Special Study For Opinion Maker

Talks or War with Taliban Part 1

Attack at KarachiBy Brig Asif Haroon Raja

“How many deaths will it take till he knows

that too many people have died?” – Bob Dylan

Before discussing the diametrically opposing options, it will be worthwhile to delve into the recent history and bring to light the circumstances which have brought Pakistan to such an impasse. Ongoing dialogue process has run into difficulties and seems to be collapsing.

Authenticity of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. It has so far not been established whether 9/11 episode was real or engineered and whether Osama bin Laden was behind it. 

Terrorism Confined to Muslims Only. George W. Bush led neo-cons most immoral act after 9/11 was to attribute terrorism to Muslims only. Global war on terrorism was hence confined to Muslim world only while the non-Muslim world was given a clean chit. Even the freedom movements legitimized by the UN were dubbed as terrorism. Above all, biased laws on terrorism were framed but terrorism was not defined.

Why Afghanistan was Chosen as the Target? Afghanistan, an impoverished State devoid of armed forces, technology, intelligence, resources and having gone through a decade long horrendous war with the Soviet forces followed by four years of internecine war (1992-1996) was chosen as the initial target by USA because of its geo-strategic importance and its hidden mineral wealth. It shares border with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and China in the north and Pakistan and Iran in the south. Under the garb of Operation Freedom, Washington’s hidden objectives were to convert Afghanistan into a strong military base, wherefrom it could launch covert war against all the target countries around it to not only maintain its world hegemony but to also harness the resources of Central Asia.

Demolition of Afghanistan in November 2001 and Iraq in 2003 undertaken by George W Bush junior led neo-cons were aimed at establishing a secure southern front to complement the western front that was established by merging Eastern Europe into EU in early 1990s. The underlying idea behind the establishment of two fronts was to dominate Eurasia as propounded by Brzezinski in 1970s. Brzezinski had prophesized that whosoever controls Eurasia controls the world.

Afghanistan/Pakistan Peaceful in 2001

When the US led forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan duly sanctified by the UN in November 2001 on unconvincing grounds, both Afghanistan and Pakistan were peaceful countries and enjoying brotherly relations. Indian influence in Afghanistan had waned for the first time and Pakistan’s western border had become safe. Conditions in FATA and Balochistan were peaceful and there were no Taliban or suicide bombers in Pakistan except for the sympathizers of Afghan Taliban and Osama bin Laden (OBL) because of their heroics in the war against the Soviets and the US spiteful role after achieving its objectives.

Why Pakistan was deceptively befriended?

The fact that after 9/11, the US chose Pakistan to fight the war as a Frontline State is a clear cut indication that Pakistan at that time was viewed as a responsible and valued country and not a dangerous country. However, Pakistan’s nuclear program was an eyesore for India, Israel and USA. The planners had made up their minds to intentionally create anarchic conditions in Pakistan so that its nukes could be whisked away under the plea that it was unstable and ungovernable.

Ruling out India’s suggestion to destroy both Afghanistan and Pakistan in one go, Washington decided to befriend Pakistan and capture Afghanistan with its assistance and after weakening it from within through sustained covert war, axe it. The reasons behind this piecemeal approach were that it was not possible to occupy Afghanistan without full cooperation of Pakistan, and secondly, Pakistan was a nuclear power.

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Pakistan Specific Hidden Objectives                 

Although Pakistan was made an ally, in reality it was a deception to destabilize, denuclearize, de-Islamize and secularize Pakistan and make it subservient to India. Later events and tens of articles published by the US media/think tanks have proved this contention to be correct. It is a different matter that the US couldn’t achieve any of the objectives.

Action Plan against Pakistan

The two extreme flanks of Pakistan resting on FATA in the northwest and Balochistan in the southwest were selected as preliminary targets for subversion. After making FATA restive, flames of terrorism were to be gradually expanded towards settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and then to major urban centres.

The initial attempt towards that end was to first allow bulk of Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders and their fighters to escape to FATA from Tora Bora caves in December 2001. Thereafter, force Pakistan to induct regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) to flush them out; thus creating a small rivulet for the terrorism to seep into FATA. The flow was to be regulated by RAW and Afghan NDS and backed by CIA. MI-6, Mosad and BND were to assist the covert war.

CIA and FBI established their outposts in tribal agencies under the garb of netting al-Qaeda operatives. The two outfits established a clandestine outfit called Spider Web in which retired Pak Army/ Afghan commandoes and locals were enrolled.

About 600 pro-Pakistan tribal Maliks, elders and clerics were killed by the members of this outfit thereby creating space for the anti-State militants to establish their authority. The chosen actors were bought over by providing sacks full of dollars, arms, equipment, vehicles and Thoraya communication sets. Abdullah Mehsud, cousin of Baitullah Mehsud, released from Guantanamo Bay after brainwashing him and providing an artificial leg was among them. The rivulet was thus turned into a river.

Likewise, another rivulet was created in Balochistan with the help of Sardars of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes. Concerted and sustained efforts were made to destabilize FATA, Balochistan and later on Karachi to gradually sink Pakistan in sea of terrorism. Six intelligence agencies based in Kabul kept sprinkling tons of fuel on embers of religious extremism, sectarianism, ethnicity and Jihadism. Drones were introduced to further fuel terrorism.

Purpose of Destabilization of Pakistan. Purpose behind destabilization and defamation of Pakistan through terrorism and propaganda war was to pitch Pak Army against the most fearless fighters in FATA and in Balochistan in an endless war; force Pakistan to soften eastern border and fortify western border thereby making it easy for India to operationalize its Cold Start doctrine with ease; defame armed forces, nuclear program and State institutions; enfeeble economy, dry up investment; make Pakistan lawless; create fear, insecurity and uncertainty among the people; project Pakistan as a failed State and ultimately create conditions for snatching the much sought nukes peacefully or forcibly.

Major Urban Centres Barricaded. Once terrorism seeped into urban centres, all major cities had to be barricaded with road blocks and police piquets. But the terrorists still managed to carryout acts of terror against most protected installations because of satellite guidance and presence of Blackwater elements and CIA network with their safe havens in US, British, German, Indian and Afghan Embassies in Islamabad and Consulates in other cities. Thousands of foreign funded NGOs played their role as agent provocateurs/ informers.

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Battle between Security Forces and Militants

The militants in FATA are Islamists waging an ideological war to establish Islamic Caliphate. They neither believe in Pakistan’s constitution nor in democracy saying these are of western model and anti-Islamic. The miscreants are fighting State forces with tenacity because of uninterrupted financial and weapons support from foreign agencies. Their choice weapons are suicide bombers and IEDs.

In Balochistan there are more than two dozen terrorist groups. Insurgency led by secular BLA, BRA and BLF is materialist oriented wanting control over resources and independence. Most of rebellious Baloch leaders have been given refuge abroad and extended full support.

150,000 troops combating the militants in the northwest enjoy a definite edge over the militants. In Balochistan, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Police are fighting the Baloch separatists and sectarian forces targeting Hazaras and have contained anti-State forces.

Despite best efforts by our security forces and rendering huge sacrifices, TTP network aligned with several local Jihadist groups as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Turkestan Islamic Movement could not be tamed. They have been striking soft and hard targets at will. Their suicides bombing producing nurseries are functional and they are never short of new recruits.

 

While the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar are waging a Jihad against occupation forces to free their country and recapture power, Pakistani Taliban claim to be fighting a Jihad against Pak security forces by terming Pak Army as a mercenary army of the US. Main plank used for recruitment is to safeguard Pashtunwali and establish Islamic system by imposing Shariah in the country.

For the achievement of their goal of making Pakistan an Islamic Emirate, they have been resorting to extreme brutalities like assassinations, terror attacks on military and civilian targets, worship places, shrines, funerals and markets. Schools in Swat, FATA and settled areas of KP including Peshawar have been destroyed in large numbers. Kidnapping for ransom, forced recruitment and marriages, beheading of captives and brainwashing teenagers as suicide bombers are their methods to strike terror.

IEDs, explosive laden vehicles and suicide bombing are their preferred weapons of destruction. Worst is that unlike in the past when they were supported by Pakistan to wage Jihad in Afghanistan, now they are aided by non-Muslim powers and Karzai led regime in Kabul to wage war against own people. All these acts are against the principles of Islam.

Unlike the US military which is supported by Army contingents of 48 countries in Afghanistan, Pak security forces are fighting the war against militants backed by foreign powers at their own with meager resources and their performance has been much better than ISAF.

Why Religious Extremism Intensified in Pakistan? Some of the glaring reasons that have given rise to religious extremism in Pakistan are as follows:

Early demise of Quaid-e-Azam resulted in leadership crisis, which persists to this day.

Uneven development of provinces and growth of regionalism gave rise to fissiparous tendencies and strengthened centrifugal forces in smaller provinces.

Insensitivity and callous attitude of the elites towards the deprived class bred resentment.

Selective accountability and pro-rich judicial system added to the frustration of the have-nots.

Corruption in all government, judicial and police departments eroded moral turpitude and scruples.

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Unresolved Kashmir dispute and State terrorism of India against Kashmiris heightened Jihadi tendencies.

Western hatred towards Muslims and hounding and persecution of religious elements dubbed as terrorists intensified anti-US feelings.

Promotion of western values and demeaning Islam by liberals/ seculars antagonized the Islamists.

Propagation of modernism and liberalism under the garb of enlightened moderation resulted in spread of obscenity and vulgarity and corresponding increase in religious extremism.

Divisive education system provided unequal opportunities for social growth.

Reasons behind Growth of Talibanization in Pakistan

The US coldheartedly abandoned Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jihadists in 1989 and instead embraced India which had remained the camp follower of Soviet Union since 1947 and had also partnered Soviet Union in the Afghan war and had vociferously condemned US-Pakistan proxy war. This callous act opened the doors for religious fanaticism and militarism.

Pakistan suffered throughout the Afghan war and continues to suffer to this day on account of the debris left behind by Soviet forces and proxy war. By the time last Soviet soldier left Afghan soil, Pakistani society had got radicalized owing to free flow of weapons and drugs from Afghanistan and onset of armed uprising in occupied Kashmir.

Onset of armed uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) further militarized the society and gave birth to large number of Jihadi outfits, making AJK the operational base for Jihad in IOK.

Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the fallout effects of the war got seriously hampered because of harsh sanctions imposed by USA under Pressler Amendment in October 1989 and political instability throughout the democratic era from 1988 to 1999.

Iran and Saudi Arabia started fuelling sectarianism in Pakistan throughout 1990s in a big way. Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan and Majlis-e-Wahadat ul Hashmeen were funded by Iran and Sipah-e-Sahabha Pakistan, now named as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Sunni Deobandi) were supported by Saudi Arabia, which gave rise to religious extremism and intolerance and sharpened Shia-Sunni divide.

Unseating of democratically elected heavy mandate of Nawaz Sharif led government by Gen Musharraf and the latter opting to ditch Taliban regime and to fight global war on terror at the behest of USA energized anti-Americanism, religious extremism and led to creation of Mutahida Majlis Ammal, which formed governments in KP and Balochistan. MMA on the quiet nurtured extremist religious groups that were also funded by foreign powers.

After 9/11, while the US declared al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban as terrorists because of their suspected role in terrorist attacks, Pakistan not only ditched Taliban and aligned itself with USA; it changed the status of tribesmen of FATA from defenders of western border and strategic assets into terrorists and started gunning them.

Loyal tribesmen turned hostile and picked up arms against the State in reaction to induction of Army in SW, Pakistan’s alignment with USA and handing over of al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives to US for reward money.

Militancy gathered pace after the drone attack on a religious seminary in Bajaur in October 2006 killing 80 students. It activated militants under Maulvi Faqir Muhammad in Bajaur.

Spate of suicide attacks surged after the Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa incident in July 2007, keying up militants in Mehmand Agency, Dir, Malakand and Swat and transferring terrorism to urban centres. Jundal Hafsa was established by Asmatullah Muawia in end 2007 to avenge the deaths of inmates of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

To be continued To read Part 2 CLICK HERE

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