By General Mirza Aslam Beg
After the ‘Arab Spring’ now it is the Ajam Spring, sweeping Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran (The Non-Arabs). The Arabs revolted against their despotic rulers, while the Ajamis have revolted against the global hegemons. The resistance against the Soviet hegemony started early ’80, resulting into its defeat and disintegration. The same rag-tag Mujahideen, later known as Taliban, challenged American hegemony, and in a short period of ten years, have inflicted a shameful defeat on them, which the Americans are not prepared to accept, hence the Taliban are not willing to give them the safe-exit, they gave to the Soviets in 1989. This is the dilemma, the Americans are facing now, while the Taliban, working on their new strategy, have struck at the political and military nerve centers of Kandahar and Kabul, putting the occupation forces in a state of disarray.
Taliban’s new strategy started with Kandahar jail break, freeing over 500 of their hardened fighters, who, together with the lashkars have carried out massive attacks on American garrisons at Maidan Shahar and Kabul, the NATO HQ, the American Embassy, the Peace Committee HQs and the CIA HQ at Kabul, killing over 270 Americans in a short period of three months, which shook the American public, fed with claims of victory over the Taliban after Osama’s death. The CIA and the military command, who had been feeding the nation on false claims of victory, could provide no justifiable reason and decided to pass on the buck to the Pakistani intelligence, allegedly supporting the Haqqani Group, carrying out this carnage. The accusations were followed by diplomatic warnings, intimidations and outright threat of unilateral action against Pakistan. The pressure continued to build up, creating a state of fear of the unknown.
Under such a situation of stress and strain, I gave a television interview on Saturday, 24th September 2011, warning the nation of the impending threat and the urgent need for taking defensive measures. I warned: “Mobilize the armed forces now to face the threat. Prepare the nation to solidly stand behind the armed forces; call upon the tribals to join the Army and if Pakistan is attacked, carry the war into the Afghan territory, where the Taliban and the Afghan freedom fighters will join us to eliminate the occupation forces, who would not be able to face the furry of the Pak-Afghan surge. China and Iran are with us and Russia would prefer to watch the fun.”
The very next day, Sunday 25th September, the armed forces moved into their battle locations on the Pak-Afghan borders. The Pak Air force was on high alert. The political leadership also rose to the occasion, mobilizing the public against the impending threat. As a result, the fear and despondency gave way to confidence and self assurance to the Pakistani nation. The American strategist, Henry Kissinger and the Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, had warned the hawks at Pentagon, against adventurism in Pakistan, because the conflict would expand, beyond control. The message was taken, and dialogue has been preferred. The timely action by the armed forces, deterred aggression, and has emboldened our political leadership to come out with brave statements. The Prime Minister has called the APC which is out of place, while the parliament is the right forum to discuss such issues of national interests. But the parliament itself has lost its élan, because two of its earlier resolutions on drone and Abbotabad attacks, are lying in the dust-bin. Under the circumstances, the best option for our political leadership, therefore is to ‘follow the lead given by the armed forces’ whose commander, President Asif Ali Zardari prefers to maintain such mysterious silence. But behind this silence is the diplomatic feat he has achieved. Alhamdulillah, Pakistan is not alone and the credit goes to President Zardari for raising the ‘geo-political security cover’ for Pakistan, i.e., China and Iran’s unflinching support in our hour of need. In so doing Zardari has crossed the ‘red line’ as, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did and earned the wrath of the hegemons. Zardari’s life is in danger. He better take care of himself.
While giving this message, I was reminded of the advice, I gave to General Musharraf, ten years back on this very day 24th September 2001, in a meeting. I had warned that: “His decision to join the American war against the brotherly country Afghanistan, was unethical and immoral, and that it would cause great harm to Pakistan. Ultimately the war would be reversed on Pakistan, with dangerous fall-out. And despite the odds, the Taliban would emerge victorious and the Americans and their allies would be defeated and their defeat would be worse than their defeat in Vietnam. And you as the President of the country and Chief of army Staff will suffer shame and disgrace for having compromised on the blood of thousands of Mujahideen, who have laid down their lives for the freedom of Afghanistan.” I was not far wrong.
These are historic moments and a turning point for the struggle by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, against global hegemony. It bonds the three nations together for a common cause, ultimately forming into a union — the realization of my dream of ‘Strategic Depth’, which I first spelled out to my formation commanders and the officers of the Rawalpindi garrison on 25th August 1988:
“We are witnessing the dawn of a new era. Afghanistan is free after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Iran has emerged stronger after eight years of brutal war with Iraq and the Islamic Revolution has consolidated. Pakistan has opted for democracy after eleven years of military rule. This is the moment of ‘triumph of freedom’ for all the three countries. Freedom beckons us to unite and gain ‘Strategic Depth’ to safeguard our national security interests.”
It has taken us thirty years of turmoil, treachery, brutal wars, death and destruction, pushing the three countries together into a common bond, to provide the much needed depth of security, in all its dimensions. The sun is rising, and we can feel the soft fragrant breeze of ‘The Ajam Spring’ comforting our tormented souls.