The US bluffing game to coerce Pakistan

Pakalert October 12, 2010 0

Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan is contiguous to Pashtun belt of Pakistan and is not connected with non-Pashtun areas in the west, centre and north. Whole of northern Afghanistan is attached with three Republicans states of Central Asia while western Afghanistan is fastened with Iran. Apart from geographic contiguity, five million Pashtuns of Afghanistan share religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties with 15 million Pashtuns residing in Pakistan. Pashtuns living in close vicinity of Durand Line have blood relations. Their villages were arbitrarily divided by the British on the map since physical demarcation was almost impossible because of inhospitable terrain and weather. Border line has never acted as an impediment in their cross border movement. Pashtuns from both sides have been jointly fighting all foreign invaders; each time they succeeded in evicting the aggressors. In accordance with their age-old tradition, they are doing the same now.

It must be remembered that unlike Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, Americans are uninvited guests in Afghanistan and their stay is temporary. Afghan Taliban are part and parcel of Afghanistan, they hail from majority community of Pashtuns, have ruled the country for five years during which they had brought order and security to the war torn country. It will be solely their efforts and sacrifices which will force occupying forces to abdicate. Others had welcomed the invaders and became their partners to fight indigenous resistance forces. Taliban will therefore for sure be part of any future government in Kabul in which they will have a say. Therefore Pakistan can neither wish Afghanistan away nor Taliban. Pakistan’s destiny is tied with Taliban ruled Afghanistan. As such, expecting Islamabad to completely get detached from Taliban will be unrealistic and foolhardy, particularly so when the US has befriended anti-Pakistan Northern Alliance and is helping India to become a key player in Afghanistan.

India is vying to encircle Pakistan and is therefore striving to keep Taliban out of power with the help of US-NATO forces. India knows that once foreign troops depart, its stay in Afghanistan would become difficult since the Taliban would not tolerate Indians. It fears its heavy investment would go waste. Israel which has for the first time made deep inroads in Afghanistan harbors similar apprehensions. India in concert with Israel is busy hatching plans how to extend the stay of coalition forces in Afghanistan for as long as possible so that it could firm up its position on permanent basis and also continue weakening Pakistan from within through covert war.

Taking into account Taliban-Iran two-way hostility, the Taliban too would remain inclined towards Pakistan where it has ethnic bonds with Pashtuns in FATA, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and other parts. Pakistan’s ties with Taliban assume greater significance in the wake of Northern Alliance undiminished animosity against Pakistan, its connection with India and heavy influence of Indians in Afghanistan. There being little hope of its eastern border ever getting normal because of India’s unabated enmity and dangerous designs, Pakistan can ill-afford to have an unfriendly regime in Kabul aligned with India since this unsavory arrangement tends to sandwich Pakistan from two opposing directions.

It will therefore be unfair on part of USA to forbid Pakistan from making any contacts with Taliban when it is trying hard to establish contacts with them and has allowed Karzai to do so. Pro-India Karzai in the grip of non-Pashtun warlords has been indicating his aggressive intentions against alleged terrorist havens in FATA since 2007. Recently he had provoked USA to strike the sanctuaries in Pakistan. Although the US dismissed the demand saying that it had no plans to send American combat troops to Pakistan, who doesn’t know that Karzai couldn’t have given this offensive statement without a nod from Washington. This became evident when Robert Gates as well as David Petraeus said that the US military was contemplating to step into FATA if Pak Army failed to confront Al-Qaeda in North Waziristan.

Idea is to keep building pressure on Pakistan through various means. The US is now resorting to a bluffing game to frighten Pakistan, well knowing it is in no position to stick its neck out into FATA when its body is in the grip of Taliban. The US has been bluffing Pakistan since September 2001 and got away with it. It made Gen Musharraf throw in his towel through its ‘Stone Age’ threat. It again threatened him that it would dispatch its forces to nab foreign terrorists in SW if Pak forces failed to do so. The US bluffed Pakistan leaders on several occasions that Indian military was all set to attack and would hold its horses only if Pakistan submitted to Indian demands. Bluff games, coercion, blackmail, doublespeak, deceit and lies are their tools employed with impunity.

Soon after brazen intrusion by NATO helicopters into North Waziristan killing 30 people, another helicopter attack was launched against a security border post in Kurram Agency killing two FC soldiers. These were testing rounds to test reaction from leadership of Pakistan and then make helicopter attacks a routine affair as in the case of drones. Pakistan decided to squeeze sensitive nerve of USA by ordering closure of supply route via Torkham.

4000 trucks carrying NATO/ISAF supplies move on two routes via Torkham and Chaman. These routes are the shortest and most economical. Thousands of tons of food, munitions and other items are moved on daily basis making for 75% of total needs of occupying forces in Afghanistan. As a result of blockade of Torkham route which carries 80% of supplies, hundreds of vehicles got stranded on both sides of the border. Nearly 100 oil tankers were torched by militants during the ten-day route closure. Each tanker carries 45000 litres of oil. The US warned Islamabad that if the route was not opened quickly and adequate security provided to the convoys; it may abandon supply routes in Pakistan and opt for alternatives. It was a hollow threat since it knows that other options in the north are not only time consuming but very expensive.

NATO commander came down from the high horse he was riding after Gen Kayani deflated the bluff by ensuring that the vital supply route remained closed. The people having got fed up of government’s policy of appeasement eulogized the act. The route was opened only when he apologized and assured that such an untoward incident wouldn’t recur. Airspace violations by USA are seen as provocation and violation of sovereignty. These offensive acts erode trust, embolden the extremists, generate public anger against USA and government and make the task of Army fighting war on terror complicated.

Analysts have been giving their critical comments on the mistakes and flawed policies of USA, and cruelties inflicted upon prisoners in Gitmo, and Abu Gharib jails. War on terror has been described as immoral and wicked based on lies and deceit. Fight against terrorism was a guise to gain commercial interests and to clobber Muslims. The world had condemned Iraq war before, during and after the invasion. Since 2008, war on terror has become highly unpopular and demand for putting an end to it has reached a crescendo. There is a popular belief that the US has lost the war in Afghanistan. Most Americans are convinced that war on terror was a big blunder and their leaders had misled them into believing that it was a righteous war to eliminate terrorism from the face of earth, making the world safe and the US homeland secure, rid the Afghans and Iraqis from the clutches of tyrants and to give them freedom and democracy. As against tall claims, the US has been unable to accomplish even a single objective.

Instead of eliminating or curbing terrorism, the US has let the monster of terrorism spread from Afghanistan to every corner of the world. Instead of making the world secure it has made it insecure and unsafe. It has become the longest and costliest war surpassing 2nd world war, Vietnam War, Afghan Jihad in 1980s and Iran-Iraq war and still there is no light at the end of tunnel. The war has bled US economy white, shattered its image of invincibility, smeared its prestige, made life of every American under constant threat and cast a gloom. Situation has gone so bad that American strategists have run out of options. There is no clear cut strategy how to wind up the war and ensure safe return of 150000 foreign troops

People of America can no more be fooled since they now know that 9/11 was Jewish inspired, Bush led neocons under the influence of American Jews had indulged in falsehood and deception to pursue their commercial interests. They are convinced that it is owing to wicked intentions and designs of their leaders that their country has been caught up in such a sorry state of affairs. They want an immediate end to the ongoing insanity, spending trillions and losing precious lives without a genuine cause rather than trying to stretch into Pakistan under false pretexts.

The writer is a defence and security analyst. Email:

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