Shadow Puppets at the UN - By: Brig® Mehboob Qadir

Brig® Mehboob Qadir

United Nations’ Security Council was originally designed to prevent war and provide an equitable world order. A noble mission which was soon consigned to the dustbin of good intentions as power tussle between the two super powers of the day began to assert its self and found expression in a bipolar world. Soon the forum turned into a boxing ring where US and former Soviet Union shadow boxed for their proxies and protégés jostling elsewhere in the world. No major war broke out but particularly vicious local/ regional wars on behest of one or the other super power continued to ravage the globe till the Soviet Union disintegrated in late eighties. It came as a God sent opportunity for the US to be able to disengage from the frustrating and expensive grapple of mounting a matching response , into a comfortable position of choosing her own time and venue to initiate political-military actions as a lone super power. Subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria –Iraq swamp are leading examples of a hobbled Security Council and brief but devastating period of short lived US honeymoon with its self. Soon US muscle flexing began to be checkmated and challenged by a far more suave and astute global player. Brilliance of China’s diplomatic and economic ripostes not only astounded US policy makers but also confounded them immeasurably.

US was sitting cozy in the belief that what was good for the goose is good for the gander too.They thought US-NATO cordon originally thrown around former Soviet Union would do for China too with minor adjustments as both lay in the same geographical zone, that they had evolving Chinese power firmly fixed in a steel ring through their extensive naval deployment and 24/7 satellite coverage from Gibraltar, south to Aden, skirting Sri Lanka, passing through the Malacca Straits on to South China Sea. There was no way China could match this siege militarily or technologically in a given time, advantageously.

However China addressed a seemingly hopeless situation with their known sagacity, vision and superior diplomatic skills. Far sighted as they are , they had long ago weaned away Pakistan from an erratic and unreliable US alliance. While US continued to treat Pakistan more or less as a valet on call , China treated the country with respect, empathy and understanding. Before the US and her allies could realize China was able to skillfully lock them up in a trillions of dollars worth of economic web thus precluding a war, laid and connected Chinese mainland with Russia and Europe with high speed railways and pumped gas and oil from Russia and Central Asia through thousands of kilometers of pipelines. Simultaneously it vigorously worked upon improving military hard ware, aviation, theater electronics, space sciences and nuclear weapons technologies. By 2010 time was ripe to undertake a push towards the Indian Ocean. The aim had been to break the US sea based cordon and gain a relatively secure access to the Indian Ocean for greater maritime liberty of action.

To that end there were basically the following four options available , out of which two had to be adopted:-
A .Spur 1
(1).South China-Mayanmar/Thailand-Malaysia-Bay of Bengal.
(2).South China-Nepal-India-Indian Ocean.
(1). Western China (Sinkiang)-Pakistan-Indian Ocean.
(2).Western China-CARs-Afghanistan/Iran-Indian Ocean.

Malacca Strait was a choke point that caused immediate concerns because of increasing Indian tri service build up at Andaman-Nicobar Islands and hostile US intrusions into South China Sea. Therefore they chose to build Mayanmar-Bay of Bengal spur first and for the second and the most important one they selected the one that passes through Pakistan. Manageability, political reliability and economy of effort should it come to ensuring its physical security in the event of a threat were the main considerations. This spur is called CPEC and is directly a function of the inviolable imperatives of China’s national security, more than any benefit that might accrue to the intervening territories from sizeable investments in pipelines, road-rail infrastructure, industrial parks and ports along the way .This spur has turned out to be a masterly Chinese global stroke which will eventually strike at the cordon around her at its weakest opposite Gawadar. Sensing the paramount nature of the maneuver Pakistan responded by playing her ultimate geo-strategic trump card; CPEC is Pakistan all the way from its point of origin to its termination at Gawadar.

As far India it was since long looking for a respectful role in the unfolding new great game in the region. It tried hard to carve out a role for its self in a war ravaged Afghanistan and got its fingers nearly burnt .After billions of dollars and dutifully massaging the Afghan stallion her hold is at best tentative in that devastated country. Then it began to look towards CARs but with similar results. Why Pakistan had such an effortless equation with myriad Afghans and why India finds it so expensive, the answer is rooted in history .With India they had a centuries old relationship of a victor to the vanquished. With Pakistan, as it is now, was that of their viceroy which frequently supervised conquered territories inside the Indian sub continent. Therefore the two would always be on different pedestals with reference to Afghanistan. Repeated US wooing of India finally led her into a husky whisper relationship which remains to be seen how it would prosper. Normally in Asia and Africa,US indulges in a geographic bachelor’s license where mistresses are picked up on ports of call and left when the ship sails out of the harbor. Right now India is the apple of the US eye, therefore is extracting as much out of her paramour’s purse as is possible. India knows very well that this striped Casanova has just jumped fence from Pakistan and can do so to the dark damsel next door with her thick black braid bouncing from shoulder to shoulder.

Meanwhile the evolving but great bonding between China and Pakistan and its possible regional and global effects seem to have created tremors in Washington and New Delhi alike. Together both India and US have come to adopt a Pakistan hostile strategic posture which aims to constrict Pakistan’s room for diplomatic maneuver and pulverize her political-military will into submission. Their game plan goes beyond this generic description. The close co-location of OBOR-CPEC, India-Iran Trade Corridor originating at Chah Bahar and immense hydro carbon and ore reserves in Central Asia make it a very lucrative real estate. The emerging possibility of China becoming a two seas power is real and imminent. If left alone in this sensitive region China can turn the tables on the US .If China’s exquisite geo-strategic maneuvre through Pakistan is allowed to mature the core objective of US rebalancing to Asia Pacific will suffer a serious setback. Thus it can be seen that continued US military presence in Afghanistan was primarily designed to ensure her ability to radiate strategic effects upon OBOR-CPEC from a vulnerable flank of their launch zone, keep Pakistan in check through controlled chaos, keep a watchful eye upon CARS and Iran, and prevent Afghanistan from being reoccupied by AQ-Afghan Taliban combine or swept by ISIS. So the fun fare is not for the pleasure of Afghanistan alone. Suppression of Pakistan helps India to finally become a regional power, isolate and bury irksome Kashmir struggle for plebiscite, become permanent member of the Security Council and a member of the NSG without signing NPT; a really luscious menu.

With Modi coming into power in India two years ago relations between India and US thickened exponentially, particularly in defense, intelligence sharing and nuclear fields .Exerting pressure on Pakistan over counter terrorism and related matters is part of their grand design where Sanctions Committee of the Security Council and its field arm, the Monitoring Team(MT) have become tools of coercion in their hands. There has been a steadily rising stream of Pakistan related listing proposals by India and the US and the pains the MT has taken to help India in preparing incriminatory draft summaries of Pakistani men allegedly involved in terrorism in India is unprecedented. There are other smart acts by MT such as amending list entries ,using aliases to list splinter individuals and entities and the like which keep Pakistan on the hop the year around.US and India have been able to largely politicize the Sanctions Committee and the MT jeopardizing their objectivity to Pakistan’s detriment .At any rate major part of Security Council broad weave of countering terrorism which includes over 30 Security Council resolutions and an elaborate network of agencies, funds, offices, organizations and programs , is geared towards the symptomatic treatment of the sickness. UN appears to have deliberately opted to overlook addressing the root causes of terrorism. Unresolved Palestine and Kashmir disputes are two of the four global flash points which continue to jeopardize world peace.

On this score UNSC has unfortunately been compromised and is likely to be seen increasingly partisan with reference to matters concerning Pakistan in future, which does not augur well for a country which is already facing existential threats ranging from India’s weaponization of river waters and terror proxies inside Pakistan , climate change( Pakistan is the tenth most endangered country), dysfunctional economy, poor law and order, sectarian and ethnic strife, terrorism, infirm writ of the state, food insecurity, energy deficiency, health and education shortfalls, falling exports($3 billion in cotton exports alone this year) and rising cost of maintaining a credible defense. Add to this intrusive interventions by the US, India and Afghanistan and the brew becomes explosive .If push comes to shove and should Pakistan find it unbearable the consequences for her regional protagonists and their distant patron alike will be horrific. Slapping sanctions as threatened by the US or undermining the writ of the state as envisaged by India can have serious repercussions. This can lead to international intervention mandated by the Security Council. But before that much could happen.

Take the high profile killing of AfghanTaliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor near Naushki Balochistan in May this year .It is an instructive case study in how the US manipulates a certain advantage to arm twist states regardless of the fact that they were friendly or not .This time it was Pakistan , a country which helped to defeat their arch adversary ,USSR, in Afghanistan and secured them the sole super power status in just one stroke. But US does not believe in cumbersome moral obligations, it pays for the service done and then moves on. Pakistan has been wrong all along expecting a good turn from US and its current surrogates Afghanistan and India. That will never come as long as Pakistan has its hat in hand turned upside down.

Pakistan rightly feels Mullah Mansoor was targeted inside Balochistan under a premeditated plan, after months of surveillance and being precision tracked for hundreds of kilometers as he entered Pakistan from an Iranian border Immigration post. He was known to be the only Taliban leader who reportedly favored dialogue for peace in Afghanistan much against a forceful resistance from the rest .The timing and locale of his killing were calculated to serve multiple purposes directly and by ripple effects. His falsified CNIC and Pakistani passport were found completely intact, as if placed afterwards, upon his body and the car which were charred beyond recognition:-
a.Establish Pakistan as harbor and base for Afghan Taliban leadership and shura.
b. Inferred complicity of the state of Pakistan in allegedly providing him falsified CNIC and Passport.
c. Pakistan’s alleged non compliance with Sanctions Regime by facilitating his travels abroad under an acquired ID and allowing possession of assets.
d. Scuttle Quadrilateral Dialogue for peace in Afghanistan by killing Mullah Mansoor just two days after its last meeting and blame Pakistan for not doing enough to bring Taliban to the table just as the new Taliban leadership refused to be engaged as expected.
e. Degrade Pakistan’s standing with Afghan Taliban leadership as a secure and reliable intermediary. Pakistan had facilitated the process on express US request.
f. Portray Pakistan as duplicitous and a hub of terror and instability in the region, thereby hoping to force the country on the back foot.
g. Discourage CPEC’s physical passage through Balochistan as insecure and implausible in conjunction with other interventions by India and Afghanistan in the same arid tract.
h.Deter a possible Sino-Russian rebalancing to the Indian Ocean. Russia is firmly a security and economic partner in OBOR and with mainland China and their threat perceptions are beginning to coincide at the global plain.
j.In case the objectives listed above seem not to find enough traction, simultaneously prepare grounds for UNSC mandated international intervention in Pakistan as ‘failed state’ with reference to run-away terrorism and endangered nuclear weapons arsenal.
Sanctions Committee/MT was quick off their feet to take notice. Pakistan too had presented in the UN volumes of thick dossiers on RAW connections with TTP and terrorists in Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister admits his contacts with Baloch sub-nationalists in Pakistani Balochistan where Indian Navy ‘s serving officer, Commander Kalbhushan Yadav has been caught red handed running terror networks fully funded and sponsored by Indian state including those in Karachi, but the MT did not notice. Pakistan has presented a comprehensive dossier on Kalbhushan Yadav’s terror and sabotage networks in Balochistan and Karachi.One would like to see a matching enthusiasm by MT to pounce upon this case like that of Mullah Mansoor’s killing.

Security Council is becoming color blind, it appears. It cannot see 700,000 Indian troops in Indian occupied Kashmir who have imposed a crippling curfew since months in the Valley; already killed 110 and injured 8000 Kashmiris protesting for their right of self determination ,and blinded 150 men, women and children in Srinagar alone with indiscriminate use of pellet guns, ever since. This virtual detention of an entire population is causing great hardships to Kashmiris locked up in their homes. The whole of Indian occupied Kashmir has literally become a jail.

It may now be quite clear what kind of Machiavellian game is being played and how the world’s innkeepers, the UNSC and its organs have become tools of exploitation and coercion. The stakes are of tremendous importance and a failure to realize the criticality of the evolving diplomatic environment can be catastrophic. India has been able to arouse and sustain two hostile states on her borders and both are nuclear armed. China has gone on to become a global power against which India has helped to wet nurse a Tibetan government in exile, invited over rebel Uyghur leaders, joined hands with US to intrude into South China Sea and got into deep defense cooperation with US which singes China directly. India has managed to earn China’s lasting ire and is recklessly adding more to it.

Pakistan stands with China in this great geo-strategic shift taking place in the region .But that is not enough, we need to adopt a holistic approach to the impact of these forces on our country and direct their energy into national service .To borrow from Munir Akram( The Threat of US Sanctions ,DAWN, September 18, 2016) Pakistan needs to put its act together .It has to “ vigorously project(the fact) that all militant groups have been eliminated from North Waziristan and the rest are being cleared .Call for Afghan and US support to fence the border and strengthen border controls. Demand action from Kabul and US to eliminate TTP safe havens in Afghanistan and end Indian and Afghan support to the TTP and BLA .Reaffirm international consensus that peace in Afghanistan can be restored only through negotiations.” As for Kashmir “It should reaffirm legitimacy of Kashmiri freedom (read plebiscite) movement, reject its equation with terrorism ,seek condemnation of India’s gross and systematic violation of human rights in occupied Kashmir.” Equally importantly “Expose India’s current and past role as a state sponsor of terrorism and a serial perpetrator of state terrorism .It should reject all discussion with India on terrorism until it stops its repression in Kashmir and ends sponsorship of the TTP and BLA.”One could not agree more with Munir Akram that we need to clean our own Augean stables and that US(and also India) must understand that “Coercion is not an option in the conduct of relations with Pakistan”.

Posted on Oct 24, 16 | 12:43 pm