With the “Great Game in Afghanistan” entering the next phase, Pakistan is now on the chopping block. There are reports from various sources of different collusions plotting to target Pakistan. Diplomatic circles in Delhi point to a conspiracy being hatched by the secret services of India, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel to corner Pakistan. On the face of it Iran and Israel are sworn enemies and Israel has been propagating the use of force by USA and its allies to bring an end to Iranian nuclear aspirations. With the understanding being reached between the US and Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the tensions have eased. Politics makes strange bedfellows and it is not unlikely that Iran may have been brought into the fold to further India and Israel’s goals.
A local Urdu daily of Lahore has published an exposé that reveals that the Indian, Israeli Afghan and Iran’s secret agencies have chalked out a strategy to defame Pakistan at international level to portray Pakistan as the epicenter of terrorism. The story carried in the 2 April 2014 issue of the daily indicates that the representatives of the four intelligence agencies met last month at the RAW Headquarters in New Delhi to discuss the modus operandi to place finishing touches to the plan of launching a propaganda campaign against Pakistan and its nuclear program. To add fuel to the fire, it was agreed upon to link terrorism with Pakistan’s nukes. Already many US analysts and naysayers have been painting a bleak picture of the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, conjecturing that due to the rise in terrorism, there is a high probability that terrorists can gain access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and create havoc in the world. According to the heinous plot being hatched in the Indian capital, it has been decided that these countries will blame Pakistan of every incident of terror taking place in the region. Reportedly, the immediate action agreed upon was that a propaganda blitz against Pakistan will be unleashed spearheaded by Afghanistan and Iran in the near future. The die has been cast.
One may recall the February 2014 kidnapping of five Iranian border guards from Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan region, allegedly by an Iran-based Sunni militant group and having been transported to Pakistan. In the immediate aftermath of the kidnappings, the Iranian government expressed indignation at the Pakistan government for its failure to do more to curb the tide of Sunni Islamists in the country. Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli went so far as to threaten to send Iranian troops into Pakistan to secure the border guards’ release.
Pakistan and Iran’s perceptions towards the strife in Syria are also apparently on a collision course. Pakistan’s reported shift towards the Saudi perception on the Syrian crisis has apparently added to Iran’s angst. The differences in Pakistan’s and Iran’s views on post 2014 Afghanistan may also be adding fuel to fire with India hpw muddying the waters further for its own interests. Pakistan’s development of the strategic port of Gwadar with Chinese support raising Iranian security and economic concerns has been exploited by India. Its project to link the Iranian Chahbahar port with a main rail and road link with Afghanistan and Central Asia will provide an alternate to Gwadar for expeditious logistics controlled by India. Besides financing the Chahbahar Port, India has also constructed a 218 kilometer Zaranj-Dilaram Road in Afghanistan’s Nimroze province which will connect to Chahbahar port via Milak. This will open the Indian market to Afghanistan, thus killing two birds with one stone.
British journalist Carlotta Gall, of the New York Times, in her book The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2014, launched on 8 April 2014, has taken up the cudgels for defaming Pakistan. She is bent upon propagating that Pakistan government and ISI were involved in providing sanctuary to Osama bin Laden. Carlotta insists that the ISI continues to provide support to the Taliban. Basing her information on outdated information, she maliciously suggests that Pakistan is the real enemy since it is engaged in a double game, aiding the US as well as the Taliban. Although she has been negated by more knowledgeable peers likePeter Bergen, CNN’s National Security Analyst and author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden—From 9/11 to Abbottabad, she continues to spew venom against Pakistan. She finds an ally in another infamous Pakistan-baiter, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria of Indian origin, who hosts the program “GPS”. The duo finds it expedient to target Pakistan and indulge in a smearing campaign, to draw the attention of the world towards Pakistan’s alleged support for terrorism, totally negating the sacrifices of the people of Pakistan.
Some Canadian diplomats have jumped in the fray. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander,former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan and former deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, who had authored the book The Long Way Back: Afghanistan’s Quest for Peace, in which he found faults with Pakistan, has taken up the task again to whip up emotions against Pakistan. Speaking on a special edition of CBC’s Power & Politics about Canada’s legacy in Afghanistan, Alexander has reiterated that the world has only caught up with that reality in recent years, despite long-standing warnings from Afghanistan that Pakistan is a big part of the problem. He recommends that Canada and its allies must take a united front against Pakistan because it is a state sponsor of terrorism that threatens world security. He surreptitiously concludes that the fight against the Taliban and groups like al-Qaeda will never be won in Afghanistan alone because it is a “cross-border conflict” supported by the Pakistan government. The matter does not end there,former Canadian diplomat David Mulroney, who served as deputy minister in charge of the Afghanistan Task Force overseeing co-ordination of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan has stated that if Alexander’s remarks represent the government’s official position, they must be followed up with “real measures” and a “much tougher stance” against Pakistan.
Pakistan’s diplomatic and media efforts must focus on exposing the anti-Pakistan collusion.