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Exclusive: Pakistan: On The Edge of The Precipice ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Shahid R. Siddiqi. Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Monday, Sep 28, 2009

Driven by paranoia with resurgent Islam as a threat to the established social order in the West and their obsession to control this very important oil rich region, American strategists have toyed with the idea of redrawing political boundaries of Islamic states along ethnic lines. The American attack on Afghanistan and Iraq on false pretexts of ‘war on terror’ was the initiation of this strategy. Now they seek to legitimize their actions by labeling them as efforts to dispense justice for ‘oppressed Muslim minorities’.

They believe 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 ‘remapping’ 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 bulk of the world oil and host anti-imperialist movements.

Brilliant thinking! This promises them a picture-perfect Muslim world, tailored to their needs. The difficulty, however, is that the 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 that could send shock waves deep into the Western world.

American global interests have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds. More often than not, Israeli interests have defined American foreign policy direction, particularly where their interests are congruent. For instance, both the US and Israel have eyes on the oil reserves of Caspian Sea and Central Asia, they need energy pipeline project transiting through Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan and desperately want a wider security shield for Israel, which involves denuclearizing Pakistan.

Israel’s interest to de-fang Pakistan’s nuclear ability dates back to mid-eighties when it attempted to bomb Kahuta facility in collusion with the Indians – 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 America and India to take out Pakistan’s nuclear assets through subversion.

Pakistan’s denuclearization is important to India too. Pakistan has to be trimmed in size to enable India to achieve undisputed regional leadership. This is in American interest too, as a dominant regional power – India, could counter China that grows stronger by the day and will eventually challenge American expansionism into Asia. Together with Russia, China has already forged an alliance, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to squeeze the American military bases out of Central Asia. For America, an independent friendly Balochistan will also be very useful to keep Iran under close watch and serve as energy corridor to Central Asia.

Pakistan is, therefore, up for reconfiguration in this chess game of geo-strategic interests. It is no more of interest to America as a unified entity. President Obama’s insistence to stay on in Afghanistan followed by a massive military buildup is not apparently without sinister motives. Afghanistan not only provides safe haven and logistical support for espionage and subversion against Pakistan, it has also joined the bandwagon by creating its own Research & Analysis Milli Afghanistan (RAMA) with Indian help, a new intelligence outfit tasked to destabilize Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Balkanization strategy was presented in a 2006 article in the US Armed Forces Journal ‘Blood Borders’ that advocated the incorporation of NWFP into Afghanistan and creation of a sovereign ‘Free Balochistan’, carved out of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Iran. Grounds: ethnic affinity.

Pakistani Balochistan is estimated to hold 25.1 trillion cft. of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil, in addition to gold, copper and coal deposits, it borders Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and China and has a strategically located port that can connect Central Asian countries and China to Arabian Sea.

In his article “Drawn and Quartered” (New York Times) Selig Harrison of the Center of International Policy, Washington, forecasts Pakistan’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 “nuclear armed Punjabi rump state”). He attributes Pakistan’s balkanization to rising nationalist sentiment in the Pashtun belt and growing disillusionment of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Sindhis with Punjab and Pakistan.

Both articles essentially sing the same tune and present a doctrine that seems to broadly reflect America’s long term objectives.

In this backdrop, the assessment of Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Montreal based Center for Research on Globalization (author of America’s “War on Terrorism”) is significant. In his article ‘The Destabilization of Pakistan’ he warns: “Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation”. He states: “The U.S. course consists in 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.”

This cannot be dismissed as conspiracy theory. There are pointers that corroborate Chossudovsky’s thesis. The Indo-US Strategic Partnership Deal “aims at containing and curbing the rising military and economic power of China and the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in the region”. Reports say a joint espionage network of CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW operates in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and other regional countries. 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.

Now 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 Benazir’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 sequel 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 protégé 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 Pakistan’s internal affairs has reached such an ominous level that the country seems to be run by an American under secretary of state or envoy Holbrook rather than its elected representatives. The parliament has ceased 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. The mood is very grim. The people are alarmed at the reports of an unprecedented expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad and the presence of armed white goons (believed to be Blackwater agents) on the streets of the capital. The media is screaming that the NWFP and Balochistan are targets of subversion.

There is a great concern about Kerry-Lugar Bill which is seen as a noose around Pakistan’s neck. Discussants on the media openly accuse the Zardari government of bartering away Pakistan’s sovereignty for 1.5 billion dollars – rather cheap for a strategic nuclear state. The general consensus is that the American show of support and financial assistance is hogwash and that the PPP government is a pawn in their game.

There is a pervasive fear that Pakistan has reached the edge of the precipice.

Unfortunately Pakistan’s political elite does not seem to be concerned. It has historically lacked foresight and comprehension of the bigger picture. It ceaselessly pursues self aggrandizement and remains preoccupied with the game of personal power politics – oblivious to the disaster in waiting. Its camp followers keep singing its praises and preach: ‘every thing will be alright once we come to power’. For the Pakistanis to expect such political pygmies turning the tide would amount to committing political 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 failure of political leadership to meet such challenges has prompted military interventions in the past. After Musharraf’s recent unceremonious departure, the military is in no mood to repeat that experience.

The alternate 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 collapse that is otherwise imminent. It must end foreign interference and pursue national agenda instead of petty personal agendas. Economic and social issues are critical and many and must be identified and resolved with the collective wisdom of the politicians, armed forces, technocrats and the intelligentsia. Fundamental constitutional, political, economic and social reforms are inevitable to give the country a fresh start and must immediately be carried out. After a pre-specified time frame of say five years, a political government could return through fair elections.

A tall order, but this seems to be the solution of last resort. If this opportunity is lost, those at the helm and those who watch silently will all be considered ex-post-facto accomplices in the second dismemberment of Pakistan.

READ HIS BIO AND MORE ESSAYS BY SHAHID R. SIDDIQI


Editor's note: The original publication of this article was accidentally deleted along with the many valuable comments from readers. We apologize for this error. - Les Blough, Editor

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