… by Brig. General (ret.) Asif Haroon Raja, Pakistan
[ Editor’s Note: Raja has another one of his detailed, in-depth, geo-politiccal analysis on his region which continues to simmer in what some would say is a pre-war state of affairs, where a big spark could set off some major fireworks.
It was fortunate that Pakistan’s last border shooting incident where combat planes engaged was kept under control. Modi got his reelection boost, Imran Kahn came out of it getting a gold star for not over reacting and making it worse… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … June 13, 2019 –
“India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.” Ex-American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Overall Geo-political environment
Since the inception of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, Pakistan’s horizons have remained overcast with thick clouds of security threats. Its arch rival India never reconciled with the existence of Pakistan and constantly conspired to either undo Pakistan, or split it into small states, or to make it her satellite.
During the last tenure of BJP under rabid communalist Modi, Hindu extremism has scaled new heights in the caste ridden India. There were 750 incidents of communal violence in India in 2016 alone.
What is more alarming is the fact that discrimination against Muslims has been institutionalised in India in the attitudes and actions of its judiciary, security forces and the Parliament which shows that India is for the Hindus alone.
Furthermore, Hindutva has transfigured itself in anti-Pakistan activities. Unfortunately, the big powers having influence on India have encouraged rather than discouraged India to put a stop to this dangerous trend in India. They have helped Modi in getting re-elected.
Afghanistan has not accepted Durand Line as the international border and lays claims on FATA, parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pashtun inhabited Baluchistan in the southwest. Support to TTP and now to PTM is aimed at creating Pashtunistan.
Since 2002, Kabul has allowed anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies and occupying forces to use Afghan soil against Pakistan for launching cross border terrorism and drone war and has also given safe havens to several anti-Pakistan proscribed militant groups at Nuristan, Kunar, Nangarhar and Badakhshan.
Elements within Afghan refugees based in Pakistan since 1978 are cultivated by NDS and RAW and used for subversive activities. Perforce, Pakistan has undertook the exercise of fencing the 2600 km western border and to expedite return of refugees.
Iran under Reza Shah Pehlevi remained friendly, but after the takeover by Islamists in March 1979, coolness set in and it drifted towards India. Pakistan has been ignoring Iran’s role in sectarianism and in covert operations, its closeness with India and Afghan Northern Alliance since 1994-6 and meddlesome role in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s main security concern is India and its alliance with Afghanistan and USA and its proxies TTP, BLA, BRA and BLF. Faced with twin threat from the east and the west, Pakistan can ill afford to make its southwestern border unfriendly by trading accusations. It kept Iran in its loop when it was in the firing line of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, and the West.
Startling disclosures made by Indian agent Kulbushan Yadav in 2016 came as a bolt from the sky. While using Chahbahar as his base of operation since 2003, he was in league with BLA, BRA, and BLF in Baluchistan and with MQM in Karachi and had caused immense human and financial losses in the two regions with the help of his networks.
It was difficult to believe that his clandestine activities were unknown to Iran. Everyone in Pakistan felt aghast and it became difficult to reconcile with the new development since the people had perceived Iran as a brotherly country, which unlike Afghanistan had a good track record.
It has now come to light that three Baluch proscribed groups are operating from Seistan and are patronized by Pasdaran-e-Inqilab. Pakistan has decided to fence the southwestern border as well.
Former USSR closely aligned with India and Afghanistan had its own reservations and grudges against Pakistan and saw it as an ideological threat and a lackey of the West. After the end of cold war and its status reduced to Russian federation, Moscow mellowed down its policies of interventions, regime changes and clandestine operations.
A slight change has come in the attitude of Moscow toward Pakistan mainly because of Indo-US ever deepening alliance, new cold war with USA, its interest in CPEC and its desire to play a role in Afghan peace as well as in the global game.
US led western world and Israel
The US and the West traditionally remained tilted towards India and this tilt turned into strategic partnership between USA and India after 9/11. Israel is another strategic partner of India which sees nuclear Pakistan as a threat.
From 2002 onwards, under the garb of war on terror, India, Afghanistan, USA and NATO have conducted series of insidious campaigns to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program and to make it a compliant state.
The US as well as Israel joined by western countries are feverishly modernizing and upgrading the military might of Indian armed forces and to bolster her economy so as to enable her to deal with Pakistan effectively, and to act as a bulwark against China and a policeman of Indo-Pacific Region.
The trio in pursuit of common objectives and respective goals is working hard to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear teeth. Their urgency has intensified after the emergence of CPEC which has all the potentials to unravel their ambitious agendas. Scuttling of CPEC has become a major goal of India and USA.
Ambitions of big powers
While USA aspires to retain its hegemony over the world for next hundred years, Israel aspires for Greater Israel and India wishes to become the super power of South Asia. USA has helped Israel in becoming an unchallenged super power of Middle East and the two are now close to achieving the objective of establishing Greater Israel.
The only hitch is Iran from which the duo is trying to snatch its missile power through diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and now military coercion.
The US aims at controlling the warm waters, as well as all the oil and trade routes running through the warm waters of the Indian Ocean with the help of India and Iran once the latter’s regime is brought in the loop. It sees China as its main competitor and is engaged in trade war in its bid to contain its economic growth. It also wants to block the resurgence of Russia.
Besides India, Afghanistan, Iran, former USSR, Saudi Arabia, the West and USA have been meddling into the internal affairs of Pakistan, each having its own set of motives. India and USA not wanting the country to stand on its own economic feet and become self-reliant have played their part in keeping Pakistan politically destabilized, and economically weak and dependent.
Pakistan is faced with hostile Indo-US-Afghan nexus based in Afghanistan, covert war waged by paid proxies, water war, hybrid war, Ajit Doval doctrine, Af-Pak doctrine, Kerry-Lugar Bill doctrine, and now Trump’s offensive doctrine aimed at melting the economy, which is already in crisis, through the cards of IMF, FATF and sanctions. Lastly, the brewing storm in its backyard owing to US-Iran tiff and the surge in political cum lawyers’ temperature at home.
China – the only time-tested friend
China is the emerging super power and is today the second largest economic power of the world. It has freed Pakistan from the stranglehold of US war munitions which are not only highly expensive but also tied to stringent conditions.
In critical conditions the US had imposed military sanctions and stopped the flow of spare parts and ammunition. China helped Pakistan in broadening the military industrial base and strengthening the military muscles in a big way.
It is now engaged in developing Pakistan’s economic strength through $ 62 billion CPEC which will make Pakistan self-reliant. China has built following facilities in Pakistan and all the ventures are of best standards and not a single one failed or proved counterproductive:
1 Aeronautical Complex where JF-17, Mushaak and jet trainers are being made.
- Heavy Mechanical Complex.
- Heavy Electrical Complex.
- Tank Rebuild Factory.
- Sports Complex.
- Karakorum Highway.
- Chashma nuclear plants.
- CPEC which has already helped in overcoming energy crisis.
- Gwadar deep-seaport.
India’s global ambitions
India has long dreamed of becoming a regional hegemon in South Asia. Aspiring to achieve preponderance, New Delhi has employed both soft and hard power in order to bring all the peripheral South Asian States under her military and economic tentacles.
For India, militarily-rising Pakistan continues to pose a significant threat to its ambitions and nefarious designs in South Asia and the region. India considers Pakistan to be the only stumbling block in her path to achieve her global ambitions and sees it as a thorn in the flesh which must be removed. China is another threat to Pakistan because of Sino-Pakistan deep-rooted friendship which has transformed into strategic partnership.
Indian tactics to humble Pakistan
In order to compel Pakistan to submit to the Indian demand of becoming a client state as in the case of other South Asian States, India has gone to war with Pakistan thrice. It cut Pakistan into two in 1971, and since then has been continuously resorting to underhand tactics to browbeat Pakistan.
India has been using all sorts of covert tricks and overt coercive tactics to destabilize Pakistan financially, politically, and militarily. India uses terrorism as a weapon to intimidate all seven South Asian neighbors.
After 9/11, India gave fillip to the bogey of terrorism and used it to her advantage to not only project freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) as Islamic radicalism but also blamed Pakistan that it supports terrorism. India has been receiving full support from USA and other strategic partners to accomplish her objectives against Pakistan.
India has also been trying to isolate Pakistan by cultivating friendship with all others including those with whom it has disputes and is in competition. India has played a key role in straining our relations with some friends. India works on Chanakya’s analogy, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
India’s indirect strategy after nuclear/missile parity
Once Pakistan achieved parity in nuclear and missile power and foreclosed the option of direct war, India has been making use of other tools, such as diplomatic, political, economic coercion, nuclear blackmail, military standoffs, strategic encirclement, isolation, water terrorism, and propaganda war to achieve her sinister objectives.
For the fulfilment of her nefarious designs, India has developed strategic relationship with USA, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and the Gulf States, and since 2002 is feverishly engaged in a plot to destabilize, denuclearize and break Pakistan into four parts.
RAW-NDS-CIA collusion to destabilize Pakistan
India has colluded with Afghanistan who bears ill will at heart for Pakistan to further escalate unsettling situation in Pakistan. The Karzai administration offered India an opportunity to establish its terror recruitment camps in Afghanistan against its traditional enemy, Pakistan.
Seventh training camps and training centres were established, 4 Indian consulates were opened and 17 Indian intelligence units were inducted to foment terrorism in Pakistan. Ashraf Ghani has followed suit.
Karzai and Ghani’s governments have played into the hands of USA and India since the two are their paymasters. The Taliban rightly term the Kabul regime as illegitimate and toothless.
The RAW-NDS duo is working hands in gloves to create instability in Pakistan so that the West remains increasingly worried about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The CIA, Mossad and MI6 are also cooperating with RAW to exacerbate Pakistan’s already fragile security situation. In this hybrid warfare, India has extensively lobbied in some Western capitals to stop them from supporting Pakistan on the nuclear front.
India in collusion with Afghanistan and USA built a narrative from 2001 onwards and put all acts of terror in India, IOK, and Afghanistan in the basket of Pakistan and painted herself and Afghanistan as the victims of terrorism.
The trio launched a malicious diplomatic offensive, hurling baseless allegations to discredit Pakistan and to label Pakistan as a state that is colluding with terrorists and is sponsoring terrorism.
This narrative has been persistently sold to the world well knowing that Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism since 2004. Well over 75, 000 people have lost their lives and double the number sustained injuries.
Terrorism has been flowing into various parts of Pakistan from the soil of Afghanistan under a calculated plan to destabilize it. RAW has used both Afghan and Iran soil to foment insurgency in FATA and Baluchistan. Makran and Karachi coastal belt has also been in use of RAW to fuel unrest in Karachi.
False flag operations
To give credence to her fabrications, India conducted series of false flag operations in India, which included terror attacks on Indian Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001, blasts in Samjhota Express, attacks in Mecca mosque in Hyderabad and a mosque in Malegaon in 2007, and Mumbai attacks in November 2008.
In IOK, similar attacks were stage-managed in Udhampur, Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama. The two banned groups Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taeba were blamed but no evidence was shared.
India’s deceitful diplomacy
India’s clever diplomacy and Indian media’s mischievousness have managed to hide India’s massive human rights violations and state terrorism against Indian minorities and people of IOK for the last 71 years. India’s dual faced policies and dramatics of media and Bollywood have not only helped in masking the ugly face of India, but has been successful in exalting it and portraying it as ‘shining India’.
It was assumed that the Indian farce of democracy and secularism would get exposed after the power getting transferred to extremist BJP, however, it has so far not happened despite Modi’s open ended extremist policies against minorities, his craze for Hindutva and failure to fulfil any of his economic goals to alleviate poverty.
Despite the big flaws and setbacks suffered in the aftermath of Pulwama, Modi swept the polls in 2019 elections and pocketed more seats for BJP.
Indian leaders’ penchant for lies and intrigues
To achieve her purpose, India resorts to lies and deceit. Indian leaders and Indian media excel in twisting facts, cooking up stories and fake news and resorting to false flag operations to tarnish the image of her enemies and to justify her belligerent stance.
While they lionize their minor achievements, they downplay the achievements of their adversaries and in most cases convert their defeat on the battleground or on the diplomatic front into victory on the media plane.
It happened in the 1965 war in which Pakistan had a distinct edge over India in the closing round of the war, but Indian media has all along termed it as an Indian victory. The heroics of Pak Army, PAF and Pak Navy were acknowledged and applauded by the world, but India looked at it the other way.
Similar narrative was built by India after the Drass-Kargil conflict in the summer of 1999 and for a fake surgical strike in 2016. Air strike in Balakot on February 24th this year against so-called JeM camp was depicted as a roaring success killing over 300 militants. Indian pilot Abhinandan captured by Pakistan on February 27 was glamorized as a hero claiming that he had shot down F-16 jet.
Pakistan’s lackluster responses
On our part, well knowing India’s game plan of internationally isolating Pakistan, we have done very little to expose the fakery of India or as a minimum to put the record straight by highlighting the facts.
Afghanistan and Iran are our next door neighbors and both are not contiguous to India, and yet, India has developed strategic relations with both and made them unfriendly towards Pakistan. India has been sponsoring or triggering insurgencies in Pakistan, but Pakistan has yet to extend support to dozens of insurgencies and separatist movements in all parts of India.
We even feel shy in extending support to Kashmiris in IOK. We have been unable to convince a single country to stand up in support of the Kashmiris, condemn India and pressurize it to stop human rights violations in IOK.
Leadership crisis in Pakistan
Whatever successes made by India to weaken Pakistan were mainly due to our weak leadership, frail foreign policy, lack of identity and internal squabbling. Security concerns guided our foreign policy while leadership crisis turned democracy into a sham democracy and enfeebled the institutions.
None made an effort to strengthen the institutions since weak and controlled institutions enabled the elites to preserve their pomp and show. As a result, Pakistan kept lurching from one crisis to another.
Although India is five times bigger in numbers and resources than Pakistan, and so is the case with the armed forces, however, despite this huge handicap Pakistan has refused to accept India’s hegemony in the region and has insisted upon equal based relationship. In this regard, Pakistani security agencies have always played a superior hand and have thwarted any threats posed by them.
It is highly laudable that the security agencies of Pakistan have, so far, successfully countered the offensives by the RAW-NDS-CIA nexus against the country by breaking the back of foreign supported terrorism.
After flushing out all the terrorists groups from FATA and dismantling the spy network under Kulbhushan Yadav in 2016, the ISI, MI and the Army have continued to conduct operations against the presence of RAW’s operatives in the country as well as facilitators, handlers and supporters of terrorists.
Pakistan cannot completely neutralize the threat of RAW without enhancing intelligence coordination with Iran’s Intelligence. Some of RAW’s operatives are believed to be working at the Chabahar Port as Indian engineers and servicemen. If both Pakistan and China include Iran in CPEC, Tehran would not allow RAW’s agents to use its soil against Pakistan.
Chahbahar poses negligible military threat to Pakistan, if any. It is an economic issue and we should see it in this light. Without going into details, it is wishful thinking on India’s part that it can replace or economically compete with the long-established trade links with Central Asia through Pakistan. Strategic interests invariably lose out in the long run when they come in conflict with economic considerations.
Gwadar is neither meant to be nor is strategically viable as a naval base for China. It is located too far away and its links with the latter are too tenuous to make it secure enough for functioning as a base for military operations.
Presumably, the most effective means to counter the ongoing Indian proxy war against Pakistan is to build the capacity of the civil and military intelligence agencies so that they respond promptly to security challenges faced by the country.
It is imperative that we break the nexus between the NDS and RAW, work hard in connivance with China, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Central Asian Republics to facilitate early exit of US-NATO troops from Afghanistan, and help in the establishment of a broad-based government in Kabul under the Taliban from whom power was illegally snatched.
We need to make it known to the people of Afghanistan that claiming Pashtun dominated areas of Pakistan may be good for politics in the short term but it is not to their long-term advantage.
Pashtuns constitute about 40% of Afghanistan’s population and have dominated the country since her inception. It does not sit well with the other Afghan communities, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmen and others. Adding more Pashtuns to the mix will only exacerbate the already difficult problem.
Whether Afghan politicians want it or not, the two countries are joined at the hip historically and will remain as such geographically, economically and culturally. India will always be an outsider.
Sooner than later, Afghan politicians will realise it. Paradoxically, Indian investment in Afghanistan may work to our advantage. Gratitude is the least reliable currency when it comes to international relations. We just have to play our cards right.
Implementation of National Action Plan, particularly NACTA, Joint Intelligence Directorate, refurbishment of judiciary and police, together with fencing of northwestern/southwestern border, return of Afghan refugees and integration of FATA into KP must be expedited.
So far we talk of dangers of hybrid war but have no plans to counter it. A high powered organization must be made capable of launching effective defensive and offensive psychological operations to counter the Indo-Afghan-US-Western-Israeli hybrid war.
First step in this regard would be to disable anti-state websites, cleanse our electronic media from bad hats, rein in social media that are manipulated by foreign hands and defang the anti-state elements busy stinging Pakistan.
It is time to identify our friends and foes, bust all the nests of espionage in Pakistan, make our foreign policy pro-active, get rid of our self-defeating policy of appeasement, free ourselves from the magic spell of USA, and control our insatiable hunger for unproductive talks with India.
We urgently need to enhance our perimeter of security to have greater breathing space.
The writer is retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, member CWC and think tank Pakistan Ex Servicemen Society, member Executive Council Tehreek Jawanan Pakistan. [email protected]