By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Delivering a surprise punch to an unsuspecting person is not difficult. In most cases, the punch lands at the right place because of surprise factor. What is difficult is to counter the retaliatory action of the one who has received the punch. The safest bet is to deliver a punch when one is sure that the opponent will not react or will get knocked down. However, if the adversary is muscular and not only capable of withstanding the blow but also hitting back with equal force, the one with aggressive intentions will think twice whether to take a risk. In most cases he will try to scare him through shadow boxing and bullying.
The macho US delivered knockout punches on weakly Afghanistan and Iraq after making its intentions known before time. It was like killing a fly with a huge sledgehammer. The US was overly confident that the two would not recover from its shock and awe hemorrhage. Contrary to its expectations, the victims of aggression sprung back to life and are delivering punches on the body of USA and its partners continuously and spilling blood.
Iran is another target which Israel and US are extra keen to knockout with a surprise punch. The duo is nurturing this desire for many years but has thus far not been able to fulfill it. Verbal threats, economic sanctions and propaganda war have failed to cow down Iran. Both know that Iran can absorb the pre-emptive strike and can hit back viciously. Fear of retaliation is keeping them restrained, but it is becoming very upsetting for the two powers claiming to be stronger than all others. To hide their embarrassment, the US has once again used Pakistan as the convenient scapegoat terming it to be the major cause of its hesitancy to attack Iran. This has been disclosed by Wikileaks. Pakistan has become an impediment in US-Israeli intended strike against Iran’s nuclear sites because it refuses to become part of the gory plan.
By the time Washington had started exerting its perverse pressure on Gen Musharraf in 2005-06 to agree to support its covert cum overt plan against Iran in the manner he had readily agreed in case of Afghanistan in September 2001, he had realized the blunder he had made in relying wholly on USA and ditching a friendly Muslim neighbor. This act had rendered Pakistan’s western border unsafe and with hostile India in the east, Pakistan had been placed in a nutcracker situation. Already feeling the heat of twin threat from the east and the west and with militant’s threat from within growing into an existential threat, Musharraf could ill-afford to buy the enmity of Iran in the south. While Pakistan had ups and downs with Kabul, Pak-Iran relations had always remained cordial. Hostile Iran in the critical backyard would have sounded a death knell for Pakistan.
The US tried hard to spoil Pak-Iran relations by playing upon Pakistan’s sensitivities that Iran was fomenting sectarianism, and that it was averse to development of Gwadar Port since it negatively impacted Chahbahar Port’s commercial activities. It also stoked Iran by misusing Iranian Sunni terrorist group Jundullah along with CIA from Balochistan to destabilize Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province but Pakistan declined to become an accomplice. The US pumped in millions of dollars to manipulate last elections in Iran so as to topple Ahmadinijad regime and replace it with pro-American Reformist regime. Covert acts failed and Ahmadinijad re-emerged victorious. Ever since, he has been defying US-Israeli pressure and threats including four rounds of harsh UN sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to close down its nuclear program. Pakistan helped Iran in arresting Jundullah chief which took the steam out of this group’s shady activities.
When USA found its plans to denuclearize Pakistan getting thwarted and its stay in Afghanistan becoming risky, it started applying all the tools against Pakistan which an adversary employs. It intensified propaganda campaign to malign Pakistan and its premier institutions; it openly expressed its dissatisfaction over the performance of the Army and distrusted it. Drone strikes were accelerated and threats of invasion were hurled frequently. Not only India was pampered, it was instigated to pressurize Pakistan. 2002 and 2009 military standoffs by Indian forces against Pakistan were carried out with the express blessing of USA.
After July 2008, the US-NATO based in Afghanistan became aggressive towards Pakistan. The US supported India’s desire to carryout aerial strikes by Indian Air Force in the wake of Mumbai attacks in November 2008. After a surprise US heliborne raid launched in a village in Angoor Adda in September 2009, a ground cum aerial attack on a Frontier Corps border post in South Waziristan was hotly contested inflicting heavy casualties on the intruders. When Gen Kayani showed his eyes and firmly conveyed a message that any further hostile attempt will be resisted with full force, it had to reluctantly put an end to the nasty practice. When Pakistan resisted the pressure to start another operation in North Waziristan, the US became desperate to deliver a punch and made its wish known. It tried to deliver a small punch in Kurram Agency in late October, but fell back to its corner when it saw Pakistan Army wearing gloves to deliver a counter punch. When Pakistan refused to cede to US demand of using drones in Quetta, its desire to deliver a hard punch heightened but has restrained itself for it knows that Pakistan has a secret weapon which is devastating.
Presently the arrogant Gulliver along with his band of brawny partners laced to the teeth with sophisticated arms and with abundant resources is feverishly engaged in a boxing match with ill-equipped Lilliputians in Afghanistan but is unable to even scare them. For over nine years the whole bunch from 48 countries has been viciously punching and bleeding the small ragtag creatures but to no avail. They neither get tired nor over awed or frightened. They even do not get bribed. The big ones have begun to bleed profusely since 2009 and are losing ground rapidly. 32 out of total 34 provinces of Afghanistan are under the influence of Lilliputians. Seeing their tenacity, the invaders are now keen to return home but self-esteem and pride come their way.
Prestige and honor of the sole Gulliver is at stake since it has the reputation of being the most powerful and unbeatable. He doesn’t want to arrive home beaten and battered up. It is the longest brawl he ever had with any adversary. Wanting to disengage and leave, he doesn’t know how to get disentangled. Reluctantly he and his partners have decided at Lisbon to add more steel into their punches and to postpone their return up till end 2014. They have fanaticized that by that time the security situation would undergo a dramatic change in their favor. Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Air Base on 3 December tried to bolster the sagging morale of US troops belonging to elite 101 Airborne Division that ‘they were breaking the momentum of Taliban and you will achieve your objectives’. His pep talk is not based on ground realities but on sheer delusions. Wikileaks has shown the ugly side of USA and its allies which has further eroded its credibility and reputation.
USA finds itself in a deep hole and does not have slightest clue how to pull itself out of the hole it has dug for itself. Since it didn’t learn any lessons from its earlier debacles in North Korea and Vietnam and ignored the advice rendered by McNamara never to send American troops to Asian mainland, today it finds itself on wrong side of history.
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.