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Forces of terrorism & obscurantism

Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

One should never forget the ghastly and cowardly attack of September 15, 2013 by Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) on Major General Sanaullah Khan, Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef Ahmad and Sepoy Irfan Sattar. The deadly incident exposed hollowness of the argument of their “sympathisers” and ‘advocates” that these forces “are worthy of dialogue”. The proponents of TTP have not learnt any lessons from their past conduct—they are not only dogmatist but also mercenaries who are using religion as a ploy to fulfill a nefarious agenda of their foreign masters. On September 10, 2013, six militants were freed in South Waziristan as part of an agreement with the government and within a week they launched this deadly attack to confirm for whom they are working and in reality what is their main goal.

On September 17, 2013, the spokesman of TTP openly announced that they would not stop attacking armed forces of Pakistan. This statement is a slap on the face of all those who were insisting for dialogue with TTP and other militant outfits. The statement that   “Taliban are still at war with the Pakistan army troops because peace talks have yet to start and the military is still launching multiple offensives against them” from  Shahidullah Shahid, main spokesman for the TTP, is an eye-opener for all. When the TTP spokesman was asked about his group’s future plans after the attack which killed the officers, he said: “We will never miss any opportunity to attack the army like that.”

Earlier, in the wake of release of many militants, the same TTP spokesman “cautiously” welcomed the resolution passed at All Parties Conference (APC) and announced that Taliban would be willing to enter into ‘meaningful dialogue’ after the government announces its policy on how to proceed. The subsequent acts of terrorism and announcement of September 17, 2013 were practical demonstrations of what TTP meant in the name of “meaningful dialogue”—in reality subservience of entire State before them.

It is worthwhile to mention that in the wake of unanimous statement of APC, the TTP Political Commission member, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told a section of media: “the government will also have to convince the army and to decide a road-map for the talks.” He also posted a statement on his Facebook page: “Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) could play a serious role in the proposed dialogue.” It is now for the JI and PTI to ponder what “serious role” they can play while dealing with these forces that are bent upon creating disorder, chaos and mayhem—the ultimate aim is to cripple the nuclear State of Pakistan.

On September 9, 2013, political parties unanimously reached a resolution at APC stating that negotiation with the militants should be pursued as their first option to counter terrorism. This was a rather naïve statement. Nobody realised that in Pakistani scenario, negotiations would not help in countering “terrorism” when the perpetrators are challenging the very basis of the State, that is, its Constitution. The TTP and other militant outfits, backed by some religious parties and enjoying support of majority of Pakistani clergy, represent insurgency, terrorism, even more that,  for details see ‘Uprooting terrorism’, Business Recorder, August 24, 2012.

It needs to be highlighted that in the aftermath of 9/11, military actions of United States and its allies against innocent civilians and terrorists’ unabated shameful attacks all over the world are going hands in hands—both violating international laws and posing serious threat to the world peace. Experts say that so-called military actions against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban—enjoying networking with many criminal groups having hubs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere—by the United States and its allies are tainted with geo-political motives as no serious effort has been made to cut their financial lifelines. Since terrorist groups have not been uprooted financially, they are wining more and more ‘sympathizers’ all over the world with money power. Strangely, their main target is no more United States, being leader of ‘War on Terror’, but Pakistan, India, China and Iran—these countries are resisting American hegemonic designs in South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East. It confirms for whom TTP and others are working for—see details in ‘Combating the financing of terrorism, Business Recorder, April 26-27, 2013.   

In the wake of APC, the most simplistic statement once again came from Chairman of PTI claiming “keeping negotiations side by side with fighting terrorism is not a wise move.” In fact, “sending the army to tribal areas was a big mistake and it is important to clarify to the people that this war on terror is their own war”, he added. Not only Imran Khan but almost all the political parties for the last many years have been advocating “dialogue” and “rapprochement” with militants fighting against armed forces of Pakistan without understanding their real agenda. Their main thesis is that they are our “own people” and we must engage with them and convince them to lay down their arms. They do not understand that disarming the terrorists is not possible without severing their financial support from outside and within. At the same time, the mere use of force against them is not a solution, though it is necessary if coupled with mustering political support of masses against the forces that are challenging the very writ of the State.

Pakistan Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on September 16, 2013 in his statement rightly rejected the demand of TTP “for withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas and release of their prisoners as a pre-condition for peace talks with the government.” This statement highlights the nature of conflict and exposes the real face of those fighting against armed forces of Pakistan in the tribal belt and elsewhere. General Kayani emphasised that while “it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process, but no one should have any misgivings that we will let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms.”

Martyrdom of Major General Sanaullah who was visiting his troops at the Pak-Afghan border and stayed the night with troops at a 10,000 feet high border post in Bin Shahi Sector signifies many things but also indicates the real enemy of Pakistan and what is their hidden agenda—their target is armed forces of Pakistan to make this country weak enough to serve the purpose of their foreign masters. Let us not forget that during early hours of September 15, 2013, two army posts located on the Miranshah-Mir Ali Road, North Waziristan were subjected to Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks by terrorists. These posts are meant to keep the traffic uninterrupted and secure. Two soldiers one belonging to the army and one to FC KP laid their lives for the motherland while two soldiers sustained injuries in these attacks.

Pakistan at the moment is facing the most critical phase of its existence due to rise of militancy, extremism and insurgency, besides complete failure of state organs to deliver. Conflicts of all sorts—economic, political, judicial, social, regional, ethnic and religious—are multiplying and intensifying. This is a logical outcome of the wrong policies of the past and present, lack of governance at all levels and clash of institutions controlled by vested interests. 

We need to understand how Pakistan has become a victim of terrorism? The answer to this question can only be found by studying the US foreign policy in which terrorism, drugs, arms and war play pivotal roles. This is not a recent phenomenon. From the early part of the twentieth century, the US leaders have been using arms, drugs and war hysteria as tools to advance their foreign policy objectives. Military interventions by US and its allies against a number of countries should be viewed in this perspective.

The study of foreign military presence in Afghanistan since 2001 in the name of fighting “terrorism” (sic) unveils the real motives of US and its allies. The so-called war against those who were once “great friends”, admired as “Mujahideen” [holy warriors] by the US administration, is nothing but part of the New Great Game. Its main aim is containment of China using militants in and around Afghanistan and Pakistan and also destabilise democratic India.

The New Great Game started in April 1979 when President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, pushed through a decision to support the Afghans against the occupant Russian forces. The Carter administration interpreted the Soviet invasion as a threat to vital U.S interests all over the globe. Securing co-operation from Saudi Arabia to contain Soviet aggression, the White House decided to support and promote the Jihadi spirit and culture amongst the tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan and hire mercenaries from other Muslim countries. These mercenaries were given elevated positions from low-paid assassins to highly-paid warlords.

The US policy of supporting Afghan resistance, with the help of Ziaul Haq’s military regime, produced devastating effects in the aftermath of dismemberment of the USSR. United States and allies managed to achieve their main goal, but left Pakistan and Afghanistan in the doldrums. General Hameed Gul, former head of ISI, in an interview with daily Jang, published in its weekly magazine (14 –20 January 2001) admitted that the Afghan Mujahideen failed to capture Kabul after the exit of Russian troops due to reduced supply of arms by CIA. He revealed that CIA was supplying between 4000 to 6000 tons of armament at the peak of war, which was later on reduced to only 100 tons. He also made a number of startling revelations about the CIA-ISI connections during the Afghan war against the soviet occupation and how some generals made huge fortune by selling the arms meant for the Mujahideen to warlords and even to some Muslim States. Another former ISI Chief, Javed Ashraf Qazi, in an exclusive interview with daily Jang [November 1, 2001], defended Pakistan’s Afghan Policy of supporting Afghan rebels and CIA’s arms supplies and covert operations.

Arms-drug mafia that emerged during the Afghan resistance persisted and flourished even after withdrawal of Russian forces from Afghanistan. In 1990 alone, the CIA had $36 billion at its disposal for such operations. The main concern was to fight Soviet aggression and no one was ready to discuss the ramifications even for the US itself. CIA allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan opened up a much larger arms-drug pipeline compared to Central America. In the process they gave an enormous boost to their trafficking intermediaries: powerful syndicates which, because of this boom managed to entrench in the United States and numerous other countries around the world. Jack Blum, who investigated Iran Contra connection for the Kerri sub-committee, calls the Afghanistan drug scandal “one of the biggest uncovered stories in the foreign policy arena. The scale and duration of the connection between drug trafficking, gun running and foreign policy are far larger even than the Central American affairs.”The figures bear him out. CIA was shipping more than a billion dollars worth of arms into Pakistan and Afghanistan. The guerillas that were receiving these consignments suddenly managed to boost opium production from 250 tons in 1982 to about 800 tons in 1989. Production since US/NATO presence in Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 has increased to 4000 tons—this is the real inside story of ‘war on terrorism’.

During the Afghan resistance to Soviet forces, large-scale consignments of arms were sent to Pakistan to be delivered to rebels through ISI’s network. The factories in Tel Aviv were working twenty-four hours to supply replica Kalshnikovs to the Mujahideen. The real beneficiary was thus the State of Israel. In Iran Contra scandal as well, it was uncovered that Iran, a staunch enemy of Israel, was buying weapons from it to annihilate another Muslim State, Iraq. This is the inside story of State terrorism, unleashed by USA and Israel. The Muslim States became victims of their own shortsightedness. They indirectly strengthened the Jewish State during Afghan war. Israel earned billions of dollars by selling arms to Muslim rebels in Afghanistan and the money was paid either through drug trade or was financed by Saudis. A high-ranking official of Israel’s Foreign Ministry revealed that during the CIA involvement in Afghanistan, Israeli Government consented to the sale of arms to be used against the Soviet forces [Israeli Foreign Affairs, October 1990].

The elements linked to the drug dealers in Afghanistan spent approximately US $ 19 million on arms from Israeli weapon dealers in 1980 after the invasion of Soviet troops in Afghanistan [Hadashot, September 3, 1989]. Reliable reports were published in a number of reputed journals of the world that Israeli military experts joined other foreign mercenaries during this period in giving advice and weapons to teach the Russians a lesson. However, the underlying motive was money that they made out of these activities. The criminal culpability of the US created a permanent source of irritation for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the form of these drug barons who work under the garb of Islamic movements. What we are witnessing in today’s Pakistan, especially in Karachi, is just a continuity of the same dirty game.  

Largely shrouded in mystery is the fact as to how CIA, even today, continues to work closely with the forces that US State Department employed to dismember USSR. It appears as if the US government itself has proved ineffective before the powerful elements that thrive on drug-for-arms trade. For them it is absolutely essential that war in Afghanistan continues, rather extends to all nearby States. Nothing has changed even after so-called post 9/11 counter terrorism efforts. The forces of terror are still thriving on drug-arms-money and posing even a greater threat to all States in this region, especially the nuclear State of Pakistan. It further confirms the point that “terrorism” is in fact a tool in the hands of certain forces that want to impose the New World Order in the wake of 9/11. The ghastly attacks on GHQ Rawalpindi, PNS Mehran Base in Karachi, Kamra Airbase in Attock, SSG Mess near Ghazi Barotha, Abbotabad by US Naval SEALs, invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, intervention in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Libya, Iran, and other Muslin States should be seen in this perspective.

Present day troubles of Pakistan have their roots going back to 1979. At that time terrorism was virtually unknown in the country. The Afghan war changed all that. By 1984, the year when USA Vice-President Bush Senior “graced” Pakistan with an official visit, the border area with Afghanistan supplied roughly 50% of the heroin consumed in the United States, and 70% of the world’s high grade heroin; and there were 650,000 heroin addicts in Pakistan itself. Heroin was shipped out in the same Pakistan trucks that brought in arms to the Afghan guerillas. The drugs-arms-nexus represented a worst form of narco-terrorism which any State could be subjected to, but nobody bothered to control it.

In post 9/11 scenario, militancy and terrorism again flourished under another military ruler—General Pervez Musharraf. Once again, the Americans started showering praise, aid and support—the purpose was to make Pakistan a subservient state to U.S. interest, neutral towards Israel and incapable of using its nuclear muscles. USA never asked Ziaul Haq to restore democracy during his eleven years long rule. From 1999 to 2001, they had the same “kindness” for General Pervez Musharraf—instead of asking him to restore democracy, they invited him at Camp David, interested and keen to ensure perpetuation and stability of his dictatorial rule so that their agenda in the region could meet with success. Pakistani rulers—both military and civilian—have not learnt any lesson from pre and post 9/11 betrayals of USA, let alone comprehending their blatant exploitation for the purpose of containment of China.

The present rulers and military establishment are also toeing US policies aimed at creating internal conflicts in Pakistan, encouraging militants to threaten China and India as their rising economic power is against the interest of US and its allies. Terrorism is their tool to protect long run economic interests in these areas that are full of resources—both material and human. They cannot afford to lose markets and resources in South Asia and the Middle East.

US and its allies, using the pretext of 9/11 (in which we played no role as at that time Osama and company were in Afghanistan) have made every effort to cripple Pakistan militarily and economically, using proxies—militant groups (in fact mercenaries) and international lending agencies. In the 80’s, the theme was drug trap, in the 90’s it was debt trap, and during 00’s, it’s the terrorism trap. The terrorism trap is a death trap for Pakistan as forces of obscurantism represent enemies from within who cannot be fought alone with military. Enjoying the support of right wing, especially Mullah and the Bazaar, these merchants of death are zealously working on the agenda of US that wants to see Pakistan a State without nuke power.

The more our rulers support USA and its allies, the greater are the chances for the forces of obscurantism to capture the State apparatus as anti-American sentiment wins them more and more sympathizers—especially students in religious schools run by them. So they are intentionally destroying government and private schools so that ultimately there should be only rule of theocracy and madrassa ulema who already enjoy a large fan following—courtesy media’s undue publicity through their programmes.  

This is the core of the US strategy towards blunting the Pakistan’s nuclear prowess. Like the Islamic Card Policy of the 1980s, which helped US to dismantle the hostile Marxist USSR Empire, the New Great Game is aimed at the containment of economically and militarily strong China and neutralization of the “Islamic bomb” State of Pakistan. Pakistan, unfortunately caught in this deadly trap, is now struggling for survival, threatened from two sides, by India and all-time-hostile-U.S-sponsored government in Afghanistan.

One thing is very clear that the wars in Afghanistan. Iraq and elsewhere have achieved everything for USA and its allies—money, control and what not. Courtesy Osama bin Laden and his team, including all of their sympathizers, the loser is not only Pakistan but the entire Muslim World. For Muslims, these wars have brought destructions, internal discords, economic miseries and above all, further dependence on the West—this is yet another long and dark era of subjugation of the Muslim all over the world. The solution lies in merging into one unified block as is the case of EU, but it is still a distant dream or even a utopia as Muslims claiming to be the followers of one God and one Book are the most divided community in the world at the moment. Perhaps it will remain so as various sects are hostile towards each other to the extent that they call each other “kafirs” [non-believers).

The woes and miseries of Muslims will continue unless they get rid of the clergy that is predominately sectarian-oriented, shun their differences, rise above petty differences and forge one unified block like EU. Religious militancy and terrorism in Pakistan and elsewhere has global linkages and geopolitical dimensions. It cannot be defeated within national boundaries any more. It can be defeated if all Heads of State at an international summit take a collective decision and initiate practical steps to counter it both at national and international levels. This may be a wishful thinking under the existing geopolitical realties where nation states, driven by petty economic interests, support and use militant groups in the name of religion to achieve their goals. But they should not forget that this is a suicidal path that will ultimately destroy their nation states as well. These ruthless forces after mustering military power will dismantle and occupy the territories of their supporters and financiers—the example of Libya is before us.   


The writers are Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and partners in law firm, Huzaima & Ikram (Taxand Pakistan).

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