Asif Haroon Raja
After the 2nd World War, USA and Soviet Union emerged as two super powers and the two rivals got locked in a Cold War for next 46 years. Bi-polarism had its own flaws but to some extent it suited the weaker nations in the developing world. Break up of Soviet Union in 1991 and shrinking to Russian Federation changed the world dynamics from bi-polarism to uni-polarism and the US emerging as the sole super power. In order to retain its uni-polarism for next 100 years, the US framed a New World Order, which aimed at harnessing the world resources. To find an excuse of retaining NATO after the demise of WARSAW Pact and Communism, the threat of Communism was replaced with Islam and radical and defiant Muslim States/Groups were marked as future enemies.
In the 21st Century, 9/11 was an earth shaking event which once again brought a change in the dynamics of global politics. More are now convinced that 9/11 was an in-house plot hatched by neo-cons and American Jews/Israel to implement future geo-strategic and geo-economic objectives. It was intended to undermine Islam, pulverize radical Muslim regimes and replace them with puppet regimes, introduce American brand of democracy, steal the resources, and neo-colonise the Muslim world.
US-Israeli-NATO-India nexus was formed to accomplish the agenda. Osama bin Laden heading Al-Qaeda who was once a blue-eyed boy of CIA during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s was held responsible for the attacks in New York and Pentagon on September 11 and made into a Frankenstein monster. His capture and destruction of Al-Qaeda became the modus operandi for invading Afghanistan ruled by Taliban. Global War on Terror (GWoT) was a cover up to initially invade and occupy Afghanistan and make it into permanent military station for subsequent covert operations in the region and to capture the untapped resources of Central Asian Republics (CARs) right up to Caspian Sea. Later on, Iraq was to be captured to change the boundaries of the Middle East and steal oil. Arab Spring in 2011 was a step in that direction.
Rather than making the world peaceful, ill-intended GWoT has made the world turbulent and unsafe. Al-Qaeda which was confined to Afghanistan has spread its tentacles far and wide and it now aspires to change the Capitalist world order with Islamic Order. Hundreds of terrorist groups are playing havoc in the affected Muslim countries and terrorism has now seeped into Europe. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Turkey, Egypt, are most affected. The ISIS has carved out a Caliphate which includes parts of Iraq and Syria and has become a major threat in the Middle East. It has spread its arms into Afghanistan and is trying to gain a foothold in Pakistan. Unilateralism has bred insecurity, particularly among the Muslim countries. Civil war in Syria raging since March 2011 has become a flashpoint because of entry of Russian air force and militias of Iran and Hezbollah in support of Assad regime. Turkish forces are the latest entry.
While the US wishes to maintain its hegemony over the world and to capture the mineral resources of CARs, Caspian Sea and Middle East, Israel seeks to establish ‘Greater Israel’. Adid Yenon had given out the map of ‘Greater Israel’ which stretches from River Nile to River Euphrates. Lt Col Ralph Peters had also in his article written in Pentagon’s publication in 2006 published a map showing changed boundaries of Middle East. Baluchistan was shown as an independent State.
India believing in the myth of Akhand Bharat aspires to change the boundaries of South Asia by Balkanizing Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this regard, RAW’s former chief Dr. Amarjit Singh in his article in Indian Defence Review in 2013 sought elimination of Pakistan by making Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab independent, but under the control of India; and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)-FATA merged with Southern and Eastern Afghanistan to form ‘Greater Pashtunistan’, and Northern Afghanistan to form a separate county. Amarjit exuded confidence that the West would not shed tears on the demise of troublesome Pakistan. He urged Indian leadership to knockout Pakistan when it was dizzy and imbalanced.
The US want Israel to become the unchallenged power of Middle East and India to become the policeman of South Asia with its influence extending up to Asia-Pacific. It also wants India to become a bulwark against China and help in containing China. The US has been helping the two countries to accomplish their respective dreams. It has destroyed the militarily and economically powerful States of Iraq, Libya and Syria in Middle East, while it has facilitated India in gaining a strong presence in Afghanistan and in bolstering India’s conventional and unconventional capacities. Indo-US navies are collaborating to dominate Indian Ocean and now US-Japan-India alliance is in the making to confront China in South China Sea.
The US is desperate to checkmate ever growing economic resurgence of China which is its chief rival and for that reason intends to shift its strategic pivot from the west to Asia-Pacific Region. Russo-China alignment, China’s domination and militarization of South China Sea, China-Pakistan collaboration and above all China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are matters of serious concerns for Washington. Operationalization of CPEC which connects Sinkiang with Gwadar seaport will break America’s strategic encirclement of China and India’s strategic encirclement of Pakistan. The duo is making frantic efforts to scuttle CPEC. Another aspect which is an eyesore for the US, Israel and India is Pakistan’s nuclear program, which the trio is looking for an opportunity to disable.
Although commonality of interests have brought India, Afghanistan, USA and NATO on one platform, however, India’s strategic relationship with USA which has been blossoming since 1993 is out of expediency since it has its own ideological goals of converting India into a Hindu State and subsequently creating Maha-Bharat. Target of India is Pakistan while targets of the US are China, Pakistan and Russia.
Though Afghanistan is war torn and divided on ethnic lines between Pashtuns and Northern Alliance of non-Pashtuns, it forms the critical space. Without its stabilization, none can make profitable use of the resources of CARs. The Taliban are rapidly gaining ground in Afghanistan and the Afghan security forces backed by Resolute Support Mission (RSM) are finding it difficult to contain their resurgence. Departure of RSM will create a big security vacuum in Afghanistan which India helped by the US is eager to fill. This will prove calamitous for Indian military, as had happened in Sri Lanka in 1987, where it had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of Tamil Tigers onslaught. Criticality of security situation in Afghanistan has impelled USA to maximize pressure on Pakistan to fight and expel all Afghan Taliban allegedly hiding in Pakistan, or else force them to ceasefire and hold peace talks.
Instability in Afghanistan has affected Pakistan the most, particularly because of deep-rooted involvement of RAW-NDS network in Baluchistan, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Pakistan has successfully dismantled all the bases of TTP and its affiliates and flushed out militants of all hues including Haqqani network. The runaway militants of TTP and Jamaat-e-Ahrar patronized by the two intelligence agencies are now using bases of Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar for cross border attacks.
The US has been playing a double game with Pakistan since September 2001 by pretending to be a friend and an ally but in reality, Pakistan was marked as a target. Under the pretense of friendship, Pakistan has been profusely bled by making use of proxies. It has now removed the mask of friendship and come out openly in support of India to harm Pakistan and derail CPEC. After the series of high profile economic, nuclear and defence deals with India, the US military has now signed ‘Maritime’, ‘Strategic Communications’, and ‘Logistics’ Agreements with Indian military and has adopted an aggressive posture against Pakistan. President Obama referred to Pakistan as an ‘abysmally dysfunctional country’. Chairman of the US Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs Matt Salmon stated, “We should completely cut off all funding to Pakistan”. In his and Zalmay Khalilzad’s view, Pakistan is a State sponsor of terrorism. Other members of the Committee chimed that Pakistan is an ‘epicenter of terror’ and its military and intelligence assets are behind every act of terror committed across its borders. Some senior US Congress Senators are spewing venom against Pakistan and openly supporting separatist agenda of rebellious Baloch. John Kerry has endorsed India’s demands to take concrete steps against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and probe Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. The US-China-Pakistan-Afghanistan grouping for Afghan peace has been replaced with US-Afghanistan-India alliance. Indian military is now actively supporting ANA in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Security Paradigm
Pakistan is a nuclear power with robust armed forces that are second to none. In fact Pakistan Army is the only one in the world that has successfully fought foreign backed terrorism on its soil and to a large extent rolled it back. Pakistan has abundant resources and is blessed with resilient manpower which despite suffering the most in war on terror and on account of energy crisis and dwindling economy, they have not lost their spirits. The people are fully behind the Army and want it to eliminate scourges of corruption and terrorism. Pakistan is central to the resolution of Afghanistan and peace in the region. Nevertheless, Pakistan suffers from infirmities and vulnerabilities mainly due to leadership crisis, effete and corruption prone political class, snakes in the grass and meddlesome role of India in particular. These maladies has made the country lurch from one crisis to another.
Pakistan was subjected to an international conspiracy in 1971. India and former USSR were the architects of the conspiracy and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led Awami League and Mukti Bahini were the tools used to dismember Pakistan and create Bangladesh. Thirty years after that tragedy, a new set of conspirators ganged up after 9/11 to tear apart Pakistan. This conspiracy is much bigger in dimension and dangerous in intent. Pakistan was to be befriended and then cut to size. In this, India is being supported by USA, Afghanistan, UK, Israel and the west in general, while the TTP in northwest, BLA, BRA, BLF in Baluchistan MQM in Karachi as well as section of 3 million Afghan refugees, segment of Pak media, NGOs, human rights organizations, are the tools employed to accomplish their objectives.
The Indo-US-Afghan nexus are using Afghan soil for cross border terrorism in Pakistan for the last 14 years to weaken Pakistan from within and create conditions favorable for India to launch its military instrument. Water terrorism was launched by India to make Pakistan a water scarce country. Orchestrated propaganda campaign is designed to discredit Pakistan and its premier institutions. Cultural invasion was let loose by India in 2004 after signing deceptive peace treaty to loosen morals of the youth and slacken their warrior spirit. Media war has succeeded in injecting secularism, obscenity, immorality, extremism and intolerance, while psychological operations have created divisions in society, political polarization and despondency. Ironically, the media portrays the real perpetrators of terrorism as innocent and victims of terrorism, and the victims as terrorists. Pakistan is blamed for the failures of the US led ISAF and Afghan security forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The current tutored theme harped by liberal writers in Pakistan is that Pakistan has got isolated. Isn’t this isolation far better than being in the company of double dealing so-called friends who have been constantly inflicting tens of thousands of wounds on the body of Pakistan and its people all these years? The other theme vigorously pursued by social, print and electronic media is to portray 3rd time elected PM Nawaz Sharif (NS) as a devil.
Indo-US-Afghan manipulative strategies are calculated attempts to strategically encircle Pakistan, destabilize and destroy its economy, isolate it, and be in a better position to browbeat and blackmail it and make it accept India’s hegemony and forget Kashmir. Situation in occupied Kashmir in the wake of martyrdom of freedom fighter Burhan Wani has become explosive and it has unnerved India. Indian security forces in IOK have broken all records of barbarism and besides firing guns indiscriminately on the unarmed protesting Kashmiris seeking right of self-determination and freedom from India, they are also using rubber bullets, tear gas, chilli bombs/grenades, and rubber pellets to blind the protestors. Over 100 people, mostly children and women have lost their eyesight.
Anti-Pakistan statement made by Modi on August 14, followed by the ugly situation created by Afghan miscreants on border crossing points, Dhaka’s support to the cause of Baloch rebels, terror attacks in Quetta killing 70 lawyers and others, Altaf’s tirade on August 22, and two attacks on one day in KP on 2 September were timed to step up chaos and build pressure on Pakistan to desist from extending moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. All terror attacks were claimed by Nangarhar based Jamaat-e-Ahrar.
Taking advantage of frostiness in Pak-US relations, India in concert with the US is likely to step up efforts to isolate Pakistan, get Pak Army and ISI declared as rogue outfits aligned with terror groups and impose sanctions on them; levy economic sanctions on Pakistan on charges of abetment to terrorism, stage another false flag operation of the kind of 2001 and 2008 to justify mobilization of its armed forces and forcing Pakistan to deploy its forces on the border and thus relieve pressure on its proxies. Taking a cue from Modi’s evocative utterances on August 14, India is likely to intensify covert operations in Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK in coming months since these regions fall within the CPEC.
Pakistan armed forces are up against threats from eastern and western borders backed by USA, NATO and Israel and internal threat fomented and supported by foreign powers. Three dimensional threat and not so friendly Iran has placed the military in a quandary, thereby further relying on nuclear deterrence for safeguarding the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan.
Engineered Rise in Political Temperature
Having failed to cow down Pakistan through policy of coercion, threats and intimidation and bloody covert and overt operations, the detractors have been trying hard to draw a wedge between civil-military relations and to provoke highly popular Gen Raheel Sharif to seize power. Failing in this, they have now once again egged on disgruntled political parties in opposition to dislodge the government so as to halt work on CPEC and mega development projects and also halt operation in Karachi which has reached the culmination point. Hungering for power, some political parties have ganged up and have raised the political temperature through politics of agitation. They have closed their eyes to the looming internal and external security threats and the dangerous agenda of enemies of Pakistan and are playing into their hands. None is interested in reforms or getting rid of cancer of corruption. Their sole aim is to get rid of NS, who has managed to make visible improvements in the fields of economy, energy sector, foreign exchange reserves, stocks exchange and in putting life into almost dead state corporations. Electric power shortfall is likely to be overcome by end 2017. 10400 MW will be added to the national grid to end energy crisis. Above all, NS has remained firm in tackling the scourge of terrorism which is laudable. Three conflict zones of FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi are reasonably stable and incidents of terrorism have dropped down substantially.
NS is still the most popular leader as can be gauged from the results of bye-elections, local bodies’ elections and elections in AJK. On the contrary, Imran Khan’s popularity has dented and PTI’s fortunes have declined, and so is the case with PPP, remote controlled by Zardari from Dubai, which has little hope of capturing some space in Punjab and elsewhere other than Sindh. MQM is now minus Altaf and Farooq Sattar has dissociated his MQM (Pakistan) from London based MQM Rabita Committee and Altaf. This divorce is doubted by many but all political parties are in favor of giving Sattar a chance to prove that the newly named party has bid farewell to politics of violence, fascism and blackmail. Pak Sarzamin Party under Mustafa Kamal (an amalgam of rebels of MQM) in Karachi is insisting that MQM should be banned and Altaf prosecuted under the charge of treason. Coming weeks will see intensification of power tussle between Sattar and Kamal. Possibility of their merger is dim. So far, London MQM faction is quiet but it is claiming that Altaf is still the supremo of MQM. What is evident is that Altaf has dug his own grave. His own follies have made him the most detested man in Pakistan. The MQM will never regain monopoly in Karachi as it had enjoyed since 1988 under Altaf.
Regardless of soiled image of MQM, the PTI caught up in the whirlpool of hatred against Nawaz, secretly aligned itself with MQM in Karachi in recently held local body’s elections just to deny chairmanship to PML-N’s candidate. This secret deal was in violation to a six-party grouping including PML-N pitched against MQM.
In the wake of economic turnaround and fast paced completion of $46 billion worth CPEC which is termed as a game changer, the opposition parties are apprehensive that they stand no chance of winning in May 2018 elections and as such the only way out is to discredit Nawaz on the issue of Panama Papers and make him resign or get him disqualified. Hence the ill-timed agitation by PTI-PAT-PPP and Sheikh Rashid. The myopic opportunists are playing the card of corruption for political gains. This can be assessed from the fact that the PPP which had broken all records of corruption during its last tenure is also part of the anti-corruption team. NAP, MQM, JUI-F have stayed away. Mid-term elections desired by PTI are a recipe for disaster.
What is needed to be done?
- Civil-military relations must remain on one page to take Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Frontier Corps operation in Baluchistan and Rangers operation in Karachi to their logical conclusion.
- Army is sensibly supporting democracy and it should not be misled by vested groups to derail the ruling government and should let it complete its full term.
- 20-point National Action Plan must be implemented in letter and spirit to treat chronic ailments and make Pakistan healthy by changing its internal environments.
- CPEC must be completed as early as possible. Deployment of Special Security Division for the protection of entire length of CPEC and the Chinese workers is a step in the right direction.
- Media must be made to work in accordance with code of ethics and to promote cause of Pakistan rather than facilitate foreign agenda.
- Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran border management must be further tightened to prevent infiltration by agent provocateurs and terrorists.
- Process of return of Afghan refugees must continue.
- Full support must be extended to the Kashmiris living in open prison. Our exterior maneuver should expose the ugly face of India and convince the UN/international community to play their role in resolving the oldest dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.
- In the wake of grave threat to the security of Pakistan, besides keeping Full Spectrum Deterrence fully operational and armed forces kept operationally fit for hot and cold wars, Pakistan must have its own proxies to counter Indo-Afghan sponsored proxies.
- Pakistan should sign 10-year strategic defence and maritime agreements with China, binding China to help in defending the CPEC if threatened, and taking active part in any war with India backed by its allies. To reinforce this alignment, Russia and SCO should be added.
- The government must be pressed to carryout electoral, judicial, bureaucratic, police, madrassas reforms and to undertake across the board accountability of the corrupt and criminals.
- All out efforts must be made to bring back looted wealth stashed in foreign banks and offshore companies.
- Elimination of nepotism and favoritism, restoration of merit and dispensation of cheap and speedy justice will dilute extremism, and cure the cancers of corruption and terrorism.
- Pakistaniat and patriotism must be inculcated among the youth through cultural and moral reformation programs. Media can play an important role in this regard.
- Stop self-defeating policy of appeasement and that too at the cost of national interests, differentiate between friend and foe, stay focused and build much needed unity.
Conclusion. Quaid-e-Azam’s motto “Unity, Faith, Discipline” needs urgent reincarnation. We must not forget that ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. United front will not only counter the grave threat posed by Indo-Afghan-US nexus, but also the threat from within which is the main threat to the security and integrity of Pakistan. External and internal threats can be effectively countered through collective efforts of the nation and not by the armed forces alone. Our focus should be on putting national interests above self-interests, integrating the divided society and fostering unity, adaption of golden principles of Islam, pushing the cart forward collectively rather than indulging in fruitless tug of war, and most importantly improving the economy to sustain multiple pressures. For this, we need self-cleansing to become a proud nation.
The writer is retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. He delivers talks and takes part in TV talk shows. [email protected]