Gathering dark clouds
Asif Haroon Raja
Muslims of East Bengal were the worst affected region during the British rule and had ardently yearned for Pakistan to free themselves from the cruel crutches of Hindu-British combine that had turned them into serfs. Birth of Pakistan was seen as a miracle of 20th century. Its survival under extreme odds was indeed a bigger miracle.
Pundit Nehru had eyes on East Pakistan (EP) soon after the birth of Pakistan. Links were established with Bengali political leaders to sow seeds of misgivings in their minds. India had a hand in the 1953 language issue which created bad blood between the people of East and West Pakistan. Influential Hindu minority in East Pakistan particularly Hindu intelligentsia, businessmen, teachers and professors were to play a key role in poisoning the minds of Bengalis. It took India 24 years to subvert the minds of Bengalis, who were in the vanguard of Pakistan movement, influence them to hate West Pakistan and to consider India as their friends.
Illegal occupation of two-thirds Kashmir by Indian military became a bone of contention between the two arch rivals. After India failed to defeat and destroy Pakistan armed forces in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and all its ground and air attacks were grounded, it decided to breakup Pakistan using indirect strategy of initially weakening it from within through subversion and political destabilization and then using the military instrument. East Pakistan located 1000 miles away from West Pakistan with no ground linkage and surrounded by India from three directions was chosen as a target and for the achievement of its objective, Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was taken on board in 1963. His six -point plan was a route to secession.
The conspiracy to create Bangladesh was stepped up by newly created RAW in 1968. It helped Mujib and his team of conspirators to create Mukti Bahini, intensify Bengali nationalism and sweep the 1970 elections. A plane hijacking drama was engineered in January 1971 and the incident was used as an excuse to sever east-west air flights to isolate EP. Pakistan had to use long circuitous air route via Colombo to reach Dacca.
After postponement of Constituent Assembly inaugural session at Dacca on 01 March 1971, Mujib adopted an uncompromising defiant posture. He let the Mukti Bahini carry out systematic slaughter and rape of West Pakistanis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis and created a state within state. To stop his madness, Gen Yahya was impelled to launch a military operation, which led to province wide civil war.
Isolated and outnumbered Pak forces recaptured all the lost towns and restored order in record time of less than two months. Indira Gandhi had however made up her mind to dismember Pakistan and she not only thwarted all reconciliatory attempts made by Pakistan, but tasked Gen Manekshaw to organize guerrilla war in EP and then wage a war. 59 training camps were established for 2, 80,000 rebels. Indian soldiers dressed in civil clothes assisted them.
It took India nine months to create desired conditions to launch its military in November 1971. Former Soviet Union that had signed Treaty of Friendship with India in August 1971 extended full support to India in this venture. USA, Israel, Afghanistan and some Arab countries supported India, while China was contained by Soviet forces. Since separation of EP was a pre-planned international conspiracy, none came to the rescue of Pakistan when it was being brutally vivisected. On December 16, 1971 the eastern limb was severed and Bangladesh created.
RAW started making inroads in Sindh and in Baluchistan from 1973 onward by supporting Sindhu Desh movement and Baloch insurgency. It also maintained contacts with ANP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Saraikis in Multan-Bahawalpur regions and Balwaristan movement in Gilgit-Baltistan. 5th columnists, nationalist politicians and disgruntled elements were also kept in the loop. Purpose was to stoke provincialism and induce the people of smaller province to rebel against Punjab. Baloch insurgency in 1970s was fully supported by RAW. Likewise, Al-Zulfiqar was also extended full support from 1980 till 1994.
After 9/11, India got a real chance to carry out yet another 1971 like surgical operation. This time a new band of conspirators ganged up with India to weaken Pakistan internally through sabotage, subversion and propaganda, discredit, isolate and denuclearize it and then further fragment it into four parts. Operation Blue Tulsi launched by the adversaries in 1994 to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program was given a fillip through war on terror to bleed Pakistan. This was reinforced with fifth generation war to demonize Pakistan and its premier institutions.
The conspirators used Afghanistan as the base of operation and started weaving a web around Pakistan in 2002 to destabilize it and economically weaken it through covert operations. In the last 15 years, their proxies have inflicted 75,000 human casualties and caused an economic loss of $123 billion. The sold out media has helped in polarizing the political parties, dividing the society, demonising the incumbent government and creating uncertainty. Their exterior manoeuvre has isolated Pakistan and spoilt its image despite Pak military’s outstanding performance in the war on terror.
‘Get Pakistan’ operation assumed urgency after the inauguration of CPEC in 2015 which has all the ingredients to make Pakistan socially integrated, politically stable, economically and militarily strong and self-reliant. The conspirators have now become desperate to either scuttle CPEC or else dismember Pakistan.
The conspirators have thus far not been able to achieve their sinister objectives despite inflicting thousands of cuts on the body of Pakistan and its people. The bloody operation has not reached its logical end due to nuclear deterrence and Herculean resistance put up by Pakistan armed forces, ISI, and the people.
India-US defence relations in recent years have moved along an upward trajectory. After the US signed the civil nuclear deal signed in 2008 and gave India access to Nuclear Suppliers Group, the two countries signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum, Maritime agreement and Strategic Communications agreement in 2015, which were China and Pakistan specific. On December 8, 2016, USA designated India as its major defence partner with a view to expand bilateral defense cooperation between both nations. This was announced by visiting US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in Delhi. The designation has placed India among the closest allies and partners of US.
Encouraged by USA, India has subjected Pakistan to multi-dimensional overt and covert wars as under:
1. India’s RAW in collusion with NDS and CIA is involved in biggest ever proxy war against Pakistan from the soil of Afghanistan.
2. India’s 7,50,000 security forces having converted Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) into an open prison are breaking all records of human rights violations and barbarities against the Muslim Kashmiris.
3. Operation ‘All Out’ has been launched in IOK to systematically eliminate Kashmiri youth. Hindu Pundits and retired armed forces persons are being settled in IOK to change the demography of Kashmir.
4. India with the help of USA after tying the hands of Pakistan and restraining it to provide arms to the freedom fighters, has been exerting pressure on Pakistan to stop extending political and moral support to Kashmiris and forget Kashmir.
5. To hide its massive human rights violations in Kashmir, India constantly accuses Pakistan of abetting terrorism in IOK.
6. Indian military has under a calculated design kept the Line of Control and Working Boundary in Kashmir hot through almost daily ceasefire violations inflicting casualties on soldiers and civilians. Over 400 firing incidents have taken place in last 3 months killing 18 civilians. Indian Army Chief Gen Bipen has admitted that it’s being done to maximize pressure on Pakistan. Another purpose behind constant firing across de-facto border is to hide its massive human rights violations in IOK and to distract attention away from its illegal and brutal occupation of Kashmir.
7. Water terrorism unleashed by India to make Pakistan dry is part of the overall scheme to force Pakistan to bend to its dictates. Rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi have been dried up, while water flow in Rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus reduced.
8. India has now started persistently harassing Pakistan diplomatic staff and their families in New Delhi.
9. India is an important player in the hybrid war launched against Pakistan to destabilise it politically, weaken its economy, foment discontentment, and create cleavages in the society, unrest, uncertainty and chaos.
10. In collaboration with USA, India is making all out efforts to internationally isolate Pakistan, blacklist it and put it under sanctions.
11. India is also systematically encircling Pakistan by placing its military in IOK and Siachin, establishing itself in Afghanistan, gaining operational control of Chabahar port in Iran, gaining access to Duqm port in Gulf of Oman and forging close ties with Arab Gulf States.
12. India has hung the sword of Cold Start doctrine over the head of Pakistan and is hurling threats of surgical strikes and limited war.
13. India is goading and inciting USA to carry out drone attacks in FATA, Baluchistan and also in urban centres against suspected hideouts of terrorists.
Since August 2017, Pakistan has been in the eye of storm in the US. President Trump and his administration have been on a rampage to punish Pakistan for the US own failures in Afghanistan, constantly portraying it as a security state harbouring extremists and terrorists. The US is hurling warnings and threats to Pakistan to dismantle alleged safe havens of Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban on its soil and to help the US in winning war in Afghanistan. No amount of explanations has mellowed the anger of Trump administration and it is hell-bent to penalise Pakistan for its uncommitted sins. The allegations made on the country are baseless and mischievous and at best, questionable. The US has failed to provide proofs to substantiate their accusations.
After putting Pakistan on notice and suspending $ 900 million close support fund, the US then decided to put Pakistan in the grey list of countries financing terrorist groups and then pave the way to blacklist it. Pakistan was accused by the US of non-compliance of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) rules and regulations on terrorism financing.
The joint motion moved by USA and UK in the FATF meeting last March was thwarted by China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Pakistan has gained a temporary reprieve for next three months because of several steps it had taken to control money laundering in the last few months and its impressive results achieved in controlling terrorism. Even Pakistan’s closest friends like China and Gulf States were finding it difficult to defend Pakistan on the issue of terrorism as was evident in last FATF meeting where great majority of 37 members had voted against Pakistan.
Suspension of military aid by the US surprisingly did not come as a shock to Pakistan’s civil and military leadership. On the contrary, US got a kick in the teeth when Pakistan reacted calmly, calling US a friend who always betrays. The US was told that Pakistan doesn’t need US aid but wants its sacrifices and achievements in war on terror to be acknowledged. Pakistan has made it clear that it hasn’t spared any terror group and all terror groups are now based in Afghanistan.
While Pakistan has flushed out all the terrorist groups in FATA and settled areas of KP, in Afghanistan there are 21 terrorist groups and the latest addition is Daesh (Khurasan chapter). Sanctuaries of Pakistan focussed TTP, Jamaat-e-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam are well-known and communicated to Afghan government and Resolute Support Group Commander. The US has not eliminated any, or has helped Pakistan in fencing the western border, or in extraditing the Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan since 1979 that have now become a security hazard. Resolution of these three aspects will greatly resolve the issue of illegal cross border movement and terrorism and will restore peace in Af-Pak region. Sadly! Peace in Afghanistan go against the imperialist interests of USA or India.
They say “every dark cloud has a silver lining”. In its 70-year turbulent history, Pakistan has been continuously subjected to conspiracies. Ongoing conspiracy woven in 2001 is much more dangerous than the 1971 international conspiracy. There is reason to believe that the political imbroglio which is enfeebling the economy is foreign abetted. Although this country is engulfed by a few hydra-headed problems and has been labeled as a failing state, its resilience has been a prominent feature of these seven decades of existence. Prophets of doom had predicted that Pakistan will not exist beyond 2017. Therefore its survival amidst all the speculations is by far its biggest success. Undoubtedly, Pakistan will weather the storm and will come out stronger than before.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence, security and political analyst, columnist, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. firstname.lastname@example.org