PAKISTAN’S SECURITY AND STABILITY IN A TRAUMATIC WORLD
PAKISTAN EX SERVICEMEN ASSOCIATION
(A Select Panel Report)
PAKISTAN AND THE US WAR ON TERROR
THE POLITICS OF CONTAINMENT
A Chapter in Neo Colonialism
Introduction. The events of the last few years have been casting dark shadows at the political horizon of this country. In early 2007, the spontaneous movement of the lawyers’ community provided the spark to galvanize the entire civil society to mobilize itself against the rule of the military dictator. At this critical juncture of our history, the Ex-Servicemen realizing the onus of responsibility on their shoulders, decided to come out in full support of this struggle. It was the beginning of a humble effort. We began to re-group and re-organize ourselves and while still in the process of doing so, we raised our voice for the first time on 20 , January, 2008. The message was loud and clear:-
Musharraf must be forced to resign.
The judiciary must be restored to pre 3, November, 2007 position
An independent election commission should be formed to hold free and fair elections
While we kept building up our organization to become a fully representative forum, which could emerge as the voice of genuine, sincere, well meaning fully inspired and committed comrades in arm as ex-servicemen, we took a new pledge. It was that we will stand up to defend the constitution of Pakistan and to maintain the rule of law. We may have made mistakes in the past, for which we would offer unqualified apologies, but would vow never to let those be repeated. While we were still in our formative transition, we decided that we must undertake an immediate study of some of the important issues that were vital and would determine the future of this country. For this critical task we requested some most eminent, experienced, knowledgeable and outstanding personalities who had an excellent record in the service to this country, to join us in these deliberations and in depth study of problems that are affecting the sovereignty and the security of the country. We are most grateful to them for their valuable contributions. This is our first effort on the issues defined in the title. Hopefully, we will continue to take up all other matters of National importance. We would invite free, frank and sincerely motivated questions to offer any clarifications that may be deemed necessary. Hence we present this study.
1. The end of bipolarity was also the end of the balancing act of small nations to hedge their national security. Liberalisation and trans-nationalism of political economy has eroded the previously conceived notions of state sovereignty. This multi layered model of international equilibrium dominated by a single military and economic complex has enabled USA supported by its NATO Allies to pursue aggressive policies world over. This Collective Security Order on the pretext of International Peace is now influencing the international environment with diplomatic and military strategies bonded by aggressive economic interests for a ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’. The eastwards expansion of NATO, occupation of Iraq, military presence in Afghanistan and endearment of India are the manifestations of this political economy. In this race for domination, the most affected are countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, ironically the two most important actors in the disintegration of USSR. This is a scheme of betrayal; passing through violent and chaotic times tantamount to what USA terms ‘Burnout’.
2. Events of 9/11 provided a time jump and exemplify how Al Qaeda, Taliban and successive non representative regimes in Pakistan have hastened to rationalise a long contemplated US strategic move based on Mckinder’s Doctrine of Eurasian Landmass and Brezinski’s strategic prescription of an Integrated Euro Asian Geo-Strategy. He wrote:
“America succeeded in entrenching itself on both the extreme western and extreme eastern shores of the great Eurasian continent. The defence of these continental bridgeheads (epitomised on the Western front by the Berlin blockade and the Eastern by the Korean War was the first strategic test of what came to be known as cold war”.
3. Ever since, a third Southern Front has opened extending from Iraq to Arabian Sea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. If successful, USA will ultimately control the entire resources of Middle East and Central Asia implying that at some stage, it will also wish nuclear control of Pakistan.
4. Having arrived and entrenched, the ensuing phase of total domination of three Asias by USA will entail the entire spectrum of policy from friendly placation to coercion, subversion, internal conflict and erosion of the writ of local governments. Military and Intelligence instruments will assume a leading role in framing of policies and shaping an environment. Pakistan is now in the eye of this storm. It is to analyse how did it land itself into such a quagmire?
Pakistan is a country neither friend nor foe. A country dependant on USA for Security and Economic Assistance
5. South Asia: A New Battle Ground. Division of India in 1947, rather than the end of colonialism in South Asia has to be seen as a new battle ground for East West rivalry. Strategically, it was shaped by the emerging Cold War and the desire of WW II allies to contain Soviet Russia. Nehru’s close association with USSR and China left USA with no option but to embrace Pakistan as a security ally in reward for a socio economic development package based on Dependency. Consequently, within the first decade, environments so created resulted in establishments dominated by elites sympathetic to USA; albeit at the cost of national integration, sustainable socio-development and most importantly, durable institutions. Individuals in the form of politicians, military chiefs and bureaucrats were chosen and co opted with Shah of Iran to frame a containment ring around the Southern Front as well as isolate socialist India from USSR. Conversely, USSR considered this region as its backyard and a strategic corridor to the warm waters of Arabian Sea. It was Soviet Russia that made the first move and formed a clear nexus along with China and India with Afghanistan as a pawn with the design to choke Pakistan..
a. Russia installed a hostile regime in Kabul, which brazenly stirred up the hostile propaganda of Pakhtunistan and Durand line. Afghanistan, a neighbouring Muslim country refused to recognise Pakistan. Remarkably and to advantage, the Pathans of Afghanistan had deep rooted brotherly relationship with the people of Pakistan and the propaganda never assumed popular proportions.
b. As early as 1947, India traded Kashmir for Tibet with China to provide a buffer. This resulted in the first war for liberation of Kashmir.
c. India blocked the rivers to Pakistan and the two countries nearly went to war.
d. As a net result, Pakistan’s reliance for security on USA increased manifold affecting its leverage on foreign and domestic policy.
e. Pro US political establishments and military coteries were selected and nurtured to serve the ends of US policies at the cost of their own country.
f. Consequently a full and formal national consensus on security with interplay of the elements of national power was never reached.
g. Because the policy making was directly and indirectly controlled by the military, a security policy with Kashmir in sharp focus became the cardinal point of national policy and purpose. This central theme of Kashmir was in full sympathy and synchrony with the National aspirations.
h. The entire intelligence apparatus gradually came into the control of the army and played a dominant role in creating perceptions and affecting decision making.
j. In reality, Pakistan became a pawn in great power rivalry.
The Complexity of Three Asias
6. Pakistan’s Prized and Vulnerable Location For centuries, South Asia has remained a conflict zone and drawing external powers to it. Located most strategically at the hub of West, Central and South Asia Pakistan for times immemorial has been the battle ground for competing armies. Paul Kennedy describes this region as the fulcrum to which Pakistan is an important pivot. Instability for the past two decades in Afghanistan and now Pakistan is a creation of such divergent interests and interplay. Some of the salient points relevant now are: -
The control of tapped and untapped mineral resources is important for future global hegemony making it elusive for all major actors in the world and region.
9/11 followed by the war on terrorism in Afghanistan has compressed the imperialist timeframe for USA and other Western countries by at least twenty years. Countries like Pakistan with limited resources cannot react as readily and have been marginalized.
Internal strife in Afghanistan to the chagrin of resource-starved world, has the potential to de-stabilise the entire region; a golden opportunity for intervention and permanent occupation of the area.
Islamic radicalism, a tool and by product of the Cold War is now considered the major threat in Future War. The eradication of this vastly social development is now the top priority of all major international players who are willing to cooperate in the short term. USA and its main ally UK have chosen a blunt military and intelligence option that is complicating the situation. Views amongst one point agenda allies on other issues are divergent and prone to conflict at a later stage.
In the present Afghan situation, regional powers like Iran and Pakistan are marginalised by design.
Unlike threats in the past, Pakistan is in no position to exploit any Strategy of Alliances to offset its vulnerabilities. Strength and resolve for national purpose have to come from within.
The rich Islamic countries stand silent watchers in this situation. They want their own radical elements to burn out in Afghanistan and now Pakistan rather than remain a security issue for them.
7. The Cold War: 1945-1989. Pakistan occupies both an enviable and vulnerable position at the hub of three Asias and therefore is both a beneficiary and an affected party. Ever since its independence it has been the focus and the centre of the world powers and competing blocs. The Berlin airlift had already laid the foundations of a containment strategy against communism. They followed it with consolidation of Breton Woods, NATO in Europe and CENTO and SEATO for West and South Asia.
a. The Shah of Iran and key appointment in the Pakistani establishment like bureaucrats, military chiefs and Unionist politicians were chosen to be the pillars of their policy and designs in this region.
b. Constitutionalism and sustainable socio-economic development were relegated to back benches. The state intervention in the affairs left very little space for the civil society to assert its presence and role in formulation of a plural democratic culture as envisioned by Quaid e Azam.
c. Repeated military interventions and dictatorships found legitimacy either in hollow religious slogans or close identification with USA.
d. Politics drifted from a national mainstream to personal links and Pakistan quickly became a country waiting for a Messiah rather than a durable and plural system. This never allowed the emergence of any credible, strong, genuine and sincere leadership.
e. The western need to contain Soviet Russia and sustainability of dictatorships for this purpose created an extremely corrupt political system that lacked morals and principles.
f. This phase was ultimately won in 1989 by USA with unequivocal support from Pakistan and Islamic Mujahadeens.
g. The love affair with Pakistan was soon over and Afghanistan was resigned to the destructive forces of radicalism and instability. The Americans now looked for new wedlock. India appeared a suitable choice based on its size, consumer markets, vast coastline and regional ambitions. It is subject to question if the Americans correctly read the psyche and mind set of the Indians? Perhaps the answer is unambiguously no. As in Cold War, India will cantankerously use the opportunity to extract the best advantage, but will fall short of any design and plan as a bulwark against China. Though they would be keen to assume the role of a policeman in South Asia, they will extract every ounce for this while being part of the Indian Ocean Rim Alliance and exploitation of US objectives in the region.
An ‘Economic World’ where most countries play by most of the rules, competitors are discouraged, so called Rogue States are isolated and contained; the proliferators are deterred from using WMD
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DOMINANCE
A Chapter in Neo Imperialism
What USA wishes to do with countries in the sphere of influence?
Post Cold War
8. A New World Order and Creation of the New Floating Threat. Having achieved their immediate objectives, Americans abandoned the area leaving Pakistan stranded with a heavy influx of Afghan refugees, weapons, drugs and a violence dominated religious culture.
a. On the labyrinth left behind by nine years occupation of Afghanistan by USSR, the local warlords in the absence of political reforms had a free run. The writ of the tribal elders ran into strains while treachery, money, weapons and drugs became the currencies to power.
b. USA ignored that the sustained resistance to USSR was only possible due to the mushrooming of religious seminaries that provided foot soldiers for this Jihad. No socio economic rehabilitation programs were instituted to reinstate the battle hardy Afghans and Talibs to a normal life.
c. In the vacuum thus created and lawless and chaotic conditions that prevailed, the mercurial rise of Taliban under their religious scholars was but inevitable. Their simplicity of governance in an otherwise anarchic environments and quick dispensation of justice surged them to popularity.
e. Reminiscent of the traditional Pashtun domination in Afghan politics, the Taliban quickly established control over Kabul and moved to exert their influence over Northern Afghanistan.
d. In the vacuum created by dwindling Russian influence in the area, India a strategic partner of Russia in cooperation with Iran, quickly moved into the non Pashtun areas to establish linkages with the Northern Alliance.
e. Taliban War in Afghanistan also became a proxy battle field between Pakistan, Iran and India.
9 CIA and God’s Warriors against Godless Soviet Union. Both Soviet Russia and USA has followed similar objectives for domination in Middle East. The pattern was familiar i.e. non representative dictatorships, military coups and alienation of people from participatory politics. A strain of hard line Muslim dissidents already existed from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, black labeled by their countries for militant activities and threat. Occupation of Khana Kaaba in 1980 was if anything, a measure of events to follow.
a. What remains obscured is that during the Cold War, USA had established some linkage with this strain of Islamic Revolutionaries for use against Soviet influenced Arab States. It is in this period that various strains that later assumed the generic name of Al Qaeeda, were nurtured, promoted and strengthened by America as a bulwark against communist Russia and its proxies.
b. Occupation of Afghanistan was the situation needed to unleash this Islamic Monster on the communists. Arab countries were just too happy to oblige while distancing the threat from their own regimes. It was the God’s Warriors versus the godless USSR.
c. Pakistan in its own political expediency also embraced the American designs of containment of Russia .In doing so made a clear distinction of not alienating China an alternate policy option. This is attributable to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, his wisdom and foresight.
d. It is in this backdrop that the name of Osama bin Laden figured repeatedly. After the Soviet withdrawal, he disappeared from the focus only to be tracked by CIA in 1990 with connections to funding other terrorist movements. However, most of these activities are cloaked in secrecy. Osama had remained an indispensable CIA operative in Afghanistan during the 80s recruiting Islamic warriors and executing civil works.
e. Only selective CIA memories are made public, but incidents can be linked and quoted that he still remained their operative. It belies the importance of this man that a Virtual CIA Station was created in his name to follow and shadow his activities. This special handling of this individual bespeaks his importance to CIA.
f. This dedicated focus insulated from the main CIA headquarters warrants much probing. One of the first assignments of this station was called “Terrorist’s Financial Links (TFL)’ that ultimately morphed into something even sharper and focussed. Geroge Tenet in his book ‘The Centre of the Storm’, alludes that the then obscure name Osama bin Laden kept cropping up in the intelligence chatter and funding of terrorist activities. He recounts that before long the TFL virtual station was renamed Osama Bin Laden Issue Station (OBLIS). Writing with selective memory Tenet recalls that Osama had indeed made some contacts with Islamic militant groups and was now busy funding and recruiting them to form the foundations of Al Qaeeda.
g. The book categorically but mysteriously denies that CIA had any contacts with Bin Laden during the Soviet’s Afghan misadventure. He claims that by 1996, CIA knew that Bin Laden was something more than a mere financier. They followed his activities in Sudan. The intelligence gathered by their TFL/OBLIS station focused on Osama and his threat potential. Though he obscures details, he admits that even then, options were planned and discussed against Osama and his network.
h. US intervention in Somalia revealed that the Somali warlord Mohammad Farah Adeeb operating against them in ‘Operation Restore Peace’ was funded by Osama. The CIA and DCI George Tenet, claim to have followed his activities most closely. But all the details and explicit links that they had with him are obscure. No wonder, George Tenet had earned the nickname of ‘the subliminal man’ in his own organisation. He carried out threat analysis, made several reports, carried out perception briefings and formulated plans to use overt military force or the clandestine capabilities of its services in a ‘Covert Action’ against Osama.
j. The United States also pressurised Sudan to expel Bin Laden. There exist abundant press reports, internet chatter and claims by individuals to contend that the Sudanese had offered to extradite Osama to the USA. One such name is a US lobbyist of Pakistani origin Mansur Ijaz. The question is why the CIA did not arrest Osama?
k. Amazingly the DCIA shows total ignorance and states that he was unaware of anything to substantiate it. He writes that on May 18, 1996, Osama voluntarily left Sudan and relocated to Afghanistan. This is a very innocent and oversimplified statement of the event. Curiously, he ignores to comment that Osama was provided a C-130 aircraft and that moved him to Afghanistan at the invitation of Prof Rabbani.
l. The canning policy of obscurity and revelations continues through the events of bombings in Aden, Kenya and Tanzania, till Osama and Al Qaeeda resurface in the events of 9/11 and beyond. This striking coincidence of chain events must be related to the fact that the American’s had their own agenda and plan. They deliberated, planned and chose their method.
m. After 9/11, the Americans chose to invade Iraq on the pretext of Al Qaeeda and WMD. Events later proved that Iraq was connected to neither. Had Osama and Al Qaeeda been the real target, then he and his sleepers were never connected to Iraq. The intent was therefore to gain time and allow Al Qaeeda to reorganise in Afghanistan and draw Taliban into their fold. USA was to shape an environment for intervention in Afghanistan in a manner that facilitated permanent presence in the region.
n. After 1990, USA research organisations began floating themes and studies on the nature of the future conflict. Threat of war against nation states was ruled out and the major enemy was identified in non state actors with Osama on top of the list. Yet during all this intellectual gossip, all opportunities to arrest him were ignored.
o. In 1999, US Army conducted an international military seminar in Singapore. The major subject under discussion was terrorism and defence diplomacy. It appeared even then, that Pentagon was poised to work closely with CIA on the threat of non state actors.
10. The Irritant in Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations. At Government to Government level, good relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have remained elusive. Conversely, the people to people contact is most brotherly. This relationship especially between the Pashtun belts is not likely to change. Both share a common proud history over centuries. The irritant has developed due to the Soviet role in the past and persists mostly in the non Pashtun areas. However, it is intriguing that whenever Pakistan and Afghanistan came close to normalcy, events took a turn for the worse.
a. Durand Line. The nexus of USSR, India and Afghanistan created the bogey of Pakhtunistan and Durand Line. Through some discreet coercion from 1975-77, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto persuaded Sardar Daud to signing an agreement pronouncing the end of this dispute. The final draft had already been prepared and initialled by Sardar Daud awaiting a signature ceremony. It is more than a mere coincidence that Bhutto was deposed by Zia Ul Haq in a military coup on 4 July, 1977. There is enough evidence to suggest that Zia purposely and deliberately failed to go ahead and sign the agreement. Thus this conflict resolution was spared to live another day.
b. Moderation of Taliban and Broad Based Government. On 3 Nov, 1996, at a meeting in the President House, which was chaired by Farooq Leghari, and attended by PM Benazir Bhutto, Maj Gen(Retd) Naseer Ullah Babar, Lt Gen Naeem Rana (DG ISI), Foreign Secretary Najm-ud-din Sheikh and COAS General Jehangir Karamat, it was decided that Maj Gen (Retd) Babar would fly to Kabul on 5 Nov, 1996, to get an already negotiated agreement signed between the Taliban and Northern Alliance leaders. The draft had been prepared during several meetings undertaken by Babar with the Afghan leaders (A copy of this is available). The Taliban and Northern alliance had agreed to a Political Commission, a federal structure giving representation to all ethnicities in Afghanistan including all warlords. This was a sincere attempt at moderating Taliban and giving a broad based representation to its political structure. In sequel to yet another coincidence, Benazir Bhutto was removed by President Farooq Laghari with the active involvement of ISI and not 111 Brigade. The negotiations were abandoned.
c. Trial of Osama Bin Laden in 2001. By May 2001 Osama had become the most wanted man on the CIA list. The under Secretary at the State Department for Pakistan, India and South Asia was visiting Pakistan. He had also arranged a meeting with Maj Gen (Retd) Babar at Peshawar. Considering the background and the purpose of the visit, Babar invited Mr. Mutawakkal the Foreign Minister of Taliban, to his house a day earlier. At that meeting, a clear pledge was given by Mullah Omar, that Osama Bin Laden would be handed over to a third neutral Muslim country for a trial under Islamic Law. The trial was to take precedence from the Lockerbie Trial of Libyans and the court would have a Qazi each from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The only condition imposed was that Osama must be given a fair trial. When the Under Secretary met Babar at Peshawar the next day, he to his utter surprise was asked, as to what guarantees would he give that Osama would be punished. The reply was,”Under what law you want to convict and punish a person until he is proved guilty in a proper court of law”. It was obvious that the CIA, had no serious purpose and intent to nab Osama. The question is, ‘why the opportunity created to control him was allowed to be frittered away’? The answer is that USA had its own game plan.