Brig Asif Haroon Raja
In its bid to emasculate nuclear Pakistan, US-Israeli-Indian nexus embarked upon a comprehensive covert war backed by coercive diplomacy and aggressive media war after capturing Afghanistan. Pak Army was pitched against foreign funded, trained and equipped militants with a view to discredit it and weaken its fighting potential. While Pak Army was made to fight a senseless war on terror without providing it adequate counter terror equipment and finances, India was given sophisticated arms and technology by USA, Israel, western world and Russia to modernize its armed forces. Likewise, Indian nuclear capability was bolstered by USA through highly controversial nuclear deal, while Pak nuclear program was undermined. While notorious RAW was embraced by CIA, an effort was made to pulverize ISI by placing it under the US-UK choice man Rahman Malik in August 2008. Mumbai attacks on 26/11 were engineered to get ISI declared as a rogue outfit. Drone war was initiated to fuel extremism and terrorism. Symon Hersh revealed that drone war was aimed at stirring up Pashtuns and pitching them against the Army.
Vicious media war was initiated by the trio to malign Pak institutions and spread gloom and doom. Ignoring Hindu extremism and terrorism, Pakistan was projected as world’s biggest incubator of Jihadist extremism. Ignoring India’s black track record against its neighbors, it was opined that Afghanistan will never see peace and prosperity with a neighbor like Pakistan. They said that the US-NATO will always be threatened by terror plots spawned in Pakistan’s lawless regions. Michael Hughes at the behest of India suggested balkanization of Pakistan to stabilize Afghanistan. Selig Harrison, who supports Baloch separatists, floated the idea of independent Balochistan to foil growing Pak-China relations and to prevent China from making use of Gwadar Port as a military base.
Those wishing to breakup Pakistan into quasi states perceived Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab as independent states and merger of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-FATA with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s nuclear program was subjected to nasty propaganda campaign so as to prepare grounds for UN intervention, or to steal it, or destroy it through US Special Forces. Pakistan baiters Bruce Riedal, David Albright and Frederick Kagan were goaded by Indian lobbies to launch media assault on Pak nukes. Kagan was the first person who raised the specter of Pak nukes falling into wrong hands. Riedal urged US government to isolate Pakistan and ultimately end its nuclear capability.
In pursuit of its policy to dry up Pakistan’s agricultural lands, India planned to build 40 dams on River Jhelum and Chenab. 4 large and 16 small dams have already become operational, which include Baghliar Dam on River Chenab. India is building world’s third largest Kargil Dam on River Sindh. A water tunnel is now working and taking 45% water of River Sindh. India has decided to make Pakistan a desert and to bring its nation on the knees without firing a single bullet by 2015. Since 2009, India has been slowing down water in three Pakistan specific rivers during crop sowing season and increasing the flow during monsoon.
After inflaming FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, efforts were made to make Punjab restive. Series of group attacks on the pattern of Mumbai attacks were launched in Lahore. Temperature of Karachi and Balochistan has been kept on the boil through target killings, kidnappings, strikes and criminal activities.
Successful military operations in Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan in 2009 brought some respite and put a stopper on yapping tongues of foreign and local propagandists that extremist forces were on the verge of capturing Islamabad and nukes. Michael O’Hanlon was among them. However, after a brief interval, the US came up with fresh demand of an operation in North Waziristan (NW) on the suspicion that Haqqani network and al-Qaeda had safe havens there. The US is continuing to play the theme of safe havens so as to keep building pressure on Pakistan to mount an operation disregarding its political and financial constraints and security concerns on eastern front.
Interestingly, the US made a secret offer to Siraj Haqqani that in case he agreed to sit on negotiating table, his group will be excluded fromUN terrorist list and given share in power. The US has also been making desperate efforts to hold talks with Mullah Omar led Shura. It will be recalled that Mullah Baradar had been cultivated by CIA and Wali Karzai and he and some of his colleagues had agreed to form part of coalition government which would be pro-USA and India and anti-Pakistan. He was sent to Quetta to win over Shura members and convince them to attend Loya Jirga of Hamid Karzai in Kabul, but was nabbed in Karachi by ISI and he spilled the beans. Ironically, Pakistan is the only country which is forbidden to talk to any faction of Taliban.
Knowing that India is Pakistan’s arch rival and even after truncating it in 1971, it had never missed any opportunity to harm Pakistan, the US repeatedly lectured Pakistan that it need not fear India since it was its friend and should unhesitatingly move all its troops from eastern to western border to fight anti-American militants. NW became a sticking point which gave a handle to Pentagon to beat Pakistan with. The old allegation that either it was aligned with Haqqani network or incapable of fighting the militants and hence unqualified to receive military aid was drummed up. Presence of Mullah Omar, his Shura and Dr Al-Zawahiri in Quetta region was also voiced. Pakistan was pressed to allow use of drones in that region to target them.
Political, diplomatic, economic and military pressures were exerted by USA and India to make Pakistan toe their line. Finding that Pakistan was reluctant to open another front in NW since earlier fronts were still in fluid form and was also not allowing use of drones in Quetta, the US in frustration intensified drone strikes in Waziristan and continued with the onslaught despite loud protests. In the process, the US trampled Pakistan’s sovereignty and self-esteem. All this time, the US kept its gaze fixed on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal since it figured high on its agenda.
Symon Hersh forewarned Pakistan in 2009 about the US ill-intentions to steal its nukes under the pretext of safeguarding the arsenal through joint control mechanism. Quest of three strategic partners to denuclearize Pakistan before ISAF’s departure from Afghanistan impelled CIA to set up a vast network in major cities of Pakistan. Blackwater network was also established in all capital cities of Pakistan to spread lawlessness, insecurity and to gain first hand knowledge of nuclear arsenal. Aid under Kerry-Lugar Bill was designed to expand and solidify CIA and Blackwater networks in Pakistan.
After India failed to apply its military instrument in December 2008/ 2009 since Mumbai drama with too many loopholes backfired, 2011-12 were marked as a critical years to earth Pakistan. However, much to their frustration, Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha are putting up stubborn resistance against the US deceptive overtures and coercive tactics and have categorically stated that national interests will not be compromised under any circumstances. Military balance has not got imbalanced despite employment of 147000 troops in the northwest, while nuclear deterrence couldn’t be devalued through much hyped Cold Start doctrine. Frontier Corps in Balochistan have also kept subversive forces in check. It was therefore decided by the adversaries that in the final destructive phase, the two bottlenecks Army and ISI would be disgraced.
It was in the backdrop of such wicked intentions that double-murderer Raymond David was caught in Lahore. His arrest gave an insight of what was cooking up and what was in store for Pakistan. He was an important pillar of CIA network who was also linked with Mossad and RAW. He was instrumental in subjecting Peshawar to heavy spate of terror attacks in 2008-09. He was coordinating drone attacks in NW in consultation with CIA Station Chief Jonathan Bankin Islamabad and had also assisted in establishing a CIA base in Abbottabad to monitor OBL’s compound. Certain locals including a doctor were co-opted. He had also finalized plans for conducting a terrorist attack on one of the nuclear sites.
Since he held too many secrets, his early recovery had become vital for Washington. After Pakistan refused to release Davis on the premise that he was a diplomat, US Navy Seals based in Afghanistan were tasked to recover Davis through a sting operation in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Head of US Consulate in Lahore and Ambassador Munter had furnished sketch of jail premises and intimate details of internal and external security arrangements to US authorities in Afghanistan. Additional details were recorded from satellite imagery system. He was confined in 18-room building meant for most dangerous terrorists, and not only all other rooms were vacant, his room was on the farthest end close to outer boundary wall across which there were unmanned paddy fields.
Fearing that he may not be killed by a policeman on duty as in the case of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, the police guard inside the jail had no weapons. It was an ideal situation for a helicopter rescue operation. A small contingent of Punjab Rangers deployed for external protection took extraordinary precautionary measures against all possible eventualities. Their round the clock alertness and placement of 12.7 and 14.7 mm guns on top of adjacent buildings with express orders to shoot down any landing helicopter on rooftop of building in which Davis was located thwarted option of sting operation. Perforce John Kerry had to offer blood money for release of Davis and accepted ISI’s conditions.
Seven week detention of Davis had given nightmares to the US leaders. CIA swore and vowed to teach Pakistan a lesson after his release. It was in the backdrop of this episode that soon after his release in March, CIA accelerated the rate of drone attacks in NW to an all-time high and also planned a false flag operation ‘Get Geronimo’ solely to defame the Army and ISI and put the two institutions on the back foot during the conduct of its final phase. After stabbing Pak Army and ISI in the back, attack on Mehran Naval Base was another deadly blow to dilute the confidence of people in armed forces.
Paid media persons were geared up to match the onslaught of foreign media with a view to denigrate image of armed forces and spoil civil-military relations. Karachi, the economic hub was made chaotic through reckless spree of target killings and conditions were ripened for the Army to step in to restore law and order so that part of 5 Corps also gets fixed. Sindh Rangers equipped with police powers are however doing a fine job to restore normality.
After 2 May episode, Pak-US relations are sliding downhill and not recovering despite some efforts. The US posture continues to be bossy and threatening. Joe Biden has recently hypocritically stated that Pakistan is an unreliable partner, whereas there is no denying the fact that it is USA which is untrustworthy and unreliable and has a long history of betrayals. The US is still mourning the loss of 3000 Americans on 9/11 and its anger has yet not subsided despite the fact that experts in USA have given their expert opinion that 9/11 was an in-house drama. The US fails to realize that Pakistan has gone through so many 9/11s in the last ten years and has suffered 35000 fatalities and injuries to tens of thousands apart from immeasurable social trauma and $ 68 billion economic loss.
The US military is suffering from acute anxiety since it has neither been able to defeat Taliban in Afghanistan, nor made them agree to negotiate a political settlement, or has devised a strategy to exit safely and honorably. While it doesn’t know how to deal with its principle foe, it takes out its anger on Pakistan. Fretful Panetta and undiplomatic Munter have used harsh words against Pakistan in reaction to attack on US Embassy and NATO HQ in Kabul by three Taliban fighters who held the elite forces at bay for 20 hours on 13-14 September. The US alleges that fighters of Pakistan backed Haqqani network walked 200 miles from NW unseen, entered fortress of Kabul undetected and then attacked the most fortified positions and got away. Instead of scolding the intelligence and security forces for their shameful performance, the US has again chosen the convenient scapegoat to give vent to its frustration. This nutty reaction is uncalled for and is condemnable.
Death of chairman peace committee Burhanuddin Rabbani at the hands of suicide bomber in Kabul on 20 September has given another blow to peace efforts initiated by USA and Karzai regime. It may further intensify Pashtun and non-Pashtun antagonism in Afghanistan. It will also provide yet another excuse to USA to point fingers at Pakistan.
While the US maybe interested in defeating terrorism so that it could rob the natural resources of the region without any fear of reprisal, Pakistan is concerned about its survival since its very integrity is at stake. Many in India, Europe and USA have written off Pakistan as a failed state. This can be gauged from the large number of articles attached with truncated map of Pakistan written by leading strategists and notables who wished obliteration of Pakistan from the map of the world. However, notwithstanding their wishful dreams and David Kilcullen’s prediction in April 2009 that Pakistan would collapse within six months, which made Hindu Brahmans ecstatic, Pakistan is miraculously surviving and its armed forces are as strong and resilient as ever before.
Notwithstanding that the US has not been able to achieve its core objectives of denuclearization, secularization and balkanization of Pakistan, however, till such time the US-NATO forces are present in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be under constant danger. Coming winters and early 2012 could be a vulnerable period. Western border is being gradually heated up as is seen from several cross border attacks. Such attacks may increase in coming months. Frequency of incidents of unprovoked firings by Indian troops in Kashmir along the LoC and Sialkot sector may be intensified. I have a hunch that in November-December, another drama like 26/11 may be enacted to justify troop mobilization. The best way to thwart evil designs of our adversaries is to set aside our internal differences and put up a unified defence. We should abide by the old saying ‘united we stand, divided we fall’.