Friday, March 14, 2014

Pakistan ;Almost in a civil war -likely impact on Afghanistan & the region


Pakistan ;Almost in a civil war -likely impact on Afghanistan & the region


There is nothing so distressing and disgusting as the coverage of international affairs with ramifications for India, both in print media, as well as our so-called national TV channels , obsessed with celebrities and trivialities. Hindus remain obsessed with navel watching as has been proved in history. They come out of slumber only when foreign invaders reach Panipat ..


On our corporate channels with its shrieking ,compromised and free style wrestling anchors, whenever Pakistan is discussed they get hold of couple of chaps from across the border and the usual idiotic, ill informed and stupid suspects from the Indian side. All they do is shout at each other and abuse each other. This is called debate and discussion.


While one can understand that the slavish MM Singh government remains beholden to Washington and publicly cannot say anything about the nefarious role of Saudi Arabia .Since 1980s, Riyadh has contributed USD 300 billion to print and distribute Qurans, to build mosques, Madarsas to create human bombers  and financial  support in creation of jihadis , Taleban and Al Qaeda .US and Europeans sell military hardware, which destroyed Libya and is doing so in Syria. Turkey for its foolish policy of supporting terrorists in Syria will pay a heavy price..


USA which spends over $700 Billions on dfense , as much as the rest of the world put together is now fingering Russia in Ukraine , with open intervention as earlier there aand in Serbia, Georgia,Kyrgyzstan but failed in Belarus and Uzbekistan .


I have not seen Pakistani TV channels, but some of their writers on foreign affairs are much, much better informed that the India print media.


There is very little in depth attempt to understand the situation Pakistan and its linkages to Afghanistan, the region, with Russia and China watching along with U.S.-led West.


I quote from my article written 3 and half  years ago 'Confusion  at the end of Afghanistan tunnel ', when the Arab masses had not revolted against US supported authoritarian regimes in N Africa and West Asia. Since then the situation has become more complicated with the situation in Syria still not pacified, Iraq getting more and more violent every day with monetary and other support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I give some quotes from my old article


Confusion at the End of Afghanistan Tunnel!                 



Would Pakistan succeed in destroying the Taliban!


A conglomerate of various militias, free booters, religious fanatics, nationalists and tribal chieftains classified as Al Qaeda ,Taliban ,Pakistani Taliban etc are somewhat like the Janissaries of the Ottoman empire , their most effective fighting force which then terrorized European Christians .But soon instead of terrorizing the enemies of the Ottomans ,they threatened the Sultans .Finally the Janissaries had to be destroyed .Would Pakistan be able to do the same i.e. destroy the Pakistani Taliban. It is big question. Perhaps Gen Musharraf could have done it after 11/9 .Now a heavy unbearable price would have to be paid ,other wise !


Stakeholders in Afghanistan

The Kingdom of Afghanistan was accepted as a de facto buffer state by the British and Russian empires at the end of 'the Great Game' in Central Asia in 19th century . Various British efforts to conquer Afghanistan ended in disasters . By the end of the 20th century , the British and Russian empires in Asia had unraveled and many new states have emerged out of them. Thus the very raison d'etre of a buffer state no longer exists. Since the US provoked entry of Soviet troops in 1979 ,their withdrawal in 1989 , fighting between residual Nazibullah regime and Pakistan supported warlords and finally take over of most of the Afghanistan territory by Taliban with Pak military and ISI participation and funds from the Gulf states established a rudimentary and medieval regime  under Mullah Omar  .How ever the Tajiks ,Hazaras , Ozbeks and other mainly non Sunni groups have been governed by their ethnic warlords and resistance fighters against Russian occupation troops like the legendry Masood , who was treacherously assassinated just before 11/9 .Masood had headed the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras , Ozbeks and others who resisted the Taliban regime .The Alliance was supported by Iran, Turkey ,India ,Ozbekistan, Tajikistan and others.


The number of stakeholders in Afghanistan is large ,the Afghan people , 40% Pushtuns, the rest Tajiks , Hazaras , Ozbeks and others with their ethnic kins in Iran, Ozbekistan ,Tajikistan ,Turkmenistan ,Kyrgyzstan, who provide support and even manpower ,neighbouring countries like China via Xinjiang and the former ruler of central Asia , Moscow . India also has historic interests and invested billions of dollars in development projects to have influence and friendly relations with Afghans , which it had  when Pakistan was part of united Hindustan .


Pakistan's interests have already been brought out since the Soviet occupation in 1979 and involvement in Afghan affairs .As the major financial contributor of the 1980s Jihad against USSR , and even other wise the Saud dynasty , with its coffers bulging with petrodollars , its purchase of US and British arms would be of dubious value which many feel Saudis are unlikely of using , like the Kuwaitis in 1990 .But Riyadh has its Wahabi ideology and cheque  books for funding not only Madarsas, mosques but also for arms to Pakistan, and Pushtun Afghan groups .After the destruction of Iraq power , USA's Sunni allies  from Egypt to Jordan ,in western Sunni Iraq ,even Yemen are worried about the rising power and clout of Iran in spite of all obstacles and sanctions against Tehran by US led West .It has its advance guards in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza .Hezbollah , Iranian and Syrian leaders who stand up to US and Israel are extremely popular with Muslim masses not only in the Arab world but elsewhere too .


So what if after Afghanistan if Pakistan unravels too.Little effort has been made by its leaders since 1947 to even develop a territory based nationalism. China would not also escape further problems in Xinjiang and Tibet.


What do the various stakeholders in Afghanistan want and what they can obtain is difficult to forecast. A declining Hegemon US can not even try what it forced on the Afghans in 2002 .It is 2010 .The Pushtuns would be the main deciders .If they can come together they can wipe out the British imposed but unenforceable Durand Line .The Pushtuns have ethnic homogeneity , Deoband ideology for now , opium and contraband trade links with neigbours and Dubai ,even a flag and perhaps Mullah Omar as one of the leaders .But they are likely to first fight among themselves as after the exit of Soviet forces . But unlike mid 1990s , after what the Pakistani , predominantly Punjabi military has done at Washington's behest and allowed raining of drone deaths , in North West Pakistan and in Afghanistan, Pushtuns are unlikely to be run by ISI .And if a Pushtun state become de jure , what happens to the other provinces in Pakistan , which has failed to even create a territory based national identity.
And what about non Pushtun people of Afghanistan , who form almost 60% of the population and oppose Taleban/Pushtun domination and ideology as they did after the Taliban were enabled to take over most of Afghanistan .Barring Karzai , a Pushtun, most of the establishment comprises of non-Pushtuns , who had resisted the Taliban under Northern Alliance .They will have support of neighbouring states , Iran, Uzbekistan, and  others like a now resurgent Moscow and economically important New Delhi .What about Beijing and its dream of connecting its turbulent Turkic Uighur majority Xinjiang province to Gwadar port in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea for transfer of energy from the Gulf, bypassing the insecure sea lanes via Indian Ocean and Malacca straits ,  a project which Washington would do its utmost to nullify .Neither Moscow nor India would like that to fructify too.
And what about the US design to keep its military bases at least in  non-Pushtun northwest Afghanistan and detach mineral rich Balochistan  ( the old news about the mineral wealth was highlighted simply to justify in the eyes of the US population which has become disenchanted with the unending war in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan.) What about Washington encouraging dissensions in Kyrgyzstan , with the multi ethnic Ferghana valley states becoming unstable and chaotic like Afghanistan and engulfing central Asia and Xinjiang .New Delhi must remember , what ever the final outcome in Afghanistan, sooner or later Pushtuns would seek good relations with India .It should re-establish contacts with Taliban and other leaders .
This sums up the problems and possible outcomes of the Afghanistan tunnel with little clear light at the end .There are other tunnels too , the Iraq tunnel , which US entered in 2003 and the keystone problem of Palestine , with Israel becoming no less important for a downsized United States , after Russians are back in Ukraine , its ally Georgia bashed by Moscow two years ago and US position becoming shaky in Kyrgyzstan.
Below is an excellent piece on the emerging civil war in Pakistan and its ramifications for the region and great powers .
K Gajendra Singh, 23 Feb 2014.

Talking in vain

Khaled Ahmed | February 22, 2014


The Taliban kills while it talks. And the Pakistani state doesn't have the capacity to take it on

Peace negotiators hadn't yet stopped high-fiving when the talks collapsed after a Taliban-claimed attack killed 13 policemen in Karachi. Pakistan says that by talking to a Pakistani panel of negotiators, the Taliban has recognised the constitution of Pakistan; the Taliban says Pakistan has de facto lifted its ban on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by officially talking to its panel.

As if to rebut the Pakistani assumption, the Taliban spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid, says the Taliban aspires to making its chief, Mullah Fazlullah, the caliph of Pakistan under a suzerain in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, the "amirul-momineen" of a universal state that will come into being after the Taliban's triumphal return to the throne of Kabul. One of the Taliban negotiators, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the rebellious Lal Masjid fame, has made the constitutional state of Pakistan shake in its tracks by saying: "the Taliban are most interested in implementing Sharia law in Pakistan" and that the US military presence in Afghanistan was "a very small factor" in the fight.

While the two sides talk and constantly "break" news to TV channels that the chances of success are bright, terrorist attacks have continued at the rate of one a day since the government announced the talks — the human casualty figure is eight innocent Pakistanis dead a day. Of course, the Taliban denies it is killing while talking, despite its signature on every incident. But last week, it broke the Pakistani heart by actually claiming that it had 13 police commandos, employed at INR 700 per month, killed in Karachi.


Instead of questioning the TTP on its double dealing, pro-talks politicians accept that the terrorists could not kill after they had given their pious word, and blame the "foreign hand", which doesn't want peace in the country. An official has dutifully announced that Islamabad was crawling with Khad and Mossad spies; another has allegedly arrested an Indian spy near the saintly shrine of Data Darbar of Lahore. Politicians fulminate against Blackwater and other elements to whom America has outsourced the job of scuttling peace talks. So while peace-loving Pakistan and the TTP engage in talks, Israel, India and the Karzai government, led by the US, were killing innocent Pakistanis, including, ironically, Christians. Clerics, wielding clout by reason of their well-funded madrassas, reject the Taliban's recourse to terror but feel empowered by their challenge to the "pagan" state and are fulminating against the "obscenity of culture" and "nudity of women", the latter reference being to unveiled women out shopping among men.


The world may feel faint in disbelief but in Pakistan, there is a consensus over this galloping narrative of the "wrong war". The consensus is so strong that even those who know better will go on TV saying Pervez Musharraf committed a blunder by accepting UN Security Council Resolution 1373 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and joining the war on terrorism. Only, they omit mentioning the unanimous resolution unvetoed by China, after refusing which an already economically challenged Pakistan would have suffered sanctions, perhaps including invasion.

There is an unconscionable conflation of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan under a UN resolution, which Pakistan accepted, with the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq without a UN resolution, which Turkey refused to join, to whip the populace into self-flagellation over how Turkey was more of a "man" than a Pakistan led by the chicken-hearted Musharraf, who must now be hanged post-haste by an itching judiciary.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had tested the bomb in 1998 thinking Pakistan would soar to new heights after becoming a nuclear power, only to see padlocks on the Karachi stock exchange the following day. Sanctions were clamped and the national economy went belly-up when Musharraf thought of overthrowing the government. But he was on thin ice when 9/11 happened, planned by al-Qaeda in Pakistan and executed, author Akbar Ahmed tells us, by the Yemeni tribesmen of Saudi Arabia, who visited Pakistan to go up to Afghanistan and meet fellow tribesman Osama bin Laden, before betaking themselves to the World Trade Centre.


The US asked Kabul to hand over bin Laden, but Mullah Omar refused, some say, on Pakistani bidding. Washington was in an ugly mood after having been snubbed by the Taliban government. It threatened Pakistan, knowing there were a whole lot of "surprised" Pakistani agents bunched up in Kunduz in the north of Afghanistan, helping Kabul tame the non-Pashtun population of Mazar-e-Sharif, who would need evacuation. There were also other reasons why Musharraf got cold feet.
This is what an observer wrote about the UN resolution after 9/11: "The resolution passed on September 28, 2011 was among the most radical of all UN resolutions ever considered. Security Council Resolution 1373 called on states to freeze terrorist financing, pass anti-terrorism laws, prevent suspected terrorists from travelling across international borders and order that asylum seekers be screened for possible terrorist ties. It did this all under the rubric of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, thereby making these dictates binding under international law. This is where it was a step farther than the Security Council had ever gone before.


"Resolution 1373 was the one and only time that the Security Council forced all UN member states to revise national laws to comply with an international standard. This was a massive expansion of the powers of the Security Council, and the UN in general, and it reflected the urgency felt by the Security Council at the time. According to official records, the Council session that passed this resolution lasted only three minutes. There was no formal open debate about this new vision for the Security Council."


Musharraf may also have caved because of the American "option" of India as the UN forces' launching pad, easily winning his India-hating commanders' approval. However, by agreeing to fight against the warriors Pakistan had originally unleashed in the region as an "asymmetric proxy", Musharraf got many undeserved concessions we can condemn only on the basis of terrorism-induced hindsight in 2014. By joining the war on terrorism, Pakistan got some of its debt written off, massive amounts of debt repayment rescheduled and was able to come out of the curse of the Pressler sanctions and go back to the familiar condition of lapping up new military hardware in an increasingly primitive cross-border warfare ambience in which the "soldiers of Islam" were replacing the modern fighter.


Musharraf sacked the "jihadi" generals who didn't want to fight the American war against elements they had helped spawn. In return, he got a buoyant economy growing at the rate of 7 per cent of the GDP that people today remember as a temporary utopia, when food was plentiful and one could buy a car with a cheap bank loan. From an unthinking commando who blundered into Kargil, he became a statesman normalising relations with India, which the rulers that followed him — Zardari and Sharif — were not allowed to do.


Pakistan wants to fight the Taliban, but it doesn't have the capacity to do so. Imran Khan says the army told Sharif last year that chances of success against them were 40 per cent — that is, defeat — and nuclear Pakistan hates a scared outside world too much to accept help.


The writer is consulting editor, 'Newsweek Pakistan'