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Archive for category Brig (Retd).Asif Haroon Raja’s Column

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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Gathering dark clouds By Asif Haroon Raja

Gathering dark clouds

Asif Haroon Raja

Muslims of East Bengal were the worst affected region during the British rule and had ardently yearned for Pakistan to free themselves from the cruel clutches of the Hindu-British combine that had turned them into serfs. Birth of Pakistan was seen as a miracle of the 20th century. Its survival under extreme odds was indeed a bigger miracle.

Pundit Nehru had eyes on East Pakistan (EP) soon after the birth of Pakistan. Links were established with Bengali political leaders to sow seeds of misgivings in their minds. India had a hand in the 1953 language issue which created bad blood between the people of East and West Pakistan. Influential Hindu minority in East Pakistan particularly Hindu intelligentsia, businessmen, teachers and professors were to play a key role in poisoning the minds of Bengalis. It took India 24 years to subvert the minds of Bengalis, who were in the vanguard of Pakistan movement, influence them to hate West Pakistan and to consider India as their friends.

Illegal occupation of two-thirds Kashmir by Indian military became a bone of contention between the two arch-rivals. After India failed to defeat and destroy Pakistan armed forces in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and all its ground and air attacks were grounded, it decided to break up Pakistan using an indirect strategy of initially weakening it from within through subversion and political destabilization and then using the military instrument. East Pakistan located 1000 miles away from West Pakistan with no ground linkage and surrounded by India from three directions was chosen as a target and for the achievement of its objective, Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was taken on board in 1963. His six-point plan was a route to secession.

The conspiracy to create Bangladesh was stepped up by newly created RAW in 1968. It helped Mujib and his team of conspirators to create Mukti Bahini, intensify Bengali nationalism and sweep the 1970 elections. A plane hijacking drama was engineered in January 1971 and the incident was used as an excuse to sever east-west air flights to isolate EP. Pakistan had to use long circuitous air route via Colombo to reach Dacca.

After the postponement of Constituent Assembly inaugural session at Dacca on 01 March 1971, Mujib adopted an uncompromising defiant posture. He let the Mukti Bahini carry out systematic slaughter and rape of West Pakistanis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis and created a state within the state. To stop his madness, Gen Yahya was impelled to launch a military operation, which led to province-wide civil war.

Isolated and outnumbered Pak forces recaptured all the lost towns and restored order in a record time of less than two months. Indira Gandhi had however made up her mind to dismember Pakistan and she not only thwarted all reconciliatory attempts made by Pakistan but tasked Gen Manekshaw to organize guerrilla war in EP and then wage a war. 59 training camps were established for 2, 80,000 rebels. Indian soldiers dressed in civil clothes assisted them.     

It took India nine months to create desired conditions to launch its military in November 1971. The former Soviet Union that had signed Treaty of Friendship with India in August 1971 extended full support to India in this venture. USA, Israel, Afghanistan and some Arab countries supported India, while China was contained by Soviet forces. Since the separation of EP was a pre-planned international conspiracy, none came to the rescue of Pakistan when it was being brutally vivisected. On December 16, 1971, the eastern limb was severed and Bangladesh created.

RAW started making inroads in Sindh and in Baluchistan from 1973 onward by supporting Sindhu Desh movement and Baloch insurgency. It also maintained contacts with ANP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Saraikis in Multan-Bahawalpur regions and Balwaristan movement in Gilgit-Baltistan. 5th columnists, nationalist politicians and disgruntled elements were also kept in the loop. The purpose was to stoke provincialism and induce the people of the smaller province to rebel against Punjab. The Baloch insurgency in the 1970s was fully supported by RAW. Likewise, Al-Zulfiqar was also extended full support from 1980 till 1994. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After 9/11, India got a real chance to carry out yet another 1971  surgical operation. This time a new band of conspirators ganged up with India to weaken Pakistan internally through sabotage, subversion and propaganda, discredit, isolate and denuclearize it and then further fragment it into four parts. Operation Blue Tulsi launched by the adversaries in 1994 to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program was given a fillip through the war on terror to bleed Pakistan. This was reinforced by fifth generation war to demonize Pakistan and its premier institutions.

The conspirators used Afghanistan as the base of operation and started weaving a web around Pakistan in 2002 to destabilize it and economically weaken it through covert operations. In the last 15 years, their proxies have inflicted 75,000 human casualties and caused an economic loss of $123 billion. The sold-out media has helped in polarizing the political parties, dividing the society, demonising the incumbent government and creating uncertainty. Their exterior manoeuvre has isolated Pakistan and spoilt its image despite Pak military’s outstanding performance in the war on terror.

‘Get Pakistan’ operation assumed urgency after the inauguration of CPEC in 2015 which has all the ingredients to make Pakistan socially integrated, politically stable, economically and militarily strong and self-reliant. The conspirators have now become desperate to either scuttle CPEC or else dismember Pakistan.

The conspirators have thus far not been able to achieve their sinister objectives despite inflicting thousands of cuts on the body of Pakistan and its people. The bloody operation has not reached its logical end due to nuclear deterrence and Herculean resistance put up by Pakistan armed forces, ISI, and the people.

India-US defence relations in recent years have moved along an upward trajectory. After the US signed the civil nuclear deal signed in 2008 and gave India access to Nuclear Suppliers Group, the two countries signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum, Maritime agreement and Strategic Communications agreement in 2015, which were China and Pakistan specific. 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 Delhi. The designation has placed India among the closest allies and partners of US.

Encouraged by the USA, India has subjected Pakistan to multi-dimensional overt and covert wars as under:

  1. India’s RAW in collusion with NDS and CIA is involved in biggest ever proxy war against Pakistan from the soil of Afghanistan.
  2. India’s 7,50,000 security forces having converted Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) into an open prison are breaking all records of human rights violations and barbarities against the Muslim Kashmiris.
  3. Operation ‘All Out’ has been launched in IOK to systematically eliminate Kashmiri youth. Hindu Pundits and retired armed forces persons are being settled in IOK to change the demography of Kashmir.
  4. India with the help of USA after tying the hands of Pakistan and restraining it to provide arms to the freedom fighters has been exerting pressure on Pakistan to stop extending political and moral support to Kashmiris and forget Kashmir.
  5. To hide its massive human rights violations in Kashmir, India constantly accuses Pakistan of abetting terrorism in IOK.
  6. The Indian military has under a calculated design kept the Line of Control and Working Boundary in Kashmir hot through almost daily ceasefire violations inflicting casualties on soldiers and civilians. Over 400 firing incidents have taken place in last 3 months killing 18 civilians. Indian Army Chief Gen Bipen has admitted that it’s being done to maximize pressure on Pakistan. Another purpose behind constant firing across the de-facto border is to hide its massive human rights violations in IOK and to distract attention away from its illegal and brutal occupation of Kashmir.   
  7. Water terrorism unleashed by India to make Pakistan dry is part of the overall scheme to force Pakistan to bend to its dictates. Rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi have been dried up, while water flow in Rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus reduced.
  8. India has now started persistently harassing Pakistan diplomatic staff and their families in New Delhi.
  9. India is an important player in the hybrid war launched against Pakistan to destabilise it politically, weaken its economy, foment discontentment, and create cleavages in the society, unrest, uncertainty and chaos.
  10. In collaboration with the USA, India is making all-out efforts to internationally isolate Pakistan, blacklist it and put it under sanctions.
  11. India is also systematically encircling Pakistan by placing its military in IOK and Siachin, establishing itself in Afghanistan, gaining operational control of Chabahar port in Iran, gaining access to Duqm port in the Gulf of Oman and forging close ties with the Arab Gulf States.
  12. India has hung the sword of Cold Start doctrine over the head of Pakistan and is hurling threats of surgical strikes and limited war.
  13. India is goading and inciting USA to carry out drone attacks in FATA, Baluchistan and also in urban centres against suspected hideouts of terrorists.

Since August 2017, Pakistan has been in the eye of the storm in the US. President Trump and his administration have been on a rampage to punish Pakistan for the US own failures in Afghanistan, constantly portraying it as a security state harbouring extremists and terrorists. The US is hurling warnings and threats to Pakistan to dismantle alleged safe havens of Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban on its soil and to help the US in winning war in Afghanistan. No amount of explanations has mellowed the anger of Trump administration and it is hell-bent to penalise Pakistan for its uncommitted sins. The allegations made on the country are baseless and mischievous and at best, questionable. The US has failed to provide proofs to substantiate their accusations.

After putting Pakistan on notice and suspending $ 900 million close support fund, the US then decided to put Pakistan in the grey list of countries financing terrorist groups and then pave the way to blacklist it. Pakistan was accused by the US of non-compliance of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) rules and regulations on terrorism financing.

The joint motion moved by USA and UK in the FATF meeting last March was thwarted by China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Pakistan has gained a temporary reprieve for next three months because of several steps it had taken to control money laundering in the last few months and its impressive results achieved in controlling terrorism. Even Pakistan’s closest friends like China and the Gulf States were finding it difficult to defend Pakistan on the issue of terrorism as was evident in last FATF meeting where the great majority of 37 members had voted against Pakistan.

Suspension of military aid by the US surprisingly did not come as a shock to Pakistan’s civil and military leadership. On the contrary, US got a kick in the teeth when Pakistan reacted calmly, calling the US a friend who always betrays. The US was told that Pakistan doesn’t need US aid but wants its sacrifices and achievements in the war on terror to be acknowledged. Pakistan has made it clear that it hasn’t spared any terror group and all terror groups are now based in Afghanistan.  

While Pakistan has flushed out all the terrorist groups in FATA and settled areas of KP, in Afghanistan, there are 21 terrorist groups and the latest addition is Daesh (Khurasan chapter). Sanctuaries of Pakistan focussed TTP, Jamaat-e-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam are well-known and communicated to the Afghan government and Resolute Support Group Commander. The US has not eliminated any or has helped Pakistan in fencing the western border, or in extraditing the Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan since 1979 that have now become a security hazard. Resolution of these three aspects will greatly resolve the issue of illegal cross-border movement and terrorism and will restore peace in Af-Pak region. Sadly! Peace in Afghanistan goes against the imperialist interests of USA or India.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They say “every dark cloud has a silver lining”. In its 70-year turbulent history, Pakistan has been continuously subjected to conspiracies. Ongoing conspiracy woven in 2001 is much more dangerous than the 1971 international conspiracy. There is a reason to believe that the political imbroglio which is enfeebling the economy is foreign abetted. Although this country is engulfed by a few hydra-headed problems and has been labelled as a failing state, its resilience has been a prominent feature of these seven decades of existence. Prophets of doom had predicted that Pakistan will not exist beyond 2017. Therefore its survival amidst all the speculations is by far its biggest success. Undoubtedly, Pakistan will weather the storm and will come out stronger than before.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence, security and political analyst, columnist, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

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India’s bid to isolate Pakistan Asif Haroon Raja, Defence Analyst

 

India’s bid to isolate Pakistan

Asif Haroon Raja

Defence Analyst

 

 

After the false flag operation in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, India blamed Pakistan, ISI and Hafiz Saeed led Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks (1), and suspended composite dialogue with Pakistan that had been renewed in February 2004 as a consequence to Indo-Pakistan peace treaty and a commitment to resolve all disputes including Kashmir issue through talks. Since then, India pushed aside Kashmir dispute and made terrorism as the core issue. Without providing any proof, it forced Pakistan to arrest and punish the alleged culprits involved in Mumbai attacks. In fact, India cleverly built a narrative of terrorism against Pakistan from the time of engineered terror attack on December 13, 2001, in which the Indian Parliament in New Delhi was attacked by a handful of terrorists(1). After blaming Pakistan and Jaish-e- Muhammad, India deployed its entire military strength along its western border and remained in confrontation mode for next ten months.

Thereon, all terror attacks in India were put in the basket of Pakistan. The purpose of building this narrative was to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state and ISI a rogue outfit. Its strategic partners USA and Afghanistan substantiated Indian stance. Indian attitude became more aggressive after Narendra Modi took over power in June 2014. From August 2014 onward, the Indian military has kept the Line of Control and working boundary in Kashmir sector hot and hardly a day has passed without unprovoked firing by India. The upsurge in the uprising in IOK after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in July 2016 was also placed at the doorsteps of Pakistan. Pakistan was blamed for the militants’ attacks in Udhampur and Pathankot airbase. The militant attack on Uri military camp in April 2016(1a) further incensed India and it started hurling threats of surgical strikes and limited war. Intruding Indian drone was shot down by Pakistan Army, while Indian submarine on a spying mission was forced to retreat by Pak Navy. 

Besides political, diplomatic and military posturing to overawe and isolate Pakistan, India has also been trying to ease out Pakistan from its membership of SAARC. The 19th SAARC summit scheduled at Islamabad in November 2016 had to be cancelled due to India refusing to attend it and Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan the following suit to boycott the summit. (2)     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After sabotaging the Summit, India also tried to halt the appointment of the New Secretary-General, Amjad Hussian B Sial. India justified its actions by stating that the nominee had to be ratified by the Council of Ministers conference in Islamabad. Something which could not take place due to the postponement of the Summit. (3)

 

Soon after the appointment of the New Secretary-General in March 2017, India hosted a meeting on March 21, 2017, of security chiefs from the seven member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) The meeting was a first for the BIMSTEC group, which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.(4) This meeting focused on terrorism, cyber and maritime security challenges facing the region. It was decided at the meeting to establish a track 1.5 dialogue forum focused on security. Given the importance of cooperating on security-related matters, it was also decided to hold such meetings annually. It was no surprise that Pakistan was again left out of this meeting. (5)

 

Another meeting was held in the month of October 2017 in which India again tried to push back SAARC and attempted to boost the significance of BIMSTEC. In his remarks during the meeting, Foreign Secretary of India S. (6) In an implicit reference to Pakistan, he also said that “as one country” is not, and since the other seven-nation regional grouping BIMSTEC has members that are “broadly aligned” and “articulate similar aspirations”, and are connected to the other members of the South Asian regional bloc on the key issue of terrorism, it was unlikely that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) could be revived.(7)

 

India has also tried to marginalize Pakistan on other forums as well. For instance, when Sushma Swaraj met SAARC foreign ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September 2017, India’s disinterest in the summit was evident. This added to the downgrading of the entire organization. With India-Pakistan bilateral relations on the downturn, the domino impact on the South Asian body has only worsened. (8)

 

During her speech, Swaraj did not refer to the uncertainties surrounding the SAARC Summit but stressed the primacy given to the removal of terrorism which in implicit terms was actually taking a jab at Islamabad: “Regional prosperity, connectivity and cooperation can take place only in an atmosphere of peace and security.(9) It, however, remains at serious risk in the region. It is necessary for our region’s survival that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support.”(10)

 

On January 2, 2018, India excluded Pakistan from the list of SAARC member countries with which it will be connecting its state-of-the-art National Knowledge Network (NKN) for sharing scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.(11)

 

NKN will extend global research and education networks to six SAARC member states — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is the only SAARC nation that has been left out of this initiative. (12)

NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next-generation applications and services. (13) This new initiative will enable collaboration among researchers from different educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2. It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.(14)

NKN will be connected from Afghanistan to Delhi or Mumbai, from Bangladesh to Kolkata or Delhi, from Bhutan to Kolkata or Delhi, from Nepal to Kolkata or Delhi, from the Maldives to Chennai or Mumbai and from Sri Lanka to Chennai or Mumbai. (15) A state-of-the-art management centre and network operations centre will also be set up to run the NKN network. The connection from Afghanistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka to India would be through a submarine cable for international connectivity. (16)

 

It is evident that it is not Pakistan that is creating hurdles in the way of successful implementation of SAARC’s agenda, but in fact, it is India which is trying to isolate Pakistan by using underhand tactics. India has used terrorism as a basis for suspension of official talks with Pakistan due to alleged terrorist attacks launched by groups from across the border. The chill in relations has spread out to other sectors such as research and scientific development as well – something, which negatively affects the entire region.

 

On the question of terrorism, it is again very clear that it is not Pakistan which is sponsoring terrorism. On the contrary, it is India funding radicalization in South Asia – especially in Pakistan. Kulbhushan Jadhav is a prime example of this.

 

India should also realize that it is not the only country in SAARC that can dominate all the other members. Instead, Delhi should remember the agenda of regional cooperation on which SAARC was formed and countries should use this forum for regional cooperation, not for a rivalry. SAARC should not be the organization to prolong the rivalry among regional states, rather it should serve for greater regional cooperation and economic integration. If the region is thrown into negativity, India will suffer along with the others as well. This is something Delhi needs to keep in mind. After all, what goes around comes around. India must also not forget that CPEC has taken off and sooner than later, SAARC members will gravitate toward this profit making project and leave India which is opposed to CPEC in a lurch.

 

  • The News, December 14, 2001

(1a)       “Uri Attack: India, Pakistan’s Kashmir Dispute Flares Again.” Time. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://time.com/4498891/kashmir-uri-attack-india-pakistan-military-conflict/

 

 (2)       Baqir Sajjad Syed | Jawed Naqvi. “SAARC summit in doldrums after India pulls out.” DAWN.COM September 28, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.dawn.com/news/1286609

 (3)       Kathmandu Anil Giri Hindustan. “Appointment of SAARC secretary general hit by India-Pakistan tensions.” Times. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/appointment-of-SAARC-secretary-general-hit-by-india-pakistan-tensions/story-1b1wlC1CrEbquDvQRuQZkN.html

 (4)     Gurjar, Sankalp. “Is SAARC Doomed?” The Diplomat. April 01, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/is-SAARC-doomed/

 (5)     Ibid.

 (6)     Bagchi, Indrani. “Question mark over SAARC summit again” The Times of India. September 23, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/question-mark-over-SAARC-summit-again/articleshow/60801709.cms

 (7)     Ibid.

 (8)     Bagchi, Indrani. “Question mark over SAARC summit again .” The Times of India. September 23, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/question-mark-over-SAARC-summit-again/articleshow/60801709.cms

 (9)     Ibid.

(10)     Ibid.

 (11)       “India excludes Pakistan from SAARC initiative.” Pakistan Today. Accessed January 25, 2018.

        https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/03/india-excludes-pakistan-from-SAARC-initiative/

 

 (12)       “India excludes Pakistan from a SAARC initiative.” The Economic Times. January 03, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-excludes-pakistan-from-a-SAARC-initiative/articleshow/62345991.cms

 (13)       Ibid.

 (14)       Ibid.

 (15)       “India excludes Pakistan from SAARC initiative”, Pakistan Today. Accessed January 25, 2018.

        https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/03/india-excludes-pakistan-from-SAARC-initiative/

 (16)       “Modi Government excludes Pakistan from the list of SAARC nations for its State-of-the-Art National Knowledge Network Initiative.” Postcard. January 09, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://postcard.news/modi-government-excludes-pakistan-list-SAARC-nations-state-art-national-knowledge-network-initiative/

                                                                          

 

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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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Time to Revise our Afghan Policy by Asif Haroon Raja

Time to Revise our Afghan Policy

Asif Haroon Raja

Unprovoked Afghan Aggression

On May 5, 2017, Afghan border security forces carried out unprovoked firing across the Chaman border in Baluchistan on two Pakistani villages namely Kili Luqman and Kili Jahangir, martyring 11 Pakistani civilians including one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier and injuring 50 people. The merciless act was undertaken when national census teams accompanied by FC troops were busy carrying out national population census in the two Pakistani villages in Chaman area, about which Kabul was informed one week in advance. Kabul government had given full assurance of cooperation. The clearly demarcated border runs between the Pakistani villages and Afghan villages. The firers made use of houses of Afghan villages to fire at census teams and villagers and use Afghan villagers as human shields. The shelling continued for 10 hours.

Afghanistan Back stabs Pakistan Since 1947

Pakistan Housed Fed 5 Million Afghans

 

 

As if this provocative act was not enough, Afghan forces repeated the offensive act across Torkham border in Khyber Agency by firing for one hour on two Pakistani posts. Pakistan has closed the Bab-e-Dosti Chaman border gate as well as Torkham gate and the situation is still tense.

This is the second time that Afghanistan has resorted to aggression in less than one year time. Last was on Torkham crossing point on June 13, 2016 in which one Major succumbed to injuries and 16 were injured in the whole night duel. Reason for unprovoked aggression was construction of border gate well inside Pak territory to check flow of terrorists. Pakistan had retaliated strongly by not only launching a tough counter military action but also closed the two major crossing points for a month.

Pakistan’s Counteraction. After the unprovoked firing, the aggression was fully responded by Pakistan forces causing huge loss on the Afghan side. To start with, civilians from affected villages and adjacent areas were evacuated. Troops were dispatched and Air Force was put on high alert. Pakistan responded effectively. About 7 posts of Afghan Border Police were destroyed and around 30 Afghan soldiers were killed and over 50 injured in counter fire by Pakistan Forces. Pakistan used heavy artillery to pound the Afghan posts. Baab-e-Dosti gate was closed. The counter fire was so devastating that Afghan forces had to wave frantically white flags and pleaded for cease fire. Before cease firing, one suspicious village on the Afghan side was taken under the control by the forward moving troops of Pakistan Armed Forces.

Reason behind Aggression

There are total of 288 crossing points along the 2640 km long Durand Line. Among them, Torkham and Chaman border crossings take major flow of road traffic. Other two important points are Spin Boldak in Balochistan and Angoor Adda in South Waziristan. All crossing points are in use of pedestrians and animal transport since villages are located on both sides of the border at each crossing site. In many cases the villages are divided, half this side and half across the border. These divided villages’ house majority of agents of NDS and RAW working as saboteurs, handlers and informers.

Registration of all residents of border villages would certainly help in identifying the intelligence and drug smuggling network operating on both sides of Chaman and Spin Boldak areas. It was therefore natural for the NDS and drug mafias to get upset over the planned population census and hence decided to disrupt it.

The two colluding partners NDS-RAW tasked notorious drug baron Gen Abdul Razaq Achakzai to undertake the disruption plan. He was more worried about the two villages in Chaman since his handlers were residing there and his smuggling route passed through these villages. He gladly accepted the responsibility. As per rough estimates, his drug smuggling network based in border villages and Afghan refugee camps earn a profit of $ 6 million annually.

NDS-RAW joint Plan

It has now been gathered that NDS and RAW had prepared this plan four days prior to the attack. RAW joined the show since it had failed to prevent population census process in the Azad Kashmir villages situated along the LoC on account of heightened uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Indian forces breaking all records of barbarism against Kashmiris and the world focus on IOK. It decided to place its gun on the shoulders of Afghanistan and fire the gun to kill two birds in one go – avenge Indian Army’s helplessness and to further up the ante on western border.

For the planned attack, light weapons, artillery guns, ammunition and explosives were stored in the houses of the villages opposite the two target villages well before hand. Those houses were used as bunkers from where firing was done and residents were used as human shields to prevent the other side to retaliate with full force. However, Pak forces struck back at Afghan check posts in which the Militia men of Razaq were resting in peace.

Background of Lt Gen Razaq

It will be worthwhile to shed light on so-called Gen Abdul Razaq Achakzai. He was made police chief of Kandahar 6 years ago when Hamid Karzai was in power. Later on, he was given this post on permanent basis as well as the rank of Brig Gen by Karzai as a reward for the exploits of his private Militia against the Taliban. Like many others, this illiterate man who had spent his time in refugee camps before and during the Taliban rule, and he also worked in a shop, is now a Lt Gen. His fortunes soared after 9/11, when he offered his Militia to the Americans to fight the Taliban. His Militia took active part in 2010 operation in Kandahar. Most of his Militia men are trained from American private companies such as DynCorp and Black water. They received training from the American funded Black Water Centre established in Kandahar. He is infamous for mercilessly torturing Taliban captives and for carrying out extra judicial killings.

He is also a blue eyed boy of the US military and like Rashid Dostum maintains a private Militia. Like late Wali Muhammad Karzai, foster brother of Hamid Karzai, who was supervising drug trade of Afghanistan from Kandahar, Razaq has taken over the drug business. From Spin Boldak route alone, 40 maunds of opium is smuggled under his supervision every month. Once inside Baluchistan, his handlers transport the opium in jeeps and major part of it is handed over to Iranian Baloch.

Birdseye view of Pak-Afghan Turbulent Relationship

Despite being a landlocked country and mainly dependent upon Pakistan for its imports and exports, Afghanistan has all along remained an unfriendly country. Pakistan came closer to Afghanistan when it decided to support the Afghan Mujahideen against the occupying Soviet forces in 1980 and hosted well over 3 million Afghan refugees. Gen Ziaul Haq pursued an upright and correct Afghan policy and was instrumental in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans. His sudden death under mysterious circumstances in August 1988 and the US deciding to abandon Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1989 led to power tussle between the seven Mujahedeen groups. Civil war erupted between the groups under Gulbadin Hikmatyar and Northern Alliance (NA) under Ahmad Shah Masood, which raged till the eruption of Taliban movement from Kandahar in 1994. They captured power in October 1996 and pushed NA to Panjsher Valley comprising about 9% of Afghan territory. NA patronized by Iran, India, US and the West became hostile towards Pakistan since it considered Pakistan responsible for its woes.

Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoyed best of relations during the five years rule of Taliban from 1996 till their ouster in November 2001 by the US led western forces and NA. During the Taliban rule, Pakistan’s western border had become safe in true sense. Poppy growing, arms trade and war lordism had ceased in Afghanistan. Both had pledged to provide strategic depth to each other in times of crisis. However, Pakistan was gifted the cancers of drugs and Kalashnikovs as well as sectarianism during and after the Afghan Jihad. The successive civilian governments in the 1990s did nothing to cure the perforating cancers which had militarized the society or to return the Afghan refugees.

Pakistan’s decision to ditch Taliban regime at the behest of Washington in September 2001 and to provide air bases from where the US bombers destroyed Afghanistan, and then providing logistics supply routes to NATO forces from Karachi seaport to Afghanistan via Chaman and Torkham shocked the Taliban. Having experienced the golden era of Gen Zia, they could never imagine that another Pakistani General would treacherously stab them in the back to win the affections of a super power. Pakistan also helped in netting runaway Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and handing them over to CIA for onwards transfer to Guantanamo Bay Prison. Since then Pakistan’s Afghan policy has remained in confusion and in doldrums thereby accumulating distrust and widening the distance between the two countries.

The hey days of brotherly and blood relations have now become history and today Afghan government as well as the people of Afghanistan have become averse to Pakistan. Indian psychological operators have penetrated in each and every government department and have succeeded in influencing the minds of Afghans. Their minds have been systematically brainwashed to hate Pakistan and to see India as their friend and benefactor. Afghan society had been Sovietized by the former USSR during its 10-year occupation and now India has Indianized Afghan society.

Afghans have been told repeatedly that Pakistan is a betrayer; it had first betrayed NA and then the Taliban; and that it’s an enemy of Afghanistan and wants to make it its colony.  In actuality, Afghanistan for all practical purposes has become a colony of India. The two have become strategic partners, and RAW-NDS backed by USA are working against Pakistan in unison since 2002. In fact, RAAM and NDS were established by RAW. All what Pakistan had done for Afghanistan in its testing times has been washed down the drain.

While NA has not forgotten and forgiven Pakistan for its support to the Taliban, The Taliban have out of expediency overlooked Pakistan’s betrayal and has thus far not picked up arms against Pak security forces or indulged in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. They have confined their resistance war against the occupying forces and the collaborators inside Afghanistan and have let the TTP to bleed Pakistan. The US, NATO, Afghan government and India have been persistently trying to create a wedge between the Taliban and Pakistan security forces and pitch them against each other.

The US to some extent achieved this objective after it forced Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan in June 2014 and flush out Pak-friendly so-called Haqqani network (HN), then playing up death of Mulla Omar in July 2015 to scuttle Afghan peace talks, then pressing it to force the Taliban to lay down arms and come to negotiating table, or else fight the HN and so-called Quetta Shura, and then droning Mulla Mansour on May 22, 2016 when he was about to join peace process, and then abruptly discarding Pakistan from Quadrilateral peace talks forum and adding India.

While Pakistan exerted pressure on the Taliban to agree to talks, it couldn’t win any concession for them from Washington and Kabul. Pakistan’s efforts to convince the Taliban to accept the US dictated peace agreement and the US tailored constitution has not been well received among the rank and file of Taliban. They view it as another betrayal to please USA and to earn its kudos. For them, it amounts to disregarding their huge sacrifices and abandoning liberation movement at a time when victory is in sight, merely to share power as a junior partner.

This is naturally unacceptable to the Taliban under Haibatullah, since they have sacrificed their three generations and have gained control over 60% of Afghan territory and restricted the writ of inept, corrupt and unpopular ruling regime of Ashraf Ghani to Kabul only, entirely dependent upon $8.1 billion annual foreign aid.

While Trump has acknowledged that terrorism “cannot be defeated with any sort of finality”, he has given his nod to induct of 3-5000 additional troops to beef up US 8400 troops in Afghanistan in coming June. It amounts to reinforcing the failure. As had happened after the two troop surges in 2009, casualty rate of occupiers and collaborators as well as of civilians will jump up. Overall security situation will worsen and may trigger another round of civil war as had happened in 1991.

The situation is getting ripe for such a gory scenario in the wake of enhanced economic stakes of China and its concerns about ETIM; Russia’s deepening interest in the affairs of Afghanistan in order to ward off the emerging threat of Daesh, and to gain access to warm waters; Iran wanting to retain and possibly expand its sphere of influence in Western and Central Afghanistan; Uzbekistan concerns about IMU; landlocked Central Asian States quest to join CPEC and have peaceful Afghanistan; Qatar desiring to retain its diplomatic clout over Taliban owing to their political office in Doha; and USA and India having no intention to abandon Afghanistan.

As can be seen, there are too many external players having their fingers in the pie of Afghanistan. Pakistan has suffered the most because of continuous instability in Afghanistan since 1978 and none can match its sacrifices. It shares 60% of border with Afghanistan. And yet Pakistan is the only country which is being repeatedly pressed to stay out of Afghanistan. On one hand it is coerced to make the Taliban agree to talk, and in the same breath it is told to sever ties with them.

Sadly, our leaders with feet of clay and devoid of clear cut Afghan policy, have been ceding to wrongful demands of USA and its puppet regime in Kabul, well knowing that Afghan soil has been and still is in use for cross border terrorism to destabilize Pakistan. They obsequiously sing the tutored song that Afghan peace process should be Afghan owned and Afghan led, and it will only assist the peace process. How can this formula work when the biggest stakeholders Taliban are kept out of the loop. Russia has now taken the initiative and demanded their inclusion in future peace talks. But why we are shy of taking them on board when all other stakeholders are secretly in contact with them?

Ground Realities

  1. The string-puppet regime in Kabul is wholly sold to USA and India and so is NDS to CIA and RAW.
  2. Whatever actions taken by Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah or NDS are dictated by USA and India. Friday attacks were directed by India and had the approval of USA.
  3. Song of cross border terrorism by Pakistan sung by Karzai regime and now by Ghani regime was composed by India; it’s the same song which India sings with regard to IOK.
  4. By virtue of heavy presence and influence of India in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s western border have become insecure and cannot be termed as friendly or neutral.
  5. Pakistan is faced with a twin threat both from eastern and western borders.
  6. This threat will remain viable as long as Northern Alliance remain in power and the US and India are present in Afghanistan.
  7. India will keep using Afghanistan as a launching pad for cross border terrorism as long as USA stays there.
  8. Afghan unity government installed by USA is unnatural, highly unpopular, bunch of collaborators and illegal, and has no right to decide the future course of Afghanistan and to oppress the great majority of Afghan Pashtuns and keep them out of power.

Recommendations

  1. Pakistan will have to reconfigure its force goals and deploy its troops and radars to grapple with the twin threat.
  2. It has become all the more essential to effectively seal the western border through fencing, towers/pickets and floodlights at the earliest.
  3. Population census of all border villages must be completed expeditiously and saboteurs/drug pushers taken to task.
  4. All the 288 crossing points including the main points of Angoor Adda, Torkham, Chaman and Spin Boldak that are in use of terrorists, saboteurs and smugglers need to be fully guarded.
  5. The two main crossing points of Chaman and Torkham should be kept closed for next three months if not more, irrespective of hue and cry made by vested groups and USA whose supply routes for increased numbers of troops would also get affected. This time we must remain firm and treat Afghanistan as India treats Nepal or Bangladesh.
  6. Pakistan should recall its ambassador in Kabul and give a marching order to Afghan ambassador in Islamabad.
  7. No further contact should be made with illegal unity regime in Kabul.
  8. Return of Afghan refugees must be accelerated.
  9. Operation Raddul Fasaad should intensify its combing operations to nab handlers, facilitators, financiers and to demolish sleeping cells in all urban centres.
  10. Joint Intelligence Directorate must become fully operational and stretch its tentacles to the eastern, western and southern vulnerable border belts.
  11. Armed drones should be used to target hideouts of Fazlullah and Khalid Khurasani.
  12. A case should be taken up in the UN about the aggression of Afghan forces in Chaman and Torkham and told that it was a combined Indo-Afghan attack.
  13. India should be warned that all attacks and terror attacks emanating from Afghanistan are wholly Indian sponsored and it should refrain from it or else be prepared for the consequences.
  14. Pakistan should stop relying on USA and hoping that it will rein in Kabul or New Delhi since it is the chief master mind behind the Pakistan specific covert war.
  15. Instead, Pakistan should now rely more on China and Russia and with the help of the two, involve SCO and possibly Iran and Turkey in Afghan peace process and should boldly propose Taliban as stakeholders.
  16. The emerging alliance should exert pressure on USA to quit Afghanistan.
  17. Pakistan must immediately revise its foreign and defence policies related to Afghanistan, which are entirely based on one-sided policy of appeasement and make it more aggressive and dynamic.The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence and security analyst, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Takes part in TV talk shows, delivers talks and take part in seminars. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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