Lecturing Pak to accept Indian domination

Dr Raja Muhammad Khan | Following the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the people of Pakistan remained apprehensive about its role and future designs in South and Southwest Asia. Majority of analysts believe that the US has a long-term broad based agenda of regional domination with the intent to contain the rising Chinese influence and a resurgent Russia. Besides, it intends to dominate the natural resources of Central Asia and Caspian region to either deny the region to China and Russia or establish its own subsequent control there.Apart from these bigger agendas, the bulk of the Pakistani masses have been concerned about three legitimate consternations, which seriously threaten the safety and security of Pakistan. The first is the threat to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from none other than the United States. The second concern is about the growing US interest in procuring land in Pakistan and use of Pakistani air bases for the drone attacks in FATA. The third issue, which even gravely bothers Pakistan’s security, is the unprecedented Indian involvement in Afghanistan, which also is likely to have a direct linkage with United States.

In order to address the Pakistani concerns, US high officials have made extraordinarily visits to Pakistan in last few months. These visitors include; Richard Hallbrook, Admiral Michael Mullen, General David Howell Petraeus, and the US secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The last and very infrequent visitor was the Secretary of Defence, Robert M. Gates. Prior to his visit of Pakistan, Mr. Gates had visited India. In New Delhi, the Secretary audaciously supported the Indian viewpoint in regional politics and tried to convey to Pakistan that India is regional power and other states including Pakistan will have to accept its hegemony. While replying to a question regarding the possibility of future terrorist attacks in Indian soil and its likely response, Mr. Gates categorically said, “It is not unreasonable to assume that Indian patience will be limited, were there to be further attacks”. The statement harked back the memories of the period of President George W. Bush, whose only pictogram is present in the Obama’s cabinet in the form of Robert Gates, the former Director of CIA.

Secretary Gates’ statement has three undertones; first; Pakistan is responsible for terrorist attacks. Second; the US will support India to launch an offensive against Pakistan in case of any terrorist act, which even may be India’s own stage-managed drama like; an attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001, Samjhauta Express bombings of Feburary-2007 and Mumbai attack of November 2008. Third; any act of none-state actors, who may be from any country, religion or ideology can trigger war between India and Pakistan.

In his meetings with the civilian and military leadership, which also include off the record lecture cum debates and later during a selective media interaction, the visiting US Secretary of Defence tried to elucidate the U.S stance on Pakistani concerns. The Defence Secretary made it clear that, “The United States does not covet a single inch of Pakistani soil. We seek no military bases here and we have no desire to control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.” Mr. Gates also declared these concerns as tainted perceptions and nothing more than cynicism, spread by “same enemies threatening both Pakistan and the US within the context of terrorism” and are creating dissection in the Pak-US relationship.

Regarding the Indian involvement in Afghanistan and its covert activities for the promotion of terrorism in Pakistan, the visiting dignitary expressed the view that, since either country has its concern about the other’s involvement in Afghanistan, therefore, back channel discussion should act as a forum. Debate during these meets should be transparent, while taking into account each other’s concerns. We regard the Secretary Gates commitments, but how can we ignore the ground realities. On more than one occasion, the US officials have confirmed that they have been using some of Pakistani air bases for air attacks on Afghanistan and are still using at least two of them for drone attacks in Pakistan. The US State Department also proclaims a tacit approval of drone attack against terrorists from the Government of Pakistan. Surely, this is an overt use of Pakistani soil rather a covert one.

The US may have no intention to establish military bases in Pakistan, but the people of Pakistan would like to know about the likely uses of hundreds of acres of land, purchased by the United States in Islamabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Karachi. This is coupled with enhanced strength of US nationals in Islamabad, Lahore, and elsewhere in Pakistan in the guise of diplomats. More so, U.S nationals have been permitted to hire hundreds of houses and were issued licences of prohibited bore weapons. Police and intelligence agencies have tried to arrest quite a few of them in Islamabad and Lahore, while carrying such weapons, but the authorities had to set them free on the orders of Interior Ministry. Does the US really need such an armed diplomatic corps in Pakistan, or else, another East India Company is in the making? Acquiring land on three strategic locations by the US gives out many speculations about its future designs. Veiled in the guise of security staff to the US embassy, there is presence of hundreds of the Blackwater personnel in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and may be elsewhere in Pakistan. Amazingly, our Interior Minister is constantly denying the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan, a truth accepted by the US Defence Secretary during his recent tour. What is not understood is why we try to be more loyal to the US than its own nationals are. Being a Pakistani national, Mr. Malik could have the courage to accept their presence as Ex, if not Blackwater. The masses would also like to know why their heavy luggage, either sealed in wooden or tin boxes, were allowed to pass through the airports without legal formalities of screening during immigration.Concerning Pakistan’s nuclear programme, how we can believe the wordings of Robert Gates, when on a fortnightly basis we receive a new version of threat and US contingency to control it, about our nuclear programme. Apart from its think tanks, and powerful media, US officials have expressed their reservations regarding the safety and security of Pakistani nukes. After having known the effective command and control system, being exercised through National Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD), should the US and others not trust once for all that Pakistani nukes are as safe and secure as the ones with the P-5 countries. Had there been any nuclear theft case in Pakistan like India, where three such cases took place in 2009 only? Besides U.S itself being the first nuclear proliferator, India has been involved in the proliferation of nuclear material and technology to and from many countries. Nevertheless, the international community and the U.S have never pointed a finger towards it. They mistakenly expect that Pakistan would give them access to its nuclear weapons. It is indeed a hard-earned capability by the Pakistani nation, never to be compromised at any cost.

It is very unfair to believe that, America, being an occupying power in Afghanistan, is unaware of Indian activities against Pakistan, while making use of that soil. In most of the cases, the militants use Indian and even Western origin weapons against Pakistani security forces in FATA as well as in Balochistan. At the official level, Pakistan has provided evidence of Indian involvement in these terrorist activities to the US as well as to India. Therefore, Roberts Gates’ over-generalization cannot absolve him from the reality. As the sole super power, US should adopt an unbiased approach while dealing with the nuclear-armed neighbours of South Asia. Moreover, the US needs to be more judicious, while matching its deeds with its words and commitments.

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