U.S. sandwiched in Afghanistan between India’s Cold Start Doctrine and Pakistani Defense with water fueling the fire.March 8, 2010
The list of universal truths should be expanded to include the fact of Afghanistan’s invincibility. Afghanistan has maintained its reputation as the ‘graveyard of the empires’. The question is, before the US invasion of Afghanistan, did the US Military command really think they can invade, occupy and control Afghanistan? The US indulgence in Afghanistan had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda or Taliban. It had everything to do with strategic control of Afghanistan and Pakistan, oil and gas rich Central Asia, and oil drenched Iran. The US control of Central Asia is the core of Zibignew Brzezinski’s doctrine on US hegemony in 21st century. The title of his book, ‘The Grand Chess Board’ is enough to know how Brzezinski views the world.
Nine years after 9/11 one of the major problems for the US is their ongoing struggle to control Afghanistan. Enter Pakistan. Pakistan is in no mood for allowing India gain more control in Afghanistan. The Pakistan Army has changed its stance on key security issues since departure of US crony, General/Dictator, Pervez Musharraf.
The recent surge operation against Taliban in Southern Afghanistan by US and NATO troops is nothing other than, as General Hamid Gul puts it, “a front loaded withdrawal” Gen Gul is the former head of Pakistani ISI.
“The Americans are defeated. It isn’t necessarily because their firepower and their might have weakened, but it is because their own people are sick and tired [of engagement in Afghanistan]. There is fatigue now, fatigue is the threat and is the worst thing for a nation to suffer from. There is no way that the Americans can hold on to Afghanistan”.
India – Threat Number One
Pakistan army Chief Gen. Kayani 1 has made key changes to the national security policy of Pakistan. After the NATO summit, Gen. Kayani has made it clear to the US and its allies, that for the Pakistan army, India remains threat number one. This is after Indian Army Chief, Deepak Kapoor came out with a series of statements regarding Pakistan and even China. The first was his statement was that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan is possible. Then came another stunning and quietly laughable statement that, ‘India can simultaneously fight war with Pakistan and China’, (General Kapoor’s statements were made at a closed-door seminar at the Army Training Command, Shimla, India where he underlined the need to bolster India’s capability to wage a two-front war (against Pakistan and China).
Then came the Deepak Kapoor’s announcement of a “Cold Start Strategy” against Pakistan.
These positions taken by the Kapoor verified the worst suspicions of Pakistan military commanders – that India still views Pakistan as its foremost enemy and as it rides the US war machine for control of Afghanistan. Gen. Kayani has made it absolutely clear to the US that India considers Pakistan its number one enemy and therefore, the Pakistan military takes threats from Indian Army Chief very seriously. This is all in the backdrop of India occupying Kashmir since 1947, and more recently stopping Pakistan’s water supply which has led to water shortages in Pakistan, which is heavily dependent on its agriculture-based economy. Therefore, Pakistan will not tolerate India making further inroads into Afghanistan, thus ramping up the threat to our country. Recently, Gen. Kayani talked to Pakistani and foreign media for the first time in detail. Some excerpts from the conversation are worth pondering. (“Pindi Manifesto“, Outlook magazine, by Mariana Babar)
“Kayani proudly talked about the successful army operations in Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan. The myth had been broken, he said, that no army could take control of South Waziristan and hold it. Heliborne operations at 8,000 feet in South Waziristan were the largest ever in South Asia, he declared, and for which the US didn’t pay a cent”.
When the conversation turned to India, Gen Kayani’s addressed strategic issues. The following conclusions can easily be drawn from his words:
- Pakistan won’t countenance a significant role for India in Afghanistan;
- New Delhi’s recent military pronouncements worry Islamabad immensely;
- The gains from backchannel diplomacy, launched during Pervez Musharraf’s 2 rule, need not necessarily be the starting point for Islamabad now; and Kashmir remains Pakistan’s principal focus.
Gen. Musharraf’s U-turn on Pakistan’s Kashmir policy was deeply resented by people of Pakistan. Gen. Kayani is now steering the Kashmir policy back to the pre-Musharraf track. The Pakistan Army has told the government that back channel diplomacy between India and Pakistan amounts to nothing more than pages of history when Gen. Musharraf gave elaborate concessions to Indians.
Kayani’s Response to India’s “Cold Start Doctrine”
Gen. Kayani intoned emphatically, “Yes, we are India-centric.” He then went on to spell out his reasons, taking quite seriously Indian army chief Deepak Kapoor’s cold start doctrine articulated in December 2009. General Kayani said,
“We have unresolved issues, a history of conflict and now the cold start doctrine. Help us resolve these issues so that we can shift our attention from the eastern borders to the west. Let us normalize these burning issues. We want peaceful coexistence with India. After all, India has the capability, and good intentions can change overnight.”
General Kayani also opposed the idea of India training the Afghan National Army.
“Strategically, we cannot have an Afghan army on my western border which has an Indian mindset. If we have an army trained by Pakistan, there will be better interactions on the western border.
“Our objective is that at the end of all this (Afghanistan), we should not be standing in the wrong corner of the room and should remain relevant in the region. This is our greatest challenge.”
Thinking beyond the US/NATO Occupation
Gen. Kayani’s recent stance has gained popular support from people of Pakistan; this also highlights the importance of the Pakistan Military high command’s observation of situation in Afghanistan. The Pakistan Military is now thinking of life in Afghanistan beyond the US/NATO occupation. Pakistan army does not want to have Indian Army floating around inside Afghanistan. Pakistan will also not want to damage its ties with Afghan Taliban.
Recently half a dozen high ranking Afghan Taliban members including Mullah Baradar were arrested by Pakistani intelligence in different Pakistani cities. This has confused some people and commentators are suggesting that Pakistan Army is no longer making a distinction between Pakistani Taliban and Afghan Taliban. Erik Randolph of Guardian Newspaper had this to say in his article, “Pakistan is winning its risky games”.
“There are a tonnes of theories as to what motivated Pakistan’s shadowy ISI to suddenly co-operate in handing over an old ally. Were they making sure he did not make a deal behind their back? Were they buying some influence with the United States? Or was it a stern warning to the Afghan Taliban to stay in line?”
Any of these theories could be correct. The bottom line is that Pakistan military command is making plans to counter Indian threats in the region and ensuring that when the U.S. puppet regime under Karzai fails in Kabul, the next government will remain Pakistan friendly. Setting limits on Afghan-Taliban operations inside Pakistan clarifies national boundaries, robs the Obama regime of their pretext for war on Pakistan and leaves Pakistan in a stronger negotiating position with Afghan Taliban when the U.S., Israel and India have finally withdrawn from the the country.
The Complications of Pakistan Politics
At the political level, Pakistan is a complicated but there is no question about its strength and future, contrary to frequent Western media reports that attempt to portray the country as a failing state.
In his recent article, Are Pakistan’s Strategic Nuclear Assets Threatened by Terrorists, Shahid Siddiqi wrote for Axis of Logic:
“Despite bad governance during 62 years of its life, the viability of this nation of 170 million has never been in doubt, even under the worst of circumstances. On the contrary it shows promise. It has a strong agricultural base and is self sufficient in food. It has an aggressive entrepreneurial class, a vibrant industry and efficient workforce. Its roller coaster economic performance notwithstanding, its growth rate until recently stood at an impressive 7.5%, behind China and India, when the world economy was in doldrums. Pakistanis are fiercely nationalistic and loyal to their country and have always rallied behind their nuclear-armed million strong defence forces in times of crisis, which are counted among the best in the world. If these factors do not make a nation viable, what does?There has never been nor is there today any danger of Pakistan’s collapse or of the country falling to the terrorists.”
Zardari is now under threat by the skeletons of corruption in his closet. Just as Uribe has become a liability to the U.S. in Colombia due to his dirty history, Zardari is will eventually lose his usefulness to the U.S. in Pakistan. His money laundering cases will now have to be re-opened after Pakistani Supreme Court has started to flex some muscles on key judicial procedures. This includes the National Accountability Bureau opening up Zardari’s corruption cases. This government which was setup so eloquently by US and UK is now heading for the gutter. Zardari will likely either have to resign and will probably be forced follow Musharraf into exile. This could mean more political chaos or mid-term elections, none of which is what people of Pakistan really want.
Zardari he is unable to control things the way he intended. On Febuary 22, the Pakistan Army Spokesmen declared that the Pakistan Army does not need government permission to grant extensions to its serving generals. Gen. Kayani has already extended the service of two senior generals to an additional year beyond their scheduled retirements. It is likely that Gen. Pasha, the head of ISI will get a one year extension. Gen. Kayani’s term of service, will be extended at least one year beyond his scheduled retirement in October.
The US is obviously unconcerned about the people of Pakistan or even the structure of politics in Pakistan. The US is realizing that political setup in Pakistan is too complex and difficult to manage and that Pakistan is no Yugoslavia. Hence, once again the entire US administration is dealing with Pakistan Army Headquarter (GHQ), just like they have for the most of history.
No End in Sight for the Indo-Pakistan Conflict
The relations between India and Pakistan are likely to worsen in the near future. The root cause of this is the Kashmir conflict but this fire is now being fueled by water. Water will be the root of conflict between India and Pakistan in near future. India has built dams on the Indus River flowing from Kashmir which is a violation of Indus River water treaty of 1962 between Pakistan and India. This is something that the US has also realized but it is unable to twist India’s arm into solving water and Kashmir issues with Pakistan. The recently concluded dialogue between India and Pakistan brought about absolutely no result whatsoever. India is simply not willing to even discuss the core thorny issues between itself and Pakistan. This posture is consistent with their confrontational policies toward all their neighbors – pages taken out of the CIA handbook – accepting nothing less than full regional dominance.
Any acute conflict between India and Pakistan will result in complete chaos for U.S./NATO troops in Afghanistan. In addition, a sudden ignition could be disastrous for both, Pakistan and India. These risks are rooted in the open hostility and hatred towards Pakistan by the Indian government which of course overflows into the attitudes of the populace. India’s penchant for conflict and dominance can be seen in its conflicts with every country in South Asia, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka to Nepal to the island of Maldives.
The US grand-strategic agenda lies sandwiched between Pakistan and India. India’s desire to gain control of Pakistan will also be compromised by the new Naxalite insurgency in India’s eastern states. This insurgency has exploded, requiring India to move at least 30,000 troops from Kashmir into the eastern states. Meanwhile, Pakistan will continue to provide covert support to various commanders inside Afghanistan in an effort to forstall Indian hegemony. The US must find a compromise in Afghanistan in search of an escape route. Mullah Omer does not want to talk to US or NATO at all. Some of his commanders (moderate Taliban) wanted to talk to the US but sadly for them and the U.S., they are now in Pakistan Army custody.