NO SOLUTION IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT PAKISTAN
US Administration under President Obama, now in the arena for a good length, seems to suffer as if it can no longer be responsive, decisive and swift. The closure of Guantanamo Prison Camp in Cuba vehemently announced by President Obama years back has been allowed to drift to the back-burner. The Administration seems to be less enthusiastic about following words by action and deeds as witnessed by the time taken by the President to approve and order surge in soldiers for Afghanistan. The shortest possible sentences announcing Exit Strategy and withdrawal by July 2011 went almost un-cheered even back home. A couple of voices from Washington favoring a Review of the same have further diluted its impact. The situation on ground clouds its prospects and possibility-being an un-finished Agenda. The questions that surface are:
- Have Americans achieved their goals?
- Has Osama been killed or captured?
- Is Al-Qaeda a history?
- Has the terror or terrorism ended or have the terrorists been eliminated.
- Has Afghanistan been stabilized as a democratic viable society with political and economic sustainability?
- Have the NATO Armies from almost 34 countries led by US Army comprising over one hundred thousand with all the weaponry, munitions and fire power in eight years been able to sub-due or rein in the Taliban?
- Will the Government of President Karazai be able to grow enough muscles, limbs and legs to stand on in another short span of time?
Much earlier had I said that US intentions and designs in the region (though un-stated so far) are:-
- Prolonged stay maintaining military presence to contain China.
- Exploit natural resources to its economic gains.
- De nuclearise Pakistan and thwart Iranian nuclear ambitions.
Incidentally, I continue to hold the same view with earnest hope that as did leave Mr. Bush, the “crusade ” part of the Expedition must have left the White House too.
In the absence of any higher direction of war (on terror) at the political level, policy statements emerging from Multan instead of Islamabad, the complexities of the situation seemingly have been left for the Generals to solve, settle and salvage. The frequent, successive and un-ending arrivals and departures of Generals McChrystal, Mike Mullen and Petraeus can be a case in point. It is said,” War is too serious a business to be left to the Generals alone”. The conduct of battles can be left to the local pleasures, Wars are fought at national level. And at national level, we do not have the leadership worth its salt. Contrary to sloganeering by political non-entities Pakistan, an ally against terror, has been certainly not taken into confidence, co-opted, consulted, or even fore-informed about the impending US Exit or Surge Strategy. This has caused serious implications for us and the region.
President Obama’s speech at West Point on December 01, 2009 impacting global policies has been under scrutiny and analysis at important capitals. The Government of Pakistan and the Prime Minister himself have commented about need for further clarity. The calculus principles prescribe that the opposites can-not be combined together. Announcing simultaneously in the same breath, both surge and withdrawal sounded strange, if not odd. The seasoned diplomats assert that what has been said is not that important. Of more importance is what has not been said. There has been no word like the “Hot pursuit” or “Increased and expanded Drone Attacks” inside Pakistan. And this is what one is more apprehensive about. Increased “cooperation” being sought from us means more military actions, more deaths and more arrests. The term “Cooperation” implies and includes action by our own security forces as well as unilateral action by US and NATO Armies.
President Obama has, only differed with or resisted the idea of increase in Drone Attacks inside Pakistan (enveloping more targets and more areas like Balochistan) rather than an outright rejection or aversion to the intended increase. This Air War therefore may expand and enlarge in intensity to include areas in Balochistan with reported existence of Quetta Shoora (admitted only recently by the Government). The “Do More” Mantra has been refined and replaced by “Cooperate More” in the recent days – as rightly observed by a former Prime Minister, “Cooperate More” or “Do More” – for us it means “Die More”.
Searching similar sounding Osama, President Obama’s policies have pushed Afghanistan into further factionalizing, Local War Lords, Ethnic Groups and Drug Barons with no central control. Mr. Karazai’s corruption-stained Government’s weak writ does not extend beyond Kabul. Installing Northern Alliance, a Minority over the Majority Pashtun has turned the struggle for power into a National Movement. Raising, training and motivating Afghan National Army in a short period and transforming it into a disciplined potent force capable to quell internal strife and turmoil is an uphill task. Non Pashtun ethnicities cannot procure suitable and enough youth for recruitment. An Army comprising other ethnic groups will not be acceptable to Pashtun populace. Such an Army or Police Force will thus face and foment further hostilities at the peril of peace and tranquility, causing chaos and disharmony.
With its worries compounding each day passing, it appears Pakistan will continue to face the worst. We have failed to evolve our own indigenous Afghan Policy based on national interests and popular aspirations. We have instead been able to formalize a Counter Terrorism Policy only. We seem happy being bracketed as “Af-Pak”. Does it imply that, like Afghanistan, Pakistan, also is under US Military occupation? Does it behove just and befitting a Nuclear armed sovereign State? At best we have been able to create NCTA (National Counter-Terrorism Authority) without credible capacity, capability, qualified manpower, equipment, structure and even the Terms of Reference. It will be a sheer waste of effort and money like many other such under-takings.
Mere announcement of surge has maddened terrorists who are playing havoc even in areas hither-to-fore peaceful in Southern Punjab. The lethal explosive Kgs used for detonation and destruction now runs into four figures raising the casualties correspondingly. Attacks to take over GHQ and at other sensitive installations is meant to announce that they can traverse the most difficult terrain and territory. They are far ahead of our Intelligence mechanism and security apparatus. With relative ease they penetrate into highly protected zones and cordons. The Government claims they are on the run. Instead, with amazing ability and perfect precision, they locate, identify, and engage the high profile targets and disappear at their leisure, leaving lot of blood behind but no track to trace. Surge in US forces will send further fatal shockwaves inside Pakistan.
Despite being UN backed, War against Terror has turned into a US War on Afghanistan. The fight being put up inside Afghanistan by Afghan Taliban has acquired dimensions of a Resistance or Liberation Movement against occupation of their country by US led foreign forces. Afghan Taliban are deeply religious and deplore killing of innocent Muslims. They have publically distanced and dissociated themselves from Pakistani Taliban or TTP fighting against Pakistani security forces. They have an Agenda altogether different. Mulla Omar, Haqqani and Hikmatyar, wherever are they hiding, are all sympathetic towards Pakistan. Then who is providing the TTP with weapons, resources and replenishments to wage war against our valiant soldiers for years? Who is providing them sophisticated weapons, communication devices, gadgetry, intelligence and guidance to our Nerve Centers and sensitive targets? The weapons seized by security forces have been found to be of Indian origin. A plane-load of Weapons meant for some un-specified destination in South Asia has been seized recently by Thai Authorities at Bangkok Airport.
Despite concoct and contrive, India has failed to implicate Pakistan and prove to the world that bombing of Taj Hotel Bombay was state sponsored. Yet the dust kicked and diplomatic offensive launched touched near warlike situation. India took the matter to UN to seek Condemnation and Resolution. We have irrefutable evidence of Indian hand in the mass killings inside our borders. The Interior Minister is specific and conscientious to claim that India is to blame for the mayhem. Chief Minister Punjab, overstepping and over-stretching his domain though, has claimed and confirmed Indian involvement. Yet our Foreign Minister is reluctant to name it. Such ineptitude by us is emboldening the adversary. Luring comments and soothing statements by our rulers cannot deter India’s intentions to violate and weaken our sovereignty.
Pakistan has vital interests and serious stakes in Afghanistan. Those detesting Doctrine of Strategic Depth (since abandoned by our so called contemporary strategists) may draw pleasure by playing opposite; the initiative has been wrested by India. Located geographically to our east, India has moved simultaneously, literally, physically and strategically towards our western borders as well. India has also established bases in Central Asia. It has established strong base to cause us afflictions. Twisting our tail it can hit the nail in our head. Only a simpleton could consider India to be a threat no longer. It is an illusion. With North in Snow and South in Sea, India now occupying both its Eastern and Western flanks, Pakistan can ill afford to be content or complacent for its security concerns.
Instead of our fighting US War, sinking further and deeper into the quagmire, Pakistan must:-
- Evolve its own Afghan Policy based on national interests, popular aspirations and collective wisdom through the parliament.
- Seek Organisation of Islamic Conference, (OIC’s) assistance as was done in the Eighties against Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia and China can help coordinate and contribute in our efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
- Approach UN for deployment of its Peace Keeping Force (instead of NATO-ISAF) to stabilize Afghanistan internally. These UN Forces may comprise Non-regional and preferably Muslim countries.
- Convince USA that by becoming its ally, Pakistan, as in the past, has suffered enough. We have paid a heavy price. It is now their turn to give enough military and economic assistance. US must prevail on India to resolve our long standing mutual disputes including Kashmir.
Americans traveling with un-registered Weapons and Vehicles are ruling our seas and skies as well. Misusing their immunity, the defying Diplomats treat our law enforcement personnel with contempt. Reportedly, taking over and seizure of our nuclear assets by highly trained US Special Forces has already been rehearsed to perfection
Nehru Family in India and Bhutto Clan in Pakistan, have the instinct and an evident air of hereditary regency, Regnancy and Regalia. The latter appeasing the former, occasionally, as if pleasing an akin-ruler or a neighboring king. Remember, Sr Bhutto’s founding declaration of Dynastic Rule by decree “Udhar Tum, Idhar Hum,” ‘you there and we here’ and Begum Nusrat Bhutto (may the ailing elderly lady live long and happy) ordaining “Bhutto Boys are Born to Rule”. Consider and compare Royal lineage and ascent equivalence bar of both Regnant; Indira vs. Bhutto, Indira’s son vs. Bhutto’s daughter and now Indira’s daughter-in-law vs. Bhutto’s son-in-law, both lateral entrants grafted into the respective Royalties!
Musharraf sold and surrendered our sovereignty with stated aims to (a) Safeguard our nuclear assets (b) Keep the Kashmir issue alive. Mr. Zardari and his dispensation, before de-throning and going into oblivion, seem poised to surrender these two, also.
Ijaz-ul-Haq is former Federal Minister and son of former President, General Ziaul Haq. He frequently contributes to Opinion Maker.