VERY WELL-THOUGHT OUT ANALYSIS OF THE CURRENT US-PAKISTAN SITUATION AND OUR RESPONSE - By: Lt Gen (R) Tariq Khan

image- US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said on record before the Congress that Pakistan had been let down by the US,
- Gen David Patreous, ex Director of the CIA said there was no evidence of Pakistan’s role in destabilising Afghanistan,
- Former US Secretary Defence, Chuck Hagel stated that India creates problems in Pakistan,
- Gen. "Mad Dog" Mattis, the current US Secretary Defence, warned India to cool down in their support to the TTP.

The above were all heavy weights and there were others too in the US administration, US military system and the Congress who have tried to clear Pakistan’s name. It had no effect. Yet our own stalwarts are trying to find ways and means to ‘explain’ to the US government what our real position is. Others call it a ‘misunderstanding’. Such foolish scraping and fawning is probably unique to our very own alone. It must be clearly understood that the US is neither searching for a clarification nor is interested in seeing one. The US has decided to embark on a course of action and its decision cannot be sacrificed at the altar of the truth or reality on the ground. With a maniac like US President Trump, the ‘establishment’ is having a field day as they project personal agendas and spit in the face of the world. The insignificant Dana Rohrabacher and Ted Poe types find their relevance today in discovering a cause in the separation of Baluchistan. We are unreliable, we are two faced. Our stalwarts scream that we are not, our parliament is offended, our ministers are angry, everyone is disappointed and the country is shocked.

First of all, the Untied States has only done what it always does, abandon Pakistan when Pakistan is no longer needed. This should be no surprise to anyone and this fact should be clearly noted, underscored and advertised, only so that our future leaders can get the message and learn from history. Secondly, so far the United States has withdrawn monetary assistance; how can we demand that they support us financially. That is their prerogative and if they have decided to stop supporting us, why are we crying hoarse, it is neither our right nor are we employed by them. Live with it.

Now we come to this nonsense that this was not our war and that we fought for the United States. Please take into cognisance, I have been in combat the longest and during that time we cleared 35000 sq kms out of 48000 sq kms. We did not do this for the United States. The Indus Highway was closed, the Peshawar Airport was shut down, the KP Government was about to shift to Abbottabad, the businesses in Peshawar were moving out, our Agencies were no go, Bajaur had an Afghan flag and Afghan currency. We made deals and negotiated ourselves into every corner hoping that it would bring peace. We even disgracefully surrendered the people of Swat to Sufi Muhammed in the hope that we could ‘give peace a chance’. I saw people then shivering and quivering when militants entered Marghalla Hills. With short memories we forget the APS carnage, we forget the attacks on our airbases and the naval Base. We ignore the attack on GHQ, we look the other way as the airport in Karachi was hit. We then have been saying that this was all because of joining the US war in Afghanistan and was the product of our policies? We cannot be more wrong. How does one explain the 2000 sectarian deaths in Pakistan before 9/11? Besides, despite being members of the United Nations and having signed the unanimous UN Resolution 1377 of 12th November 2001 which should be read by all, ours was the only Army that had no one under US Command and we never operated beyond our own territory. What do these critics want - that Pakistan should have fought on behalf of the Taliban?

After all, what were the demands of the Pakistan Government to all foreigners in Pakistani territory? It was to register with the authorities, settle into designated areas and disarm or then report to centres for repatriation to their respective countries. Was this unfair? Not only did they refuse but insisted on waging war from Pakistani territory when the State had decided not to engage in Afghanistan. They said it was their right to fight a Jihad in Afghanistan. The whole story seems upside down. It’s these foreigners and our very own sold out militants who connived together for pelf and place that brought the war to Pakistan. Now we hypocritically say we have sacrificed 70,000 lives; did we do it for the United States? No, these lives were lost in the battle for Pakistan, as we secured our country against a RAW initiated insurgency and a CIA supported terrorism. We must not belittle our achievements which were the highest in the world just to win a cheap and irrelevant argument. We secured 3500 Kms of Lines of Communications, we established the writ of the government, we have cleared our areas of all militants and we did this for Pakistan and not the United States.

Our falling out with the United States is a function of a failed foreign policy. This was recognised time and again. A government without a foreign minister for four years allowed an Indian walk-over at the Capitol Hill. This has to be acknowledged and cannot be just brushed aside. Our PM, then, claimed he was the Foreign Minister, well then that’s where the buck stops. We had Haqqani as our ambassador, we had Fathemi as our advisor!!! We are further compromised because of the debt we have incurred, the money that we so wantonly stole and distributed amongst relatives and friends; that the very foundations of the State have been shaken up. The PM refused to even mention Kulbashan at the UN, Jindal turns up without a visa, Modi is invited to the PM’s house for a wedding. Well done!! Our leader entertains the enemies of the State even when they threaten to cut us into four pieces. This all then leads to the Dawn Leaks; an attempt to declare the Pakistan Army as a Terrorist Organisation. Having gone through all this we are shocked when the US now withholds assistance!!!

Nowadays everyone (including me) seems to have some solution to the crisis we are going through. The diplomatic scene is out since we have nothing to offer and have exhausted any space we have had thanks to this highly incompetent government. Talking our way through in search of peace is exactly like surrendering to Sufi Muhammad in Swat. Nothing to talk about!! We need to first acquire the space for any meaningful talks. Just simply saying ‘let’s negotiate’, makes no sense and is not that easy. We are suffering the consequences of huge capacity issues in our government.

It is obvious that the US must be in the complete know that it is losing the war in Afghanistan on account of its own limited capacity and incompetence and that Pakistan is the least of the causes. Despite knowing this, it continually blames Pakistan and that serves two purposes, first, it creates a credible justification for US failure and secondly it provides the US a casus-belie to prosecute Pakistan.

It is important to understand as to why the US would want to bring pressure on to Pakistan and what are its objectives:

• Regional Objectives.
o Contain Chinese economic growth.
o Challenge Russian military relevance.
o Observe Iran
o Retain regional influence through physical presence.
o Setup and support India as a proxy.

• Local Objectives.
Pakistan is an obstacle because of CPEC and that it contains Indian influence, Pakistan has to be dealt with effectively first:
o Create conditions for denuclearisation of Pakistan.
o Scuttle the CPEC through Indian subversion in Baluchistan and GB.
o Reward India by allowing free license in Kashmir.
o Destabilise FATA and encourage Afghan claims using TTP and Daesh.

• Conduct.
To use incremental pressure, testing for effects.
o Impact on Pakistan’s economic vulnerability by withdrawing financial support and influencing international institutions for calling in the debt.
o Hoping the government would be willing to trade: financial relief for nuclear capping.
o Declare Pakistan Army a terrorist group and extend international travel bans on its personal.
o May step up drones attacks and encourage India to undertake ‘surgical strikes’ which India has already been claiming it has been doing. India thus already has a tacit approval of everyone to undertake such operations.
o Finding no credible response the US may extend bombing campaigns into settled areas with intent to create discord, lack of government writ and disharmony.
o Having created the chaos and instability, may undertake boots on ground operations and encourage separatist movements in Baluchistan and GB.

• Pakistan’s responses.
The first and foremost that people generally recommend is appeasement and an abject surrender. I may even go along with it, if it could save the State. It will not. The US and India will not be satisfied without attaining the objectives listed above. Thus diplomacy, talking etc. may sound good in a drawing room discussion, may prove that some of us more intellectual than the rest, but the fact of the matter is, that they will not resolve anything. Such peaceful gestures can only come after having created the grounds for diplomacy.

Recommended response:

o Immediate
 Reduce US presence in the country to a skeleton staff at the embassy.
 Kick out all US based NGOs.
 Renegotiate GLOCs (ground access to Afghanistan).

o Concurrent
 Inform the Security Council that India by its own self-confessed statements has committed an act of war and that Pakistan retains the right to respond at a time and place of its own choosing.
 If India resorts to any more verbal surgical strikes, to physically respond in areas of Pathankot, Madhupur, Jammu etc.
 Also bring to the Security Council’s notice that US has threatened Pakistan militarily with unilateral action and that Pakistan has the right to self-defence.
 Inform Afghanistan that any act of hostility would trigger a response at Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kabul and Bagram.

o Future
 Find common interest with Iran.
 Speed up Russo-Pak military collaboration.
 Enhance Chinese involvement along Kashmir.
 Begin an aggressive Kashmir campaign.
 Stock up on fuel and food starting now.
 Work out a debt retirement scheme through a credible and honest programme involving the people of Pakistan.
 Begin a proper accountability to bring closure to Memo gate, Dawn leaks, Kargil operations, Abbottabad Commission, theft and corruption.
 Structure a proper lobby team to build the country’s relevance and image.

The US may not be ready for a physical fight beyond a certain escalation. Measured confrontation may force the US to step back. I used the term incremental pressure above. It was deliberate. At every stage where the US is not challenged, the pressure will shift and increase, step by step. By putting out our best foot we may be able to bring them to the table for talks which is what everyone wants.

Talks are only done when there is mutual respect. No one respects a loser. For now its brinkmanship and we need to see who is going to blink first. If the US is willing to come to some understanding we can offer them assistance in an honourable withdrawal, a role in the CPEC, business opportunities in the country. It is not necessary to fight the US if it can be helped.

However, acquiescing is not the answer and we must not sell our selves short as we usually do. We have to go through some difficult times but that is what nations are made up of; to stand up for themselves, their sovereignty and their independence.

I am convinced if we stand up to the US, our relations can improve. On the other hand, there is a lot of cleaning up to do at home as well, without which we can never be a sovereign nation and first and foremost is to remove all maulvi influence. They shall never let this country be independent, self-sustaining and respectable.

Religion has no place in the affairs of States and the sooner we realise this the quicker we shall be on the way to redemption. Catering to a belligerent but semi educated, opinionated preacher will always bring us into an ideological conflict not only amongst ourselves but with everyone around us. We shall be fighting a never ending Jihad. The best service we can do for Islam is to follow it in our individual sense and not pass judgments on others. Till religiosity is not removed from our political, administrative and diplomatic policies we shall always be hostage to the maulvi who has brought us to where we are.

Posted on Jan 11, 18 | 12:16 am