Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq
2008 has ended leaving behind many troubles and challenges—economic slowdowns, financial crises, rising unemployment, social distresses, regional armed conflicts and above all rapidly rising tide of cross-border terrorism. At the fag end of the year, the world’s most worrisome melting pot remained Indo-Pakistan area as was the case in 2001—military buildups across the boarders and horrifying threats of war including nuclear strikes. From the Kargil misadventure of 1999 to Mumbai Carnage of 2008, both India and Pakistan witnessed many moments of “reconciliation” but each time certain hidden hands, using the ugly weapon of “cross-border terrorism”, damaged the peace efforts. These hidden hands—working simultaneously in both the countries—take dictations from their foreign masters, who arm, support and fund them. It is painful that leadership of both the states has miserably failed to counter these forces which always manage to dismantle normalization process between the two neighbouring but belligerent countries.
The root-cause of trouble in this region is “cross-border terrorism”, which has to be broadly defined to include state terrorism by India in Kashmir and use of force by occupant forces in Afghanistan. The issue of cross-border terrorism in this part of the world cannot be understood in isolation of the Great Game unleashed by imperialist and neo-imperialist forces in the historic perspective. The militant liberation movement in Kashmir and armed struggles by various groups in other states of India cannot be equated or compared with onslaughts of Jihadists in the wake of Talibanization of Afghanistan at the behest of forces that were keen to defeat the erstwhile communist USSR. Both India and Pakistan are victims of shortsightedness of policies they pursued in the aftermath of 9/11 by becoming allies of USA in the ‘war against terrorism’ (sic). They 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, the Taliban were kept outside, which was a grave mistake. Leadership of both the countries failed to take any lead in political settlement in the neighbouring Afghanistan. They did not ask UN mediators to marginalize Al-Qaeda by persuading moderate Taliban leaders to take part in the peace process and participate in future political setup. The 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 terrorism wave which has now turned into an insurmountable tsunami threatening the peace and tranquility of the entire region.
Two nuclear states are now in a fix—captives in the hand of military hawks. The war-mongers on both sides are pushing things to an extent that paranoia of hate has begun to haunt the masses. Media is making things worse by over-publicizing, publishing and broadcasting irresponsible statements by imprudent politicians. The electronic media is vividly projecting war games and possible scenarios of mass destruction in the event of nuclear attacks. This shows deep penetration of war psychosis in both the countries—a lamentable attitude and nuclear mindset. There are some voices of sanity and peace-lovers across the borders, but they are weak and ineffective before the hawkish elements—agents of military establishments having control over state apparatus and popular media. Forces of terror and obscurantism are creation of those who exploited them for resisting Soviet occupation. They received generous American support, but in 1989, when Russian troops packed their bags and went home, American interest in Afghanistan waned. Once the Central Asian countries had become independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991, America 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, agents of Osama Bin Laden manage to get freed, militants like Maulana Azhar and Ahmed Omar Sheikh from Indian jails? Why did US allow Musharraf for eight years to cheat everybody and keep on supporting the militants?
The above questions and their answers will unveil the tragic happening of 9/11. George Bush and Dick Cheney had already planned, much before 9/11, invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. They supported Musharraf et al for implementation of their agenda. Now Barak Obama, even before occupying the Oval Office, is also 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 promote drug trade, religious fundamentalism and mass acceptance of their policies of fascism for self-interests and economic benefits. India and Pakistan fail to realise that they are being sucked into a death trap by these forces. Certain forces in both the countries are waging continuous proxy war, funding and arming extremists within each other’s territory. This dangerous game is engineered and controlled by CIA that forced Hamid Karzai to give free hand to Indian agents on Pakistan’s western borders. It is an open secret that CIA operatives with the help of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) have been funding the insurgency in Baluchistan. At the same time, these CIA agents are promoting a number of militant groups in Pakistan to help Maoists and other dissidents in India. The linkage behind troubles in both the countries is the same—US Central Intelligence Agency. Both the Indian and Pakistani governments are conveniently playing in the hands of their common enemy and ironically they are relying on US support. For this occasion, Mir Taqi Mir, the great 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 the person who is cause of his illness).
One wonders how easily our rulers are ignoring the obvious tentacles of the dirty game plan of the neo-colonial forces in this region. The main aim behind the bizarre scheme, prepared by neo-colonialists, is to push the armed forces of Pakistan to the wall using India as conduit, get the control of nuclear arsenals and use bogey of “Islamic terrorism” for the containment of China. George W. Bush Jr., now lame-duck President, before leaving the Oval, wants to ensure 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 the innocent civilians of Gaza on December 27, 2008 is evident of these nefarious intentions. One does hope that Indian and Pakistani leadership will understand this great conspiracy. It is high time Chinese, Indian and Pakistani leaders unite against the forces of neo-colonialism and foil their ‘Great Game’ plan. They must understand that “cross-border terrorism” is a ploy in the hands of US and its allies. It is the 21st century equivalent of the 19th century British gobbledygook.
American Late Neo-colonialism, as explained by Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan in his Great Game Continues, is using cross-border terrorism as political cover for intervening and, where necessary, invading resource-rich and strategic countries to overthrow nationalist leaders, install puppet regimes and savage the countries’ wealth. And of course the US is by far the most powerful terrorist force. This is the reality of “cross-border terrorism” and “war on terrorism”. The forces of obscurantism and imperialism appear to be real enemies, but in fact they are ‘friends-in-arms’ and their hidden agenda is to snatch away from the world, its peace and tranquility. The great challenge before the forces of peace is to get united for stemming the rising tide of terrorism, communalism, religious bigotry and obscurantism, which is designed, funded and controlled by neo-colonialist forces.
The writers, historians, researchers and authors of numerous books, are visiting professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).