“When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.”
President George W. Bush, Fort. Bragg, North Carolina, June 28, 2005; spoken as American public approval of the invasion of Iraq, a new ally in the ‘war on terror,’ spirals downward.
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Pakistan continues to remain target of international and internal conspiracies. While internal situation is dismal, external situation is equally grim. Foreign forces of 44 countries based in Afghanistan are getting restless because of unmanageable turbulence in Afghanistan. USA is holding Pakistan responsible for its failure in defeating Taliban. As the time for their departure is drawing nearer, it is getting more jumpy and irksome and its attitude towards Pakistan is becoming menacing. In concert with India, it is applying variety of methods to coerce Pakistani leadership to do its bidding without caring for Pakistan’s national interests. In disregard of huge sacrifices rendered, US leaders continue to push Pakistan to do more.
The US wants Pakistan to rupture its ties with Haqqani network and with Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT), and to all militant groups from North Waziristan (NW) that are anti-US. It forgets that Pakistan has been relentlessly fighting the militants in all the seven tribal agencies of FATA as well as Malakand Division and Swat since 2002. After numerous pitched battles, sometimes winning and at times suffering reverses, Pak Army finally managed to win critical battles in Malakand, Swat, South Waziristan (SW) and Bajaur last year. Scuffles are routinely taking place in Khyber, Orakzai and Mohmand Agencies, both sides drawing blood. Even Swat and SW are not quiet where the displaced militants keep attacking weak spots randomly.
150,000 security forces are heavily engaged in keeping the initiative in their hands and the militants on the run. Since the supply lines from across porous Pak-Afghan border are still open and militants are continuing to receive arms, explosives and funds from their sponsors, enabling TTP leaders to pay monthly salary to their fighters and heavy package to suicide bombers, the militants are not giving up.
The situation along the eastern front is fraught with risks because of Indian military capability, its hostile intentions and dangerous designs against Pakistan. India is feverishly building up its military might under the false pretext that it is preparing for two-front war against Pakistan and China. On ground, 70% of its military is poised towards Pakistan. India is still refusing to restart composite dialogue and is insisting on confining future talks to terrorism alone. Rather than reigning in the chief culprit RAW from inciting terrorism in the region in general and Pakistan in particular, Indian leaders have started to accuse ISI for its alleged linkage with LeT.
Afghanistan under Karzai is hostile towards Pakistan and friendly to India. Both have aggressive intentions to pose two-directional threat to Pakistan. India’s strong influence in Afghanistan, which it wants to retain at all costs together with rapid expansion and modernization of ANA by US military, would pose a credible threat from western border in any future Indo-Pak conflict.
Besides the physical threats to security of Pakistan emanating from multiple directions, Pakistan has to contend with never-ending vicious propaganda campaign launched by Indo-US-western-Israeli-Afghan nexus to demean Pakistan and its premier institutions. The onslaughts have now become more piercing. Till recent, allegations made against Pakistan were ascribed to media’s irresponsibility, or covered up by saying that remarks of officials were twisted by media. The US, British, Indian and Afghan officials are now hurling anti-Pakistan statements without any compunctions. Their tone has become intimidating. This was evident from the abrasive statements given by visiting Hillary Clinton, Holbrooke and Mike Mullen in July.
Mullen came here on 24 July and during his interaction with media, he leveled a blatant accusation without furnishing any proof that Al-Qaeda’s head Osama was in Pakistan. This was in line with what Hillary had said. He portrayed LeT as a global threat to world peace and then commanded that Haqqani network should be dealt with sternly. From his body language and threatening tone it looked as if he was visiting US colony and delivering on spot orders to the enslaved. Our rulers listening to him with rapt attention and with folded hands didn’t even notice the hidden intent behind his invective and took it lightly.
While Pakistan was still mulling over Mullen’s haughtiness that it was hit by another bombshell in the form of WikiLeak disclosure. Brushing aside large part of the 92000 documents related to Afghan war and role of US and coalition forces as unsubstantiated and worthless, western media brought the spotlight on very small portion of 180 source reports in which role of ISI has been highlighted negatively. The US, UK, Afghanistan and India drew strength from this report to further grind Pakistan.
Still reeling under the invectives of Indian leaders, Hillary, Holbrooke and Mullen and feeling the heat of WikiLeak, British PM David Cameron suddenly started throwing pointed arrows at Pakistan on 28 July mindlessly while in India. He leveled allegations that Pakistan was exporting terrorism while publicly it was working for stability of the region and that it could not be permitted to look both ways. His remarks appropriately fitted India as it is exactly what India does as a state policy.
Cameron reconfirmed Britain’s traditional hostility and bias towards Pakistan and its undiminished friendship with India since pre-partition days. Occupied Kashmir which has turned into a bleeding wound was gifted to India by Mountbatten in 1947 for which suffering Kashmiris and Pakistanis have never forgiven him. Cameron delivered blows below the belt and felt no remorse in playing foul as long as he made the Indians happy. He remains unrepentant because of docility of our rulers.
Seeing that the iron was hot and Pakistan had turned into a punching bag, Karzai didn’t want to be left out. Karzai after showing some friendly overtures is now urging USA to strike at alleged sanctuaries of militants in Pakistan. By joining the bandwagon he vainly tried to prove that he too is a horse and not an ass and lifted his feet to get shoed. Pakistan had started counting on him after he continuously sung songs of brotherhood and unbreakable bonds and extended assurances of everlasting friendship. Pakistan responded to his overtures in good faith thinking that his declining fortunes had compelled him to change his posture. Few realized that it was a put up show to get Mullah Baradar held in custody of Pakistan released. Few days after Karzai’s salvo, Robert Gates hinted that US operations could spill over to both sides of the border. It is an indication that Karzai could not have given the statement without prompting from Washington.
It is now an established fact that today Pakistan faces greater threat to its security from USA than from India. Latter was a greater threat as long as Pakistan was tied to peace treaty. Mumbai episode came as a blessing in disguise since it exposed India’s real face and its evil intent. It had been constantly stabbing Pakistan in the back under the guise of friendship and we took the jibes uncomplainingly under our skewed policy of appeasement. Although India has inflicted heavy damage, we have now become cautious. This is notwithstanding Aman ki Asha (quest for peace) campaigners who naively want Pakistan to again fall into Indian trap.
America’s so-called friendship poses the real dilemma since under this guise it makes our rulers do what they are not supposed to do. Whenever, the US intends to extract some concession, it first pushes Pakistan in a tight corner by pasting a fabricated allegation and then builds up pressure. It was under US pressure that Pakistan unquestioningly signed Pak-Afghan trade agreement in Kabul without a fuss, which in the long run will have negative impact on our already dwindling economy. India has materialized its long awaited wish in a jiffy without giving anything in return. This and several other examples are clear cut indications that USA is on the side of Pakistan’s archrival and hence a bigger threat.
– Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed ForcesWarCoursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought 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 number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites. –