Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

Securing Pakistan – Iran – Afghanistan Future

By General Mirza Aslam Beg

Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are passing through a very historic moment, as their future is being challenged by forces of aggression, attempting to weaken their commitment to their “value system”, and “national purpose”. Their struggle against the forces of evil, for the last thirty years in particular, has determined the threshold of their tolerance and resistance against such threats. They have made great sacrifices, now culminating into a new era, which promises a bright future for them. A few incidents of the recent past would explain the point.

In 1979 encouraged by the West, Iraq invaded Iran, to defeat the Islamic Revolution. General Zia called an emergent meeting of the cabinet, to formulate Pakistan’s foreign policy options. I was called to attend the meeting, to represent GHQ, in my capacity as the Chief of the General Staff. The discussion lasted for over three hours and general consensus emerged that: ‘Iraqi armed forces would sweep across Iran, defeating the resistance and the Islamic Revolution, in a matter of days, and therefore Pakistan should be prepared to deploy a peace keeping force in Iran, under the UN mandate.’ I had not spoken by then, and sought the permission of the chair to put forward my argument. I said:

  • “The war is not going to end in a matter of days or weeks, rather it would be a long protracted war, lasting over several years, with Iran emerging as the victor, and the Revolution would consolidate. The famous Chinese saying will prove right: “Never take-on the revolutionaries unless you have an ideology stronger than theirs.” And there is no ideology stronger than the ideology of Islam.
  • “Historically, the Iranians have always stood united against foreign aggression. No doubt Raza Shah’s armed forces have been dismantled and are locked-up in their barracks, but they will rise, as one, to defend the country, supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, who would avail the opportunity to consolidate the Revolution.
  • “The Iraqi armed forces, no doubt, have a modern military machine, but their higher military leadership, lacks the professional ability of the German General Staff, to launch breakthrough battles and blitzkrieg operations deep into the enemy territory. The boggy areas in the South and the mountainous region in the north would restrict deep maneuvers. Thus there would be no major gains or losses and only slow slogging series of battles causing heavy casualties.
  • “In the first few days of war, Iraqi armed forces will lose sight of the main objective of war, i.e., to defeat the Iranians, while the Iranians will continue to fight with greater resolve and on a high moral ground, i.e., to defeat the aggressor. Ultimately the Iranians would emerge victorious. I therefore submit that, we formulate our policy for both the options, i.e., a short war ending into Iraq’s victory and a long war, with Iran emerging as the victor.”

General Zia listened to my arguments attentively, gave a broad smile and said: “I agree with you. We prepare for both the eventualities.” And there was ‘the silence of the lamb’. No one spoke and the meeting ended.

Eight years later, Iranian armed forces crossed Shatt-el-Arab and as they concentrated in the Fao peninsula, poised for offensive towards Basra, Saddam attacked with chemical weapons, provided by the civilized West. Iran suffered heavy casualties and having no defense against this weapon, called for seize fire. Ever since, Iran has remained under great pressure on one issue or the other. Now the UNSC has imposed sanctions, for the fourth time, testing the national resilience of Iran. The Israelis are provoking Iran, by deploying their nuclear submarine in the region. This provocation resembles the Indian nuclear intimidation of 1974 and 1998, which left no option for Pakistan, but to prepare for retaliation with overt posture. What are the options for Iran now?

September 2001, General Musharraf succumbed to Richard Armitage’s undiplomatic warning and sheepishly accepted all the conditionalities to join the American war on Afghanistan. Having taken this decision, he decided to call the politicians, scholars, media men and diplomats in groups, to explain and justify the decision. I was invited, with one such group for the 22 September 2001 meeting. His monologue and the discussion lasted for over four hours. I had not spoken. He invited my comments. I said:

  • “You have taken the decision and therefore there is no point in justifying it now. The critical issue is, of joining the war, having no moral or ethical ground. The Afghans have never done any harm to us, nor do we have a defense pact with America to join them. We have to see how far we can go, so that the red line is not crossed to harm our national interests.”
  • “In a matter of weeks, the invading forces will occupy Afghanistan and the Taliban will fall back to the line – Jalalabad – Kandahar, from where they had started in 1996, and would link-up with their support bases in Pakistan. Ultimately they will regroup, forming an alliance with the old Mujahideen and supported by the new grown up lot from Pakistan and other countries, will build-up a formidable resistance against the occupation forces.”
  • “As the resistance develops, the conflict zone would expand to our border region, reversing the war on Pakistan. This would be a difficult period for Pakistan, facing a two-front war.”
  • “No doubt the Americans and their allies will take full control of Afghanistan in a matter of weeks but ultimately it will turn into Vietnam for them. They cannot win. They will lose the war.”
  • “The Afghans, Pakistani jihadis and many freedom fighters, from many countries of the world, have embraced Shahadat for the Afghan cause. For Pakistan to join the American war in Afghanistan, would amount to compromising and bartering away the blood and sacrifices of the martyrs (Shuhada) – an unforgivable sin and God knows, how to punish the sinner.”

On hearing my comments, General Musharraf’s face turned pale. He mumbled something which I could not comprehend. The meeting ended, abruptly. That was my last meeting with him. We never met again, as we were two poles apart.

The Afghan freedom movement now has reached a point where the occupation forces are suffering from failure of nerves, inducting more troops only to reinforce their defeat. The irony is that the occupation forces, which stand defeated, are trying to lay down the conditions for peace, which is the privilege of the Taliban, who have emerged as winners. It would, therefore be proper to focus on Afghanistan, the people, their culture, their national ethos, their sense of honour and value system, which lend resilience to the cause of freedom. The occupation forces must accept the reality that they have failed to read the complex tribal and societal relationship of the Afghans. They must not repeat the mistakes of 1990 and 2001, of denying the fruits of victory to the Afghans, i.e., to share power and form a government. There will be no peace, if any other course is adopted. Taliban are now strong enough to snatch away their freedom, which they have won with such a great sacrifice.

The people know the predicament of the occupation forces and the tenuousness of the routes of supply to Afghanistan. The attack on the NATO supply convey near Islamabad and the turmoil in Kyrgyzstan to disrupt the daily supply of over forty five thousand liters of oil daily from the Manas air base, is meant to check-mate the occupation forces. Who is responsible for these acts? Certainly, not the Taliban from Afghanistan or the American haters of Pakistan! Not difficult to make a fair guess!!

The Americans and the allies have to take a bold decision in Afghanistan, same as years earlier, wisdom demanded that timely intervention in Bosnia was necessary to check the spread of jehadism in Europe. In Afghanistan, the Americans themselves have become part of the problem, yet it is not too late to intercede now. Jehadism is a phenomenon by itself, which needs to be understood. It has special message for the believers in the ideology of Islam: “Nothing should stop the believers from reaching out to protect the helpless men, women and children being brutalized, who are crying for help to Allah, to send the redeemers.” The redeemers who converged on to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya, Palestine and Kashmir, will return to their hearth and home, only when brutality comes to an end. Jehadis pose no threat to other ideologies, civilizations or culture. And yet there is the element of Terrorism, growing out of this movement, over the years, which is the common threat for all, but will gradually fade away, as occupation, oppression and injustice come to their logical end. Read more of this post

India: Triggering Mechanism of Self Destruction

India Fails to contain Internal Freedom Movements, wants to attack the neighbours

One of the major causes that led to the First World War was Emperor William’s ambitions for the German Empire to be a world power. He believed in an uncompromising policy of ‘power or downfall’ which ultimately resulted in the ‘downfall’ of the empire. Similarly, it is the misfortune of South Asia that India has been trying to endanger the region’s peace by aspiring to become a ‘world power’, or at least a ‘regional power’ in wake of modern world trends like renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development.

Over the years, India has not only been developing its conventional and nuclear arsenals, but is also obtaining latest weapons from the US, Russia and Israel in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In this context, presuming a peace-loving China as an enemy New Delhi often justifies arms accumulation, while in practice India has constantly deployed its forces along the Pakistani border. As regards Indian belligerent approach, it is the result of India’s shattered hope of intimidating other neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan which the former considers a continuous obstacle in the way of its designs.

Under the pretext of Talibinisation, the Indian secret agency, RAW, has well established its tentacles in Afghanistan, and has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates located near the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip in order to get strategic depth against Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani and Foreign Minister Qureshi have repeatedly stated: “India supports terrorism in Pakistan, and its evidence will be shown to the western countries at the right occasion.” Indeed, this is in coordination with the statements of the ISPR spokesman Major General Athar Abbas who revealed that during the ongoing military operations huge cache of arms and ammunition had been captured while it was being shifted from Afghanistan.

Perhaps, frustrated in achieving its aims of becoming a world power, and a permanent seat in the UNSC, now the Indian rulers have started openly threatening nuclear powers like Pakistan and China.

In this backdrop, the Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, vocally revealed on December 29 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.”

However in response to New Delhi’s threat, Pakistan’s JCSC chairman, General Tariq Majeed, stated:

“The Indian army chief’s statement exhibits a lack of strategic acumen…[such a path could] fix India on a self-destructive mechanism.”

It is surprising to note that in more than seven states, India itself faces separatist movements which are the result of acute poverty and social injustices. Particularly, Maoist movement that has been raging in West Bengal, and has now expanded to other regions including Maharashtra. At present, it is a popular insurgency by the downtrodden who have massive support of the people for their ideology.(images below)

A Maoist camp in the Nallamala forest in AP

Naxals/Maoists

Naxals/Maoists

Red hood locals pledge support to Maoists in the jungles of Bastar

Villagers watch as Maoists burn effigies of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in Dumariya district -Bihar

Maoist rebels at a memorial for those killed in Police encounters in the Nallamalla foresr - South of Hyderabad

Mass rally in Hyderabad organized by Maoists

Naxalite base in Karnatka

Naxalite base in Karnatka

“India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…India’s rapid economic growth has made it an emerging global power but also deepened stark inequalities in society.” (31st Oct. New York Times)

Thus, by neglecting all these ground realties New Delhi has been advancing towards a self-destructive path.

Notably, USA’s dependence on Pakistan for war against terrorism and for close economic cooperation with China will roll back the Indian clandestine agenda which is part of its regional ambition against Islamabad and Beijing. Nonetheless, like the failed foreign policy of Emperor William II, the Indian policy of ‘power or downfall’ is bound to result in a nuclear catastrophe in the region as ‘nuclear’ Pakistan and China cannot ignore their defence, while their adversary is determined to act upon its aggressive designs.–>modified

Kashmir is the key

Indian Occupied Kashmir

The designated British envoy to Pakistan has correctly recognised the centrality of Kashmir in the Pakistan-India dynamics. As he has stated, resolution of the Kashmir issue is necessary for peace in the region. He has also declared that his government would be prepared to mediate between the two antagonists if they so wished. While all offers of mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute should be welcomed, the problem is that there already exists a UNSC framework for the resolution of this dispute. The stumbling block is India, which took the dispute to the UN and then reneged on its earlier commitment to allow the Kashmiri people their right to self-determination.

If Britain is prepared to mediate, it can also push for the UN framework to be implemented. After all the issue is not simply one of territory where arbitrary lines can be drawn. The issue is about allowing the Kashmiris their right to self-determination as promised under the UN Charter itself and also in UNSC resolutions specifically in the case of Kashmir.

Ironically, Indian pressure on major powers like the US is so great that they are loathe to even say the right thing lest they upset India. That is why we have had a bizarre statement from Holbrooke saying the US was not trying to ease tensions between Pakistan and India – as if that was undesirable to begin with!

It is time the major powers woke up to the reality of over sixty-two years of Kashmiri resistance to Indian occupation. Generations have given their lives to rid themselves of Indian tyranny and the graveyards of the martyres bears testimony to this as well as dispelling Indian propaganda that the entire freedom struggle was being waged by external jehadis. What the Kashmiris want can only be gauged through the UN-supervised plebiscite; but what they are still not prepared to accept is Indian occupation and the accompanying tyranny.
–The Nation

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