Asif Haroon Raja
The US ignores its own human rights violations and also looks the other way to massive human rights abuses committed by Israel, India, Egypt and other dictatorial regimes towing its agenda. Washington, however, has no tolerance for democratic regimes that refuse to make their countries compliant States and opt to pursue independent foreign policy best suited for their national interests. Various excuses are manufactured to bring suchlike defiant States in line. The more often dirty tactics in use are sanctions, orchestrated political turmoil and chaos, coercion, threats, proxy war, psychological operations, propaganda, regime change, and if needed, physical assault and occupation of targeted country.
Since 9/11, the US has used proxies, terrorism, sedition, propaganda war and coercive tactics as tools to destabilize the targeted country. It has meddled in internal affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. All are Islamic countries and their peoples are all Muslims.
After enacting Osama bin Laden led Al-Qaeda drama to validate invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in October 2001, Iraq was occupied in May 2003 on fake charges of WMDs. Arab Spring was fomented by CIA-MI-6-Mossad combine in 2011 to destabilize Middle East and weaken stronger Arab nations. ISIS was created to incite sectarianism and help the US in changing the boundaries of Middle East and let Israel fulfil its dream of ‘Greater Israel’.
Regimes were changed in Tunisia and Egypt by inflaming street protests. Qaddafi was demonized as a monster to affect a forcible regime change. Civil war was fomented in Syria to boot out Bashar al-Assad regime but so far it has miraculously survived due to Iranian and Hezbollah support and intervention of Russia. Arab Peninsula Al-Qaeda threat was sensationalized to drone Yemen and stir civil war.
Civil war in South Sudan was further stirred up and President Gen Bashir was declared a war criminal and hounded with a view to make the task of bisecting Sudan easy. Democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime under Morsi was ousted from power within one year of its rule and replaced by military regime of Gen Sisi, which up surged extremism and divided the country on religious lines.
As regard Pakistan, this is not the first time that it is on the brink of being abandoned and punished by the US. Pakistan having become a staunch ally of USA in 1955 after joining SEATO and CENTO to contain Communism was thoroughly disappointed when the US stopped all military and economic aid for going to war against India in 1965. This act favored India which was fully supported by USSR. But for the US betrayal, Pakistan could have clinched victory. It impelled President Ayub Khan to tilt towards China and to write a book titled ‘Friends Not Masters” in 1967.
Ayub’s tilt infuriated USA and it retaliated by fomenting protests and riots in Pakistan through Mujibur Rahman led Awami League in East Pakistan and ZA Bhutto led PPP in West Pakistan, forcing Ayub to resign in March 1969 and handing over power to Gen Yahya Khan. When East Pakistan was being annexed by the Indian military backed by USSR in 1971, the US played no role to prevent the tragedy in spite of Pakistan’s role in bringing China closer to USA which enabled US troops to exit from Vietnam. The US looked the other way when India carried out weaponized nuclear explosion in 1974, but put Pakistan under sanctions in 1979 on mere suspicion that it had embarked upon a nuclear program.
Pakistan was taken on board by USA in mid-1981 to mount biggest proxy war against the occupying Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan faced turbulent Afghanistan in the northwest and stormy Iran in its southwestern backyard engaged in war with Iraq throughout the 1980s. Internally, it had to cope with KGB-RAW-KHAD-Al-Zulfiqar terrorism. Once Pakistan and the Afghan Mujahideen achieved the miracle of 20th century by pushing out Soviet forces in February 1989 after paying a very heavy price, and paved the way for fragmentation of USSR and for the US to become a sole super power, the US not only ditched them, but made India its strategic partner. President Bush senior stopped all US military and economic aid to Pakistan invoking the Pressler amendment in October 1990 charging Pakistan with crossing the nuclear red-line. In May 1998, President Clinton imposed additional sanctions invoking the Glen amendment punishing Pakistan for the May 1998 nuclear tests.
By the time the decade of 1990s had ended, Pakistan — the most allied ally of the US during the Cold War — had become the most sanctioned country in the world after Libya. And the Kargil misadventure had carried its own penalties. And in October 1999, the US imposed sanctions related to Musharraf’s military takeover.
At about the same time even the multilateral aid agencies led by the World Bank had effectively turned off for Pakistan their concessional assistance tap on the plea that the newly independent Eastern European countries as well as the Central Asian countries needed the help of these aid agencies more than countries like Pakistan. Japan perhaps was the only country out of all the members of the Paris Club that had continued to donate about $500 million annually to Pakistan during the period.
Still, Pakistan negotiated the 1990s not only with composure but had waged during this period two low-intensity 10-year-long wars — one on the side of the Afghan Taliban against the Northern Alliance led by Ahmed Shah Masood and assisted by India and Iran, and the other on the side, the Kashmiri freedom fighters pitched against over 700,000 occupying Indian troops in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. At the behest of India, Pakistan was put on watch list of terror abetting States by USA and was accused of manufacturing an Islamic bomb likely to fall in hands of radical Arab countries. Pakistan had to bear the load of 3.5 million Afghan refugees, and cope with looming Indo-Israeli threat to Kahuta, and heightened sectarianism stoked by Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Governance became a real challenge for the elected governments of PPP and PML-N in the face of two wars and Pakistan’s economy being denied the usual quantum of international assistance and when the domestic tax-to-GDP ratio had dipped to an abysmally low point? In those critical times, Saudi Arabia came to the rescue of Pakistan which started giving oil on deferred payment. After nuclear blasts, oil was provided gratis. Foreign remittances from most of the Muslim countries, especially from the Middle East all through the 1980s and 1990s saved Pakistan from defaulting.
On the face of it, the 1990s in retrospect appear to be a lost decade in economic terms. The country had experienced a decade-long shrinking of economic growth and the three unfinished IMF programs that it had entered and exited in quick succession during this period further curtailed the growth in the name of the Fund imposed austerity.
Meanwhile, the debt-to-GDP ratio had escalated to a depressing 103%. Because of the military takeover of October 1999, even the helping hand of the IMF was not available to Pakistan, as under their respective laws both the UK and US representatives sitting on the Fund board were obliged to vote against the application of a country under military rule.
The second Afghan war that immediately followed the 9/11 brought back Pakistan in the good books of the US and it was quickly made a non-NATO ally. This was, however, a deception since Pakistan was in reality a target and was to be destabilized, denuclearized and Balkanized covertly.
After brewing up war on terror in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, Pakistan was subjected to cooked-up allegations that it was in cahoots with the militants and that its nukes were unsafe. The hidden objective of the US was exposed in 2006 after the publication of an article in US Defence Journal titled “Blood Borders” written by Lt Col Ralph Peters. The map showed changed boundaries of Middle East, and Baluchistan a separate state.
The ‘Do More’ mantra introduced in 2005/06 was meant to brew political stabilization, bleed economy and foment insecurity. Indo-US-Israel-Western media campaign demonized Pakistan that it’s Army and ISI were supporting terrorism. Idea was to discredit the Army, brand Pakistan a terror abetting State and Pak Army/ISI rogue outfits. A narrative was built that Pakistan was collapsing, nuclear arsenal was unsafe and its nukes might fall into wrong hands (Islamic extremists). Objective was to give an excuse to USA to declare Pakistan a failed State and to occupy Islamabad and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan and seize nuclear arsenal.
This notion was penned in a 2007 article published in London Guardian, titled, “Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal,” behind which was Fredrick Kagan, member of American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI’s board of trustees include war criminal Dick Cheney, warmongers Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Richard Perle, John Yoo, and Paul Wolfowitz.
Fredrick Kagan wrote another Pakistan focused article in 2009 in New York Times, co-authored with Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, titled, “Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem.” It described the complete collapse of the Pakistani government, overrun by “extremists.” It went on to describe “Pro-American moderates” within the Pakistan Army in need of US forces to help them secure Islamabad and their nuclear arsenal. Several options were given for storing the nuclear weapons safely. Various contingency plans of swooping away the nukes by the US Special Forces were also publicized.
Selig Harrison of the Soros funded Center for International Policy called for carving off Pakistan’s Baluchistan province not as part of a strategy to win the “War on Terror,” but as a means to thwart growing relations between Islamabad and Beijing.
In “Free Baluchistan,” he explicitly called to “aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression.” Giving merits of his idea he stated, “Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.” The US Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana R0hbachar have consistently backed the Baloch separatist agenda.
In another article titled, “The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis,” Harrison stated, “To counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the US should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.”
In line with Harrison’s suggestion, RAW placed serving Indian Navy officer Commander Kulbushan Yadhav at Chahbahar under fake name of Mubarak Hussain Patel as early as 2003. Later on, he was given $400 million by RAW to destabilize Baluchistan with the help of Baloch rebel groups, and Karachi through MQM, scare away the Chinese, gain knowledge of Makran-Karachi seacoast for amphibious landing, disrupt work in Gwadar and scuttle CPEC. Shamsi airbase was used by CIA and Blackwater to provide funds and arms to the rebels in interior Baluchistan, and for drones. NATO containers were also used for supplying arms.
Christina Fair lamented that the US spent pumped in much more money in Baluchistan than in Iran and yet has failed to make it independent.
Af-Pak doctrine announced by Obama regime in March 2009 followed by passage of Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB) in end 2009 authorizing $7.5 billion economic/military assistance to Pakistan spread over 5 years were Pakistan specific with a dangerous agenda of stepping into FATA and Baluchistan under the garb of hot pursuit operations, or raiding a target based on actionable intelligence, harnessing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, clipping the wings of armed forces and paving the way for balkanization.
That would have given the US an ideal geopolitical scenario that would permanently Balkanize the country along Pashtun, Baluchi, and other ethnic minority lines, and result in a permanent Western presence inside the country. In their view, seizure of FATA would benefit American efforts in Afghanistan by depriving terrorists of the sanctuaries they have long enjoyed in Pakistan’s tribal and frontier regions.
The then Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani rejected the idea of making Durand Line redundant and insisted on fighting independently on either side of the border based on strategy of ‘anvil and hammer’.
Drone campaign in FATA was stepped up to stir up the Pashtun minority against the government and the Army and to breakup peace deals. $1.5 billion was allocated for Pakistani media to step up 5th generation war in Pakistan. Rabid haters of Pak Army like Hussain Haqqani and Tariq Fateh; and anti-Pakistan runaways like Altaf Hussain and his cronies, Brahamdagh Bugti, Suleman Dawood, Harbyar Marri etc were made full use of to malign Pakistan and its premier institutions. Blackwater and CIA agents were inducted in 2008-10 in big numbers to spread flames of terrorism into urban areas.
In a 2009 article by Seymour Hersh titled, “Defending the Arsenal,” high intensity suspicion and distrust of Pakistan against America was underscored. This distrust was based on America’s obsession with “defending” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. The US had repeatedly sought joint Pak-US control of all nuclear sites. It was clear that the US under the pretense of “helping” Pakistan if ever it fell into chaos, was all along trying to ascertain the location of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as well as the trigger assembles kept separate as a security measure.
Arrest of Raymond Davis in January 2011, CIA sponsored polio vaccine campaigning by Dr Shakil Afridi which facilitated stealth attack in Abbottabad in May 2011 to get Osama bin Laden, and the Memogate scandal in October 2011 spilled the beans. Later on, arrests of Kulbushan on March 3, 2016, and TTP key leaders Latif Mehsud and Ehsanullah Ehsan removed all doubts of deep rooted involvement of RAW and NDS in Pakistan.
America’s continued presence in Afghanistan as well as its increasingly aggressive “creep” over the Afghan-Pakistani border has been justified under the ambiguous and omnipresent threat of “terrorism.” In reality, the true goal is to contain the rise of China and other emerging economies using the pretense of “terrorism.” China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) project and particularly fast developing CPEC has unnerved USA and India and has become one of the compelling reason for the US to extend its stay in Afghanistan. The US is also making concerted efforts to make India the key player in Afghanistan.
Pakistan-China ever growing strategic relationship in the wake of $62 billion worth CPEC, and China’s commitment to build Gwadar Seaport, with another next door port at Jeewani possibly as a Naval Port, dams, roads, nuclear plants, and military technology, are giving nightmares to US and India. The only cards America seems to have left in its hand to counter this growing relationship are threats of destabilization, the subsequent stripping of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and Pakistan’s Balkanization into smaller, feeble states. This option is scandalous, and reveals the absolute depths of depravity from which the imperialist powers suffer from.
It is quite clear that the “War on Terror” is but a pretense to pursue a policy of regional hegemony with the expressed goal of containing China. This in turn, is part of a greater strategy covered in the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral.”
The corporate-financier oligarchs obsessed with their money game are quite willing to destabilize Pakistan, and risk war with nuclear overtones, and a possible confrontation with China and Russia. These oligarchs, hawks within Trump’s administration, American-Jewish lobby, Israel, India and the puppet regime in Kabul are all egging on Donald Trump to strike Pakistan and he seem to be dancing to their tunes. Since August 22, 2017, he and senior US leaders have adopted a highly belligerent posture against Pakistan. Series of threatening statements have been issued and Pakistan put on notice.
Pakistan’s response that it has done enough and will not do any more, and that it is now the turn of USA and Afghanistan to do more is rational and logical. It has rightly rejected the US paltry aid, stressing it needs respect and acknowledgement of its sacrifices, and adding that it can keep fighting terrorism at its own without American assistance. Pakistan has discontinued military cooperation and intelligence sharing with USA, and has other effective options to exercise in case the US opts for a unilateral punitive action. Pakistan’s principled stance seem to have mellowed down the jingoism of hawks in USA and they have started giving reconciliatory feelers.
China and Russia are asserting themselves as security and economic alternatives to the US unilateralism since former two are ascending powers and USA is a descending power. Europe is still grappling with economic challenges. The Muslim world hate interventionism of USA and Israel, while majority of Americans consider Trump to be insane. The US is stuck in Ukraine and Syria, but Afghanistan is fast turning into a graveyard for USA. With its prestige badly soiled, the US is scapegoating Pakistan to hide its blunders. With no exit strategy, it is foolishly hoping that Pakistan will fight its war and convert its defeat into victory.
Asia-Pacific strategy coined by Obama has been abandoned by Trump and so is Trans-Pacific-Partnership, while the new Indo-Pacific policy still stands on slippery ground. Whereas the reputation of NATO stands tarnished, unity regime in Kabul and ANSF have become liabilities for USA. Hope of making India policeman of the region is getting dimmed. Middle East will remain in turmoil. North Korea, Iran and now Pakistan are not getting intimidated by the US bullying tactics and are determined to face the intimidator.
2018 will be a crucial year for USA, China and Russia rearing to undercut each other, while Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran will remain vigilant to avoid getting trampled under the feet of prancing elephants.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Chief Editor Better Morrow magazine. [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.