The US veiled designs against Pakistan no more secret
Asif Haroon Raja
Obama worries about Pakistan’s disintegration and safety of its nuclear warheads. In reality he and his team are least concerned about Pakistan’s fragmentation since this has been among the many goals Washington had perceived at the time of invading Afghanistan. Real concern is the nukes and not the fate of Pakistan. The US has already started seeing Pakistan as a failing state at the brink of collapse. It’s think tanks and media have been projecting different scenarios of a balkanized Pakistan since 2004/05. The six strategic partners grouped together in Kabul had chalked out a comprehensive covert plan in late 2001 how to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. The agencies with the support of ISAF, Karzai regime and experts of India proficient in Chankyan tactics have been working zealously since 2002 to achieve their sinister objective of weakening Pakistan from within under the garb of friendship and then extracting the nuclear teeth when it becomes numb and powerless. The US military-NATO-Indian armed forces-ANA have been impatiently waiting for the opportune moment to strike Pakistan once it is denuclearized, or the US Special Forces forcibly taking control over nuclear arsenal under the pretext that it had become unsafe. These designs are no more veiled or based on hearsay and assumptions but corroborated by several US and western analysts including book writers Bob Woodward and David Sanger.
With continuously falling economic indicators, worsening socio-politico-economic instability, executive-judicial clash and highly disturbed internal security situation, the vultures are gurgling with delight to see their prey bleeding and offering it-self to be devoured without resistance. For over a decade, Pakistan has been pushed from one crisis to another by the foreign actors duly abetted by their puppets holding highest appointments in Pakistan. This unholy alliance has brought nuclear Pakistan to the edge of a precipice, now requiring a slight nudge to get broken into pieces without putting up a fight with its real enemies. The schemers and intriguers pull their hair in utter frustration and wail aloud when each of their conspiracy somehow fails to badger hemorrhaged Pakistan into complete submission. Each chaotic situation gets averted because of the assertive judiciary and ever vigilant and devoted armed forces, nationalistic members of civil society and patriotic religious forces. They create a wall and fail the deadly plots of adversaries of Pakistan aided by handful of shameless Pakistanis sitting smugly in corridors of power.
When Barack Hussein Obama took over from vile George W Bush in January 2009, there was jubilation among the deprived classes in USA and in the Muslim world. Both had suffered a great deal at the hands of Bush led neo-cons. Obama had promised to bring a change and to address the grievances of the Muslims. He however proved to be more hideous than his predecessor. No sooner he was anointed as president; he started snarling at Afghan Taliban, Pakistan, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. After issuing controversial Af-Pak policy, he virtually started treating Pakistan as a foe. He threatened to carryout unilateral military action in FATA whenever any actionable intelligence was available and repeatedly asked Pakistan to do more against militants. He neither gave any relief to the poor in USA, nor to the Muslims. Rather, he bolstered vendetta against Muslim world by approving drone as a choice weapon of war against Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and cyber warfare against Iran. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, he also fell in love with Israel and India, the two leading terrorist countries.
He showed the hard pressed US military in Afghanistan a way out of its dilemma how to tackle the threat posed by the faceless enemy that had wrested initiative and had dimmed all chances of victory. He first reinforced ISAF through two troop surges to enable it to regain upper edge over the Taliban and al-Qaeda combine and authorized night raids, but when he found that the US-NATO was not in a position to turn the tide through use of brute force he launched a diplomatic-political pincer to supplement the military pincer under the revised strategy of fight and talk. He offered talks to the loathed Taliban to arrive at a political settlement. However, the veiled objective was not to gain peace through reconciliation, but to break Taliban-Qaeda alliance and also to divide and weaken resistance movement of Taliban by categorizing them as good and bad Taliban. Regional countries were incorporated to make the deceptive policy of re-integration of reconcilable Taliban and isolation of irreconcilable a success. In order to avoid battle casualties, he decided to make maximum use of drones and also to step up secret wars against targeted countries.
The objective of seizing and disabling Pakistan’s nuclear weapons had been conceived by Bush Administration. Several contingency plans were made and rehearsed by the US Special Forces under battle-simulated conditions. Heavy pressure was mounted on Musharraf to let the US Special Forces to guard the nuclear sites jointly with Pak troops because of professed vulnerability. Although the ill-motivated pressure was withstood, no amount of assurances would satisfy Washington. Seizure plans were rehashed and refurbished when Obama took over. Creating hysteria about the nukes falling in wrong hands was part of the strategy to scare the world and to undermine Pakistan’s security and safety arrangements.
False alert was created about dirty bombs manufactured by Baitullah’s men. Alarm bells were sounded by the US-western media and officials that Islamabad and nuclear sites were on the verge of being overrun by militants when Fazlullah’s men took over Buner in April 2009. This psywar of nukes falling in wrong hands misfired as a consequent to three highly successful military operations launched between end April and October 2009.
To give credence to its cooked up story, CIA went to the extent of training a special team of TTP to launch a token attack on one of the nuclear sites so as to give an excuse to propagate that nuclear material for making dirty bombs had been carried away by the attackers. ISI learnt about the nefarious plan and exposed it in time. It was then propagated that officials with religiously conservative bent of mind working inside nuclear facilities were linked with Taliban who could hand over nuclear material to them. Pressure was built to purge Taliban sympathizers. Purpose behind this move was to force Pakistan to carryout purging, induce resentment among the employees and thus making it easier for CIA to cultivate few from among the sacked employees to become their informers.
Efforts to seize or disable nukes were accelerated from mid 2010 onward with the help of CIA network that had been gradually extending itself from FATA and Balochistan to other major cities of Pakistan. America’s agents holding key appointments in Musharraf government and in Zardari-Gilani rule had been surreptitiously helping foreign agencies and Blackwater to consolidate their positions. Arrest of Raymond Davis slowed down the ‘Get Nukes’ program, otherwise 2011 had been marked as the action year. Stealth raid by US SEALs on OBL hideout in Abbottabad was a testing round fired to test the capability of Pakistan’s early warning system and response action of security apparatus as well as reaction of the public before going in for the main venture. Surveillance drone RQ-170 Sentinel and stealth Black Hawk helicopters were used to stealthily reach the abode of OBL.
The misadventure however proved counterproductive for the US since the unilateral act set the alarm bells ringing all over the country and anti-Americanism peaked. The military and ISI went about plugging the security holes to prevent such an occurrence. In the process, the CIA network that was operating unchecked came under close scrutiny of ISI and MI. Its covert activities got severely restricted. Sacking of Hussein Haqqani on account of his proven involvement in memo scandal was a big loss for his patrons in USA. He was instrumental in letting CIA agents in thousands to enter Pakistan without security clearance from 2010 onward. Departure of dual nationality holder Farah Naz was another loss. Zardari-Gilani-Rahman Malik trio also became helpless in the face of assertive judiciary and military establishment together with constantly rising ire of the public against corrupt and inept government.
After failing to make Swat and SW as graveyards for Pak forces, the US applied all sorts of tricks to lure Pak security forces into the killing field of NW and get it bogged down for good. Such a scenario would have made an ideal story to paint Pak forces as weak, incompetent and incapable of defeating the terrorists and safeguarding the nukes. It would have thus become easier for the US military to justify its intervention in Pakistan and taking control over the nuclear arsenal before it fell in the wrong hands. When Pakistan military refused to get deceived or bullied or lured by Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB), and also succeeded in keeping foreign trained and equipped terrorists on the run, and gave no excuse to the US spin doctors to drum up the vulnerability of nukes, in sheer exasperation the US launched an unprovoked attack on Salala. This attack was another attempt to discredit and dishearten the military.
But this misadventure also proved very costly for the US. It got deprived of Shamsi airbase from where CIA operated drones, and also of free supply routes, and above all intelligence and military cooperation of Pakistan military. Its effort to find a negotiated solution to Afghan issue through regional consensus also received a setback while secret parleys with Taliban fizzled out. All these negative developments took place at a time when the US and NATO had started withdrawing from Afghanistan in accordance with decisions taken at Lisbon Summit in November 2010. Finding itself in a lurch but captive to its egoism and arrogance, the US opted to use Northern Network to transport perishable items for ISAF which was time consuming and very expensive but refused to apologize for its aggression in Salala, or to reconsider its drone policy. It kept up with its high handed tactics to browbeat Pakistan and force it to reopen supply lines without conditions.
The US was sure to win because of pathetic economic state of Pakistan and slavish civilian leadership. The battle of nerves continued for over seven months and in this time the US lost hundred million dollars a month using northern route. Each time the shaky government standing on slippery ground wavered and seemed ready to throw in the towel in the face of US economic and diplomatic pressures, the military put steel in its spine and the tug of war continued. Difah-Pakistan-Council (DPC) and media also played their role in keeping the government reined. The ice melted when Gen Allen on the quiet apologized to Gen Kayani and Hilary Clinton to Hina Rabbani. The US also agreed to pay $1.2 billion CSF due to military as well as the KLB installment.
Opening of NATO supply lines have been received with mixed feelings. DPC, Tehrik-e-Insaf (TI) and PML-N are in the forefront condemning the government. The DPC started a protest long march from Lahore to Islamabad on 8 July making things difficult for newly elected PM who is already under judicial pressure and public ire. Those against the resumption of supplies say it is another sellout since the facility has been extended in violation to Parliament’s decisions and aspirations of the people. They say it will be utter foolishness if we keep getting bitten from the same hole particularly when the veiled designs have got unmasked.
In case PML-N and TI join up with religious parties, it will hasten the collapse of Raja Ashraf’s cabinet and may force Zardari to hold elections by October this year. Election or no election, what is more critical for Pakistan at the moment is how to keep Pakistan intact and how to safeguard Pakistan’s strategic assets till the ouster of current lot of depraved leaders? Opening of supply lines and restoration of so-called US aid has made Pakistan more vulnerable to foreign interventionism. We have thrown away a golden opportunity of getting out of the stranglehold of deceitful USA. While our leaders are celebrating that they have scored a huge diplomatic triumph, and are pleased that they will be able to complete their five year tenure and also save their ill-gotten wealth, the people are distressed. The people are fearful about the fate of the country in the soiled hands of gang of immoral leaders least concerned about looming threats. They strongly feel that the ship should be saved before it sinks and not after it has sunk. Saner elements are cautioning that Woodward and Sanger’s disclosures must not be taken lightly.
The writer is a retired Brig and a freelance columnist and a defence analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org