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Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Why India Should Not Hold Talks with Gen. Kayani

Last week, The Times of London reported startlingly that the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh had opened a back channel dialogue with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Pakistani Army (PA), Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in June 2010. It also reported that the US and the UK were 'encouraged' by the talks which they hoped will lead to a smoother peace process in Afghanistan and reduce tension between the two countries. The Indian Prime Minister's Office has denied the report. We do know however that the Indian embassy in Islamabad has been in touch with the PA and the ISI for sometime now. It is difficult to authenticate the latest report now but we will explore the implications assuming that the report was true.

At this point, it is not clear what is the structure of the talks between Government of India (GoI) and Gen. Kayani or what are the issues that are being discussed. From the pointed reference to Afghanistan in the report, one may assume that the talks are more focussed on the Afghan theatre as well as the demarcation of the Sir Creek and the demilitarization of the Siachen glacier. But, one never knows what else are being discussed because the current ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation acts more mysteriously and inexplicably in matters pertaining to Pakistan, than even God. The spate of overtures made by the current Indian prime Minister to Pakistan and even more, the many self-goals scored from Havana, to Thimphu, to Yekaterinburg to Sharm-el-Sheikh and latest at Mohali stare us at our face.

In Havana on September 19, 2006, Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh conceded to Pakistani President Gen. Musharraf, that terrorism was a common threat to India and Pakistan forgetting that terror attacks on India are carried out by Pakistani jihadis with the support of the Government of Pakistan (GoP), the ISI and the PA while terror attacks on Pakistan were by their own citizens on religious sectarian issues of who was a better Muslim over whom. This concession by India at Havana came barely within three months after one of the most devastating and coordinated terror attacks on seven commuter trains in Mumbai on July 11, 2006 which killed 207 people and injured and maimed 700 more. It still remains a mystery as to why an Indian Prime Minister should equate the two and agree to a Joint Anti Terrorism Mecahanism. Explaining this anti-terrorism mechanism to the bewildered Indian people, Dr. Singh said "It is a trial, we have to experiment, since we are not going to war with Pakistan,".

And, pray, what has this anti-terrorism mechanism achieved since then ? Zilch. This "trial" failed when the Samjhota Express was bombed in February 2007, it failed once again when there were coordinated bomb attacks in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat in July 2008 when 55 bombs were planted in a matter of 5 days and later in New Delhi in September 2008 on the eve of Diwali celebrations. The 'trial' also failed overseas when the Taliban, ISI and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) jointly attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008 killing 58 people including the Indian military attaché and a diplomat. On October 8, 2009, there was a second attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul killing 12 more people. This time too, the 'trial' failed as the joint anti-terrorism mechanism neither forewarned India nor investigated the incident later. The 'trial' failed most miserably on 26/11 when the PA, the ISI and the Islamist jihadists supported by them unleashed urban warfare for three days in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. After 26/11, Pakistan denied vehemently that their nationals were at all involved and finally when such denials no longer could be sustained in the face of mounting evidence especially as one of the terrorists was caught alive, it resorted to time wasting tactics by declaring every dossier of evidence given by India as worthless and ultimately launching a farce of a court process where after two years, the case is still in a pre-trial stage (and that too after chargesheets were framed and one witness was examined) and there is no hope of any progress amidst pious protestations from Yousuf Raza Gilani, Rehman Malik and others. See here for the on-going court drama at Rawalpindi. New evidences later surfaced in the form of a certain David Coleman Headley (also known as Daoud Gilani) and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, both Pakistanis, who have directly linked the PA and the ISI with the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Now, we know that 26/11 was approved by none other than the current Pakistani COAS, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who was then the ISI chief. It is with this person that India has opened a back channel dialogue. The 'trial' part therefore continues unabated even as the 'errors' by the Indian prime Minister are accumulating thick and fast. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

There was a period of low activity after the Havana somersault by India, as Pakistan slipped into serious domestic troubles with the imposition of Martial Law within Martial Law as Pakistan faced general elections and Gen. Musharraf faced Presidetial elections after resigning as the COAS of the PA. The Judges were dismissed, Ms. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and eventually Gen. Musharraf was exiled to the UK in circa 2008. After some political stability was achieved in Pakistan, India picked up the peace process yet again with Pakistan. The first meeting after the November 26, 2008 Pakistani carnage, came when Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting on June 16, 2009 at the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Here, Dr. Singh spoke candidly of his 'limited mandate to tell Mr. Zardari that the territory of Pakistan must not be used for terrorism'. This (false ?) bravado was to change dramatically within a month. This time the Indian Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, met at the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea on July 16, 2009. Here, Dr. Singh conceded a lot more to Pakistan through self goals. Two important concessions were that India de-linked terror from peace dialogue and also allowed Pakistan to mention terror in Balochistan in the joint statement. The de-linking of terror came within nine months after the most horrendous terror attack ever faced by India until then from Pakistan and in the face of stubborn refusal by Pakistan to acknowledge that the attacks were planned, manned and executed by Pakistanis, leave alone prosecute the terrorist masterminds roaming freely in Pakistan. The reference to Balochistan in the joint statement elevated Pakistan's frequent accusations without proof of Indian involvement in the insurgency of Balochistan, to the same level as Pakistan's involvement in Indian terror. The fact that Dr. Man Mohan Singh simply dictated the contents of the joint-statement to his Foreign Secretary, holds the Prime Minister alone responsible for this bungling. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

Then came the April 29, 2010 meeting at Thimphu between Dr. Man Mohan Singh and the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. It was an hour-long one-on-one meeting held without official note-takers from either side, just as it was at Sharm-el-Sheikh too. It was agreed by our Prime Minister Dr. Singh that it was needed to "build trust and confidence in the relationship and pave the way for substantive dialogue on all issues of mutual interest". It was Dr. Man Mohan Singh's assessment that Prime Minister Gilani had the mandate from all stakeholders within Pakistan (read PA and the ISI) to hold 'peace talks' and that Pakistan would 'deliver' on the 26/11 trial. From the report in The Times of London last week, it is clear that within a few weeks after the Thimphu meeting, Dr. Man Mohan Singh had to talk to Gen. Kayani to reinstate the dialogue. So much for his assessment that Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had all the mandate. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

All that bonhomie of Thimphu evaporated into thin air in mid-July 2010, barely two months later when the Indian Foreign Minister, the soft-spoken S.M.Krishna visited Islamabad to meet his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Quershi. Even before Mr. S.M. Krishna left Islamabad, Qureshi accused India of being 'inflexible' and the Indian Foreign Minister 'being directed during the talks by calls from Delhi'. It has since been revealed that after the first session, Gen. Kayani interfered with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and that changed the complexion of the talks in the second session. Qureshi's well-known proximity to Gen. Kayani as well as the inability of any Pakistani Prime Minister to resist the diktats of the COAS, are the only possible explanations for the rude behaviour and discourtesy extended to the Indian Foreign Minister by the hosts, as well as for the failure of the talks. After S.M. Krishna's return to India, we continued to invite Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi for talks in New Delhi, even as he deferred and demurred. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

Most recently came the meeting at Mohali, India when the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers met at the venue of the Semi Finals of the World Cup Cricket match between India and Pakistan. The invitation to witness the match at Mohali, it was said, was extended directly by Dr. Man Mohan Singh to both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Gilani, without consulting the Indian Foreign Ministry. In this respect, Dr. Man Mohan Singh has been behaving like India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who ran the Indian foreign policy as his personal fiefdom. At the Mohali meeting, it has been decided that the Composite Dialogue would be re-started forthwith and would be made 'uninterrupted and uninterruptible', thus completely divesting India of the leverage of using 'withdrawal from talks' as a threat against Pakistan's use of terror as a state policy, a demand that Pakistan has been making for a long time. Now, India should await the next terrorist attack with bated breath to know as to what would be GoI's reaction in such an unfortunate event. No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

That the Pakistani Army has been a significant source of all evil emanating from Pakistan against India, is a no-brainer. It has been so since 1947 when it tried to grab J&K. After a series of defeats culminating in the massive and swift defeat of 1971, its hostility against India has assumed gargantuan proportions. The Pakistani Army therefore decided to bleed India to death with a thousand cuts. One of these 'cuts' was to redirect Afghanistan's Islamist jihadis towards India after c. 1989 though internecine war was still continuing there. While the Pashtuns - mainly the Ghilzais, and the Durranis - the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and the Hazaaras were fighting for supremacy, Pakistan let loose in J&K the Pakistani mujahideen initially and later the foreign jihadis like the Arabs as they were now unemployed. Starting with the Indian Punjab in the 80s and later J&K, Pakistan-inspired terrorism has spread today to far nooks and corners of India. The 26/11 urban warfare was directed by the Pakistani Army and approved directly by Gen. Kayani when he was the Chief of the ISI.

Since the days of Z.A. Bhutto as the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) first and then as Prime Minister, the Pakistani society has been radicalized to a large extent with official support by the State through laws, directives, textbooks and sustained state propaganda. Similar fate has befallen the Pakistani Army too as the Army is nothing but the microcosm of the society as in any other country. Apart from this, the PA has come under Islamist influence due to the deliberate policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. The puritanical wahhabi and salafi strains are overwhelming the largely Berelvi Pakistan today which is wilting under their onslaught. Gen. Kayani described these evil forces as 'strategic assets' in c. 2009. He is of the view that these evil forces do not pose a threat unlike India, which he describes as an 'existential threat' when in fact all wars and skirmishes between the two countries were started by a revisionist Pakistan, not a status-quoist India. By his own admission, he is the most India-centric of all Army Chiefs Pakistan had produced, which to say the least is something worrying because all of them from Ayub Khan downwards have always been hardened India haters. Today, the Pakistani Army has allowed the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy Line of Control (LoC) with India and also large parts of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). The Pakistani Army is furiously accumulating nuclear bombs and could possess the fourth largest arsenal in the world in the next few years. The reason why the Pakistani Army is not taking any action against Waziristan-based Taliban is because it is still hoping to re-establish its 'strategic depth' after the US & NATO forces leave that country soon. It is also for this reason they are vehemently opposing Indian presence in that country. The strategic depth is directed against India. Gen. Kayani therefore believes that he has all the aces and can negotiate with India from a position of strength. In 1972, with India holding 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners-of-War (PoWs) after the PA signed the surrender document at Dhaka, Pakistani Army's delusional demands, sent through Z.A. Bhutto to the Shimla talks, were nothing short of conditions normally imposed by the victors against the vanquished !

Lately, the Americans, who think world's problems will disappear if only India talks to Pakistan, have been saying that they understood Pakistan's paranoia vis-a-vis India. The US has also respected the Pakistani redlines against India. The US has been suggesting to India for sometime now to have talks with the PA, as it does itself. What it clearly fails to recognize is that the equation between it and Pakistan is vastly different from that between India and Pakistan. Pakistani Army feels emboldened by these American actions. One can therefore easily visualize how the talks with Gen. Kayani will proceed now. It is very clear therefore that Gen. Kayani is not looking to ease tensions with India and encourage peace. He is willing to talk to give an ultimatum to India in the same way Adolf Hitler did in his talks. After the talks, which will certainly end in failure, India would have burnt all the bridges with Pakistan.

No wonder, Gen. Musharraf described Dr. Man Mohan Singh about a week back as a 'nice man for Pakistan'.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Perspective of the American and Chinese Presence in Pakistan

A couple of days back, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America, accused the notorious ISI of Pakistan of being complicit with the Haqqani Network of Afghanistan who were after all fighting, killing and maiming American soldiers. The accusation was not surprising at all for anybody who had followed Pakistani policies. In another blog, I will possibly write about the nexus between the ISI and the Haqqani Shura. Various US officials and field-level Army officers have time and again vented their frustration with Pakistan ever since the launch of Global War on Terror (GWoT) in c. 2002. But, what was surprising was the direct accusation coming from the highest ranking American General. There have been ups and downs in the US-Pakistani relationship ever since they firmed up one in the 1950s. But, this downslide has come at a particularly interesting time when the drawdown of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is about to start in a couple of months' time. What went wrong ? Why is China compensating for this down turn by increasing its presence within Pakistan ? The two are interlinked as we shall see.

Since the time of its violent birth in c. 1947, Pakistan has been driven by an obsession of India. This all-consuming obsession has led her to several problems, including the threat to its very existence today. Among other disastrous consequences of this obsession has been its quest to seek an unattainable parity with or even superiority to its much larger Eastern neighbour in military matters. One of the ways it chose to achieve this goal was to identify itself as part of the Western alliances such as SEATO and CENTO in the 50s. In those heady early days, Pakistan was even willing to antagonize important members of the Islamic world such as Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. By identifying itself so closely with one party to the Cold War, Pakistan put itself in harm’s way in the U2 episode when the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev threatened to obliterate Pakistan. Later, it again helped the US in its geopolitical and geostrategic goal of defeating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics(USSR) even though it entailed the greatest cost to itself due to the spawning of sectarianism, terrorism, illicit drugs and small arms. After c. 1962, when India and China clashed in the Himalayas, Pakistan sought friendship with the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) while still being a member of the anti-Communist Western alliances. Again, the only motivating factor was the unbridled obsession with India which drove it to establish friendship with the enemy of its enemy. Pakistan concluded a border agreement in c. 1963 with the PRC, ceded the Shaksgam Valley which belonged to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The two countries have not looked back since then in their relationship. Similarly, it created various jihadi outfits to inflict a ‘thousand cuts to bleed India to death’. Pakistan thought that by micromanaging these groups, and by splitting them whenever they became too large, it could successfully keep them under tight control. However, today, these very same evil groups have turned back on their creator and are overrunning them. Thus, Pakistan has had to pay a very heavy price in its unprincipled and cavalier policies blinded as it has been by India.

Pakistan’s founder leaders had no idea about governance of the new state they were about to create in the name of religion. They felt that the munificence of the British who helped bisecting India for their geostrategic reasons, would not let them down even though they knew that Great Britain was on the decline. Propelled by the British notion of Pakistan being at the core of geostrategic calculations of the Western world due to its proximity to the new found ‘wells of power’ in West Asia, as a buffer state against expansion of Russian communism and as a refueling station for military transport in their long haul across the Indian subcontinent to East Asia, the Far East and Australia, Pakistan concluded that the Americans needed Pakistan more than they needed the Americans. In its calculation however was the hidden agenda that such a relationship would help them offset the natural superiority enjoyed by India economically, militarily and diplomatically. A country that prided itself as the only Muslim state created exclusively on the basis of religion, was even willing to forego its ambition of assuming the mantle of the Caliphate left vacant by the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk. Pakistan perforce had to side with the Western powers against powerful Muslim countries in such issues as the abrogation of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty on the Suez Canal, in the British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956, and even in the creation of Israel.

No less opportunistic has been Pakistan’s friendship with China. The Pakistanis began to show interest in China after the Tibet uprising and the eventual asylum of the Dalai Lama in India in c. 1959. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a then rising star in Pakistani political firmament, advised President Ayub Khan to develop a closer relationship with China. His anti-Americanism and his belief in socialism shaped in his mind the contours of a relationship with China even as Pakistan was furiously going ahead with its Western alliance. The 1962 Indo-China War was a watershed for Pakistan too. An already smouldering Pakistan-US military relationship, mainly on account of squabbles over equipping the newly created divisions of the Pakistani Army, was exacerbated by the American arms assistance to India, prompting angry Pakistani leaders to look up to China. They quickly concluded the border agreement which had not made any progress for several years, even conceding about 5000 Sq. Kms of the Shaksgam Valley contravening international norms. More dangerous transgressions were to follow. Ayub Khan and the young Foreign Minister Z.A. Bhutto began a series of manoueveres with the Chinese to get nuclear know-how as soon as China exploded a device in October, 1964. In his manuscript "If I am Assassinated" written from his death cell, Z.A.Bhutto has clearly said that the negotiations with the Chinese started in c. 1965 and Foreign Secretary Late Agha Shahi has since confirmed that. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s (PAEC) chief Dr. Munir Akram recalls FM Ayub Khan saying in late 1965 that ‘ . . . if needed, Pakistan could get it from China’, referring to the nuclear weapons. This arrangement eventually culminated in China transferring actual nuclear weapons, missiles, enriched Uranium, and other components for enrichment in exchange for the more advanced URENCO process of enrichment that A.Q. Khan spirited away from the Dutch facility and in helping the clandestine purchase of components and machinery for setting up the enrichment facility in PRC. Much earlier, Pakistan had also helped China break out of its isolation by normalizing its relationship with the USA, even as Pakistan itself was being violently divided due to genocide in East Pakistan. The economic powerhouse of China, which today it is, thus owes a lot of gratitude to Pakistan. The China-Pakistan relationship has scaled heights ‘taller than the tallest mountains’ and depths ‘deeper than the deepest oceans’ as the two sides never fail to mention frequently.

Thus, Pakistan's foreign policies have never been founded on any sound principles of 'national interest' other than those of sheer expediency and opportunism in order to destroy India. Pakistan has had to pay an unacceptable price for its tactically brilliant but strategically stupid and unattainable policies, but neither the Pakistani society nor its leaders have felt any remorse for their actions which have pushed their nation today into a deep abyss. Today, Pakistan is buffeted by a serious threat from the Al Qaeda and Allied Movements (AQAM) for its very survival as a nation-state, sectarian violence, intolerance not just for non-Muslims but even among the various Muslim sects, a dismal economy which is surviving on the doles of the IMF and about four friendly nations (the US, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the UK), an increasingly shrinking space where the writ of the State runs, entrenched sub-nationalism, and a label of being the migraine and a central hub of worldwide terrorism. All these can be directly attributed to the fateful decision to cede sovereignty to the US, China and Saudi Arabia. Such a cession was necessitated, in turn, by the ambition to attain its goals vis-à-vis India, goals etched in concrete by the early leaders and assiduously followed by the successors.

The tragic events of 9/11 thrust Pakistan into limelight once again for all the wrong reasons. As is its wont, Pakistan saw an opportunity even amidst the gloom of being reduced to a rubble and being taken back to stone-age. It offered its unstinted services to the USA and hoped to resurrect its relationship with that country which was at its nadir then. More importantly, it also wished to stem the growing India-US engagement which was being interpreted as a threat for itself. Thus, it hoped to correct the perceived tilt in US policies favouring India. It also saw a window of opportunity to acquire American arms and ammunition apart from getting large funds just as in the decade of the 50s and 80s. It was also Pakistan’s calculation that with the US once again dependent on it due to its geographical advantages, it will get a free hand in pressurizing India on Kashmir and other issues through not only diplomacy but terrorism as well, just as it happened in the 80s when terrorism in the Indian Punjab was instigated. This is where it differed from a host of other countries which also demanded and got various favours from the US for their support for the US prosecution of war on Al Qaeda.

Pakistan therefore gave the US permission to use its airbases at Jacobabad, Dalbandin, Shamsi, Pasni, naval base at Ormara and several unmarked airstrips in Balochistan to operate drones. It allowed it unhindered airspace during the initial stages of the war on terror. It allowed logistics to support troops in Afghanistan through the Karachi Port and the Indus Highway to Khyber pass in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Agencies) and Chaman pass in Balochistan It allowed the CIA to operate freely within the country, setup electronic listening posts, capture Al Qaeda suspects including Pakistanis and deport them secretively elsewhere. These Pakistani policies were to result in a severe blowback later, but, for the moment Pakistan was benefitting from its surrender of sovereignty. Apart from the write-off of some debts and the postponement in repayments of most others by over two decades, Pakistan was getting sophisticated arms ostensibly to fight terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, like F-16s, AMRAAM, naval ships, Harpoon missiles etc !!

Pakistan also extracted other tangible benefits as well from such unstinted support. One such famous benefit was the Kunduz airlift which was authorized at the Presidential level within the US to allow Gen. Musharraf to save his face and possibly his skin by airlifting over a thousand Pakistanis including ISI officers, regular Pakistani soldiers of the Frontier Corps and possibly some members of Pakistani terrorist outfits, from Kunduz in north-east Afghanistan in mid November, 2001. For the location of Kunduz, see map below.
Map Courtesy: The United Nations

To send hundreds of Pakistani Army regulars and ISI officers as far away as Kunduz to fight the Northern Alliance of Ahmed Shah Masoud, demonstrates how much Pakistan values the 'Strategic Depth' of Afghanistan. When they were finally airlifted to the safety of Pakistan, they were simply let go. Several of those charged with many assassination attempts on Gen. Musharraf later in c. 2003 were former soldiers who were airlifted out of Kunduz. Many of them later also joined Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) set up by Maulana Masood Azhar (with the help of the ISI) who was released from an Indian prison in December, 1999 in exchange for the release of the hijacked IC-814 flight. It is these Punjabi Taliban (mostly from Punjab and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,POK) who are wreaking extensive havoc within Pakistan today. Thus, the Kunduz airlift not only helped Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders to escape, but also deeply affected personally the man who requested that, Gen. Musharraf and far more importantly has brought Pakistan to its knees today by rehabilitating hundreds of battle-hardened and vengeful jihadists. Pakistan’s tactical decisions, while looking impressive at that moment, have thus brought that nation only strategic misery.

As the Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban groups escaped into Pakistan’s unruly FATA with the support of Pashtun tribal leaders on either side of the Durand Line and also the Pakistani Army at the border checkposts, they later re-grouped to take on the NATO and Afghan forces. One strategy employed by the Al Qaeda and Taliban was to bring under a common umbrella the various other jihadi outfits and warlords operating within Pakistan and in FATA. Thus, the Islamic International Front (IIF) of Osama bin Laden truly morphed into what is today known as AQAM with the merging of the various Pakistani terrorist tanzeems. Thus, Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) was formed (officially in c. 2007) to coordinate efforts within Pakistan given the fact that the Taliban needed to marshal the meagre and battered resources well against the mighty forces of the US, NATO and Pakistan arrayed against them. This was a tough task because of the oftentimes conflicting clannish loyalties, inter-tribal rivalries and independent warlords. The effort of unification took a long time and has not been a complete success either but it survived and has been fairly successful over the years. Though the AQAM leadership knew that Pakistan would not get too close to the Americans for AQAM’s comfort, they still needed to ensure that, by creating the TTP which maintained enough pressure on the Government and the Army of Pakistan. With Islamist-military leaders like Gen. Aslam Beg, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and Col. Imam guiding them, the AQAM knew only too well what perfidy Pakistan was capable of. Therefore, they needed to establish the Caliphate in FATA and TTP was the force to capture space, establish the rule there and maintain it. This is the first of the twin objectives of TTP.

Already the Pakistani terrorist tanzeem, Harkat-ul-Ansar (later renamed as Harkat-ul-Jihadi-al-Islami or HuJI and the original bearer of the tag, Punjabi Taliban) occupied an important place in the governing structure of Afghanistan during the heady days of the Taliban there. Later, Jaish-e-Mohammed also threw its weight behind Al Qaeda and Taliban. Others like the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the Ahl-e-Hadith Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Wahhabi Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of Maulana Sufi Mohammed of Malakand, Brigade 313 of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Karachi-based Jandullah of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the Berelvi terrorist organization Sunni Tehrik and the mother of all Pakistani terrorist organizations Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) coalesced with them making the AQAM a formidable group at least within Af-Pak. Collectively these Pakistani terrorist organizations are referred to as the Punjabi Taliban.

The latter have carried their 'Hanud' component to the 'Yahud-Nasara' conspiracy theory of Al Qaeda. The collective wisdom now seems to be that Pakistan must also be turned into Taliban-style rule so that in future the Taliban regime of Afghanistan would be secure and a worldwide assault on the kafir can be sustained. The Afghan Taliban, while still needing the support of the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, has therefore outsourced that effort to TTP. They give the appearance of keeping the TTP at an arm's distance. The Pakistani Taliban thus seek to overthrow the Pakistani government. This is the second of the twin objectives of TTP. The Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan have no option but to continue with their support for the Afghan Taliban as they blindly continue to chase the mirage of 'strategic depth'. Like a monkey whose hand is trapped in the honey jar, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan are thus caught in a cleft, from which they can come out only if they let go of their Indian obsession, an impossibility. Thus the Afghan Taliban is the cleverest of them all as it gets support from Pakistan while at the same time bringing it under its sphere of influence (a reverse strategic depth). While the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan believe that by supporting the Haqqani Shura and the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another old friend of the ISI, they are preparing themselves for the day after the American departure, the AQAM also believes that it has also prepared well for the same day. Pakistan therefore could be in for a rude shock when the reinstated Taliban might fall foul of their creators and mentors, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, because it has grown an independent mind and strategy. The assassination of Khalid Khwaja and the mujahideen and Taliban creator Col. Imam are pointers in that direction.

Today, Chinese troops are swarming all over Gilgit-Baltistan (part of the State of J&K). In circa 2009, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered the then ‘Northern Areas’ of POK under the guise of repairing the Karakoram Highway. See below the map of Jammu & Kashmir.
Map Courtesy: The United Nations


Later, PLA soldiers, estimated at about 11000, occupied portions of Balwaristan though the Pakistanis have denied that and said that they were merely helping the 27,000 families of Baltits who are caught on the northern side of the Attabad lake formed due to landslide in March, 2010. The Indian Army confirmed that a battalion of PLA soldiers was deployed at the Khunjerab Pass that straddles the border between Tibet and Balawaristan as part of construction of a railroad to Gwadar, Ormara & Pasni on the Pakistani Arabian Sea coast. As such construction are usually done by the PLA especially in the strategically important Karakoram areas, one can be reasonably be certain that the PLA is present in these areas in large numbers under the garb of construction activities. Satellite pictures later showed several tunnels, estimated to be 22 in number, at various places, along with convoys of trucks (likely to be PLA) and activities at road construction in these glaciated places of Balawaristan.

Amidst all this, suddenly the Chinese denied visa to the Indian Army General commanding the Northern Command under a new pretext that he was commanding troops in a ‘disputed territory’. This new formulation clearly showed that China was probably building up a case for the future. In the meanwhile, Pakistan hurriedly changed the tag, ‘Northern Areas’ to ‘Giligit Baltistan’ in c. 2010 possibly in an attempt to make it appear as a province within Pakistan and not as part of J&K. Though Pakistan occupied illegally the Gilgit-Baltistan area of the State of Jammu & Kashmir with British help, it has thus far been treating this province independent of J&K falsely claiming that the Amir and people of this region willingly acceded to Pakistan in c. 1947. The speed with which Pakistan renamed the ‘Northern Areas’ and setup an administrative structure there can be seen in a new light now in view of the presence of the PLA in these areas. This is ostensibly to thwart any Indian objections. The Officer Commanding the Northern Area of the Indian Army, Lt. Gen. K.T.Parnaik has recently said that Chinese troops were now seen stationed along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. A few days later, American Intelligence agencies independently confirmed, through technical intelligence, the presence of PLA along the LoC in POK. We also know that the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) has complete access to the most important Jacobabad airbase of the Pakistani Air Force (PAF).

The presence of China in POK is another one of those 'tactically brilliant but strategically stupid' moves. The Pakistanis may be doing this for several reasons. One, they may want to put pressure on the Americans by bringing in the Chinese so that the increasing strains between the US and Pakistan may be somewhat contained. Two, the Pakistani Army may conclude that with the significant drawdown of allied forces in Afghanistan, more Pakistani troops may need to be deployed in Af-Pak border in time to come, thus weakening the eastern border with India. They also know that it was the physical presence of the US armed forces in the region that stopped India from going to war after the 13/12 Parliament attack or even employing the Cold Start Doctrine after the 26/11 Mumbai urban warfare. With the US troops gone, India may not have any constraints in punishing Pakistan. The Pakistanis may hope the PLA's presence could act as a deterrent to India. Three, after the withdrawal of the US forces, US will not need Pakistan. From past experience, Pakistan knows that the US would not care for Pakistan after that and in the present circumstances (unlike in the Cold war era of 1989 or in 1965 or in 1972) of its close relationship with India, Pakistan would feel completely naked once that happens, in spite of nukes and missiles. The PLA boots on the ground at the border is therefore a hedge against any possible combined operation by the Yahud, Hunud and the Nasara. Four, Pakistan has concluded perhaps that the days of taking utilitarian advantage of the US are coming to an end and it would be better to jump completely on the Chinese bandwagon now.

Thus, we can clearly see the compounding of mistakes by Pakistan since c. 1947 that has brought the region and the world to the dangerous situation that it today is. Pakistan continues to pursue the same policies that were essentially to take advantage of the Cold War era equations and tactics, with certain refinements here and there. It has had mostly unstinting support from its several friends, but in the process lost a large part of its sovereignty. This has brought Pakistan to the stage today where it has to seek the help of the Chinese Army to protect its borders while it is being ravaged mercilessly from within by the very evil forces it created.