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Archive for category Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja

A journey back into Pakistan’s convoluted history by Brig(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

A journey back into Pakistan’s convoluted history

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

Pakistan’s years of infancy

The establishment of Pakistan, on August 14, 1947, was the result of the democratic struggle of Indian Muslims during the Pakistan movement under the leadership of All India Muslim League. After the creation of Pakistan, various domestic and international factors impeded the growth of democracy in Pakistan. After the untimely demise of Quaid-e-Azam in September 1948, it had to struggle hard for its existence and survival because of the innate animosity of India and that of Afghanistan, espousing greater Pakhtunistan, along with the former Soviet Union’s tilt toward India.

Heightened security concerns and political instability after the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan disallowed earlier leaders to achieve specific goals to make Pakistan politically stable, economically strong and secure. The tense geopolitical environment also impelled Pakistan to place all its eggs in the basket of the USA.  It was due to the leadership crisis, the East-West political wrangling and the frequent change of Prime Ministers which delayed constitution making for nine years and impelled President Iskandar Mirza to impose martial law in 1958.

Gen Ayub and Gen Yahya eras

The 1956 Constitution was abrogated and the National Assembly was dissolved. After deposing Mirza, Gen Ayub Khan assumed power and became the President through a referendum in 1960. He gave the new constitution in 1962 which introduced the presidential system, vesting all powers in the institution of President. The political parties made various types of alliances against Ayub Khan, who resigned in March 1969 and handed over his power to Gen Yahya Khan who imposed martial law and held first general elections in December 1970. Pakistan went through the traumatic experience of severance of its Eastern limb by India, helped by former USSR in 1971.

At his behest, DG FIA Asghar and Additional DG FIA Rahman Malik handed over Arab militants and Pak Jihadists involved in the Afghan war to the USA and also fed information about the Kahuta plant.

ZAB’s rule

After the separation of East Pakistan, the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) formed its government. Charismatic and popular, ZAB galvanized the depressed nation. He terrorized the military through the Hamoodur Rahman Commission probe, terrified his political opponents through FSF and the Dalai torture camp. Pakistan then carried the baggage of ruinous nationalization scheme of ZAB. To get rid of him, an alliance of political and religious parties known as the PNA movement, espousing Nizam-e-Mustafa, sprouted in April 1977.

Gen Zia ul Haq’s rule

When the two sides couldn’t arrive at a political solution to break the logjam, the Army, under Gen Ziaul Haq, seized power in July 1977 and imposed martial law in Pakistan. Zia had to face the 10-year Afghan war, the RAW-KGB-KHAD-AlZulfiqar sabotage, series of political disturbances including the MRD movements in 1981 and 1983, but he remained firmly in his saddle and kept Islamizing the society till his death in a mysterious air crash.

In regard to this, In reaction to the hanging of their father on April 4, 1979, after the verdict of the Supreme Court, Al-Zulfiqar –  a militant wing of the PPP, led by the two sons of ZAB – came into being and it was assisted by Syria, Libya, Russia, Afghanistan, and India to undertake sabotage and subversion in Pakistan. The PPP stalwart Mustafa Khar, during his exile in London, was in contact with RAW to smuggle arms into Pakistan and when the Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan in December 1979, he stated that if Soviet tanks roll into Pakistan he will garland them and come riding on them.

Although the ten-year Afghan war helped Gen Zia in legitimizing his regime and prolonging his rule to 11 years, the Afghan war ended on a mix of happy and unhappy notes for Pakistan. It enabled Gen Zia to complete its nuclear program and carry out a cold test; victory in Afghanistan enhanced his and Pakistan’s prestige substantially; it enthused the entire Muslim world; it drew in over $ 3.5 billion US assistance, which helped in upping GDP to 8% and in inducting F-16s.

After the creation of Pakistan, various domestic and international factors impeded the growth of democracy in Pakistan.

On the negative side, Pakistan was callously ditched by the USA and put under harsh sanctions. Pakistan was burdened with 5 million Afghan refugees and the fallout effects brought in Jihadism, Kalashnikov and drug cultures. Abandoned Afghanistan became more explosive because of infighting among Mujahideen groups for power with negative consequences for Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto (BB), during her period of exile in London, had made friends in the UK and the US higher circles. CIA and MI-6 cultivated her and once she fell in line and agreed to tow their line if brought to power, the pressure was mounted on Gen Zia and PM Junejo to let her return to Pakistan and start her political career. She was welcomed by a mammoth crowd at Lahore in April 1986. Her growing popularity didn’t upset the military as long as Gen Zia held the reins of power. But the situation took a dramatic turn after his death in a plane crash on August 7, 1988, which was masterminded by CIA.

There was a power vacuum since the country was without a president and PM. The military vacuum was quickly filled up by Vice Army Chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg, and Chairman Senate Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) took over as Acting President, but in order to fill the political vacuum, it was decided to hold elections in October that year.

Benazir Bhutto’s first stint in power

Alarmed by the rising popularity of BB owing to success of her narrative that her father had been judicially murdered by the military dictator, which had generated a huge sympathy wave in Punjab and Sindh, the civil and military establishment decided to form a countervailing force in the form of IJI in 1988 to prevent PPP from gaining two-thirds majority and usher in controlled democracy. The ISI, under late Lt Gen Hamid Gul, played a key role in this regard.

The list helped India in crushing the movement which was well poised to get linked with the liberation movement in Kashmir.

The main reason for taking this unpalatable act was that it had been ascertained that BB had been fed with an agenda to roll back the nuclear program, roll back the victory of Afghan Mujahideen, and keep Kashmir issue on a back burner and to befriend India. Despite the IJI, PPP managed to win a simple majority but found it difficult to form the federal govt. BB was allowed to take the reins of power under the conditions that GIK will be allowed to contest the presidential election, Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub will continue as Foreign Minister, there will be no change in Afghan and Kashmir policies, and that the military will control the nuclear program.

After assuming power as the first woman PM of a Muslim country, BB appointed a retired general as DG ISI, closed the Afghan and Kashmir desks in ISI and curtailed funding to the nuclear program. She fraternized with her Oxford friend Rajiv Gandhi and provided a list of Sikh leaders involved in the Khalistan movement to India in 1989. The list helped India in crushing the movement which was well poised to get linked with the liberation movement in Kashmir. To appease the Army, she awarded democracy medals to all ranks of the army and also initiated guided missile program. Zardari dented her popularity after he earned the nickname of Mr. 10% due to his craze for corruption. Mounting complaints of corruption, inefficiency and security concerns impelled GIK to apply the draconian Article 58 (2-B) and sack the govt in August 1990.

Political engineering in 1990

In order to make sure that the PPP doesn’t regain power in next elections, GIK directed COAS Gen Mirza and DG ISI Lt Gen Asad Durrani to arrange money and buy the loyalties of the politicians. The ISI arranged Rs 140 million through Mehran Bank manager Habib Yunis, who obtained a loan from Habib Bank. The amount was distributed among several politicians. Political engineering enabled IJI, under Nawaz Sharif, (NS) to win the elections and form a govt. NS fell from the grace of the President and he was booted out in April 1993. He was restored by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, but he and the President had to abdicate power once Gen Wahid Kakar umpired the match between the two titans.

PPP second tenure

The PPP once again captured power in the next elections in 1994 but could survive only till 1996. This time her own party loyalist and her handpicked President Laghari dismissed her since Zardari’s corruption rating had upped to 20% along with the surfacing of mega scandals such as the Surrey Palace, the diamond necklace, the Swiss bank accounts, and several other scandals. At his behest, DG FIA Asghar and Additional DG FIA Rahman Malik handed over Arab militants and Pak Jihadists involved in the Afghan war to the USA and also fed information about the Kahuta plant.

There was a total intelligence vacuum in Karachi, Baluchistan, FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), allowing full liberty of action to proscribed groups to strike targets of choice.

In 1996, Lt Gen Asad Durrani who had been appointed an ambassador in Germany by the PPP govt, handed over a signed affidavit to Rahman Malik acknowledging that he had distributed money to politicians to ensure the defeat of the PPP. The then Interior Minister retired Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar stated on the floor of the parliament that money had been doled out to politicians in 1990.

Based on this revelation, late Air Marshal Asghar Khan heading Tehrik Istiqlal of which Imran Khan was the member, informed Chief Justice Nasim about pre-poll rigging and distribution of money to politicians to manipulate election results in 1990. The apex court, however, didn’t pursue the case and put it in a cold storage until it was reactivated by Chief Justice Iftikhar in October 2012. He ruled that the 1990 elections were rigged and directed FIA to proceed against the two generals involved in the racket. GIK by then was no more in the world.

Gen Mirza and Gen Asad went into appeals against the court’s decision and the case were once again frozen. The 22-year old case was re-energized by the incumbent Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on May 4, 2018, in spite of the fact that the plaintiff Asghar Khan had passed away in January 2018. Notices were sent to the accused to restart the proceedings. On May 7, Saqib and other two judges, after reviewing their petitions against October 2012 judgment, rejected them. The govt has been asked to inform the court how to proceed against the accused.

Events from 1996 – 2018

In the intervening period between 1996 and 2018, major changes took place on the political front. Starting with the victory of PML-N in February 1997 elections with a heavy mandate, Ehtesab Commission was also opened and corruption cases against the royal couple and others were initiated. In May 1988, Pakistan became nuclear. NS rightly took the credit for it along with for the first ever Islamabad-Lahore Highway and for terminating floor crossing by passing 13th Amendment. However, by making Pakistan a nuclear power, he, as well as Pakistan became the eye of the storm. He was demonized by his opponents, captioning him as Ameerul Momineen.

NS fell from the grace of the President and he was booted out in April 1993. He was restored by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, but he and the President had to abdicate power once Gen Wahid Kakar umpired the match between the two titans.

The Kargil route was taken by his own appointee Gen Musharraf to dethrone his two-thirds majority govt on October 12, 1999. NS was awarded life sentence but was rescued by the Saudi King Saud and he and his family were deported and banished from politics for the next 10 years. It was during his period of exile in which he and his sons purchased Azizya steel mills and Gulf steel mills in Saudi Arabia/Dubai and Avenfield apartments in London.

Democratic era (1988 – 1999)

The chaotic ten-year democratic era nosedived the economy, increased debt burden, made Pakistan dependent upon foreign financial institutions, heightened sectarianism, ethnicity and religious extremism and decomposed moral values of the society. PPP and PML-N ruled two times each but only for shortened tenures ranging from 20 months to 2 ½ years.

Gen Musharraf’s nine-year rule

The Supreme Court legitimized Musharraf’s take over and gave him 3 years to amend the constitution and then hold elections. His 7-point agenda had germs of success and the potential to rid Pakistan of its chronic diseases, but it was never implemented. So was the NAB, which was created for across the board accountability.

9/11 changed the whole dynamics of global politics. New laws were framed by the US and its strategic partners to undermine Islam and neo-colonize the Muslim world through the Muslim specific war on terror. Pakistan was among the listed target countries but it was made an ally and a tactical partner to achieve short-term objectives and subsequently was to be destabilized and denuclearized and Balkanized through the covert war.

NS rightly took the credit for it along with for the first ever Islamabad-Lahore Highway and for terminating floor crossing by passing 13th Amendment.

Gen Musharraf, in his quest for legitimacy and to gain the goodwill of the USA, readily accepted all the seven demands of Washington for which Pakistan had to pay a very heavy price and is still paying. Having roped in Pakistan to act as a frontline state to fight the war on terror, the insurgency was ignited by CIA and FBI in FATA and interior Baluchistan and subsequently the flames of terrorism were gradually spread to all parts of Pakistan.

While Pak security forces got engaged in fighting, the foreign-funded and equipped terrorists – India under a pre-planned program blamed Pakistan for all the acts of terror in India from 2001 to 2008, starting with an engineered attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 to culminating in Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008. Likewise, Afghan President Karzai blamed Pakistan for all the attacks in Afghanistan from 2004 onward. The purpose was to build a narrative that the Pak Army and ISI were rogue outfits and Pakistan an abettor of terrorism while India, Afghanistan, and ISAF were victims of terrorism.

Musharraf committed the same mistake of his military predecessors by inviting the discarded and corrupt politicians to form a King’s Party in 2002 and leaning upon the shady bureaucrats and foreign imported Finance Minister cum PM Shaukat Aziz. Relief given by consumerism oriented economy proved short-lived. None realized that a country ridden with corruption, terrorism, moral decay and devoid of genuine leadership and true democracy can never progress.

2007, a precarious year

2007 proved to be a heavy year for Musharraf. The downslide in law and order, urban terrorism, economy, energy, and extremism began after the lawyer’s movement in March 2007. Lawyers, civil society, politicians and religious forces ganged up against Musharraf. The year saw the May 12, 2007 carnage in Karachi, Lal Masjid episode, birth of Punjabi Taliban, creation of TTP, sudden upsurge in urban terrorism, signing of NRO which dry cleaned PPP-MQM leaders and imposition of emergency. Civil-military relations soured and Musharraf became the most hated man while Army’s image dipped. It became difficult for officers and men to go to the market or travel in uniform, or display star plate/flag on an official vehicle.

The worst was when the judiciary unseated NS in July 2017, deprived him of his seat of party head and disqualified him from politics for life on Iqama and not in thePanama case.

NRO allowed Musharraf to rule for the next five years in uniform. Thanks to the patronage of Musharraf, MQM gained full control over Karachi-Hyderabad and expanded its influence in other urban centers in Sindh. The insurgency in Baluchistan morphed into a separatist movement. There was a total intelligence vacuum in Karachi, Baluchistan, FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), allowing full liberty of action to proscribed groups to strike targets of choice. The murderous attack took place on BB on October 17 in Karachi and on December 27, she was murdered in Pindi. There was mayhem in Sindh; over Rs 4 billion worth property was destroyed by the hooligans and Pakistan ‘Na Khapey’ slogan was chanted by angry Jayalas in Sindh.

PPP returns to power

Zardari’s slogan of ‘Pakistan Khapey’ dimmed the volatility in Sindh, enabling him to hijack his party with ease and take part in elections after getting himself absolved of all charges. The fragility of the state enabled the USA to install a dream team after March 2008 elections, making Zardari the all-powerful president. The PML-N govt in Punjab was the only eyesore. The coalition govt of PPP-MQM-ANP zealously pursued the US agenda to civilianize ISI, emasculate the Army, disable the nuclear program and make Pakistan wholly dependent.

Rahman Malik and NSA Mahmud Durrani docilely accepted the Indian claim that Pakistan soil was used for launching non-state actors into Mumbai in November 2008. Former admitted that the sole surviving accused Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani and Anchor Hamid Mir traced his village in Faridpur. Although NRO was nullified by the Chief Justice in 2009, Zardari protected himself behind immunity shield and used his authority to bailout Rahman Malik and to let Hussain Haqqani (HH) fly out in 2012.

The Army couldn’t dismantle terrorism even after launching big operations in Swat, Shangla, Malakand, Dir, Buner, and six tribal agencies in FATA from 2009 to 2011. The reason was obvious; the proscribed militant groups had the full support of foreign agencies, but Pakistan danced to the tunes of the USA. Gen Kayani put a break on ‘Do More’ mantra by refusing to enter North Waziristan despite extreme pressure. Pakistan was punished for its defiance by way of the raid on Abbottabad on May 2 and the Salala attack on November 26, 2011.

The purpose was to build a narrative that the Pak Army and ISI were rogue outfits and Pakistan an abettor of terrorism while India, Afghanistan, and ISAF were victims of terrorism.   

The arrest of Raymond Davis in January that year followed by these two incidents, Memogate scandal, and monitoring of HH, Pak ambassador in Washington, opened the eyes of the security establishment. They realized how deeply the CIA and Blackwater had established their network in Pakistan. Over 8000 CIA contractors in different guises had been secretly settled in Pakistan between 2008 and 2011, and 400 houses rented in Islamabad, besides expanding the US Embassy in Islamabad beyond all proportions. The Interior Minister Rahman Malik assisted HH, and several MNAs/MPAs in KP were in touch with CIA.

What could the military do when all its so-called allies were playing a double game in the garb of friends and our own government was in cahoots with the enemies of Pakistan, wanting to enervate the military?

How could terrorism be defeated when the regime was aligned with the USA which had marked Pakistan as a target and was using terrorism as a tool to disable the Pak nuclear program? How could terrorism be reined in when the judges had no heart to hang terrorists and target killers and get hold of that financing terrorism? How could corruption be curbed when the ones indulging in loot and plunder could not be convicted? Chief Justice Iftikhar’s suo motos were aimed at self-projection only.

The dangerous plan to denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan was scuttled by the Army and ISI, but the vultures clawed away the meat and reduced Pakistan into a carcass in their 5-year inglorious rule.

India has so far not furnished any proof to substantiate its allegations, but NS cockeyed statement given in angst which is being hyped by Indian media will bolster Indo-US anti-Pakistan narrative.

PML-N captures power

When PML-N took over power in June 2013, it had inherited an empty national kitty, heavy debt burden, crippled state corporations, a depressed economy teetering at the edge of collapse, the worst energy crisis and a sunk image of the country. Law, order and the security situation was dismal and morality of the society had degenerated. In short, everything was topsy-turvy. It was an uphill task for the new govt to put everything back on the rails. NS wore the crown studded with thorns.

To the utter surprise of his critics, things started to improve dramatically within one year which alarmed his political opponents. Tangible results were achieved in the fields of economy, terrorism, law, and order, energy crisis and development due to better governance, financial management and launching intelligence-based targeted operations in Karachi, Baluchistan and North Waziristan.

Nawaz Sharif’s downhill journey

The PML-N’s development agenda made visible progress despite series of impediments created by PTI from June 2014 onward through politics of agitation and non-cooperation. The worst was when the judiciary unseated NS in July 2017, deprived him of his seat of party head and disqualified him from politics for life on Iqama and not in the Panama case. Law Minister Zahid Hamid was forced to resign, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar implicated in a corruption case sought refuge abroad, while the Foreign Minister was disqualified.

Several leading lights of the ruling regime have been charge sheeted on account of contempt of court, while NAB has become super active in Punjab. The Railway Minister is under the axe, while the Interior Minister was shot and injured but narrowly survived. An orchestrated campaign was launched to defame NS and his family.

Over 8000 CIA contractors in different guises had been secretly settled in Pakistan between 2008 and 2011, and 400 houses rented in Islamabad, besides expanding the US Embassy in Islamabad beyond all proportions.

It looks as if a willful effort is underway to fragment the ruling party and pave the way for others to gain power in next elections. The political coup in Baluchistan and Senate elections have reinforced this impression.

For the judiciary, PTI, PPP and segment of media allegedly backed by the establishment, NS is the target. Sufficient progress has been made in maligning NS and his family in a corruption case and he has been unseated from two seats of power and disqualified to hold any public office for life. Decisions on three references filed against him and his family and his conviction are around the corner. As a consequence, PML-N which till April had stayed intact has begun to crack and over two dozen MNAs and MPAs have deserted the party.

NS was expected to throw in his towel after his unseating on July 28, 2017, but despite the hard blows he and his party leaders have suffered, he is still in a defiant mood. Since August 2 last year, he is on the offensive trying to build a narrative of innocence to garner the sympathy of the people. He is repeatedly asking as to why he was ousted and inciting his voters to help him in restoring the sanctity of vote that was frequently dishonoured.

Encouraged by the response, he is urging the people to wait for his call and then ask his detractors as to why he was wronged. He is exhorting the people to return his party to power with a heavy majority so that the constitution could be suitably amended to clips the wings of the overactive judiciary. After targeting the judiciary he is now openly blaming the establishment and tags it as ‘celestial beings’.

It is this fear of amending the constitution that had in all probability impelled the unseen powers to carry out a political coup in Baluchistan last January and then resort to horse trading in Senate elections to disallow the incumbent govt under Abbasi to perform the surgery. This apprehension together with reported linkage of NS with India, as was exposed in the Dawn leaks scandal, has brought the judiciary and establishment together. A hung Parliament comprising of several parties is probably what is desired. It is to this end that BAP and JSNM have come into being. PTI is treated as a Ladla while sins of PPP are being handled softly. PTI is fully supporting the judiciary and NAB and pressing them to speed up completion of trials against NS.

Taking advantage of the hullabaloo, the US managed to whisk away its blacklisted Defence Attaché Col Joseph involved in killing a Pakistani under the pretext of diplomatic immunity. 

What was not taken into account was NS’s counter-offensive and his narrative of ‘Mujhey Kyun Nikala’, which initially made him a laughing stock but gradually generated a sympathy wave in Punjab. In spite of the hurdles, injuries incurred and smear campaign, PML-N remains a popular entity. In case, Shahbaz Sharif remains in his chair, in a fair contest PML-N stands a good chance to again win in next elections even if NS is jailed.

Nawaz Sharif’s desperation

Pushed against the wall and realizing that time for his landing in jail has drawn near, it has made NS fidgety and desperate. After consistently naming the establishment as ‘celestial beings’, in desperation he has fallen to cheap tactics to degrade the military. On May 3, he said he had many secrets tucked away in his heart, and that when it becomes too unbearable for him to hold them, he will begin revealing them one by one.

According to Dawn newspaper dated May 12, in his interview with Cyril Almeida at Multan, NS stated: ‘Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors; should we allow them to cross the border and kill over 150 people in Mumbai. He questioned, “Should we allow them?” He asked as to why no action has been taken against them. These were calculated salvos against the military and the judiciary.

Mumbai attacks were a false flag operation jointly enacted by RAW-Mossad-CIA to get the Pak Army and ISI declared as rogue entities. This was admitted by Indian Home Ministry officials in 2012 and recently by a Jewish German journalist Elias Davidsson. He has given out full details of the gory drama in his book ‘The Betrayal of India’, concluding that the whole drama was cooked up and enacted with specific objectives to undermine Pakistan. India has so far not furnished any proof to substantiate its allegations, but NS cockeyed statement given in angst which is being hyped by Indian media will bolster Indo-US anti-Pakistan narrative. What is most worrying is the possibility of NS receiving a pat from enemies of Pakistan to issue this statement.

There is an uproar in Pakistan and NS who was already under a heavy fire of his opponents and haters is being fiercely censured. They eye him as a traitor promoting the sinister Indo-US agenda to gain the sympathy of the international establishment. Many are demanding his trial under Article 6.

He is exhorting the people to return his party to power with a heavy majority so that the constitution could be suitably amended to clips the wings of the overactive judiciary.

NSC meeting – May 14

The Dawn story was so damaging for Pakistan that an NSC meeting presided over by PM Abbasi was held on May 14 at the request of the Army. Before the meeting, Abbasi held a meeting with NS and the latter informed him that his interview had been distorted and he had never said that Pakistan had sent non-state actors to India. As regards his mention of non-state actors and need for their control, NS told Abbasi that this had frequently been cited by Musharraf, Rahman Malik, Mahmud Durrani and lot many journalists and academicians and there was nothing new he had said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The press release issued after the NSC meeting termed the interview published in Dawn malicious, misleading and incorrect. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions. It was recalled that it was not Pakistan but India that had delayed the finalization of the case.

Abbasi held his own press briefing a little after the NSC meeting in which he tried to further tone down the negative effects of NS’s blooper in the light of his clarifications and stated that NS assertions were distorted and hyped by Indian media. NS in his public meeting in Buner in the afternoon didn’t express any regrets and stated that a national commission should be formed which should ascertain as to who all acted against national security, carry out trial and those found guilty should be publicly hanged.

Taking advantage of the hullabaloo, the US managed to whisk away its blacklisted Defence Attaché Col Joseph involved in killing a Pakistani under the pretext of diplomatic immunity.

 It seems NS has fatally shot himself in the foot at the wrong time when he was gaining an upper edge over chairman NAB on account of latter’s issuance of unverified press release insinuating NS for transferring $4.9 billion to India.

Blunder will prove costly for Nawaz

Whatever be the case, no amount of explanations will absolve NS of this blunder since his interview can have grave repercussions for Pakistan. He cannot justify his interview to Almeida, ill-reputed for distortions. It seems NS has fatally shot himself in the foot at the wrong time when he was gaining an upper edge over chairman NAB on account of latter’s issuance of unverified press release insinuating NS for transferring $4.9 billion to India. This ill-timed stupidity will prove costly for him. His future plans of energizing his voters to create law and order situation in Punjab may be jeopardized. It may also make a negative impact on PML-N’s performance in elections. This insanity has brightened the chances of PTI, which has already gathered the support of 70 electives in Punjab.

Future prospects

In case the PML-N loses the race in a peacefully conducted elections without political engineering in July, it will still retain Punjab. The next federal govt will possibly be a mix of several parties which will find it exceedingly difficult to pass bills for carrying out critical reforms. It will inherit a relatively healthy Pakistan and not a sick Pakistan as it was in 2013. Our GDP stands at 5.8 % and is likely to increase to 6%. Economic indicators are still in positive. CPEC by itself is an economic booster which has already sucked in $ 62 billion investment and much more is to come. Once CPEC becomes operational in next one year or so, with over 7000 cargo vehicles plying every month, and new investors flocking in, bags of money will pour in. Hence the prospects for the next set of legislators are much brighter.

This factor is watering the mouths of power seekers, particularly PPP, and hence their desperation to seize power. They want to be in control of the inflowing investments, taxpayer money and remittances from abroad so that they can undertake future development and social projects as well as personal enrichment. In the next five years, the ones sitting in corridors of power will multiply their fortunes. In their mad lust to amass maximum wealth, they will again lose sight of the welfare of masses for which they were elected. Service to people to better their lives will, as usual, be relegated to lowest priority and funds wasted on maintaining regal lifestyle, pomp and show and foreign visits. Tall promises will once again remain unaccomplished and gullible people would again wait for the arrival of a messiah.

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

 

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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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Evolving Regional Security Dynamics And Impact on Pakistan’s Security By Asif Haroon Raja

Evolving Regional Security Dynamics

And Impact on Pakistan’s Security

Asif Haroon Raja

Till as late as 1990, India remained a close-knit strategic partner of former USSR and it kept belittling the US imperialist policies and its provision of military assistance to Pakistan on all international forums. It fully supported the Soviet military intervention and occupation of Afghanistan. Paradoxically, today India is among the most trusted strategic partners of the USA and the US together with Israel have become India’s major suppliers of arms.

Since 2006, the US has been investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India. In addition to the civil nuclear deal to India in 2008, and signing 10-year Defence Framework Agreement in June 2015, the US Congress approved H.R. 4825, in March 2016, better known as the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Partnership Act (DTTPA).

The specific steps both sides have taken to improve defence pact cooperation include expanding collaboration under the DTTPA by setting up five new joint working groups. These include: naval systems; air systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; chemical and biological protection; and other systems; increasing indigenous production in India; exploring new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and maritime security objectives in support of the India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region; military-to-military relations; expanding knowledge partnership in the field of defense and regional and international security matters of mutual interest.

In August 2016, three military Indo-US agreements were inked: 1. Logistics Exchange Memo of Agreement (LEMOA). 2. Communication Interoperability & Security Memo of Agreement (CISMOA). 3. Basic Exchange & Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information & Data (BECA).

The LEMOA permits military forces of each country to resupply, replenish and stage operations, using other’s military bases. It also empowers Indian Navy to expand its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. The CISMO allows integration of communication networks, enabling the two sides to mount military operations jointly. BECA allows the exchange of sensitive information gathered by sensors and satellites. 

The US has not only opened all its military and technology doors to India, and institutionalized the US-India security partnership, but has also encouraged Israel and other allies to do so as well. For the past eight years, India has been the world’s largest arms importer, buying over $100 billion in weapons each year, two-thirds of which are deployed against Pakistan. Moreover, US military and political support embolden India in its confrontational comportment towards Pakistan and China.

The legislation seeks to uplift India to the same status as America’s allies in the NATO, as well as its other major treaty partners like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. According to Senator Mark Warner, “As an important partner with a flourishing economy, India has huge potential as a market for American defense manufacturers.” On December 8, 2016, USA designated India as its major defence partner with a view to expanding bilateral defence cooperation between both nations. This was announced by visiting US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in New Delhi. The designation has placed India among the closest allies and partners of the US.

Forgetting that Nehru had raised a storm when Pakistan had become part of SEATO and CENTO in 1954, asserting that the pacts  posed a threat to Indian security, and on this plea had taken a U-turn on his pledge to grant right of self-determination to the Kashmiris, India has felt no qualm in signing defence agreements with the USA which have a direct bearing upon Pakistan’s security.

Some analysts in India are viewing these defence agreements with skepticism and are expressing fears that it will reduce India to a client state and also render India more vulnerable to Jihadis because of the presence of US troops on Indian soil.

In line with its traditional policy of appeasement, Pakistan had kept quiet when the discriminatory Indo-US nuclear deal was inked in 2008. It again raised no objection over these provocative agreements which are more threatening than the Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty signed in August 1971. 

Pakistan had a strong reason to join western defence pacts since India is five times bigger in size and resources, has five-time larger armed forces with a strong defence industrial base, and above all, it had adopted a belligerent posture. Pakistan also had to contend with unfriendly Afghanistan espousing the stunt of Pakhtunistan and refusing to recognize Durand Line as an international border. India, on the other hand, has no external threat since all the South Asian neighbors are smaller in size and militarily weak.

China threat is just a bogey created by India to extract maximum benefits from the US-led West by pretending to be acting as a bulwark against China. In real terms, India is enjoying friendly relations with China and both have put the border dispute on the back burner to promote trade. The two are having a trade worth $70 billion, which is likely to shoot up to $100 billion in near future. China’s military policy is defensive and its foreign policy is based on peace and friendship. It has no aggressive designs against any country. Had India been threatened by China, it would have deployed the bulk of its armed forces against China and not against Pakistan? On the ground, over 70% of Indian strike formations and airbases are poised against Pakistan. It’s Cold Start doctrine is also Pakistan specific.

Even after cutting Pakistan into two and after a lapse of 70 years, India has still not reconciled to the existence of Pakistan. It’s sinister designs are evident from its massive covert operations launched in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi with the help of proxies since 2003. It is resorting to coercive tactics by keeping the Line of Control in Kashmir and working boundary in Sialkot sector heated up through unrelenting firing in contravention to 2003 ceasefire agreement, carrying out false flag operations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), fake surgical strike in Azad Kashmir, intrusion by drone and submarine and hurling threats. Recently, Indian Home Minister Jagannath Singh chimed that Pakistan will be broken into 10 pieces. It has now started to reduce the water flow in the three Pakistan specific rivers emanating from IOK to make Pakistan barren. India has spurned peace overtures of Pakistan and refuses to talk on the core issue of Kashmir, which has become a nuclear flashpoint.    

India has all along aspired to become a world power and still nourishes the myth of Maha Bharat woven in the 19th century. For the accomplishment of its ambitions, India considers Pakistan as the only stumbling block and a thorn in its flesh. It keeps hatching conspiracies how to remove the thorn and undo Pakistan. India cannot reconcile with politically stable, economically and militarily strong Pakistan equipped with nukes. Construction of CPEC and Gwadar Port have unnerved India since the project has the potential to rupture India’s grand design to debase, isolate, encircle and destroy Pakistan. India is desperately finding ways how to scuttle this project.

One of the reasons of boosting trade with China is to pull it away from Pakistan. India has succeeded in spoiling Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan and in creating misgivings in Pak-Iran relations. Forging closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States were also aimed at isolating Pakistan. However, India failed to spoil Pak-China relations that are scaling new heights after the commissioning of CPEC. 

As if the irritant of CPEC was not enough, the ongoing uprising in IOK has rattled India. In sheer frustration, it has stepped up a propaganda campaign to get Pakistan declared as a terror-abetting state. To this end, Narendra Modi has missed no opportunity to demean Pakistan. He tried to garner the support of the members of BRICS at Goa and of Heart of Asia Conference at Amritsar but Russia bailed out Pakistan on both occasions by rebuffing India’s vilification and appreciating Pakistan’s role in combating terrorism.

However, India managed to get a favorable response from the US administration by way of increased pressure on Pakistan to deal with Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban leaders allegedly based in Pakistan. The release of close support fund has been made conditional to action against the US nominated militants. Indian lobby in the USA was behind the passage of a resolution by the US Congress declaring Pakistan as a terrorist state.

Afghan peace process pursued by USA, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has been scrapped and a new group comprising the USA, India and Afghanistan formed. The purpose was to lower the importance of Pakistan and to promote India. It is so far a non-starter.

The silence by the US over increased violations by India across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, targeting civilians including passenger buses and ambulances in AK, as well as its brutal campaign of repression in Kashmir points to the fact that it has willfully overlooked these transgressions by India in the light of its growing alliance partnership with India.  Pressure has even been exerted on China not to transfer advanced weaponry and technologies to Pakistan. 

Worse, the US appears to be encouraging closer ties between India and the GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia. The US had a hand in Indo-Saudi and Indo-UAE high-profile economic deals. There may be an Iranian gambit as well. Given India’s close relations with Iran and informal US-Iranian cooperation against the militant Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, a collaboration between the US, India, and Iran to ‘stabilise’ Afghanistan cannot be ruled out.

Unless this dynamic is changed, Pakistan’s capabilities for conventional defence and nuclear deterrence against India could be significantly eroded.

Seen in this perspective, the US alliance with India has negative implications for Pakistan’s security. Although there may be rough times ahead in the relationship with the US, Pakistan’s diplomacy will have to be both dynamic and imaginative.

Much to the chagrin of India, Russia is slowly and steadily getting nearer to Pakistan. Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever consultation on regional issues on December 14, 2016, in Islamabad. During the consultations, a wide range of regional issues as well as key areas of mutual interest, including economic cooperation and connectivity were discussed.

In the wake of Russia evincing interest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there is a distinct possibility that sooner than later, Russia will jump on to the bandwagon of CPEC in pursuit of its age-old dream of reaching the warm waters. Once that happens, it will open vistas for an alliance between Russia, SCO countries, China and Pakistan. This grouping will turn into a bigger magnet to attract Iran, South Asian and Middle East countries. 64 countries are likely to join CPEC. Pakistan by virtue of its strategic location will become the hub of the strategic corridor. The reason why Iran will get tempted is Chahbahar seaport’s shallowness and India losing interest in its development. The route from China to Chahbahar via Afghanistan suffers from insecurity since it passes through Taliban-controlled regions over which the Afghan troops have negligible control.

Another factor which is drawing Russia, Central Asian States, and Iran toward Pakistan are the threats of terrorism and Pakistan’s admirable role in tackling the menace. Its achievements outmatch all other countries engaged in counter-terrorism since 2001. Unstable and insecure Afghanistan doesn’t suit any regional country.

The US and India are stoking terrorism in Afghanistan and exporting terrorism from Afghanistan into neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan. The duo, viewed as spoilers, teamed up with corrupt and inefficient unity govt in Kabul, despite being on a weak wicket want peace on their terms and is pressurizing Pakistan to force the Taliban to agree.

Having read the ill intentions of USA and India, Russia has offered its services and a new group comprising Russia, China and Pakistan has come into being to broker peace in Afghanistan. This group has better prospects since all its members have a better understanding with the Taliban. Possible inclusion of Iran will further fortify this group.              

The US-India DTTPA underlines the dramatic change in today’s political environment. For India, access to advanced US weaponry and technology means that it can now pursue an aggressive military modernization. Military balance in the region gets further disturbed due to continued supply of arms to India by Russia.

The US growing tilt towards India must be seen in the context of the limited convergence of interest with Pakistan and the new administration under Donald Trump that will be taking over the White House on January 20, 2017. Pakistan aligned with China doesn’t fit into the security paradigm of Washington.  

Alongside an assertive diplomatic offensive, Pakistan’s military response too must also be well-calibrated and considered in order to meet these adverse developments. At the military level, Pakistan must ensure a defensive and asymmetrical capability, including the credibility of its nuclear deterrence that would preserve its ability to deter any conventional Indian military adventures. Pakistan’s missile defence capabilities must be multiplied along with ensuring the availability of anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defence systems. On the sea, while it may not be possible to go in for the expensive option of an aircraft carrier, Pakistan would need to upgrade and add to its submarines, fast missile boats, as well as anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Strategic cooperation with China, and expanding military and diplomatic cooperation with Russia will remain critical. Just as the US is willing to share cutting-edge military technologies with India, China and Russia must be cultivated to share their most advanced weapons systems with Pakistan, including nuclear submarines, stealth aircraft, and anti-aircraft carrier missiles. Russian weapons systems such as the S300 anti-ballistic missile and the SU-31 fighter-bomber are among the best in class.

Red lines would also need to be drawn in Afghanistan. Pakistan must impress upon the international community that no Indian military presence or use of Afghan territory for subversion against Pakistan will be stomached.

In all likelihood, the chaos in Afghanistan may be prolonged and Pakistan must make all efforts to continue to support inter-Afghan dialogue.

Fostering an understanding with Iran and rebuilding a close relationship with Saudi Arabia is also essential for restraining Indian penetration in the Gulf. 

Being immediate neighbours, friendship with Afghanistan is a strategic compulsion and with Iran a strategic necessity for Pakistan.

Most important of all, China will remain a critical country whose cooperation is vital to ensure regional stability as Pakistan and China work to strengthen regional connectivity through the CPEC.

Iran and Saudi Arabia at loggerheads need to shun ideological confrontation and instead jointly work for the restoration of peace in war-torn the Middle East and carve out a regional security structure.

Last but not least, 2017 will be a highly challenging year for Pakistan. Internal political wrangling and tug of war will intensify and so would foreign-hatched intrigues. Unity and consolidation of home front are the best defence against external and internal challenges. 

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, a defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre; Member Executive Council PESS and TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Systematic Neo-colonization of Muslim World By Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja

 

Systematic Neo-colonisation of Muslim World

 

Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja

 

In the 6th century, the entire Arab Peninsula had sunk into the morass of deprivation and delinquency. The two superpowers of the time, Romans (Byzantine Empire) and Persians (Sassanian Empire) were situated in the west and east of Arabian Peninsula respectively and were antagonists. The 28-year war (602-630 A.D.) had drained the two empires and decay had begun to set in. It was in those times that Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), born in Mecca on April 22, 571 A.D., came on the scene and started his holy mission in 610 A.D. assigned to him by Allah. In less than 20 years, he purged the degenerated Arabian society of the multifarious deep-seated evils and transformed the savage Arab tribes into civilized people. Mecca became the cradle of a new civilization and the fountainhead of a new culture. An embodiment of all human values and virtues, and the brightest example in the annals of history, and greatest benefactor of mankind, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) breathed his last on the fateful day of June 8, 632 A.D. He left behind an ideal democracy (Meesakh-e-Madina) based on equality, fraternity, and justice which was meant for the betterment and wellbeing of mankind. It was practiced by the elected Caliphs for next 30 years.

 

The era of Khulfa-e-Rashida (632 – 661 A.D.) have no parallel in the human history and is acknowledged as the glorious and momentous period in the annals of the Islamic world. Their far-reaching contributions will ever remain the most outstanding achievements recorded in human history. The ill-equipped and unskilled nomadic Arabs destroyed the Persian Empire and humbled the Byzantine Empire. In the space of 100 years, the Arabs conquered an empire extending from the Pamirs in the east to the Atlantic coast of Morocco in the west, and northwards into southern France. In the 7th century, the Arab Muslim armies implanted Muslim faith in all the countries overpowered by them and their victory was total and wholesome. The Muslim Empire was a more civilized society than the Christian Europe. It was more tolerant; even the Christians of Egypt and Syria preferred Arab rule over the Christian Constantinople. Tolerance and justice exhibited by the Muslims toward other religions have been universally acknowledged. Infused by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Arabs brought about the greatest revolution in the annals of mankind.

 

With the accession of Hazrat Muawiya as the first Caliph of Umayyads in 661 A.D. with capital at Damascus, the democratic nature of Khilafat was changed and it assumed the trappings of monarchy. The Umayyads (661-750 A.D.), the Abbasids (750-1258 A.D.) and Spanish Moors in Spain (714-1492 A.D.) reached the pinnacle of glory during their respective rules and left behind their marks. Muslim rule in Spain, in particular, was the marvel of the middle ages. When all Europe had plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, Spain, particularly Cordova alone held the torch of learning and civilization before the western world. Christians and Jews were given total liberty to build churches and synagogues.  However, infighting among Umayyads, Abbasids, and Moors, their intrigues, and digression from the path of Islamic teachings led to their humiliating downfall and large-scale massacre.

 

In their desperate bid to possess the Holy Land of Jerusalem from the Muslims, the Christian world launched series of ferocious crusades from 1095 to 1798. The first series of crusades undertaken in 10th Century were Jerusalem focused. The crusades in the name of religion wrought havoc but their genocide was confined to Jerusalem and the nearby areas of Palestine only. Rest of the Middle East was not touched since the invaders didn’t have the capacity to do so. More so, their objective was seizure of Jerusalem and not Islam and Muslims. Hence the bloodbath remained confined to a limited area. Jerusalem changed hands but was eventually captured by Salah Uddin Ayubi after decisively defeating the crusaders. The defeat of the crusaders left deep imprints of prejudice and hostility among the Christendom against Islam, the effects of which have persisted till today.

 

The Ottomans reigned supreme from 1299 to 1566 A.D. During Suleman 1 (The Magnificent) tenure from 1520 till 1566, he made Ottoman Empire the most dominant both on land and sea. Its vast dominions included major parts of southeast Europe, West Asia, and North Africa, stretching from Vienna to the wall of China in the east, and from Ukraine in the north to the source of Nile in the south. In 17th and 18th century, the Turks gradually lost their glory. Europe and North America had become much richer and technologically stronger than rest of the world by the end of 18th century. This was owing to cultural transformation and industrial revolution in Europe. Overseas colonial expansion by European powers recommenced after 1870 under a new title of ‘New Imperialism’. Colonization in Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Pacific Basin rich in resources and raw materials was undertaken on the pretext of Europeanising ‘backward’ regions as part of “white man’s burden”. Among the European rivals, Britain took the lead since it had the strongest navy. Great Britain lorded over the colonized world through its policy of divide and rule.

 

The notorious Sykes-Picot pact – the basis of modern Middle East’s political map, came into being as a product of an Anglo-French joint conspiracy. Turkey raised no objection to the 1917 Sykes-Picot sinister plan of giving birth to an illegitimate child Israel at the cost of Palestinians and hastened to recognize the illegal state. In drawing a new map of the Arab land, the local Arab Muslims didn’t have an iota of involvement. The Arab Muslims were incited and manipulated by the British, joined the Anglo-French Alliance in 1917 against the Turks to fragment Ottoman Empire and dismantle Khilafat –the citadel of Muslim power.

 

Under Kemal Ata Turk, Turkey was turned into a model secular state and in the name of modernism, Islamic customs and traditions were replaced with western culture. Likewise, The Arab world was divided into 20 states. The Emirates like new states were created to fit in the new political map. A clan of compliant rulers was installed in these Emirates only to serve the imperialists’ agenda and pursue their own opportunism. The British-French installed puppet regimes disapproved the core Islamic principles like Sharia, Hudud, Khalifa and Jihad and instead promoted secularism and nationalism and remained engulfed in intrigues and perpetual inter-state rivalry. Once the US and former USSR emerged as new superpowers after the 2nd World War, the Middle Eastern countries accepted the lordship of the new masters who preferred authoritarian rulers and kings.

 

Same happened with other decolonized Muslim countries in Asia and Africa where the British trained secular-minded rulers gained power who adopted Westminster democracy, Anglo-Saxon laws and western police, civil and military management systems. For the general public, decolonization proved worse since independence was in name only. Notwithstanding the massive loot, plunder, rapine, slavery in the colonies of the Western Christian imperialism, which cannot be forgotten and forgiven, the colonization did much good in the name of spreading European civilization and Enlightenment. But Gora (White) Sahibs were replaced by avaricious and haughty Brown Sahibs devoid of moral and human values. They maintained the class system and widened the gulf between the rich and poor.  The US-led west made sure that the decolonized States remained dependent upon them. As a consequence, the Muslim world despite its massive wealth and resources remained far behind the western world.

 

The period between 1946 and 1991 witnessed the cold war between the two superpowers each vying to expand its power of influence outside the western and eastern hemispheres. Developing and underdeveloped worlds suffered the most at the hands of imperialist powers as well as Israel and India. This period saw the occupation of states by the Red Army, resistance war in Cuba, Vietnam War, Korean War, Indo-Pakistan wars, Arab-Israeli wars, civil war in Lebanon, Iran-Iraq war, Falkland war, Afghan war, First Gulf War, conflicts in Africa and forcible regime changes. After the dismantlement of USSR in 1991, the US has been vying to convert the world into a globalized village run by the neo-cons and corporates. This ambition led to the engineered 9/11. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Muslim world was subjected to the US-led global coalition of the 21st-century crusaders under a set agenda to once again redraw the boundaries of the Middle East, steal their mineral resources and neo-colonize the defiant Muslim States. The brutalization of Muslim Ummah was justified and legalized under the cover of global terrorism. The puppet regimes of the targeted countries or the rebels helped the crusaders in destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria, or in changing defiant regimes.

 

The global war on terrorism triggered by the sole super power and its western allies has surpassed previous genocidal wars. The sort of destruction and pogrom carried out by the new crusaders have paled the barbarities of the medieval crusaders and even the Mongols under Changez and Halaku – notorious for their genocide, into insignificance. None in the past had razed any Muslim cities to ground as was done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now in Syria. After repeated destruction of Gaza by the Israeli forces and keeping it besieged since 2007, Syrian cities are being devastated in succession. Hama, Homs, Latakia, and now Aleppo are worst affected. In Iraq, after systematically ruining Fallujah, Tikrit, and Ramadi, Mosul is now being destroyed.

 

Notwithstanding the deprivation of the US-led the western world, which is ravenously plundering the mineral wealth of the Muslim countries, the role of the Muslims is no less deplorable. Their moral scale has touched the lowest ebb. There was a time when the old crusaders would find it near impossible to recruit a collaborator from within the Muslims or to build a military base, or install a Trojan horse to promote their agenda. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of collaborators now who are prepared to sell their souls for money. The earlier crusaders didn’t have any collaborating Muslim partners; but now the Muslim rulers -with few exception, compete for each other to become full collaborators cum coalition partners of the new crusaders. The western forces could not have successfully invaded and occupied Muslim countries without the aid of fifth columnists and the conspiring rulers of Muslim states.

 

The success of the 21st-century crusaders is huge. The old crusaders couldn’t alter the demography and geography of Palestine. But now they have succeeded in changing the boundaries of Middle East as visualized by Lt Col Ralph Peters in 2006. His map shows Baluchistan an independent state. Earlier on in 1982, Israeli Adid Yenon had given the idea of dividing the Arab states into smaller quasi-states on the ethnic/sectarian basis. Eight member team comprising Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, his wife Meyrav Wurmser, James Colbert, John Bolton, Charles Fairbanks, Jr. Robert Loewenberg and Benjamin Netanyahu were the architects of the gory plan in 1996 to redraw the boundaries of Middle East by stoking chaos, bringing ‘regime change’ to install stable puppets, or else to balkanise. Pentagon’s Memo listing 7 States in the Middle East is well known. The Islamic State (IS), the creation of CIA helped in creating chaos in the Middle East and in changing boundaries of Iraq and Syria.

 

As a consequence of moral degeneration and leadership crisis within Muslim Ummah, the new crusaders are fighting their battles inside the Muslim lands. Foreign powers are in occupation of Afghanistan since November 2001 and have military bases in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and several other Muslim countries. In some of the Muslim countries, USA has converted its Embassies into fortresses and spying dens and Pakistan is one example. These collaborating Muslim countries have provided strategic depth to the western world and have enabled it to keep the whole lot of Muslim countries in their iron grip and to loot their resources and to keep them militarily weak and dependent.

 

Divide and rule policy has helped the western powers to keep the Muslim States, particularly in the Middle East locked in perpetual rivalry. The Arab Muslims – despite their ethnic, linguistic and geographical oneness, stand divided into more than 20 States. The string-puppet regimes installed by the USA have secularized their respective countries and in order to please their so-called patrons, they disapprove Islamic laws. The core Islamic principles like Sharia, Hudud, Khalifa, Jihad and trans-ethnic global solidarity are censured. Contrary to such Qur’anic ruling, they have raised walls of divisions to protect the pre-Islamic ethnic, linguistic and tribal identity. These divisive walls in the name of race, language or religious sect had been dismantled during the golden period of Muslims.

 

The Saudi-led Gulf States supported Iraq under Saddam Hussain when Iraqi forces invaded Iran in 1980. After the Iraqi forces captured Kuwait in August 1991, the other Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia allowed the US and NATO to bomb and invade Iraq in November 1991. They provided military bases to the US which are still in its occupation. The entire Muslim world supported the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The ground invasion was undertaken by Northern Alliance troops (non-Pashtun Afghans), trained and equipped by India and Iran.  Pakistan provided military bases and intelligence support as well as land supply routes to the invaders. The Taliban ousted from power are in the wilderness but are resisting the occupying forces and the US installed puppet regime in Kabul. There is deep animosity between Pashtun Afghans who are in the heavy majority but out of power and homeless, and the US supported non-Pashtun Afghans, belonging to northern parts of the country, ruling the country since December 2001. The Arab world supported the US-NATO invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and then of Libya in 2011. Both the countries stand divided and are in turmoil.

 

The Arab world watched from sidelines the repeated invasion and massacre of people of Gaza by Israeli forces and blockade of Gaza strip since 2007. Only Iran provided some unguided rockets to the Hamas to contest the aggressors. Arab League and OIC have played no role in resolving the chronic Palestinian dispute pending in the tray of the UN since 1948. The world comity has turned a blind eye to Israeli forward settlement policy and Israel’s U-turn on Oslo Accord, after agreeing to the two-state solution in return for peace.

 

In the Syrian civil war, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and Iran are fully involved. The Turkish government had allowed the US to use its airbase to bomb the Syrian and the Iraqi cities to flush out ISIS. This base was closed after the recent coup in Turkey in which it was found to be supporting the rebels. Paradoxically, the US Army personnel are fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish Marxist-Leninist YPG terrorists in northern Syria – though these Kurdish fighters are marked as terrorists even by the American administration. The US soldiers even wore the YPG badge on their military uniform. However, Turkey treats the Kurds as an enemy and is bombarding their positions in Syria and Iraq. Iranian soldiers and militia, as well as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, are taking part in Syrian civil war in support of Assad regime.

 

Marooned Assad-led Syrian regime has allowed Russia to establish its air base and a naval base in Syria and to help Syrian forces in fighting the US supported the rebellion. The Russian, the US and western forces, as well as Turkish forces, are bombing the Islamists in Syria. The civil war in Syria since March 2011 has resulted in deaths of 350,000 people and displacement of 12 million people.

 

Saleh regime in Yemen had allowed CIA to use drones against Al-Qaeda from the US base in Djibouti, which later sparked a civil war and Saudi-Houthis war which is still raging. Saudi air force along with Egyptian and Gulf States air power are bombing Yemen since March 2015. Somalia lived in a civil war since the early 1990s has become a failed state own to the US interventionist policy.

 

Egyptian President General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi dethroned democratically elected Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regime from power in July 2013 and his act was supported by the Saudi-led Gulf States and the US. The major reason for the coup was that Israel was unhappy over MB’s support to Gazans. Sisi’s ruthless persecution of Islamists is overlooked by the advanced world while Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States dole out reward money to the dictator since their rulers are no lesser autocrats. Resistance forces led by MB are fighting government forces in Sinai.

 

The two ideological rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia sponsor proxy wars in other countries to promote Shiaism and Wahabism. The Palestinian leadership is divided; one led by Hamas in Gaza and other by Abbas in West Bank. Democratically elected Hamas have been declared terrorists by the US, UN, and Israel.

 

The ISIS under Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi established its caliphate stretching from Raqqa in Syria to Falluja, Mosul, Dyala in Iraq in mid-2014 and later on spread its tentacles into Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. It was created by CIA in Bucca Camp in Baghdad in 2006 under Zarqawi to fight Al-Qaeda in Fallujah and Ambar. Later it was sent to Syria in 2011 to help Nusra group and other rebel groups to topple Assad regime. The ISIS fighters after capturing the entire northeastern Syria including oil/gas fields in 2013, then captured large parts of northwestern Iraq and established its own caliphate in June 2014. After capturing Mosul, the Islamic State (IS) became the richest militant group in the world. Large numbers of white Jihadis from Europe started joining IS, and its fighters slaughtered Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq and enslaved their girls for prostitution. These events coupled with the IS threat to capture Karbala, Najaf, Mecca and Medina, alarmed the US, Europe, the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran.

 

The US-NATO started an air campaign against the IS positions in Iraq and Syria in August 2014 but couldn’t make any dent in the IS power. From 30 September 2015 onward, Russia airpower also joined the fray in Syria to help the beleaguered Assad regime from collapsing. It is helping Assad forces to recover the lost territories as well as in eliminating the IS, which is in control of the one-third northeastern territory of Syria including oil and gas fields. Although the IS positions are being bombed and Iraqi Nationalist Army assisted by Kurds, Turkmen and Shia militias are fast recovering their lost territories and have recovered Fallujah and are now fighting a pitched battle in Mosul, CIA, Mossad and RAW are on the quiet employing IS fighters as proxies in their target countries. In fact, RAW has become the major supplier of arms and explosives to IS in Iraq and Syria. RAW helped the IS in tying the knot with runaway Jamaat e Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under Khalid Khurasani based in Nangarhar and with TTP Amir Fazlullah in Kunar, the two provinces of Afghanistan.

 

Pakistan was forced by the USA to fight the US imposed war on terror on its soil. Although Pakistan was declared a frontline state and a non-NATO ally, in reality, it was a target. Pakistan was pressed to fight the terror groups, but TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF were secretly funded, equipped and trained by RAW and Afghan NDS and tasked to fight Pak security forces in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Baluchistan. RAW also funded and armed MQM political party in Sindh. All this was supervised by CIA, Mossad and MI-6. Afghanistan has turned into the biggest launching pad for exporting terrorism into Pakistan. Massive covert operations are going on since 2003 as a result of which Pakistan has suffered well over 60,000 human fatalities, and a financial loss of $ 118 billion. Pakistan is also host to 3 million Afghan refugees since 1978. Despite such colossal sacrifices and Pakistan having performed exceptionally well against terrorism, Pakistan is blamed by Kabul, New Delhi, and Washington that it is abetting terrorism in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and India. The trio knitted in strategic partnership has for all practical purposes lost the war in Afghanistan. Rather than admitting their defeat ad accepting the Taliban as the major stakeholder, or correcting their fault lines, they are merely reinforcing failure. In order to hide their failures, they blame Pakistan, naively thinking that blame game and making Pakistan a scapegoat would lessen their pains.

 

The ideological conversion cum de-Islamisation of the autocratic rulers in the Arab world has been so complete that they face no compunction nor feel any Islamic prohibition to provide bases for these traditional enemies of Muslims and Islam. It is a consequence of their delinquency and moral bankruptcy and their secret alliance with their masters in the western world that none of them has ever raised his voice against such massive destruction of the Muslim cities and massacre of innocents in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Their willing cooperation has encouraged many in the US to suggest nuking holy sites in Saudi Arabia or the belt along the Pak-Afghan border belt. God forbid, if ever such a monstrous thing occurred and millions are killed, who will condemn it? The tongue-tied and captive Muslim rulers will not utter a word of protest.

 

The US controlled UN may meekly condemn and so will some human rights activists and those in the West like Noam Chomsky, but no resolution will be passed by the UN to punish the perpetrators of this savagery. The US was not punished for dropping hydrogen bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killing 1, 40,000 people. George W. Bush and his team of neocons have not been held accountable for invading and destroying Afghanistan without proving Osama bin Laden guilty of masterminding attacks in New York and Pentagon; and Bush and Tony Blair for destroying Iraq on fake charges; and for killing over two million innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. War monger Obama who used the drone as a choice weapon and further expanded the war on terror was awarded Nobel Prize.

 

The global war on terrorism has remained confined to the Muslim world only while others have been given a clean chit. Barring North Korea, all other targeted countries falling in the ‘axis of evil’ are Muslim countries. The Muslims stand destitute hostage to these brutal big powers. The occupation of Muslim lands, bombing the cities and killing millions is labeled as their security need to protect their so-called national interests. Even dropping nuclear bombs in 1945 was considered a rightful act in the same context. And whoever challenges such savage aggression and hegemony is labeled as a terrorist. All freedom movements such as Palestinian and Kashmiri movements have been bracketed with terrorism.

 

The entire Muslim world is disconnected from the roadmap prescribed in the Quran and has chosen the path suggested by the US-led the western world. This deviation from the righteous path has brought upon them untold miseries. Independence is in name only. There is a complete disconnect between the Muslim rulers and the people, a majority of whom fervently seek Sharia (Islamic laws) since capitalism, Westminster democracy and Anglo-Saxon laws are pro-rich only.

 

Palestinian issue, Israeli belligerence, Gaza turned into open prison, desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, double standards of the west, involvement of Iran’s increasing involvement in Arab countries, revengeful persecution of Sunnis in Iraq, forcible change of regime in Libya, willful destabilization of Syria, when seen in context with weakened welfare system within Arab world, unemployment, misrule of Arab rulers, hatred against Hamas, their pro-western policies all put together, have bred discontentment among the Arab youth and they are fatally getting attracted towards extremism and organisations like Da’esh.

In Pakistan, people are by and large dissatisfied with the parliamentary form of democracy and the judicial system since these alien systems have utterly failed to transform Pakistan into a welfare state as was envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam. 70 years have passed since independence but the have-nots have remained deprived of basic necessities of life as well as social justice. The cancers of corruption and terrorism are eating into the vitals of the country. The political class seems least interested in badly needed political, electoral, bureaucratic, police, judicial and accountability reforms. The ruling elite is also not prepared to formulate an independent foreign policy that can safeguard Pakistan’s national interests. Until and unless these reforms are implemented in letter and spirit, the scourges of corruption and terrorism will not be eliminated and Pakistan will not become a self-reliant nation. In-house cleanliness, moral reformation, unity, cohesiveness, and patriotism will change the complexion of Pakistan and thwart dangerous Indo-US-Israeli agenda. Only then the CPEC can become a game changer.

 

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defense and security analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre, Member Executive Council PESS. Takes part in TV talk shows and delivers talks. asifharoonraja@gmail.com     

 

 

 

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