Pakistan must play her cards very carefully and not panic in face of diplomatic oppurtunities; nations are known the way they conduct themsleves." Raja Mujtaba
By Asif Haroon Raja
Harking back into the history of the subcontinent, one cannot mention even a single incident wherein India as a bigger neighbor helped Pakistan in tiding over its internal problem. Instead of helping Pakistan, India has all along been scheming to undo Pakistan. Unresolved Kashmir dispute became the chief cause of antagonism and distrust which led to 1948 and 1965 war including Rann of Katch conflict. Failing to overawe or breakup Pakistan through coercion, India planned to divide Pakistan using indirect strategy of psychological war. East Pakistan upon which India had been strenuously working since 1948 was selected for subversion and separation from West Pakistan so as to challenge two-nation theory and to humble Pakistan. For the achievement of its objective, India signed a treaty of friendship with former Soviet Union and took Moscow into confidence in its sinister plan.
After India succeeded in truncating Pakistan in December 1971, it not only further bolstered its conventional military strength but also carried out nuclear test at Pokhran in August 1974 so as to become unchallenged military power of South Asia. The nuclear club took no notice of it, which encouraged India to continue pursuing its nuclear ambitions. Moscow helped India in development of its economy and became the biggest supplier of weapons to build up its military power. It also thwarted settlement of Kashmir issue by applying veto power whenever the issue came under the scrutiny of UN. Despite India being in the Soviet camp, the US accepted India as the most influential power of South Asia.
Pakistan which had still not recovered from the trauma of 1971 tragedy got deeply worried over these ominous developments. ZA Bhutto decided to make Pakistan a nuclear power so as to restrain India from embarking upon another venture to harm Pakistan. Dr AQ Khan was tasked to acquire nuclear capability for which Kahuta Plant was established in 1976. No sooner the US, Israel and India got a wind of it in 1978 that Pakistan was secretly developing weapon oriented nuclear program at Kahuta, the trio got highly perturbed and considered ways and means of disabling it. Vicious propaganda war was also launched to exert pressure on Pakistan to abandon its program.
Attention of the US under Jimmy Carter got deflected from Pakistan’s nuclear program when regime change took place in Iran in March 1979 and the new Islamist regime under Imam Khomeini adopted a hostile posture against USA. The US suffered humiliation as a result of hostage taking episode in Tehran. While the US was still recovering from these shocks when another earth shaking event took place in the region. The Soviet forces barged into Afghanistan in December 1979 and forcibly occupied the country. Gen Ziaul Haq who had removed the democratic government of ZA Bhutto in July 1977 through a coup and had become a pariah in the international comity became the blue eyed boy of USA and western world since he boldly stood up against the Soviets and it was in the US interest. When Pakistan started managing the resistance movement ably for well over one year, the US offered its whole hearted support to it in June 1981. Pakistan accepted the offer after it was promised $3.5 billion package spread over five years and armaments for Mujahideen.
Pakistan remained in best books of the US and western world throughout the Afghan Jihad and its clandestine nuclear program was not only ignored, President Ronald Reagan gave certificates each year stating that Pakistan nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Throughout the decade long war, not a single American or western soldier took part in the war. The ISI under Gen Akhtar Abdur Rehman planned, coordinated and conducted the covert war single-handed keeping the CIA in secondary role. Throughout the Afghan war, RAW in collaboration with KGB and KHAD indulged in sabotage and subversion against Pakistan.
True to its past tradition the US ended its honeymoon and ditched Pakistan soon after its objective of defeating Soviet military might in Afghanistan was achieved in February 1989. Main reason to cast off Pakistan was its nuclear program, which was unacceptable to Israel, USA and the western world. Denuclearization of Pakistan became their chief concern. The first bombshell was dropped on Pakistan in October 1990 by applying Pressler Amendment. Harsh military and economic sanctions were imposed to weaken Pakistan economically and politically thereby forcing it to seek more loans and correspondingly increase the debt burden and thus make it near impossible for Pakistan to continue pursuing expensive nuclear program.
The democratic era from 1988 to 1999 witnessed four regimes changes and culminated in takeover by the military in October 1999. By that time the economy had become so fragile that Pakistan was seen as a failing state. Economic and political instability gave rise to extremism, sectarianism, Kalashnikov and drug cultures, which were the fallout effects of Afghan war. During the second stint of Benazir Bhutto (1994-96), the schemers tried to snare Pakistan in the trap of IPPs to shift Pakistan’s energy source from hydro power to thermal and thus pave the way for energy crisis. Leadership of nationalist parties in Sindh and NWFP had already been cultivated to disallow construction of Kalabagh dam. Thermal system being otherwise too expensive allowed western powers providing thermal plants to take the control switch of electric supply in their hands and thus make Pakistan a dependent country at their mercy to run its industry. This control would have also helped in harnessing our nuclear program.
CIA helped in formation of RAW in late 1960s because the two cooperated in Tibetan region against China. There was subtle understanding between the two agencies during 1971 crisis which led to breakup of eastern wing of Pakistan. During 1980s, RAW received counter terror training from CIA. After 1991, a strong CIA-Mossad-RAW network became operative and worked in unison to achieve common objectives. Their partnership against Pakistan became more focused and menacing against Pakistan after the US forces and NATO occupied Afghanistan. In fact Indo-US-Israeli alignment has fueled terrorism and has not curbed terrorism as professed. Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered immensely on account of their clandestine operations and use of force.
After its years of strenuous efforts, in 2008 India felt that Pakistan had become so weak and helpless that it was in no position to reject any of its demands. After 26 November 2008 episode, India arbitrarily suspended composite dialogue and stepped up its subversive activities to make it submit to its demands as had been the case after 2002 military standoff. The US was again on the same page with India and both in unison applied multiple pressure tactics to browbeat Pakistan. It irked the duo to find Pakistan unprepared to bow down. To their bad luck situation in Afghanistan became explosive and it became so wobbly that the US which wanted to destabilize Pakistan was left with no choice but to announce ISAF’s withdrawal plan and seek assistance of Pakistan for its exit. In order to steady the Afghan ship in its final phase, the US had to persuade India to agree to resume talks with Pakistan. Both Democrats in USA and Congress in India have become politically weak which has diluted their arrogance.
The US-NATO has been hiding its failures in Afghanistan by holding Pakistan responsible, while India and Afghanistan have been dutifully remained in step with the US to bash Pakistan. Reality has begun to dawn upon the US, NATO, Afghanistan and India, though very late about Pakistan’s significance and its sacrifices rendered in sharing terrorism and minimizing their pains. Pakistan is making huge sacrifices to save its own skin as well as other stakeholders from getting consumed in flames of terrorism. Pakistan’s role in Afghan endgame is crucial and cannot be ignored. For this reason, both India and USA seem willing to improve relations with Pakistan despite latter’s hardened stance.