India’s hostility and changing Afghan mood
By Asif Haroon Raja
BJP swept the elections on the slogans of enforcing Hindutva in India and adopting a hard line approach towards Pakistan. RSS man Narendra Modi has behaved exactly as had been predicted by many. He and other BJP leaders assailed Congress government’s policy of appeasement of minorities. He is continuing to use communal and caste card and has remained firmly committed to the philosophy of Hindutva to fulfill the yearning desire of his mother party RSS. He and his party want to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya and persecute Indian Muslims and other religious minorities. Process of Hinduisation of Indian Muslims has speeded up. BJP has been harsh with Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam. Sikhs are constantly being persecuted. It has looked the other way to the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Although Modi stressed that he will live for independence of India, but it was a sheer political stunt since it ran contrary to the track record of RSS which opposed freedom struggle waged by Mahatma Gandhi. By building a memorial of Nathu Ram Godse who murdered Gandhi and extolling him, Gandhi has been downgraded as a terrorist.
Modi has sinister plans to change the demography of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by settling Hindu Pundits there and establishing new townships. He also intends abrogating Article 370 of Indian Constitution to deprive IOK of its special autonomous status. Revision of Indian nuclear doctrine to ‘first strike’ option, further rise in defence budget, eagerness to consolidate Indian military presence in Afghanistan and to develop Chahbahar Port in Iran at the cost of Gawadar would underscore India’s future belligerent designs.
Coercion, intimidation and aggression have been the hallmark of Modi’s muscular foreign policy towards Pakistan. Not only the process of dialogue was abruptly disrupted, LoC was heated up in Kashmir and for the first time working boundary in Sialkot sector was viciously bombarded without provocation. These belligerent acts were followed up by vilification propaganda campaign and false flag operation. Pakistani fishing boat was portrayed as a terror boat. Terrorism in Pakistan’s urban centres, particularly in Karachi and Baluchistan was accelerated. Indirect strategy buttressed by vilification campaign to weaken Pakistan from within and to discredit/isolate it as is being practiced since 2002 has been a preferred option of India since all out war against nuclear Pakistan has become too risky and very costly.
Dismantlement of last bastion of power of the RAW-CIA-CDS supported TTP and its affiliates in North Waziristan by Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched by the Army in June 2014 was a big loss for the detractors of Pakistan based in Afghanistan. In order to discredit Operation Zarb-e-Azb and demoralize the soldiers, RAW planned and executed a gruesome terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 in which 149 students and teaching staff were brutally killed. The attack was planned in Kunar by RAW and CDS under the guidance of Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Fazlullah’s men were launched. This horrific attack further galvanized the defenders of Pakistan. 20-Point National Action Plan has been made to go all out to eliminate scourge of extremism and terrorism.
In May 2015, the Corps Commanders’ Conference took serious notice of RAW’s involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan. This was followed by a statement by the Pakistan foreign secretary to the media on May 14 stressing that “RAW is involved in terror acts in Pakistan and we have repeatedly raised this issue with India.” Other Pakistani leaders and officials also claimed from time to time that RAW was involved in terrorist activities in FATA, Balochistan and in Karachi.
All the schemes hatched by the RAW-CIA-Afghan CDS nexus have fallen flat and mercifully Pakistan has sailed past the turbulent patch. All the three conniving partners in crime today find themselves in hot waters. Pakistan which faced the major brunt of terrorism and fought it with commitment and sincerity of purpose was ridiculed, maligned, threatened and punished for uncommitted sins. The fun-makers derived sadistic pleasure in seeing Pakistan bleeding and in distress. It was pushed to do all the dirty work but at the end of each day it was haughtily told to do more. It was used as a convenient scapegoat to hide the failures of US military against Taliban and in eliminating scourge of terrorism.
After a long hazardous journey through the dense minefield, Pakistan is now seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The NRO cleansed and US installed PPP-MQM-ANP regime was routed in May 11, 2013 elections and PPP consigned to Sindh only. PML-N achieved a convincing victory in the polls and after forming governments in the Centre, Punjab and a coalition ministry in Balochistan, the new regime unfolded plans to tackle myriad of problems left behind by the last regime. So far it has pressed the right buttons and evoked positive responses. Governance has been improved, corruption and wastefulness curtailed and financial management bettered. Menace of terrorism is being tackled on war footing after giving full chance to the TTP to arrive at a political settlement through negotiations.
Frontier Corps-Police operation in Baluchistan backed by Army and intelligence has taken the heat out of separatist movement spearheaded by RAW supported BLA, BRA and BLF. British government is being pressed to repatriate Baloch separatist leaders residing in London. Large numbers of Baloch youth are joining armed forces while quite many Baloch terrorists are returning and surrendering arms. Terrorism and lawlessness in Karachi mostly stoked by RAW supported MQM have also been curbed by intelligence based targeted Rangers-Police operation. Practices of extortion, kidnapping for ransom, target killings and street crimes have been significantly brought down and now efforts are in hand to control Rs 230 billion worth financial crime undertaken by the bigwigs in power and mafias in Karachi.
As a result of better management, economic indicators have started to pick up. While inflation has come down, GDP has improved and foreign exchange reserves have crossed $18 billion, while Pakistan stock market has crossed 38K. Foreign investments that had completely dried up have started to flow in. Pakistan’s stature that had sunk low has gone up among the world comity.
The biggest surprise came in the form of China’s huge investment of $46 billion for the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will link Kashgar with Gwadar. Within this pledged amount, $37 billion have been earmarked for multiple energy projects ranging from hydro power to solar, coal and nuclear. It is a game changer for Pakistan since it will not only overcome energy crisis but also help in removing the socio-economic grievances of smaller provinces and employment of the youth and improve the overall economic health of Pakistan. Gwadar deep seaport is planned to be developed on the lines of Hong Kong/Singapore Port and converted into free trade zone with a modern airport. China has risked investing this big amount after it was convinced of the genuineness of Pakistan’s claim of paradigm shift in its approach to terrorist groups and across the board counter terrorism and accomplishment of impressive results.
The other good thing that has happened on the external front is the improvement of Pak-Afghan relations that had remained strained throughout the 13-year rule of Hamid Karzai. Pro-India and anti-Pakistan Karzai has been replaced by pro-Pakistan Ashraf Ghani who has taken meaningful steps to improve Pak-Afghan relations. Russia, Central Asian States and South Asian States are likely to get attracted towards the magnetic CPEC. The US has allowed Pakistan and China to play a role in making Afghanistan peaceful by convincing the Taliban to arrive at a political settlement through negotiations. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are looking towards Pakistan for security in the face of threat posed by the ISIS and the hot Yemen front. Russia is keen to enhance military cooperation with Pakistan, while chances of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project getting revived and extended up to China have brightened.
India’s plan to destabilize, denuclearize and balkanise Pakistan through covert and overt war from Afghan soil with the help of her strategic partners has run aground. India is getting highly vexed since her sinister plans are falling apart like nine-pins. Her strategic alliances with Afghanistan and USA are becoming inconsequential. Kautilya’s book offers no remedy to the prevailing situation since all games of intrigues together with use of massive force have failed to break the indomitable will of Afghan Taliban or to cow down resilient Pakistan. India aspiring to become a key country in Afghanistan and to completely marginalize Pakistan finds her space shrinking rapidly. Pakistan and China are in a driving seat and have been given green signal by the US to help in restoring peace in Afghanistan by convincing the Taliban to agree to a negotiated political settlement.
CPEC which is likely to promote cohesiveness among South Asian States and usher prosperity in the region will run counter to India’s policy of divisiveness. Not only India will lose its coercive grip over South Asian States and Afghanistan but will also lose markets of Central Asia. Her plans to encircle Pakistan and to contain China will also run into jeopardy. Pakistan’s stability and economic prosperity as well as that of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK will not only further energise liberation movement in IOK but will also impact the internal cohesion of India where 17 major insurgencies/separatist movements are raging since long.
On the economic plane, China will achieve connectivity with half of the world population and capture the markets of South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and beyond and leave India far behind in the economic race. CPEC will pave the way for China to become a super power. On the military plane, China will become a naval power in Pacific and Indian Oceans. By virtue of its operational control over Gwadar which is being converted into the biggest sea port and a free trade zone, China in times of need can use it as a naval base to jeopardize Indian Navy plans to convert Indian Ocean into exclusive Indian lake and to block Karachi harbor in case of war with Pakistan. Pakistan’s Navy is otherwise being bolstered by China by supplying 8 high-tech submarines. Pakistan’s nuclear capability and China’s connectivity will further enhance Pakistan’s defence capacity and security and will thwart India’s expansionist designs.
These deep seated concerns have bamboozled Indian leaders so intensely that in a state of utter perplexity they have exposed the ugly face of India. Modi on his visit to Dhaka boasted that India had played a key role in dismembering Pakistan into two in 1971 through cross border terrorism. They have also openly threatened to continue using terrorism as a tool to further fragment Pakistan. Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar declared in New Delhi on May 23, 2015 that India would use terrorism to neutralize terrorism. He stated specifically, “We have to neutralize terrorists through terrorists. Why can’t we do it? We should do it.”
RAW has been assigned a special task to sabotage CPEC at all costs and allotted $300 million. To this end, the spy agency has intensified acts of terror in the already disturbed areas of FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Controversy over routes by certain nationalist parties was raised at the behest of India to fail the scheme. This conspiracy was killed after it was agreed by the government to develop western route before other two routes, knowing well that it passes through three disturbed areas.
It has now been established that Karachi has been systematically destabilized by MQM at the behest of RAW. Other foreign agencies and Blackwater have also been involved. PPP as a policy has turned a blind eye to MQM’s acts of terror and crime since it has been involved in mega corruption. MQM’s linkage with RAW was brought to light by MQM top leaders M. Anwar and Tariq Mir based in London once they were arrested and grilled by Scotland Yard in connection with murder of Dr Imran Farooq and money laundering case in 2012. The two confessed that India was providing funds, weapons and explosives as well as training facilities to the MQM workers since long. Their statements were recorded at Colindale police station. Others who were also arrested were Sarfaraz Merchant Tariq Javed, and Anees. For unknown reasons, Scotland Yard and Metropolitan Police kept a lid over Indian role and have still not proceeded against the culprits using Indian funds/weaponry and involved in terrorism against Pakistan using British soil.
SSP Rao Anwar further exposed MQM-RAW connection when he arrested two MQM militants in Karachi in May 2015 and the accused blurted out all the details how they and other MQM workers were taken to Delhi and Dehradun training centre via Bangkok for military training. The heat had already come on the MQM after the arrest of wanted target killers from Nine Zero on March 11, 2015 and some key sector commanders. And now the BBC report has further reaffirmed the MQM–India linkage. Neither London Police/Scotland Yard has disputed the contents of BBC documentary, nor have Tariq Mir and Anwar denied the contents. Their delaying tactics to indict and punish the culprits have given rise to suspicions of possible Britain’s complicity.
Altaf Hussain is involved in murder of MQM co-founder Dr Imran Farooq, money laundering, tax evasion and inciting violence. RAW’s base of terror in Karachi is being speedily purged by Army backed Rangers, which is a big loss for India. Her proxies like TTP, in FATA, BLA, BRA, and BLF in Balochistan have also been nailed by Pak security forces. Liberty of action of segment of Pak media and NGOs on Indian and western payroll engaged in anti-Pakistan activities has to some extent been curtailed. Save the Children NGO has been regulated since its tentacles were deployed in all the disturbed areas (Karachi and coastal belt, interior Sindh, Mekran Coast, Interior Balochistan, Peshawar, FATA, AJK and GB) and were adding fuel to fire. Since the regulation of this NGO, incidents of blowing up of gas pipelines in Balochistan have noticeably subsided. Punjab Assembly has demanded treason proceedings be initiated against MQM’s top leadership, while Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti has demanded that the party be declared a terrorist organization.
India is desperate to keep RAW’s base in Afghanistan operational and to impair Pak-Afghan relations. Reportedly, $50 million have been handed over to Karzai by India. Out of this, he will spend $15 million for reactivating terrorism against Pakistan and for straining relations with Pakistan. Since the Afghan Parliament is heavy with Northern Alliance and former communist regime members, and CDS is not under Ghani, Ashraf Ghani is under tremendous pressure to cancel ISI-CDS intelligence sharing agreement and to withdraw political/military cooperation with Pakistan. He has started speaking the language of Karzai saying that Pakistan is waging an undeclared war against Afghanistan. Indian National Security adviser Ajit Doval has managed to establish rapport between Fazlullah led TTP based in Kunar with ISIS so that the two can jointly carryout terror attacks in Pakistan. RAW is also using ISIS in combating Afghan Taliban.
Revelations of RAW’s deep involvement in Pakistan has exposed India and has affected her malicious campaign to hold Pakistan responsible for terrorism. These are worrying developments which must be countered. While moving a case against Indian intervention in Pakistan’s internal affairs in the UN is a step in the right direction, there is a need to activate our dormant foreign embassies to expose the true face of India and to warn South Asian States that their survival lies in confronting the threat of RAW collectively.
Our effort to get close to sinking Ashraf Ghani who has no political clout should not be at the cost of making Afghan Taliban hostile since they are the deserving and rightful claimant of power in Afghanistan and are the only force that can confront Dae’sh. While Pakistan has ousted Haqqani network, released dozens of Afghan Taliban leaders and is making genuine efforts to convince them to hold peace talks with Afghan regime, Afghan regime has failed to close Pakistan-specific sanctuaries of Fazlullah and Khurasani in Kunar and Nuristan. It is once again falling back into hostile mode. Our policy makers will have to devise ways to block this trend.
Our investigative agencies must conjointly ascertain the Indian connection with MQM and bring the anti-Pakistan culprits to justice. British government should be pressed to expedite finalization of pending cases. We had once blundered by releasing Mujibur Rahman and co-accused after Agartala conspiracy was unearthed in 1968. Had the treason case been taken to its logical end and the culprits punished, Pakistan would have remained intact. If we once again commit the same mistake under the skewed concept of political expediency or show lack of political will, then we should get prepared for another catastrophe. Across the board accountability of all is a must. Release of MQM’s Amer Khan by Sindh Court after his 90 days remand by Rangers on the plea of weak prosecution has disappointed the general public and given heart to criminal elements.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors TFP. He delivers talks and takes part in TV talk shows. Email:email@example.com