Asif Haroon Raja
Pakistan has lurched from one crisis to another in its 70 years history. Notwithstanding the deleterious role of our leaders, India has been principally behind Pakistan’s woes. Failing to reconcile with existence of Pakistan, it has been hatching conspiracies and resorting to overt and covert means to undo Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan is going through testing times. The conspirators had started weaving the web inside and around Pakistan in 2002. The web is in completion phase and the strings are now being tightened. This web could not have been possibly woven without the connivance of ruling elites and conspirators. The overall security situation of Pakistan is more dangerous than it was in 1971.
The external strategic encirclement can be seen in the form of India’s strong presence in Afghanistan, domination and nuclearization of Indian Ocean by Indo-US Navies, bolstering of India’s economic, military and nuclear strength by the US, and India given a status of NATO member and given access to US military bases. Sudden rise in tension between Pakistan and its neighbors culminating in recently concluded Indo-Iran-Afghan strategic agreement at Chabahar duly backed by USA, the US belligerency against Pakistan and India-Gulf States increasing cordiality with India are ominous signs and are links of the same chain to encircle and isolate Pakistan. The US after making India a member of MTCR tried hard to make India member of NSG, but failed because of China’s veto. It is now making efforts to make India and Iran part of Afghan peace process to undercut Pakistan’s role.
Internally, RAW and NDS backed by CIA are in collusion with anti-Pakistan TTP and its affiliates in northwest, BRA, BLA, BLUF in Baluchistan and MQM in Karachi. Foreign agencies are recruiting agents from Afghan refugee camps and 5 million aliens carrying fake ID cards. These elements are stoking terrorism in the conflict zones as well as other parts of Pakistan. Segment of foreign paid electronic and print media, social media, pseudo intellectuals, NGOs, human rights activists, and people like Hussain Haqqani, Pervez Houdbhoy, Asma Jahangir, Farzana Bari, Sarmad Marvi, Imtiaz Alam are promoting the foreign agenda by spreading gloom and doom. All out efforts are in hand to draw a cleavage between the government and the Army and to provoke Gen Raheel Sharif to take over.
Despite colossal efforts put in by Pak security forces and achieving spectacular results, random acts of terror are continuing and so is bad press against the Army. Reasons are existence of sleeping cells and hideouts in urban centres, facilitators and financers. Spies and foreign agencies are tucked behind every bush in Pakistan. Above all, the terrorists are making use of safe havens in Afghanistan, Iran, London and South Africa. Most wanted Fazlullah and Khalid Khurasani and their groups are hosted by Afghan government in Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar in Afghanistan, and used by RAW and NDS to undertake acts of terror in Pakistan. Separatist Baloch Sardars living in exile in Geneva, London and Washington are being given full support by their hosts. MQM leadership in London has been prodded to renew terror activities to disturb peace in Karachi. All this is being done under the patronage of USA.
Military is the lone institution which is taking the looming threats seriously. It is performing its duties zealously and producing results. Gen Raheel Sharif has not only led the Operation Zarb e Azb from the front in a commendable manner and earned worldwide praise, he has also been highlighting Pakistan’s security concerns to the world leaders convincingly and giving befitting responses to the aggressions of India and Afghanistan. He forthrightly informed the visiting Iranian President about Iran soil being misused by RAW against Pakistan. He gave an appropriate reply to the US aggression on May 21, killing Taliban Ameer Mullah Mansour in Baluchistan without taking Pakistan in confidence. He stated that mere condemnation was not enough and made it clear that next time the drone will be struck down. The government’s response towards multiple threats to Pakistan’s security is lackadaisical and doesn’t measure up to the gravity of the threat. Of late some improvement is discernible as was evident from Sartaj Aziz statements. Performance of Sindh government is poorest since it is part of the problem.
All political parties in the opposition are opportunists and are solely interested in toppling the ruling regime and gaining power and are least concerned about the tense internal and external security situation.
With eastern, western and southwestern borders unsafe and Saudi Arabia and Gulf States getting more inclined towards India, Pakistan finds itself in a nut cracker situation.
It is time for Pakistan to differentiate between friend and foe and to radically refurbish its foreign policy and tailored to guard and serve Pakistan’s national interests conscientiously.
Pakistan is fast losing breathing space and is getting isolated. Its national security policy should be devised in a manner to provide adequate perimeter of security around Pakistan.
Friendship with USA has neither made Pakistan economically strong, or politically stable, or even secure. Our rulers must come out of the magic spell of the US which has all along used Pakistan to serve its short term objectives and then left it in a lurch once its interests were served.
The US and the West consider India as their natural ally, while Pakistan is branded as epicenter of terrorism and marked as a target. Pakistan’s nuclear program remains the most sought target. Expansion of US Embassy in Islamabad is aimed at keeping Pakistan perpetually destablised and dependent upon USA. Blame game and do more policies have similar motives.
India is the sworn enemy of Pakistan and will not miss any opportunity to fragment it. To expect that India will resolve Kashmir issue or will help in improving the economics of Pakistan will be like chasing rainbows.
Afghanistan under the Northern Alliance heavy government in Kabul will remain hostile to Pakistan. As such, it is imprudent to continue extending support to an unpopular and pro-India setup.
Iran is now a US ally and is being propped up to retake its role of the policeman of the Persian Gulf. It is likely to join the Indo-US nexus to dominate Indian Ocean.
Iran’s interests in Afghanistan clash with Pakistan and will like Northern Alliance, which it had harbored and supported since 1994 to remain in driving seat.
Iran is closer to India than with Pakistan. Indo-US-Afghan-Iran axis has now become a reality and a nightmare for Pakistan. Iran has drifted away and can no longer be relied upon as a trustworthy neighbor.
India-Chabahar-Central Asia trade route which will pass through Afghanistan will become operational only when Afghanistan gets stable and that is not likely in the foreseeable future. More so, Central Asian Republics (CARs) will not benefit from Chabahar in the absence of oil/gas pipelines.
For India, route to CARs through Pakistan is shortest and cheapest while route via Chabahar is long, vulnerable to disruption and expensive and not cost effective for its manufactured goods when competing with China.
Chabahar cannot compete with Gwadar since the latter is the largest deep seaport in the region and former is shallow. Kashgar connects Gwadar through Gilgit-Baltistan and avoids troublesome Afghanistan.
Chabahar can at best act as a spoiler for Gwadar, but cannot undermine its strategic significance.
Commissioning of CPEC will break the strategic encirclement of Pakistan as well as of China and will make Pakistan secure, integrated and prosperous.
China and Turkey are the only two dependable and all-weather friends that would stand by Pakistan. Friendship should be transformed into strategic partnership to avoid complete isolation.
Pakistan must get closer to Russia through China and should make it part of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group. CPEC and Pakistan’s membership of SCO is good beginning.
Pakistan should use all its diplomatic skills to ensure that Chabahar and Gwadar collude rather than collide to draw maximum benefits from CPEC. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline can help in keeping Iran friendly.
Saudi proposed 34-member alliance of Muslim States, with Gen Raheel Sharif as its Commander, must be taken seriously and made into a NATO like group to confront threats of terrorism and proxy wars and to ward off Pakistan’s isolation.
Pakistan must create a powerful Psychological Operations Department and Cyber Wing to counter Indo-US-Western-Jewish media war and cyber threat.
Indo-US-Afghan deadly covert operations against Pakistan and the cost Pakistan had to bear must be brought to the notice of international community through Publicity Wing and our Diplomatic Missions abroad.
Kashmir cause and Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir must be drummed up with full vigor, asserting that there can be no peace in the region without resolution of Kashmir dispute.
Borders with Afghanistan, India and Iran must be made secure through effective and foolproof border management system.
The trench constructed alongside the western border in Baluchistan must be extended to cover the entire length of Durand line, and gates constructed on all crossing points to regulate movement.
Similar trench should be constructed along Pak-Iran border.
Issue of Durand Line must be taken up with the UN and resolved.
Since the US and Kabul has refused to kill or nab Fazlullah, Pakistan should plan a sting operation to bump him off either through ground action or drone attack.
RAW-NDS-CIA-MI-6-Blackwater network in Pakistan as well as banned terror groups and their sleeper cells must be eliminated to make Pakistan safe.
Before it is too late, decision about RAW connected political party should be taken.
A law should by passed by the Parliament that violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty through drone strikes are unacceptable and in future invading drone will be shot down. Taking up the matter in the UNSC is a step in the right direction.
It must be made clear to the US that destabilization of Pakistan and willful disruption of CPEC will destabilize the whole region and Pakistan will be left with no option but to cut off relations with USA and to exercise its nuclear option to safeguard its integrity and sovereignty.
Pakistan must remain fully focused on early completion of CPEC.
Pakistan military must remain ever vigilant to defeat India’s ‘Cold Start’ and ‘Hot Start’ operations and at the same time keep its nuclear deterrence fully honed.
20-Point National Action Plan must be religiously and speedily implemented.
Combing operations against anti-Pakistan elements must continue to identify and crush snakes in the grass.
Politics of agitation must be banned.
3 million Afghan refugees hosted since 1979 must be sent back since they have become a real security hazard besides an economic burden.
5 million aliens must be regularized.
The government should shun its perverse policy of political expediency and should start an across the board accountability to root out cancerous corruption which is eating into the vitals of the country.
Judiciary must come out of its hibernation, undertake comprehensive reforms and start delivering.
Presently most of the anchors, journalists and so-called intellectuals are dancing to the tunes of their foreign pay masters and are supporting foreign agenda by promoting liberalism, undermining Islamic values, giving currency to rumors and falsehood, accentuating societal divides and spreading despondency. PEMRA must play its role to discipline the media by enforcing code of ethics.
There is a dire need for government run think tanks that can monitor the ongoing trends and emerging threats, and suggest suitable course of actions to the decision makers.
In the ongoing testing times, unified front is the only answer to confront internal and external challenges.
The writer is retired Brig, defense analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers forum Pakistan. Delivers talks and takes part in TV talk shows. [email protected]
Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.
He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.
He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written a number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.
He is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense and political matters for numerous international/national publications.