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Posts Tagged US-India Axis to Destabilize Pakistan

Prospects of Taliban-US peace talks by Brig Gen(R) Asif Haroon Raja

Prospects of Taliban-US peace talks

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

17 years have gone by but so far there are little prospects for the longest war in Afghanistan to come to an end. Lilliputians have paralyzed the Gulliver and brought a standoff in the war. Neither side is in a position to defeat the other. Since time is on the side of the Taliban, a change is discernible in the jingoistic mindset of the US administration under Donald Trump over the last six months. Both the military and civil American leaders are talking of peace which is something new and unique since so far their outlook toward Afghanistan has been to derive an outcome of their choice by using excessive force. All these years, the successive regimes of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump sought to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, forcing them to surrender their arms, bring them to the negotiating table and then compel them to sign the US dictated peace treaty and arrive at a political settlement.

  

Governed by geo-economics interests, George Bush had initiated the war on terror after 9/11. After occupying Afghanistan in November 2001, ignoring demographic factor he installed Northern Alliance heavy regime and sidelined the majority Pashtuns. In May 2003, Iraq was occupied under trumped-up charges and a Shia regime installed. Torture dens like Bagram prison, Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo Bay functioned unchallenged. Bush used force throughout his 8-year rule and it was during his rule that the apparently defeated Taliban after regrouping had started striking the occupying forces and Afghan forces (ANSF) fiercely. Likewise, Iraqi resistance forces in league with Al-Qaeda gave a tough time to the invaders.  

 

Besides the two-front war, the US in collaboration with India and the puppet regime in Kabul had opened a third front against Pakistan which it had declared as an ally, a frontline state and non-NATO ally to fight terrorism. The US and its strategic allies had opted for a secret covert war against Pakistan to extract its nuclear teeth and make it a compliant state. When the militancy in Afghanistan was pushed into Pakistan in 2003/04, the latter had to deploy 100,000 security forces in FATA to combat foreign paid terrorists in FATA. Baluchistan was also heated up in the same timeframe. The troop numbers have now increased to about 200,000 in the northwest.

 

CIA spread its outreach to Eastern Europe and colour revolutions started in the Baltic States during Bush time. China-US and Russia-US rivalry picked up momentum. Blackwater was used in Iraq.

 

From 2004 onwards Indo-US-Afghan nexus embarked upon a coordinated and sustained vicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan to supplement covert operations through proxies. Major accusations were: Nuclear proliferation, unsafe nuclear program, Pak Army and ISI in cahoots with militant groups are rogue outfits, Al-Qaeda headquartered in South Waziristan. Later on, it was accused of not doing enough. Do more mantra was aimed at weakening Pakistan from within.      

 

Once Obama took over in January 2009, he closed the Iraq front and carried out two troop surges in 2009 under his Af-Pak policy in order to let ISAF under Gen McChrystal and ANSF to quell the Al-Qaeda and Taliban threat. ISAF strength rose to 1, 50,000. The proxy war in FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was stepped up forcing Pakistan to launch military operations in Malakand Division, Swat, Bajaur, South Waziristan and other agencies of FATA in 2009-10. Black Water was inducted in Pakistan in 2008/09 to fan terrorism in urban centres. Quetta Shura was added in the list of accusation in 2011. Pakistan was blamed for terrorism in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

 

Obama brought in drones to target militants in Afghanistan and Waziristan. He also opened fronts in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, Niger, and Sudan through Arab Spring. ISIS phenomenon took birth in Iraq, Syria and other Middle East (ME) countries in his tenure. Regime change in Ukraine was masterminded by CIA, which impelled Russia to capture Crimea and to support resistance forces in Eastern Ukraine. Russian air force stepped into Syrian war in September 2015 during Obama time. The only de-escalating step taken by Obama regime was the nuclear deal with Iran in July 2015 which averted a warlike situation in the ME. 

 

When troop casualties of occupying forces in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 and 2010, Obama was forced to announce a drawdown plan starting July 2011 and ending it by December 2014. During this period, not only the Taliban remained aggressive and maintained a dominating edge in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the ISAF faced increased suicide and post-stress disorder cases as well as green over blue attacks. Occupying troops indulged in atrocities through night raids and air war.

 

As a result, Obama initiated a political prong in 2011 and resorted to the strategy of fight and talk and to divide the Taliban. Efforts were made to separate Haqqanis under Jalaluddin and his sons from Taliban under Mullah Omar and pitch former against the latter but failed. No worthwhile results accrued from backdoor parleys because of the insincerity of the US and its allies and the insistence of USA that talks should be between the Taliban and the Kabul government only. This was unacceptable to the Taliban who viewed the Karzai and later the Ghani regimes as collaborators and illegitimate.

 

In 2011, Raymond Davis incident, followed by US Navy Seals raid in Abbottabad and Apache helicopters attacks on military posts in Salala dipped Pak-US relations to the lowest ebb, forcing Pakistan to cut off military relations and close the NATO supply lines for 8 months. Washington had to apologize to normalize the relations.  

 

In June 2013, a political office of Taliban was set-up at Doha. When the drawdown was nearing completion, the Pentagon, CIA, Israel, India and Kabul regime prevailed upon Obama and forced him to sign another bilateral agreement with the unity regime in Kabul managed by John Kerry to leave behind a Resolute Support Group (RSG) of 5-6000 to provide training, technical assistance, counter-terrorism and air support to ANSF.

 

 

The security situation in Afghanistan began to deteriorate after the departure of the bulk of ISAF troops and the Taliban gained total control over 47% of the country’s districts from where they could strike targets in all parts of the country.

 

In June 2014, Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched by Pak Army in North Waziristan which dismantled all the bases of foreign-sponsored TTP and other militant groups totalling over 60, flushing them out of FATA. Although the major demand of USA was fulfilled, it was, in reality, a setback for the schemers as far as their ulterior designs against Pakistan were concerned.

 

In 2015, quadrilateral peace talks were initiated by the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan were asked to use its influence and make the Taliban agree to talk. When Islamabad arranged the talks in July that year and scheduled another meeting in the same month which would have surely made a breakthrough, the spoilers in Afghanistan scuttled the peace process by announcing the death of Mullah Omar. They didn’t want to negotiate from a weaker wicket.

 

Pakistan made another attempt when the Taliban were under the leadership of Mullah Akhtar Mansour. But the latter was killed by a US drone in Baluchistan in May 2016, thereby demolishing the peace process.

 

The US wants the Taliban to compromise and accept the US-drafted democracy and constitution, share power as a junior partner, disallow use of Afghan territory by foreign terrorists and to maintain friendly relations with the USA. 

 

The Taliban under Haibatullah Akhundzada have continued with their offensive drive to free their homeland from foreign occupation, regain the seat of power they were deprived of, and restore Islamic system of governance.

 

Like Bush, Obama kept its tilt toward India and visited India twice skipping Pakistan. All big deals with India like civil nuclear agreement, strategic partnership, missile deal, logistics, strategic communications and maritime security agreements were signed with India during Obama’s tenure. The two US leaders have been instrumental in enhancing the presence and influence of India in Afghanistan.  

 

When Trump took over power in January 2017, the US was no more a great country. It had lost its prestige owing to failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, unipolarism had given way to multi-polarism, and the USA had become the most hated nation in the Muslim world because of its anti-Muslim agenda. Instead of taking steps to call off the war on terror, he sheathed the political prong, increased the troop level of RSG to 18000, and gave a signal for a fresh military push against the Taliban to shore up ANSF.

 

At the same time, while announcing his new Afghan policy in August 2017, he put the whole blame of instability in Afghanistan upon Pakistan, and not only accused it of providing safe havens to the HN and Afghan Taliban but also supporting them. Since then, Pakistan is on notice and there is no letup in his belligerence. Punitive steps have been taken to compel Pakistan to do more. These include disinformation campaign, threats, suspension of reimbursement of CSF, putting Pakistan in the grey list, suspending military training, and directing IMF not to provide loans for repaying loans to China or for CPEC, provoking India and Afghanistan to step up hostile acts against Pakistan.

 

Trump has earned the hostility of Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Mexico and Pakistan, and has made NATO and EU resentful.    

         

Over one year has lapsed but the US military and ANSF have failed to turn the tide in their favour. Taliban have now started fighting battles in provincial capitals Lashkargah, Ghazni, Farah, Zabul, Uruzgan and Kunduz. Kabul and Bagram have been attacked repeatedly. They now control about 65% of the territory. While the Taliban have expressed their desire to hold talks and that too with the US only, they are not desperate for talks. They know that the wind is blowing in their favour.

 

Ashraf Ghani has been offering unconditional talks since last February and reportedly offered them control over four provinces in southern Afghanistan. Without peace holding of parliamentary elections in coming October will be problematic.   

 

The US, on the other hand, is desperate for peace since the ANSF lacking in fighting spirit and rived in discipline problems cannot defeat or even contain the Taliban, and are in disarray. The unity government is tumbling due to inner rift, inefficiency, corruption and unpopularity. The RSG is fast losing heart and is feeling insecure. The general public has now started holding protest marches asking the foreign troops to quit. Home pressure is building on Trump asking him to exit from the quagmire of Afghanistan at the earliest since it has become a drain on country’s economy. The TTP created by Indo-US-Afghan nexus to defeat Pak military is in tatters. In anger, Fazlullah was killed in June 2018. India which has been made a leading player has abstained from helping in reversing the dipping fortunes of the USA in Afghanistan. The US has lost its leverage over Pakistan after closing the taps of military aid and training. Pakistan has refused to get intimidated and is veering towards China and Russia.

 

The prospects for peace talks brightened when a 3-day ceasefire was religiously implemented on the occasion of Eidul Fitr in June. The two warring opponents mingled and embraced each other and took selfies. The effectiveness of the truce during which the Taliban laid down their arms, and then resumed fighting after the truce signalled how much control the Taliban leaders have over their fighters. 

 

It was under such distressful circumstances that the US agreed to hold preliminary direct talks with Taliban at Doha for the first time on July 28 to find a way out for restoring peace. Its willingness indicates the urgency to end the conflict. This comedown is seen as a diplomatic victory for the Taliban. The latter is no more solely dependent upon Pakistan since Russia, China, Iran, Qatar are supporting them. Moscow had invited the Taliban, US and Kabul for peace talks, but the latter two declined. Increased interest of Russia in Afghan affairs is another factor which is impelling the USA to patch up with Taliban.   

 

The second direct talks are likely to be held this month, in which the issue of release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay will be discussed to create an amiable atmosphere. The Taliban are showing flexibility in their stance by not insisting on occupying forces to withdraw first and then hold talks. They now want a firm timetable of withdrawal and do not agree to retention of even a single military base as desired by the USA. They would certainly seek a larger role in the future government.

 

One of the major reason for Russia and Iran to support the Taliban is the presence of Daesh (Khurasan) under Wilayat Khurasan (WK) who were brought and settled in Nangarhar and married with Jamaat-al-Ahrar by CIA-RAW in 2014 to fight the Taliban as well destabilize Pakistan. Russia and Iran are also opposed to the US-led reconciliation. Central Asian Republics (CARs) are also wary of Daesh who have an international agenda.

 

Having seen the fate of Syria at the hands of Daesh, the Taliban are also desirous of peace and are seeking the cooperation of other regional countries. They are suffering since 1978 and have learnt lessons and would not like to commit old mistakes and get isolated in the world comity. They also do not want the recurrence of 1991-94 like civil war, or Syria like conditions and like to have a peaceful transition of power. They have given an assurance that unlike al-Qaeda and Daesh, they have no international agenda. They opened communications with Russia, China and Iran which enabled them more avenues of arms supplies to continue with their freedom struggle with greater vigor. But the fact is that no one wants the US to pull out abruptly and ignites another civil war.

 

Notwithstanding the desire for peace by Haibatullah, it must not be overlooked that he has opponents within the Taliban movement who are opposed to him and to peace talks. Rahbari Shura and HN have little appetite for peace talks. Quetta Shura leaders particularly WK linked with HN oppose Haibatullah. It is owing to internal strife that Haibatullah wants to consolidate his position and negotiate from a position of strength after achieving major victories in the battlefield. He aims at capturing a provincial capital. It was with this end in view that big efforts were made to capture Kunduz and Lashkargah and lately Ghazni. While the Taliban have the capability to capture a city but do not have the capacity to retain it as had been seen in Kunduz.

 

The US was at ease as long as Kabul, provincial capitals, strategic communication lines and its eight military bases were safe. Attacks on Kabul and other capitals have unnerved the military forces. What is most worrisome for the US is that it is losing on all counts and finds itself in a nutcracker situation. It can neither afford to exit as a defeated superpower nor can it stay for long. It has lost the war but is not acknowledging it and badly wants a face-saving formula. It can exit only through Pakistan and not via the northern network which is no more available to ship out heavy baggage. The US is faring poorly on all other fronts including the domestic front where Trump has become highly unpopular. Both Pakistan and Taliban are defiant and holding their ground.

 

Judging from the mood of new Pakistan in which the civil-military leadership have come on one page, it cannot rule out the fast emerging possibility of Pakistan slipping out of its hands and shifting to Russo-Sino camp, which could be joined by Iran and Turkey, both antagonist to the USA. The US has realized that the ANSF has become a liability, and Ghani-Abdullah unity government is not delivering.

 

The only tangible factor which has handicapped the Taliban from capturing and retaining the captured cities is the air factor. The US fears the possibility of Russia giving surface-to-air missiles to the Taliban to counter air threat. Ever growing Russo-US rift over Syria and Ukraine is turning the possibility into a reality. That will be doomsday for the occupiers and collaborators.

 

Last but not the least, CPEC has come up as a hissing cobra for both USA and India, which would not only smash their global ambitions and isolate them, but also strengthen their foes China and Pakistan.     

 

While Indo-US-Afghan nexus had yet to absorb the shocks of near demise of TTP, and Pakistan’s decision to repatriate Afghan refugees, the trio got another shock when Pakistan undertook the construction of 830 km fence, and over 400 border forts, along some of the world’s harshest terrain – the Pak-Afghan border last year. Work is expected to be completed by 2019. Why would Pakistan exert such monumental effort, allocating thousands of troops and required logistics for this undertaking? Perhaps Pakistan grows weary of waiting for other ‘vested’ interests to fulfil their promises. It is strange that the US, the Afghan regime and India are objecting instead of assisting to prevent the alleged cross-border infiltration from both sides. Obviously, it would block the covert war.

Finding itself cornered with very little room to manoeuvre, it appears that Washington has now decided to make one last attempt to secure its mercantile interests in the region at a low cost. To this end, it has once again appointed former American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the USA as a special envoy of Af-Pak region. He served as an ambassador in Kabul for 5 years during Karzai rule and he had great influence over Karzai and his administration. Being a Pashtun, he has had access to key areas and had developed a relationship with Mujahideen leaders including Hikmatyar during the occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet troops. He has an ill reputation of inflicting extreme torture and excesses upon the Afghan Pashtuns.

 

It seems another plan has been hatched as a last resort to re-enact the reign of terror in Afghanistan. After inducting Daesh, the US is actively considering to induct Black Water in Afghanistan and hand over security duties to it and kill key leaders of the Taliban. Eric Prince has already undertaken two visits to Kabul. Blackwater was initially inducted in Afghanistan during his last tenure and he had a big hand in the persecution and slaughter of militant Pashtuns.

 

Khalilzad and Blackwater coming together once again may not be a coincidence and possibly a repeat action could be in the offing. Khalilzad wants to regain contacts with old Mujahideen leaders and also help Hikmatyar in winning the election and in paving the way for the exit of US troops and formation of a new regime. He is likely to play a role in the next presidential election and possibly in bringing Karzai and his team back in the saddle.

 

From the above, it is evident that the US is not interested in peace since it wants to extract mineral resources of Afghanistan and Central Asia and to accomplish its agenda of denuclearizing Pakistan. India is also anti-peace since it wants to retain its presence to encircle Pakistan and to gain access to CARs through Pakistan’s land corridor. The Kabul government is also not keen since it knows it will crumble and ANSF will splinter soon after the exit of occupying forces.

 

Peace talks are a ruse to throw wool into the eyes of the world. Had the US been sincere in arriving at a viable political settlement, it should have accepted the basic demands of Taliban such as freeing of prisoners, putting them off the blacklist, allowing them freedom of movement, unfreezing their accounts, curtailing human rights abuses and making them a stakeholder. Peace talks could be a deception to widen the existing rift within the Taliban and exploit it by pitching WK against Haibatullah.

 

Similarly, the US should not have distrusted and maltreated Pakistan because, without its wholehearted cooperation, peace is not possible. It should have acknowledged its huge sacrifices in a war it didn’t ask for, nor did it initiate. It should have lauded the efforts of Pakistan, the only country in the region to turn the tide against militancy – despite heaviest odds. It should not have prioritized Indian interests in Afghanistan over ours and pressured Pakistan to grant land access to India for trade with Afghanistan/CARs.   

 

The US must not forget that in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, America spent billions of dollars destroying the region but practically did nothing to rebuild much of the destroyed basic infrastructure, forcing millions of Afghan refugees to flee to Pakistan where, according to UNHCR reports, approximately 1.38 million registered and one million unregistered remain sheltered to this day. The US callously overlooks the human and financial sacrifices Pakistan has made, including 70,000 war-related civilians and security forces injured or killed; and a financial loss of $ 120 million. 

Stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan since it frees Pakistan of twin threat to its security and plays a part in dictating our relations with the US and India. It is with this end in view that earnest efforts have been made to appease the US-installed regime in Kabul which have so far borne no fruit mainly due to the role of spoilers. FM Qureshi visited Kabul on Sept 15 with the hope of melting the ice. He seems satisfied saying the visit was ‘advantageous’.     

 

Taking a cue from the frivolous statement of the US Ambassador in Kabul, Pakistan should remain vigilant that in its enthusiasm to melt the ice, it shouldn’t barter away national interests. Any concession to India regarding trade corridor should be linked with the resolution of Kashmir dispute and end to clandestine operations against Pakistan by India. 

What should be understood by Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah is that the war is unwinnable, and the only way to end the war is through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. Pakistan can play a constructive role in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and is in the best position to bring all sides together and work for a détente.

Pakistan’s efforts will be fruitful only if its sacrifices and good work are acknowledged and spoilers are kept aside. Except for India and Kabul regime and some hawks in US administration/Senate that have constantly poured scorn on Pakistan out of malice, the world comity including UNSC Monitoring Team, Global Terrorism Index and others have heaped praises.   

Pakistan will have to promote its counter-narrative cogently to convince the world that it played a lead role in the war on terror, was the biggest victim of terrorism, and has achieved the best results.

Pakistan should remain watchful of the designs of Indo-US-Afghan nexus, be prepared to take on the emerging threats of Daesh and Black Water, speed up fencing and return of refugees, deal effectively with internal enemies promoting foreign agenda and find ways and means to deal with the catastrophic effects of hybrid war attacking the homogeneity of the society.  

 

Factionalism within Taliban leadership and vested interests of the spoilers preclude the possibility of a big breakthrough in peace talks in 2018.

 

The writer is a retired Brigadier, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows and seminars. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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Indo-US evil designs by Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Indo-US evil designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

 

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The US being an imperialist power is governed by a strong hegemonic impulse. It wants to convert the world into its global village and to maintain its uni-polarism for next 100 years. 9/11 was projected as a holocaust to justify brutal war against Muslim States and steal its resources. Muslim specificcrusade launched by the neo-cons was given the cover name of Global War on Terror (GWOT). It was launched by USA and its western allies to accomplish their strategic and economic objectives in South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. All those opposing US policies were dubbed as terrorists or their abettors/sympathizers. Terrorism was not defined and all freedom movements taking place within the Muslim world were put in the category of terrorism.

It is now widely believed that Pakistan and not Afghanistan was the actual target of USA. Acquisition of weapon grade nuclear power by conventionally strong Pakistan was unacceptable to US, Israel and India. The trio in concert with UK and Germany schemed to destabilize, denuclearize, de-Islamize, Balkanize Pakistan using covert means from Afghan soil.

 

In 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan “in a decade with the country rived by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries. NIC-CIA opined that Pakistan was slated to become a “failed state” by 2015, “as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”. It stated that “in a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central government’s control will in all probability be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi”. According to the NIC-CIA scenario, which Washington intended to carry out: “Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive policies, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction”.

 

It is by no means accidental that the 2005 National Intelligence Council- CIA report had predicted a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan pointing to the impacts of “economic mismanagement” as one of the causes of political break-up and balkanization. In actual fact, the “economic mismanagement” and chaos is the outcome of IMF-World Bank prescriptions, which invariably trigger hyperinflation and precipitate indebted countries into extreme poverty.

 

Lt Col Ralph Peters writing in the June 2006 issue of The Armed Forces Journal, presented a map in which it was suggested that Pakistan should be broken up, leading to the formation of a separate country: “Greater Balochistan” or “Free Balochistan”. The latter would incorporate the Pakistani and Iranian Baloch provinces into a single political entity. The map showed Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) incorporated into Afghanistan “because of its linguistic and ethnic affinity”. This proposed fragmentation, which broadly reflected US foreign policy, would have reduced Pakistani territory to approximately 50% of its present land area. Pakistan would have lost a large part of its coastline on the Arabian Sea.

 

Although the map did not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it had been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, has been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles. The US course consisted in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action was also dictated by US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran. Like the US, India too nurtures evil designs against Pakistan and has never reconciled to its existence. In the ongoing proxy war, Indian RAW is in the lead and is fully involved in FATA, Balochistan and in Karachi to breakup Pakistan into small Quasi States. Exactly eight years after Ralph Peters map, Dr. Amarjit Singh from India has come out with almost a similar map showing fragmented Pakistan.

 

For the accomplishment of their objectives, Pakistan was befriended and then arm-twisted to change its Afghan policy, and join the US led coalition to fight the GWOT. Pak-India friendship treaty signed in January 2004 was part of the plan to allow free hand to RAW to carry out sabotage and subversion. Pakistan was forced to induct regular troops in South Waziristan (SW) in 2002 to flush out Al-Qaeda (CIA’s creation) and its sympathizers and later asked to extend the military operation to other parts of FATA. CIA-FBI established outposts in FATA, which with the help of clandestine setup Spider Web, killed over 400 pro-Pakistan Maliks, clerics and elders to create space for TTP.

In 2004, Balochistan was heated up with the help of Baloch insurgents. Idea was to bog down as many regular troops in FATA and Balochistan, and create favorable conditions for the Indian military to operationalize its Cold Start doctrine. Induction of Blackwater in 2008 to make major urban centres turbulent and to help in setting up of CIA network was timed with establishment of NRO cleansed government. Indo-US-western-Israeli propaganda war was launched to discredit Army and ISI, create alarm about the nukes falling in wrong hands, paint Pakistan as the most dangerous and a failing State. The TTP and BLA/BRA were patronized by foreign agencies to create fear and lawlessness. All this was done to bleed Pakistan’s economy and to whisk away the nukes.

 

After creating a hot situation in Bajaur, Swat and Malakand Division and later in SW, the military was left with no choice but to conduct major operations in 2009. Success achieved by security forces was a huge setback for the schemers. Thereon, Pakistan was continuously pressured from 2010 onwards to launch another major operation in North Waziristan (NW) disregarding its security, socio-economic and political compulsions. The US remained obsessed with the notion that military success in Afghanistan hinged entirely upon elimination of safe havens of Haqqani Network in NW. Gen David Petraeus when in command of ISAF refused to launch the planned operation in Kandahar until and unless Pak Army cleared NW.

 

Operations in NW had a political price tag as well as socio-economic penalties. With 150, 000 troops tied in various parts of FATA and KP, tens of thousands of IDPs living in relief camps, economy in doldrums and extremely weak government involved in high-scale corruption and mis-governance, Indian and Afghanistan’s meddlesome role in Pakistan and the US double-game, Pakistan was not in a happy position to undertake another major operation and feed hundreds of thousands of IDPs displaced from NW and also tackle the blowback when no national intelligence policy and counter terrorism policy had been framed. Army and FC had suffered heavy casualties in Operation Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat and the US had suspended release of close support fund.

 

The US refused to understand that there were over 50 terrorist groups married to each other and involved in anti-State activities. By that time it had been ascertained that TTP was being assisted by foreign agencies. Pro-Pakistan militant groups could be counted on fingers. Maulvi Nazir heading militants from Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in SW was pro-Pakistan and had remained tied to peace agreement since 2007 but he was killed by drone in January 2013. The only other Pakistani militant group which was apparently friendly was Hafiz Gul Bahadur led group of Othmanzai Wazirs in NW. In addition there was a faction of Haqqanis under Sirajuddin settled in NW since 1980 which was also considered as friendly since it had never involved itself in anti-Pakistan activities. However these groups were aligned with the TTP elements settled in NW in 2010 after they were pushed out from SW in end 2009.

 

While Swat to a large extent had been pacified, SW had not been made wholly safe for the IDPs to return. Civil administration was reluctant to come forward and take over its administrative and development duties from the Army. Judiciary was not playing its part to convict terrorists and was freeing them. All religious parties, PML-N, PTI, JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami were against operation in NW. Their main concern was drone attacks and not militancy. The government and Army were dubbed as pro-US and an operation would have been projected as US driven. India kept playing Mumbai incident to keep Pakistan on the back foot. Western border was activated in 2011 by runaway Fazlullah led militants duly patronized by Afghan military/intelligence and other foreign agencies and cross border attacks became a norm forcing the Army to deploy additional troops. LoC in Kashmir was heated up in January 2013 and again in August-September on made-up pretexts.

 

Under such circumstances, no respectable nation could be compelled to open another front and march its forces against its own people just because of American diktat. It was generally opined that Americans would soon depart from Afghanistan leaving behind up to 10,000 lonesome soldiers, but the FATA tribesmen and Afghans were here to stay. With regard to the concern of NW acting as safe haven for anti-western forces in Afghanistan, it was argued that if around half a million armed personnel and pro-US tribesmen deployed in Afghanistan couldn’t guarantee the security of ISAF forces, how could Pakistani forces ensure their security from Pakistani soil? They reminded the US that it must recognize that Taliban hostility is attributable to foreign armed presence.

 

It may be recalled that 2011 was a very heavy year for Pakistan and its security apparatus. It had to bear the impact of Raymond Davis incident, Abbottabad sneak raid, memo scandal and massacre of 24 soldiers at Salala post. Till July 2012, Pak-US relations were at their lowest ebb. Separatist movement in Balochistan patronized by foreign powers had intensified and issues of missing persons and mutilated bodies were being drummed up to malign the image of Army, FC and Agencies. Supreme Court Under former chief justice was soft towards separatists and harsh on FC. Karachi was also on fire due to high spate of target killings.

 

Refusing to take cognizance of the security constraints of Pakistan, the US kept intensifying pressure on Pakistan through drone strikes, incursions and secret operations. For the attainment of its primary objective of disabling Pakistan’s nuclear program, the schemers focused on the Army and ISI, the two institutions that stood guard over 15 nuclear sites. Own media, NGOs and pseudo intellectuals helped the detractors in their game. The US wanted Pakistan to reinforce failure with ill intention of bogging down additional Corps size force in NW to create imbalance on eastern front for the benefit of India. At the same time, the US kept bolstering the economic and military strength of India. The US went out of the way to patronize India and made all out efforts to make it the key country in Afghanistan.

 

Series of conspiratorial plans hatched by CIA-RAW led intelligence agencies against Pakistan have been foiled by the Army and ISI. Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched in NW is proving to be the last nail in the coffin of TTP and its affiliates. The dream of USA has been shattered by Afghan resistance forces and its super power status is at stake. India also suffers from self-evoked insecurity syndrome. After its scheduled withdrawal after two months, the US is keen to put India in charge of Afghanistan. In other words, a guzzler has been nominated to act responsibly and protect the sheep given under its care. India which gobbled up 565 Princely States including those wanting to join Pakistan in 1947, two-thirds Kashmir, and later on wolfing Sikkim and Goa, and then slicing the eastern limb of Pakistan in 1971, it is now greedily eying at the other half of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan to fulfill its longtime dream of Akhand Bharat.

Knowing India’s track record, it will be utterly foolish to expect a hungry wolf to behave responsibly and avoid making a sumptuous repast out of the sheep given under its protection. Resource rich Central Asian Republics too would be its easy preys. The wicked wolf probably doesn’t know that a lion lurking in the shadow is anxiously looking for an opportunity to tear it apart.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Director Research Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

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USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

 by

Asif Haroon Raja

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Pakistan to become the new ‘major terror ground’ in just six months: Efforts to Sabotage Gwadar Port Operational Control by China by William Engdahl

 

US & India Joint Strategy to Destabilize Pakistan

William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.

Published time: August 09, 2013 09:51

 

 

Developing Pakistan-China ties which can drastically change the economic map of the region are threatened by Pakistani separatism, which might suddenly transform into another ‘terror ground.’

As Washington continues sending its development assistance aid in the form of drones to bomb civilians illegally inside Pakistan’s borders, allegedly to go after Taliban fighters, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently completed a trip to Beijing where he met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, his first foreign visit after the May elections. The Pakistani Federal Cabinet subsequently approved the start of negotiations and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on developing a “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”long-term plan, and an action plan between the development ministries of the two countries.

The core of the new agreements between China and neighboring Pakistan calls for accelerated development of a 2,000-km trade infrastructure corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast to Kashgar, the westernmost city in China’s Xingjiang province. Pakistan has offered China a‘trade and energy corridor’ via Gwadar, linked to inland roads. The plan would import oil from the Middle East, to refineries at Gwadar and sent on to China via roads, pipelines or railway

 

A view of the Beijing-funded "megaport" of Gwadar, in southwestern Pakistan (AFP Photo)

A view of the Beijing-funded “megaport” of Gwadar, in southwestern Pakistan (AFP Photo)

 

Xinjiang is also the heart of China’s known oil resources and a transit area for major oil and gas pipelines. The development will cost billions of euros, which China reportedly has now pledged in the form of ‘soft loans’. The railway infrastructure will provide crucial links for transporting oil and gas from the Persian Gulf and minerals and food from Africa will be the heart of the newproject.http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_61094.shtm

However, in six months this area will “suddenly” become a major “terror ground” that conveniently will disrupt the rail infrastructure link. It reminds me of the German Berlin-Baghdad Rail link to the Ottoman Empire before WWI that was the major cause for Britain to ally with Czarist Russia and France in the Triple Entente that became WWI in 1914.

Asian-gulf economic powerhouse?

China’s needs for energy resources, food and minerals from the Gulf and Africa have boosted trade between the regions in the recent years. China’s trade with the UAE alone has grown 15-fold since 2000 to reach $37 billion. It is expected to reach $100 billion by 2015. Some 2,500 Chinese firms have offices in Dubai. China’s largest bank ICBC and the Bank of China also have branches in the Gulf sheikhdom where they are beginning to transact bilateral trade in Chinese renminbi rather than dollars.

The Chinese are currently upgrading some 600 kilometers of the China-Pakistan highway. The KKH was built in 1986 from Kashgar through Pakistan and the upgrade will make it suitable for heavy container traffic and linking it to Gwadar Port. China and Pakistan are also working to link Gwadar port and Xinjiang through a new Chinese-financed railway network. This will turn Gwadar Port and the KKH into a trade corridor for China and other Central Asians countries and create in Gwadar an energy, transport, and industrial hub providing direct and economical access to the Arabian Sea for both China and resource rich Central Asian states. 

Gwadar is the world’s largest deep sea port. It lies in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan in the warm water Arabian Sea. The design and construction of the final stages of the port, which began in 2002, is being carried out in collaboration with China. It has an immense geostrategic importance at the entrance to the Persian Gulf and is a likely substitute for the Port of Dubai. In 2011 Pakistan invited China to build a Naval base at Gwadar, something the Pentagon is eyeing very closely. China has yet to respond on that.  

It will generate billions of dollars in revenue for Pakistan and likely create about two million jobs.

Pakistan and China have signed agreements to help energy starved Pakistan to utilize the hydro-electric potential offered by the area by constructing the Diamer-Bhasha and Bunji dams.

China also wants to import gas from Iran by joining the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline that will pass through Gilgit Baltistan on the Pakistan border to Xinjiang in China.

Also Pakistan and China have signed agreements to develop entirely new industrial cities in various parts of Pakistan along the route of the rail link, including at Gwadar.

Close to the Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar has the potential to become the gateway to Central Asia and China. It’s at the junction of the world’s three most important strategic and economic regions–Middle East, South Asia and Central Asian states—giving it the potential, barring new wars, to generate billions in annual transit trade. As part of a shift in policy, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have recently been eagerly pursuing trade and economic links with China. 

On January 30 this year, Pakistan turned over the management and operation of the Gwadar Port Authority to a Chinese company at the same time the Pakistan government signed  up to the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline, tying Pakistan, Iran and China more closely, something that caused pain in Washington.

The availability of a major alterative trade route that cuts distance and time from the present long and slow 8000 km route by ship from the Persian Gulf through the Malacca Strait to the eastern seaboard of China will give both the Gulf states, as well as parts of Africa where China is very active, and Asia, huge economic benefits.  

Enter Baluchistan ‘Separatism’

Conveniently for Washington, which has no interest in fostering greater Chinese independence of energy supply, in recent months a growing militant separatist movement has erupted on the scene in Baluchistan, the Pakistan province where Gwadar is located. 

In 2006 the US Armed Forces Journal published an article by Colonel Ralph Peters titled Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look. In the piece, which appears to bear uncanny relevance to subsequent Pentagon and US State Department policy in the region, Peters calls for the  creation of aFree Baluchistan

His call was echoed by US Pakistan “expert” Selig Harrison, who reportedly enjoys strong ties to the CIA. In 2006 after Peters published his sensational article Harrison wrote in Le Monde Diplomatique and the New York Times that a Free Baluchistan movement was “simmering.” The call by Peters and Harrison for a Free Baluchistan began four years after China began building the first phase of the Gwadar Port. 

On June 15 this year, terror attacks including a suicide bombing of a bus filled with students and a gunfight in the city that left two dozen dead, hit the Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta. 

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a militant separatist group, claimed responsibility. The BLA wasn’t acting alone. As the injured students were being rushed to hospital, they ran into an ambush by the ‘Pakistani Taliban’Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ)

The BLA has been involved in attacks on government oil fields and gas pipelines. The Pakistan government accuses India of being behind the BLA. India recently has been moving closer to the US and to Japan in a military alliance that has a distinct anti-China bent.

Further, on July 29, jihadist militants armed with rockets and heavy weapons launched a concerted assault on a major prison in Dera Ismail Khan, close to the South Waziristan tribal agency in northwestern Pakistan, along the route of the rail-highway-pipelines from Gwadar to Xinjiang, freeing an estimated 250 militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Terror attacks in Xinjiang too

Xinjiang has recently suffered from new rioting by separatist Muslim Uyghurs. In late June in Xinjiang, home to some 10 million Uyghurs, two terror attacks killed 35 people days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the July 5, 2009 riot in the capital Urumqi that left 197 people dead.

The Jihadist Uyghur terrorists apparently are being recruited in Turkey by an Uyghur independence organization, sent to Syria for combat experience and, if they survive, sent back to Xinjiang to carry out terror deeds there.

China’s official daily, Global Times, reported in early July that a Muslim Uyghur from Xinjiang, Memeti Alili was arrested in Xinjiang during the new wave of terrorist acts and riots.

The Chinese daily reported that the 23-year-old Alili confessed to police that he had been recruited as a student in Istanbul by something called the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Aili was arrested when returning to Xinjiang to complete his mission to “carry out violent attack and improve fighting skills.”He confessed that he had been assigned to return by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). ETIM is a terrorist group that aims to create an Islamist state in Xinjiang, which works alongside the East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA), an Istanbul-based exile group. 

 

This picture taken on August 5, 2013 shows the shell of a burnt out bus being towed by a rescue vehicle along a street in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (AFP Photo)

This picture taken on August 5, 2013 shows the shell of a burnt out bus being towed by a rescue vehicle along a street in Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (AFP Photo)

 

Muslim Uyghur youth are being recruited to go to Istanbul to “study”, then recruited by ETIM and ETESA to fight as Jihadists in Syria with Al Qaeda and other jihad groups, according to China’s anti-terrorism authority. If they survive the Syrian battlefield training, the Uyghur jihadists are recycled back to Xinjiang in China, the end-point of the new Gwadar to China rail and road infrastructure “land bridge.”

The headquarters of ETESA, located in Istanbul include research, media, social affairs, education and women’s affairs departments. It aims to “educate and train Muslims” in Xinjiang and “set them free” by forming a Muslim state, according to a Chinese official.  In 2004, in Washington Anwar Yusuf Turani established the East Turkistan Government in Exile. Washington seemed not to object, though many other countries did, including China.

The Istanbul link of ETIM and ETESA is no accident. Istanbul’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly backed the Uyghur separatists in 2009 during the riots, calling them fellow Turkic peoples.

Meanwhile, as if to further underscore how vulnerable any China-Pakistani energy and trade corridor from Gwadar to Xinjiang would be, on the eve of US Secretary of State Kerry’s visit to Islamabad to meet Pakistan’s Prime Minister just after the China deal of Pakistan, the US made several drone attacks inside Pakistan in the North Waziristan tribal region. They killed at least six people. It was the fourth US drone strike since Sharif was re-elected as Prime Minister in June, all in the crucial North Waziristan en route to Xinjiang. Despite Pakistan’s strong protests Washington refuses to halt the CIA-run drone attacks

With the CIA drone attacks, the Baluchistan attacks of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Baloch Liberation Army, as well as Jihadists being sent into Xinjiang from Turkey and Syria, we can expect unrest to increase in Baluchistan province and upwards to Xinjiang as the huge China-Pakistan infrastructure plans materialize in coming months.

Disclaimer

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT or PTT.

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