Defence & Diplomacy

By Raja G Mujtaba

S M Hali held a well conducted debate on the foreign policy of Pakistan where Advocate Tariq Pirzada was more forthcoming. Professor Hamid expressed his views with some reservations.

Foreign policy of any country is the true barometer or litmus test of its true sovereignty. To ensure a free and independent foreign policy, the country needs to be free of any yolks or strings of any sort. The most irksome pressure is when a country has its financial dependence on other countries. Before Pakistan can pursue a real independent policy, it must work to free its economy free of any foreign strangulations.

Pakistan’s foreign policy was placed on wrong foundations right in the beginning when Liaqat Ali Khan visited the US ignoring the Soviet invitation; he should have visited the US but after paying a visit to Soviet Union. Ever since, every successive government irrespective of any thinking kept leaning on the USA.

Pakistan suffered many setbacks at the hands of America. Although we were members of CENTO and SEATO but that stood us no good in our wars with India. In 1971, Soviet Union and India signed a treaty of friendship that in fact was a defence treaty on the basis of which, Soviet Union supplied all sorts of military hardware that India needed. When in 1962 when China attacked India, Pakistan was warned of dire consequences should Pakistan attack India to liberate Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). But the worst was seen in 1965 war with India, during this war, the US imposed complete embargos on Pakistan; there was neither economic aid nor military assistance.  It was at this critical juncture that Pakistan opted for new options.

Post 1965 era saw a much closer cooperation between Pakistan and China, new avenues were opened with France.

Immediately after the 65 war, our military delegations visited China, where they were given the highest honour and respect; they were introduced to Chairman Mao who opened all the doors to assist Pakistan. Although Chinese technology of the time was old Russian vintage but it did provide a massive support to meet the future threats. All sorts of equipment that Pakistan needed was provided free of cost that later developed into joint research and development of defence related products. Since then, there has been no letup in the bilateral relations of the two countries. China has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan but never any conditions or restrictions were imposed. On the other hand, American assistance has never been without strings of sorts. America never transferred the technology to Pakistan; even certain components were never allowed to be repaired in Pakistan.

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1971 was another watershed in Pakistan-US relations. It was only then that there existed a secret pact between Pakistan and America was brought out in public. According to this treaty that was signed in 1959, the US was to come to Pakistan’s aid should the latter be attacked by any country. This was a different pact from CENTO and SEATO which was specific to attack from communist regimes. But the Americans never honoured this treaty, on the contrary, in August 1971, India and Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship. Under this treaty, Soviet Union fully supported India both militarily and diplomatically to dismember Pakistan, a sore that still exists.

There are many more examples that could be cited but to be brief, America has never been a reliable friend; instead in the garb of friendship, it has always stabbed in the back. This is that we are again witnessing in the so called ‘War on Terror.’

Since 9/11, the ground realities have changed very rapidly, the US which is completely in the grip of Hindutwa-Zionist axis is basically not 

fighting any war that is to address American fears or concerns. The entire war has been shifted in the Muslim region; all those leaders of yesterdays who were given red carpet welcome in White House suddenly found the rug being pulled from under their feet. The launching point was Afghanistan, purely because Pakistan could not be contained any other way. What I been saying over the years that Afghanistan is a staging area, objective is Pakistan. This has proved true; the US moved in on Pakistan in a very crafty manner with bold steps on a much wider canvas. It subverted the political process through economic manipulation. In 2008 elections, had the players of her choice placed in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar. Balochistan was destabilized from across Afghanistan by multiple actors like RAW, Mossad, CIA, MI6 etc. This is what America apparently an ally was doing to Pakistan.

Parvez Musharraf’s decent on the seat of power was no coincidence, it was planned, the Pentagon and CIA had their tentacles, US Army senior officers were coming in and going out at will, holding close door meetings or one to one meetings with the Army Chief were routine. This move on the chessboard provided Americans with an opportunity to land in Afghanistan.

Parvez Musharraf whom the country can never forgive provided all sorts of assistance to the US and NATOA troops that arrived in Afghanistan. Their supply route was opened to them, they were given military bases, intelligence facilities etc. virtually all free of cost.

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Drones were operating from Shamsi Base that was never disclosed to the nation, all along Musharraf lying to the people saying that drones flew beyond the capability of the PAF to engage them. All these steps took Pakistan deeper and deeper in the claws of the US.

With such latitude, Americans took full advantage and strangulated Pakistan through various instruments, one such instrument being Kerry-Lugar Bill that was described a historical document by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the then foreign minister of Pakistan. Through this instrument the seeds of Pakistan’s destruction were sown. This bill was rejected by the nation and the Army, certain highly objectionable clauses that would have given a complete hold to the Pentagon over Pakistan army were the recipe of Pakistan’s destruction. Another such clause is the allocation of huge funds for Pakistan’s media. Through this bate, the Pakistan TV channels in particular and some newspapers and blogs are also the beneficiaries.

With the advent of attack on Afghanistan, the US outsourced most of CIA functions to Blackwater whose induction into Pakistan not only went unchecked but they were assisted in every possible manner by the people in power. This played havoc with Pakistan’s security and stability. Every security installation was being attacked and every day the loop was expanding. Within Blackwater, all sorts of agents be it from Mossad or Raw, they were getting a free run. GHQ was attacked in a very daring manner to take Gen Kayani as hostage and that would have become a bargaining chip with Americans through their front men TTP. This later followed by various other heinous crimes; Raymond Davis issue broke the back of the camel.

Since Raymond Davis incident, the tables began to turn on the US and their puppets in Islamabad. Rahman Malik was very loud in declaring Raymond Davis as a diplomat but Shah Mahmood Qureshi took a bold stand and denied that status to him. In getting his release, even Nawaz Sharif played a dirty role.

The next embarrassment for Pakistan Army and Air Force was the OBL operation in Abbottabad. This was a shocker for the entire nation that almost revolted against Army. Was OBL in Abbottabad or not still remains a mystery but now what Parvez Musharraf has said that OBL was there under the custody of Intelligence Bureau, an Interior Ministry outfit that comes under Rahman Malik.

This was followed by attack on PNS Mehran, where Pakistan Navy lost 2 P3 Orions, the most sophisticated aircraft for maritime operations. None of these attacks were without American involvement.  The final blow came when NATO with the backing of the US attacked Salala Post that was lightly armed according to its mission and objectives; here Pakistan lost 24 soldiers including 2 officers. This operation of NATO, was basically to test Pakistan’s reaction. Had it been taken lightly in routine, by now there would have been much stronger attacks but the reaction of the nation and some immediate punitive measure of the Army took the Americans by complete 

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surprise. Today America is regretting this attack and is willing to compensate by paying blood money to the next of kin of the martyred.

Now Pakistan must take a complete stock of the situation and bring America to its rightful place defining any future relationship but certainly America must never be trusted again. To be repeatedly betrayed is no wisdom but an act of stupidity. The US would continue to find opportunities to attack Pakistan but the Army and ISI have taken lot of their sting out.

What Pakistan had been suggesting over the years to give dialogue a chance, the US ridiculed and reprimanded Pakistan; now they have openly declared to start dialogue with Taliban for which they have been allowed to open an office in Qatar where the US CENTCOM is located. Here the Pakistan’s military leadership must be commended for having resisted all pressures to attack North Waziristan and the Haqqani group.

Now when the Americans leave, her proxy India would not be able to hold ground in Afghanistan, Taliban would be back in power that cannot be averted now.

All along in my papers and TV talks, I have been professing that;

  • Pakistan needs to revisit her foreign policy and get more into regional thinking with China, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Central Asia. Today this shift is visible. Dependence on the US must be reduced to the minimum.
  • Pakistan must also sign bilateral pacts both with China and Iran. Even a trilateral pact should be considered.
  • Pakistan’s relations with Turkey are also time tested and that needs to be further enhanced to higher levels.
  • Bitterness of the past must be forgotten both by Russia and Pakistan to move into more meaningful relationship. Russia is in a position to help Pakistan in developing many high tech industries, more so in the field of defence technology and Russia can gain access to the warm waters through Pakistan.
  • ECO needs to be upgraded where people to people relationship must be central to any development. This is a natural alliance of people that would open new avenues of cooperation and development.
  • Presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan must be resented and let the Afghans play a free role in the regional cooperation.