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“Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention”

Uncommon Thought

Since 2002

“Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention”

 
30 May2022
Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention

Stop Corruption

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[Photo: Sondag]

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD

Editor’s Note

Pakistan is not the only country to struggle with corruption in the top tiers of their government. In fact, the United States has participated in this type of corruption as a standard tool of international “diplomacy”. The U.S. may not pay kidnappers, but paying off politicians? No big deal. This should raise the question of whether our own politicians are really above such exchanges.

One significant factor in the history of Pakistan is shared with the entire region – imperialism. There is a desperate need for thorough evaluations of the effects of imperialism. It is not simple, and each current nation, while sharing certain things with other former colonies, is also unique in the outcomes of imperialism. Each had its own history and civilization prior to conquest by some European nation. Each European nation had its own systems that interlaced with or supplanted others. The drawing of maps that rarely had meaning for the people on the ground, but in a European-organized world has a specific meaning, but often counter to that of the people. With the so-called ‘liberation’ of the former colonies, it was not “freedom” that was achieved, and who the reins passed to were often not in the best interests of the people or nation, but in the interests of external powerful players. Since the post-WWII period, that has often been the United States. Yet the struggles of these nations, as with Pakistan, are painted as being due to some internal failure and there is a fair amount of deception and racism in that laying of blame. However, it seems that the only ones who can possibly right the ship of state are the people.  

Mahboob Khawaja, PhD

A Nation, its Freedom and Future in Crisis

For a long time, Pakistan has been portrayed as a hybrid political culture – part human and part vulture overwhelmed with traditions of neo-colonialism, elite control, neglectful of people’s care, political change and elite systematic corruption to undermine the national freedom, security and a sustainable future. A suspicious and paranoid political elite implies dogmatic scenarios and management concepts to be rich and powerful and to make the poor and vulnerable obey their commands and lick their boots – the image of being a superior class of elite as British traditions have trained them for neo-colonial governance. The ruling elite enjoins solid systematic support from the former colonial landlords and the military establishment made influential by the British Raj. Even the so-called national freedom failed to bury the rituals of the dead past.

National honor and glory live in the conception of the good, not conspiratorial minds.  Something evocative and hauntingly familiar about the current protests and imagery of failed political governance is emerging across Pakistan. The quest for political change lacks the existence of public institutions to sustain reasoned politics, educated and intelligent leaders with proactive visions for change and adaptability critical to a constructive future-making. A snapshot of this critical moment in time and history unfolds dark imagery of political governance and military coups in Pakistan.  We, the People of Pakistan lost half of our country (East Pakistan), and India was allowed to occupy Kashmir, and we continued to lose more in socio-economic and political domains because of the dishonesty and failed leadership of Bhuttos, Sharifs and the Generals. These thugs stole billions and billions to own palaces in the UK, France and Spain. The Thinking People of the New Generation of Pakistanis view the Bhuttos, Zardari, Sharifs and Musharaf –  all in one slot – as the most corrupt, crime-riddled monsters who will never come to terms with reason and honesty to reflect on their own wrongdoings. They never imagined–how the present and future generations will remember them? All were individualistic and egoistic to victimize Pakistan, Islam and the masses. To safeguard Pakistan and its future, there should be NO Military intervention under any circumstances. If so, it will be the death of our national freedom, integrity and future.  The Pakistani elite are fearful if American political interest and interventions are questioned, Pakistan will lose the IMF funding – leaving unpaid debts – the corruption hub.

The current chaotic culture carries a lingering suspicion of the coming of martial law and some form of military dictatorship in alliance with the most corrupt, known thugs and indicted criminals of the recent past.  The evidence supports the alliance of defunct Bhuttos, Sharif’s, military generals, MQM and other infamous so-called Islamic parties.  There is no moral and political accountability for thugs and indicted criminals not to return to the threshold of political power.  (Please see more by this author, “Pakistan Imperatives of political Change for a progressive Nation”2019; “Pakistan where Politics and Corruption are the Same” 2014; “Pakistan New Postcard from Hell.” 2014; and “Pakistan-reflections on the Turbulent 69th Independence Day”: 2015; “Pakistan and India’s leaders Mark Freedom from British Raj but Masses look for a Navigational Change.” 8/16/2020. Pakistan has no credible law and justice system for governance, and the masses are entrenched in poverty and ignorance of political exploitation, often they are forced to believe in traditional authority and a wide range scheme of corruption-led system of opportunism as a normal way of Pakistani political life.

US AID and Political Corruption – Leading to Undermining National Freedom and Security

Pakistan was defeated by India in the 1971 war as a part of the conspiracy by ZA Bhutto and General Yahya Khan. Dr. Ishtiaq Qureshi (Editor Urdu Digest) wrote “Sakoot–i-Dhaka Say Purdah Uttha Hey” (1972), in which he described the details of how Bhutto and Yahya Khan betrayed Pakistan and stabbed the nation but were not held accountable for their crimes. Are Pakistanis still living in irrational denials of their own chapter of history?  (SeeBritish Colonialism and How India and Pakistan Lost Freedom.” Global Research.org:1/01/2022). Ms. Benzair Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto were alleged to have been involved in the killing of General Zia ul Haq, 12 Pakistani Generals, and 100 others in the C-130 Bahawalpur plane crash, in August 1988. When they became PM, they traded lists of Sikh and Kashmiri freedom fighters with Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi (Lahore meeting) and thousands of them were targeted and killed by Indian security forces. Ms. Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari were indicted by a Swiss court on a $60M money laundering crime but they still returned to political power. Nawaz Sharif hijacked the PIA plane with General Musharraf on board along with 265 or so passengers returning from Sri Lanka and wanted it to go to India. He was also involved in money laundering and twice dismissed on corruption charges, but still became PM a third time. Sharifs, Ms. Bhutto, and Zardari stole several billions of dollars to buy properties in London, Paris and Spain. Pakistanis NEED soul-searching to realize the gravity of political corruption, national security, and how the nation continued to flop in a global context.

When the US occupied Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistani Generals, according to the NY Times (May 18, 2007), were paid by the US to act on its behalf – abducting and killing thousands of Pakistanis. America and India had a Strategic Plan to undo Pakistan by capturing its nuclear arsenals and asking for surrender. Was General Musharraf an accomplice to this plan? If not, why was a retired US General stationed in Islamabad to supervise the Pakistan nuclear site? Is US AID a vital link to systematic political corruption in Pakistan? Also, See “US-NATO Agenda-The Destabilization of Pakistan” 04/17/2009 by Professor Michel Chossudovsky. US President Trump refused to restore $595M Aid to the Pakistani military. Even US AID lacked information on who consumed the cash and where? Do Pakistanis have a sense of time, history, and honesty to determine who they were and where they are?  Progressive nations produce and bring the best and most intelligent ones to the role of leadership and responsibility. Rationally arguable was the coming of PM Imran Khan – a hope for the future crushed by political intrigues and force?

PM Imran Khan (PTI) a young person of some moral and intellectual capacity having optimism for political change and future was hurriedly ousted as he could not realize his political weaknesses and strength and the people around him and failed to hold the corrupt families of Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharfis and General Musharraf to legal accountability. Some of these people were indicted by courts but never served any punishment. One wonders, why Imran Khan did not think of an early election. Khan should have assembled a team of well-educated, intelligent, and honest young Pakistanis (thousands of them inside and overseas) and should have planned to rebuild public institutions and socio-economic and political integrity across a diverse nation. Sadly, he gathered thumb lickers, incompetent and party yes-men as a governing team. Khan should be held accountable as he wasted almost four years without any acclaimed political change in the country. Although he did not rob any banks nor kill anybody for personal agenda as did most of the others, he wasted time and opportunities for change and sustainable political governance. It is questionable if Khan could reclaim political power via fair elections. Vengeful and full of jealousy, the military-Sharif’s alliance could conspire to wipe out Khan to the unknown.

In 2019, this author offered Imran Khan a logical plan for sustainable change (Pakistan: How to change political culture of corruption and rebuild the future” Media Monitors Network, USA,2019). Most of his associates were uneducated and former loyalists of the current political opposition parties. None of them had any knowledge or experience in critical thinking, strategic planning, and change or future-making. Why did Khan waste almost four years in a fantasy of New Pakistan and failed to live up to his imagination?

If history is relevant and is seen as a source of learning and warning, undeniably all the contemporary politicians of Pakistan have failed to learn from the catastrophic past. Few single-minded Generals appear to be accomplices to support Shahbaz Sharif to purge the public consciousness of true freedom and incapacitate the nation for political change and development. Shahbaz Sharif has no legitimacy as an elected PM. Any such governance is a dead-ended conclusion of time and history. The NEED is urgent for a peaceful political solution for a fair national election at the earliest. Again, the National Assembly was used as a rubber stamp to oust Imran Khan, not an institution for reasoned politics and future-making. The political change can only be imagined by raising voices of REASON to challenge the corrupt systems of neo-colonialism and governance. Bruce Riedel, Brooking Inst, USA (“Battle for the Soul of Pakistan” ) former Obama’s advisor warns: “The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.”

The Ideals of National Freedom and How to Move Forward for a Sustainable Future

One wonders, what is the tangible cure for the cruel mindset of the egoistic authoritarian politicians in Pakistan? The younger generations are disillusioned and are increasingly leaving Pakistan for Western countries. The brain-drain problem afflicts Pakistan adversely in socio-economic and political future-making as old and former subservient of British legacy run the country. With new generation migration, Pakistan is fast losing its best talents and energies for the present and future.

At the edge of REASON, the historic Pakistan Freedom Movement must be revisited and young generations should learn about the future. To undo the darkened past and reshape the turbulent present, Pakistan desperately needs new and honest people of an educated generation to plan and construct political change. The nation is boxed in by most cruel, incompetent and unproductive politicians. The Pakistani ruling elite 632 top civil servants have dual nationalities (Pak Media 2020) cannot be a credible source of having a primacy of national interest. Pakistan urgently needs a savior, a person of proactive vision, and honesty to pursue a navigational change for future-making; not Shahbaz Sharif, Bhutto, or the few Generals. The solution must come from the critical thinking hubs of the new educated generation – intelligent Pakistanis need to facilitate hope and optimism for a sustainable future for the beleaguered nation. You may find it relevant to see: “Pakistan- Leaders or Criminals” Uncommon Thought Journal, USA 2014. Under the present chaotic affairs,new Government of National Unity should be formed under a non-partisan and nonpolitical leader with moral and intellectual integrity for a period of two years; a New Constitution for a Presidential form of government should be framed with new public institutions under the leadership of a new generation of educated and honest people, and then a new election could give meaning and clarity to the purpose of democracy and transform the ideals of a progressive legitimate functional democracy.  The Need is desperate for the Pakistani nation to think critically and see the Mirror and stand firm in raising voices of reason for accountability and political change.

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

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Quest for independence by Brig,Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Quest for independence

Asif Haroon Raja

Creation of Pakistan

The founding members of Pakistan led by Quaid-e-Azam took part in the freedom movement to free the Muslims of India from the oppressive yoke of the British and the Hindus and to establish a homeland for them where they could live as an independent nation and practice Islam freely. The movement was based on Two-Nation Theory. To the great joys of the Indian Muslims, Pakistan appeared on the world map on August 14, 1947 and shattered the Hindu-British conspiracy of keeping India united.

Ideals of Quaid-e-Azam

The Quaid had aspired to transform the new state into an Islamic welfare state on the model of Misaq-e-Madina with equitable justice, equal opportunities for social growth and equitable distribution of wealth, and free of external influences. He had cautioned them to stay away from provincialism, nepotism, hoarding, corruption and fanaticism. He had emphasized upon hard work, character building, honesty, unity, faith, discipline, honor and dignity.

Mini-mind leaders replaced the Quaid

After his untimely death, his successors pushed his dreams on the backburner and went the wrong way. Successive regimes and the elite class stuck to the British systems and lifestyle. They remained tied to the colonial mindset and behaved like Brown Sahibs and Begum Sahibas while dealing with the downtrodden and remained detached from them. Waderas, Sardars, Maliks and Choudhris were governed by a feudal mindset.  

Till 1956, Pakistan functioned under the British India Parliamentary Act 1935, and adopted each and every system of governance, administration and laws inherited from the British. Same was the case with the military which adopted the British training, technical & administrative systems and doctrines. Till Gen Ziaul Haq’s takeover in July 1977, the mess life was the same as was during the British rule, hard drinks and eating with the fork in the left hand were not considered un-Islamic. Islam lovers were looked down upon as uncouth and un-officer like. Drill cautions were in English and whole training of officers was and still is in English language. Those attending courses at Sandhurst in UK & Fort Leavenworth in USA had an edge over others to reach the higher pedestal.     

US-centric foreign policy

Under the guise of security threats from India and Afghanistan, our early leaders clutched the finger of the US and obeyed their dictates in return for monetary assistance and military hardware. This approach made the rulers addicted to western way of life and to the foreign aid and subservient to the wishes of the US and the West, making Pakistan a dependent country.

As a result of putting all its eggs in the basket of the US, Pakistan had to tailor its foreign policy suiting the USA and in the process compromised its sovereignty, dignity and honor.

Dependence on loans from the IMF and the World Bank increased manifold once the two mainstream political parties, the PPP and PML-N, took turns from 1988 onwards. Their leaders filled their coffers with ill-gotten wealth, discarded merit and moral values, and promoted nepotism and dynastic politics. As a result of their heartless plunder and misuse of the state resources, Pakistan’s economy has remained in the woods.

Policy of appeasement

Since beggars can’t be choosers, the rulers had to adopt a policy of appeasement to keep Washington in good humor. They had to perforce bear the repeated betrayals of the US and its highly discriminatory policies. Appeasement in the form of ‘doing more’ crossed all limits after 9/11. No leader uttered a word in protest when it suffered a human loss of 80,000 people and financial loss of $ 150 billion while fighting the US imposed longest war on terror.

No civil or military leader could dare to object to the US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs or the haughty behavior of the US officials. They couldn’t pick up courage to say that the so-called friends and allies were in reality behind cross-border terrorism. Fear psychosis governed their policy of appeasement. They begged for aid but never sought compensation and war reparations from the USA. They somehow got obsessed with the idea that Pakistan’s survival could be jeopardized without the US patronage and its support.

The privileged class never objected to the overly pro-US tilt since they are also beneficiaries of the US largesse. None realized that the ones begging for aid are never respected and the aid givers feel no compunction in treating them like slaves. Master-servant relationship has remained in vogue since 1954. This being the accepted trend, to expect a relationship with the US on equal footing is unrealistic. This rhetoric is meant to throw wool into the eyes of the public and to hide their own timidity.   

Leaders and led out of sync

Contrary to the misperceptions and compulsions of the ruling regimes and the upper class who view the US favorably, the great majority in Pakistan hate the US and yearn to get rid of its perverse influence and meddlesome role. Having gone through the trials and tribulations, they clearly see the dual faced and biased attitude of the US and the harms it has caused to them and their country. Due to contrasting perceptions, the leaders and the led in Pakistan have remained out of sync. The disadvantaged resent the advantaged class. 

Apart from anti-Americanism, other major cribs of the people are that the ruling regimes are insensitive, selfish, corrupt, anti-poor and hypocrites. These impressions got ingrained into their minds after comparing their affluent lifestyle and their callous showoff of wealth and power with their own wretched conditions.

It is shocking for them to see that there is no change in their lives from pre-partition days, nor in the insolent attitude of the rich class who treat them harshly but are submissive before the US and Europe. Slavish submissiveness to the US diktat has frustrated the people.

It is in the backdrop of callousness of the elite class and the rulers towards them and subservience of the leaders towards the USA that they saw in Imran Khan (IK) a glimmer of hope who had the guts to stand up to the American arrogance and bullying attitude. 

Role of the military

Out of 75 years of Pakistan’s political history, the military has ruled for nearly 33 years and for the rest of the period, it has been ruling indirectly. FM Ayub Khan nurtured ZA Bhutto, Gen Yahya Khan played into the hands of ZA Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib, Gen Ziaul Haq groomed Nawaz Sharif (NS) and Gen Musharraf extended his rule with the help of King’s Party and by giving NRO.  

Rise of the PTI

It was due to the growing resentment of the people against the two dynasties ruling the country since 1988 that the military establishment thought of making a new experiment with the emerging party PTI under IK in 2011. They saw in him all the traits of a successful leader who was honest, had charisma and dash, was determined and had a missionary zeal to accomplish his goals. He rose to prominence after his mammoth public meetings at Lahore and in Karachi in October 2011. 

Outcome of July 2018 elections

The one-seater PTI steered by IK and guided by invisible hands increased its political strength in the 2013 elections to 35 National Assembly (NA) seats, and it bagged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). In the Centre and in Punjab, it was the 3rd largest party. In the 2018 elections, helped by the establishment, the PTI increased its tally to 115 NA seats and emerged as the single largest winning party, and gained a majority in KP. Its victory was, however, dampened since it couldn’t win even a simple majority in the Centre and in Punjab. As such it had to grudgingly resort to horse-trading and to bank upon the support of the allies to form governments in the Centre and in Punjab.

This milestone of defeating the two major parties was achieved by the PTI owing to the singular efforts of IK. His emphasis on justice on doorsteps, elimination of corruption, sympathy for the unemployed and the homeless, and above all his objections against war on terror appealed to the senses of the common people. What fascinated them was his vitriolic attacks on the top leadership of the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F and his resolve to put all the corrupt political leaders in jails and to bring back the looted wealth.                  

While PPP which had turned into a regional party in 2013 elections managed to retain its bastion of Sindh, the PML-N was the biggest loser since its head NS was disqualified from the seat of PM in July 2017, removed from the chair of president of his party, and jailed for ten years. His party not only lost the elections, but it also lost its forte of Punjab. Since then the PML-N leaders are grieving that the establishment had stolen their victory to hand over power to the selected. Their cribbing had weight since the establishment had decided to try a fresh horse with a clean record.     

Aims of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)

The PDM under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, comprising 13 parties was formed in 2019 with a view to force the PTI regime to hold early elections. The PDM leaders wanted to unseat IK not because of the dwindling economy and price hike, but because of the tightening noose of accountability around their necks. IK didn’t agree to forgive their sins as Gen Musharraf had done, and was hell-bent to take the mega corruption and money laundering cases pursued by the NAB to their logical conclusion.

Finding all their escape routes getting blocked, the PDM stepped up their efforts in 2021 towards the achievement of their one-point agenda of getting rid of IK. They drew strength from the lack of performance of the ruling regime, failing to fulfill any of the rosy promises made by IK, and increase in the menace of corruption. The health of the economy couldn’t be improved due to unprecedented tough conditions imposed by the IMF, the blackmailing attitude of the FATF and Covid-19 which affected the economies of the whole world. 

Once the people started to complain about record breaking inflation, price hike and devaluation of the Rupee, the PDM leaders added ‘incompetency and inefficiency’ to their narrative of ‘selected and selectors’.

Dawn of 2022 saw the popularity of IK declining and PTI financial managers seemed unable to stem the decline in macroeconomics. Rupee value and economy kept waning while foreign exchange reserves, foreign/local debts, inflation, and prices kept shooting up.

Improvements overshadowed by price spiral

The PTI government handled the Covid-19 challenge adeptly and earned kudos from the world, it increased the volume of exports and reduced the current account deficit, and also expedited work on seven dams. However, its inability to control the price spiral overshadowed its achievements. Due to lack of parliamentary majority and policy of non-cooperation with the opposition, no major reform could be undertaken.

PDM didn’t pose a threat

In spite of the lack of governance and financial mismanagement of the ruling regime, the PDM posed no threat due to its internal divisions. There were differences of opinions between the PML-N and the PPP whether to opt for mass resignations from national/provincial assemblies, or to go for vote-of-no-confidence (VoNC).

There were differences within the PML-N as well; elder brother and her daughter wanting a hawkish approach towards both PTI and the establishment, and the younger brother preferring a dovish approach.

These variances went in favor of the PTI. The other big advantage enjoyed by the PTI was the full back-up support of the establishment

Neutrality of the establishment

Problem started when differences arose between IK and Gen Qamar Bajwa over the posting out of DG ISI in July 2021, over Punjab and KP chief ministers Buzdar-Mehmood, and PM’s chief secretary Azam Khan, IK’s lambasting of Gen Musharraf, his lack of diplomatic skills in dealing with the US, Arab Gulf States and China, and his refusal to adopt a policy of accommodation with the opposition.

When IK refused to listen to saner advice from the establishment, and didn’t perform on ground, the establishment decided to become neutral. This mid-stream change of posture went entirely in favor of the PDM and in disfavor of the PTI.  

The US interference

Matters took a dramatic turn in March 2022 when the US meddled into internal politics of Pakistan by threatening to change the regime. The Biden administration was impelled to intervene due to IK’s policy of defiance starting from ‘Absolutely Not’, his visit to Moscow, abstaining from voting in the UN, refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and forging closer ties with Russia.

Biden couldn’t afford non-cooperation at that critical juncture since it could give ideas to other US allies to become defiant. Sri Lanka had also abstained from voting. The US hurried to unite the divided PDM, purchase the dissident legislators of the PTI and provided funds to Zardari to make the VoNC successful.

Victim of foreign conspiracy

The shoddy manner in which the new regime took over power on April 9 gave a ready-made narrative to the fallen party to beat its detractors with. Unlike previous regime changes whose ouster through military coups or presidential acts were celebrated by the people and the opposition parties distributed sweets, this time the reverse happened.

The public is sympathizing with the ousted party and censuring the ones who are holding the reins of power. They and the neutrals are dubbed as traitors. IK whose popularity was on the decline and would have further dipped by mid-2023, has made a turnabout and it is ascending. He has once again become the most popular leader as can be seen from the mammoth public gatherings in various cities he is addressing.

Takeover of new government

Shahbaz Sharif (SS) has taken over at a time when Pak economy is at the brink of collapse. He and other PDM members vied for ouster of the PTI regime but had no plans in hand how they would steer the sinking ship out of the choppy waters.

Herculean efforts are required to salvage the crisis situation, but he and his team are giving glum looks. SS has lost his old flame and he urged other partners as well as the NSC to share the responsibility collectively once he took tough decisions to meet the demands of the IMF.

He will be able to present the budget in June and move the economic wheels only if the IMF as well as other friendly countries extend loans up to $ 12 billion. Petrol bomb has been dropped to soften the IMF. Loans will be a temporary remedy to remove the headache but wouldn’t cure the chronic illness. His biggest challenge is, how to deal with IK led PTI which has pledged to protest if the government doesn’t agree to hold elections within 90 days.

War of narratives and sabre rattling

The PTI succeeded in selling its narrative to the public which is based on ‘foreign conspiracy and imported government of looters and traitors’. He played the victim card shrewdly by emphasizing that he had been removed from power since he wanted to frame an independent foreign policy free of the US influence so as to make Pakistan truly free and independent.  

The people loved him on account of his bold defiance to the US bellicosity which none had ever exhibited. They heckled and harassed the defectors and all those who were part of the conspiracy. The people are not accepting the new set-up whom they see as rotten eggs.

Being a crowd puller, he attracted huge crowds in his public meetings in various cities from April 12 till May 22. The high-pitched fervor and emotionalism on display since April 10th was rarely seen before. His fading charisma has revived and his inanities during his 3 ½ years rule forgotten and forgiven and he is riding on a high crest of popularity.

Bolstered by the massive size of the rallies and the gusto of his supporters, IK gave further fillip to his narrative by terming his fightback as a war of independence. He vehemently castigated his opponents, the ECP, the judiciary and the army chief whom he mockingly called ‘neutral’, a ‘facilitator’, a ‘handler’ of the conspiracy. After naming him Mir Jaffar in his Abbottabad speech, he changed his stance at Jhelum by saying he meant SS.

IK and other PTI senior leaders are violating the constitution, endorsing politics of agitation, hate and violence, and are inciting their followers. IK and Sheikh Rashid arrogantly crowed that it will be a bloody long march which no power on earth will be able to stop.

He gave a call to his supporters all over the country that he wanted two million marchers to storm Islamabad (Isbd) on May 25 from two directions like a hurricane and sweep away all the obstacles and the sitting government. He declared the long march as Azadi march and demanded early elections.

Judging from the extensively heightened emotions and fervor of his supporters in the public gatherings, IK had no doubt in his mind that they would overcome all the obstacles and reach D-Chowk in Isbd. He was over-confident that next time he will sweep the elections with a thumping majority. 

Government’s response

To dampen the rising tide of PTI’s public gatherings, the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F leaders also held public meetings but those were no match to the PTI jalsas. The government couldn’t have matched PTI’s offensive without an effective narrative as appealing as that of PTI’s narrative. Worthwhile narrative cannot be framed with two PMs (NS and SS), and two finance ministers (Dar and Misbah), and divided thoughts on early or delayed elections. Zardari ruled out elections without electoral reforms and change in NAB laws. 

As a tit-for-tat, Maryum Nawaz and other PML-N leaders also resorted to similar tactics of injecting hatred into politics. A series of corruption cases are being initiated against the PTI leaders. Tosha Khana and Farah Gogi cases are being investigated hoping that it would help in tearing the mask of honesty worn by IK and in belittling him. Unlike the last tenure of PML-N in which it was very soft towards the vandalism of the PTI, this time the coalition government with hardnose Rana Sanaullah as Interior Minister, was determined to deal with the Azadi marchers with an iron hand the way the TLP activists were brutalized by the former regime.

The crackdown started in Punjab and in Sindh a day earlier to the D-Day. Houses of PTI leaders and their supporters were raided in dark hours. The routes to Islamabad were blocked with containers. On D-Day, the police made extensive use of teargas shells, rubber bullets and batons.  

Drop scene of much-publicized long march

The PTI had strategized a two pronged assault on Islamabad from Punjab and KP. After the loss of Punjab, it was left with only one base of operation in KP where it has a strong govt. IK had to call off the sit-in at D Chowk abruptly due to extremely stiff actions of the law enforcers and the number of marchers who were well below 30-50,000. Justification given by him is that he feared a bloody clash since many of the PTI activists were armed.

Another threat hurled

After the show of force on May 2 backfired due to strong resistance put up by the law enforcers, the PTI has once again threatened to storm Isbd with greater preparations and fervor after 6 June if the imported govt didn’t announce the election date. This time the PTI intends to attack under the judicial cover and wants the judiciary to tie the hands of the law enforcers, failing which it would come well-equipped and better prepared. KP’s CM Mehmood has disclosed his intentions by stating that they would come with full force to Isbd.

Having weathered the storm, the interior minister is feeling more confident that he will frustrate their intimidating tactics and use of force. Maryam Nawaz is keeping the political temperature high and is urging the judiciary to stay out of the political tussle. 150 FIRS have been registered against the top leaders and activists of the PTI in various police stations on charges of arson.

Penchant for early elections

Early elections are being advocated by all and sundry as the only solution to the volatile political situation. In their view, if early elections are not held there will be a big clash and things would get out of control and might lead to a civil war.

This argument would have been weighty, had the situation not been abnormal and political polarization not touched the zenith, and the economy had some life to sustain the expenses of elections and its fallout effects. It is feasible if electoral reforms had been done and the two most trusted institutions of the military establishment and the judiciary not been compromised by the politicians. The ECP is not trusted by the PTI. So who will ensure free and fair elections, and who will ensure that this time both sides will gracefully accept the results??

Foreign agenda

No one is looking at the bigger game of the US which has all along been trying to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear/missile programs. Route to Pakistan’s nuclear program is through its custodians and not the politicians. For them, the chief concern is to weaken the trunk of the army. To this end, the Indo-US-UK-Israel nexus have been hatching never-ending conspiracies and have used the tool of subversion extensively to poison the minds of the people against the army. They have failed but have not given up their agenda.

It is for the first time that they have succeeded in creating some cracks within the fort of the army and the veterans. For the first time a segment within the serving and retired army officers are trusting IK and mistrusting the army chief which is onerous.   

Prudence and not violence is the need of the day

In the wake of extensively charged up emotions and hate-filled environments, there is a dire need to tamp down the political rhetoric and to let sanity prevail. Since neither side is prepared to lower their tempers and are bracing for a showdown, which could be bloody as hinted by IK, and the social media as well as the spoilers are sprinkling fuel to intensify hatred and to push the country towards chaos, anarchy and possible civil war, a third party will have to step in fast to act as a referee and to douse the fire. Unfortunately, the two premier institutions – the army and the judiciary – that have always come forward as saviors in testing times stand compromised.

 

The three pillars of the state – the military, the judiciary and the media – joined by intellectuals, academicians and prominent figures of civil society will have to play a role to put sense into the mind of egoist IK who has thrown tolerance, prudence and sagacity out of the window and is inciting the youth to resort to violence. His hate-filled rhetoric is dangerous, and his utopian narrative of “slavery or independence” is captivating but do not help in putting the crippled economy back on the rails. Disunited house is easy prey for the adversaries, while a united front would keep them at bay.

 

 

 

Additional Reading

Who Was That Masked Man? | Start Searching for the Main Character? | Who was Telling America ?

 

 

 

 

 

     

Ways and means will have to be found to stop the poison being injected into our minds by the West and India, which has colored our perceptions and affected our rational thinking.

Pakistan urgently needs reforms, political stability and economic uplift and not delusional so-called Azadi which is a route to destabilization.

Like a Loya Jirga in Afghanistan, there is an urgent need for a national dialogue in which all stakeholders should sit down under one roof. They should first decide as to which system is more suitable and practical and is closer to the aspirations of the people.

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security & political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows, and delivers talks. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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America, Russia and NATO look for new frontiers of influence by MAHBOOB A. KHAWAJA

America, Russia and NATO look for new frontiers of influence

 MAHBOOB A. KHAWAJA

Why the Lessons of History are Ignored

America, Russia and NATO’s Geneva diplomatic talks ended in failure without any formal course of action to avoid military confrontation on Ukraine’s border. Other vital issues include how to treat each other in a futuristic imaginary encounter of common interests. The global community is watching the prelude to a staged drama of unwarranted warfare with profligacy, malevolence and unknown miseries of unthinkable multitudes. All the superpowers — the stage actors of the 21st century have fictitious monsters equipped with innovative sophistry and captivating eloquence to talk about peace, security, human rights, global order and justice. They are master of deception playing on the passion of entrenched and exhausted mankind as if they could stop the emerging pains, horrors and devastations of warmongering to ensure a return to normalization of human affairs. To an inner human analytical eye encompassing proactive sense of global peace and harmony, it does not appear rational to articulate fears and misleading intentions to safeguard human peace and dignity while all the actions speak of a different language of obsessed assertions based on their own despotic national interests.

They claim peace but talk about threats of wars — how to rationalize the irony of human wickedness and inherent deception. Was the same stage drama not enacted during the First and 2nd World Wars killings millions and millions of people across this Planet Earth?

Human progress and future-making are jeopardized when lessons of history are deliberately misinterpreted and ignored by the paranoid, vengeful and suspicious leaders. If war is the only avenue to seek peace, we are on the wrong side of history and thinking of our future. It took several centuries to Europeans to understand the false shadows of apprehension of peace and harmony and to come to terms with nation-building, some resemblance of democracy, human equality of rights and unity for future-making via the EU. A reasoned perspective would illustrate that Russia after breakdown of the former USSR is not the same inheriting entity of Communist authoritarian ideology, leadership, institutions, political thought, policies and practices within the working systems of global order. There are visible progressive movements for political change, open communications, elections, institutional developments and global interactions and seeking reunion with the global order, UNO, world institutions, friendly relationships with adversaries and balanced socio-economic ties with others. To enlarge the scope of reason and understanding, Russia needs formidable change as it appears to be forging on different national strategic interests; its position on Ukraine is not the same as eluded by most NATO members. Ukraine and Russia have common geography and history just like Britain, France and Germany have. Would it not be a matter of extreme political-strategic sensitivity if other perceived enemies would dare to come close to military confrontations in Western Europe? It is logical that true friends of humanity will not act blindly to cause wild uproars and evil-mongering against the people anywhere on this planet.

Is NATO relevant to the 21st Century Emerging Conflicts

The focal issue seems to be the prospective membership of Ukraine to the community of NATO in Western Europe. America and Russia and other EU members enjoin conflicting views on this issue. Ukraine claims its freedom to join any international organizations for its betterment, peace and security. Russia and America should not be concerned except that they want to draw certain strategic gains out of this chaotic perceived tragedy of futuristic warfare. After the dreadful consequences of the Two World Wars, NATO was formed by the Europeans to maintain peace and security and avoid futuristic unwarranted national wars within the European hemisphere. Its formation and scope is limited to nationalistic conventional warfare in the European theatre.

One wonders, what wars did NATO fight to protect its ideals and strategic priorities after the 1945 WW? What NATO had to do with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Were these accidental engagements or simply an extension of planned mischievous catastrophic instances of tyranny against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere who never posed any threat to NATO, America or to any Western European nations?

  • American and European leaders pushed soldiers to fight unwanted draconian wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other parts of the Middle East.
  • Millions of innocent Afghans, Iraqi and Libyan civilians and Western troops were killed during the US-led NATO wars in these regions.
  • Could any American-European leaders explain why every day approximately 18-25 US war veterans commit suicides? (“Why Do Soldiers Commit Suicide and Global Warlords.” Uncommon Thought Journal, USA).

How would one rationalize the role and actions of NATO in a global theater of strategic interests? The history of NATO and its plans and ideological motives are equally distorted and disfigured on the global screen of reason, honesty and accountability. Russia overtook eastern parts of Ukraine — Crimea by forces aligned to Russian speaking masses and trying to integrate those territories into the Russian federation. This issue has been discussed between Russian President Putin, former German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron on several occasions. Could America, Russia and Europeans not talk again for a peaceful resolution of this and other related problems?

Looking for Hope of Peace Beyond the Lens of Geopolitics

Scott Ritter (is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD): What War with Russia Look Like (Global Research: 01/11/2022): explains the irony of current affairs:

If the U. S. tries to build up NATO forces on Russia’s western frontiers in the aftermath of any Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia will then present Europe with a fait accompli in the form of what would now be known as the “Ukrainian model.” In short, Russia will guarantee that the Ukrainian treatment will be applied to the Baltics, Poland, and even Finland, should it be foolish enough to pursue NATO membership. Russia won’t wait until the U. S. has had time to accumulate sufficient military power, either. Russia will simply destroy the offending party through the combination of an air campaign designed to degrade the economic function of the targeted nation, and a ground campaign designed to annihilate the ability to wage war. Russia does not need to occupy the territory of NATO for any lengthy period-just enough to destroy whatever military power has been accumulated by NATO near its borders.

Is NATO being managed by those people who lived in the distant past and perhaps post WW2 historic culture is still alive and flourishing? Is there any glimpse of hope for change and new reasoned relationships between America, Russia and West European people? The future of violence and nationalistic resentment looks embedded into the distorted strategic necessities of the current affairs, be it the argument of Russia or American-led NATO and or the EU on its own. NATO is run by the wrong people, glued to wrong thinking and doing the wrong things without any rational sense of time, people’s interest and history. Craig Murray (NATO-an idea Whose Time has Gone), a former British diplomat and Rector of the University of Dundee, UK, foresees the body as obsolete to emerging strategic thinking and needs of the Western alliance:

It is also the case that the situation in countries where NATO has been most active in killing people, including Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has deteriorated. It has deteriorated politically, economically, militarily and socially. The notion that NATO member states could bomb the world into good was only ever believed by crazed and fanatical people like Tony Blair and Jim Murphy of the Henry Jackson Society. It really should not have needed empirical investigation to prove it was wrong, but it has been tried, and has been proved wrong….NATO’s attempt to be global arbiter and enforcer has been disastrous at all levels. Its plan to redeem itself by bombing the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria is a further sign of madness. Except of course that it will guarantee some blowback against Western targets, and that will “justify” further bombings, and yet more profit for the arms manufacturers. On that level, it is very clever and cynical. NATO provides power to the elite and money to the wealthy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and is author The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order. “Provocations Have A History Of Escalating Into War: Can War Be Avoided and the Planet Saved?” Information Clearing House: (8/31/2018), strikes a proactive caution to all Western policy makers:

The Zionist neoconservatives who rule in Washington are capable of the same mistake that Napoleon and Hitler made. They believe in “the end of history,” that the Soviet collapse means history has chosen America as the model for the future. Their hubris actually exceeds that of Napoleon and Hitler. When confronted with such deluded and ideological force, does turning the other cheek work or does it encourage more provocation.

Every beginning has its end. America needs Navigational Change after January 6, 2021 Trump’s Revolutionary attack on democracy and the Constitution, and so does Russia and NATO in their search for peaceful transition to sustainable future-making. We, the People of global community live on one floating Planet Earth, and we must be conscious — who we are, how connected we are in human solidarity and where are we heading to in our imagination of the present and future. It is awful and a tragedy of human conscience to be speaking of military conflicts and territorial gains when mankind urgently needs an effective cure for the Covid-19 pandemic. George Floyd cries continues to be heard all over the globe: “I can’t’ breathe.” We are One People, One Humanity — ignorance, natural disasters, and man-made fatalities know not any borders, flags and nationalities but surge like wildfire as being witnessed in the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Again political absolutism heightens animosity and hatred rather than human understanding and cooperation for a precious cause of saving human lives on Earth. To save life of one human being is to safeguard the whole of humanity. We are all born equal One Humanity: — the Divine Message of Al-Qur’an clarifies the truth:

“Proclaim in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created, Created man (human being) out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood, Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught man (human being) that which he knew not.”


Reference

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Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan Part – 2   Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Part – 2

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“We are all brothers and sisters under the skin and above it . . . it’s super important that we stop lobbing bombs over the top of the wall and start trying to dismantle it, so that we can say ‘hi’ to whoever is on the other side, whether the divide is religious or nationalistic or politic or economic.” – Roger Waters

Punitive acts

The western world is bent upon teaching a lesson to the Taliban for their audacity to degrade the sole superpower and NATO. Calculated steps are being taken to crumble Afghanistan’s economy and to make it a failed state. Apart from freezing their foreign exchange reserve and directing the IMF and World Bank to suspend financial aid, the US is pressuring the international community not to recognize the new regime in Kabul. Without recognition, humanitarian aid cannot be galvanized.

Instead of bailing out the new Taliban regime in Kabul from the economic crisis by providing humanitarian assistance and according it diplomatic recognition, it is accentuating its melancholies. It will provide assistance based on conditions that aid will be distributed by its NGOs and 2600 Afghani agents who were evacuated by CIA. Fake news are being spread by Indo-western media and sponsored protest marches for women rights organized in Kabul and other big cities to debase the Taliban.

Upset by the growing rapport between Pakistan and Taliban, the US wants to penalize both by using the tools of diplomatic isolation, economic war, proxy war, hybrid war and sanctions. Dollars are pouring into Pakistan to destabilize the political situation, weaken the economy and possibly bring about a regime change.    

The USA being the biggest war monger and violator of democratic and human rights is demanding from the Taliban not to violate human and women rights, promote girls education and to form an inclusive regime of its choice.

Ironically, massive human rights abuses committed by India and Israel against the Kashmiris and Palestinians, and both involved in ethnic cleansing to change the demography have never bothered the biased US leadership.

India’s undiminished bellicosity

Egged on by the US and Israel to intensify bellicosity against Pakistan, Indian media has intensified fake propaganda by claiming that Pakistan is behind the incidents of target killings of 9 Indian soldiers and some others in occupied Kashmir, as well as the attack by rebellious Sikhs against the RSS thugs in India, who are brutalizing minorities especially the Muslims. Hype similar to the post-Pulwama incident in Aug 2019 has been created and demand for surgical strikes has reached a crescendo. India’s Home Minister Amrit Shah has hurled a threat in this regard.

To up the ante, Indian anchors are screaming and straining their lungs over the incident of the Indian submarine saying that Pakistan’s claim of detecting it and forcing it to trudge backwards is false. Another threat was tossed to cancel the India-Pakistan T-20 cricket match due on Sunday. Earlier on, India was behind the cancellation of cricket series in Pakistan by the New Zealand and British teams. These bullying tactics are not new and have always been used to hide the genocide and rapes of the Kashmiris, and to placate Indian masses fed up of price spiral, growing poverty, rising cases of rapes and crimes and groaning under the misrule of fascist Modi regime.  

Desperate to return to Afghanistan, India is making concerted efforts to win over the new regime in Kabul and is offering extensive humanitarian assistance. Moscow’s help to convince the Taliban has also been sought.             

ISIS-Khorasan (IS-K) pitched against Taliban

The IS-K which was imported from Iraq and Syria in 2015 has been propelled to carryout suicide and bomb attacks in the major cities of Afghanistan and foment sectarianism to create insecurity. The CIA Director had stated last August that the best way to fuel trouble would be to make the Shias fight against the Sunnis as had been done in the Middle East. Sectarian game is being played with a dual purpose to show to the world that Afghanistan is an insecure country and it is beyond the capacity of the Taliban to control them. Secondly, justify the US air intervention.

 

The two most battle hardened and ideologically driven Sunni groups (Deobandis and Salafists) have been pitched against each other to once again engulf the war-ravaged country into another round of civil war. While the hardline IS-K is war monger, and has an international agenda of change, the reformed Taliban desire peace and friendship with all the countries. They had given ample chance to the militants led by Ahmad Masood in Panjshir to settle the matter through dialogue and when Masood refused, the valley was forcibly wrested on Sept 6. Tajikistan and Iran are feeling uneasy with Panjshir coming under the control of the Taliban.  

Time is not far when the Taliban would be forced to launch a full-fledged offensive to eliminate IS-K, which is also posing a threat to Pakistan. Earlier this menace is eliminated from the Af-Pak region, better it will be for the overall peace and security of the region.         

G-7 Conference

It was held on Aug 24 by video to discuss the Afghan situation. The EU members were more concerned about the safety and evacuation of their nationals and their Afghan loyalists from Afghanistan. They promised one billion Euros humanitarian aid for the Afghans but so far the amount has not been received. 

 

G-20 Extraordinary Conference

 

Pakistan and Iran, the two important immediate neighbors of Afghanistan were not invited to the conference by video held on Oct 12. Although the purpose of the conference was to generate donations for Afghanistan, no tangible results came out since the reps of western countries “wanted to tell the Taliban how to run their country and how to treat the women”, and laid down these terms as necessary conditions for doling out assistance. Russia and China wanted to follow the policy of non-interference. Another meeting is scheduled on Oct 30-31.  

 

Russia’s role

 

Russia hosted a summit at Moscow on Oct 14-15 to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan which was attended by reps from China, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, five Central Asian States and India. The US was absent. It was a follow up of the Dushanbe Summit of the SCO. A bombshell was dropped by Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov bluntly stating that the core burden of post conflict economic & financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by the USA-NATO occupying the country for 20 years.

While India and Tajikistan expressed their grievances, the Taliban PM Abdul Salam Hanafi argued that the current interim regime is already inclusive. 500,000 employees of the former regime have kept their jobs.

Vladimir Putin praised the Taliban efforts to tackle the threat posed by the IS-K and he said that there are 2000 Jihadis of this outfit, whose locations are known to the Russian intelligence and can easily snuff them if the Taliban gave a green signal. He also lauded Pakistan’s role, emphasizing that it was among the most important players in Afghanistan. It was decided to convene an international donor conference under the auspices of the UN.

The NATO Summit

 

The NATO summit of the defence ministers was held at Brussels on 19-20 Oct. The insensitive participants did nothing to help out Afghans except for giving sermons to the Taliban and holding them accountable for the ongoing acts of terror and alleged human rights violations in Afghanistan.  

 

Pakistan’s endeavor for peace

Pakistan is making hectic efforts to provide relief goods to the stressed segments in Afghanistan and has assured Rupees 5 billion immediate relief, but is itself deeply immersed in a host of internal issues. It has been appealing to the neighbors of Afghanistan as well as the OIC for a collective humanitarian response and is also urging the world bodies including the USA to come out of their materialistic mode and for the sake of humanity, mobilize international assistance for the Afghans who have been living in hellhole for the last 40 years.

Their miseries would proliferate in the winter season, but egotism, antagonism, greed and bigotry is coming in the way of humanity. There is an urgent need for global convergence in Afghanistan to avoid the humanitarian crisis and coordinated efforts for the economic uplift of the Afghan people.            

 

Pakistan’s challenges

Pakistan has decided not to play into the hands of global powers like a hired gun to fight their wars and has opted to become a strong proponent of peace. It is in the backdrop of this change of policy that Imran Khan in reply to the question of the nosy western reporter asking him whether Pakistan will extend airbase facility to the US, had spontaneously retorted ‘Absolutely Not’. His curt response has not been received well in Washington. It is not reconciling with the policy of defiance of Pakistan and wants Islamabad to do as told to do or else get prepared for the consequences. The ruling regime is already feeling the heat of the external and internal fronts.

Domestically, the people are getting restive due to rising inflation and uncontrollable price hike. The global economic crunch and Covid-19 have severely hit the economies of the developing world. The energy crisis has soared the prices of oil, gas and coal. Pakistan’s economy which has been in the grip of the IMF since 1990 is tumbling and debts are surging. External debt repayment is $ 14 billion and internal debt Rs 2.7 trillion. Economist magazine has listed Pakistan’s inflation 4th highest out of 42 countries. Pakistan needs gross external financing of $ 51 billion in current and next financial year to fulfil its needs. The IMF is levying tough conditions which if implemented would further enrage the people. FATF has again postponed its decision of taking Pakistan out of the grey list till next February.

Under the prevailing grim environment and foreign agenda of a regime change, the possibility of coming out of an economic crisis is getting dimmer. Taking advantage of the unsettling trends, the PDM, PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami and the TLP have started flexing political muscles. They have embarked upon another round of protest marches and are hopeful to dislodge the government which they consider as incompetent. Their target is Imran Khan and they want to pay him in the same coin. Tough times are awaiting the rulers. What is urgently needed is political consensus and economic certainty as well as bridling up of paid media spreading gloom to ride out the brewing storm.      

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Veterans Think Tank.

 asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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Future of Pakistan-US relations   Asif Haroon Raja

Baleful intentions of USA

 

Future of Pakistan-US relations

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination … the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives … In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11.”  – Michel Meacher

Occupational agenda based on fake charges

The initial target of the George W. Bush administration influenced by the Zionists, the neo cons, and the American Jewish lobby was Iraq, but in Sept 2001 the order of priority of taking on eight Muslim countries was changed and Afghanistan was picked up as the first target country. Seven Muslim States in the Middle East were listed to change its boundaries, capture oil, and pave the way for the establishment of Greater Israel. Based on this agenda 9/11 attacks were fore-planned. 

Afghanistan was chosen to make it a permanent military base of the US, from where it could eliminate all the Islamic radicals including Al-Qaeda who had taken part in the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, block China’s economic growth and Russia’s resurgence, denuclearize Pakistan, bring a regime change in Iran and harness the resources of Central Asia and gain dominance over the Eurasian belt.   

Afghanistan was invaded, heavily bombarded and occupied since the ruling Taliban regime was accused of violating human rights, particularly women rights, committing the grave sin of harboring Al-Qaeda and refusing to hand over Osama Bin Laden.

Apart from avenging the deaths of 2977 people in World Trade Centre in New York allegedly by Al-Qaeda, declared objectives of occupying Afghanistan were to free the Afghans from the clutches of cruel Taliban, reset the ideology of the country from Islamic Emirate to a Republic, make the Afghans well-educated, progressive and to make the country peaceful and prosperous by introducing western democracy, and promoting human/ women rights.

Factually, the US had no intentions of accomplishing these objectives since its hidden motives revolved around geo-economics. Not only attacks on the WTC on 9/11 were engineered, both Afghanistan and Iraq were occupied on fake charges.  

It was due to insincere and baleful intentions that in spite of spending $ 2.3 trillion during its 20 years period of occupancy, the socio-economic conditions and security of Afghanistan instead of improving further deteriorated. Standard of life of the elite class living in major urban centres was improved and the women liberalized, but 70% of the downtrodden people continued to live in abject poverty.

Quest for military solution proved fruitless

Bush, Obama and Trump firmly believed in the use of military force for a military solution, failed on all counts and created a big mess which went beyond their capacity to clear it. Other than the nukes, the invaders employed all sorts of lethal weapons to crush, or intimidate, or tire their opponents but achieved zero-sum results.

After failing to gain a military edge over the Taliban with the help of two troop surges and raising the combat level to over 140,000 in 2009, Obama concluded that it was beyond the capability of the ISAF and ANDSF to defeat the Taliban. He ordered the completion of the drawdown of troops by Dec 2014, starting in July 2011. Pentagon and ISAF Commander Gen Petraeus prevailed upon him to retain a small Resolute Support Mission (RSM) of about 12000 troops to back up ANDSF which till then had not acquired desired operational preparedness to fight independently. Islamic State of Khurasan (IS-K) was also brought in from Iraq and Syria in 2015 by CIA and RAW as a backup support.      

Donald Trump raised the level of RSM to 20,000 in 2017, escalated the air and drone war and dropped the mother of all bombs at Nangarhar. Finding the US-NATO troops in a logjam, and their well-trained and equipped 350,000 strong ANDSF unable to even contain the momentum of attacks of the Taliban, Trump had to sullenly open parleys with the Taliban to arrive at a political settlement. The Kabul regime was excluded from talks since the Taliban considered them collaborators, puppets and not worth talking about.

Doha deal and its implementation

The US-Taliban remained engaged in a series of peace-talk sessions for 18 months (Sept 2018-Feb 2020) and signed the Doha peace agreement on Feb 29, 2020 according to which all foreign troops were required to quit by May 1, 2021. In compliance with the Doha deal, the Taliban desisted from attacking foreign troops and allowed them to pull out safely. Not a single attack was carried out from March 2020 onwards. 

After the agreement, Trump had ten months (March to December 2020) to withdraw forces by air and to shift heavy baggage, military vehicles/equipment by land through Pakistan. By the time he handed over power to his successor Joe Biden in Jan 2021, the US troop level in Afghanistan had been reduced from 20, 000 to 2500 and the exit was orderly and graceful with no mishap.

Biden had four months at his disposal (Feb to May 2021), which were quite sufficient, but under intense pressure, he extended the date of departure to Sept 11, and then pushed it back to Aug 31. Seven months period was long enough to undertake an orderly drawdown of only 2500 troops, but the intentions were dishonest. Instead of making any gain by this extension, a sudden flurry of attacks by the Taliban which reached a crescendo in July triggered fright and everything was lost.

Many were surprised to hear Biden giving his expert opinion in July 2021 that the Taliban will take six months to reach the outskirts of Kabul and that the ANA will fight it out. This optimism that Kabul would hold on, was based on the feedback of thousands of the US think tanks, Pentagon, CIA, RAW and NDS. The policy makers in Washington were confident that six months’ time was sufficient to arrive at a political settlement and to tie up all details for a smooth withdrawal.

Much against the speculation that they would take at least 6-8 months to threaten and take over Kabul, sudden encirclement and occupation of Kabul on August 15 by the Taliban, resulted in panic and a hasty and disorderly withdrawal, which was more of a rout.

Misreading of Taliban’s final offensive

The Taliban spring offensive was launched after May 1, 2021 by which date all foreign troops were supposed to have exited. It was the final phase towards the victory stand. Their rapid gains bewildered the policy makers in Washington as well as the spoilers. Their hurricane-like advances on multiple fronts flabbergasted the Pentagon, leaving it with no choice but to vacate the military bases in haste. Vacation of the biggest Bagram airbase on the midnight of 2/3 July was a classic example of confusion, disorder and jangled nerves. They were left with no choice other than destroying the weapons and equipment stacked in the fortified military bases. 

Photo Courtesy-https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/06/21/taliban-afghanistan-war-propaganda/

One fails to comprehend why this big timeframe of fall of Kabul in six months was given, which was later reduced to three months in August, when most of the provinces had been captured by the Taliban, seven military bases abandoned, only 650 US troops were garrisoned in Kabul base, and the ANA had been surrendering one province after another without a fight.

It is also intriguing as to why Ashraf Ghani behaved so obstinately till the very end when his boat was fast sinking, and why the US didn’t force him to step down on August 14 if not earlier when his goose was cooked?

Was Ghani forced not to resign in order to create conditions for bloodshed? Was his sudden flight to UAE with lots of cash on the afternoon of August 15 by design so as to create an administrative and security vacuum and to stimulate bedlam in Kabul since the Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Deputy President Rashid Dostum had already fled?

The war mongers hoped against hope that a broad-based government in Kabul inclusive of the leaders of Northern Alliance would pave the way for continuation of the US presence in Afghanistan. They had also wishfully hoped that extending the cutout date given by Biden might convert defeat into victory. Tussle between the two sides, one favoring and the other disfavoring, was at the cost of wasting precious time and prolonging the agony. Extending the date proved costly for Biden.

Ill-intentioned narrative and expectations

One wonders on what basis the Indo-Western media started harping from June onward that there will be disarray, bloodshed, civil war and refugee exodus. The biased media stuck to this narrative when not a single incident of violence was reported in all the districts and cities captured by the Taliban? Intelligence reports speculated pitched battles between the Taliban and ANA in cities and it was expected that the former would resort to retributions.

The detractors were very hopeful that the fleeing refugees from the big cities would home towards Pakistan and taking advantage of the melee, all the terrorists and spies would be pushed into Pakistan.    

To ensure the safety of Kabul, and in case of its fall, safe exit of the US diplomats and other American nationals as well as the Afghan interpreters and loyalists, the US took control of Kabul airport and its security where a sophisticated air defence system was installed.  

An engineered suicide attack at the gate of Kabul airport by IS-K was launched on August 25, about which the US officials had been warning from August 22.

If the US was in the know of an impending attack, why did the US take such a big risk of inducing thousands of Afghans to reach Kabul airport to be flown to the wonderland of the USA, and presented such a lucrative target? Besides putting the lives of Afghans in danger, it endangered thousands of its troops, diplomats and nationals stranded in Kabul. Was the real purpose to foment chaos?

As predicted, the mob assembled outside the airport gate was struck by a suicide bomber on August 25 killing 170 Afghans, 13 US Marines and wounding hundreds. Reprisal actions with drones on August 26th and 29th struck innocent civilians. The US C-130s airlifted thousands of Afghans packed like sardines, but left behind US-NATO troops, diplomats and nationals. The US apologized for the August 29 attack and has offered compensation to the next of kin of the 11 victims.    

Future of Pak-US relations

From 1954 onwards, Pakistan had put all its eggs in the basket of the USA and on several occasions had put its national security at stake to prove that it was the most allied ally of the USA. Infatuation to the USA by successive regimes of Pakistan didn’t lessen even after getting betrayed repeatedly.  Pakistan was put off the radar of Washington in 1990 after which it only sees India in this region and none else. Pakistan has become an eyesore due to its nuclearization, closeness with China and the CPEC.  

After 9/11, the US unenthusiastically took Pakistan on board to ease its occupation of Afghanistan, and then to fight the longest war and lastly to pull out safely.

Pakistan was forcibly dragged into the US imposed war on terror which it fought tenaciously and produced best results but suffered the most. Since the US was governed by baleful intentions from the very outset, all the achievements of Pakistan security forces distressed the US and India.

When the heavily fortified strongholds of Swat and South Waziristan were overpowered in 2009, and all the tribal agencies of FATA less North Waziristan, that had been taken over by the foreign supported TTP, were recaptured in 2010, and the ISAF had to abandon its boots on ground strategy in Afghanistan and announce a plan of withdrawal due to resurgence of the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan, the flummoxed Obama and Pentagon took out their anger on Pakistan in 2011 by carrying out series of hostile acts starting from Raymond Davis incident, to Abbottabad attack, to Memogate and Salala attack. The last hostile act against the so-called ally which dipped Pak-US relations to lowest ebb forced Pakistan to respond defiantly.

Pakistan a convenient scapegoat

Throughout the war, the US and its strategic partners kept hatching conspiracies to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program while Pakistan considered them allies and kept doing more and in the process got bled.

Pakistan played a key role in the success of Afghan peace talks culminating into historic Doha agreement, in starting intra-Afghan dialogue in Sept 2020, and in restraining the Taliban from attacking foreign military targets. It played a historic role in evacuating 10,000 people from Kabul including American-NATO forces, American diplomats, IMF-World Bank officials and Afghan nationals and lodging them in Islamabad hotels.

Pakistan’s sacrifices and its efforts to please the overbearing USA were rudely brushed aside and was held responsible for the cataclysmic ending of the war. Conversely, India which failed the US on all fronts was kept in its tight embrace and handsomely rewarded simply because it offered profitable economic and IT markets, bought heavy consignments of armaments from the US and Israel, helped in boosting the game of intrigue and deceit, and in spreading fake news and narratives.

With all its troops back home, the US now wants to avenge its humiliation at the hands of the Taliban allegedly supported by Pakistan. The whole blame of the US defeat and its chaotic exit is pinned on the convenient scapegoat Pakistan.     

 

Pakistan no more useful to USA

The only interest the US has in Pakistan is to make it agree to provide an air base or air corridor to enable the US air force to conduct counter terrorism air operations in Afghanistan. In other words, the US is least interested in peace in the Af-Pak region and is determined to stoke instability and to keep the Chinese, Russian and Iran influences in Afghanistan at bay.

If Pakistan relents, it will be tolerated, and if it defies, it will be punished. Currently, the US leaders are in a bad mood and their patience is wearing thin. The indicators to that end are Joe Biden refusing to make a telephone call to Imran Khan, the unfriendly statements of the American civil and military leaders, Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stating that “we don’t see ourselves building a broad relationship with Pakistan”, anti-Pakistan bill moved by the 22 Republican Senators, and American Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad hobnobbing with Pakistan’s opposition leaders.

The other hostile acts are the IMF’s sinister dictations, pressing Pakistan to further devalue its currency and raise the taxes on petroleum, gas and electricity, FATF hesitating to whiten Pakistan, and India’s recent threat of launching a surgical strike, and Indian submarine sneaking into Pakistan’s waters which was chased out. India’s belligerence is encouraged by the USA.

Under the given circumstances, India and not Pakistan will be the preferred partner of the USA in South Asia. Any hope nurtured by the ruling regime in Pakistan or GHQ to alter the frostiness in Pak-US relations into friendly relations is like chasing the rainbow.           

 

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

   

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