supported by Saudi Arabia, which gave rise to religious extremism and intolerance and sharpened Shia-Sunni divide. Masjids and Imambargahs as well as religious clerics were incessantly attacked by the zealots of two communities. Threat of sectarian violence that had become menacing in Punjab in 1997-1998 had to be dealt with sternly. But the Punjab Police operation had to be curtailed because of severe pressure from Human Rights activists and NGOs on charges of extra judicial killings. Resultantly, the disease remained uncured.

        

Unseating of democratically elected heavy mandate of Nawaz Sharif led government by Gen Musharraf and the latter opting to ditch Taliban regime and to fight global war on terror at the behest of USA energized anti-Americanism, religious extremism and led to creation of Mutahida Majlis Ammal (MMA), an amalgam of six religious parties, which formed governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. MMA on the quiet nurtured extremist religious groups that were also funded by foreign powers.

 

The fact that after 9/11, the US chose Pakistan to fight the war as a Frontline State is a clear cut indication that Pakistan at that time was viewed as a responsible and valued country and not a dangerous country. However, Pakistan’s nuclear program was an eyesore for India, Israel and USA. The planners had made up their minds to intentionally create anarchic conditions in Pakistan so that its nukes could be whisked away under the plea that it was unstable and couldn’t be trusted.

 

The initial attempt towards that end was to first allow bulk of Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders and their fighters to escape to FATA from Afghanistan and soon after forcing Pakistan to induct regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) to flush them out. This move created a small rivulet allowing terrorism to seep into FATA, which kept gushing in because of RAW led and CIA backed covert war at a massive scale and turning the rivulet into a river. Likewise, another rivulet was created in Balochistan. Concerted and sustained efforts were made to destabilize FATA and Balochistan and gradually sink Pakistan in sea of terrorism. Six intelligence agencies based in Kabul kept sprinkling tons of fuel on embers of religious extremism, sectarianism, ethnicity and Jihadism.

 

The US instead of helping in resolving Kashmir dispute misguided Gen Musharraf to forget about UN resolutions and float an out of box solution and try and resolve the dispute in accordance with the wishes of India. In order to woo India, Musharraf gave it in writing that he will not allow Pakistan soil to be used for terrorism against any neighboring country including India. While making this commitment unilaterally, he committed the fatal mistake of not imposing this condition on India. To further please USA and India and make the latter agree to sign peace treaty, he bridled all Jihadi groups engaged in Kashmir freedom struggle as well as in sectarianism. He also allowed India to fence the Line of Control. These moves did please India but angered Jihadis and sectarian outfits and in reaction, they hastened to join Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and turn their guns towards Pak security forces dubbed as mercenaries of USA fighting US war for dollars.

But for phenomenal clandestine support by foreign powers to the TTP in the northwest and to the BLA, BRA and BLF in the southwest, extremism and terrorism could have got controlled after major operations launched in Malakand Division including Swat, Bajaur and SW in 2009 and minor operations in other tribal agencies. The disarrayed network of TTP was helped to get re-assembled and regrouped in North Waziristan and that of Maulana Fazlullah in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan. As opposed to good work done by Pak security forces in combating and curbing terrorism in Pakistan, the US-NATO forces operating in Afghanistan along with Afghan National Army kept making one blunder after another and in the process kept sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire. Rather than correcting their follies, they chose to make Pakistan a scapegoat and declared it responsible for their failures. Rather than doing more at their end, they asked Pakistan to do more which was already doing much more than its capacity.

 

Since the aggressors underestimated their enemy they took things too lightly. Their intentions lacked sincerity and honesty and their stated objectives were totally different to their actual unspoken objectives which were commercial in nature. Above all they had no legitimate grounds to destroy a sovereign country and uproot its people which had played no role in 9/11. As a result, rather than devotedly fighting to win the war in Afghanistan, the assailants got deeply involved in drug business and other money-making schemes. The ruling regime led by Hamid Karzai became a willing partner in such shady businesses. American security contractors, defence merchants, builders and intelligence agencies started multiplying their wealth and lost their moral and professional ethics. Other than materialistic ventures, they got more involved in money-spinning covert operations against Pakistan, Iran, China and Middle East than in fighting their adversary. Taliban and al-Qaeda combine took full advantage of their self-destructive activities and opening of the second front in Iraq. After regrouping and re-settling in southern and eastern Afghanistan, they started striking targets in all parts of the country. War in Iraq helped al-Qaeda in expanding its influence in Arabian Peninsula and turning into an international organization.

 

The US has made a big mess in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Libya and is now making another mess in Syria. It has lost the confidence of its most allied ally Pakistan by mistreating and distrusting it. Having lost on all fronts because of its tunnel vision and mercantile greed, it now wants the most dangerous country Pakistan to ignore the raw deal it gave all these years and to not only help ISAF in pulling out of Afghanistan safely but also to convince the Taliban to agree upon a negotiated political settlement. At the start of the Afghan venture, Pakistan was chosen by Washington to ensure success and in the endgame Pakistan is again being relied upon to bail it out of the mess. In the same breadth, the US is unprepared to cease drone attacks in FATA despite repeated requests that drones fuel terrorism. It is still focused on carving a lead role for India in Afghanistan. It is not prepared to stop its interference in internal affairs of Pakistan or to dissuade India from destabilizing Balochistan. Whatever socio-economic promises made are futuristic in nature and tied to conditions. US media and think tanks continue to demonize Pakistan. Its tilt towards India is too heavy and prejudicial behavior towards Pakistan conspicuous.

 

As a result of the US skewed policies with ulterior motives, Pakistan is faced with the demons of ethnicity, sectarianism, Jihadism, religious extremism and terrorism. While TTP is aligned with about 60 terrorist groups, in Balochistan there are more than two dozen terrorist groups. In Karachi, other than armed mafias, political parties have armed wings and are involved in target killings. Rangers and Police are engaged in targeted operation in Karachi and are producing productive results. 150,000 troops combating the militants in the northwest enjoy a definite edge over them. Major parts of Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Police are fighting the Baloch separatists and sectarian forces targeting Hazaras and have contained anti-state forces. All major cities are barricaded with road blocks and police piquets and yet terrorists manage to carryout acts of terror. The miscreants are fighting State forces with tenacity because of uninterrupted financial and weapons support from foreign agencies. Once external support dries up, their vigor will wane rapidly and sooner than later they will give up fighting.

 

With so many grave internal and external threats, most of which were invented and thrust upon Pakistan by foreign powers and duly exacerbated by meek and self-serving political leadership, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s hands remained full. He has saddled the COAS chair for six years and during this period he had to face many a critical situations. It goes to his credit that he handled each crisis competently, astutely and honorably. During his eventful command, he tackled the challenge of terrorism, which he rightly described as the biggest threat to the security of Pakistan, boldly and produced pleasing results. Above all, he kept the morale of all ranks in the Army high and earned their respect and admiration. The list of his achievements is long and I have been highlighting those in my articles off and on. His successor has so far not been named but whosoever replaces him will find it difficult to fit into his shoes. I am sure he will breathe more freely and relax once he retires on November 29, 2013. We thank him for his laudable contributions and wish him sound health and happiness in all his future doings. Let us hope and pray that this senseless war comes to an end at the earliest, putting an end to chirping tongues deriving sadistic pleasure in describing Pakistan as the most dangerous country.

 

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, historian and a researcher. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

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PTT Archive: Imran Khan Condemns Drone Attacks

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Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan. – File Photo by Reuters

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, strongly condemning United States drone strike in North Waziristan which killed 24 people, said on Saturday latest drone attack speaks volumes about so-called close working partnership between Pakistan and the US in ongoing war.

The PTI chief said rulers reopened Nato supply routes against strong sentiments of people and bypassed parliamentary resolutions to appease the US which reciprocated by continuous drone strikes, last of which killed 24 people on Friday.

hose killed in these strikes.

Khan demanded that government should disclose identification details of causalities so that “we know how many women children and ordinary civilians have been killed.”

He asked will any other nation allow indiscriminate killing of its citizens? The fact that their identities are not disclosed casts serious doubts on claims that those killed in strikes were militants, he added.

Khan said the government is equally responsible in indiscriminate elimination of its citizens as it has consciously avoided disclosing identification details of those killed in American drone strikes.

“Our rulers are blindly supporting US claims of high precision drone strikes and minimum collateral damage when they are actually aware of details of civilian casualties in tribal areas,” he He said continuing drone assaults were in clear violation of international humanitarian laws. There is complete media censorship in tribal areas and resultantly no way to ascertain identities of tadded.

Rejecting the claims that these strikes are primarily carried out against foreign militants, he said statistics from independent organisations suggest that both US and Pakistan government are grossly under reporting civilian casualties. Accounts of local, western journalists suggest large number of civilians killed in these strikes.

The PTI chief said the government avoided commenting on stopping unilateral drone strikes that was one of most critical parliamentary preconditions before reopening Nato supply routes.

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Dealing Remote-Control Drone Death, the US Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Published on Saturday, May 4, 2013 by The Guardian/UK

Dealing Remote-Control Drone Death, the US Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Anti-drone protesters hold signs before the start of the Senate intelligence committee hearing on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. (Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA)The armed drone is being heralded as the next generation of American military technology. It can fly overheard with its unblinking eye, almost invisible to its targets below. Without warning, its missiles will strike, bringing certain death and destruction on the ground. All the while, the military pilot, sitting in a cushioned recliner in an air-conditioned room halfway across the world, is immune from the violence wrought from his or her single keystroke.

While the debate about drones in this country swirls around the precision of the weapon, the sometimes faulty intelligence behind its unleashing of a missile, the ability to keep American boots off the ground, or the legality of the strikes, few take into consideration the morality of the weapon and the damaging effects of its use on both the people targeted and the individuals operating it. The ripples of the drone strikes are felt far beyond those killed or wounded in the actual strike.

Americans are just now becoming dimly aware of the problems and dangerous precedents being set for the future.

The drone is destabilizing the small tribal communities of the Pukhtun, Somali, and Yemeni with their ancient codes of honor, making it difficult to implement any long-term peace initiatives in the volatile regions already being pounded by their own militaries. Too many stories have filtered into the media of innocent men, women, and children being killed.

People have fled their families and their homes due to the constant violence and are forced to live as destitute and vulnerable refugees in the slums of larger cities. They are lost without the protection of clan and code. The drone is also feeding into a growing anti-Americanism, becoming a deadly symbol of the United States, and fueling the recruitment of future terrorists.

At one stroke, the drone has destroyed any positive image of the United States in the countries over which it operates. It has contributed to the destruction of the tribal codes of honor, such as Pukhtunwali among the Pukhtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this immorality and destructive nature reflects back on those who use it, harming the warrior ethic of the American military so critical to battlefield bonding among soldiers in combat.

The warrior ethos may be largely a myth but, like most myths, it protects something very important: the psychology of killing in the name of the state. That killing becomes nothing less than murder when the soldier doing it is utterly invulnerable. Most US citizens, so long divorced from any responsibility to take up arms and fight and kill, do not understand this. Soldiers – good ones – do. Such understanding was behind the recent cancellation by Secretary of Defense Hagel of the valor award for drone operators.

Moreover, remote-controlled killing is a dishonorable way of fighting battle, not simply because it often results in the deaths of women and children and removes the combatants from face-to-face combat. It is making war more like a video game and giving technicians the dissociated power of life and death for the figures on the screen before them. It is making war into murder.

After over a decade mired in a seemingly endless war against a methodology as old as time, it is clear that the extension of military force is increasingly counterproductive.

However precise the weapon, this is the reality and the price on the ground, destroying the codes so vital to both parties involved – those who are targets and the people who see them die and the operators at their computer terminals. The use of the drone is creating more problems than it is solving.

Americans are just now becoming dimly aware of the problems and dangerous precedents being set for the future. We have read reports of drones the size of a mosquito, police gaining possession of potentially armed domestic drones, and violations of the laws of privacy in the United States. These are apart from the fact that many foreign powers, many of which are hostile to us, will soon have broad access to drone technology without any mechanisms or international agreements to regulate its use.

Washington has plunged blindly ahead, neglecting law – both domestic and international – protocol, and ethical codes. We find it distressing that the debate on the drone, which has now picked up in the United States, remains so narrow – with none of these points being raised except in esoteric circles. The debate has been enmeshed in the emotional responses to the war on terror: if you like the drone, you are pro-American; if you don’t, you are anti-American. It has, unfortunately, become a definition of patriotism despite its destructive nature on both sides.

After over a decade mired in a seemingly endless war against a methodology as old as time, it is clear that the extension of military force is increasingly counterproductive. The United States needs to pursue political, economic, diplomatic, and law enforcement solutions.

Instead of sending missiles and funding military operations that destroy societies, the US and its allied central governments should be funding education projects and development schemes and promoting honest and just civil administration. In this effort, we all should be guided by the Jewish shibboleth tikkun olam, to go out and “heal a fractured world”.

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited
Lawrence Wilkerson

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is distinguished adjunct professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary. Previously, during a 31-year career in the US army, served as chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powel

Akbar Ahmed

Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic studies at American Univerity in Washington, DC. He has also taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities. Formerly, he was the Pakistan High Commissioner (ambassador) to the UK and Ireland. His most recent book is Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2011).

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