By Asif Haroon Raja
After 9/11, the US in league with NATO, Israel, and India initiated the global war on terror under the pretext of making the world safe, secure and peaceful. The hidden objectives of the adventurers were to destroy militarily and economically strong Muslim nations, rob their resources and to neo-colonize the Muslim world. Pakistan was not included in the declared axis of evil since, without its intimate cooperation, Afghanistan could not be occupied. However, the main objective of Indo-US-Israel nexus was to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan and to make it a compliant state.
In the last 18 years, several Muslim countries have been destroyed. Pakistan has been badly mauled on account of its decision to fight the US imposed war on its soil against own people, hoping to make Pakistan strong and prosperous. Nothing of the sort has happened.
Pakistan continues to sail in choppy waters and is faced with multiple challenges both on internal and external fronts. Internally, the political situation is murky, the economy is in a crunch, the debt burden is too heavy, 18th Amendment is becoming a threat to the federation on account of fissiparous tendencies in smaller provinces where RAW has made deep inroads, CPEC has lost its vigor and PTM has emerged as a new threat. People are getting disillusioned due to unfulfilled promises made by the incumbent govt. Life of the people living below the poverty line is becoming unbearable due to high inflation and price hike. The lower/ middle classes are feeling the pinch of soaring prices of daily commodities, heavy utility bills, and increasing unemployment. After the passage of 17 months, the people see no change in the so-called Naya Pakistan as the overall socio-economic conditions have worsened. Hopes of better days in 2020 are fading in the wake of Coronavirus which will impact Pakistan’s economy and CPEC.
Externally, India is continuing to maintain a highly belligerent posture. The LoC in Kashmir remains hot as ever. In each exchange of fire, civilians living close to LoC and soldiers lose lives or get injured. Dreaming of converting Bharat into a Hindu State, the fascist regime of Modi has introduced a discriminatory Citizenship law which is entirely Muslim specific.
The northwestern front remains unstable due to cross border terrorism patronized by RAW-NDS, backed by the CIA. The Afghan Taliban are smelling victory which is within their grasping reach. They have forced the US to sign a peace deal and arrive at a political settlement. While insisting upon the occupying forces to exit, they have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan unity regime which in their view is illegitimate. They are also refusing to ceasefire permanently till the signing of peace agreement duly guaranteed by regional powers and complete withdrawal of occupation forces.
Pakistan is going out of the way to help the US to extract maximum concessions from the Taliban who have for all practical purposes won the war and are in a position to dictate terms. For unknown reasons, Pakistan in its bid to win the affections of untrustworthy USA is pressing the Taliban to agree to the terms of the USA and is also requesting the USA not to exit without making Afghanistan stable. This is incomprehensible since the US is among the spoilers wanting to keep Afghanistan unstable and to prolong its stay.
Our southern backyard has also become turbulent because of Trump’s belligerence and deployment of US forces in the Persian Gulf. The killing of Iranian and Iraqi commanders by the US drone and Iran’s retaliatory strikes on the US military bases in Iraq together with ongoing protests in Iraq have made the situation grave.
Both Israel and India are the worst abusers of human rights and use state terrorism, torture, and rapes as tools to subdue the Palestinians and Kashmiris. The US patronizes both and brazenly defends their crimes against humanity. Trump has now come with a highly discriminatory Middle East peace plan which wholly favors Israel. Tomorrow, he will float another peace plan to resolve the Kashmir dispute which will be entirely in favor of India.
We have gladly accepted the mediation offer of untrustworthy Trump. He must not be trusted to mediate in Kashmir. He is in a position to pressurize India but has done nothing to lessen the pains of Kashmiris and in a way has tacitly accepted the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A as well as Indian policy of subjugation of Kashmiris.
Trump is trying to convince our leadership that in order to save AJK and GB, it will be advisable for Pakistan to accept the LoC as the permanent border and that he will extend full support in this regard. This option was given to ZA Bhutto by Indira Gandhi in 1972, but he shrewdly pushed it aside by converting Ceasefire Line into LoC and accepted policy of bilateral-ism, which of course helped India to keep delaying the resolution of the dispute and finally claim that the UN resolutions had become outdated.
Nawaz Sharif (NS) was close to agreeing on Chenab Formula after the visit of Vajpayee to Lahore in Feb 1999. Likewise, Gen Musharraf in his exuberance to settle the dispute, threw away Pakistan’s stance based on UN Resolutions out of the window and offered out of box solutions which in many ways accepted the conversion of LoC into the border.
Each time, Pakistani leaders ignored the Kashmiris who are the main stakeholders and without their consent no lasting solution or peace is possible. I pray our present leaders do not tread the wrong path of NS and Musharraf and insist on giving the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris and let them decide their future course of action.
Gen Ziaul Haq fought the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s in Afghanistan and kept the control levers in the hands of ISI only. Contrarily, Gen Musharraf agreed to fight war on terror on Pak soil, whereas the battleground was Afghanistan. He also let six foreign intelligence agencies based in Kabul to manage the war in which ISI was kept out. Indo-US-Israel-Afghan nexus has a dangerous agenda against Pakistan, but Musharraf mistook them as friends of Pakistan and kept doing more to please the USA. As a result, Pakistan suffered grievously and is still suffering since it has still not come out of the magic spell of the USA.
Modi has been threatening to deprive Pakistan of a single drop of water from Rivers Chenab and Jhelum. India can accomplish its objective if it occupies a major chunk of AJK. The Indian Army Chief and Modi have given open threats of annexing AJK in 7-10 days. This threat has been given in the backdrop of the concentration of 9 lacs forces in Kashmir.
So far Pakistan seems to have not worked out any strategy to deal with Indian bellicosity and its dangerous designs. We are working on the policy of wait and see and seem to be hoping for divine help. Myopia and inaction amount to criminal negligence.
IOK has locked down six months ago, but so far no steps have been taken to provide relief to the marooned 8 million Kashmiris, to keep them motivated and the freedom movement alive.
We have so far done little to prepare the people of AJK and GB for the impending war. Instead of carrying out war preparations and imparting military training to students of schools and colleges, activating civil defense forces and motivating volunteers, the policy of restraint has been adopted and people are advised to stay calm.
Likewise, our policy of taking no covert or overt action after the absorption of IOK by India on August 5, 2019, and now waiting for the Indian military to attack AJK and GB and then give a befitting response is a defensive policy.
There are no plans to exploit the Godsend opportunity that has come our way in the form of nationwide protests in India coupled with numerous separatist movements and insurgencies. India has become a tinderbox and needs a matchstick to put it on fire.
Are we hoping that India will change its goals against Pakistan, or are waiting for the US help which after bleeding us in the war on terror has now tightened the noose of IMF-FATF around Pakistan’s neck or China’s help which is unfortunately caught up in Coronavirus crisis? Will it be better to fight the war on home ground or in IOK?
So far the Kashmiris on both sides of the divide hate India and love Pakistan. These sentiments may not last long if we adopt a passive attitude. Nationwide protests in India against highly discriminatory CAA Bill and calls for independence in the northeastern states of India together with downslide in the Indian economy have flustered Indian leadership. It is an opportunity of the century that may not come again. In our quest for peace with India without any reciprocity and to present ourselves as good boys before the world, we have no intention of exploiting the ongoing vulnerabilities of India. On the other hand, India creates or blows up our vulnerabilities and never let’s go any opportunity that comes it’s way to harm Pakistan.
Besides making all-out efforts to stabilize our home-front which at the moment is divided, and providing relief to the people, we need to adopt offensive defense military policy coupled with proactive and aggressive diplomatic policy and independent foreign policy.
While maintaining friendly relations with the US, our emphasis should shift from the west to the east. We can rely on China, Turkey, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and can easily bring Iran and Russia in our loop, both having given ample hints to forge deeper relations.
Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja is on the board of advisors for Opinion Maker. He holds an MSc war studies degree. A second-generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war,
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 tri-lingual and speaks English, Pashto, and Punjabi fluently.
Currently, he is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense, and political matters for numerous international/national publications. He is chairman at the Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Veterans Think Tank
He is also the author of many books; ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, and Roots of 1971 Tragedy’. His latest book is ‘Tangled knot of Kashmir : Indo-Pakistan antagonism: vol. 1 and vol. 2″