Incessant targeting of Pakistan

Dr. Shireen M Mazari:

The US duplicity in its dealings with Pakistan continues unabated and I have always maintained that the scale of their enterprise in destabilising Pakistan can only be understood by finding linkages in seemingly unconnected events and publications. Just when the Pakistan military has taken a strong position on its military operations in FATA and the pull towards dialogue with the tribals is becoming evident, the US subversive activities against Pakistan are becoming more overt, and old CIA connections are taking centre stage again including so-called “experts” on Pakistan! Let us look at some recent developments and see the linkages.

First, after incessant cries from ignorant US officials and even more ignorant but imperialist minded media, of Pakistan not doing enough against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, when the Pakistanis captured a leading Taliban commander, suddenly the Americans – and their media and officialdom do have close connections – through their media led forth a new chant of why Pakistan had arrested this man! There were conspiracy theories that immediately began floating that somehow Pakistan arrested this Taliban commander to disrupt the dialogue that Karzai is seeking with the Taliban because Pakistan wants to remain in control of any such dialogue. Talk about bizarre assumptions! So, as some of us have always maintained, in the eyes of the US, Pakistanis will always find themselves in a position of “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.” It is time therefore to wash our hands off this whole US-led misguided “war on terror” and evolve our own strategies to deal with our own problem of violence and extremism which is multidimensional and cannot be straitjacketed into merely a Taliban framework.

Nor is this all. A new campaign has begun in the US, published first in the Wall Street Journal where two American lawyers, David Rivkin and Lee Casey – both of whom served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and George Bush administrations – have accused Pakistan’s Chief Justice Chaudhry of being “the leading culprit in an unfolding constitutional drama.” Supporting Zardari, the lawyers make all manner of unsubstantiated accusations against Pakistan’s chief justice. What seems to have upset these Americans is the CJ’s popularity being far greater than Zardari’s in the eyes of the Pakistani people – by their own admission! But then the American anger at the CJ is understandable because he has fought the cause of the Pakistani people especially through the Missing Persons issue – many sold to the US – while President Zardari and his loyalists have continued to plead the US cause. But it should be unacceptable to any self-respecting Pakistani to have their CJ referred to in such a derogatory fashion. Look how Holbrooke reacted when Pakistanis protested at the miscarriage of justice in New York in the Dr Aafia case, despite the fact that the US has a record of such miscarriages of justice against African Americans and minorities, especially Muslims post 9/11.

A third line of attack is the revival of the Baloch separatist issue with that old Pakistan basher Selig Harrison reviving his fortunes again and taking the lead in targeting the Pakistani state. He first took up this passion when the Soviets went into Afghanistan and led the chorus of how Pakistan was not doing enough of the US bidding in Afghanistan. He was an “Afghan” expert at the time but once Afghanistan receded into the background he became a “Balochistan” expert and now he is deeply involved in aiding Baloch separatists in Iran and Pakistan. Various platforms have been used by him and the latest is the ongoing conference in Bangkok, Thailand, supposedly sponsored by an unknown group calling themselves the Baloch Voice Foundation (BVF) and supported by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) based in The Hague and, of course, Selig Harrison! The BVF interestingly is funded by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation which, according to information available on the internet, is controlled by Freedom House which in turn is linked to the CIA.

The venue of the conference also raises suspicions about CIA involvement since the US government has used Thailand for many conferences dealing with South Asian issues. Also, the fact that Iranian Baloch separatists have been included shows the US connection even more glaringly. In any case, despite our government’s usual mysterious silence on this issue, some Pakistanis have been protesting about the conference in Bangkok. After all, why should Thailand allow its territory to be used for a Baloch separatist conference? Would Thailand like Pakistan to allow a similar exercise in relation to its internal matters, in Islamabad?

More to the point, as happens when different agencies’ sponsor different groups, infighting has broken out amongst the Balochs. Munir Mengal, founder of Baloch Voice TV, is supposedly the organiser of this conference. He is also the man who claimed that a host of Pakistani Baloch women had been jailed in Balochistan but when Nawab Raisani had the jails checked during his efforts to free the abducted UN official last year, this claim proved incorrect. As a result of this conference, internal battles have come to the fore between the Washington-based American Friends of Balochistan, the Dubai, London and Moscow (no doubt remnants from the Soviet days) based activists and the so-called Government of Balochistan in Exile which claims it is based in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is not surprising, given the different sponsors of the different groups! A further blow to the conference has come from the fact that supporters of Khair Bux Marri have boycotted the event.

This is not the first conference of its type but it is interesting to see how the Blood Borders US agenda of creating a state of Balochistan from Iranian and Pakistani territories is now being given shape and separatists from both countries are being brought together. As always, Selig Harrison is playing his questionable role!

Nor is this the only targeting of Pakistan and Iran together. In the coming days we should gear up for a new nuclear related hype building up in the US media. Unfortunately, Dr Khan’s “letters” have been purchased by a leading US newspaper and will be used to target Iran. In the process Pakistan will also be targeted – killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Would that our government undertake some proactive measures with the Iranians to deflect this new campaign but it hardly seems likely. So we need to brace ourselves once again for an onslaught against our nuclear capability and accusations of proliferation at a time when the US continues to proliferate to Israel and, post the 123 Agreement with India, to this South Asian aspiring hegemon.

Now who says there are no linkages targeting Pakistan and Iran?

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