Going by the history, America has not only abandoned but stabbed Pakistan in the back where possible. Raja Mujtaba
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
After occupying Afghanistan, the US conceptualized several plans to destabilize, denuclearize, secularize and fragment or balkanize Pakistan. Gen Musharraf was persuaded to cut off links with Mullah Omar led Taliban regime in Kabul, help US in militarily occupying Afghanistan, and to become a frontline state to fight US war on terror. Once Afghanistan was occupied, Pakistan was forced to accept pro-India non-Pashtun heavy regime led by Hamid Karzai hostile to Pakistan.
When Pakistan expressed its disinclination to dispatch regular troops to South Waziristan (SW) to oust foreign terrorists since it was in violation of unwritten agreement with FATA, Washington threatened that US forces would barge in if Pakistan failed to abide by its orders. Pakistan was induced to do Washington’s commands by deferring payment of foreign debts and offering five-year package of $10.5 billion. As against this paltry amount the US spent $5 billion monthly in Afghanistan.
Once the Army moved into SW, it was ensured that it got irretrievably embroiled in fighting futile war on terror. When foreigners were pushed out and Ahmadzai Wazir dominated SW was stabilized after inking peace deal in July 2005, Army was pressed to move over into Baitullah Mehsud controlled Mehsud belt within SW. Abdullah Mehsud, brainwashed by CIA during his captivity in Guantanamo Bay, operated in Jandola-Tank area. He abducted and killed Chinese engineers working in Gomal Zam Dam project to spoil Pak-China relations. When the Army inked peace accord with Baitullah Mehsud in early 2006, it was pushed into North Waziristan (NW) to confront Hafiz Gul Bahadur led Othmanzai Wazir militants. Another peace deal was signed in NW in September 2006.
It was in this timeframe that Pakistani Taliban (PT) mysteriously surfaced in NW in late 2006 and made Mir Ali and Miranshah their bases. PT were later on duly trained, equipped, funded and protected by CIA, RAW, RAAM and Mossad based in Afghanistan and pitched against Pak Army to lock the two in deadly combat. Bleeding and weakening of Army was considered essential for the success of the gory plan since without its destruction none of the envisaged objectives could be achieved. Barbaric acts performed by PT helped USA in defaming Islam and Afghan Taliban.
After the death of Abdullah in Zhob in July 2007 at the hands of security forces, Baitullah was uplifted to take up the mantle. Ranks of PT swelled after botched Lal Masjid operation in July. Revenge of killings of women and children receiving education in Jamia Hafsa became the rallying point and led to spate of suicide attacks. Mohmand Agency also came in the grip of militancy. Reverses of Army at certain places in FATA further bolstered their spirits. By December 2007, Baitullah announced formation of Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) with tentacles in all tribal agencies.
RAW with easy money procured from illicit drug smuggling then started to equip TTP on a crash program. It took full advantage of hurt sentiments of the people of the area, and with the assistance of RAAM took upon itself to recruit fresh crop of fighters and to provide training, funds, equipment and reinforcement to TTP from Afghan soil. Foreign agencies kept fueling grievances of militants and eulogizing their dare devilry and their cause to introduce Shariah. Notwithstanding factor of revenge, chief causes of motivation of militants were regular handsome monthly salaries, perks and authority. Taste of adventure and heroism and easy availability of women to marry were other reasons to get lured. These were too stimulating pleasures for the uneducated, unemployed youth belonging to poor families to go to any lengths.
TTP was encouraged to launch suicide attacks and group attacks against defined targets within cities so as to create greater chaos and to make the task of security forces multifaceted. Bajaur, Swat and SW were converted into major strongholds where massive weapons, ammunition, explosives, suicide jackets, medical stores and other war munitions were stored in hundreds of caves, man-made tunnels, roofs and walls of houses and other secretive places.
Pak Army on the other hand was denied requisite funds and counter terrorism equipment on the plea of Indian unreal fears that equipment will be used against India. It was also kept dependent upon doctored intelligence provided by CIA and FBI till as late as 2007. Hidden motive was to prevent the Army from defeating militants. To lower its morale and to deprecate it, the Army was derided by USA for not doing enough and pressed to do more. It was also accused of being in cahoots with Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Ironically, the US instead of extending support to Pak Army to defeat TTP and Fazlullah led militants in Swat; it has been lending support to TTP. Thousands of US, Indian and Israeli origin weapons recovered from Swat and SW during recent operations is an irrefutable proof of their involvement. It implies that the US didn’t want Pak Army to defeat terrorism in Pakistan but to preferably get defeated or as a minimum get pinned down irreversibly.
Once the Army succeeded in capturing the fortresses of TTP and breaking its back, USA lost interest in TTP and other militant groups aligned to it. Instead, it started focusing on remnants of Al-Qaeda, Haqqani network and Gul Bahadur led militants in NW, Maulvi Nazir in SW and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Punjab. LeT is being projected as a global threat and blamed for current nonviolent unrest in India-Occupied Kashmir. India instead of grappling with Naxalites who control 20% of Indian Territory and are an existential threat, it is shortsightedly consuming all its energies in covert operations under the fond hope that destabilization of Pakistan would stabilize India.
While there has never been any doubt of RAW’s involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs, WikiLeaks has confirmed that CIA has all along based its evaluation on Afghanistan and Pakistan on the biased inputs provided by Afghan intelligence which gets fed by RAW. Bob Woodword’s recently published book has revealed America’s hostile intentions against Pakistan. Outburst of Hillary Clinton after failed Times Square attack, and James Jones and Leon Panetta’s warning to President Zardari on their visit to Islamabad soon after the incident that had the bomb gone off, the US would have been forced to strike Pakistan give an insight to thinking of US top leadership.
As if daily drone attacks killing people in Waziristan were not enough, (22 strikes in September) two offensive incursions by US Apaches on 26 September killing over 30 people under the plea of pursuing militants have made the situation along western border menacing. When NATO HQ in Brussels was informed of the incident and its repercussions, it brushed aside Pakistan’s concern asserting that ISAF/NATO troops in Afghanistan had a right to take defensive measures against militants. To add insult to injury another incursion was made on 30th on FC post in Kurram Agency killing three security persons. Extraordinary harsh sentence awarded to Aafia Siddiqui by a US court has further intensified anti-US sentiments. These acts are least helpful towards bridging trust deficit.
India flustered by happenings in occupied Kashmir and endgame in Afghanistan not to its liking, has stepped up its undercover activities in Balochistan and Karachi and is likely to stage-manage another drama to distract the attention of the world and put Pakistan in tight corner.
Confronted with tense geo-political situation, badly caught up in war on terror and devastating floods having adverse impact on economy, coupled with heightening judiciary-executive tussle and the sky overcast with clouds of change, signs are inauspicious for Pakistan. Supreme Court piqued by government is showing extraordinary restraint to avert confrontation. Although a healthy change is desirable, any change under the prevailing shaky internal situation and malevolent designs of our adversaries would prove more catastrophic particularly when no viable alternative option is available. Meeting between President-PM-COAS on 27th has for the time being helped in normalizing the fever of change.
Since 2001, a variety of methods have been applied by adversaries to weaken and undo Pakistan but with Allah’s blessings and resilience of the people, Pakistan survived series of destructive attempts some of which were close ones. Vested groups are discouraging the people and instigating them to spread anarchy and to bring down the whole edifice. In spite of prophets of gloom spreading doomsday scenarios and projecting that people have lost heart and are completely disenchanted and shattered, the reality is that each man-made and natural calamity has further steeled their resolve to endure the challenges with greater courage and fortitude.
Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified, 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