Hagel exposes India

RAPosted by Faheem Belharvi
Saturday, March 02, 2013 – Senator Chuck Hagel has sworn in on Wednesday as Secretary of Defence replacing Leon Panetta, who has been a source of pain for Pakistan, first as CIA chief and later as Secretary Defence. Of course, Chuck Hagel is likely to pursue the policies of the government, but it appears that President Obama wants to change his policy with regard to Israel and Iran otherwise he would not have nominated Hagel for this position.

In a speech at the Cameron University in Oklahoma in 2011, he had exposed India for the devious role played by her against Pakistan. Hagel had said: “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan from across the border in Afghanistan…India had been using Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan.” One wonders as to why the video of his speech reappeared on a website of the Washington Free Beach only a day before Hagel poised for a confirmation vote in the US Senate. Did Neocons tried to pull the fast one, or is there is a belated realization on the part of America that the CIA was playing a wolf in sheep’s clothing to Pakistan.

Last year, the Oversight and Investigations Sub-committee of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing on Balochistan chaired by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. A week later, Congressman Rohrabacher introduced a Resolution “Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Balochistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country.” For the last four years, there was a propaganda blitz against Pakistan in international media, and efforts were made to not only demonize Pakistan’s military but also to destabilize Pakistan.

There is a perception that whatever India did to harm Pakistan was with the connivance of the US. In fact, America had prepared an exit strategy from Afghanistan with the help of India, and had envisaged a bigger role for it after withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. It looks like that now America has changed its strategy and realized that smooth exit from Afghanistan is not possible without Pakistan’s cooperation.

India has been desperately trying to bring Afghanistan under its economic and political control with the main objective of damaging Pakistan’s interests. Indian Consulates, under the cover of reconstruction activities in bordering provinces of Pakistan had purposely selected bordering provinces of Afghanistan to influence the tribes along Pak-Afghan border.

Since America and its allies are occupying Afghanistan, India could not have done it without the blessings of the US. Reportedly, Maliks of Pakistani tribes were persuaded through middlemen and taken to Kabul for meetings with high ranking RAW officials. FATA and other settled areas like Swat and Malakand remained violent in the past due to heavy investment by RAW with the collaboration of Afghan intelligence. The problem was that Pakistan took all the insult and the onslaught lying down. After Pakistan put its foot down and stopped supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan after attack on Salala checkposts, there seems to be a change of ‘heart and mind’.

There is a perception that RAW agents are operating from the Indian consulates in the adjoining areas of the neighboring countries that are close to Balochistan and NWFP. Former chief minister Balochistan Jam Yousuf had said that Indian RAW was involved in terrorist activities, which inspired awe so that ongoing development work in Balochistan could not be completed. Political and defence analysts are of the opinion that India seems to be worried about the pace of development at Gwadar Port, because with its completion and becoming fully operational a new era will dawn on Balochistan, and of course Pakistan.

In order to reduce the importance of Gawadar, India expedited the construction of road to Iran’s Chahbahar port. But such intrigues cannot create fissures between two friendly countries. Pakistan and Iran are resolved to complete Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, and Iran has been kind to give loan of $500 million for construction of pipeline on Pakistani side.

It is not in good taste to recount one’s good deeds or sacrifices for the friends, but sometimes one has to remind the friendly country when instead of reciprocating it becomes a tool in others’ hands. It is unfortunate that Pakistan after having played an important role in Afghanistan’s war of independence in 1980s, and later participating in war on terror to the displeasure of people of tribal areas, Afghan government was giving preference to Indian government and India’s businessmen in almost every field.

It should be remembered that during Afghanistan’s struggle against former Soviet Union’s forces, India did not issue any statement to condemn the invasion, not to speak of providing moral or other support to Afghanistan. India was in fact an ally of former USSR during the Cold War era. But it is an eidetic reality that India has no border with Afghanistan; therefore it would not be able to play any bigger role for the stability and solidarity of Afghanistan.

America has indeed suffered on account of delay in taking vital decisions. During Vietnam War also, American leaders’ failure to take timely decisions led to their ignominious defeat. In Afghanistan, American leadership’s procrastination has cost it more than two hundred billion dollars. Now, after almost 11 years American leadership has realized that without Pakistan neither war on terror in Afghanistan is winnable nor can it have an honorable exit from the morass it is in.

Instead of realizing this reality, America had relied more on India and gave it a free hand in Afghanistan to create problems for Pakistan. Anyhow, change in its policy was visible from President Karzai’s assurance some time ago that India would not be allowed to use Afghanistan’s soil to destabilize Pakistan. During his visit to Pakistan, he had promised to keep Pakistan on board about any political engagement with the Taliban. He also sent out positive signals aimed at addressing Pakistan’s strategic concerns. The situation appears to be moving in the right direction so far as Pakistan is concerned. Let us hope for the best.

(Mohammad Jamil—The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.)

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