By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Pak-US relations have followed a set pattern of ups and downs. Pakistan fell from the grace of USA in 1989 after the US found that it had achieved its objectives and Pakistan was no more needed. The reason put forth for cold shouldering Pakistan and putting it under sanctions was its nuclear program for which President Ronald Reagan had been certifying each year starting 1984 that Pakistan’s nuclear program was peaceful and was not geared towards development of a nuclear bomb. Pakistan remained in bad books of the US for over a decade, but once again came in its good books in the aftermath of 9/11 since the US needed its services for its Afghan venture. Instead of Pakistan seeking guarantees that it would not be betrayed again and that it would be adequately compensated for the unjust economic and military sanctions, the needy USA put forward its demands, each one of which were degrading and harmful in nature. Gen Pervez Musharraf created a history by accepting all the seven demands readily on a phone call without negotiations or seeking anything worthwhile for Pakistan like writing off foreign debts.
Everyone in Pakistan who mattered got so excited that they all eulogized Musharraf for taking an apt decision. They were convinced that by accepting the demands of the US, Musharraf had saved Pakistan from sure ruination. They thought that closeness with the sole super power would be of great advantage to Pakistan, which in that timeframe was not so stable economically. Their fond wishes apparently began to get materialized when Pakistan’s GDP started climbing up and foreign exchange reserves kitty swelled up. Enthused by emerging signs of all-round prosperity, our policy makers became smug and didn’t bother to see what price the country had to pay in return for the US so-called largesse.
The US officials, CIA and FBI were given fully liberty of action to operate within Pakistan and Pak security forces were pushed into the firestorm of war on terror against own people with full gusto. So high was the zeal of our ruling regime that it kept doing more and more to please the paymaster without caring for the damage incurred on social fabric of Pakistan! When the saner elements cautioned the rulers about the veiled agenda of the Indo-US-Israeli nexus and reminded them that the trio couldn’t be friendly to nuclear Pakistan since it was anti-Islam and its wrath was entirely directed against the Muslims, they pooh-poohed them. They didn’t notice that President Bush was fond of Gen Musharraf only, and viewed Pakistanis, particularly conservative Muslims with disdain. He considered Pakistan a problem country.
Opening up of several Pakistan specific Indian consulates in eastern and southern Afghanistan with an eye on FATA and Balochistan and setting up of dozens of training camps by RAW in Afghanistan were taken very lightly. It didn’t cross their mind that RAW couldn’t have conducted cross border terrorism without the blessing of USA. When peaceful Balochistan suddenly flared up in 2004 and RAW’s involvement was established, even then our rulers refrained from exposing India because they had tied themselves to illusive peace treaty and had adopted a policy of appeasement. Musharraf was so preoccupied with his dream of remaining in power longer than Gen Ziaul Haq that he remained oblivious of the web woven around Pakistan. He stubbornly maintained that the so-called allies were Pakistan’s well-wishers and not enemies.
When FATA got almost out of control because of emergence of foreign backed TTP and foreign hands were clearly visible, instead of taking counter measures against foreign interference, he kept opening new fronts in FATA and Swat at the pointing of USA. The ISI and MI were directed to keep cooperating with CIA as junior partners. Troops employed in FATA remained dependent upon CIA’s intelligence rather than on MI Directorate.
Award of highly controversial and discriminatory civilian nuclear deal was not objected to. Nuclear deal coupled with modernization of conventional power of Indian armed forces by USA, Israel and the west tilted the military balance of power in favor of India, but it didn’t bring even a frown on the forehead of military ruler. He didn’t take any notice of malicious propaganda campaign of the media and think tanks of our self-styled allies. Ironically, the defamatory snipes were aimed at premier institutions of Pakistan, which were facing the main brunt of war on terror. Stories of Balkanization of Pakistan kept appearing in western newspapers frequently. No action was taken at our end to counter the psychological war. Humiliating ‘do more’ mantra was heard with bowed heads and promises made that war on terror will be fought more aggressively.
In his 9-year rule, Musharraf improved the economy of the country and took the GDP to over 7% because of good governance and controlled corruption. Estate property, stock exchange, business and construction work boomed and foreign investment kept flowing in. However, in his bid to keep the US in good humor, he literally converted nuclear Pakistan into a compliant state of USA where the US officials would come as lords and dictate. Condoleezza Rice, Rumsfeld, Richard Boucher, Armitage, Negroponte virtually micro managed Pakistan’s internal and external affairs. They had become so over bearing that they easily made Musharraf issue vilest NRO, which opened doors for the creation of dream team through manipulated elections in February 2008. Had he kept the US influence at bay and not got entangled with chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhri, he might not have become that unpopular.
Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s takeover as COAS in December 2007 and his decision to keep Army and MI out of election process was a setback for the schemers. Entry of Sharif brothers at the insistence of Saudi Arabia was another setback. But for these hindrances, the dream team of PPP-MQM-ANP would have been formed in the centre and in all the four provinces; Musharraf would have continued as president till 2013 and so would have PCO judges. JUI-F was added in the team with a pinch of salt to allay fears that Islamists had been purposely kept out of power. Leader of this party was otherwise purchasable. He had played a principle role in passage of 17th Amendment in 2004, which allowed second term to Musharraf in uniform. The envisaged dream team would have ensured implementation of hidden agenda of the US which recently got exposed through memogate.
Despite the unexpected glitches created by Gen Kayani who adopted a posture of defiance against the US aggression which was quite different to his predecessor, Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha who firmed up to recover the lost space, Chief Justice Iftikhar who emerged as a beacon of hope for the oppressed, and Punjab which was administered efficiently by Shahbaz Sharif, the sinister program to denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan was pushed forward with the help of NRO cleansed leadership, which was wholly beholden to Washington. As a first step, the most corrupt and controversial man in the history of Pakistan was made the president and vested with all powers. Pak economy was once again brought under the control of IMF.
Within one year, all the positive economic indicators turned negative and economy started nose diving. The rulers having remained out of power for 12 years hungrily pounced upon Pakistan and started plundering the national kitty with both hands and in no time emptied it. In order to run day to day state affairs, they resorted to heavy borrowings from State Bank and sought debts from IMF, Asian Development Bank and World Bank and broke all records of corruption. Worst ever energy crisis resulted in de-industrialization. As a consequence, foreign debts touched $70 billion, inflation soared, price hike scaled new heights, GDP dropped to less than 3% and economy reached a collapsing stage. The US played a role in keeping the opposition friendly. Otherwise the inept and corrupt political dispensation could not have possibly stayed on in power that long.
The rulers promising change continued with Musharraf’s policies and became more subservient to USA. Frequent violations of airspace by NATO and drone war were disregarded. Raymond Davis, the key operator of CIA was released without interrogation. Instead of protesting against the US Seals intrusion on 2 May, the blatant aggression was eulogized by the PM and President. The Army and ISI undertook preventive measures at their own to prevent recurrence of suchlike intrusions, which offended the US. It was only after Salala attack in which 24 soldiers embraced Shahadat that civil-military leadership got on one page and for the first time defied the US.
NATO supplies and Shamsi airbase have been closed, the US-UK trainers and under cover CIA agents extradited and new terms of engagement have been compiled by Parliamentary Committee. ‘Do more’ mantra have gone mute and intrusions by American officials have ceased. The Army has broken the cohesion of TTP and is maintaining its edge over foreign paid militants in trouble spots in the northwest, while the FC is effectively tackling foreign sponsored Baloch separatists in Balochistan. At the same time the Army and FC are engaged in massive development programs in war ravaged areas to win the hearts and minds of the people and are getting positive response. The nuclear program is well protected under multi-layered security system. Armed forces are maintaining a high vigil to deal with three-dimensional threat from the east, west and from within. Pakistan has decided to stand up in support of Iran under duress and has decided not to cancel Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project despite Hillary Clinton’s warning that Pakistan might be put under sanctions.
All these activities are not to the liking of USA, which wants compliance not defiance. Pakistan is being unjustly coerced by USA, Israel and the west. The detractors have embarked upon a willful program to malign Army Chief, DGISI and Balochistan IGFC and the institutions they command with the help of print and electronic media duly supported by a section of Pak media, disgruntled politicians and exiled Baloch nationalists. The US has been resorting to varying coercive tactics to make them pliable, while section of our media and foreign funded NGOs with mala fide intent have been giving a helping hand.
Last year, Kayani was constantly goaded and provoked to takeover power. Memogate had almost brought the situation to a headlong collision between COAS/DGISI and PM but got averted much to the chagrin of conspirators. Pasha was put under extensive pressure first by Richard Holbrooke in 2008 to browbeat him, and then by Leon Panetta in 2011 to clear off the path of CIA but he stood his ground. FC in Balochistan is being demonized by rebellious Baloch Sardars, HRW and our media. Last year, Rangers in Karachi were demonized, as a result of which DG Rangers was sacked but got reinstated subsequently when facts came to light. High-handedness and slanderous tactics of vested groups have made Gen Kayani, Lt Gen Pasha and Maj Gen Obaidullah grittier.
While the bellyaches of the adversaries are understandable, the negative role of internal actors is incomprehensible. Instead of giving a helping hand to the ones who have shown extraordinary courage to face the foreign multi-dimensional onslaughts, they are strengthening the hands of Pakistan’s detractors. Some of the anchors drawing huge salaries and perks have become so bigheaded that they naively think that by bashing Army and ISI, their rating will go high. It has become fashionable to blame the security forces on frivolous issues like missing persons, murder and mutilated bodies of Baloch nationalists. It is being falsely aired that the Army has made a compromise with the government on memogate. Had it been so, Kayani and Pasha should have withdrawn their affidavits submitted to Supreme Court bench. Ball is in the court of the latter to investigate and decide the case. Nawaz Sharif on the other hand who had moved a petition in Supreme Court seems to have lost interest and has taken up a backseat.
For unknown reasons, opposition leader Ch Nisar carries deep-seated revulsion against Gen Pasha and doesn’t miss any opportunity to spit venom against him. His tirade in Hamid Mir’s Capital talk on March, 01 was amateurish and conceited. He, Najam Sethi and some others are too concerned about Pasha’s possible extension. They are playing upon his sensitivities to make him quit so that he paves the way for America-friendly DGISI. Who knows, his replacement may again disappoint them. This in-house negativism must stop to fail the designs of enemies of Pakistan.