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Islam and Politics ( 24 Jan 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Terrorism and Pakistan



By Junaid Malik


In the age of information, ignorance is a choice and we as a nation have chosen to remain ignorant. Dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator, devoid of any aspiration, we are swallowing the dominant myths and mindlessly repeating the mantras inserted into our skulls, derived from a generation of cleverly crafted propaganda. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? The fact often disavowed that we are being directed, controlled, censured, commanded, preached at and indoctrinated by creatures who neither have the rights, nor the objective merits to do so. The country that was created for the people to enjoy their freedom failed to serve the purpose, because people surrendered their personal authority and moral integrity to a group of oligarchs, having no religion, class, creed or race, but vested interests. The ruling class, the British trained bureaucracy, the military establishment and the elite civilians were profoundly selfish, having lack of vision and in-depth analysis; to deal with defence related matters and foreign policy. They turned the nation’s image into one of beggars asking for aid and mercenaries fighting proxy wars for global powers.

Here Is a Glimpse of Our Myopic and Hedonistic Leadership’s Mindset

Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, during his conversation with Vice President Nixon, pleading for military aid stated that, “… were the US not to grant aid now, especially in view of all publicity, it would be like taking a poor girl for a walk and then walking out on her, leaving her only with a bad name”. (Ref: Memorandum of conversation of Ghulam Muhammad and Vice President of the United States, December 7, 1953 in Karachi. Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1952-1954, Volume XI, p1832)

Foreign Minister Zaffarullah Khan, during a meeting with Governor Stassen in 1953 said; “It was Pakistan’s belief that the beggar’s bowl should never be concealed”. (Ref: Memorandum of conversation June 22, 1954 in Washington. FRUS No 9281, Volume XI, p1849)

Dennis Kux, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, in his book Disenchanted Allies, quotes Ayub Khan, who, getting frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations with US during his visit to Washington, went to Henry Byroad’s office and told him, “I didn’t come here to look at barracks. Our army can be your army if you want us. But let’s make a decision”. What about the people of Pakistan, Mr Ayub Khan?

Right from the beginning, Pakistan’s apprehension about the designs of a hostile large neighbour, India, prompted it to try to develop friendly defence relations with large powers such as US and later on China. Americans knew well that Pakistani rulers cannot live without dollars and they took full advantage. The policy makers went too far in the relationship with the Americans, getting Pakistan unnecessarily involved into US led alliances of SEATO, CENTO and Baghdad pact against Soviet Union. This alliance with US and unnecessary acts of obedience brought the anger of the Soviet Union, whose early neutral stand on Kashmir quickly changed to a pro-India stance. A factor often ignored by historians is that during the period of 1951 to 1953, several high level meetings were held between Pakistanis and Indians, at highest levels, on the Kashmir Issue. India accepted Kashmir as the central issue between the two countries and during a meeting between two prime ministers in 1953, India agreed in principle, about plebiscite. It was decided that the plebiscite administrator would be appointed by the end of 1954, Pakistan’s association with US sponsored pacts and consequent pro-India stance by Soviet Union on Kashmir, provided a golden opportunity for Nehru to renege completely on all assurances.

Ayub Khan, who came into power in 1958 through a military coup, was obsessed with modernisation of the armed forces in the shortest possible time. He saw the relationship with US the only way to achieve his organisational and personal objectives. He allowed America to use Peshawar airbase for spying activities against Soviets and establish a communication centre for electronic espionage at Badaber. In 1960, the Soviet army shot down the U2 Spy plane that took off from Peshawar air base. Soviet Union demanded Pakistan to dismantle Peshawar based espionage facilities and threatened to attack if the demand was not met. This is one example of the military’s superiority complex with respect to civilians, where the soldiers while considering themselves to be the soul of the nation and ultimate guarantor of its security turned ambivalent in their relationship with the rest of the citizenry. The falsified sense of moral superiority over the civilians, despite having no training, knowledge and analytical vision to deal with the complexity of economic and foreign affairs, developed gradually from Ayub Khan’s era and got transferred to the next generation of the officer corps under Gen Zia, who took the relationship with US to a new level by turning the country into a frontline state fighting America’s war against the Soviet Union, to the disadvantage of its people.

In an appearance before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on April 24, 2009 secretary of state Hilary Clinton officially admitted that the United States, in its zeal to beat the Soviet Union, aligned itself with forces that today have grown into an existential threat to the world. She said; “But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. Let’s remember here … the people we are fighting today, we funded them twenty years ago … and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union. We did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work … and it was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea … let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these Mujahideen. And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahhabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.

How Did This Happen?

In his memoir published in 1996, the former CIA director Robert Gates made it clear that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahideen guerrillas not after the Soviet invasion, but six months before it. In an interview two years later with Le Nouvel Observateur, President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski proudly confirmed Gates’s assertion. According to the official version of history,” Brzezinski said;“CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that’s to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. But the reality, kept secret until now, is completely different: on 3 July 1979 President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained that in my opinion this aid would lead to Soviet military intervention.”

George Crile, a renowned American journalist wrote Charlie Wilson’s War (best-selling book 2003), which tells the story of how the United States funded the only successful jihadin modern history, the CIA’s secret war in Afghanistan that gave the Soviet Union their own Vietnam. Congressman Charlie Wilson is best known for leading Congress into supporting Operation Cyclone, the largest-ever Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert operation under the Carter and Reagan administration. In his book Crile writes about Charlie Wilson;“He told Zia about his experience the previous year when the Israelis had shown him the vast stores of Soviet weapons they had captured from the PLO in Lebanon. The weapons were perfect for the Mujahideen, he told Zia. If Wilson could convince the CIA to buy them, would Zia have any problems passing them on to the Afghans? Zia, ever the pragmatist, smiled on the proposal, adding, “Just don’t put any Stars of David on the boxes” {Page 131-132}.

Gen Zia, DG ISI Akhtar Abdur Rahman, CIA Director William Casey, Prince Turki Bin Faisal (Director of Saudi General Intelligence) and Prince Bandar Bin Sultan (Saudi Ambassador at US) were the main architects behind the creation of the Taliban. Bin Laden was hired by Prince Turki Al Faisal in the late 70s to do the dirty work of Afghan jihad. From the moment agency money and weapons started to flow to the Mujahideen in late 1979, Saudi Arabia matched US payments dollar for dollar. They also bypassed the ISI and supplied funds directly to the groups in Afghanistan they favoured, including the one led by their own pious young millionaire, Osama bin Laden. According to Milton Bearden (A former CIA Official, stationed in Pakistan during Zia’s regime); “private Saudi and Arab funding of up to $25 million a month flowed to Afghan Islamist armies since 1979. Pakistan trained approximately 16000 to 18000 fresh Muslim recruits on the Afghan frontier every year, with the help of various religious groups, funded by Saudis and CIA.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has written a book Ghost Wars, an inside story based on extensive first-hand accounts. What makes his book especially interesting is how he came to know what he claims to know. He has read everything on the Afghan insurgency and the civil wars that followed, and has been given access to the original manuscript of Robert Gates’s memoir (Gates was CIA director from 1991 to 1993), but his main source is some two hundred interviews conducted between the autumn of 2001 and the summer of 2003 with numerous CIA officials as well as politicians, military officers, and spies from all the countries involved except Russia. In his book, Coll has identified the culprits who created the monster. He writes; ‘’Carter, Brzezinski and their successors in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, including Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Colin Powell, all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land-mines that followed from their decisions. They must also share the blame for the blowback that struck New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. After all, al Qaeda was an organisation they helped create and arm”. He also writes; “The CIA’s director William Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. The Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator from 1977 to 1988.”

Gen Zia formed an alliance with religious organisations in Pakistan, establishing madrasas all over Punjab and NWFP to recruit fighters. The religious leaders saw it as an opportunity to press the military dictator and introduce Shari’a, the Islamic law in Pakistan and Zia fully complied. He allowed the CIA to establish bases in Balochistan to keep a check on Iran. He also supported the Saudi vision of creating a Sunni-Wahhabi force of Mujahideen to counter Shi’a Islam of Iran. Brigadier Muhammad Yusaf (former head of the Afghan Bureau at ISI) came up with some interesting remarks in his book Silent Soldier: The Man behind the Afghan Jihad. He writes; “General Zia and DG-ISI Akhtar Abdur Rahman had very cordial relations with CIA director William Casey. To offset that uncomfortable closeness with Americans, Zia and Akhtar were portrayed as holy warriors of Islam and modern day Saladins. According to one close associate of Akhtar, ‘They (Casey and Akhtar) worked together in harmony, and in an atmosphere of mutual trust’. The most interesting remarks about the death of CIA Director William Casey were made by Brigadier Yusaf. He states that, “It was a great blow to the jihad when Casey died”. He did not elaborate whether by this definition one should count Casey as Shaheed.”

In the 80s, when the ruling group was basking in the glory of unlimited gifts from around the world and a flurry of foreign visitors (including military personnel, spies, arms dealers, journalists, academics, diplomats, aid workers), the myopic leadership never thought of a day when they will be running mad from one corner to another to try to avoid being declared a ‘rogue’ and ‘terrorist’ country. They failed to recognise the limitations of the relationship between two unequal partners. They conveniently forgot that Kashmir and India were problems of Pakistan, not of US and there will be very limited if any support by US on this issue.

Even after the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, the CIA continued to follow Pakistani initiatives, such as aiding Hekmatyar’s successor, Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban. What was the Pakistani initiative? According to Steve Coll; “Every Pakistani general, liberal or religious, believed in the jihadists by 1999, not from personal Islamic conviction, in most cases, but because the jihadists had proved themselves over many years as the one force able to frighten, flummox and bog down the Hindu-dominated Indian army. About a dozen Indian divisions had been tied up in Kashmir during the late 1990s to suppress a few thousand well-trained, paradise-seeking Islamist guerrillas. What more could Pakistan ask? The jihadist guerrillas were a more practical day-to-day strategic defence against Indian hegemony than even a nuclear bomb. To the west, in Afghanistan, the Taliban provided geopolitical” strategic depth” against India and protection from rebellion by Pakistan’s own restive Pashtun population.” Where is Common man in this picture and what about his welfare and security?

After Zia’s death, Benazir Bhutto took charge as the civilian prime minister. Pakistan’s military intelligence officers didn’t like Benazir Bhutto, but she supported the Taliban in pursuit of Zia’s dream of loyal Pashtun-led Islamist government in Kabul. She formed the Afghan cell and made ISI chief Gen Hamid Gul in-charge. The US ambassador regularly attended the Afghan cell’s meetings and Benazir Bhutto lied to American officials for two years about Pakistan’s aid to the Taliban, which she admitted in her interview to Steve Coll. Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded Benazir as prime minister, was a creation of Gen Zia and knew everything inside out. He had a special relationship with the Saudis and supported their vision of creating a force to counter the Shi’a Islam of Iran and guard Saudi interests in the region. Saudis, in pursuit of dominance of the Wahhabi ideology and their hatred for Iran, turned Pakistan into a battleground for sectarian wars. All post-Zia regimes supported the Taliban, provided them financial aid and manpower till September 2001, when 9/11 happened. Gen Musharraf, in his obedience to the US, went even further and turned everything upside down. He created the dominant myth of “Pakistan First”, and turned the country into a frontline state once again, this time for US war against al Qaeda. ‘Pakistan first’ sounds good enough but what about Pakistanis, their welfare and security, Mr Musharraf?

Lt Gen Shahid Aziz (Chief of General Staff during the Musharraf regime), in live interviews on several media channels on 6th and 8th December 2009, revealed that the army as an institution was kept in complete dark about what was going on between Washington and Islamabad after 9 / 11 and on ‘war on terror’ deals. He said; “Gen Musharraf had also allowed US drones to use Pakistani airspace for intelligence sharing besides permitting the American intelligence agencies, the CIA and the FBI, to recruit their agents in the tribal belt of Pakistan. Despite strong opposition from the GHQ, Gen Musharraf granted this permission in the name of intelligence sharing. The same drones had then carried out strikes inside Pakistan, killing hundreds of people, including innocent women and children”. Lt Gen Shahid Aziz felt no hesitation to disclose that when initially consulted after 9/11, the top commanders had decided to stay out of the conflict. However, later because of compromises by Gen Musharraf, the army was dragged in that odd situation. He also told the media that while Pakistan army used to catch targeted foreigners and locals, handing them over to the ISI for interrogation, they were passed on to the Americans without the knowledge of the army. It caused a lot of resentment in the top echelons of the military when they found this was happening. Gen Musharraf kept the ISI engaged to collaborate with American CIA without the knowledge of other commanders.

And then some wonder where the terrorists are coming from? Professor Ghafoor Ahmed, former head of JI said; “You pick four or five retired ISI generals and you will come to know who these terrorists are.” This monster has been created by our own myopic establishment which still continues its support to terrorist organisations. In their obedience to US and Saudis, they have turned Pakistan into safe haven for religious extremists and terrorists.

Asif Zardari succeeded Gen Musharraf as president. After joining the office, the first thing he did was to issue a moratorium for terrorists on death row. The ban expired on 30th June 2013 but death sentences were not carried out until the recent attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. On what moral or legal grounds was this moratorium issued? The public, as always, has been duped into believing the dominant myths and contradictory dogma. The questions, quite relevant to the situation, but never asked are: Are we really a free nation? What about the freedom, welfare and security of the common man? Perhaps the ignorant people, unaware of their rights, deserve to be ruled by the least meritorious, taken hostage by the extremists and looked upon as a rogue nation.

Note: Human Rights Watch has conducted a systematic Investigation on History of Afghan War and Human rights violations during post Soviet Invasion era. The report was published in 2005 with the title Blood-Stained Hands: Past Atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan’s Legacy of Impunity.