Before heat is turned on you

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Although Pakistan has remained tied to USA since early 1950s and never shirked from volunteering its services whenever the US asked for, but the relations between the two never matured into long lasting strategic relationship. The US befriended Pakistan only to serve its short term interest and no sooner its objectives were accomplished it was left high and dry. It always ditched Pakistan at a time when its support was needed the most.

Despite being the member of SEATO and CENTO, the US betrayed Pakistan in September 1965 by stopping supplies of arms, ammunition and spare parts  to the military at a critical time when it was fighting a battle of survival with five times stronger Indian forces. It did the same in March 1971 at a time when Pakistan army was trying to quell Indian aided armed rebellion in former East Pakistan. Pakistan played a key role to affect a détente between USA and China; yet the US didn’t come to its rescue when Indian forces backed by Soviet Union invaded East Pakistan and detached the eastern wing. Move of US 7th Fleet was a token gesture and not meant to deter the aggressor from occupying the province. The US ignored India’s nuclear explosion in 1974 but started hounding and threatening Pakistan when it learnt that Pakistan was planning to develop nuclear capability. It imposed harsh economic sanctions in 1979 to dissuade it from going nuclear.

The US removed the sanctions and sanctioned $3.5 billion assistance in 1981 spread over five years when it needed Pakistan to fight its proxy war in Afghanistan against Soviet forces. When it achieved its objectives in 1989, it again imposed harsh sanctions on Pakistan through Pressler Amendment which remained operative for over a decade. The US ditched its most allied ally and befriended India which had all along opposed US policies and was camp follower of USSR. Throughout the 1990s, the US maintained anti-Pakistan stance and changed its position over Kashmir issue. Another set of sanctions were levied when Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in response to Indian tests in May 1998. Additional sanctions were levied when Gen Musharraf forcibly removed a democratic government and took over in October 1999.

Sanctions were removed only when services of Pakistan were once again required after 9/11 to capture Afghanistan. This time the US promised that relations will not be need based but of long term strategic nature. Under the garb of friendship the US in collusion with India, Israel, Britain and Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai embarked upon a secret war to undermine Pakistan and at an opportune time denuclearize it. The intelligence agencies of these countries set up a huge network to carryout acts of sabotage and subversion and to destabilize and then balkanize Pakistan. Emasculation of Pakistan was necessary to make it forget about Kashmir and to accept Indian hegemony.          

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During the first stage of the plan, the plot makers lulled the senses of our rulers by offering hand of friendship and monetary benefits. After gaining full confidence of leadership and taking control of security of all the airports, CIA and FBI established outposts in FATA and Balochistan so as to cultivate anti-Pakistan elements and identify pro-Pakistan elders, Maliks and clerics, mark routes of supply of arms and distribution points. For this purpose Gen Musharraf was pushed to induct regular troops in South Waziristan (SW) in 2002 to flush out foreign terrorists and assist its agencies to get established for acquiring intelligence about terrorists. The ISI also shared intelligence with CIA and introduced their informers. These agents subsequently became double agents. Spider network comprising mostly retired Pak Army officers and men was created in FATA by CIA to augment its strength. Reportedly, US trained Afghan soldiers numbering 2000 were also secretly inducted in that region to supplement its efforts to tame the militants and make them toe their agenda.            

In Balochistan Marris, Bugtis and Mengals were won over by CIA and MI-6 and convinced to collectively start insurgency on grounds of Baloch political rights and control over provincial resources. Subsequently RAW made inroads into the province. Rape of Dr Shazia in Dera Bugti was blown up and made into an issue of Baloch honor. It was converted into a cause to ignite Baloch insurgency in interior Balochistan in 2004. Death of Akbar Bugti gave fillip to Baloch nationalism and the insurgency got converted into a separatist movement duly supported by Afghanistan, India, America and Britain.  

From the time Pak-Afghan border region was declared a single battle zone, the US under Obama became highly aggressive against Pakistan. Drone war became an important element of Af-Pak strategy to fight war on terror. The US expanded the scope by striking targets outside SW and North Waziristan (NW) indiscriminately. Targets in Kurram and Orakzai Agencies were hit for the first time in March-April 2009. hpw Pentagon insisted that range of drones will be extended to Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan on the plea that al-Qaeda and Taliban elements had spread all over the country. They wanted to impose drone war without caring for Pakistan’s national interests and public opinion and in complete disregard of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The masses couldn’t comprehend the logic of drones which killed over 90% innocent people with great majority of women and children. Moreover, drones increased terrorism and increased the strength of so-called Islamic militants. Since they couldn’t reach US forces, they took their revenge on Pak security forces, taking them as US partners.     

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During its ten-year alliance with the US, Pakistan has been treated more like a foe rather than an ally. The US has been paying miserly but demanding donkey’s work and that too like a master rather than a friend. Despite hiccups, the uncertain relationship mired with misgivings and distrust remained intact till the arrest of double-murderer CIA agent Raymond Davis. Prior to that the temperature was gradually heating up in 2010 on account of Gen Petraeus insistence that an operation must be launched in North Waziristan forthwith, while Pak Army expressed its own limitations and wanted more time.

The next pressure was built for the immediate release of Davis. His seven-week detention so offended CIA that it swore to hit back viciously.  The first demonstration of its ire was seen on the following day of his release in the form of drone strike on peace jirga in NW. When Kayani expressed his serious concern, the US decided to hit a punch below the belt by reincarnating OBL and fabricating a drama of Operation ‘Get Geronimo’. This immoral act became the watershed in Pak-US relations. Foreign inspired terrorist attack on Mehran naval base on 22 May further strained their relations. Relations are not improving since the Army and ISI have begun to resist American intrusions.  

In the aftermath of two incidents in May together Kharotabad incident in Quetta, killing of a thug by a Rangers Jawan in Karachi and murder of journalist Saleem Shehzad, Government controlled US media stepped up its propaganda to malign and undermine Pak Army and ISI, the only two institutions that are blocking American ingresses into Pakistan’s vital areas. Series of concocted allegations have been pasted on ISI in an effort to make it compliant. Its moles in our media have been behaving more loyal than the king and promoting their tutored themes zealously. Adversaries of Pakistan assisted by their loyalist Pakistanis wanted the heads of Army, Air force, Navy and ISI chiefs to be put on chopping blocks. They tried to give an impression as if their booting out would solve all the problems of Pakistan. Instead of exposing the hidden designs of our adversaries and condemning their cheap tactics, our media persons and politicians danced to the tunes of adversaries and delighted them by ridiculing the armed forces.      

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It is abundantly clear that the US has betrayed Pakistan once again and this time its designs are very dangerous. Hersh Symov had alerted Pakistan about US designs sometime back but his warnings were not taken seriously. Unlike the political leadership,  Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha have belatedly got out of the spell of USA at the nick of the time and are determined to stand up to US high-handed policies and push back US intrusions. Pasha is consistently pressing CIA to repatriate its undercover operatives who sneakily entered Pakistan without security clearance, and movement of US officials is kept under watch. In frustration the US Station House chief in Islamabad has returned home. Space for the CIA network secretly established in Pakistan is being shrunk and hopefully it will soon get dismantled.

Besides effectively tackling the foreign aided internal threat, host of other preventive measures have also been taken how to deal with two-front threat. In spite of consistent efforts of Pakistan’s adversaries to undermine nuclear and missile capabilities, nuclear deterrence is now more robust and delivery means more deadly. Bitten from the western hole, PAF has beefed up its early warning and response systems on western front as well. The navy is resolutely guarding the coastal belt and induction of UAVs has bolstered its intelligence acquisition capability. These precautionary measures being foul-tasting for the sole super power, it is therefore resorting to ghoulish methods to intimidate Pakistan and to force it to give up resistance. Pakistan has already ceded too much of space to oblige USA and has suffered a lot. Having reached the precipice, it cannot afford to take another backward step. If the US wants Pakistan to cooperate and help it in exiting from Afghanistan, wisdom demands that it should step back and give up its habit of unilateralism, snobbery and duplicity.

America should step back before the public sentiment is turned on against them. If it happens then people in power would have no option but to go with the public sentiments.