Asif Haroon Raja
Gen Pervez Musharraf, declared a pariah by the western world because of his military coup against a democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif excitedly joined the bandwagon of the US led adventurers in September 2001 under the fond hope that marrying up with the sole super power would be beneficial for him as well as for Pakistan. He perceived that alliance with the US would make Pakistan politically and economically strong and economically prosperous. Fancying that milk and honey would start flowing in the rivers of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, he gladly joined the GWOT. To earn full confidence of Washington he volunteered to make Pakistan the front line state. He consented to meet each and every demand of USA howsoever injurious to Pakistan as long as debts were rescheduled and aid money and investments flowed in. Provision of Ground Lines of Transportation (GLOT) for NATO free of cost via Torkham and Chaman was one of the many demands met, which these days has become a burning issue.
With sanctions lifted and debts rescheduled, foreign investment and US aid money flowing in, Pakistan’s economy which was in doldrums started becoming healthy. Blinded by the rising economic indicators because of consumerist economic policy pursued by the US choice man Shaukat Aziz, Mush kept dancing to the tunes of Washington and soon earned a special place in the heart of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim George W Bush. To elevate and glamorize him for the laudable services rendered in furthering the US interests, he was invited by Bush to Camp David where only the most privileged could enter. Washington patted Mush and the King’s Party running a rubber stamp national assembly but castigated Pakistan and its people. The US and western leaders made a beeline to visit Pakistan. Do more demand was ceded to with bowed heads and the faceless enemy fought with renewed fervor unmindful of the human and socio-economic losses incurred. The US political and military leaders became so emboldened that they started micro-managing internal affairs of Pakistan and treated it as the US 51st state.
CIA and FBI on the other hand kept up their covert activities in selected regions and got entrenched. The two agencies facilitated RAW-Mossad-MI-6-RAAM-BND covert war from Afghan soil to initially destabilize FATA and Balochistan and then spread the flames of terrorism to other parts of Pakistan. In order to hide their clandestine operations, a calculated psychological war was unleashed to put Pakistan on the defensive. Cross border terrorism and patronization of terrorist groups practiced by the six agencies were pasted on Pakistan. While anti-Pakistan local and foreign terrorists were funded, trained, equipped and launched to fight Pak security forces, Pakistan on the other hand was ridiculed that it was not doing enough and constantly pressed to do more.
By the time the ISI that had been distracted from its primary job of external security and kept busy in chasing the faceless terrorists to pocket reward money, woke up from its slumber in 2008, foreign agencies had dug their heels deep down and had wrought considerable havoc in Pakistan. Car bombs, IEDs, suicide bombings, group attacks, target killings, beheading of captives, attacks on mosques, shrines and funerals and kidnappings for ransom became a norm. Radicalism scaled new heights. Till as late as 2003, Pakistan had never experienced terrorism on such a high scale. Suicide attacks were unheard of and FATA was a peaceful region. When the ISI began to play its due role of first line defence and started recovering lost spaces in restive region of FATA and elsewhere, it irked CIA. Roadblocks were placed at a time when CIA network with the induction of Blackwater in 2008 had spread its tentacles from FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and major urban centres.
That was the timeframe in which the US tailored government had been installed through rigged elections. Musharraf who had performed well on the governance and economic fronts had agreed to the US proposal of sharing power for next five years with PPP led coalition government comprising liberal parties. The new COAS Gen Kayani, former DG ISI Lt Gen Pasha, PML-N, religious right and independent higher judiciary under chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhri became spoilers of the US game plan. PML-N however, fearful of Army takeover allowed the gang of looters to continue ruling for full tenure irrespective of their poor governance, record breaking corruption, defiance of rule of law and judiciary and anti-people policies under the misplaced hope that the PPP would allow it to rule for five years. Softness of the opposition allowed the rulers complete liberty of action to indulge in immoral and corrupt practices to fill their coffers at the cost of the masses.
Indebted to Washington, the rulers repaid it by not only pursuing Musharraf’s flawed policies suiting USA but also fighting the war on terror with greater vigor and impunity. Yusaf Raza Gilani-Rahman Malik-Hussein Haqqani trio liberalized visa policy, removed restrictions of scrutiny of visas by the ISI and Foreign Office and facilitated inflow of undesirables from USA. Between July-December 2010, 7000 unwanted CIA agents and US Marines disguised as security contractors, businessmen, coordinators, project managers and diplomats sneaked in and thus set the stage to undertake a bigger venture. Host of contingency plans to disable our nuclear arsenal had already been rehearsed by US Elite Forces. As the roadmap leading to our nuclear sites and areas where the heliborne strike force was to be received was being given final touches, one of the chief coordinators Raymond Davis got accidently arrested in Lahore in January 2011 after he murdered two motorcyclists whom he suspected were trailing him. The weapons, equipment, maps, cameras and gadgets recovered from his car gave an insight of the intentions and capacity of CIA network and its dangerous designs.
He was a professional spy, a thug and a serial killer who was strenuously working on an assigned mission, using Lahore Consulate as his safe haven. Earlier on he had been working in close liaison with CIA Station Manager Islamabad Jonathan Bank and prior to that in Peshawar. He had all along posed as a diplomat but during his initial interrogation by the police in Kot Lakhpat jail he revealed that he was not a diplomat. He would have divulged much more but the US Ambassador and Consul General in Lahore assured him that he would soon be released and advised him to seal his lips. He was set free on March 16 on express orders from Presidency. His arrest however jolted our security apparatus and it frantically started taking tough measures to safeguard our core assets.
Seeing that the US plan to dig the last nail in the coffin of Pakistan had been put in jeopardy by Pak Army/ISI, and ISAF was not performing in Afghanistan and CIA was being criticized for its failures, Pentagon and CIA decided to hit hard the two premier institutions. It was in this backdrop that ‘Operation Geronimo’ was actualized to denigrate and malign Pak Army, ISI and PAF. This is evident from the fact that after raiding OBL’s hideout and killing him without taking Pakistan into confidence, the US media, think tanks and officials embarked upon a programmed vilification campaign to undermine Army and ISI. There are strong indications that 2 May raid was carried out with the blessing Zardari, Gilani and Hussein Haqqani. The latter got fully exposed in memo scandal. Finding that the judicial rope had tightened around his neck, he has dissociated himself from the memo commission investigating the case.
One year has gone by, but the US is still exploiting 2 May raid. OBL’s death anniversary was misused to disparage Pak Army and ISI. While doing so, the US ignores huge sacrifices made by people and security forces of Pakistan. Today the US is crowing that al-Qaeda has almost been incapacitated in Af-Pak region but forgets that the ISI arrested most wanted terrorists of al-Qaeda which included Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Abu Zubadeh, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Younis al-Mauritani and broke its back. The ISI provided the critical clue in the form of OBL’s courier, Ahmad al-Kuwaiti which helped CIA to reach up to OBL’s compound. But for Pakistan’s wholesome contributions, Al-Qaeda would still have been a formidable force in this region. If Pakistan in reality had got secretly aligned with Afghan/Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the goose of the US would have got cooked long time back.