Hagel spills Indian beans

Hagel spills Indian beansPosted by Faheem Belharvi
Friday, March 01, 2013 – Despite a long drawn and contentious nomination process, twice wounded Vietnam War veteran Chuck Hagel has finally been confirmed by the Senate as the new US Secretary of Defense, succeeding Leon Panetta. Chuck Hagel’s narrow 58 to 41 vote confirmation came about after delays because of objections to his views on Middle East security and the administration’s handling of an attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya.

Hagel’s nomination had bitterly split the Senate, with Republicans turning on their former colleague and Democrats standing by Obama’s nominee. In this milieu, the bombshell that was dropped running contrary to the Obama administration’s overtures towards India is the revelation in a previously unreleased 2011 speech confirming that India has “for many years” sponsored terrorist activities against Pakistan in Afghanistan.

Numerous analysts including this scribe have been crying hoarse pointing towards Indian machinations towards destabilizing Pakistan through Afghanistan. In the near past, C. Christine Fair, a Washington-based analyst, through the Foreign Policy magazine, had pointed towards the presence of RAW agents in Indian Consulates in Afghanistan as well as in Iranian border city of Zahidan.

That information had been hushed up but now Chuck Hagel, who as Nebraska Senator for two terms from 1997 to 2009, having served as member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, frequently travelled to South Asia, has provided irrefutable evidence of Indian complicity in launching terror attacks on Pakistan through its surrogates.

The disclosure, which can damage Indo-US relations, puts India in the dock for its nefarious activities against Pakistan, came to light through Chuck Hagel’s speech at Oklahoma’s Cameron University in 2011, the video of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, in which he said: “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border”. He added: “And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years.”

Indian supporters and lobbyists in the US are running from pillar to post in an effort towards damage control and fire fighting. “It’s both over-the-top and a sharp departure from a U.S. position that has seen democratic India as a stabilizing influence in Afghanistan and Asia more broadly,” commented Sadanand Dhume, former India bureau chief at the Far Eastern Economic Review and current resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Dhume added that Hagel’s comments reflect a “paranoid” worldview.

The observation by the US-based Indian commentator is hardly flattering for the new US Defence Secretary, but he doesn’t ease up and continues his tirade: “This statement reflects the views of the more paranoid elements of the Pakistan establishment more than mainstream U.S. opinion,” he said. “It’s a dated way of looking at a part of the world important to U.S. interests in Asia.”

Republican Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, jumped into the fray, although the news item was sent by the office of powerful Republican Senator John Cornyn, who was among the leading opponent of Chuck Hagel’s confirmation. “In light of our shared interest in the US-India relationship, thought you would want to see this,” said the email sent by Cornyn’s office to top Indian American community leaders. Cornyn is Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus.

Sampat Shivagni (obviously of Indian origin) retorted: “I am surprised and shocked. We did not know the story and background of Senator Hagel on India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I think Indian Community needs to work on to see how we can help to stop his nomination for the post of Secretary of Defence. We will definitely follow up with our Senators and impress on them on the folly of such a nomination.” But it’s too late for Hagel has now been confirmed.

The Indian Embassy in Washington D.C. tried a more measured approach. Reacting to the damaging exposé, it stated: “Such comments attributed to Senator Hagel, who has been a long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-US relations are contrary to the reality of India’s unbounded dedication to the welfare of Afghan people”.

It added that India’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is unwavering, “and this is reflected in our significant assistance to Afghanistan in developing its economy, infrastructure and institutional capacities”. “Our opposition to terrorism and its safe havens in our neighbourhood is firm and unshakable. India’s development assistance has been deeply appreciated by the people and the Government of Afghanistan, and by our friends around the world including the US. We do not view our engagement with Afghanistan as a zero sum game,” the Embassy stated.

The fact is that ever since India got the nod from the US to engage in the reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan, it has been using its four Consulates and fourteen Trade Missions in the strife torn country forming an arc around Pakistan to staff and house its RAW operatives. The iniquitous Indian intelligence functionaries recruited, trained, funded and equipped terrorists and launched them through the porous Durand Line into Pakistan to wreak havoc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Swat, Waziristan, Balochistan and later in all major cities of Pakistan including Karachi.

The heinous Indian aim has been to create such chaos, bloodshed and mayhem in Pakistan that its armed forces and law enforcing agencies get totally bogged down while its people lose confidence in their government and either the country breaks up or is forced to hand over its nuclear weapons to the IAEA or any UN appointed custodian. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability and its armed forces have been a thorn in the side of Indian defence planners for decades and they wanted to use the turmoil in Afghanistan to achieve their odious aims. This is the first time that a senior US official of the level of the new defence secretary has spilled the beans and lifted the shroud from the Indian conspiracy.

(Sultan M Hali—The author, a retired PAF Group Captain, served as Air & Naval attaché at Riyadh and is currently a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host.)

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