Pakistan On The Edge of The Precipice
By Shahid R. Siddiqi
â€œAmerican interference in Pakistanâ€™s internal affairs reaches such an ominous level that the country seems to be run by an American under secretary of state or envoy, Richard Holbrook, rather than its elected representatives.â€
In recent years, American strategists have propagated the need to redraw political boundaries of Islamic states along ethnic lines. Driven by paranoia with resurgent Islam and their obsession to control this very important oil rich region, they seek to legitimize their actions by labeling them as effort to dispense justice for `oppressed Muslim minoritiesâ€™.
The underlying belief is that smaller entities would be easier to micromanage through puppet regimes, enabling them to contain militancy and squeeze into extinction Jehadi outfits by choking their funding.
This `remappingâ€™ involves splintering the Muslim world and creating sovereign states of Balochistan, Kurdistan and Arab Shia State by carving out and unifying Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan territories to create Free Balochistan; unifying Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan to create Greater Kurdistan and slicing off Eastern Saudi Arabia to unite it with Southern Iraq to create Shia Arab State. It is no coincidence that these territories hold the bulk of the world oil and host anti-imperialist movements.
â€œThe global interests of the United States have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds.â€
Brilliant thinking! This promises them a picture-perfect Muslim world, tailored to their needs. The difficulty, however, is that their undertaking is too ambitious, out of sync with reality and unachievable. And this mindset is bound to pitch Christianity and Judaism versus Islam, a horrifying scenario.
The global interests of the United States have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds. More often than not, Israeli interests define U.S. foreign policy direction, particularly where their interests are congruent. Both the US and Israel have eyes on the oil reserves of Caspian Sea and Central Asia, they need an energy pipeline project transiting through Afghanistan and Pakistanâ€™s Balochistan and desperately want a wider security shield for Israel, which involves denuclearizing Pakistan.
Israelâ€™s interest to de-fang Pakistanâ€™s nuclear ability dates back to mid-eighties when it attempted to bomb Kahuta facility in collusion with the Indians â€“ a mission that was aborted when an alert Pakistan Air Force took to the skies. Now in Afghanistan they have a perfect opportunity to collude with the United States and India to take out Pakistanâ€™s nuclear assets.
Pakistanâ€™s denuclearization is important to India too. Pakistan must be trimmed to size to enable India to achieve undisputed regional leadership. This is also in the interest of the United States: as a dominant regional power – India, could counter China which grows stronger by the day and will eventually challenge American expansionism into Asia. Together with Russia, China has already forged an alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to squeeze the U.S. military bases out of Central Asia. For the United States, an independent Balochistan will also be very important. This could easily be used to pressurize Iran and serve as energy corridor to Central Asia.
â€œPresident Obamaâ€™s insistence to stay on in Afghanistan and proceed with a massive military buildup is apparently not without a sister motive.â€
Pakistan is, therefore, up for reconfiguration in this chess game of geo-strategic interests. The United States is no longer interested in Pakistan as a unified entity. President Obamaâ€™s insistence to stay on in Afghanistan and proceed with a massive military buildup is apparently not without a sister motive. Afghanistan not only provides a safe haven and logistical support for espionage and subversion against Pakistan, its puppet government has also joined the bandwagon by creating its own Research & Analysis Milli Afghanistan (RAMA) with Indian help and tasked it to destabilize Pakistan.
In his 2006 treatise `Blood Bordersâ€™, Col. Ralph Peters, a Pentagon advisor, advocated the incorporation of NWFP into Afghanistan and creation of a sovereign `Free Balochistanâ€™, carved out of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Iran. His grounds: â€˜ethnic affinityâ€™.
Pakistani Balochistan is estimated to hold 25.1 trillion cft. of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil, in addition to gold and copper deposits. It borders Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and China and has a strategically located port that can provide to Central Asian countries and China an opening to Arabian Sea.
In his article, Drawn and Quartered (NY Times) Selig Harrison of the Center of International Policy, Washington, forecasts Pakistanâ€™s break up into three sovereign entities along ethnic lines:
Pashtunistan (comprising Pashtuns of NWFP and Afghanistan), Free Baluchistan (a federation comprising Sindh and Baluchistan) and Pakistan (comprising the â€œnuclear armed Punjabi rump stateâ€). He attributes Pakistanâ€™s balkanization to rising nationalist sentiment in the Pashtun belt and growing disillusionment of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Sindhis with Punjab and Pakistan.
Both Col. Peters and Harrison essentially sing the same tune and present a doctrine that seems to broadly reflect Americaâ€™s long term objectives.
In his article The Destabilization of Pakistan, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Montreal-based, Center for Research on Globalization (author of Americaâ€™s â€œWar on Terrorismâ€) warns: â€œWashingtonâ€™s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nationâ€. He states:
â€œThe U.S. course consists of fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by U.S. war plans in relation to both Iran and Afghanistan.â€
â€œ … a joint espionage network of CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW operates in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and other regional countries.
This cannot be dismissed as conspiracy theory. There are pointers that corroborate Chossudovskyâ€™s thesis. The Indo-US Strategic Partnership Deal â€œis in place that aims at containing and curbing the rising military and economic power of China and the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in the regionâ€. Reports indicate that a joint espionage network of CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW operates in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and other regional countries.
Evidence has emerged that dissidents from Pakistan are being trained at Sarobi and Kandahar for missions inside NWFP, whereas bases at Lashkargah and Nawah are being used to train dissidents from Balochistan for missions in support of Balochistan Liberation Army.
With this backdrop, view other developments: Benazir returns after a deal with the US and is eliminated. Musharraf is shown the door.
Zardari, a man of most dubious credentials, is catapulted into the presidency as Benazirâ€™s replacement and assumes all powers. Economic downturn bankrupts the country and creates social chaos. The federal and provincial governments are completely immobilized. Corruption hits the sky. And the people begin to lose faith in the federation.
Then as a sequence to Bombay fiasco the army is made to run from pole to post, insurgencies erupt in the FATA, North and South Waziristan and Malakand Division by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – a rogue outfit aided and supported from Afghanistan and which is a known protÃ©gÃ© of the occupiers of Afghanistan, the NWFP gets destabilized, the Army gets bogged down in quelling insurgencies and maintaining internal security, Baloch separatists get energized and the people of Pakistan are massacred and terrorized.
American interference in Pakistanâ€™s internal affairs reaches such an ominous level that the country seems to be run by an American under secretary of state or envoy, Richard Holbrook, rather than its elected representatives. The parliament ceases to be of any consequence. Pakistan suddenly finds itself in turmoil, the like of which it has not experienced before.
Even the man on the street fears that the US-Israeli-Indian nexus is out to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear assets and dismember it in the process, if necessary. The media is screaming that the NWFP and Balochistan are targets of subversion. The consensus is that the American show of support and financial assistance is hogwash and that the PPP government is a pawn in this game.
There is a pervasive fear that Pakistan has reached the edge of the precipice.
â€œThe alternative is for all political parties to immediately come together …â€
Unfortunately Pakistanâ€™s political elite does not seem to take note of this. It has historically lacked foresight and comprehension of the bigger picture. The politicians ceaselessly pursue self-aggrandizement and their preoccupation is the game of personal power politics, which makes them oblivious to the disaster in waiting.
Their camp followers keep singing their praises and preach: `every thing will be alright once we come to powerâ€™. To expect such political pygmies to turn the tide would amount to committing suicide.
Can Pakistan be pulled back from the edge of the precipice? The answer is yes. But to deal with these extraordinary circumstances Pakistan needs leadership with extraordinary ability. Such leadership is just not there.
The alternative is for all political parties to immediately come together, shun differences and find a way of jointly and sincerely managing the country – call it a national government if you please.
Its first priority should be to avert the collapse that is otherwise imminent. It must end foreign interference and pursue a national agenda instead of petty personal agendas. The issues are critical and many and must be identified and resolved with the collective wisdom of politicians, armed forces, technocrats and the intelligentsia. Fundamental constitutional, political, economic and social reforms are inevitable to give the country a fresh start. After a pre-specified time frame of say five years, a political government could return through fair elections.
This seems to be the solution of last resort. And if this opportunity is lost those at the helm and those who watch silently will be considered ex-post-facto accomplices in the dismemberment of Pakistan.
Shahid R. Siddiqi lives in Baltimore MD and in Pakistan. He served in the Pakistan Air Force and later joined the corporate sector with which he has remained associated until recently in Pakistan, the US and South Africa where he has held senior positions. Simultaneously, he has worked as a journalist and a broadcaster. He was the Bureau Chief of Pakistan & Gulf Economist, an English weekly published from Karachi (Pakistan).
Siddiqi now writes on political and geopolitical subjects and his articles are carried by the daily newspapers such as Dawn and The Nation (Pakistan) and online publications such as Axis of Logic, Foreign Policy Journal, Middle East Times and Globalia.