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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Swat agreement a cause of worry for USA and western elite in Pakistan

By Asif Haroon Raja

The US is extremely annoyed with some elements in the army and ISI for being soft on Afghan Taliban with whom Pakistani Muslims have religious and cultural affinities as well as blood relations. It however doesn’t feel the slightest pinch about intensely growing relations between non-Muslim India and Muslim Afghanistan and both using Afghan soil to destabilize Pakistan through covert means for the last seven years right under the prying eyes of US military.

The US is forcefully pressing Pakistan leadership to treat archrival India as a friend and consider the Pakistani militants as the chief threat to the existence of Pakistan. It desires this change in perception without allaying genuine security concerns of Pakistan and without addressing Kashmir dispute which has bedeviled Indo-Pak relations for the last 61 years. The two countries have gone to war over Kashmir thrice and once in Kargil. Whereas over 70% of Indian military remain poised against western border of Pakistan, India raises the bogey of Chinese threat to obtain arms from USA and the west and use it against Pakistan.

In the wake of Mumbai attacks, Indian strike formations had menacingly assembled in vulnerable areas in December 2008 to exercise the military option at an opportune moment. Talk of applying Cold Start doctrine against shallow objectives in selected areas gained currency. The Indian air force attempted to carry out surgical strikes at two points, while the Indian civil and military leaders hurled series of threatening statements. Their tone and tenor is still hostile and composite dialogue put on hold. Manmohan Singh has contemptuously stated that there will be no talks until Pakistan took concrete steps to destroy alleged network of terrorists and eliminated Lashkar-e-Taiyaba allegedly involved in Mumbai carnage. Without providing requisite evidence, India is insisting that Pakistan should proceed against the culprits it has named. USA and UK instead of defusing the tense situation fully backed Indian belligerence and maximized pressure on Pakistan asking it to do as told by India.

Having systematically enfeebled Pakistan from within through covert operations launched by CIA-RAW-MOSSAD-MI-6-RAM since 2002 and discredited institutions of Pakistan through malicious propaganda campaign, the country is now being written off. Pasting all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations and resorting to name-calling, the US has now given maximum of six months lifetime to Pakistan. Despite having put its security at stake, the US has all along remained unhappy with the performance of Pak army and has persistently sung the song of “do more”. This mantra applied by a bigger power on a smaller country become effective when the latter gets terrified and starts giving in to illegal demands without a whimper and feels gratified to receive a pat on back together with bagful of dollars and gets energized to perform even better with each transaction. Once the leadership get in such a receptive mode, it becomes very easy for the big bully to keep showing his eyes and pressing to do more and never getting satisfied. Even if Pakistan had employed the whole army to hound and eliminate the militants, the US would still have remained unsatisfied. It will draw satisfaction only when its real purpose of taking control over nuclear and missile assets is achieved and Pakistan reduced to a satellite of India.

Musharraf got entrapped all too quickly and now Zardari’s tail is firmly in the grip of USA because of NRO. Despite being the most powerful president of Pakistan, he’s totally helpless in front of his mentors in Washington. In order to please his patrons, he and his cronies stoically claim that war on terror is not US but Pakistan’s war. Yet, we neither have any control over it to fight it the way we want to, nor we have the funds to sustain it. As a consequence, we keep begging USA to provide us more funds to fight the militants. This dependence makes the aid giver bolder to twist the arm of aid seeker more punitively to make it dance to its tunes. He and his cronies cannot dare utter a word of protest against unjust and humiliating treatment meted out by USA against Pakistan. He wasted full one year on the judges’ issue since USA had forbidden him not to reinstate chief justice Iftikhar. He could not proceed against Musharraf since he is still a useful pawn in the hands USA, Israel and India. He is being gradually rebuilt to enter active politics at an opportune time. Zardari’s decision to reinstate deposed judges, restore Punjab government and later sign the Nizam-e-Adl bill were bitter pills he had to chew against his and Washington’s wishes since he had no other choice. These avoidable distractions were at the cost of nation building and fulfilling promises made to the people to improve their living conditions.

Our rulers have got so addicted to the US aid and US patronage that no amount of disgrace inflicted upon Pakistan makes any impact on them. They are least bothered that the country is steadily sinking. Half of Pakistan is engulfed in flames of insurgency and Balochistan is getting ripe for separation.. Our rulers sitting within the safe confines of Red and Green zones, and having bullet proof cars and security ring to move around, are still calling those who are breaking Pakistan as friends. Flagrant violation of our sovereignty by repeated drone attacks do not embarrass them.

There is no sense of urgency to stem the downward slide. They lay prostrate whenever any US official visit Islamabad and adopts an aggressive posture. In recent weeks, several US officials came here in quick succession; they not only admonished our leaders for lackluster performance on war on terror, but also made accusations that the ISI was linked with the Taliban. The peace deal in Swat leading to Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was vociferously condemned and dubbed as capitulation. Our rulers listened to their tirade obsequiously and submissively and assured them that they would try their best to live up to the trust reposed in them. It was Gen Kayani who faced the visitors boldly and had a straight talk with them while Lt Gen Pasha refused to talk to them because of their unbecoming behavior. PM Gilani and Mahmood Qureshi too remained steadfast, but the same could not be said of President Zardari and his exclusive team.

No notice has been taken of the diatribe of Hillary Clinton and her provocative address to the people of Pakistan instigating them to force the government to reverse Swat deal and to fight the Taliban who in her view pose existential threat to Pakistan. Mike Mullen, Holbrooke, Robert Gates, John Kerry, Gordon Brown have all strongly denounced Malakand agreement. Maulana Sufi’s unwise statements during his public address at Mingora that democracy and higher courts lay outside the pale of Islam gave a handle to his detractors to beat him and the government with.

In league with west lovers in Pakistan, intense pressure is being exerted on our rulers to cancel the Swat agreement. The western elite in Pakistan are more worried than the Americans or Indians. The writers among them are expressing their anxieties and painting Doomsday scenarios. Threat of takeover of Islamabad and nuclear assets by the Taliban is being blown up. American and western pressure together with pressure built up by the liberals had an effect on the rightist religious parties as well as Nawaz led PML-N that have soft corner for Sufi and the Taliban. Arrival of some Taliban from Swat into adjoining Buner and subsequently in Shangla set the alarm bells ringing. The Taliban after taking brief control over Buner withdrew from that district on 26th April as a consequent to successful parleys between ANP and TNSM delegates and thus staved off looming military operation. Notwithstanding positive gesture of the Swat Taliban, one thing is certain; foreign agencies and paid Afghan nationals are deeply involved in these troubled areas. Reportedly, Buner was taken over by Afghan Tajiks.

Lower Dir also got heated up where an ambush was laid by the militants against a military convoy. A military operation was immediately launched by the FC on 26th April in which so far over 40 militants and about eight FC men have been killed. The Dir operation though on a very limited scale has brought smiles on the depressed faces of the liberals since chances of annulment of Swat peace deal have brightened. The TNSM has suspended talks with NWFP government and made its resumption subject to cessation of operation. The Americans, Indians and the local liberals would be ecstatic when fighting between the army and militants is resumed in Swat and peace shattered. In their skewed view, bloodshed in Swat and FATA would prevent fall of Islamabad and keep the creeping Talibanisation into Punjab and Karachi at bay.

In the wake of misgivings and undesirable apprehensions expressed by vested groups about army’s role, the army chief made it clear that the army had the resolve to fight and eliminate militancy from the country. He dispelled doubts being expressed by outside powers about the future of Pakistan and said that 179 million resilient Pakistanis supported by the army is capable of handling any crisis that it may confront. He stated that the operational pause meant to give peace a chance must not be taken as weakness or a concession to the militants. He reassured the people that the army is determined to root out the menace of terrorism and the militants would not be allowed to dictate terms to the government or impose their way of life on civil society.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based in Rawalpindi.

- Asian Tribune -

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