Asif Haroon Raja
The US was the first country to dupe and trap Pakistan after 9/11 for the achievement of its go-strategic objectives in the region. Collin Powell pushed Gen Musharraf against the wall by asking him bluntly whether “you are with us or against us”. And when he unhesitatingly opted for the first option, he was asked to meet seven demands which were related to Pakistan cutting off relations with Taliban regime in Kabul and providing full assistance to the US for its intended invasion of Afghanistan. On receipt of answer in affirmative, Musharraf was made to believe that the era of Pak-US antagonism would end, and the two countries would embark upon a new journey of friendship based upon mutual trust, respect and confidence on long term basis. He was assured that the past mistakes would not be repeated and the wrongs done amply compensated.
These apparently juicy propositions were quite attractive to entice legitimacy seeking General to jump into the bandwagon of US-NATO without carrying out an in-depth analysis of its long term impact upon the regional and national politics and security of Pakistan. No thought was given to the past track record of USA that had left Pakistan in a lurch in testing times. Pakistan readily agreed to once again become the frontline State to fight the US war on terror and to extend all out support to the imperialist powers to invade and capture Afghanistan ruled by friendly Taliban regime that in its five-year rule had for the first time made Pakistan’s western border safe.
Rescheduling of foreign debts, inflow of US aid and foreign investment made the rulers so ecstatic that they happily allowed the US and its strategic partners (NATO, Israel, India and new Afghan govt) to unobtrusively weave a web around Pakistan. Beginning was made in FATA by pushing regular troops into South Waziristan. This act inflamed militancy which engulfed the whole tribal belt and subsequently seeped into settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Besides surprise attacks on isolated posts and check posts, IEDs were used by militants to cause casualty to security forces. Suicide bombers were used to destroy schools, police stations, video/barber shops. When the Army took the ownership of a deadly drone attack on a religious seminary in Bajaur in October 2006 killing 80 students, it triggered suicide attacks against military targets in towns and cities. Lal Masjid episode in July 2007 gave birth to Punjabi Taliban and terrorism trickled into Punjab and speeded up creation of TTP in December 2007 under Baitullah Mehsud. Concept of group attacks started in Lahore with the attack on Sri Lanka cricket team in March 2009 followed by attacks on Police Training Centre and Police Academy. Thereon, soft targets like markets, bus stops were also targeted. Yet another tactic was suicide attack followed by group attack.
In Baluchistan, Sardars of Bugti, Mari and Mengal tribes as well as nationalist Baloch leaders were taken on board and incited to start an armed insurgency in interior Baluchistan and then shift it towards urban centres including Quetta to stop development of Gwadar seaport by China and other mega projects and force the settlers to shift elsewhere. For this purpose BLA, BRA, BLF and several other militant groups were created and over 60 Farari camps established in interior Baluchistan to train and equip the Baloch rebels. Their major targets were security forces, skilled manpower, educationists, government officials, pro-Pakistan Baloch, gas pipelines, grid stations, electric transmissions, railway lines etc. Hazara community was mercilessly targeted by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Propaganda material and school textbooks in Balochi language were printed in Afghanistan and provided to schools/colleges in Baloch inhabited regions so as to poison the minds of younger generation as well as Baloch women against Pakistan and Army.
The two conflict zones were kept on the boil by feeding the militant groups mainly from Afghanistan and also from Chahbahar/Zahidan in Iran where Indian Consulates are located. RAW has been in the forefront to execute and coordinate covert operations. India opened 4 official and over a dozen veiled Consulates in eastern and southern Afghanistan filled with RAW agents and also deployed 14 intelligence agents to destabilize Pakistan. 70 training camps/centres were established to train and equip terrorists and carryout sabotage and subversion in Pakistan. India and Israel jointly opened a cultural centre in Badakhshan to brainwash the newly recruited youth and make them suicide bombers. India also opened cultural centres in all major Afghan cities to project friendly face of India and inculcate hatred against Pakistan in the minds of Afghans. Since late 2014, India has managed to marry up Jamaat-e-Ahrar under Khalid Khurasani with Daesh at Nangarhar for use against Afghan Taliban and Pakistan.
The down and out MQM was rejuvenated and politically strengthened by Musharraf in urban Sindh from 2001 onwards. By 2008, the MQM redoubled its strength and was in a position to give strength to foreign agenda of destabilizing Pakistan’s economic lifeline Karachi through massive target killings, extortion, kidnappings for ransom and lawlessness. Karachi was turned into 3rd conflict zone. The MQM in collusion with PPP succeeded in bleeding Pakistan’s economy and making Karachi die a slow economic death. Media dared not expose the wrongs of MQM.
Covert war was supplemented by propaganda war to malign Pakistan and isolate it. To provide requisite strength to Indo-US-western-Israeli propaganda, Pakistan’s electronic media was suddenly bolstered in 2003 and 80 TV channels mushroomed within two years. MQM played a key role in bringing almost all the media houses and English newspapers under its control. The US, India and Israel provided heavy funds to selected media houses. They were tasked to propagate given themes, paint Pakistan and its premier institutions in black, build tutored perceptions, undermine Islam by putting the whole blame on Islamists and Mullahs and promote secularism.
Once Pakistan was entrapped and pushed into the inferno of terrorism, India was next in line to dupe and trap Pakistan. It first coerced Pakistan by staging a false flag operation on Indian Parliament in December 2001, deployed its entire military might along the border for next ten months. Aggressive posturing and the US pressure forced Pakistan to ban six Kashmir focused Jihadi groups, check cross LoC movement, offer ceasefire in Kashmir, let India fence the LoC and make Musharraf extend a unilateral commitment that he will not allow use of Pakistan’s soil for cross border terrorism. These appeasing steps impelled India to sign peace agreement in January 2004 and to restart composite dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir. This development overjoyed our leaders, lulled their senses and made them to believe that India is serious in resolving Kashmir dispute and to live as friendly and peaceful neighbor.
Under the smokescreen of so-called peaceful eastern border and LoC, India completed fencing of LoC and defused Kashmir freedom movement. After safeguarding occupied Kashmir, India quietly activated western border for covert war against Pakistan, and used eastern border for launching cultural invasion. To this end, it made good use of artists, singers and print and electronic media and CDs/movies to popularize Indian culture. People-to-people contact helped RAW in infiltrating its agents and recruiting new agents in Pakistan. Anchors, journalists, writers, secular academicians and members of civil society were cultivated to glorify India and discredit Pakistan. Aman-ki-Asha and SAFMA were RAW creations. This silent western and Indian cultural invasions were happily welcomed and further galvanized by Musharraf’s concept of enlightened moderation, which under the garb of modernism was a tool to promote secularism. While India in concert with its strategic partners kept bleeding and maligning Pakistan by giving insulting names, our leaders kept doing more to please and mollify USA and India.
Pakistan was duped for the third time by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after he came to power in September 2014. He could not have sat on President’s chair without the US support and as such was as loyal a US string-puppet as Hamid Karzai. He came at a time when ISAF after having lost the war was about to exit in next 3 months and he had uneasy relationship with Dr. Abdullah and Taliban had gained a definite strategic edge. From November 2014 onward, he exhibited pro-Pakistan stance and gave an impression to the world that he preferred Pakistan over India. When Pakistan went out of the way to address Kabul’s security concerns, Ghani reciprocated by cancelling military training and arms deal with India, asking Pakistan to provide military instructors to train ANA officers and sent cadets to PMA Kakul in 2015 for the first time. ISI-NDS intelligence sharing agreement was inked and both sides agreed that they will not allow respective soils to be used for cross border terrorism. Kabul should have been mighty happy after Pakistan addressed its biggest objection as well as of Washington by launching an operation in North Waziristan and flushing out militant groups of all hues including Haqqani network. It should have further cemented Pak-Afghan friendship. However, it didn’t happen. Rather, amiability proved short-lived and same old antagonism has reappeared.
Ghani’s tilt towards Pakistan was deceptive. He pretended to be a friend but in actuality he like his predecessor desperately wanted the Taliban to sign Kabul-Washington tailored power sharing agreement in which the Taliban as junior partners would accept the US formulated constitution and democracy. Like the US, Ghani was convinced that Pakistan was the only country that could arm twist the Taliban and make them agree to lay down arms and join the unity govt. This way, the US could convert its defeat into victory and pullout Resolute Support Mission on a triumphant note. The spoilers not only wanted to have the outcome of peace talks on their terms but also to minimize the role of Pakistan. That is why, breakthrough achieved by Pakistan in peace talks in July 2015 was sabotaged to weaken the bargaining strength of Taliban and marginalize Pakistan. Peace initiative was once again scuttled in May 2015 by droning the Taliban Ameer Mulla Mansour.
In the backdrop of Pakistan’s bitter experiences, by now it should be much wiser in differentiating between friend and foe and chartering its future course of action accordingly. It must be well understood that USA, India, Afghanistan, Israel and Europe are strategic partners while Pakistan which was made a tactical partner for accomplishment of short term objectives is now their target. Pakistan’s nuclear program and CPEC are unacceptable to them. Their double dealing has been amply proved and so is their covert efforts to destabilize and breakup Pakistan. Their proxies in Pakistan are also well-known. While substantial progress has been achieved by the Army in liquidating the TTP threat in the northwest, the threat posed by rebellious Baloch has yet not been quashed. Why are jets and long range artillery not being used to knock out Farari camps and eliminate foreign paid rebels? Why leniency is being shown to Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbyar Marri and some others in exile spitting venom against Pakistan and seeking Indian help to make Baluchistan independent? Mehmood Achakzai needs to be kept under close watch for his anti-Pakistan utterances.
The MQM has been reared by the military and the successive civilian governments and made into a monster. It has now come out in its true colors. Despite Altaf’s treasonous pronouncements and anti-Pakistan agenda, he is still idolized by great majority of MQM workers. Hands of each and every member of MQM is dripping in the blood of over 25000 persons of Karachi who died at the hands of MQM target killers. As long as Altaf is alive and used by foreign agencies as a pawn, MQM will remain at his beck and call. MQM minus Altaf and minus militant wing will be unacceptable to violence loving MQM activists who have got addicted to gun and fascist culture. Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sar Zamin Party comprising all the turncoats of MQM will not make Karachi safe and secure. MQM bounced back after the 1992 and 1995 operations and will bounce back again once the Rangers operation is called off. RAW is deeply entrenched in Karachi and coastal belt. Political expediency must not come in the way of national interest and safety of Pakistan. Dillydallying and lackadaisical approach will aggravate rather than overcome the grave situation. The federal ruling regime must act before it is too late.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. [email protected]