Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq
2011 is about to end leaving behind many sordid memories, troubles and challenges—imperialist highhandedness evoking Occupying Wall Street Movement, political upheavals, armed conflicts, economic collapses and slowdowns, rising poverty and unemployment, social distresses and above all, rapidly growing menace of militancy coupled with religious extremism. At the close of 2011, the world’s most worrisome melting pot remains the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US Af-Pak strategy after receiving setbacks culminated in the statement by Vice President Joe Biden that “[the] Taliban are not enemies of USA”. This is, in fact, an admission by US of failure of its military operations in Afghanistan, leaving no option but enter into “political negotiations” with the groups once condemned as “terrorists”.
Ensuing events in the wake of NATO attack on Salalah check post, especially Pakistan’s boycott of Bonn Conference and severing of supplies to ISAF troops stationed in Afghanistan forced Biden to tell Newsweek that “it is good enough for the US if Afghanistan stops being a haven for people who do damage and have as a target the United States of America and its allies”. He further said that “the U.S. is supportive of a reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban even if it is questionable whether reconciliation is possible”. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reacted strongly saying that Biden’s remarks—as as well as President Obama’s belief that the Taliban “are not the enemy”—are “bizarre”, factually wrong and “an outrageous affront to our troops carrying out the fight in Afghanistan”.
It is a fact that since 9/11 many opportunities surfaced for “reconciliation”, but each time a hidden hand, using the ugly weapon of “terrorism”, damaged any peace effort. The hidden hand is keeping the armed conflicts alive to control Eurasia. New military bases in Afghanistan encircling Iran in the long run would be used for any possible military confrontation with China or Russia. Projecting them as enemies but covertly supporting and funding religious fanaticism is the secret weapon of CIA. It is painful that leadership of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan has miserably failed to counter operations of CIA that successfully disrupted any peace process in the region.
The root-cause of trouble in this region is “occupation” of Afghanistan. The occupant forces have incited “resistance”, which is unquestionably justified. Unfortunately, the hidden hand has successfully maligned the legitimate Afghan resistance by pushing their terrorist friends within their ranks and files. These terrorists, operating on behalf of CIA, are part of the New Great Game, unleashed by imperialist and neo-imperialist forces for their economic and military interests in the wake of 9/11.
The creation of Jihadis (holy warriors) in the wake of Talibanization of Afghanistan was at the behest of forces that had keen interest in defeating the erstwhile communist USSR to control world trade and politics. Afghanistan and Pakistan became victims of shortsightedness of policies they pursued both at the time of Soviet occupation and in the aftermath of 9/11 by becoming US allies in the so-called ‘wars against communism and terrorism’. Even the democratic (sic) government of India and oil-rich Muslim states did not protest when the US started killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan in December 2001 by indiscriminate bombings under the pretext of annihilating Al-Qaeda operatives.
In Bonn peace talks of 2001, a grave mistake was committed, by keeping out the Taliban. Leaderships of both India and Pakistan failed to take any lead in aiming for political settlement in the neighbouring Afghanistan. They did not ask UN mediators to marginalize Al-Qaeda by persuading moderate Taliban leaders to participate in both the peace process and future political setup. Ouster of Taliban from peace talks and brutal killing of innocent civilians in several villages in Tora Bora and near Gardez in December 2001 by US, sowed permanent seeds of hatred and revenge—this was the beginning of an unabated cross-border wave of terrorism which has now turned into an insurmountable tsunami threatening the peace and tranquility of the entire region.
Not only is Afghanistan far from becoming a stable and peaceful state in the near future, two nuclear states—Pakistan and India—are also poised in a perpetual conflict situation. Being captives in the hands of military establishments, since Mumbai carnage in 2008, there is no meaningful progress to peace talks. War-mongers on both sides persistently create paranoia of hate to halt peace process and enhanced trade between the two neighbouring countries. Media in India and Pakistan make things worse by over-publicizing, publishing and broadcasting irresponsible statements by imprudent politicians. The electronic media vividly projects war games and possible scenarios of mass destruction in the event of nuclear attacks. This shows deep penetration of war psychosis—a lamentable mindset. A few raise voices of sanity and peace across the borders, but they are weak and ineffective before the hawkish elements—supporters and sympathizers of military establishments having control over state apparatus and popular media.
Forces of terror and obscurantism are re-employed in the New Great Game—they were created by CIA to dismember USSR but dumped in 1989 when Russian troops packed their bags and went home. Once the Central Asian countries became independent from the erstwhile USSR in 1991, USA concentrated its attention in the region on Soviet nuclear leftovers, the decommissioning of which it hailed as a great success. When the Taliban took over in 1996, the Americans did not seem overly concerned that the bearded rulers and their Al-Qaeda friends were supporting radical Islamic groups in Central Asia. Was CIA totally oblivious of Taliban-Al Qaeda nexus and their nefarious activities until 9/11? Why did the US government fail to counter their activities when they openly extended their actions into Africa and elsewhere? What lessons did the US learn when its embassies were bombed in Africa by Al Qaeda? What measures were taken to stop them when an Indian plane was hijacked in December 1999 from Katmandu and taken to Kandahar? How did the hijackers, acting for slain Osama Bin Laden, manage to get freed, militants like Maulana Azhar and Ahmed Omar Sheikh from Indian jails? For eight long years, why did the US allow Musharraf to cheat everybody and keep on supporting the militants?
The above questions and their answers can unveil the truth behind the tragic happening of 9/11 in New York and operation of May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad. George Bush and Dick Cheney made plans for invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq much before 9/11. They supported Musharraf et al for implementation of their agenda of militarization of the region. It is a fact that even Barak Obama, before occupying the Oval Office, was talking of controlling Afghanistan through increased military presence. What is the significance of Afghanistan in the New Great Game? The answer is simple. The hidden agenda of US and its allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere is to control oil and gas reserves, promote drug trade, religious fundamentalism and mass acceptance of their policies of fascism for self-interests. Till today, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan have failed to realise that they are being sucked into a deadly trap by these forces.
CIA, through hired militants is waging continuous proxy wars in this region. It is funding and arming religious fanatics. Under this game plan of CIA, Kabul gives free hand to agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) on Pakistan’s western borders. It is an open secret that CIA operatives with the help of RAW and Afghan secret agency have been funding the insurgency in Balochistan, carrying out suicide bombings and attacking Pakistani military installations. At the same time, many CIA agents are promoting a number of militant groups in Pakistan to create problems in Afghanistan, India, China and Iran.
The linkage behind troubles in all the countries of this region is the same—Central Intelligence Agency that has become a protector of corporate interests of USA and the West as documented in detail by L. Fletcher Prouty in his remarkable book, The Secret Team. Sadly, the Afghan, Indian and Pakistani governments have conveniently been playing in the hands of their common enemy, yet ironically relying on US support. For this occasion, Mir Taqi Mir, the great Urdu poet, very aptly said, Mir kai sada hain bemar huai jis kay sabab, usi attar kai londay se dawa latain hain (What a simple soul is Mir that he seeks prescription from protégé of the person who is cause of his ailment).
One wonders how rulers are ignoring the obvious tentacles of the dirty game plan of the neo-colonial forces in this region. The main aim behind this bizarre scheme, prepared by neo-colonialists, is to push the armed forces of Pakistan against the wall using India as conduit, obtain the control of nuclear arsenals and use bogey of “Islamic terrorism” for the containment of China. George W. Bush, before leaving the Oval ensured that the new man taking his place should have no option but to remain engaged in wars in various parts of the world. Ruthless bombing on innocent civilians, armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa testify to these nefarious designs.
One hopes that one day Afghan, Indian, Pakistani leadership and other nations of the world will understand this great conspiracy against humanity. It is high time Soviet Union, China, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan convene summit for uniting against the forces of neo-colonialism and foil their ‘New Great Game’ plan. They must understand that “cross-border terrorism” is the main weapon in the New Great Game waged by US and its allies to achieve common goal of attaining monopoly over energy resources, ensuring military presence around Iran, China, India and Soviet Union and take control of nuclear weapons possessed by Pakistan.
American Late Neo-colonialism, as explained by Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan in his Great Game Continues, is using terrorism as political cover for intervening and, where necessary, invading resource-rich and strategic countries to overthrow nationalist leaders, install puppet regimes and salvage the countries’ wealth. And of course, the US is by far the most detestable terrorist force. The reality of “war on terror” is that religious fanatics and Late Neo-colonialists appear to be enemies, but in fact they are ‘friends-in-arms’—their hidden agenda is to snatch away from the world its peace and tranquility. The greatest challenge before forces of peace in 2012 would be how to put up a united stand for defeating monopolies, stemming the rising tide of terrorism, communalism, religious bigotry and economic injustice caused by capitalism, which is vigorously protected and controlled by Late Neo-colonialist forces.
The writers, historians, researchers and authors of numerous books, are Visiting Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).