Pakistan's World Of Illusions
The leaders and large sections of the people of Pakistan tend to live in a self-created world of illusions. They have always lived in such a world ever since the birth of the country in 1947.
They teach their children in school that civilization was brought to the sub-continent by Islam. They grow up not knowing the history of the sub-continent before the advent of Islam
They have always believed that one Muslim is equal to two Hindus. They teach their soldiers that Hindus cannot fight. They believed that their alliance with the US and the US military equipment supplied to them had made them invincible and that India would never be able to defeat them. They invaded Kashmir in 1965 thinking that Kashmir was theirs for the taking.
After a few days of fighting they realized that it was not. They realised too that Hindus can fight--like hell. They found that all the Patton tanks and other modern equipment given to them by the US could not save them from the counter-attacks by the Indian Army. They fled from battle at Khem Karan after abandoning their Pattons.
But, they teach their children and soldiers that they won the 1965 war and that they forced India to sue for peace.
They looked down with contempt upon the Muslims of the then East Pakistan because most of them were descendents of converts from Hinduism. They convinced themselves that like the Hindus, the Bengali Muslims cannot fight.
They treated them like second class citizens of the country and suppressed them thinking that the Bengalis will not rise against their suppression.
They did and threw them out in 1971. The Bengali freedom-fighters and the Indian Army fought hand in hand in putting an end to the colonization of East Pakistan. Bangladesh was born. Over 90000 of the officers and soldiers of the Pakistan Army surrendered without a fight when the Indian Army and the Bengali freedom-fighters entered Dhaka. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto came crawling to Shimla to get them released.
They teach their children and soldiers that through his clever diplomacy Bhutto forced Indira Gandhi to release the prisoners of war.
When Gen.Zia-ul-Haq overthrew Bhutto in 1977 and assumed power, many of their political leaders appealed frantically to the leaders of India and Afghanistan to help them escape from the country. If the authorities of India and Afghanistan had not helped them to escape to Europe, they would have landed in the gallows as Bhutto did.
When they returned to Pakistan from political exile after the death of Zia in 1988, they projected themselves as national heroes, who had hoodwinked the Army, gone into political exile and kept up the fight against the Army and for the return of democracy. They never spoke a word about the help rendered by India and Afghanistan. If India and Afghanistan had not helped, many of the political leaders of Pakistan may not be alive today.
In 1989, the very same political leaders who owed their survival to India colluded with their Army in sending a large number of terrorists trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) into J&K. They thought that Kashmir was ripe for picking. Twenty-one years later, they are nowhere near the realization of their illusory dreams.
In 1994, they created the Taliban and helped it to capture Kabul in September 1996. It occupied large parts of Afghanistan with the help of the ISI and the Pakistan Army. The Pakistanis thought that was the end of the Indian influence in Afghanistan. They realized with a shock that it was not. Secular elements in Afghanistan, helped by India, Iran and Russia, hit back at the Taliban and its ISI patrons and facilitated the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban rule post-9/11. There was an anti-Pakistan uprising in Kabul and many Pakistanis, who were working for the Taliban in Kabul, were hunted down, caught, killed and their dead bodies thrown into the gutters of Kabul by the local population.
In 1999, the Pakistan Army under Gen.Pervez Musharraf occupied Indian territory in the Kargil Heights by taking advantage of the withdrawal of the Indian Army posts during winter. They had wild dreams of “liberating” the Siachen Glacier and the Kargil area of J&K. The Indian Army hit back and inflicted heavy casualties on the Pakistan Army. The US insisted that the Pakistan Army should withdraw from the territory occupied by it. Musharraf and after him, Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister, flew to Beijing and sought China’s support for their occupation. To their shock, China refused to support them. M.Nawaz Sharif flew to Washington DC to plead with the US for a face-saving formula so that they can withdraw without humiliation. The US declined to provide any. They were forced to withdraw unconditionally. They projected their Kargil humiliation to their people and soldiers as a great military victory by awarding a large number of gallantry medals to each other.
After the attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, India mobilized its troops and moved them to the border. Unnerved by the threat of war, Musharraf banned the terrorist organizations operating against India, closed their offices and arrested their leaders. When India withdrew the troops from the border, Musharraf claimed it as a great victory for Pakistan. “We forced India to blink,” he said. He removed all the ban orders and allowed the terrorists to operate again against India.
After the raid by the Pakistan Army Commandoes in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July, 2007, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) went on the offensive against the Pakistani Armed Forces, the ISI and the Police. Suicide acts of terrorism, commando style attacks and other kinds of attacks were reported not only from the tribal areas, but also from non-tribal areas, including Islamabad, the capital, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, Lahore, Sargodha, Peshawar, Kohat and even Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The TTP even raided the GHQ and occupied it for some hours-- the only instance in the history of terrorism anywhere in the world where a terrorist group had occupied the headquarters of the Army--even it be for a few hours. The TTP also attacked the offices of the ISI and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the capital, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Peshawar.
Unable to cope with the TTP offensive, they quietly allowed the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to hunt for the TTP leaders through its Drone (unmanned) planes. They allowed US ground forces personnel to operate in different areas under the cover of employees of Blackwater, a US security company, which works in close co-ordination with the CIA.
The Pakistani leaders, who are adept in charades, enacted one more and continue to enact it. They pretended to be opposed to the Drone strikes and the operation of Blackwater in Pakistani territory. They called in public for their stoppage, but allowed the US in private to continue with them.
The TTP allegedly assassinated Mrs.Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on December 27,2007. They did not have the courage to investigate it lest the TTP target President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. They were also worried that a thorough investigation might expose the involvement of some army officers in the assassination. They ordered the Police not to investigate and asked the UN to take over the responsibility for the investigation. More than two years after her assassination, the Pakistani people do not know who killed her. There has been no prosecution.
They found themselves unable to counter the Baloch freedom struggle, which continues to pick up momentum. They were embarrassed by the repeated successes of the Baloch freedom-fighters. Instead of addressing the grievances of the Baloch people, they accused India of helping the freedom-fighters. Before the elections of 2008, they had promised the Baloch people that they would investigate and prosecute the officers of the security forces who were responsible for the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the legendary Baloch leader. They have not carried out their promise after coming to power. The security forces continue to kill more and more Baloch freedom activists. Balochistan today resembles East Pakistan in 1970 before the birth of Bangladesh.
They were unable to protect the Shias, who constitute about 20 per cent of the population. Sunni extremists continue to kill Shias in their hundreds all over Pakistan. They imposed an iron curtain in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which has been the scene of anti-Shia violence for over two years now. The Shias allege that a genocide of the Shias has been going on in Kurram without the world knowing about it. The Army has no time or inclination to protect the Shias.
When the George Bush Administration asked its famous question “are you with us or against us” after 9/11, Musharraf lost his nerve and did whatever the US wanted him to do. He placed the bases of the Pakistan Air Force in Balochistan at the disposal of the US for use against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He rounded up a number of Pakistani citizens, including two retired nuclear scientists, and handed them over to the US agencies for interrogation in return for cash payment. Musharraf had mentioned in the first edition of his book as to how the CIA was paying for every person handed over by the ISI to the US agencies. When his admission caused embarrassment to the CIA he deleted this admission from the subsequent editions. His troubles with Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, which ultimately led to his humiliating exit from power, started when the Chief Justice began looking into the cases of a large number of missing persons, who had been allegedly rounded up by the ISI and “sold” to the CIA for money. A large number of innocent Pakistanis and Arabs were branded by the ISI as Al Qaeda suspects and thus “sold” to the CIA. Musharraf allowed the US intelligence agencies to operate all over Pakistan in search of Al Qaeda leaders.
At the same time, he quietly allowed the Afghan Taliban leadership to set up its rear base in the Quetta area of Balochistan and Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and other operatives of Al Qaeda to operate from the North Waziristan area of FATA. When the Bush Administration got preoccupied with Iraq from 2003 and diverted its attention from Afghanistan, the Pakistan army took advantage of it for relaxing its supposed hunt for Al Qaeda and for retraining the Afghan Taliban and helping it to re-launch its offensive in Afghanistan.
Till 9/11, all major terrorist acts in different parts of the world by Al Qaeda and its associates were planned and orchestrated from Afghan territory under the control of the Afghan Taliban. Since 9/11, all such acts are being planned and orchestrated from Pakistani territory in the FATA. Every terrorist act unearthed in the UK has had a Pakistani hand in it. The planned terrorist strike in Copenhagen by the LET’s Chicago cell and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri was being orchestrated from Pakistan before the FBI got scent of it and quashed it. The brutal murder of seven CIA officers and an officer of the Jordanian intelligence in Afghan territory was carried out by the TTP from Pakistani territory. The planned terrorist strikes in Germany by associates of the Islamic Jihad Union were being orchestrated from the FATA. The terrorist attacks in China’s Xinjiang province before the Beijing Olympics of August 2008, including an abortive attempt to blow up a plane, were orchestrated from the FATA. Acts of terrorism in Uzbekistan and in the Chechnya and Dagestan areas of Russia are planned and guided from the FATA. Even Teheran alleges that the acts of terrorism in its territory by the so-called Jundullah are being carried out from Pakistani territory in Balochistan.
Before 9/11, only India was the victim of acts of terrorism mounted from Pakistani territory. After 9/11, the whole world has become the target of Pakistan-based terrorists. The world’s attention is on Pakistan because it has become the GHQ of global jihadi terrorism. But the Pakistani political and military leaders live in such an unbelievable world of illusions that they have convinced themselves and they are trying to convince their people that the world’s attention is on Pakistan because of its geopolitical importance and its successful diplomacy.
Peshawar is bleeding. Karachi is bleeding. Balochistan is bleeding. The FATA is out of control. There is a new Great Game on in Pakistani territory with the US intelligence agencies on the one side and Al Qaeda and its associates on the other hunting each other, with the Pakistan Army and the ISI helping both sides in their attempts to kill each other and making money in the process.
While playing this treacherous game, the Pakistani leaders have the cheek to project themselves to their own people and to the rest of the world as playing an important role in bringing about peace in Afghanistan. They are unable to bring about peace in their own country. They are patting themselves thinking that they are going to help the NATO forces in bringing about peace in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s penchant to live in a self-created world of illusions is known to us. We are not surprised. But we are surprised by the inability of the US and the rest of the world to see through the games which Pakistani political and military leaders have always played. They are letting themselves be sucked into Pakistan’s world of illusions.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.
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