Friday December 08, 2023

‘Do more Pakistan’ syndromes of USA

August 20, 2017

We are pro-peace nation. Immediately after independence, Pakistan chose USA as its friend as against the then Soviet Union through a first ever State visit of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since then Pakistan stood as a friend with USA – whether it was SEATO, CENTO, handing over of Budbher airport for its covert operations against the then Soviet Union or providing our shoulders to fire at Soviet Army in Afghanistan in 1979. The covert operations against USSR earned Pakistan hostility and enmity of erstwhile USSR while it provided opportunity to India to get more close to it. Pakistan faced the wrath of this enmity in 1971 when the friend of Pakistan acted as a mere spectator to disintegration of Pakistan.

The invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet Army in 1979 was perceived as politico-economic threat by USA and its allies, majority being Muslim states including Pakistan. USA invited Pakistan to help them to oust Soviets from Afghanistan. Pakistan played that part very well and deployed its military and organised Afghan Mujahidin to kick Soviets out of Afghanistan. But, the mistake Gen Zia made was, he induced some Islamic sentiments to his expedition, which was totally counter-productive to international politics and diplomacy, for the times to come.

USA recruited Afro-Arab militants, trained, armed and funded them to fight along Afghan ‘Mujahedeen’ and Pakistan provided them logistic and base camps. The war, besides other fallouts, triggered mass migration of Afghans to Pakistan putting additional financial burden on Pakistan. Pakistan had maintained its GDP growth rates more than that of India most of the times until the Soviet-Afghan War. By the end of 2001, there were over four million Afghan refugees and the UNHCR reported in February 2017 that about 1.3 million registered Afghan citizens still remained in Pakistan.

With the withdrawal of Soviet Army from Afghanistan in 1989, USA also withdrew from the region leaving Pakistan alone to take the brunt of millions of Afghan refugees, both in social and financial terms. Abandonment of ‘Mujahedeen’ – created by USA – without any exit strategy also put Pakistan in critical security situation. These unemployed ‘Mujahedeen’ spread across the country, engaged in sectarian clashes and other crimes but the creator of this class remained indifferent to the fact that these unemployed ‘Mujahedeen’ could one day emerge as monsters, whenever they would get a chance.

The emergence of Taliban on the horizon of Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul in 1992 provided another opportunity to the foreign militants as well as Pakistani religious militants to enter the arena. Their influence and doctrine spread across Pakistan coupled with unabated terrorist operations against civilians, army and law enforcement agencies. Now Pakistan is the lone victim of terrorism with highest number of causalities being 50,000 and yet is blamed as responsible for it.

During the September 11 attacks in 2001, 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others wounded. These immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the 19 terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Centre and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. It is a matter of record that out of 19 hijackers, 15 were nationals of Saudi Arabia, 2 of UAE and 1 each of Lebanon and Egypt and none from Pakistan. We, Pakistan, have a right to demand to know where the involvement of Pakistan in 9/11 is and those countries whose nationals were involved are still friends of USA and even Jordon provided platform to train Daesh.

Pakistan had been extending help to US to ensure peace and stability across the globe and in the South Asian region, in particular, but US rather than recognising the support and efforts of Pakistan, has entered a syndrome of repeatedly demanding Pakistan to ‘Do More’ vis-à-vis terrorism, for the last 10 years. USA perhaps forgets that it has always used the shoulder of Pakistan to fire the RPG against its enemies in the region and still asks us to “Do more”. We helped them in Soviet War and now “We” are facing both, terrorists label and the Taliban’s attacks, just because of helping USA in its global war on terrorism.

Perhaps the time has come to ask the US Administration to come out of “Do more” syndrome as far as Pakistan is concerned. It is the time to ask the USA to “Do more” to stop terrorist operations from the soil of Afghanistan against Pakistan; to pressurise Afghan Administration to ensure that Afghan soil is not used against Pakistan; to ask the Afghan Administration to prevent its intelligence and security agencies to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan through their own officials and the paid agents; to pressurise India to stop funding, providing trainings and logistics to anti-Pakistan elements at its own soil and at the soil of Afghanistan.

I would like to refer a meeting with President Bush in the White House where I participated as Interior Minister of Pakistan where I heard the demand of President Bush asking Pakistan to ‘do more’ and my abrupt response to President Bush was that it is time for USA to ‘do more’ as Pakistan has done a lot whereas USA has failed to strategise a common strategy against our common enemy. Beside others, Ms. Rice the then Secretary of State was present so this generic words ‘do more’ has become standby American slogan against Pakistan.

According to a Pakistani government assessment, more than 90% of terrorist attacks in Pakistan are traced to Afghan refugee camps and several Afghan nationals have been arrested for involvement in the attacks. Afghan militants sometimes enter Pakistan's border regions for shelter. Due to Pakistan's porous border with Afghanistan, it is difficult for local authorities and security agencies to track the movement of Afghan militants into the country. After the December 2014 Peshawar school massacre, the deadliest terrorist incident in Pakistan's history, two Afghan militants were involved in this attack. Mr President Trump, can you refuse that we are not still victim of this war.

Historically India had been enjoying good relations with Afghanistan for decades minus Afghanistan under Taliban rule and after the election of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, India had once again renewed these relations with common objectives of keeping Pakistan on defensive. India established its terrorists’ network under the diplomatic cover along the Pak-Afghan border, which has since been the hotbed of terrorism inside Pakistan backed and supported by RAW and NSD. It was no less than President Karzai who admitted in response to my question that Indian training camps are there along with Pak-Afghan border but showed his inability to finish it till he gets the clearance of USA. Now it is USA, which needs to ‘Do more’ to pressurise India to stop arming, funding and backing the terrorists to carry out their activities inside Pakistan from Afghanistan.

In the end, Mr President, every time you and your predecessors have pressurised Pakistan to ‘Do more’ based on faulty intelligence provided by our opponent.

Haqqani network was/is the assets of West and not of Pakistan. With the start of Zarb-e-Azb by Pakistan Army, Afghanistan was warned of possible crossing over of terrorists to Afghanistan with the request to seal their border to deny them such opportunity but Afghanistan chose the other course. Had Afghanistan sealed the border, the majority of the terrorists would have been eliminated thus ensuring more peace in the region. Who wanted to ‘Do more’ – Pakistan or Afghanistan or USA? I can state with full authority that under my direct orders the hideout of Haqqani and Mangle were destroyed under my direct supervision in Fata.

It is strange that PM Modi meets Baloch anti-Pakistan leaders followed by Afghan president, which is taken as an open support to these insurgent and now recently we witnessed US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher meeting the anti-Pak proclaimed offenders based in UK. The question is as to who actually is supporting terrorists/insurgents?

Mr. President you need to ‘Do more’ to stop the international anti-Pakistan intrigues. We have already done much more for the international peace and fed more than 2 million refugees in return of death supply from Afghanistan. According to a Report of UNODC published by BBC on 23 October 2016, the “opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 43% in the past year” [2015] and “the area used to farm poppy plant increased by 10% to 201,000 hectares”. The increase in the poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and smuggling of heroin in Pakistan had devastating effects in terms of daily deaths of the addicts, which are estimated at 700 deaths daily which are greater than the deaths as a result of terrorism. The smuggling of heroin/contrabands is, in fact, bankrolling for the terrorists. Mr. President you need to do extra more to stop the poppy cultivation and supply of drugs from Afghanistan, which is militarily and administratively under the control of your Army. This is no more secret world is suffering hugely because of this export of drugs to the West and Mr. President will you continue to like this death supply to the world via drugs passing right under the nose of American Army.

Mr. President consider to stop drug production from Afghanistan then your 90% terrorism will finish automatically as drug proceed going to terrorists will immediately dry down -- this will be the real "Do more" by you Mr President which will be great present particularly to this region and in general for the world.

Mr President, please revisit your intel briefing which will change your mind. So Mr President I hope that my above facts may convince you that Pakistan is a victim and not a perpetrator. And I hope that the cries of innocent children will convince you that we are victims and not the supporters of terrorism.

I will be very happy to have a debate either with you or your top media and will prove that Pakistan is an enemy of terrorists and a friend of humanity.

The writer is former interior minister and chairman of think tank "global eye"