Why sudden increase in terrorism in Pakistan? Part 1
By Asif Haroon Raja
Afghan Jihad (1979-1989)
After the Islamic revolution in Iran in March 1979, the next big event which took place was the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet forces in December 1979. In anticipation to the Great Bear taking the next step in search of warm waters, Pakistan’s President Gen Ziaul Haq considered it prudent to support the Afghan resistance movement and to fight the war on Afghan soil rather than waiting to fight the future war on Pak soil. After standing up to the Soviet challenge alone till June 1981, the US decided to join the war by extending material support to Pakistan and the Mujahideen were named as holy warriors. FATA was turned into a forward base of operation and training ground to launch the Mujahids. The CIA brought in thousands of Mujahids from other Muslim countries. While the weapons and intelligence were provided by USA, and funds by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the overall coordinator and executor of covert and overt operations was the ISI. As per Bruce Reidel, the US spent only $4-5 billion, and the rest of funding was done by KSA.
Joint efforts of Pakistan and the Mujahideen forced the Soviet forces to exit from Afghanistan by February 1989. Their humiliating defeat and crashing economy splintered USSR and reduced it to Russian Federation in 1991, ending bi-polarism and the cold war between the two super powers. The ones who had elevated USA to the status of the sole super power, were left alone by ungrateful USA to fend for themselves. The US made India, which was the camp follower of USSR since its inception, as its strategic partner and Pakistan was put under sanctions and scrutiny.
Pakistan bore the fallout effects of the ten-year war in Afghanistan, which had given rise to religious extremism and sectarianism in the 1990s. But it was by and large a nonviolent country where suicide attacks and explosive filled vehicle explosions were unheard of. Baluchistan and FATA were peaceful and Pakistan was economically showing signs of progress.
Post 9/11 Era
When 9/11 happened, the world was horror-struck over the dastardly aerial terrorism which claimed about 3000 American lives. The whole world sympathized with USA and this sympathy wave has not completely evaporated even now after it was learnt that it was an in-house affair engineered by Zionists and neocons to achieve global ambitions. George W. Bush administration itched for revenge and launched a crusade against self-appointed terrorists without any evidence.
The US once again befriended Pakistan to gain short term benefits, but under the condition that it will unfriend Taliban regime in Kabul and provide all kinds of military and intelligence support to the US-NATO forces to occupy Afghanistan. Gen Musharraf in search of legitimacy agreed, but instead of giving a helping hand to 48-country alliance under the umbrella of ISAF to fight Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, he agreed to fight them on Pak soil when his arm was twisted in 2002.
Terrorism used as a weapon against Pakistan
Gen Musharraf’s decision to send regular troops to South Waziristan to fight CIA created Al-Qaeda that had taken part in Afghan Jihad against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan along with the Mujahideen, triggered a backlash and for the first time the Waziri tribesmen picked up arms against Pak security forces.
The plan envisaged spreading flames of terrorism in FATA to PATA to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and next Punjab. Simultaneously Baluchistan was to be made restive. In this the US, India, Afghanistan, UK, Israel were fully involved. Their intelligence agencies sat under one roof at Sehra Neward north of Kabul and hatched conspiracies to destabilize Pakistan with the help of paid proxies, and to later on denuclearize it. Subsequently, scuttling of CPEC became an added target.
RAW established 87 training camps and centres (66 in eastern and southern Afghanistan and 21 in India). The Indian Embassy in Kabul acted as master planner and 4 Indian Consulates filled with RAW agents worked as forward coordinating centres. Iran was made as an auxiliary base of operation.
Cross border terrorism was planned and executed at a massive scale from Afghan soil which was spearheaded by RAW and 14 Indian intelligence agencies, and supported by, CIA, MI-6, Mossad, BND, and NDS. Objectives were to destabilize, denuclearize, secularize and balkanize Pakistan.
CIA and FBI established Spider Web network in FATA in which retired commando soldiers from Pakistan and Afghanistan were inducted on high pay scale. Outward modus operandi was to net Al-Qaeda elements, but its task was to create space and areas of influence for Baitullah Masood and Abdullah Masood and pave the way for establishing Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with tentacles in all seven tribal agencies. Well over 400 to 600 pro-Pakistan elders, Maliks and religious leaders were killed in FATA and civil administration officials terrorized. Intelligence duties of FATA were taken over by CIA from the ISI and the latter tasked to kill/arrest Al-Qaeda operatives. The ISI and security forces nabbed over 600 Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives and their Pakistani affiliates, who were handed over to CIA. The flames of terrorism were gradually spread from one tribal agency to another. After making whole of FATA restive, and next KP, Islamabad and major cities of Punjab were also subjected to suicide attacks and group attacks, particularly after Lal Masjid episode in July 2007.
Likewise terrorism was enflamed in Baluchistan in 2004 with the help of Bugti, Marri and Mengal Baloch tribes. Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan was used by CIA to launch drones against anti-American elements in FATA, and those signing peace deal with the Pak Army. This base was also used by CIA to support Sunni Jundollah against Iran. Later on, urban Sindh was made turbulent through MQM in 2010-11. No part of the country remained safe from acts of terror, which included, IED attacks, suicide attacks, explosive laden vehicle attacks, group attacks and target killings.
Efforts were made to undermine Pak nuclear program by selling the narrative that it was vulnerable and likely to fall in wrong hands. Idea of joint control was floated with a view to steal or disable the nukes.
The new laws framed on terrorism by USA helped India, Afghanistan and Israel to fan terrorism in target countries. Fearing to be declared a terrorist state, Gen Musharraf and his successors adopted a defensive, reactive and apologetic strategy and not only refrained from countering the state terrorism of India and Afghanistan, but also failed to chalk out a counter narrative of Indo-Afghan-US narrative that Pakistan abets terrorism and others are victims. To please USA, Pak leaders kept doing more, not realizing that the demand of doing more was meant to tire and exhaust security forces and to dishevel Pak economy.
Major counter terrorism operations launched by Pakistan
Once the TTP reached closer to Margala Hills in Islamabad after capturing Lower Dir and Buner, Operations Rah-e-Raast and Rah-e-Nijaat were launched in 2009 which helped in recovering 17 out of 19 administrative units that had come under the sway of TTP. During these operations, dozens of concealed caves laden with arms of all kinds, ammunition, explosives, IEDs, suicide jackets and Thora satellite wireless sets were discovered. Suicide training centre at Srarogha run by Qazi Hussain and a simulated paradise at Khaisura in South Waziristan were found. Several Hindus disguised as Imam Masjids were arrested. After the terror attack on Jinnah terminal, Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in June 2014 which cleared North Waziristan and Khyber Agency. Huge caches of arms were seized, and hidden jails and IED manufacturing factories demolished. Writ of the state in lawless FATA was restored. The TTP and all its affiliates took refuge in Afghanistan. The three operations were at the cost of about 4000 casualties of the brave-hearts.
In Baluchistan, after a military operation in 2006-07, the Frontier Corps was strengthened and given frontline security duties. The separatist agenda assigned to Baloch militant groups BLA, BRA, BLF, and Lashkar Baluchistan led by the absconding rebellious Baloch leaders was busted.
In Sindh, Rangers and police were employed in September 2013 to eliminate urban terrorism which was quashed in 2016 after defanging militant wing of the MQM. Lights of port city were restored. The MQM militants used to go to India by air via Bangkok to get trained in target killings in 4 training camps in Dera Dun and Harayana. Runaway Javed Langra received them at Delhi airport. One of the sources of arms procurement were NATO containers stolen by Port & Shipping minister Babar Ghori. Funds were delivered by RAW to Altaf Hussain living a lord’s life in exile in posh area of London since June 1992. Altaf and his absconding companions were given full protection and facilities by British govt and Mi-6.
After a terror attack in Lahore, Operation Radul Fasad was launched in February 2017, which was directed against financiers, facilitators, handlers and sleeping cells in urban centres all over the country. Tens of hundreds of intelligence based operations were launched and pleasing results were achieved, but all have not been netted/destroyed. This is evident from the recurrence of acts of terror and in recent weeks the frequency has increased. Once Gen Qamar Bajwa refused to ‘Do More’, and started constructing fence along the western border and improved border management, the displeased US cut off Close Support Fund (CSF), and put Pakistan in the web of FATF. After placing it in grey list, the US is now threatening to blacklist it.
Crime-politics-financial terrorism nexus
One reason behind not achieving 100% results is the nexus between crime-politics and financial terrorism about which former army chief Gen Raheel had stated in 2016 that without breaking this nexus, terrorism cannot be eliminated. In this, Mafias, some political parties, religious groups, proscribed groups, NGOs, human rights activists, some think tanks and media persons on the payroll of foreign intelligence agencies promote foreign agenda.
The current regime of PTI led by Imran Khan is trying to break the nexus of financial terrorism, stop money laundering, end corruption and eliminate the power of Mafias. So far, little progress has been made since the Mafias are too powerful and an alliance of 11 political parties under the umbrella of PDM has been formed, which is espousing the Indian narrative to disrepute the army, judiciary and the ruling government.
Pak media expansionism
After stoking terrorism, the US helped Pakistan in expanding and modernizing electronic media with a hidden objective of using it as its own mouthpiece to win battle of minds. Not only George Bush dished out millions of dollars to Pak media, out of $7.5 billion Kerry Lugar Bill aid package given to Pakistan in 2009 by Obama-Joe Biden administration, $ 1.5 billion was for Pak media. The aid package was given under the condition that the released amounts would be distributed for the projects by the US appointed contractors and none else. The diplomatic embassies and consulates acted as safe havens as was seen in Raymond David case.
Segment of Afghan refugees living in camps and outside play into the hands of foreign agencies and provide refuge and guidance to the terrorists launched from Afghanistan. The porous western border across which 40,000 people crossed daily from both sides and weak border management were other reasons for easy infiltration of non-state actors.
The intelligence network/Blackwater
CIA-FBI outposts initially established in FATA, secretly brought in RAW-NDS-Mossad-MI-6 agents to form a network. In 2008, thanks to Hussain Haqqani and Rahman Malik, Blackwater made its way. Its operatives rented residential houses in major cities of Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi, established a training centre at Sihala in a rented house to train security guards, set up an arms shop, and purchased tinted glassed luxury cars. FBI took over immigration department at airports and seaport. The Blackwater and intelligence network made use of all anti-state elements including TTP and media, and coordinated covert war and hybrid war. They indulged in target killings, abductions, created divisiveness in the society, polarized politics, spoilt civil-military relations, fanned ethnicity, sectarianism, religious extremism, terrorism and spread gloom and doom.
Over a period of time, foreign intelligence agencies have gained contacts with all the proscribed group, and penetrated each and every government and semi government department. This network helped in executing the US Navy Seals night attack in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. This attack couldn’t have materialized without the blessing of the PPP regime and Hussain Haqqani posted as ambassador in Washington. He also drafted infamous Memo gate in October 2011, which was aimed at defanging the military and the ISI and putting the nuclear assets under IAEA control. Although DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha made huge efforts to roll back the influence of foreign agencies and push out Blackwater and achieved considerable success, however, the PML-N regime also pursued pro-US and pro-India policies and developed family relations with Modi and business relations with Indian businessman Jindan.
Special cell in Delhi
After China-Pakistan signed the CPEC project in April 2014, a special cell was established at New Delhi under the direct supervision of NSA Ajit Doval, which was heavily funded and was connected with Kalbushan Yadhav at Chahbahar. Sole aim of this cell was to subvert CPEC through proxy war. This cell has now come under the direct supervision of Modi and so far Rs. 80 billion have been allocated. A militia of 700 specially trained men has been formed and granted $ 60 million to sabotage CPEC. The CPEC has become a major eyesore for India, USA and Israel since it has the capacity to block global ambitions of imperialist powers. Pakistan has deployed two security divisions to protect the CPEC.
To be continued
The writer is a retired Brig participant of epic Battle of Hilli in 1971 war, defence & security analyst, international columnist, writes exclusively for Veterans Today, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS, & Veterans Think Tank.