How Pakistani Mullahs Connived with Military Regime
"VIEWS OF THE WESTERN THINK TANKS"
Former Director General (DG) of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Lieutenant General (Retd) Hameed Gul's anti-American rhetoric in post-retirement phase makes headlines off and on in national news media. It is interesting that when he was DGISI, US ambassador attended the meetings of Afghan Cell of Benazir government. In fact the major decision of Jalalabad offensive in 1989 was made in one of those fateful meetings. To date there has been no evidence (no statement by any other participants of those meetings or by General Hameed Gul himself) that Mr. Gul made any objection to the presence of US ambassador in these meetings, which had wide ranging impact on national security. It is probable that Mr. Gul was at that time a top contender for the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) race, therefore he didn't wanted to be on the wrong side of the civil government. When he was sacked, then he found the gospel truth that US was not sincere.Another example is of former Chief of Afghan Cell of ISI, Brigadier (Retd) Muhammad Yusuf. For five long years, he was a major participant in a joint CIA-ISI venture of unprecedented scale in Afghanistan.
During this time period, he worked with several different levels US officials and visited CIA headquarters in Langley. In his post-retirement memoirs, he tried his best to distance himself from the Americans. His statements like, 'Relations between the CIA and ourselves were always strained', 'I resorted to trying to avoid contact with the local CIA staff', 'I never visited the US embassy' and vehement denial of any direct contact between CIA and Mujahideen shows his uncomfortability of being seen as close with the Americans.
"Pakistan's former foreign minister Agha Shahi in a conversation with Robert Wirsing said that in 1981 during negotiations with US, he gave a talk to a group of Pakistani generals on the objectives of Pakistan's policy toward US. He stressed the importance of non-alignment and avoidance of over dependence on superpowers. Few days later one of the generals who attended Shahi's briefing met him and told him that Americans should be given bases in return for the aid.
"General Zia and DGISI 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 Yusuf. He states that, "It was a great blow to the Jehad when Casey died". He did not elaborate whether by this efinition one should count Casey as Shaheed (warrior who dies in battle in the cause of Islam). It will quite be amusing for Americans to know that one of their former CIA director is actually a martyr of Islam."
AFGHAN WAR WHICH MADE MULLAHS A SUCCESS; A BACKGROUND:
In December 1979, when Soviet troops rolled in Afghanistan, President Carter unveiled his doctrine.The salient features of his doctrine included assembly of a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), increased naval presence on Indian Ocean, a collective security framework in the region and a commitment to the defence of Pakistan by transfer of significant amount of weapons and dollars. Pakistan was under the military rule of General Zia. Zia shrewdly played his cards knowing that Carter was on his way out and he may get a better deal from the incoming Reagan, which proved right. Military again making all vital decisions of national security did not have the strategic vision. Zia in an interview taunted the Americans stating that, When you lost in Vietnam, you went home and cried. When the Soviets got kicked out of Egypt, they decided to go after Libya... Is America still the leader of the free world? In what respect? I hope it will soon restore its countervailing role, abandoned after Vietnam Rhetoric was the same as his predecessor martial ruler Ayub had used about two decades ago.
Ayub had said in 1960, The English-speaking world ought to feel a special responsibility to assist Pakistan in attaining a reasonable posture of advancement. It is not just a claim. It is in fact the dictate of history. Both military rulers with their peculiar vulnerability were trying to get a short-term benefit of military assistance totally oblivious to the long-term consequences. The obsession of getting at least one state of the art piece of military equipment for psychological boost and to use as a symbol of US commitment in Pakistan to India took precedence over more complex and tricky issues. If F-16 fighter jets were asked in 80s as a price of Pakistani cooperation, in 1959, supersonic F-104 fighters were considered down payment for Badaber air force facility. In 1985 Pakistan gave its shopping list of military equipment. Pakistan's priority must be to develop the necessary infrastructure in Balochistan and N.W.F.P...Together with raising an additional eight to ten divisions and the replacement of its obsolescent aircraft and tanks.32 One is reminded of the earlier shopping lists of Ayub Khan in 50s. In the beginning, Zia tried to get some legally binding agreement from US regarding Pakistani security but quickly abandoned the idea and settled for military aid only. US ambassador Arthur Hummel knowing the level of Pakistani leadership had firmly stood his ground. He later recalled, while they pushed the idea of a commitment on India and NATO type treaty, they knew very well they wouldnt get anything like that. They were genuinely concerned about provoking the Russians.
Zia's Foreign Minister Agha Shahi was aware of the limitations of US-Pakistan understanding but some of Zia's hawkish generals had different views. They were not averse to the idea of providing bases to US.
They were probably thinking that such direct commitment might prevent sudden abandonment of Pakistan at the time of serious crisis of national security. They had not learned from the experience of Badaber. In addition, they have not come to grips with the changed international defence scenario. The advanced satellite technology had made the aerial surveillance obsolete. Later as Vietnam and Somalia experience has shown that the decision of engagement and disengagement of US troops in any conflict area will be based on US national interest and not the interest of the client state. The biggest advantage, which Pakistan got during the relationship with US during the 80s, was effective and fast track acquisition of nuclear technology. The Reagan's strong anti-Soviet policy overrode the concerns of non-proliferation lobby. In fact, US administration worked as a spokesperson for Pakistan as far as nuclear issue was concerned. They argued that by augmenting Pakistan's conventional force strength, Pakistan might be dissuaded to give up nuclear option. Many efforts of non-proliferation groups in Washington were effectively thwarted by Reagan administration.
They were also privately advising Zia government on how to keep low profile about tricky nuclear issue. On November 2, 1984, State Department's nuclear specialist, Ambassador Richard Kennedy at a press briefing in Washington, D.C. said that, fears about Pakistan's nuclear program are grossly exaggerated and Pakistan was still a long way from nuclear weapons capability. Kennedy expressed his full faith in Zia by stating that, we accept President Zia-ul-Haq's categorical statement that Pakistan's nuclear programme is devoted entirely to power generation.
Foreign and defence relations have impact on domestic issues. Zia's decision to hold elections in 1985 was not based only on domestic concerns. Upto 1983, Reagan administration have effectively kept the liberal, pro-democracy lobby away from Pakistan.
Democrats started to assert themselves. In 1983, a bipartisan vote in Congress created National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was aimed at improving the human rights record and democratic record of countries receiving US aid. Potential complications in the absence of a some kind of democratic process in Pakistan were conveyed. In 1984, Dean Hinton was appointed ambassador to Islamabad. He had pushed for and played a key part in the holding of elections in El Salvador during his ambassadorial stint there. The non-party elections of 1985 were influenced by the international environment as much as the unrest of 1983 especially in rural Sindh. In 80s, when the ruling group was basking in the glory of unlimited gifts from around the world and 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 as Rogue" and terrorist country. They failed to recognize the limitations of 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.
THE COLD WAR; A TRANSITORY PERIOD FOR THE RISE OF RELIGIOUS PARTIES:
In the wake of the Cold War, the Central Asian region is not only strategic for its extensive oil reserves, it also produces three quarters of the World's opium representing multibillion dollar revenues to business syndicates, financial institutions, intelligence agencies and organized crime. The annual proceeds of the Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 and 200 billion dollars) represents approximately one third of the Worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $500 billion. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new surge in opium production has unfolded. (According to UN estimates, the production of opium in Afghanistan in 1998-99 -- coinciding with the build up of armed insurgencies in the former Soviet republics-- reached a record high of 4600 metric tons. Powerful business syndicates in the former Soviet Union allied with organized crime are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes. The ISI's extensive intelligence military-network was not dismantled in the wake of the Cold War. The CIA continued to support the Islamic "jihad" out of Pakistan. New undercover initiatives were set in motion in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus essentially "served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of six new Muslim republics in Central Asia.". Meanwhile, Islamic missionaries of the Wahhabi sect from Saudi Arabia had established themselves in the Muslim republics as well as within the Russian federation encroaching upon the institutions of the secular State. Despite its anti-American ideology, Islamic fundamentalism was largely serving Washington's strategic interests in the former Soviet Union. Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war in Afghanistan continued unabated. The Taliban were being supported by the Pakistani Deobandis and their political party the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).
In 1993, JUI entered the government coalition of Prime Minister Benazzir Bhutto. Ties between JUI, the Army and ISI were established. In 1995, with the downfall of the Hezb-I-Islami Hektmatyar government in Kabul, the Taliban not only instated a hardline Islamic government, they also "handed control of training camps in Afghanistan over to JUI factions..." And the JUI with the support of the Saudi Wahhabi movements played a key role in recruiting volunteers to fight in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. Jane Defense Weekly confirms in this regard that "half of Taliban manpower and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI"
In fact, it would appear that following the Soviet withdrawal both sides in the Afghan civil war continued to receive covert support through Pakistan's ISI. 19 In other words, backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely serving American geopolitical interests. The Golden Crescent drug trade was also being used to finance and equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting in the early 1990s) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few months there is evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia. No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant derogation of women's rights, the closing down of schools for girls, the dismissal of women employees from government offices and the enforcement of "the Sharia laws of punishment". Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Ousmane bin Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's "most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist.
While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, the FBI --operating as a US based Police Force- is waging a domestic war against terrorism, operating in some respects independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported international terrorism through its covert operations. In a cruel irony, while the Islamic jihad --featured by the Bush Administration as "a threat to America"-is blamed for the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, these same Islamic organizations constitute a key instrument of US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the truth must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together with its NATO partners from embarking upon a military adventure, which threatens the future of humanity.
PAKISTAN BACKS TALIBAN:
"Despite denials by Musharraf and his aides, Pakistan's ISI continued to provide military and financial assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan even after September 11, 2001." Some experts and journalists have suggested that the Taliban and the terrorism that arose in Afghanistan occurred because the United States "neglected" and "turned its back" on Afghanistan at the end of the Cold War, which supposedly led to the chaos in that country. The fact is that the United States did make an effort to cobble together a united front following the Soviet withdrawal and did consider helping with economic reconstruction. But that effort failed largely because of deliberate interference on the part of the Pakistani intelligence establishment. There was a "Pakistani-instigated chaos, but the U.S. contribution to it was not central," argues Afghanistan watcher Robert Kaplan. Out of the Pakistani-instigated chaos came the Taliban. "The problem has not been U.S. neglect but Pakistani interference, under both democratic and military regimes." Why did the Pakistanis interfere in Afghanistan? "Because they require an Afghan puppet state to supply them with strategic depth for their conflict against India," explains Kaplan. In retrospect, one can raise serious questions about aspects of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, especially the willingness to permit the Pakistani military and the ISI to control the assistance to the insurgents and the decision, under the pressure of cold warriors and a pro-mujahideen Congress, to continue funneling arms to the mujahideen even after the Soviet withdrawal.
The American support through Islamabad tipped the balance of power in the Afghan civil war in favor of Pakistan and its allies among the Pashtuns, while weakening the military and political influence of other ethnic groups allied mostly with Iran, Russia, and some Muslim republics in Central Asia. But lack of support in Washington and abroad would have made it impossible for U.S. policymakers to work out a compromise solution with Russia and Iran and their allies in Afghanistan, and with Pakistan, to form perhaps a decentralized political structure with spheres of influence for each outside power.
The only other alternatives would have been direct military intervention by the United States or permitting the Pakistanis to establish control over most of the country. The atter alternative, a Pax Pakistana in Afghanistan, became the policy by default despite denials by Musharraf and his aides, Pakistan's ISI continued to provide military and financial assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan even after September 11, 2001. Islamabad still regarded Afghanistan as a strategic ally and ideological associate.
Afghan training camps and Afghan recruits helped to prepare the next Pakistani-instigated insurgency against the Indians in Kashmir and to spread radical Islamic ideas and institutions around the world, through "jihad-international" brigades, some of which were tied to the al-Quad network. It is doubtful that the Taliban's control of Afghanistan and its policy of turning the country into the center of international terrorism could have occurred without the support of Pakistan. "We are fighting a jihad and this is the first Islamic international brigade in the modern era," bragged Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, to a journalist in 1999. "The communists have their international brigades, the West has NATO, why can't the Muslims unite and form a common cause?" Two years later, members of that Pakistani backed jihad international hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of Americans and others. On December 13 other members of those brigades attacked India's parliament in a plot to kill its leadership.
Musharraf Pursues "Talibanization" with a Human Face:
"Musharraf can be described as a new and improved Zia adapting an ambitious agenda to changing circumstances".
In a January 12, 2002, televised address to the Pakistani people, a confident Musharraf seemed to be taking more dramatic steps in the direction of once again aligning his country with the United States and the West, rejecting terrorism and theocracy, and criticizing those who "pervert" Islam to advance their interests. He announced the banning of five of the most radical Islamic groups and ordered hundreds of their members rounded up. Many of the madrassas were to be closed down or brought under government control, and other religious institutions, including mosques,would be monitored and warned not to promote terrorism. "The day of reckoning has come," heannounced. "Do we want Pakistan to become a theocratic state? Do we believe that religious education is enough for governance? Or do we want Pakistan to emerge as a progressive and dynamic Islamic state?" He added that radical Islamists "did nothing but contribute to bloodshed in Afghanistan," leading to "disruption and sowing seeds of hatred." And he asked, "Does Islam preach this?"
This much-analyzed address was hailed by officials and commentators as an indication that, after reorienting his foreign policy toward the United States, Musharraf was now going to take dramatic steps to Westernize and secularize Pakistan à la Turkey. Indeed, several analysts went so far as to compare Musharraf to modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, and to argue that his address "set a new course for the Muslim world." But Musharraf is no Ataturk dedicated to demolishing the religious and expansionist foundations of the ancient regime and establishing a new nationalist and secular identity for his country. If anything, one can compare Musharraf to some of Turkey's last Ottoman rulers, who tried to accommodate domestic and outside forces that aimed either to change the status quo or to secure the ambitious intertwining of the nationalist and religious goals of the empire.
Indeed, Musharraf's rise to power marked what can be regarded as the most recent attempt by members of the military-mosque nexus to preserve the achievements of Zia and his successors: veto power of the military, ideological supremacy of the radical Islamic groups, control of Afghanistan through the Taliban, mounting pressure on India in Kashmir, and development of a nuclear weapons capability. In that context, Musharraf can be described as a new and improved Zia adapting an ambitious agenda to changing circumstances.
Starting in the early 1990s, there were indications that changes in the regional and global balance of power were threatening the achievements gained by the militarymosque exus. The power of OPEC had been eroded, weakening the economic and diplomatic status of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan's benefactor and its top lobbyist in Washington. Worsening relations between Beijing and Washington made it difficult for Islamabad to accentuate Pakistan-China ties in bargaining with the United States. The strengthening of the human rights lobby in Congress produced growing criticism in Washington of the rising influence of anti-democratic and radical Islamic forces in Pakistan and, of course, its fundamentalist ally in Kabul.
The preoccupation of the Clinton administration and Congress with enhancing the nuclear nonproliferation regime spurred new moves to punish Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons (as well as purchasing related technology from China). Pakistan's support for the Muslim insurgents that attacked the town of Kargil in Kashmir in May 1999; Islamabad's backing of the despicable Taliban regime, which Washington accused even then of harboring bin Laden's terrorist network; and Islamabad's decision to detonate a nuclear bomb in May 1998 led to enormous U.S. pressure (in form of diplomatic and economic sanctions) on Pakistan. That, in turn, led to a reaction by Pakistan's military-mosque nexus.
The October 1999 military coup by Musharraf brought an end to the fragile democracy in Pakistan and strengthened the hands of the Taliban's allies in Islamabad, including the ISI, the radical religious groups, and forces pushing for the expansion of ties with the jihad international, the "liberation" of Kashmir, and the acceleration of the nation's nuclear program. The latter goal was the development of an "Islamic bomb" that would not only enhance Pakistan's position vis-à-vis India and the United States but would also provide the Muslim world with an answer to the Western, Hindu, and Jewish (Israeli) bombs. According to U.S. sources, one of the major reasons Musharraf and the military decided to oust Sharif was "the fear that he might buckle to American policy and reverse Pakistan's policy toward the Taliban." Musharraf and his allies were not calling for the "Talibanization" of Pakistan, but the policies they were advancing (either directly or through the use of political and military subsidiaries and "rogue" operations) were based on using the Taliban's Afghanistan as both a strategic and an Islamic backyard, where training camps and arms depots could be used to promote the Pakistani-Islamic cause in Kashmir and around the world. According to recent news reports, that effort included cooperation between Pakistani nuclear scientists and the al-Qaeda network-although it is not certain whether Musharraf knew personally of that collaboration. There were no signs that Musharraf's policy was strengthening Pakistan's position in Washington in the months preceding September 11. President Clinton gave Musharraf's regime a diplomatic cold shoulder; during a South Asia tour, Clinton spent five days in India and only five hours in Pakistan.
The Bush administration continued the process of marginalizing Pakistan and establishing more solid ties with India, as part of a strategy to contain China and expand ties with India's huge democracy and emerging market. All this occurred against the backdrop of growing U.S. tensions with radical Islam and Washington's strengthening of ties with Israel and secular Turkey, which only helped to highlight Pakistan's pariah status. There was no indication strategic considerations, economic ties, ideological commitment, cultural bonds-that Washington needed to continue to maintain Pakistan as a client state. Conversely, Pakistan seemed to be losing its leverage over U.S. policy, a clear reversal of what occurred during Zia's years. The relationship between America and Pakistan was being normalized. The dog was in control. In fact, the dog was discovering that it had no need to regularly wag that particular tail.