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Trump’s Warning To Islamabad Has Formalised The China-Pakistan-Russia Axis

30 Aug

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

In calling out the “safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan” as part of his Afghanistan policy, US President Donald Trump has given formal shape to a reality that has been brewing in South Asia since Washington fell out with Islamabad post the Osama bin Laden raid.

With both Beijing and Moscow coming out in Islamabad’s defence almost immediately, the China-Russia-Pakistan axis has been formally inaugurated, with the US and India allying in Afghanistan—as epitomised by Trump’s call for New Delhi to help out Washington in the region.

Washington and New Delhi have been conspicuously toward drawn each other since the 2008 nuclear deal, a similar version of which Islamabad has been demanding as well. However, initial US policy had been to ensure that proximity with India doesn’t alienate its traditional ally Pakistan, which heretofore had a pivotal role for Washington in Afghanistan.

 

What the Trump regime has done to chastise Islamabad over Afghanistan echoes the Indian stance in the region, specifically targeting Pakistan’s “jugular vein”: Kashmir.

Following the bin Laden raid, the relations between the US and Pakistan became increasingly acrimonious under the Obama regime. Under the Trump presidency, the Republicans in the Congress that had already been clamouring to revisit aid to Pakistan—asking Islamabad to pay for its F-16s last year, for instance—now have a formal outlet to vent their frustration.

What the Trump regime has done to chastise Islamabad over Afghanistan echoes the Indian stance in the region, specifically targeting Pakistan’s “jugular vein”: Kashmir.

In little over three months, Trump implicitly equated Kashmir’s freedom fight with terrorism at an Islamic summit in Riyadh, sanctioned the Kashmir-bound Hizbul Mujahideen and its commander Syed Salahuddin as terrorists, and now officially underscored the problem of Pakistan “harbouring terrorists” while seeking the solution from India.

Meanwhile, China has continued to forestall New Delhi’s move to blacklist Kashmir-bound jihadists at the UN, as it continues work on the $62 billion corridor with Pakistan, while further reigniting its own border dispute with India in Doklam.

Moscow drawing closer to Islamabad, at least militarily, naturally overlapped with US angst vis-à-vis Pakistan. It started with Russia lifting its self-imposed arms embargo on Pakistan in November 2014, following by a landmark “military cooperation” agreementthat culminated in the first ever joint military drill between the two countries last year.

In the meantime, Pakistan will be importing Mi-35 combat helicopters in addition to the Russian Klimov RD-93 engines for its JF-17 multi-role fighters. Moscow and Islamabad have also signed a deal for the construction of the North-South gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, to cater to the ever growing energy needs in Pakistan’s most populous province.

The shaping of these axes in South Asia has been further facilitated by Indo-Pak ties reaching their nadir amidst increasing volatility in Kashmir.

This formation of hard alliances is a return to 20th century diplomacy and the rigid rulebook that defined bilateral relations, and which caused wars of all kinds.

With the US involved in direct confrontation in Ukraine and the South China Sea, as on-ground samples of its longstanding rivalries with Russia and China, the formalisation of coalitions means the respective alliances could henceforth be backing territorial disputes and regional crises as single units, drawn against one another and overlapping with the security and economic cooperation between the groups.

Even so, Russia cannot overlook the economic power that India is growing into. It is especially unlikely that Moscow would stop its military exports to New Delhi, despite its two-pronged security antagonism with Islamabad and Beijing.

Another promising ally for the China-Russia-Pakistan axis would’ve been Iran, considering Tehran’s proximity to Moscow and bitterness vis-à-vis the US, which has seen it join Beijing and Moscow in condemning Trump’s accusations against Islamabad. But Pakistan’s own ties with Iran have deteriorated in recent times, with Tehran echoing the US India in accusing Islamabad of providing safe havens to terror groups, and even threatening military invasion inside Pakistani territory.

Furthermore, Pakistan’s unflinching obligations to Saudi Arabia, which is the foundation of its differences with Iran, coupled with New Delhi and Tehran’s growing economic cooperation along with Kabul—as exemplified by the Chabahar Port—mean that Iran isn’t a natural fit for either of the two groups, especially since Washington is unlikely to diplomatically ease things for Tehran under Trump, who has signed a “$110 billion” arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

This formation of hard alliances is a return to 20th century diplomacy and the rigid rulebook that defined bilateral relations, and which caused wars of all kinds. But there still might be a chance that the China-Pakistan-Russia axis might end up being shaped by the common interests that define it, rather than the ramifications for the states that it alienates.

Even so, with stridently antagonistic voices and policymaking now at the helm in Washington and New Delhi, coupled with Islamabad’s rigidly masochistic shielding of jihadist groups, it is likely that confrontation rather than cooperation will remain the order of the day in South Asia—at least in the near future.

 

 

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Trump’s new Afghanistan policy has Pakistan angry and alarmed 

30 Aug

By Pamela Constable

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A wave of anti-American anger has swept Pakistan this past week, triggered both by President Trump’s threat to punish the country for harboring insurgents and by his invitation to India, Pakistan’s longtime rival, to become more involved in Afghanistan’s future.

Tribal and religious leaders have held protests at border crossings, and banners urging “Say no to America!” have appeared across the capital. Officials have canceled trips to Washington and asked a State Department official to postpone her planned visit here this week. Across the country’s fractious political spectrum, leaders have raised a collective fist at Trump.

In a stern speech Aug. 21, the U.S. president laid out a new militarized policy for the region, saying he would send more American troops to Afghanistan and insisting that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in Islamist militants or face possible sanctions, such as cutting aid or revoking its status as a major non-NATO ally.

 

Afghan officials welcomed Trump’s message, but Pakistanis accused him of “bullying” their country despite its history of cooperating with the United States in foreign conflicts. They said he had betrayed them by reaching out to India, which Pakistan views as a persistent threat to its existence.

“President Trump wants to portray us as a villain despite the huge losses­ we have suffered in the so-called anti-terrorism war,” said Hafiz Hamdullah, a conservative Muslim cleric and legislator. “Both India and the U.S. want to use Afghanistan against us. These charges of terrorist hideouts are just to destabilize Pakistan.”

Mian Raza Rabbani, the left-leaning chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, denounced Trump in similar terms. “No country in the world has done more than Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism,” he declared. Invoking the “legacy of Vietnam,” he said that if Trump “wants Pakistan to become a graveyard for U.S. troops, let him do so.”

In tribal regions along the border, where U.S. drone strikes have killed hundreds of suspected militants and civilians, one crowd of tribesmen chanted, “Long live Pakistan.” In another spot, religious activists held up placards saying, “India, America and Afghanistan are conspiring against Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which comprises top military and civilian officials, sharply rejected Trump’s charges of sheltering insurgents and demanded that the U.S. military “eliminate sanctuaries for terrorists” on the Afghan side. “The Afghan war cannot be fought in Pakistan,” the group declared.

Pakistani officials took other steps to show their unhappiness. They requested that a planned visit by Alice Wells, the senior State Department official dealing with the region, be indefinitely postponed. Pakistan’s foreign minister, who had been planning a trip to Washington, instead announced that he would travel to China, Russia and Turkey.

Despite the hostile rhetoric, there were signs that U.S.-Pakistan relations are far from collapsing. Over the past few weeks, several low-profile meetings were held between current and former officials from both governments to discuss how to keep relations on an even keel.

Pakistani newspapers ran headlines that blasted Trump as a hectoring bully but also published nuanced commentaries calling for pragmatism and patience. The editors of Dawn, the country’s most influential daily paper, counseled that “there is still space and time for constructive dialog. A strategic rupture is in neither the U.S. nor Pakistan’s interest.”

For Pakistan, the issue of militant sanctuaries is a familiar one; both of Trump’s immediate predecessors pressed Pakistan to crack down on them but did not take harsh measures, especially because Pakistan was cooperating in the broader anti-terrorism war. This time, though, Pakistani officials are said to be far more worried that Trump, an unpredictable leader, may follow through.

“Trump’s threats are real. . . . Madness on our doorstep has already arrived,” commentator Syed Talat Hussain wrote in the News International on Monday. He suggested that if Trump, “an ignoramus addicted to creating sensation,” ordered a drone strike in Pakistani territory — as opposed to the border tribal areas — it could “get us embroiled in a war with the U.S. This is deadly serious business.”

 

Pakistanis have been even more deeply rattled by Trump’s warm embrace of India, where the current prime minister is an ardent Hindu nationalist and Indian army troops have been waging an aggressive, months-long campaign against Muslim protesters in the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan has long pursued influence in Afghanistan largely as a foil to India, a larger and more powerful rival, only to see New Delhi become a major benefactor of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

“Trump’s comments about India were more unsettling for Pakistanis than his threats to Pakistan,” said Michael Kugelman, a Pakistan expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “The U.S. calling for a deeper Indian footprint in Afghanistan sets off alarm bells across Pakistan. It will cause very real fear.”

A few Pakistani voices here have called for a rethinking of Pakistan’s efforts to influence Afghanistan, noting this has created a burden on its resources and a spillover of Islamist radicalization. But virtually no one questions the notion that India, the world’s largest democracy, is their mortal enemy — a premise that has long kept Pakistan’s army in a position of extraordinary power but has left the country increasingly isolated.

Trump is grossly misled on Pakistan, here it is how?  

28 Aug

By Atta Rasool Malik

On 21 August 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump spelled out his long awaited ‘Afghan Policy’ while addressing American officers and soldiers at historic U.S military base, Fort Myer, Virginia. His speech was televised nationwide during prime-time in the United States.  Millions of others around the globe also listened to American President live on TVs and YouTube. Here in Pakistan, he was followed with a lot of interest and keenness because people of Pakistan are greatly affected by the war in their neighborhood.

American President was praising his men for their great sacrifices but deep down in his heart, he knew his men were not winning in Afghanistan. Therefore, he was unable to give the timeframe for likely completion of the task in Afghanistan or conditions under which to define success or failure. As regards Pakistan, he looked more like Indian PM Mr. Narendra Moodi.

Trump could identify only one reason for not winning in Afghanistan; it was Pakistan. To him, terrorists were enjoying safe haven in Pakistan. However, he did not explain why Pakistan wanted to fail America in Afghanistan?

Trump took very long to issue policy guidelines to Americans troops engaged in war in Afghanistan. Probably, he was too occupied and busy on the domestic front. Whether it was fear of impeachment and inquiries or he was being influenced by ‘interest groups’ to continue fighting in Afghanistan; a policy which he had described it as “disastrous” during his election campaign. Trump was now ‘educated’ that American presence in Afghanistan is essential to safeguard the US might against emerging and resurging powers. CEO’s of influential Multi-National Companies benefiting from the war in Afghanistan might have also assured support for entrapped and worried Trump. Therefore, finally, Trump has announced the continuation of Afghan war with renewed vigor.

Trump repudiated his early stance and declared without any shyness that the United States of America is there in Afghanistan ‘not to rebuild Afghanistan or construct democracies in far away lands’. They were there to kill terrorists; read Afghan Taliban. For the first time, American President says he does not stand for values which the Americans have lecturing us all along for many years; human rights, women empowerment, and democracy.

Americans Troops identify the only section of Taliban; Afghan Taliban as terrorists. These are the people who resist American presence in Afghanistan.  Americans have no problem with another half of Taliban; Pakistani Taliban who are fighting the state of Pakistan. These anti-Pakistan Taliban are rather facilitated by Afghan’s NDS and India’s intelligence agency RAW in Afghanistan. Pakistani Taliban, actually; a proxy of India, are killing innocent children and women in markets, schools, churches and mosques of Pakistan. Resultantly Pakistan has lost over 60,000 people and approximately $100 billion of the worth of material losses in this war on Terror.

In Europe and America there are lobbying firms and surprisingly these are legal. These firms are ready to further the cause of any country, group, and mafia for money. They mislead academia and influence state officials for money. They don’t have the moral integrity to stand for truth. They are clearly tasked to tarnish the image of Pakistan. Indian lobbies are particularly very effective in Washington. They twist the data, misinform and deceive the decision and opinion makers of USA. Trump administration has been misled to believe that the only cause of failing in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Americans have failed to appreciate the actual causes of resurgent Taliban. People in Afghanistan view the absence of justice and rampant corruption in government offices deadlier than Taliban.

Propagandists and lobbies have changed the image of an infamous killer and butcher, current PM of India, Mr. Narendra Modi as peace loving leader of India. Americans officials have forgotten that Mr. Narendra Moodi was barred from visiting EU and USA for a decade for gross human right violations. India is a caste ridden racist country where lives of minorities are like hell. School going Kashmiri girls and boys are insulted and blinded with pellets guns on a daily basis. Yet Trump looked upon India as a peaceful nation and inspiring democracy.

Americans have decided to empower India in Afghanistan forgetting that Indians are not neighbors of Afghanistan. They are only there in Afghanistan to bribe and instigate Afghan officials against Pakistan and create instability in Pakistan. This miracle is due to lobbying firms, MNC’s appetite for Indian Market and availability of Indians cash for import of weapons. The situation is shameful for humanity. Even the top World leaders cannot call spade a spade for petty interests. This is clear moral bankruptcy. It is ‘unprincipled realism of Trump’.

Americans are known for their poor understanding of the region. Their differentiation of friend and foe is faulty. American prefers fluency in English over populace support, honesty, and competence for high posts in the Afghan government. Consequently today American troops enjoy very little public support in Afghanistan. They are perceived as occupiers, rather than facilitators of peace and development.

Afghan Taliban don’t need shelters and safe haven of Pakistan. They control large areas [over 45%] in Afghanistan and roam freely. On the contrary, due to courage and sacrifices of Pakistan armed forces, Pakistan has re-established the writ of the state over entire tribal areas, FATA. American President has all the satellites at his disposal. He should indicate where are the safe heavens.

Pakistan is fighting the terrorists with utmost power. Pakistan has lost many senior military officers including general officers and their children in this fight. This is a sufficient proof of our sincerity. Pakistan has since long abandoned the idea of militias, though the USA is still relying on proxies and contractors. Pakistan has fully disciplined and well integrated armed forces. It has long range missiles and sufficient credible nuclear deterrence with a political will and national consensus to use all weapons in case of a real threat.

American President should not sermon people of Pakistan to commit to civilization, order, and peace. People of Pakistan are not savages. They are already committed to faith, peace, and order and proud of their civilization.

Academia/ intelligentsia of Pakistan does not view America as a hostile country. The USA helped Pakistan build nuclear weapons by turning blind eye to development of our nuclear weapons. Pakistan also acknowledges and appreciates USA help at many difficult occasions. Pakistan is annoyed but a not enemy of United States. Americans despite their dominant position in world politics and vast influence, did not help resolve Kashmir and water issues with India.  Rivalry with India has ruined Pakistan’s economy and it continues to fund proxies and terrorism in Karachi and Baluchistan.

It is also baseless Indian propaganda that Pakistan is allowing Chinese or Russian naval bases at Gawader. CPEC has been over sensitized by Indians. It is a purely an economic project. Pakistan only desires to uplift its infrastructure and overcome energy crisis.

Pakistan has no problem with Americans new found love with India. Every country has a right to pursue its national interests.  Americans think that India is their strategic partner and it would stand against China or Russia, it is absolutely fine with us. Americans would know the Indians more clearly very soon.

Trump has reminded India making billions of dollars from the United States from trade and on other pretexts to contribute more in Afghanistan.

Looking forward to seeing Indians and Americans troops ‘killing terrorists’ together in Afghanistan.

Author hails from semi tribal areas of Pakistan. Holds M Phil Degree in International Relations from National Defense University Islamabad. He can be reached at attarasul@hotmail.com. Twitter: @malikattarasul

 

US Stuck In the Graveyard of Empires

28 Aug

By Ishaal Zehra

Media reports claim that the American President, Donald Trump, has let loose to his advisers who were tasked to craft the new US strategy in Afghanistan, blasting them strikingly for their startling failures in America’s longest war in Afghanistan. According to some senior officials, he even suggested firing the war’s top military commander Gen. John Nicholson during a tense meeting at the White House on the pretext of “not winning the war”. Officials said Trump pointed to maps showing the Taliban gaining ground, and that Defense Secretary Mattis responded to the president by saying the US is losing because it doesn’t have the strategy it needs.

Trump is the third US president dealing with the Afghan war. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush went through multiple strategies over the course of their presidencies to try to stabilize Afghanistan. What set Trump apart in the July meeting was his open questioning of the quality of the advice he was receiving. Trump’s national security team has been trying for months to come up with a new strategy he can approve, but all in vein.

Though the president is surely not a pro when it comes to keeping personal comments and feelings out of politics. And he surely is lousy while speaking in public. But he was absolutely right to snub the military brass for daring to ask for a very large troop and budget increase for the stalemated Afghan War that has commanded a price of $1 trillion to date.

Of course, the unfortunate generals are not really to blame. They have been forced by the last three presidents to fight, as Eric Margolis defines in his recent article, a pointless war at the top of the world that lacks any strategy, reason or purpose – and with limited forces. Where they are not even allowed to admit defeat by lightly-armed Muslim tribesmen. The truth is that America was blundered into the Afghan War under President George W. Bush who needed a target for revenge after the humiliating 9/11 attacks.

Gen. Nicholson, during a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, has called the war a “stalemate” and said he needs a “few thousand” additional troops. Heading into its 16th year, the war in Afghanistan is the longest war in the US history.

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former head of NATO and an NBC News analyst, suggested the delay in finalizing a strategy has hurt US efforts in the war.

“The situation in Afghanistan is not improving, but I think it’s hardly irretrievable at this point, and what the president needs to be doing is deciding on the strategy,” Admiral Stavridis said.

“What is hurting the process at the moment is this back and forth about do we stay or do we go, how many troops,” he added. “Any commander is going to be incredibly handicapped in an environment like that. So I think the fundamental problem here is lack of decisiveness in Washington, specifically in the White House.”

Though, officials say the president’s team has coalesced around a workable Afghan strategy, where it had presented him with other options as well such as complete withdrawal. Trump, however, appeared to have been significantly influenced by a meeting he recently had with a group of veterans of the Afghanistan war, and he was unhappy with the options presented to him.

Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee reiterates that, “If the president doesn’t listen to the generals, like Gen. Nicholson and he goes down the road that President Obama went, Afghanistan is going to collapse”. “Here’s my advice to the president — listen to people like Gen. Nicholson and McMaster and others who have been in the fight.”

Trump had better come up with a better idea. Eric Margolis suggests the absolute solution to end the 17-year war in his recent article which I endorse is to emulate the example of the courageous Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He pronounced his Afghan War unwinnable, told his angry generals to shut up, and ordered the Red Army out of the war in Afghanistan.

Dear America: It’s Your Turn to ‘Do More’

28 Aug

By Ishaal Zehra

“We need to give attention to the important role Pakistan plays in the Afghanistan issue, and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and security concerns”, said the Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi over a telephone conversation with US State of Secretary Rex Tillerson on August 23.

“China stands ready to keep communication and coordination with the United States on the Afghanistan issue … and political dialogue is the only solution to the Afghanistan issue,” Yang further said while exchanging views with Tillerson on the current situation of Afghanistan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also gave a strong statement accentuating that “Pakistan was on the front line in the struggle against terrorism and had made great sacrifices and important contributions in the fight.”

After China’s strong message, Russia also has resonated similar sentiments following Trump’s daft allegations on Pakistan.

Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov slammed Trump’s Pakistan strategy and insisted that Islamabad is “a key regional player to negotiate with. Putting pressure on Pakistan may seriously destabilize the region-wide security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the civil and military leadership has expressed serious reservations over the new US policy on Afghanistan. Consultations at the highest levels concluded that Pakistan will not give in to any American pressure or demands. It has been conveyed to the US administration through diplomatic channels that Pakistan will set her strategy for a peaceful Afghanistan in line with her own national security policy.

It is also heard from a horse’s mouth that Islamabad has set its own strategy to deal with the new US strategy. Pakistan, they said, has warned the US of possible pull-out from the Afghan reconciliation process if Washington didn’t change its approach.

According to media reports, Pakistan has told US Ambassador David Hale that neither was Islamabad dependent on Washington for its defense system nor did its economy need American financial assistance. Islamabad has sent a clear message to Washington: Shifting the blame for your own failure in Afghanistan and arm-twisting won’t work anymore.

“Pakistan is not looking for any material or financial assistance from [the] United States but needs trust, understanding and acknowledgement of its contributions in the war against terror,” US Ambassador David Hale was told, when he called on Gen. Bajwa in Rawalpindi. “We have done a lot … and shall keep on doing our best, not to appease anyone but in line with our national interest and national policy,” Gen. Bajwa was quoted in an army press statement later on.

The signals emanating from White House, Capitol Hill and mainstream media on ‘US policy on Afghanistan’ point to a rather frustrated and confused mindset. Trump made a speech as the C in C of US military and expected rhetoric should be seen in that perspective, his speech also addressed a divided domestic polity.

Logically, if the US led military alliance of 46 countries could not break the surge of insurgency over a period of 16 years, even after spending almost one trillion dollars, what do they expect from Pakistan? Pakistan Army, on her part, has done a tremendous job by successfully fighting against terrorism on her soil. As Laurel Miller, former US State department official who remained special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to June 2017, argues that “it’s not that there’s no leverage on Pakistan but the Pakistan is not going to change her perception of her own national security interests based only on American pressure. There has to be something that attracts the Pakistan to cooperate in a positive way with the United States.” But she also thinks that president Trump strategy has missed the “key element of any semblance of a political strategy for Afghanistan that could bring stability to the country and could give Pakistan another regional player and opportunity to see the potential for their own interests to be satisfied.”

International community should also ponder on the prolonged Afghan conflict and needs to support Afghanistan in achieving a broad inclusive political reconciliation, support the Afghan people in pursuing a development path that suits their own national conditions and support the Afghan government in increasing it capability to fight forces of extremism and terrorism. Time has come to realize the strategic environment in Afghanistan and find a political solution to the imbroglio by taking all stake holders on board, there is simply no other way.

THE US DILEMMA by Lt General Tariq Khan

28 Aug

By Lt. General Tariq Khan (Retired)

 

The US finds it does not know how to dismount the tiger.

The US is finding the war in Afghanistan a little too hot for its liking and why not; it was a war that remained in search of strategy and failed to find it. It’s not that I wish to gloat, nor that I want to say ‘I told you so’, but that one is forced to respond when confronted with accusations that the US failed in Afghanistan on account of Pakistan.

  • That we were a tricky two-faced partner. Since I was closely associated with this conflict for a number of years and since I am aware of the things that happened, it is only right that people such as me must speak for Pakistan just as we fought for Pakistan.
  • That a hundred and fifty thousand NATO troops have been overwhelmed by the imagined hoards that Pakistan sent across the border, challenges my professional understanding of the situation.
  • That this is the same border that neither Afghanistan recognises and resists its management or fencing, of course, cannot have escaped US attention.
  • That Pakistan has seven times the number of posts than Afghanistan and the US combined does not seem to make any headway.
  • That Afghan communication systems are functioning despite Pakistan’s repeated requests that they be shut down while Pakistani SIMs are down and out is another moot point.
  • That three Generals of the US Army promised additional border deployment with a US brigade across the North Waziristan Border remains a promise unfulfilled and forgotten.
  • That the US unilaterally up-staked and left Nuristan and the Kunar Valley, one of the most dangerous areas on the border, creating a vacuum is a question that only they can answer.
  • That Pakistani dissidents were given safe havens in this vacuum and encouraged to attack Pakistan is for all to see and take note of.
  • That the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) accounted for 14 Indians from Kerala amongst the causalities was never a surprise for us.
  • That India is permitted to have so many conciliates along the Border, and none are processing visas is an obvious aberration.
  • That Pakistan suffered horrendous terrorist attacks from Afghanistan through these bands of militants organised and facilitated in Kunar is a no brainer.

Pakistan has been a so-called “ally,” although we have:

  • captured the maximum al-Qaeda operators than all countries combined
  • have lost 70,000 of our citizens
  • have the highest military causalities
  • our officer dead and wounded to troop ratio is the highest in the world
  • our generals to troop causalities is unprecedented

The cost of war has devastated the infrastructure, caused millions of citizens to be displaced and has affected the economy to the tune of $ 100 Billion. It has cleared 48,000 sq kms of its soil, secured 3,500 kms of lines of communication (LoC), re-established the writ of the government in these areas, allowing people to return home, the armed forces are popular and the borders controlled. But then even as I narrate this, it also saddens me.

Do the Americans not know this? Are we just a victim of not having a narrative, a victim of a bad image or slanderous Haqqani shooting off his mouth? Could it be as simple as that? No, that is not possible and I am convinced, that no amount of logic, no amount of reasoning will change the US posture towards Pakistan.

The bias and the prejudice is despite what the US knows; the posture taken is premediated and deliberate and we must have been factored into some distant objective the US may have in mind and, therefore, action initiated against us must be a way to arrive at that objective.

The story of the safe havens we are accused of nurturing is so close to the engineered narrative about the weapons of mass destruction that were allegedly discovered in Iraq and now such a predictable US method to madness i.e. create a false casus-belie, broad caste it, respond to it with physical force.

However, at the moment, I still feel that US is going through the motion of the good cop-bad cop routine and if we can stare them down effectively, they may back down. Remember, the US is a bully and the bully can never be appeased; the more you please, the more arrogant he gets. So, we are warned in the first part of the new US manoeuvre, while in the second part, we are to expect a troop surge of 4,000 troops to make a total of 12,000 men. In the confused and tentative objectives of this two-pronged strategy, the US is looking for its relief, its coup de grace, and conclusion to its military adventure in Afghanistan.

How?

The troop numbers cannot win back the 40% of space already lost, in fact, that cannot sustain the space they already have. I see these troops now resorting to fire-power, bombings and long range artillery with a high ratio of airborne component. The nature and character of this force does not appear to have a ground-holding capacity. So, I can only conclude that it is intended to punish the Taliban from a distant. If that be true, to what purpose?

To me, it appears that it endeavours to put the US in a better position to negotiate a power transfer. To me, it looks that this ‘Unity’ Government is about to be ditched. To me, it looks that the Taliban have won a place at the table where they can secure the ways and means to be the future legitimate government of Afghanistan. To me, it also seems that the Indians may be the next US proxy and who might be foolish enough to take on this role.

I hope they do.

My hopes are founded on the likely outcome of such a stupidity if it ever comes to it.

Coming to Pakistan; we are about to lose our privileged allied status.

Were we ever privileged? Did we discover any advantage or draw anything out of such a relationship?

I think it is time to sever this relationship that has, in fact, cost as so much. We hear of all the money and funds that the US taxpayers gave to us. I, for one, am thankful for their assistance – I would like to say to the people of the US that we are grateful for their contributions.

However, what did we get and should we always be told of what are obligations are on account of it?

Well, here are the bare facts, taking the year 2009 as a constant, we have received from the US a total of $ 61 Billion.

Working on another constant of 180 million people, this translates to $10.30/ head. Surely, we can do without this $10.30, even if it did get to the people.

We have also received, a total of $14 Billion since 2002 till today.

Against a 175 Billion national economy, this hardly amounts to .5% of our GDP.

Like I said earlier, we are thankful for whatever we received and would never want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but in no way, do we feel that we are obligated due to such an insignificant amount or for that matter any amount, nor is the US entitled to make unreasonable demands on account of it, nor can we put our sovereignty or what remains of it, at the disposal of the US, because of it?

We are not for sale.

Having lost the war in Afghanistan, which they now wish to blame Pakistan, having parked our enemy in our back yard, having closed an eye to how we have been attacked from areas under their control and now being threatened for some ulterior motive, we must seek a suitable response.

In my mind, the US will do what it has decided to do regardless of any explanations we have, any reasoning, narrative or argument that we present. Whereas, our response lies mostly lies in the domain of diplomacy and in garnering support from friendly countries as far as possible, yet we must reserve the right and the option of responding in a reciprocal a manner if it comes to a physical conflict.

We should be wary of the total lack of support from the Islamic countries and the so called Ummah, as they have amply displayed, and rely on ourselves more than anyone else.

My recommendation is a warning to Afghanistan that any hostile activity emanating from its territory will be taken as an act of war. That we shall respond by causing as much damage as we can in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Bagram. We have the range, capability and capacity; they should be wary of testing it.

This may deter any adventure the US has in mind, never beg a bully!!!!

ٹی ٹی پی کا زوا ل اور “را”،”این ڈی ایس ” کے ساتھ گٹھ جو ڑ بے نقا ب : احسا  ن اللہ احسا ن کے تہلکہ خیز انکشافات

22 May

 

(سید ثاقب علی شاہ)

 

بدنا م زما نہ دہشت گرد تنظیم تحریک طا لبان پاکستان (ٹی ٹی پی) اور جماعت الا حرا ر کا سا بقہ ترجما ن احسان اللہ احسان جو ملا لہ یو سفزئی ، شجا ع خا نزا دہ ، نا نگا پر بت میں غیر ملکی سیا حوں  اور با چا خان ائیر پو رٹ جیسے متعدد سفاکا نہ حملوں میں ملو ث رہا اب پا ک فوج کی حراست میں ہے ۔ احسان  اللہ احسان نے خود کو پا ک فو ج کے حوالے کرنے کے بعد تہلکہ خیز انکشافات کیے جس میں سر فہر ست بھا رتی خفیہ ایجنسی “را” کی پاکستان میں دہشت گرد انہ اور تحزیبی کا روائیوں  کے لیے کالعدم دہشت گر د تنظیموں کی سر پر ستی اور مالی معاونت جیسے جر ائم کا پردہ فا ش کر نا ہے ۔ ایک اعتر افی وڈیو بیا ن میں احسان اللہ احسان جس کا اصل نا م لیاقت ہے،  نے واضح کیا کہ وزیر ستان آپر یشن کے بعد یہ دہشت گر د بھا گ کر افغانستا ن چلے گئے جہاں اُس نے دیکھا کہ طا لبا ن کے سر براہو ں ، ” این ڈی ایس ” اور “را” کے تعلقات کو فر وغ حاصل ہو رہا ہے۔ یہ خفیہ ایجنسیا ں طا لبان کی مالی معا ونت کر کے انہیں پا کستان میں دہشت گردی کے لیے اہداف سو نپتی اور بعد ازاں ہر ایک دہشت گر دانہ کا روائی کے عوض انعام بھی دیتی۔ طالبان کے سر بر اہ اپنے جنگجوؤں کو مید ان جنگ میں پاکستان آرمی کے خلا ف لڑنے کے لیے چھو ڑ کر خو د خفیہ ٹھکا نو ں میں رُوپو ش ہو جا تے ۔ پاکستان آرمی کے افغانستان کی سر زمین میں جما عت الاحرار کے خلا ف حالیہ آپریشن میں جہاں متعدد جنگجوؤں کے مرنے کےساتھ ساتھ انکے کیمپ بھی تبا ہ ہوئے  وہاں دوسری طر ف زند ہ بچنے والے جنگجوو ٔں کی اعلی قیا دت ، “را” اور” این ڈی ایس ” کے چھکے بھی چھُوٹ گئے ۔ احسان اللہ احسان نے ان جنگجو ؤں کو جو طالبان کے ُچنگل سے  آزاد ہونا چاہتےہیں انہیں امن کا راستہ اختیا ر کر کے واپس پُر امن  زند گی گزارنے کا پیغام دیا ۔

احسان اللہ احسان کے اعترافی بیان اور ہتھیا ر ڈالنے کی بنیا دی اہمیت یہ ہے کہ تحریک طالبان کے گر وہ انتہائی کمزور ہو رہے ہیں اور یہ بات خوش آئند ہے کہ رواں آپریشن ردالفساد میں پاکستان آرمی نتیجہ خیز کامیابی حا صل کر  رہی ہے ۔ مو جو د ہ فو جی حکمت عملی، پاکستان سے بھا گ کر افغانستان کی سر زمین میں روپو ش ہونے والے دہشت گر دوں کو پا رہ پارہ کر نے اور جڑسے اکھا ڑ نے میں معا ون ثابت ہو رہی ہے۔مو جو دہ آپر یشن نے تحر یک طالبان کو بے انتہا نقصانا ت پہنچا ئے جس کے بعد میڈیا پر کو ریج نہ ملنے کی وجہ سے انہوں نے سوشل میڈیاپر  نو جو انوں کو گمُر اہ کر نا شروع کیا ۔ اپنے اعترافی بیان میں احسان نے کہا کہ وہ اسلا م کی غلط تشر یح کر کے پر وپیگنڈا بیا نا ت  شا ئع کرتے تاکہ نو جو انو ں کےجذبات اُبھار کر انھیں اُکسایا جا سکے ۔ اس نے نوجو انوں کو بھی یہ پیغام دیا کہ یہ لو گ اپنے ذاتی مقا صد اور پاکستان دشمن بیر ونی قوتو ں کی ایما ء پر پا کستان کے خلا ف لڑ رہے ہیں ۔

۳  اپریل کو جب پا کستان آرمی کے میڈیا ونگ (آئی ایس پی آر ) نے جما عت الاحرار  کے آٹھ کما نڈروں کے ہتھیا ر ڈالنے کی خبر سنا ئی تو صرف تین نا م  اکبر ، گل ، اور سر اج کو واضح کیا جبکہ احسا ن اللہ احسان کی خبر کو بعد ازاں  ۱۷ اپر یل کو منظر عام پر لایاگیا  ۔ احسان کی رضاکارانہ حوالگی کی ایک بڑی وجہ تحریک طالبا ن کی قیا دت کا غیر ملکی عنا صر کی ایما ء پر  پا کستا ن کے خلا ف ہتھیا ر اٹھا نا ہے ۔ احسا ن نے یہ بھی انکشاف کیا کہ ان دہشت گرد تنظیمو ں نے افغا نستان میں کمیٹیاں بنا ئی ہیں جن کے ذریعے یہ “را” اور “این ڈی ایس” سے رابطے برقرار رکھتے ہیں۔ ان دونو ں خفیہ ایجنسیوں نے دہشتگر دوں کو خصوصی ویزے جا ری کیے  ہیں تاکہ وہ  افغانستا ن کی سر زمین میں آسانی سے سفر کر سکیں اور یہ ویزے افغانستان میں پا کستانی شنا ختی کا رڈ کی طر ح کا م کر تے ہیں ۔ سکیو رٹی کی  صورتحا ل کے پیش نظر افغانستان میں کہیں بھی سفر سے قبل یہ دہشتگرد افغا نستان اور بھارتی سیکورٹی فورسزسے  رابطے میں رہتے ہیں ۔ یہ ایجنسیاں ان دہشتگردوں کو راستہ فرا ہم کر تی ہیں  اور ان کی پاکستا ن کی سر زمین میں دراندازی کی کو ششوں میں رہنما ئی کر تی ہیں ۔ ایسی صورتحال میں اگر افغا ن فوجی اسٹیبلشمنٹ پاکستان کے ساتھ مخلصا نہ انٹیلی جنس شیر نگ کرے، جس سے وہ ہمیشہ گریزاں رہے ہیں تو ان دہشتگردوں پر مزید دبا ؤڈال کر ان کا قلع قمع کیا جا سکتا ہے ۔

جما عت الا حرار تحریک طالبان کا علیحد ہ ہو نےوالا خطر نا ک ترین گروہ ہے جو متعدد سفاکا نہ حملوں میں ملو ث رہا ہے۔ تین سال قبل وجود میں آنے کے بعد اس گروہ نے ۱۲۰ سے زائد دہشتگر دانہ حملے کیے ۔ ایک مو قع پر یہ گر وہ داعش کےساتھ بھی منسوب رہا مگر دوبارہ تحریک طالبان کے ساتھ شامل ہو ا لیکن اس نےاپنے  آزاد انہ تشخص کو بر قرار رکھا ۔ فروری کے مہینے میں اس  گر وہ نے نا م نہا د ” آپر یشن غا زی ” کا  بھی آغاز کیا جس کے تحت دہشتگر د انہ حملو ں کی نئی لہر شروع کی گئی ۔ احسان اللہ احسان کے حراست میں آنے سے پاکستانی سکیورٹی ایجنسیو ں کو جما عت الا حرار کے نیٹ ورکس اور  آپریشنز کے متعلق بے پنا ہ معلوما ت مل سکتی ہیں جو انکے سد ِباب کے لیے انتہا ئی معاون ثابت ہو ں گی ۔

بھارتی ایجنسی “را” کا تحریک طالبا ن کی قیا دت کو مددفراہم کرنے کے انکشا فات نے تحریک طالبان کے نظریا تی اساس کو معد وم کر دیا ہے ۔ احسان  اللہ احسا ن نے ٹی ٹی پی کما نڈر عمر خا لد خُراسا نی سے کہا کے ہم کا فر و ں سے مد د لے کر ان کے لیے اپنے ملک میں ہی مسلما نو ں کو قتل کر  رہے ہیں جو سر اسر غلط ہے تو خرا سانی نے جو اب دیا کہ ” اگر اسرائیل بھی پاکستان میں دہشتگر د ی کے لیے میر ی معاونت کر ے تو میں اس کی مدد لینے سے بھی گر یز نہیں کر وں گا ” ۔ اس مو قع پر احسان نے اس بات کا احاطہ کر لیا کہ تحریک طالبان کی قیا دت اپنے ذاتی مفا د اور ایجنڈے کے لیے کا م کر رہی ہے اور جہا د کی آڑمیں لگا یا گیا  گمر اہ کُن نعر ہ کبھی  بھی ان کا حقیقی مقصدنہیں رہا۔تحریک طالبان کی قیادت پر ان کے قلیل امیروں کا قبضہ ہے جو معصو م لو گو ں کے قتل ، اغو ا اور ان سے بھتہ لینے کا کا م کر واتےہیں۔ یہ امیر معصوم لو گو ں کو عوامی مقا مات ، سکو لو ں ، کا لجو ں اور یو نیورسٹیو ں میں دھما کے کر نے کے لیےبھی  استعما ل کر تے ہیں ۔ اسلا م ہمیں  امن سے رہنے کی تلقین کر تا ہے اورایسے تما م اقداما ت اسلامی تعلیما ت کے سراسر خلا ف ہیں ۔

قبائلی علا قوں میں پا ک فوج کے آپریشن کے آغا ز کے بعد تحریک طالبان کی صفوں میں اندرونی تنا زعات اور قیا دت کے حصول کے لیے جھگڑوں میں اضا فہ ہو ا ۔ حکیم اللہ محسود کی ہلا کت کے فو راً بعد جا نشینی کی جنگ میں عمر خا لد خُر اسانی ، خا ن سید سجنا اور فضل اللہ ایک دوسرے کے آمنے سامنے آ گئے اور قیا دت حا صل کر نے کی یہ  لڑا ئی وزیرستان آپریشن  کے  بعد مزید شدت اختیار کر گئی ۔ جب تنظیم میں ہر  ایک قیا دت کے حصول لے لیے لڑنا شرو ع ہو گیا تو شو رٰی نے قرعہ اندا زی کر نے کا فیصلہ کیاجس کے نتیجے میں فضل اللہ نیا سر براہ  مقرر ہوا۔ ایسی تنظیم سے کیا توقع کی جا سکتی ہے جس کے سربراہ  کا تعین قر عہ اند ازی سے ہو ا اور اس کا سربراہ )فضل اللہ( اپنے ہی استاد کی بیٹی کو اٹھا کر زبردستی شادی کر کے برے کردار کا مظاہرہ کرے۔ ایسے لوگ اسلام کی تعلیمات سے نالاں ہیں بلکہ یہ اسلام کی بدنامی کا بھی باعث ہیں۔

موجودہ صورتحال میں پاکستان دہشتگردوں کے خلاف انتہائی مضبوط مقام پر کھڑا ہےاور آنے والے دنوں میں مزید مضبوط ہوتا نظر آرہا ہے۔ پاکستان کی نئی فوجی قیادت کی آپریشن ردُالفساد میں نئی حکمت عملی انتہائی موثرثابت ہو رہی ہے جو ایک طرف تمام دہشتگردوں اور تخریب کاروں کے خلاف بلاامتیاز بھرپور طاقت کا استعمال کر رہی ہے وہیں دوسری طرف مفاہمت کا راستہ بھی اپنائے ہوئے ہے۔ وہ لوگ جنہوں نے ریاست پاکستان کے خلاف ہتھیار اٹھائے ہیں ان کا منہ توڑ جواب دیا جائے گا جبکہ وہ لوگ جو  اپنے گمراہ کن نظریات کو ترک کر کےقانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں سے دہشتگردوں کے خلاف معاونت کریں گے ان کے خلاف مقدمات میں رعایت کی جائے گی۔ احسان اللہ احسان کے مطابق ہزاروں کی تعداد میں دہشتگرد پاک فوج کے سامنے ہتھیار ڈالنا چاہتے ہیں۔ کا ینیٹک آپریشن کے ساتھ ساتھ اس بات کی بھی ضرورت ہے کہ جودہشتگرد ہتھیار ڈالنے کا ارادہ رکھتے ہیں ان  کی حوصلہ افزائی کی جائے ۔ بلوچستان کے عسکریت پسندوں کی طرح ان لوگوں کو بھی خودکو  سیکیورٹی فورسز کےحوالے کرنے کا موقع دینا چاہیےتاکہ وہ مزید گمراہی اور درندگی سے بچ سکیں۔

پاکستانی ریاست ، اداروں اور قوم نے ملک میں سیکیورٹی صورتحال بہتر کرنے کے لیے قابل ستائش پیش قدمی کی ہے۔ آپریشن ردُالفساد میں ہم نے اس حد تک پیش رفت کی ہے کہ سرحد پار بیٹھے  پاکستان کے خلاف دہشتگرد حملوں کی منصوبہ بندی کرنے والے اب بدلتی صورتحال سے دل شکستہ ہیں۔ ریاست پاکستان کی رٹ پورے ملک میں بحال ہے اور یہ بات واضح رہنی چاہیے کہ جب ریاست غیرضروری عناصر کو ختم کرنے کی ٹھان لے توان عناصر کا خاتمہ ان کا مقدر بن جاتا ہے۔ پاکستان  کے لیے اس سے بڑی کوئی کامیابی نہیں ہو سکتی کہ ہمارے بڑے دشمنوں کوگمراہ کن راستوں کے انتخاب کی غلطی کا احساس ہو رہا ہے اور وہ ان راستوں کو ترک کر رہے ہیں۔ احسان اللہ احسان نے سب کے سامنے یہ راز بھی افشاء کر دیا کہ پاکستان میں گزشتہ کئی برس سے جاری دہشتگردی کے پیچھے  کس کے ناپاک ہاتھ ہیں۔پاکستانی خفیہ اداروں کے لیے کلبھوشن کے بعد احسان اللہ احسان ہندوستان کے خلاف بڑی کامیابی ہے۔پاکستان اپنے دشمنوں اور دہشت گردوں کا بھر پور مقابلہ کر کے صفایا کر رہا ہے اوریہی وجہ ہے کہ شکست خوردہ  تحریک طالبان کے کارندے اپنی وفاداریاں بدل کر ہتھیار ڈالنے پر مجبور ہیں ۔