THE quality of “Chutzpah” is exemplified by the twins who murdered their parents and then asked for mercy on the grounds that they were orphans. In other words,it means a situation where an individual creates a situation, and then claims himself to be a victim of it. No other word can describe the outburst of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Pakistan,that the country will have to pay “serious consequences” should a terror attack on the US get traced back to its shores. Of course, this is the exact opposite of the course Clinton is urging on India. In our case, her advice is to ignore Pakistan-directed terror attacks and continue on the path of giving concessions to the only military that has jehad as its motto, the Pakistan army.
When Asif Ali Zardari became President of Pakistan in 2008, a window of opportunity opened to cleanse the higher echelons of the army from the infestation of jihadist elements that have remained dominant since Zia-ul-Haq began the talibanisation of Pakistan. While Zardari’s affinity for money puts him in the same wealth league as many heavyweight Indian politicians (especially former chief ministers), the man himself is a Sufi, far removed from the religious zeal that characterises both General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani and his faithful lieutenant, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, both Sunni Punjabis. The new Head of the State was aware that his ambitious prime minister reported not to him but to the army chief with whom he had regular meetings, often at Army HQ. Had the US backed him, Zardari would have removed from office more than thirty officers who are in league with the Taliban, thus delivering a lethal blow to that outfit. However, in 2009, Hillary Clinton backed the Punjabi lobby in Pakistan by agreeing to return to the office of Iftikhar Hussein Choudhury, the Punjabi who had been removed as Chief Justice of Pakistan by President Musharraf two years previously.
While very friendly to the Sharif brothers-neither of whom is known to be Mr Clean-as well as to other Punjabis, Justice Choudhury has contempt for Mohajirs such as Pervez Musharraf and Sindhis such as President Zardari, who is also a Shia rather than a Wahabbi, the way Kayani and Gilani are. Both have roots in the Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan, which (unlike its Indian counterpart) has been taken over by the Wahabbis since the 1980s and has very close links with both the military as well as the Taliban, often serving as the go-between. Most of these linkages are invisible to the CIA,the Defense Intelligence Agency and other US Intelligence Agencies, because of the fact that these have outsourced much of their field activity to the Pakistan army. The overwhelming majority of CIA and other US “assets” in Pakistan (and more disturbingly, in Afghanistan) are double agents, with their primary loyalty being to the ISI and its agenda of ensuring that the Taliban return to power in Kabul by 2013-15.
Most of what passes for “field intelligence” in the US-especially that collected from human sources-is in fact disinformation created and disseminated by the Pakistan army. The purpose of such deceit is to ensure that those inconvenient to Kayani and his allies (including the Taliban) get picked up by the US, while those who are secretly in league with the ISI and its Taliban-centred gameplan are presented as “moderates” deserving of the huge cash handouts that the US regularly disburses in Afghanistan “to keep moderate tribal leaders happy” and-it is assumed-out of the clutches of the Taliban. The fact is that more than 80 per cent of the present Taliban leadership has been the receipient of US cash and assistance, funneled to them on the advice of the ISI. In exchange, more mock-Taliban get arrested or killed, and desultory sweeps get conducted in those areas where the Taliban are known to be concentrating. Of course,few get caught, given that they are warned in advance of the approaching raid.
Nine days after 9/11, the US lost the longer-term war against the Taliban, by taking a decision to once again repeat the mistake of Zbigniew Brezezinski and Bob Casey in outsourcing operations to the Pakistan military. Most of the “independent” analysts in the US of Afghanistan are dependent on the ISI for logistics and contacts, and faithfully sing the song that has been scripted for them,which is that “cooperation with the Pakistan army is essential” to success. Indeed, that would be the case, were that army to get cleansed of its jihadist elements. Unfortunately, as these enjoy the sponsorship of a powerful intelligence agency based in the Arabian Peninsula, such elements have never been weeded out, including by Pervez Musharraf, who considered himself less as the leader of Pakistan than as the trade union leader for his beloved army and invariably took the military’s side in a dispute. It was only when Zardari came to power that Pakistan had a President willing to cleanse the military of jihadist elements, but he was soon rendered powerless by the Clinton-backed Punjabi lobby.
What passes off as “Pakistan occupied Kashmir” is in reality a territory that has been almost totally cleansed of Kashmiris.The Mirpuris who demonstrate-at a handsome profit in terms of the business opportunities they are given in Pakistan-speak not Kashmiri but a Punjabi dialect. Having colonised PoK, they seek to ensure Punjabi dominance in the Valley of Kashmir, which is why they have (through inter-marriage and through clandestine cash payments, often routed through the Gulf countries) converted most of the so-called “Azaadi” lobby into foot soldiers serving the Punjabi cause. Should the separatists ever succeed in taking over the Valley, it would soon become as dominated by the Punjabis as Mirpur or Muzaffarabad has become. Kashmiris would be reduced to a second-class status, the way some of their “Azaadi” politicians already are. It is surprising that those in the higher policy circles of India who favour “making borders irrelevant” do not understand that this would inevitably result in the drowning of Kashmiri identity under the weight of the Punjabi strand that already dominates PoK and which has infiltrated into “Azaadi” groups in the Valley.
Since the time of Zia-ul-Haq, the Sunni Punjabi component that dominates the Pakistan military has cast its fortunes with jihadists. And because of the backing they have got from Hillary Clinton (who was known as the “Senator from Punjab” some years ago), they have administratively finished off President Zardari,thus leaving Army Chief of Staff Kayani as the paramount authority in the country. Small wonder that when US officials visit Pakistan, they spend far more time at Army HQ than in offices nominally controlled by civilians, thereby further weakning the civilian government.
The ISI has been extremely effective in using the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies to spread a global panic about India. A week ago, one more of a long list of US “Terror Advisories” was issued, which warned of an “imminent attack” in Delhi on May 1 or May 2. This columnist spent most of those two days going to several shopping malls in Delhi and Gurgaon, and was happy to see the contempt with which this warning was treated. On cue, Australia, Canada and the UK joined the US in portraying India as a country that is as prone to terrorism as Pakistan, when the reality is that the country is still resistant to this scourge. Clearly, the bogus information about the “imminent” threat was given to the CIA by the ISI, which-as has been the case for fifty years-swallowed it entirely. The objective of the ISI is to generate an international perception that India is as unstable as Pakistan, so that economic growth gets affected. By their uncritical reliance on ISI inputs about India,the CIA and its allied agencies are acting to the ISI’s game plan.
The reality is that not a single one of the many US terror advisories about India has been followed by a terror attack. Clearly, when it does execute an attack, as in Mumbai two years ago,the ISI takes care to ensure that no foreign agency gets warned about its plans. In the case of the May 1-2 advisory, it transpired, the Terror Advisory was right about the attack, but wrong about the city. For an attempt was made not on Delhi but on New York. Thanks to the benign neglect by the US of the jihadi core of the Pakistan army leadership, the Taliban have been facilitated in setting up a network across the US that is estimated to become fully operational within the next two years.Once this terror network establishes roots across major cities, it would be able to carry out mass terror attacks almost every month. Such are the fruits
of the Clinton-Bush-Obama policy of relying on the Pakistan army to fight the very terrorists that this force has created and continues to nurture. It will take more than synthetic tough talk from Hillary Clinton to retrieve the US from the abyss into which it is being pushed by the proliferation of Pakistan-sponsored groups that nestle in Houston, Detroit, Chicago and Miami.
Unless the jihadi elements within the Pakistan army are identified and removed, that institution will continue to be a breeding ground for terrorists. However, the chance for that has disappeared after Hillary Clinton blessed the neutralisation of President Zardari by siding with old followers of Zia-ul-Haq, Prime Minister Gilani and Army Chief Kayani. Since Justice Choudhury has been brought back as Chief Justice, terror attacks have gone up sharply, because it has become clear that the protective shield of the army over the jihadists will continue. Every now and then, some jihadi found to be inconvenient will be apprehended or killed, but no action will be taken to prevent the large-scale recruitment of youths into the jihad machine, something that has accelerated since President Zardari was reduced to the status of a figurehead.
Unless the US understands that the military in Pakistan is part of the problem, and begins to support moderates in civil society and in the administration, Pakistan will soon evolve into what Taliban Afghanistan was, a haven for those seeking to attack the world’s biggest economy. Rather than play the ISI game of painting India as unsafe, what Washington needs to do is to understand that the distinction between the “Afghan Taliban” and the “Pakistan Taliban” is illusory and that the two together have fused into a machine that endangers the globe. George W Bush made a historic blunder in 2001, when he took the advice of the CIA and the Pentagon and chose Pakistan as his principal regional ally against the terrorists, even ensuring the escape of leading Al Qaeda elements at Kunduz into Pakistan. Sadly, President Barack Obama is making the same mistake, embracing an enemy while ignoring a friend.