In search for security in the face of
India’s belligerence and dangerous designs together with Afghanistan’s
hostility, Pakistan blundered to join SEATO and CENTO in 1954 and earned the
hostility of Afghanistan, former Soviet Union and China. India took these
western pacts as an excuse to make a U turn on Kashmir issue.
The defense pacts helped Pakistan
under Ayub Khan to develop its economy and defensive capability, but the pacts
were designed to contain communism and not to provide security against India or
to help in resolving Kashmir dispute. These pacts proved inconsequential during
the wars with India in 1965 and 1971 and played no role in preventing
truncation of Pakistan in 1971.
Despite the fact that Pakistan played
a key role in the China-US détente in 1971, enabling USA to withdraw its forces
from Vietnam, the US always kept India above Pakistan, knowingly that India was
aligned with Soviet Union.
Supply of arms by the US and western
countries to India after the Indo-Sino border clash in 1962 impelled Pakistan
to lean on China since arms provided by the two rival camps had tilted the
military balance in favor of India. This shift irked USA.
Soviets and Fallout Effects
Pakistan again blundered to let the
US make FATA a launching pad and use Jihadis as proxies to fight Soviet forces
in Afghanistan in 1980s in return for $3.5 billion economic/military assistance
spread over 5 years. Although the Jihad directed by the ISI achieved its goal
of ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan, but Pakistan had to suffer at the
hands of KGB-KHAD-RAW nexus as well as that of Al-Zulfiqar throughout the
The Afghan Jihad gifted Pakistan with
drug and Kalashnikov cultures which militarized the society and intensified
sectarianism. It also bred misgivings in Pak-Iran relations.
Instead of rewarding Pakistan for the
huge price it paid to defeat a super power and for paving the way for the US to
become sole super power, it was not only left high and dry by self-serving USA
but also punished for pursuing nuclear program, which it had ignored till 1989,
by imposing harsh sanctions in 1990. Worst was Indo-US embrace in 1991 followed
by Indo-Israel alignment, giving shape to Indo-US-Israel axis, which raised the
specter of Islamic bomb.
Sanctions under Jewish inspired
Pressler Amendment weakened Pakistan’s economy, multiplied its debt, impacted
the democratic era(1988-1999) and handicapped Pakistan to combat fallout
effects of Afghan war.
The only positive outcome of the
bloody war was the completion of nuclear program under Gen ZiaulHaq, which was
otherwise not possible. It raised the stature of Pakistan among the Muslim
world. Fear of bomb in the basement prevented India under Rajiv Gandhi from
converting Indian Exercise Brass-tacks into full-fledged war in 1986/87.
Likewise, war over Kashmir in 1990/91 in the wake of armed uprising in Indian
occupied Kashmir was also averted due to nuclear factor. Benazir rather than fulfilling American
agenda of rolling back nuclear program enhanced missile program.
In the First Gulf War in 1991, while
Egypt got its $7 billion external debt waived off without deploying a single
soldier,as a reward for legitimizing the US-NATO intervention in the Gulf, Pakistan
got nothing despite deploying over 10,000 troops in Saudi Arabia because of the
then Army chief’s pro-Saddam statements which annoyed Saudi Arabia and
Pakistan’s support to the Taliban
from 1996 till September 2001 antagonized Northern Alliance (an amalgam of
non-Pashtun Afghans under Ahmad Shah Masood) and brought them under the
influence of Iran, India, West and Russia.
War on Terror
Pakistan once again blundered after9/11
by ditching friendly regime of Taliban in Afghanistan at the behest of
Washington and befriending untrustworthy USA that had left Pakistan in a lurch
during its testing times.
Pakistan learnt no lesson from the
repeated betrayals and happily accepted all the demands of USA under the fond
hope that this time it will not deceive and will compensate for its past wrongs
by making Pakistan prosperous in return for fighting the US imposed war on
terror on its soil. But the US had a fixed agenda of disabling Pakistan’s
nuclear programcovertly, separating Baluchistan and making Pakistan a secular
state. Gen Musharraf and not Pakistan was made the darling of the west.
Pakistan after earning the animosity
of Taliban on account of its full support to the US to occupy Afghanistanalso antagonized
the tribesmen of FATA when the Army launched an operation in South Waziristan (SW)
in 2003 at the bidding of USA to flush-out Al-Qaeda and its supporters.
Pakistani Taliban started a guerrilla
war against the Army and in December 2007 formed Tehrik-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP)
under BaitullahMehsud with tentacles in all the seven agencies of FATA.
The Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban
believing in one ideology are in collusion and pursue shared goal of
establishing Islamic Emirate. The two entities had however divided their areas
of responsibility; Taliban confining their fight in Afghanistan against
occupying forces and their collaborators and the TTP fighting against Pak
security forces. Their partner Al-Qaeda remained operative on both sides of the
divide. Haqqani network aligned with Taliban headquartered itself in North
Waziristan (NW) and remained friendly toward Pakistan till their ouster in June
The TTP was hijacked by foreign
agencies in its formative years and was heavily funded, equipped and trained to
fight Pak Army and to convert Swat, Bajaur, SW and NWinto fortresses.
Annoyed by Musharraf regime’s
decision toimpose ban and freeze funds in 2002/03, Kashmir focused Jihadi
groups and other militant groups veered towards TTP. By 2013, an amalgam of
over 60 militant groups had come under the wings of Hakimullah led TTP in NW.
TTP leaders had pledged allegiance to
Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar in 2008 and had accepted him as
AmeerulMomineen. Their pledge remained intact till mid 2014 after which many
pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakar Baghdadi since they had got a wind
of death of Mulla Omar in April 2013 which was intentionally kept secret.
Syria-Iraq based ISIS has made
inroads in Afghanistan with the help of India and has established itself at
Nangarhar and is in collusion with Khalid Omer Khurasani led Jamaat-e-Ahrar, an
offshoot of TTP and with Fazlullah. The two had fled from Mohmand Agency and
Swat to Afghanistan after the military operation Rah-e-Rast in 2009. Fazlullah
was nominated Ameer of TTP after the death of Hakimullah in early 2014.
Operation Zarb e Azb launched in June
2014 succeeded in pushing outall militant groups including HN from their last
stronghold in NW.All the runaway TTP leaders and fighters have been given
sanctuaries by NDS and RAW at Nuristan,Kunar and Nangarhar from where they are
undertaking cross border terrorism inside Pakistan. HN is fighting its war from
eastern Afghanistan, its traditional stronghold.
The US, India, Afghanistan, Israel,
NATO strategic partners based in Kabul since November 2001 have been constantly
weaving plans and conspiracies to harm Pakistan. They have been fueling
terrorism in Pakistan with the help of their paid proxies in FATA, Baluchistan
and Karachi and at the same time pressing Pakistan to do more.
Unable to stabilize Afghanistan after
fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda for 15 years, both Kabul and Washington are
blaming Pakistan for its failures. The duo wants Pakistan to fight elements of Afghan
Taliban and HN, supposedly in FATA and Baluchistan, and to force them to lay
down arms and sign their drafted agreement.
Field commanders of Taliban movement
disfavor peace talks since they have suffered the most.After forcing USA to pullout
bulk of ISAF troops in December 2014, they have gained a definite edge over the
ANSF supported by a small US-NATO force and initiative is in their hands.29
districts are in their full control and 34 districts are being contested. They
don’t want to come to terms with collaborators who have plunged the country
into the vortex of vices which they had eliminated during their 5-year rule.
They don’t want an agreement on dictated terms and without meeting their basic
demands. The Taliban and HN feel that
Pakistan is once again siding with their opponents to undermine their
sacrifices. In its bid to please the US and unpopular unity government in
Kabul, Pakistan is fast losing whatever goodwill Taliban have for it.
India has successfully brainwashed
all segments of Afghan society and poisoned their minds against Pakistan. There
is widespread hatred against Pakistan both at government and people to people
Destabilized Afghanistan suit USA and
India since it enables both to retain their presence and continue with their
Russia in Afghan Affairs
After China, Russia has begun to
slowly make inroads into Afghanistan. Its entry in Afghan affairs is likely to
change the dynamics of Afghan imbroglio.
The newly emerging politico-economic
axis of Russia-China-Central Asian Republics-Pakistan which is drawing strength
from CPEC is likely to grow stronger if Iran and Turkey, both resentful of USA
There are reports that Russia is
supplying arms to the Talibanto tackle the threat from the ISIS, aspiring to
establish Khurasan State. Russia is also pleading the Taliban case in the UN for
taking off their names from the blacklist.The Taliban have exuded confidence in
the Russia-China-Pakistan grouping to pursue peace in Afghanistan.
Supply of arms to the Taliban by
Russia is worrisome for Kabul and Washington. After all, Moscow has not
forgotten and forgiven the perverse role of USA in its fragmentation. Provision
of stingers to the Mujahidin in 1988 had forced the Soviets to hasten their
exit from Afghanistan. To avenge its humiliation, Russia may be aspiring to
make Afghanistan a graveyard of USA.This wish is achievable if it supplies
surface to air missiles to the Taliban, enabling them to contest the airpower.
If so, it will make the position of 12000 strong Resolute Support Group based
in five military bases tenuous.
Pakistani leaders have been dancing
to the tunes of America, myopically thinking that by abiding to its dictates,
Pakistan will remain safe and so will be their power and wealth. Lure of
dollars and fear of USA were other factors which made the weak-kneed and
morally corrupt rulers to stick to their policy of appeasement. They made no
change in this self-defeating policy despite suffering colossal human and
While the US has spent $1.7 trillion
in Iraq war, and over $1 trillion in war in Afghanistan including $104.1
billion in its reconstruction, it grieves over $20 billion given to Pakistan in
the last 15 years, 50% of which is CSF (close support fund – repayment of
provisions and services provided by Pakistan).As against this meagre
assistance, Pakistan has incurred an economic loss of $118 billion in fighting
the war and has also suffered 60,000 fatalities.
Excessive tilt of USA towards India
as exhibited by Indo-US economic, defence and civil nuclear deals, revelations
made by Raymond Davis in January 2011 about American dangerous agenda, stealth
raid in Abbottabad in May 2011 followed by Memo scandal in October and deadly
assault on Salala in November that year, do more mantra,condition based aid and
stoppage of CSFbrought no change in Pakistan’s US centric foreign policy.
India’s open ended belligerence when
seen in context with ever growing Indo-US collaboration culminating into 3
military agreements in 2016 and the US outright biased stance against Pakistan
having a direct bearing on security of Pakistan forced our policy makers to lean
more heavily upon China and to get closer to Russia.
Tiding over energy crisis, righting
economic indicators, curbing terrorism and above all CPEC have helped in
improving the overall economic health and image of Pakistan and instilled
confidence in the rulers to confront internal and external challenges more
However, the US enchantment that was
at the verge of fizzling out has been reinvigorated by Donald Trump’s
telephonic chat with Nawaz Sharif. He showered heaps of praises upon him and
Pakistan, referring him as a terrific guy, rating Pakistanis among the most
intelligent people, amazing and exceptional. These accolades coming from the
most freakish and bigoted US President astounded all and sundry. Anti-Nawaz and
anti-Pakistan elements were expecting a roughshod treatment from loudmouthed
Trump. His unexpected tributes and exclusion of Pakistan from the banned Muslim
States has made Nawaz and his team rapturous and they are still in a state of
ecstasy. Idea of getting out of the US spell has been shelved.
While the Muslim world is tense and
scared, Pak leadership is relaxed and appears to be all set to once again get
duped and fall into the deceptive trap and get bled. They are optimistic that
the US under Trump will not betray Pakistan and will be more friendly and
cooperative in addressing socio-economic and security concerns. This confidence
has been further bolstered by friendly chat of Gen Qamar JavedBajwa with US
Secretary DefenceMattis and US Commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson,
both admiring Pakistan’s sacrifices and role in war on terror and wanting a
holistic review of Pak-US relations.
The challenges faced by Pakistan are
however far from over. Up to 80% success has been achieved against terrorism
which had become an existential threat to the existence of Pakistan. The
current government deserve credit for giving a go-ahead to intelligence driven
operations in NW, Baluchistan and Karachi, and the national action plan.
However, the Army, Rangers, FCand ISIdeserve special applause for achieving
spectacular results in all the three troubled regions.
100% results couldn’t be achieved due
to safe havens provided to the runaways of TTP in Afghanistan, backing to BLA,
BRA and BLF in Baluchistan by foreign agencies, and obstacles created by Sindh
administration in Karachi. All random acts of terror in Pakistan emanate from
On the economic front,
notwithstanding upturned macro-economic indicators, bullish stock exchange,
healthy foreign exchange reserves and fast-paced development works, constantly
increasing debt burden is a matter of anxiety. Not so satisfactory progress on
20-point NAP needs acceleration.
Management of western border by
Pakistan is not to the liking of Kabul and India since it will curtail cross
border terrorism. This process as well as return of Afghan refugees,
rehabilitation of displaced persons and FATA reforms must continue without any
letup. Likewise Rangers operation in Karachi must reach its logical end at the
Success in war on terror, economic
turnaround, CPEC, and Russian support have defeated India’s plan to isolate
Pakistan and to get it declared a terrorist state. Although Pakistan today
stands on a stronger wicket, agenda of Indo-Afghan-US nexus against Pakistan
Till 2008, Russia was anti-Pakistan
and pro-India. Change in regional dynamics has brought a thaw in Pak-Russia
relations and the latter is now keen to develop stronger economic and defence
ties with Pakistan. Russia is mindful of the Afghanistan based Daesh and wants
Pakistan’s cooperation to build a firewall against the emerging threat. For
this reason, Russia is taking deep interest in Afghan affairs and has
cultivated ties with Taliban much to the chagrin of Kabul regime and
Washington. Russo-China-Pakistan grouping aimed at restoring peace in
Afghanistan and CPEC has once again enhanced the importance of Pakistan.
Friendly regime in Kabul is a geostrategic necessity for Pakistan.
Recommendations. Pakistan policy makers
will have to play their cards shrewdly and configure the foreign policy best
suited to guard Pakistan’s national interests. While keeping USA and EU in good
humor and engaged in mutually beneficial economic/military cooperation, butwithout
compromising core interests and dignity, efforts should be made to further
expand economic/military cooperation with Russia, draw it towards CPEC and to
make Pakistan member of Eurasian Economic Union. Besides veering Iran into
CPEC, Gwadar port should augment Chahbahar port. Land, air, maritime and
internal security must be strengthenedto ward off external threatsand treacherous
designs. Focus should be on getting rid of foreign crutches and instead strengthening
own economic legs by drawing full benefits from the emerging opportunities
provided by CPECso as to make Pakistan politically, economically and militarily