By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Despite our estranged relations with USA from 1990 till 2001, our leaders continued to vie for US friendship. The two PPP tenures in the 1990s in particular struck secret arrangements with Washington to attain power. However, the US influence was kept within permissible limits and none could dare openly espouse the cause of USA or promote US interests at the cost of national interests. This was amply proven by Nawaz Sharif when he went ahead with nuclear tests in May 1998 despite massive pressure put on him.
The US had lost interest in Pakistan in 1990 after its objectives were achieved. Its interest revived suddenly after Pakistan achieved nuclear capability and Israel started to ring alarm bells about Islamic bomb. Bells rung louder when Nawaz got the Sharia bill passed from the Lower House. Pakistan’s alignment with fundamentalist Taliban regime in Kabul also worried US leaders. US-western analysts saw Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran bloc backed by China in the making. Islam had otherwise been marked as the biggest threat to US imperialism after the demise of communism.
Emergence of Iraq as a military power in the Middle East had become a source of worry for Israel. America’s game plan of weakening both Iran and Iraq in the 8-year war (1980-88) didn’t fetch results as had been desired. Iran’s growing assertiveness and its closeness with China and Russia consternated USA and Israel. All these were disturbing developments taking place in critical region from where 70% of oil needs of western countries were shipped. It went against the objectives laid down in new world order.
A plan was hatched to reverse the resurgence of Islam. Muslim countries imbued with greater Islamic and Jihadi fervor were marked as targets and subsequently declared as axis of evil. It was in this context that Taliban regime was put under severe sanctions and demonized so as to prepare grounds for physical invasion. Likewise, orchestrated propaganda campaign was unleashed against heavy mandate elected regime in Pakistan to discredit it. No fuss was made when Nawaz regime was downed and a military dictator took over the reins of power in October 1999. Within two years of his takeover, 9/11 occurred, which gave an opportunity to George W Bush led neo-cons to unleash slaughter of the Muslims at a massive scale with full fury.
To throw wool in the eyes of the world that it was not a crusade against Muslims, few Muslim states were made part of the offensive. The justification given was to rid the world from the scourge of global terrorism and to make it safe and peaceful. The saga was made more grisly by pitching Muslims against Muslims. Wanton bloodshed of Muslims and destruction of their property is going on for over nine years without any letup. Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have been turned into killing grounds where life of human beings is of no consequence for the conquerors. They are killing the so-called militants who are resisting the occupation forces and trying to get their homelands vacated.
Pakistan is playing an important role in the anti-Muslim pogrom conceived by non-Muslims. Ironically, Pakistan has suffered the most in playing this unholy game, but since it is a Muslim country, it is being used roughly and continuously humiliated and punished. Pakistan has got so deeply stuck in the vicious game of death and destruction that it cannot get out of the whirlpool even if it wants to. The reason is that like Musharraf and his team, the current lot of rulers is also in the grip of Washington. Their plight is even worse since they were brought to power under a deal by Washington thereby allowing them no liberty to defy the commands of their benefactors.
The political and economic situation has become so precarious that the rulers can ill-afford to annoy USA. Their helplessness can be gauged from the fact that despite 170 million people of Pakistan beseeching the leaders to breakaway from US imposed war on terror and to stop US officials from micro-managing Pakistan, they cannot do so. Blinded by the lure of power and wealth, they are turning a deaf ear to the aspirations of the people and are continuing to serve US interests. Taking full advantage of their plight, the US leaders are fiendishly using the stick to make Pakistan do more and more to bleed Pakistanis.
The US bossy attitude together with relentless malicious propaganda campaign has put harassed Pakistan’s political leaders in a defensive mode and made them more subservient to Washington. All the good work done by Pak Army and sacrifices rendered by the soldiers and people in US imposed war on terror seem to be going down the drain. While good work is being ignored by intrusive US leadership, Pakistan’s weak areas are drummed up and exploited. In contrast, all evil acts of India are looked the other way while its strengths are hailed. It is projected as champion of democracy, human rights and deliverer of social justice.
The US is not getting tired of using the stick because it knows that unlike the politicians, it has not been able to yoke military commanders. Until and unless the Army and ISI are made fragile, it will not be able to lay its hands on the most coveted nukes. North Waziristan (NW) has now been set up as a huge trap where the US and its partners in crime strongly feel that Pak Army would meet its waterloo. As is known, over 140,000 troops are already engaged in various trouble spots in northwest. This occupation is at the cost of weakening eastern front where sly India is eagerly awaiting an opportunity to exploit. Minimum one division plus force will have to be pulled out from the east to mount a purposeful offensive in NW. With over 200,000 troops getting fixed in northwest, it will encourage Indian military to experiment its much hyped Cold Start doctrine against greatly weakened front. Although this doctrine is a total farce as also assessed by US diplomats, yet it cannot be ignored.
Even a novice can comprehend the implication of further milking the eastern front and dilemma it will create for the Pakistan military; but David Petraeus and Mike Mullen cannot. They see things only from their colored periscope and not from Pakistan’s. But when it comes to security concerns of India against Pakistan, they start seeing things from Indian periscope and see Pakistan resembling Dracula. Both have once again renewed their pressure to make Gen Kayani agree to blow the bugle without further delay or else US-NATO would be constrained to take direct action against Pakistan. Unable to sustain the relentless pressure, PM Gilani has conveniently passed the buck to the Army saying that he has given a go-ahead signal for the operation without giving a second thought that behind the urgency the US has wicked designs.
Petraeus is getting frustrated as to why he cannot achieve military success in Afghanistan as he had achieved in Iraq despite applying similar strategy of troop surge, pitching Sunnis against Al-Qaeda and using excessive force. He is also envious of Gen Kayani. Sensing that the US has lost the war and time is fast running out and withdrawal from Afghanistan has become inevitable, he doesn’t want to return empty handed. Instead of accepting defeat gracefully and diverting all his energies to win over Taliban and paving the way for fruitful negotiations leading towards reconciliation and settlement, he is further spoiling the messy situation. Failing to attain even a single objective in Afghanistan, he is desperate to carry with him the trophy of Pak nukes by hook or crook so that he can show something to the Americans back home.
Brig Asif Haroon Raja, a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces War Coursequalified, 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