Time for refurbishment of US centric policy has arrived
"Living under US sanctions did more good to Pakistan and virtually very little damage. Pakistan was able to develop its self reliant policies that helped in developing indigenous defence machines. Economic hardships were far less as compared to today. Being an American ally on the so called war on terror has depleted Pakistan in every way; above all we lost our sovereignty." Raja Mujtaba
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
The US after keeping Pakistan in cold for over a decade offered to renew its relations in the wake of 9/11, provided Pakistan accepted its nasty demands. Gen Musharraf too eager to gain legitimacy gamely assented. After occupying Afghanistan, the US in league with its strategic partners Israel, India and Britain got focused on Pakistan. The US kept making secret deals under the garb of fighting terrorism and Musharraf kept ceding ground without realizing what damage he was inflicting to the integrity of Pakistan. Wearing the mask of friendship, the US secretly unleashed covert war duly supplemented by vicious propaganda war to destabilize Pakistan and undermine the image of its institutions. The underlying objective was to make nuclear Pakistan frail and powerless.
Spin doctors in USA duly assisted by western, Jewish and Indian psychological operators kept churning fabricated stories to implicate Pakistan. Once Pak security forces got embroiled with militants in northwestern tribal belt and both sides spilled blood of each other, aspersions were cast upon Army and ISI, alleging that they were not doing enough and were probably secretly aligned with militants. Do more mantra was introduced to incapacitate Pak Army. Pakistan’s nuclear program came under spiteful attack which is persisting to this day. It was then alleged that top leadership of Al-Qaeda and Haqqani group were located in North Waziristan (NW) and Afghan Shura in Quetta region. Pakistan was repeatedly told to mount a major offensive in NW and destroy safe havens of militants. Pakistan was continually advised to forget about eastern border and to bring the entire might of military towards its western border.
Harassed and bitterly disappointed Pakistan’s complaints kept multiplying. These include CIA supervised covert war from Afghan soil which is wearing it down; hostile media war to demoralize its premier institutions; America’s pronounced leaning towards India; enlarged influence of India in Afghanistan because of US sponsorship; measly financial assistance and that too attached with stern conditions; hidden activities of Xe World and CIA operatives in Pakistan and intensification of drone strikes in Waziristan.
Pakistan also differs from American contention that local militants and not India are the existential threat to integrity of Pakistan, particularly when Indian military and nuclear capabilities are being abundantly enhanced. Pakistan rightly grudge that instead of compensating it for rendering so much of sacrifices in war on terror, the US has subjected it to unjustified pressures and smear. On the contrary, India which watches the war from sidelines is not only heard with compassion but all its legal and illegal demands met with promptitude and its outrageous complaints against Pakistan listened to.
In the aftermath of the US dastardly act in Abbottabad aimed at discrediting Pak Army and ISI, it wants Pakistan to proceed against the support group which clandestinely accommodated OBL in Abbottabad. It believes elements within Army and ISI helped OBL to remain hidden for over five years in a military garrison next door to PMA Kakul. At the same time, the US doesn’t want CIA informants to be pestered, who guided CIA to OBL’s compound and assisted US SEALs to carryout helicopter assault on 02 May. American officials are disturbed over arrest of five CIA informants whom they term as US assets. The US also desires that Pakistan’s agencies shouldn’t keep an eye over spying activities of under cover operatives of CIA. Heavy reduction in number of US trainers – mostly CIA agents, stoppage of supplies to US personnel operating drones from Shamsi airbase and re-imposition of restrictions on visas have not been well received in Washington. 75% cut from the inordinately delayed installment of $ 1.1 billion is being contemplated.
The US is not agreeing to end murderous drone war and has disregarded Pakistan’s protests and joint resolution of the parliament. The only way to make the US stop this gory practice is either to hit one to two attacking drones or to cut supply line of NATO. Bringing down a drone well within Pakistan’s territory will in no way be termed as an aggressive or an unfriendly act, particularly when repeated requests have been made that drones are not serving the purpose for which they are used. Over 90% innocent civilians, mostly innocent women, children and elders die in the attacks. Few targeted militants are mostly ordinary fighters or low level leaders. Percentage of medium or high value targets is very low. The advantages the US derives from drone is that it is risk free, it fuels terrorism, creates harassment among the locals of affected regions and helps in severing peace deals between Army and Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir led militants in NW and South Waziristan (SW) respectively.
As if drone war was not enough the US military has begun to heat up western border in a calculating manner. This month has seen flurry of attacks from across the border. On 02 June, 2-400 Afghan cum runaway militants belonging to TNSM and TTP attacked a border post at Shaltalo in Upper Dir manned by soldiers of paramilitary forces and killed 24 of them. Several villages were ransacked by the attackers. On 9 June, another attack by about 100 Afghan-TTP militants came on Makeen post in SW in which eight soldiers died. On 16 June, 100-150 terrorists from across the border attacked three villages in Bajaur sector killing five civilians and one paramilitary soldier. On 16 June, two NATO jets violated Pakistan airspace and carried out air attacks on security posts in Ziarat and Khwezai areas in Mohmand Agency. Soon India will be undertaking suchlike violations in Kashmir sector.
Having seen the real face of USA, top military leadership has decided to keep American meddlesome role at bay. The ISI has drawn red lines and clearly told CIA that it will not be allowed to cross those lines to destabilize Pakistan. The US officials instead of feeling penitent for deceiving an ally, they have become more bigheaded and are holding Pakistan culpable. The US seems to be in no mood to disperse clouds of mistrust and revamp frosty relations unless Pakistan agrees to toe its dictates. This is evident from continuance of drone war, media war, ‘do-more mantra’ and bullying tone. There is no respite in Pakistan drubbing by US media. Army and ISI are being fiercely targeted to demoralize them.
In 2001, the US was in full glory since its economic and military strengths were unmatched. It was in a position to dictate terms to Pakistan under a military dictator since the whole world had stood behind it. Today the US can no more claim to be in such an envious position. Its economy has become fragile and military might humbled by rag tag Taliban. 150,000 US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are in a battered state and are desperate to return home. Its image and prestige as a sole super is in tatters and it is fearful whether it may get out of the quagmire of Afghanistan in single piece. It is no more in a commanding position to dictate terms either to Pakistan or to Taliban.
Pakistan has gone through hell but has fortunately survived deadly onslaughts aimed at its fragmentation. While the US hates Pakistan, ironically it is yearning for its support at this critical juncture since it had never needed its support so badly. Pakistan is now in a position to seek an answer from Washington in the manner it had been questioned in September 2001, whether it is with Pakistan or against Pakistan. It should place straight demands as to how it can make good the huge economic and human losses it incurred and trauma it suffered in fighting US dictated war. The only way out is to rebuild Pakistan’s shattered economy, build hydro-power dams to meet our energy needs and rid Pakistan of debt burden.
In case the US continues with its double dealing tactics and falsehood to serve its short-term interests only, Pakistan should shun its lollypops and take immediate steps to revamp its US centric foreign policy and make it even-handed. It should take out some eggs from US basket and put more eggs in the basket of time-tested and most reliable China and get closer to Russia by becoming regular member of SCO. Relations with Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Central Asian States should be further bolstered and ECO revived. Saudi Arabia and Gulf states should be convinced to backup ECO. Efforts should be made to bring trustworthy Sri Lanka within the fold of ECO. Gradually other members of SAARC under the perverse influence of India should be weaned away and made part of ECO to make the grouping broad based and viable. SCO together with ECO must work in harmony so as to break the monopoly of EU, which is inclined solely towards west, Israel and India.