Afghanistan: base of terrorism
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
When war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan was won by the Mujahideen duly supported by Pakistan in 1989, the US claimed that the war couldn’t have been won without surface to air stinger missiles. In its view, stingers made the difference and forced the Soviets to beat a hasty retreat. In the ongoing war on terror in which the US for all practical purposes has lost the war and its forces are in the process of pulling out from Afghanistan and will depart by December 2014, the US is trying to project drone as the winning weapon against terrorism. It must not be forgotten that it is not the gun which matters but the man behind the gun. ISAF has the most sophisticated and lethal weaponry of all kinds together with latest technology but still couldn’t defeat the ill-clad and ill-equipped and under-strength Taliban. Drone has been selected as a choice weapon since it is unmanned and free of combat risks to US soldiers. Mounting casualties, suicides and loss of heart by NATO soldiers were the reasons to bank upon drones.
Had Pakistan not stood up against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, nothing could have prevented Afghanistan turning into a satellite State of USSR and its Islamic identity, its tribal customs and traditions and historical heritage, all would have been destroyed. It cannot be denied that Afghanistan snuggled out of the stranglehold of USSR because of Pakistan’s momentous role. In its bid to save Afghanistan, Pakistan itself got entangled in innumerable problems. Wave of conspiracies, intrigues and terrorism ruined Pakistan’s peace.
War against the Soviets produced Jihadis in Pakistan and gave rise to Kalashnikov and drug cultures. Most of the Jihadis who took part in Afghan Jihad were from FATA and some parts of settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) like Malakand. Religious seminaries imparting religious training were converted into military training centres duly funded by CIA and Saudi Arabia. Since Jihadis came from other Muslim countries as well, camaraderie developed among them. A small force of about 500-700 from Saudi Arabia under Osama bin Laden supported by CIA also took active part in Jihad. This force was later named as al-Qaeda in mid-1990s.
Strength of Jihadis in Pakistan multiplied in the wake of armed uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) in 1989. Large number of Jihadi groups cropped up in IOK and few in Azad Kashmir to battle Indian security forces. Invasion of Afghanistan by the US led forces in October 2001 re-energized the Jihadis in Afghanistan as well as in FATA and Malakand. Having addicted Pakistani Jihadis to use its territory to launch attacks against Soviet forces in Afghanistan for a decade, USA is now viewing this practice illegal, sinful and inexcusable deserving strong punitive action. Holy warriors of yester years are now being ruthlessly targeted by USA.
Pakistan is host to three million Afghan refugees since 1979. These refugees besides being a huge economic burden have created immense social and security problems, especially in KP and Balochistan. Many among them are informers of foreign agencies while some are linked with banned outfits like TTP and quite many are involved in crimes.
It is also a hard fact that successive Afghan governments joined hands with enemies of Pakistan. Excepting Taliban government, all Afghan governments were pro-India. The incumbent government led by Hamid Karzai is worst of all since it not only made available Afghan soil to the enemies of Pakistan including its arch enemy India but also became party to the covert operations to harm Pakistan. Karzai allowed India to open Pakistan specific consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif which turned into RAW’s dens for coordinating psychological and clandestine operations against FATA and Balochistan and to create misgivings between Afghans and Pakistanis and to spoil Pak-US relations.
17 intelligence units were inducted to supplement efforts of RAW against Pakistan and also to penetrate each and every department of Afghanistan. Defence Attaché in Indian hpw Embassy Kabul became the overall coordinator to supply arms, ammunition, explosives, equipment and funds to the cultivated saboteurs in FATA and Balochistan. Large numbers of training camps were established under the supervision of Indian Army officers to train, equip and launch terrorists into Pakistan from 2002 onwards to destabilize Pakistan. RAW had indulged in this practice during the 1971 insurgency in erstwhile East Pakistan and during the Baloch insurgency from 1973 to 1977.
Cultural centres were also opened to inject poison into the minds of Afghans against Pakistan. This exercise was carried out in Indian run educational institutes in Afghanistan and upon Afghan students studying in India. While it was not difficult to infuse hatred into the minds of non-Pashtun Afghans since their minds had already been poisoned since 1994, Indians worked hard to instill misgivings into the minds of Afghan Pashtuns as well. Investment of $1.3 billion for various development projects and promotion of education was touted as a proof of India’s friendship with Afghanistan. India undertook massive covert operations against Pakistan with the blessing and connivance of its strategic partners USA, UK and Mossad. To say that India has been undertaking clandestine operations without the knowledge of USA and Afghanistan is simply outlandish. It has been a team work pursuing common objectives. Afghanistan is serving as a base for fuelling terrorism in Pakistan.
Worst part of the narrative is that USA, India and Afghanistan have been secretly meddling in internal affairs of Pakistan while pretending to be allies of Pakistan. The story becomes more painful when the aggressors declare themselves victims of aggression and cry out in unison blaming Pakistan that it is involved in cross border terrorism in Afghanistan and in India and that it has given safe havens to anti-US/Afghan militants in North Waziristan (NW) and to Jihadis in AJK. The US goes a step further and holds Pakistan responsible for all its failures in Afghanistan.
The trio has been subjecting Pakistan to a malicious propaganda campaign and has pasted large number of allegations. One of the most repeated allegations is that Pak Army and ISI are aligned with militants. No proof has been furnished to support their contention. On the contrary, Pakistan has handed over concrete proofs to both Karzai and Manmohan Singh several times about Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies deep-rooted involvement in Balochistan and FATA. On his visit to Kabul in 2012, former PM Yusaf Raza Gilani presented concrete proofs of Indian intervention in Balochistan to Karzai regime. It was impressed upon Afghan administration to give a commitment that in future Afghan government would not assist Indian cross border terrorism in Balochistan.
Rather than restraining India, Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) in league with RAW and with the blessing of CIA activated the western border with the help of fugitive Maulana Fazlullah from Swat. He and his men as well as Khalid Omar Khurasani and his men from Mehmand are settled in Kunar and Nuristan where they are provided accommodation and full logistic support as well as armaments and training facilities to strike targets in Dir, Mehmand, Bajaur and Chitral. NDS and RAW are also supporting TTP. Hakimullah Mehsud was on their payroll as long as he was fighting Pak security forces and striking assigned targets in Pakistan. The moment he got inclined to peace talks, he became a marked man and was killed by a drone on November 1, 2013.
USA, India and Afghan government in the capacity of being patrons of TTP prevailed upon the TTP Shura to forgo all the prospective candidates from Waziristan and instead select non-tribal Fazlullah as new Ameer and non-tribal Khalid Haqqani as deputy. Both are sworn enemies of Pakistan government and Army and staunchly oppose peace talks. The US too disfavors talks with TTP and continues with its drone war in NW. Under the circumstances, western border will remain a matter of concern for Pakistan in the foreseeable future.