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

Obtaining situation in Afghanistan Asif Haroon Raja

Obtaining situation in Afghanistan

Asif Haroon Raja

The US-NATO-ANSF military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan have been going on since October 7, 2001 relentlessly and have now reached a stalemate. For all practical purposes, the US had lost the war after it pulled out bulk of 150,000 ISAF troops in December 2014 and allowed its chief foe Taliban to gain initiative and an upper edge in the battlefield. The US is however refusing to accept its defeat and is prolonging its stay.

After abandoning boots on ground strategy and relying on airpower and weak Afghan National Army, the occupation forces are locked up in 8 military bases with limited freedom of action. The 3,52000 strong ANSF have suffered extremely heavy casualties since 2016. On average, their casualty rate has been 5000 per year.

 

The occupiers are in a quandary since they can neither convert their defeat into victory, nor can contain the Taliban offensive, or can pressurize them to ceasefire and sign the peace deal on their terms. They are caught in a quagmire of their own making in which they can neither stay for long, nor can they curtail casualties, or can pullout and exit safely and honorably. They are surviving on the logistic routes provided by Pakistan and are also dependent upon Pakistan for their departure.

 

The songs of human rights, women rights, fruits of democracy have all evaporated in thin air. And so has the bloated arrogance over its invincibility after the US agreed that political solution was the only viable option to restore peace and for that purpose sat across the table to hold talks with so-called terrorists and beseech them to ceasefire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Taliban having gained initiative and a decisive military edge over the occupiers and collaborators in 2015, are constantly attacking high value targets all over the country and are constantly gaining space. No respite was given during the nine rounds of peace talks. In the last session at Doha, all friction points had been settled and Trump had extended an invitation to the Taliban leadership to sign the peace agreement at Camp David.

The peace process was however, halted after Trump abruptly canceled the meeting scheduled on 11 September, 2019 on a flimsy excuse of death of one US sergeant. The spoilers once again succeeded in derailing peace and letting the orgy of bloodshed to continue. Disruption of peace process didn’t bring any change in aggressiveness of the Taliban and they continued to strike targets and draw blood. Major victims of the firefight between the two rivals are the ordinary civilians whose death rate has increased significantly.

Presidential election was held on 28 September despite disturbed security situation but the results have so far not been announced due to widespread irregularities. Political uncertainty favor the Taliban and disfavors Ashraf Ghani.

In October, Zalmay Khalilzad was once again sent to renew talks and his efforts helped in swap over of prisoners and to lower tensions. In November, one American and one Australian in captivity of Taliban were freed in exchange of three Taliban prisoners including Anas Haqqani detained in Bagram jail. However, the month of November proved costly for Americans; 19 US soldiers died in combat. Trump made an unannounced visit to Bagram airbase on 28 Nov. While addressing the troops he reaffirmed his desire to reduce the US troops by 5-8000. He announced that talks with the Taliban were being resumed.     

Suicide attack on Bagram airbase on 11 Dec was the biggest attack in the 18-year war causing heavy casualties in men and material. It jolted the US administration as well as Pentagon and impelled them to resume peace talks in real earnest. The 10th round has commenced at Doha but ceasefire and direct talks with Kabul remain the sticking in points.

It is yet not clear whether a breakthrough will be achieved. While the Taliban have so far not hinted at agreeing to ceasefire as claimed by Trump, the spoilers are still active to scuttle peace process.  

In case peace deal is signed and the war torn Afghanistan become peaceful, the biggest losers would be India, puppet regime in Kabul, Israel, Pentagon, US security contractors, drug mafia and Afghan warlords, all of them nurturing mercantile interests. India wants to retain its perverse influence in Kabul so as to draw maximum economic benefits from next door Central Asian States, and to pose twin threat to the security of Pakistan. Regime in Kabul knows that without the crutches of USA, it will fall instantly. Pentagon wants arms industry of military industrial complex to garner maximum profits. Others have their own commercial interests. The US also realizes that control over Eurasia would ensure its world domination.   

These vested entities had egged on George Bush and Obama to remain focused on use of force. They had prevented Obama from making a clean break in December 2014 and compelled him to leave behind Resolute Support Group. Same pressure groups pressurized Trump to increase force level and to drop more bombs in 2018 than ever before. Now they are not letting him to withdraw 15000 US troops and want the war to drag on. He is being scared that complete withdrawal would be catastrophic for the US geo-strategic and geo-economics interests in the region.

They are least concerned that Afghan war has become the longest, bloodiest and deadliest in the US history which has surpassed the toll of the two Great Wars. It has cost $ 2 trillion and 2500 fatalities to USA apart from tens of thousands of injuries caused to the US soldiers and the social trauma suffered by the families of the victims.

The US is mindful of the growing influence of Russia, China and Iran in Afghanistan and their closeness with the Taliban, which is detrimental to its geo-strategic and geo-economic ambitions in this region. China’s BRI project has unnerved the sole super power since it has the potential to make China the leading economic power of the world by 2025. That is why, the US has accelerated trade war with China.

The US had occupied Afghanistan with a view to make it a permanent military garrison and by virtue of its strategic location, be able to meddle into the affairs of China, Russia, Iran, denuclearize Pakistan, oversee Middle East and above all gain monopoly over the resource rich Eurasian belt stretching from Central Asia to the Caspian Sea. It also had eyes on opium and minerals like lithium in Afghanistan.

What is most upsetting for USA is that in spite of spending colossal amount and using excessive force, it has not been able to accomplish single objective. Conversely, it has lost its prestige and élan and today it finds itself in lose-lose situation. It has come to this sorry pass because of its insincerity of purpose, evil designs, and wrong selection of allies that have been pursuing their own selfish agenda.

Another reason is weak and visionless military commanders, overestimating theirs and underestimating the capabilities of foes, painting rosy picture and imagining that they are winning the war. Devoid of fundamental understanding of Afghanistan, they didn’t have foggiest idea as to why they were fighting the purposeless longest war and how to keep their under commands motivated. They didn’t learn any lesson from history that Afghanistan has been the traditional graveyard of super powers where it was easy for the victors to barge in but near impossible to extricate safely. The ghost of Vietnam is now stalking and haunting the very being of Americans operating in Afghanistan.

Even after reaching the edge of precipice, the US leaders are still hoping against hope that they will snatch victory out of the jaws of sure defeat. Gen Nicholson stated in November 2017 that the ANSF would expand control over 80% of Afghan territory in next two years. It was a shot in the dark and devoid of emerging ground realities. Contrary to the claims made by senior US officials that progress was being made in Afghanistan, the fact is that the Taliban have control over 56% of the territory and the rest is contested. The government writ is confined to capital cities only, which are also frequently targeted by the Taliban.

The Washington Post of December 9 has spilled the beans. Quoting official documents, it stated that war is unwinnable, and that the American people have constantly been lied to. The Pentagon papers reveal the impressions of US officials that after toppling Taliban regime, killing Osama bin Laden and dismantling Al-Qaeda with the help of Pakistan, the US had no business to stay on and undermine its reputation. All reports initiated from Kabul to Washington presented “All OK”, whereas on ground nothing was OK.  

Failing to defeat the Taliban in the battleground, the US has been trying to weaken the Taliban by dividing them but failed. Having failed on all fronts, the US instead of taking corrective measures, found Pakistan a convenient scapegoat and held it responsible for all its failures. To hide its embarrassment, it derives some satisfaction by whipping Pakistan. The US is now exerting pressure on Islamabad to force the Taliban to ceasefire, hold direct talks with the regime in Kabul, share power with them, and allow the US to retain few military bases. Or else fight and defeat them.

Pakistan has suffered the most in fighting the US imposed war on terror and servilely abiding to its dictates. It has also produced best results against terrorism, but instead of being rewarded, it is accused, insulted and punished for uncommitted sins. India and Afghanistan have been in the forefront to conduct proxy war as well as propaganda war against Pakistan. On account of policy of appeasement pursued by Pakistan, the trio has been successful in selling its narrative to the world that Pakistan is a terror abetting state and a nursery of terrorism. From the time of Gen Musharraf, Pakistan has been receiving invectives and lashes without a whimper thereby encouraging the real offenders to indulge in one-sided defamation campaign unobtrusively.

The US which is the strategic partner of India and the ruling regime in Kabul has thoroughly misused Pakistan to serve its self-seeking interests. Pakistan was taken on board as a tactical partner for the achievement of short-term objectives but was always regarded as a target. Pakistan has been subjected to series of conspiracies, covert and overt operations for over 16 years relentlessly. In collusion with India, Afghanistan, Israel and the West, the US has now stepped up the hybrid war using all possible kinetic and non-kinetic resources to make Pakistan a compliant state. Billions are being spent on proxies, media, NGOs.  

Pakistan’s economy which is reeling under the weight of mountain of debt is being targeted through IMF and FATF in addition to fomenting bedlam. India’s aggressive posturing since February 24th, followed by the August 5 action in Indian Occupied Kashmir, are being reinforced with series of internal disturbances such as PTM movement, Azadi March led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, controversial decision given by the Chief Justice regarding extension of the Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, students agitations demanding restoration of student unions, and now the lawyers-doctors clash at Lahore. These disturbances are designed to deflect the attention of the world from the sin committed by Modi regime in Kashmir and to destabilize the PTI govt.

Modi’s misadventure in occupied Kashmir is proving costly. The spirits of the Kashmiris locked up since 5 August, denied of basic human rights and subjected to worst torture have not dampened. As predicted, the violent clashes in the northeastern states particularly in Assam in reaction to the recently passed controversial citizenship law, and protests in other parts of India in reaction to Modi regime’s fascism against minorities and craze for Hindutva might prove fatal for the unity of India. Likewise, if Trump further delays the departure of US troops from the inferno of Afghanistan, the end result could be catastrophic.    

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac research Centre, member think tank PESS. asifharoonraja@gmail.com                           

 

 

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Indian air intrusion night 25/26 February 2019

Indian air intrusion night 25/26 February 2019

Background Information. The intelligence agencies of India USA, Israel and the puppet government in Kabul (RAW, CIA, NDS) duly supported by MI-6, Mossad and BND based in Kabul have been targeting Pakistan from Afghanistan as well as Iran from 2003 onward to destabilize, denuclearize, de-Islamize and Balkanize Pakistan. The collaborating agencies have been making use of paid proxies and hybrid war to achieve their objectives. Pakistan security forces after fighting the war on terror for 15 years finally succeeded in chucking out all terrorist groups and restoring peace. Today Pakistan is in a much stronger position to deal with internal and external challenges which have dismayed India and its strategic partners.

Pre-Pulwama Attack Situation

India is highly perturbed over the fast-changing regional scenario which is going in favour of Pakistan and is against the interest of India. Despite India’s best efforts to scuttle CPEC, it is making good progress. Game-changing CPEC has disrupted India’s plan to isolate Pakistan. The US-Taliban peace talks in which India has no role, while Pakistan is playing a key role has upset India. The US plans to strike a peace deal with the Taliban and arrive at a political settlement. The US-NATO troops intend to exit from Afghanistan, which will pave the way for the Taliban to regain power. That would mean decrease if not the termination of Indian influence and increase of Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.

The gulf between Pakistan and the Arab Gulf States in the aftermath of the Yemen crisis in 2015 had been quickly filled up by India by getting close to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and UAE. The void has now been filled and bitterness removed after the change of government in Islamabad and quiet diplomacy of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Much to the disappointment of India, old camaraderie between Pakistan and KSA-UAE has been restored. KSA, UAE and Qatar have extended generous financial support and oil on deferred payment to help the new government led by Imran Khan to tide over its economic crisis.

China is continuing to consolidate its strategic relationship with Pakistan and to bolster CPEC. The USA found itself stuck in Afghanistan and wanting to exit safely and honourably is waving an olive oil to Pakistan and extending an offer of a free trade agreement. Amidst the happy tidings for Pakistan, planned high profile visit of Crown Prince M. Bin Salman to Pakistan and then to India and the expected Saudi investment of $20 billion together with setting up of an oil refinery at Gwadar seaport to further boost up CPEC alarmed India. Visit of Afghan Taliban to Islamabad on 17th, hearing of Kalbushan case in ICJ on 18th, crucial meeting of FATF on 18th  for which India was lobbying to put Pakistan in the blacklist, and PSL matches taking place in Karachi-Lahore were other important events in that timeframe.  

Internally, Narendra Modi is facing heavy criticism from the public since he has been unable to fulfil the tall promises he made to the people of India. Instead of uplifting the GDP above 11% as boasted by him, the GDP has dropped below 7% and devaluation of bigger currency notes and taxation have affected the small businessmen and farmers. His extremist policies against the minorities in India and craze to promote Hindutva have declined his popularity and minimized his chances to get re-elected. In Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Kashmiris have got alienated and Kashmir is fast slipping out of the hands of India owing to oppressive policies of BJP government.

Moreover, the atrocities of Indian security forces are now being noticed with concern by the international community, the UN and even the saner elements in India. Modi is feeling frustrated that he has failed to overawe Pakistan through his aggressive tactics, keeping the Line of Control hot by carrying out repeated violations (300 in 2016, over 1900 violations in 2017 and that many in 2018), resorting to water terrorism and hurling threats to break Pakistan into four pieces. Much to his distress, the electoral loss of BJP in five states has panicked him.

 

 

 

It was in the backdrop of series of upsetting developments for Modi when seen in context with approaching elections in India in May 2019 that it was apprehended that he might resort to some sort of misadventure with a view to infuse fresh life into his election campaign, distract the attention of the world from IOK, find an excuse to further step up ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims, change the demography of Kashmir Valley, drum up old narrative that Pakistan is abetting terrorism in Kashmir and isolate Pakistan diplomatically. It became all the more crucial because of the planned visit of Crown Prince on 16-17 February.

Pulwama Attack

On 14 February, a suicide bomber rammed his car filled with explosive into the military convoy in Pulwama (part of Jammu in IOK) killing 40 Indian CRPF soldiers. Within minutes of the occurrence, India blamed Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Pakistan without even carrying out preliminary investigations.

Possibilities Open

  1. False flag operation by India.
  2. Indigenous suicide attack by Mujahideen.
  3. Pakistan sponsored attack.

False Flag Operation. India has mastered the art of false flag operations and has been using it frequently to project itself as the victim of terrorism (attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, Mumbai attacks in 2008, Pathankot and Uri attacks in 2016). Indian leaders utter lies without any qualm and have been consistently cooking up fake stories to malign Pakistan. Need for engineering an attack was felt by the BJP to garner the votes of Hindu Far Right, to dampen the visit of Crown Prince in Pakistan and to colour his perceptions. Most probably.   

Indigenous Attack. The way the Kashmiris are being oppressed, killed, maimed, tortured, raped and humiliated since 1989 by Indian forces and are being denied the right of self-determination gives them a strong cause to resort to the extreme measure of suicide attacks. Even the children and girls throw stones at the Indian soldiers and do not fear them. Adil was among the many who were detained, tortured and made to rub nose on the floor. This option is probable but doesn’t suit India.

Pakistan Sponsored Attack. Pakistan draws no benefit and stands to lose on all accounts particularly when its national policy and strategy is defensive, and has shown extraordinary restraint in the face of Indian indiscriminate firing along the LoC causing deaths and injuries to a large number of civilians. Pakistan has paid a heavy price in controlling terrorism, it is making concerted efforts to get itself out of the FATF grey list and its main focus is on improving the economy. Hence this option is unviable and ruled out but suits India the most.

Orchestrated War Hysteria

From February 14 onward, Indian media stimulated a calculated hysteria duly augmented by BJP hawks. Drums of war were drummed and slogan of ‘teach Pakistan a lesson’ was loudly chanted. Options of how best to avenge the attack in Pulwama were openly discussed on Indian media channels. Kashmiris were hunted all over in Jammu and Indian cities, killed, thrashed and girls kidnapped. The state machinery backed up the goons belonging to RSS, BJP, Shiv Sena and other extremist Hindu groups. Additional 12000 troops were inducted into the already saturated Kashmir Valley to further tyrannize the Kashmiris.

It was owing to jingoism of India that the Crown Prince delayed his visit to Pakistan by one day and visit of the Taliban to Islamabad was also cancelled. Highly successful visit of the Crown Prince to Islamabad followed by failure of Modi to extract a statement from the visitor advising Pakistan to rein in Pakistan-based terrorist groups allegedly involved in Pulwama attack thoroughly disappointed him.

Failure of UNSC to blame and condemn Pakistan, rejection of Indian accusation against Pakistan in Pulwama attack by Turkey, and Trump desisting from pointing a finger at Pakistan further upset Modi. Wholehearted support of Indian Sikhs to the marooned Kashmiris added to Modi’s woes.

Since Modi had stirred up the emotions of Hindu extremists to a high pitch and they were baying for Pakistan’s blood, he was left with no option other than undertaking some kind of a token strike inside Pakistan to pacify them. Weighing the pros and cons of each option short of war and with no human cost, it was decided to opt for air option against a civilian target under the garb of striking an imaginary training camp of JeM.           

Pakistan’s Readiness

Contrary to Modi’s warmongering and irresponsible statements, PM Imran Khan gave a balanced and mature response by offering peace and dialogue and at the same time curtly stating that “Pakistan will not think to react but will react”. Chairing the NSC meeting, he authorized the military to react with full force whenever attacked. Gen Bajwa made it clear that the Pak Army’s response will be beyond Indian expectations and will stun India. The message was loud and clear; “don’t mess up with nuclear Pakistan”! In a meeting between the Army and PAF chiefs on 25 February, they expressed satisfaction over the operational preparedness of armed forces for a befitting response to any Indian aggression.

All the three services, as well as the air defence, carried out necessary preparations to face the possible Indian threat. The PAF started flying combat air patrols (CAP) in a rotation along the eastern and northwestern borders. 

Sensing the ugly mood, Pakistan Foreign Minister expressed his apprehensions to his counterparts of other countries that India is up to something nasty and it must be restrained from undertaking a military venture against nuclear Pakistan since it will have horrendous consequences.

Indian Air Intrusions

On the night of 25/26 February, one of the CAP observed Indian jets flying towards Lahore-Sialkot border. Although it turned back when challenged, I guess it was probably a deception to distract attention from the main strike. The next batch of jets was observed by another CAP along Okara-Bahawalpur front across the border which was also a diversion. The 3rd   heavy batch of Mirage-2000s was next spotted by the CAP approaching Muzaffarabad sector-Kiran Valley. They crossed the LoC from Tangdhar salient opposite Balakot sector and penetrated 4-5 miles at 0345 a.m. When challenged by the CAP, the jets flew back in haste at 0350 a.m. after jettisoning their payload of 4 bombs at Jabba. The bombs fell at a deserted place causing no human casualty or damage to property except for uprooting some pine trees. It was not an attack on any military target but an intrusion which sought a civilian target.

Claims made by India. True to its tradition, India has claimed that the attacking jets successfully targeted JeM camps in Balakot, each bomb weighing 1000 kg and in their 21 minutes operation, they killed 350 militants and destroyed a madrassa supposed to be a training centre of JeM. The claim is preposterous, fictitious and entirely based on a figment of imaginations. This claim is similar to the one invented after the fake surgical strike conducted in AJK in September 2016, which has not been proved to this date. Indians are foolishly celebrating the fabricated victory and deriving a vicarious pleasure.

DG ISPR Press Briefing. The DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor conducted an elaborate press briefing today and with the help of slides, he exposed the fake story woven by India. He has extended an open invitation to the local and foreign media persons as well as diplomats to accompany him to the scene of occurrence and see for themselves and to interview the locals whether any area had been bombed/strafed by jets and whether there was any trace of human blood, or any evacuation or burial of dead bodies was carried out, and whether there was a single brick found from the debris where the bombs had landed. He stated that the Pakistan military’s response will come definitely and will be different and will surprise India.

Pakistan’s Response

Indian incursion has united the divided society and the polarized political parties. A large number of rallies have taken place in various cities to denounce Indian aggression. The nation has gelled together to face the Indian challenge squarely. The National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies have censured the blatant intrusion of Indian jets and have extended their full support to the armed forces. The PM chaired the NSC meeting today in which it was decided that a credible response will soon be given at the time and place of our choosing. After the joint parliament session tomorrow, a meeting of National Command Authority will be held.

Until and unless Pakistan gives a hard-hitting response, it will encourage India to undertake similar air violations on the pattern of ground violations in Kashmir. On the diplomatic front, we should make a similar noise as is being done by Indian media and their leaders.

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

           

                      

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Restrictions imposed on social media by Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Restrictions imposed on social media

Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

When I was serving as Director Psychological Operations (PsyOps) in GHQ way back in the early 1990s, I had the privilege of revolutionizing this neglected subject and upgrading its significance in the Army in a big way for the first time. The then Army Chief Gen Asif Nawaz backed my efforts. I had argued that while the armed forces prepared itself during peacetime for the future war by carrying out intensive physical, technical, educational, operational and administrative training and procuring weapon systems in order to defeat the enemies on the battlefield, When proxy war failed to achieve its objectives, the subversive war was further stepped up which is now being termed as hybrid war. It has been made more lethal by adding social media to heighten political polarization and to sharpen the existing divides and to create tensions in civil-military relations. Besides Indian water terrorism, Indo-US-Afghan aggressive tactics are aimed at creating chaos and melting down Pakistan’s economy. remain operative both during peace and wartime to supplement war effort.

Peace time psy ops are akin to pre-H Hour artillery bombardment to soften the adversary from within. The only difference is that the bombardment is noisy and can be responded through counter bombardment, but in case of PSYOPS, the deceptive and pain-free stings and arrows aimed at subverting and controlling the minds are silent and invisible. It is slow-poisoning of the minds to shatter the will to fight. 

Pakistan had gone through the painful experience of the 1971 tragedy in which India had made maximum use of Psy Ops to brainwash the Bengalis. It took Indian psychological operators 23 years of sustained efforts to subvert the minds of the Bengalis and make them love India and detest West Pakistan. All that time, we kept sleeping and didn’t take note of the building storm. Indo-Bengali poisonous propaganda was not countered and no effort was made to show the true face of Hindus who in connivance with the British had turned the Muslim nobility of East Bengal into servitude and had made the region the most impoverished region of united India during the British rule.

Bifurcation of Bengal and making Calcutta part of West Bengal in 1947 further worsened the socio-economic plight of East Bengal. Our successive rulers failed to address the genuine grievances of eastern province and above all to integrate the two widely apart provinces because of which the gap kept widening. The germs of Bengali nationalism were first stoked through language riots in 1953 followed by political and economic deprivations. The youth was systematically indoctrinated by Hindu teachers and professors. In the final act of the drama, Indian protégé Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was given a free hand to build Bengali nationalism and to foment hatred against West Pakistan. Once the small-sized Pak military force lost the support of Bengalis, East Pakistan became a ripe apple to be plucked and it became easier for the Indian military to intervene and win the war on the East front.

After the creation of Bangladesh, RAW turned its attention towards Sindh and Baluchistan but we once again failed to checkmate subversion of the two provinces. By early 1990s, Sindh had turned into a wounded province due to urban-rural divide, while Baluchistan had gone through a full-fledged insurgency in the 1970s. RAW also had a hand in keeping the Pashtunistan issue alive and its footprints were seen in the Saraiki belt. I reminded the policymakers in the Army about the dangers of subversion and the need for a counter plan to thwart its ill effects on the society both at the Army and national levels.  

Indian Psy Ops were aimed at fomenting misgivings, disillusionment, hatred, ethnicity, sectarianism, religious extremism, political polarization, intensifying love for materialism and contaminating the moral turpitude of the society, the effects of which had also seeped into the armed forces. The ultimate aim was to weaken the willpower of the armed forces to fight. All these trends intensified in the 1990s.

India and Pakistan have and continue to have ‘issues’ – skirmishes and confrontation exist over the disputed Kashmir area.

Indian PSYOPS is not well known nor overtly advertised. It is housed within the Indian Army Intelligence Corps.

 

  

 

 

 

I held a strong view that no amount of tangible factors will help until and unless the intangibles are also strengthened to build up morals, patriotism and nationalism in the armed forces as well as the society as a whole that had become vulnerable to foreign subversion. I highlighted the need to create awareness about the pitfalls of this silent war in which India had gained substantial expertise. I had given a workable plan to develop defensive and offensive PSYOPS. Had a national Psy Ops Cell been established in 1993 as suggested by me and approved by the GHQ, we would have been in a better position to confront the ongoing hybrid war. 

After 9/11, India teamed up with the US, Israel, the West and the puppet Afghan regime and launched a massive covert war coupled with subversive war to destabilize, denuclearize, secularize and balkanize Pakistan.

It is now an established fact that the US enabled Gen Musharraf regime in 2002 to expand and modernize Pak electronic media by doling out millions of dollars. Most leading media houses were purchased by foreign powers to promote their agenda of demonizing Islam, liberalizing the society, promoting obscenity and vulgarity and deflecting the youth towards a life of fun and frolic. Media was misused to sell tutored perceptions, to clone the minds of the elites, foment extremism, divide the society, and breed extreme hatred. The secular-Islamic divide was widened. 

Purchased proxies were used to destabilize FATA, settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Urban terrorism was ignited with the help of Blackwater, CIA-FBI network, MQM and NGOs duly aided by their toadies.

Army, Rangers, FC and Police had to make sustained efforts from 2009 onward to rollback rural and urban terrorism but at a heavy cost and much to the grief of adversaries of Pakistan. Today, Pakistan can confidently claim that the back of foreign-supported terrorist groups has been comprehensively broken and there is no network or safe haven anywhere in the northwest. Likewise, the militancy of MQM has been busted and the separatist movement in Baluchistan reined in.

Notwithstanding these outstanding achievements that have been acknowledged by the world, the terrorist groups based in Afghanistan in concert with their handlers, facilitators and financiers in Pakistan are still able to carry out random attacks. Nationwide Operation Raddul Fasad coupled with fencing of western border and gradual implementation of National Action Plan are taking care of these aspects adequately.

When proxy war failed to achieve its objectives, the subversive war was further stepped up which is now being termed as hybrid war. It has been made more lethal by adding social media to heighten political polarization and to sharpen the existing divides and to create tensions in civil-military relations. Besides Indian water terrorism, Indo-US-Afghan aggressive tactics are aimed at creating chaos and melting down Pakistan’s economy.

The Army is neither equipped nor has the expertise and capacity to fight back the hybrid war in which electronic and social media are playing a lead role. So far, no plan has been made to counter this menace. As a consequence, the inaudible and concealed hybrid war has been going on unabatedly unchecked.

Unfortunately, the veterans have bolstered the negativity of social media. Instead of behaving maturely, in their exuberance to exhibit love for Pak Army and their parent units, they have been adding fuel to the deplorable media war between the Patwaris (PML-N lovers) and Youthias (PTI lovers), each trying to gun down the other and intensifying intolerance. The disgruntled veterans are using this platform to air their grouses and have crossed all limits of decency by going to the extent of passing filthy comments against each other. The majority which is tilted toward the PTI has been passing loathsome remarks, unbecoming of a gentleman.

As if this was not enough, they divulge information about the happenings in the combat zones. Some have been passing details about ongoing operations much before the desired details could reach GHQ. In some cases, the media received information about an incident in greater details than what was received by GHQ. On occasions, the media pressed the ISPR to confirm the information that is collected from social media and the ISPR couldn’t answer back. This has been happening since some young officers deployed in the combat zones shared information with their retired seniors, or relatives, or in the social media groups run by veterans in which hate-filled articles of civil writers are also shared and lauded.

WhatsApp Groups run by retired unit officers in particular mindlessly divulge names and location of units and officers and intimate details of activities of their units. Likewise, all promotion and postings of senior officers are flashed. Senior veterans taking part in TV talk at times display their political biases and many times have to face embarrassing situations.

No heed was paid by the veterans to several warnings issued by the GHQ. It was also learnt that India, in particular, had penetrated most groups. Facebook is already controlled by RAW from Pune and by the Jews. In the wake of the veterans displaying lack of sense of security and becoming a security hazard and an embarrassment for the Army, the GHQ was compelled to debar serving Army officers and re-employed retired officers from taking part in social media. Restrictions have now been imposed upon the veterans on use of WhatsApp, Twitter and Veterans Groups operative in social media. Retired officers operating groups having military signatures, or created on the basis of military affiliations such as PMA Courses, parent units, staff courses etc have been told to close them or change the title nomenclatures.   

Some of the veterans have resented the move, arguing it shouldn’t be applicable to the retired officers. One by the name of Brig retired Syed Hanif Ahmed has recently circulated his vitriolic write-up on social media, terming the decision as illogical and stupid. While the saner people all across the globe are raising their voices against the hazards of social media which is dividing the families, he has termed the social media as a necessity. In his view, social media helps in keeping the family connected, and in maintaining a bond between the serving and retired officers. He forgets that this bond had been happily kept intact before the birth of social media.

In his jaundiced view, growing bondage between a unit and retired officers and families because of WhatsApp has vexed the senior military leadership. To give vent to his feelings and the questions, “Are we traitors, or are doing something illogical and immoral”? So far, his identity has not been found out and it seems he is fake. In any case, the sort of language he has used is regrettable. Chairman Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society Lt Gen Amjad Shuaib has deplored it and has viewed the GHQ decision as most appropriate.

In my view, this decision should have been taken much earlier. But as they say, it is never too late. The berserk social media which has of late added another evil in the form of ‘Tip Top’, it needs to be bridled. Likewise, the electronic media which has gone bonkers requires disciplining. Anchors have become omniscient jabbers, firing hate-filled salvos on those whom they don’t like, and trying to influence the minds of decision makers.

To effectively fight the 5th generation war, the policymakers will have to take tough measures. I reckon plans are afoot to strengthen toothless PMRA and make it an effective regulatory authority that can put sense into a wayward approach of media. There is an urgent need to ensure that all avenues of foreign funding to media houses are closed, and all anchors and journalists on the payroll of foreign agencies weeded out. Our media which has become a tool in the hands of adversaries of Pakistan should be streamlined and made into the 4th pillar of the state.

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence and security analyst, and author of five books. asifharoonraja@gmail.com   

                                

 

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Radicalization trends in South Asia Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Radicalization trends in South Asia

Asif Haroon Raja

Geostrategic Importance of South Asia

South Asia is house to around 1.5 billion people who represent one-quarter of the world’s population; with a high growth rate of population. and scarcity of resources collectively creates opportunities for socio-political, and economic instability resulting into conflicts.

This vast region is sandwiched between the great mountain chains and the Indian Ocean. In the north and northeast, it is surrounded by mighty Himalayan mountain ranges, while in the north-west by the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush and Makran ranges. In the east, it is enclosed by Purvanchal Hills and Bay of Bengal, while in the south it penetrates into the Indian Ocean and in the south-west by the Arabian Sea.

Politically the entire South-Asian region has witnessed convulsive politics in the last seven decades. The causes are mainly religious, linguistic, castes, ethnic and economic disparities and uneven resource distribution. Another cause of political turbulence is mutual suspicion and mistrust and a lack of confidence in each other’s motives and intentions.

The disputes among South Asian countries have remained an area of unresolved and dangerous conflict involving external powers, arms proliferation and ethnic and religious hatred that go back to the evolution of India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the countries that form South Asia.

 

Due to its strategic location and natural wealth, the region has acquired a very important position from a geostrategic point of view. While India taking advantage of her size, diplomatic clout, military power and economic strength, has all along striven to dominate South Asia, external powers such as Russia, USA and China in their quest for geostrategic and geo-economic ambitions, seek to engage South Asian countries as well as with neighboring regions rich in energy resources.

 

The politics of violence and extremism in South Asia is mainly the result of faulty national policies and interference of external powers. The region’s vast potential is hostage to unresolved inter-state conflicts, mostly left behind by Britain and now being exploited by India which considers itself to be the successor of former colonial power which ruled and plundered the resources of this region for 200 years. The USA which filled the power vacuum after 1947 has also been meddling into the affairs of South Asia in its quest for attainment of global ambitions.

Indian Factor

One reason behind South Asia’s backwardness and rise in extremist tendencies is the imperialist designs of India which has all along aspired to create mythical Akhand Bharat. While dealing with neighbours much smaller in size, resources and military strength, India is always in a mood to bully, to terrorise and to dictate terms.

The favourite means employed by India to make the defiant neighbour bend to its dictates are diplomatic pressure, economic blackmail, military coercion and application of the military instrument. It also resorts to sabotage and subversion abets insurgency and uses Kautylian tactics such as propaganda war, disinformation, deception and false flag operations.  

India’s Contribution to ISIS

India has trained RAW in this game and over a period of time, it claims to have excelled in the art of disinformation campaign, espionage and subversion. There is no country in its neighbourhood which has not been jolted by India through immoral methods, be it Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Tibet.  Pakistan has suffered the most at its hand and continues to endure.

SAARC which could have played a big role in the economic development of South Asia is in limbo due to Indian unilateralism.

Editor’s Note: Indian Intelligence RAW has also sent fighters to ISIS on pre-condition they attack Pakistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frenetic modernization of Indian armed forces and India’s expansionist designs have compelled the South Asian states to spend a sizeable part of the budget in upgradation of defence capability.   

 

Lackadaisical Role of Governments

 


In addition, instead of promoting unity and integration (both at national and regional levels) it led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.

Role of Masterminds

Terrorism grows enormously when powerful nations do injustice with the developing nations by gobbling up their resources or keeping the weaker nations under their thumb through neo-colonization. The easiest way is to buy the loyalties of the ruling class of the third world, which readily toes the dictated line of the Masterminds to stay in power and get out of sync with the public. Humanity has been trapped by Criminal Masterminds which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine.

Poverty Exploited

Deliberately injected poverty in selected countries/regions pave the way for breeding grounds for the youth to deflect towards Global Terrorism and Global Crimes. Poverty and famine tend to make the poverty-stricken people to do anything for little money for their survival. Masterminds can easily find them, twist them including their beliefs/faiths and forcefully use them according to their own desire.

In every targeted country after 9/11, proxies were hired to create disturbances and topple regimes. Hired mercenaries were from the derived class. The purpose of this gory drama on part of the Masterminds is to rob the wealth of the globalized world in stages.

Wars fought on fake narratives

Masterminds also fool their citizens and create a scenario to prove that war is inevitable and war must be fought at all cost. Hidden motive behind all wars is to run their war-related businesses and become richer than ever before.

Many wars in the past were based on lies. Warmongers fooled their own citizens, e.g. Vietnam War, Gulf War on the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. EBOLA, SARS, AIDS & Chicken Pox could be biological weapons to wipe out people in other parts of the world as well as creating artificial famine. 

Americans have lived under the broken umbrella of an empire controlled by 1% dirty rich that cares not to protect the overwhelming majority. They live under the auspices of a regime that spends half of the common people hard earned tax dollars on phoney wars, illegal foreign occupations and excessive militarism at home. Tens of thousands are lucky to afford the bare necessities of life.

Israel in the Middle East and India in South Asia are the cat paws of imperialist USA. The jingoistic trio is committing worst human rights abuses and state terrorism. 

 

Grave Threats Faced by South Asia

The South Asian region currently faces a grave security threat due to increasing extremism and terrorist activities. The politics of violence and extremist trends in South Asia can be linked to the contradictions arising as a consequence of faulty national policies.

The nature and political economy of the states have been instrumental in creating the current crisis. The South Asian states tend to operate in the interests of a coalition of classes and ethnic groups, thereby influencing development policies and the distribution of resources. The pace, content and dynamics of the uneven development patterns in South Asia are among the predominant causes of violence in the region.

Besides the failure of transition to modernity among these South Asian states, political culture has also led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.

Interference from external powers and from neighbouring and extra-regional elements (both governments and independent groups) has given a dangerous tilt to the existing volatile situation.

With the marked rise of extremism and increasing terrorist activities, particularly in the past decade, South Asia is among the regions in the world with the highest annual number of fatalities caused by terrorist violence. Ethnic, ideological and political conflicts pose a serious threat to stability and interstate relations.

Each state faces multiple concerns ranging from fundamentalists to ethnopolitical violence, which is consolidating along with the worsening socio-economic conditions.

The situation has become all the more dangerous and alarming in the wake of nuclearisation of two arch-rivals India and Pakistan and unresolved Kashmir dispute which has become a nuclear flashpoint. Indo-US-Afghan-Israel nexus offensively poised against nuclear Pakistan fighting an internal war on terror and confronted with economic and political challenges finds itself in a dangerous situation but is determined to deal with any military adventure squarely.  

 

War on terror initiated by the USA to make the world safe and secure has intensified extremism and terrorism and today the world has become more unsafe and insecure.

 

Causation of Growth of Extremism

 

Terrorism and the rise of extremism have been occurring in South Asia for a variety of reasons, including perpetration by tyrannical and aggressive regimes and rebel groups, social injustice, ideological contradictions, religious beliefs and foreign interference. However, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, government policies and outside interference in all South Asian countries have been the primary factors responsible for the rise of extremism in the region. Terrorism and its political consequences have directly and visibly affected interstate relations in South Asia and have also led to destabilization in the region.

Main Causes. The main causes of Extremism are appended below:

 

Poor economic growth along with high population growth has led to the problems of mass unemployment, hunger and income inequality.

 

The economic inequalities and deprivation have created frustration and insecurity among the masses, leading to an increasing criminalization of society in which there are available targets for exploitation by the extremist elements in and outside the governments.

 

Along with the deteriorating economies of South Asia, governmental policies have accentuated the extremist trend in all these states.

 

Extra-regional actors are primarily responsible for the ongoing wave of terrorism and rising extremism.

 

The extremist trends have been boosted in the South Asian countries due to the interference by the neighbouring and extra-regional countries in the internal affairs of the states.

 

The separatist and ethnic movements have also been supported from across the border, by the governments or any particular group, for its interests.  

 

The Bangla national movement in 1971, which resulted in the partition of Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh, could not have succeeded without the physical military intervention of India aided by the former Soviet Union.

 

Sri Lanka too is an old victim of Indian machinations and Tamil Tigers insurgency was Indian manufactured. Similarly, the Maoists in Nepal are known to have collaboration and sponsorship from India.

 

The Kashmiri freedom movement in India has received only moral, political and diplomatic support from Pakistan since its hands have been tied by new laws on terrorism. Indian forces are breaking all records of state terrorism and human rights to quell popular unarmed uprising seeking the right of self-determination.  

 

Pakistan has a bagful of concrete evidence of India’s RAW deep-rooted involvement in Baluchistan, FATA and Karachi. Indian leaders have often bragged about it and are threatening Pakistan to break it into four pieces. Besides covert operations, India is resorting to water terrorism to make Pakistan dry.

 

Governed by mutual strategic interests, India is being fully supported by the USA, Israel, the West and Afghanistan to destroy Pakistan.

 

 

The Growth of Extremism in Pakistan

 

There were several factors and events that have led to extremism, sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan. These factors include:

 

  • The early demise of Quaid-e-Azam and murder of Liaqat Ali Khan resulted in a leadership crisis, which persists to this day.

 

  • Uneven development of provinces and growth of regionalism gave rise to fissiparous tendencies and strengthened centrifugal forces in smaller provinces.

 

  • Insensitivity and callous attitude of the elites towards the deprived class bred resentment.

 

  • Selective accountability and pro-rich judicial system added to the frustration of the have-nots.

 

  • Corruption in all government, judicial and police departments eroded moral turpitude and scruples.

 

  • Unresolved Kashmir dispute and State terrorism of India against Kashmiris heightened Jihadi tendencies.

 

  • Western hatred towards Muslims and hounding and persecution of religious elements dubbed as terrorists intensified anti-US feelings.

 

  • Promotion of western values and demeaning of Islam by liberals, sharpened secular-Islamist divide.

 

  • Divisive education system provided unequal opportunities for social growth.

 

  • The impact of regional events like the Iranian revolution, Afghan Jihad and emergence of Taliban.

 

  • Impact of Freedom Struggle in Kashmir and Palestine issue.

 

  • Unresolved Kashmir dispute which has resulted in three major wars and several local conflicts and has led to the nuclearization of South Asia.

 

  • To counter Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the United States supported and sponsored Pakistan and also the Jihadi groups during the period 1979-1989, which in post-1990 period became a threat for the security and stability of Pakistan.

 

  • After Soviet withdrawal and diminishing of US interests in the region, Pakistan was left in a complete lurch for dealing with the menace of terrorism and extremism spread over the decade of its war against Soviets.

 

  • With the 9/11 incident, Pakistan once again became a frontline state in the war against terrorism. The renewed interference by the US in Pakistan and Pakistan’s support against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan once again aggravated the extremist and anti-US elements, having extensive implications on the internal security situation.

 

  • The US initiated war on terror in Afghanistan was purposely fomented in Pakistan with ulterior motives to destabilize, secularize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan.

 

  • Unstable Afghanistan was used as a base of operation to achieve the objectives against Pakistan through massive covert war and hybrid war.

 

Way Forward

 

War is not an option in which economy dies again and again, BUT Love is, which starts with forgiveness as mentioned in the Quran, (Ref: Al_Quran_041:035).

South Asian countries should assume the responsibility for internal reforms, avoid extremism and confrontation and ensure economic and social development, through ensuring respect for human right and paying special attention to human resource development programs.

 

The West particularly the United States should seek to resolve all political disputes that become breeding grounds of terrorism, reject equating Islam with terrorism and assist the Muslim world in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.

 

Socio-economic problems and human security issues need to be accorded the highest priority by governments, as these are the main cause of frustration among the masses and particularly among the educated and unemployed youth, who become easy recruits for radical organizations which involve them in their terrorist activities. In addition to individual state efforts to deal with extremism, a concerted regional effort is also required as the problem has an additional external dimension to it.

There is no shortcut to eradicating regional problems since they are the result of a consistent and gradual failure of the state to deal with the issue of public security and grievances, and also the failure of society to curb tendencies of extremism and intolerance. Without formulating a comprehensive approach to deal with the issue of extremism at the state, society and regional level, the menace of radicalism cannot be eradicated.

There is dire need to address root causes of extremism and terrorism by providing an equitable social and economic order and just judicial system at the global level.

It is time for Global World to wake up and be careful from Mastermind Criminals/Terrorists and prevent humanity from those by joining Global Unity without any discrimination of Religion, Race, Sect, Gender, Color, Nationality, Rich, Poor, Young or Old etc. Otherwise, they could be next in line.

To Protect World from Criminals/Terrorists which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine as well, we must understand Criminal Masterminds, and we must find the roots of all Crimes, starting from Mother Womb till the Grave.

It is not Wealth (Gold or Silver etc.) or Power which can save the Global World. Allah seized Qaroon, Pharaoh, and Hamaan and many more, for their crimes against humanity and nothing could save them, not even their wealth, power, or people, etc., (Ref: Al_Quraan_029:039). The World didn’t end there, but it re-developed after a Great Revolution.

One sure way of curbing extremist tendencies is China’s policy of peace and friendship and connectivity through One Belt One Road project of which CPEC is the fulcrum, for collective growth and development of the region.

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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