By Sajjad Shaukat
In the recent years, a series of conferences were held in order to bring stability and peace in Afghanistan before the foreign troops complete withdrawal from that country in 2014. In earlier July, in the Tokyo conference, US-led western nations and institutions pledged $16 billion for the economic development of Afghanistan over the next four years.
Afterwards, efforts to convince Taliban for talks with the Kabul government have been increased and Pakistan has been requested to play an important task in this regard. During the tripartite meeting in Kabul on July 19, this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and reiterated Islamabad’s support for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Notably, during her visit to Islamabad on October 20, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had emphasised Islamabad to help and “encourage Taliban and Haqqani militants to enter negotiations in good faith,” adding that “Pakistan has a critical role to play in supporting Afghan reconciliation and ending the conflict.”
Hillary Clinton also said, “Stability of Pakistan and the region directly impacts the security of the US and it is in our interest to help Afghan people build a stable, sovereign and independent nation that is not a source of trouble for its neighbours.”
But during her visit to India, Hillary Clinton allegedly stated on May 7, this year that Pakistan should “do more to ensure its territory is not used as launching pad by terror groups” in Afghanistan.
Ms. Clinton’s controversial statements were also followed by US Defence Secretary of State, Leon Panetta. During his trip to India and Kabul in June, 2012, by reviving old blame game, Panetta stated, “It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there are safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan.” He repeatedly stated that drone attacks will continue in Pakistan, while accusing the Haqqani network for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. At the same time, he remarked, “Pakistan’s cooperation is critical to US efforts to stabilise Afghanistan”
Besides, Leon Panetta encouraged India to take a more active role in Afghanistan as most foreign combat troops leave in 2014. India which has already invested billion of dollars in Afghanistan, signed a wide-ranging strategic agreement with that country on october 5, 2011 also includes to help train Afghan security forces.
While taking note of Indian role in Afghanistan, US Republican Senator John McCain reminded the Obama administration that encouraging India to take a more active role in Afghanistan, while simultaneously criticising Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.
However, on the one hand, US has been blaming Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan, while on the other, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have established their spy-network in Afghanistan from where well-trained militants are being sent to Pakistan to conduct subversive acts in various cities of the country, assaults on Pakistan’s security check posts and in the province of Balochistan. Their affiliated militant groups are fulfilling the secret strategic designs of these external elements against Pakistan, China and Iran. For this purpose, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jundollah (God’s soldiers) including other separatist groups which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from these foreign agencies.
In this regard, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed in his recent statements that he also showed proof about training camps being run in Afghanistan, and supply of arms and ammunition by the Afghan government to Brahamdagh Bugti and his operators inside Balochistan. Malik indicated that BLA has owned 299 terror attacks in the province in which more than 170 personnel of the Frontier Corps were martyred. While describing these terror activities as part of some foreign power’s conspiracy against Pakistan, Rehman Malik openly pointed out on August 5 that Afghan government is “supporting Pakistani Taliban leader Fazlullah, who is fighting to topple the Islamabad government, has been orchestrating raids on Pakistani security forces.”
In this respect, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership repeatedly revealed about some external powers’ plot against Pakistan because it is the only nuclear power in the Islamic World.
Particularly, by manipulating American ambivalent approach and duplicity in relation to Pakistan, China, Iran and even Afghanistan, New Delhi has been extracting full benefits.
Taking cognisance of the US double game with Islamabad, during his recent to the US, the DG of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam who met CIA Director David Petraeus and senior American officials including lawmakers, especially emphasised upon them to halt drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal region.
Some US media reports said that during his talks with the CIA counterpart, DG ISI said that predators’ strikes are counterproductive, affecting war against terrorism. But CIA Chief refused to stop drone attacks.
Reliable sources stated that ISI Chief Lt-Gen. Zaheerul Islam also told David Petraeus to adopt some mechanism to stop cross-border insurgency in his country from Afghanistan’s side.
As regards Haqqani network, DG ISI denied the American blame game, while saying to CIA Chief that Haqqani group was an Afghan entity and Pakistan had nothing to do with it. He also asked him as to why ISAF/NATO troops did not take any action against the safe-havens of Haqqani militants in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nooristan provinces. Besides, Lt-Gen. Zaheerul Islam also refused joint campaigns and operations against the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is mentionable that after the withdrawal of NATO troops, US has decided to maintain its six military bases in Afghanistan. Thus, America not only seeks to protect Indian influence in Afghanistan, but also wants to control the energy resources of Central Asia as part of secret agenda against Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia. But India seeks to entrap America permanently in Afghanistan so as to achieve its own secret goals by harming the US interests. India also seeks to furhter strengthen its grip there to get strategic depth against Pakistan.
Regarding Indian activities in Afghanistan the then NATO commander, Gen. McChrystal had pointed out: “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.”
India has illegitimate interests in Afghanistan; hence it is involved in illegitimate actions. And instability in Afghanistan favours Indian secret goals. While on the other side, Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible owing to Indian presence in that country. Therefore, Pakistan has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, during his recent meeting with the ISAF commander Gen. John Allen in Rawalpindi, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani pointed out that peace and stability in Afghanistan were crucial to Islamabad’s long-term interests. Gen. Allen also said, “We are making significant progress toward building a partnership to enhance the security and prosperity of the region.”
US should realise that unlike India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan. There is a co-relationship of stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is essential for American global and regional interests. In this context, America should also abandon its useless blame game against Pakistan including drone attacks which are further increasing militancy and weakening the country. In such scenario, Islamabad could not play its role for dialogue with the Taliban.
At this critical hour when NATO is likely to start withdrawal of forces in 2013 through Pakistani route, especially, US must remain alert as India could conduct any subversive act in Afghanistan to thwart the Pak-US new rapprochement. Any such move could also delay the exit schedule of foreign troops and could sabotage the aims of stability in Afghanistan as announced by various conferences of the western nations. And their aid will not be able to sustain their economic aid in that lawless country.
Nonetheless, US-led NATO and other western countries which give primary importance to peace and security in Afghanistan must know that there is a co-relationship of stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations