Pak­istan’s tra­vails

As Trump comes down hard on its du­plic­ity, a flash­back to the time when it all be­gan

Governance Now - - POLITICS - Aasha Khosa

Pak­istan’s du­plic­ity in fight­ing ter­ror­ism has now been ex­posed and re­buffed by its long-time ally, the usa. This du­plic­ity has its roots in the il­lu­sions of grandios­ity that Pak­istan’s deep state – the mil­i­tary and the In­ter Ser­vices agency (ISI) – seemed to have ac­quired af­ter forc­ing the Soviet union out of afghanistan in Fe­bru­ary 1989. For a chron­i­cle and anal­y­sis of those event­ful days, the best source might be the late Pak­istan prime min­is­ter Be­nazir Bhutto’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, The Daugh­ter of the east.

Bhutto had come to power nearly a year be­fore the last Soviet sol­dier was leav­ing afghanistan. The erst­while ussr had lost the war to a mot­ley group of mu­jahideen armed by the us and guided by Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment for ten years. Hav­ing barely fin­ished her ed­u­ca­tion in the us and the uk, the 24-year-old Be­nazir had in­her­ited her fa­ther Zul­fikar ali Bhutto’s political legacy un­der tragic cir­cum­stances. Though an elected leader, he had been dis­missed by mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor, gen­eral Zia-ul-haq, and later hanged on the or­ders of the supreme court in 1979 in a rather con­tro­ver­sial case. For the next nine years, she had to suf­fer in­car­cer­a­tion for political de­fi­ance of the mar­tial law.

So when she won a land­slide vic­tory in 1988 and by this time Zia had died in a mys­te­ri­ous air crash, Be­nazir wasn’t ex­actly the leader the deep state of Pak­istan was look­ing to deal with. She was un­der in­flu­ence of the western and sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion, and thus a thorn in the eyes of ji­hadi gen­er­als who had been in­doc­tri­nated in Zia’s regime.

In her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, she writes that dur­ing her in­ter­ac­tion with mil­i­tary lead­ers af­ter the Sovi­ets were leav­ing Kabul, she came away with im­pres­sion that the army lead­ers were com­ing too much un­der the in­flu­ence of gen­eral Hameed gul, who was to later be­come ISI chief, and who had su­per­vised the mu­jahideen’s ji­had against the Sovi­ets.

“They had grandiose and mes­sianic visions and did not seem to ap­pre­ci­ate that Sovi­ets were de­feated by us Stinger mis­siles, in­ter­na­tional fi­nance, diplo­macy and pol­i­tics, not just by the bat­tle cries of the ji­hadists. I was not pre­pared to fall for flat­ter­ing sto­ries of glory which I felt would bring ig­nominy

to my coun­try,” she writes.

Pak­istan’s deep state ac­tu­ally be­lieved they had de­feated the global su­per­power and ended the cold war. When the ussr split into in­de­pen­dent coun­tries, the Pak­istani army gen­er­als would claim they were saviours of the free world.

In­tox­i­cated with this in­flated sense of su­pe­ri­or­ity, the then army chief mo­ham­mad as­lam Beg had ap­proached Bhutto with a pro­posal that Pak­istan usurp afghanistan. at that time, the for­mer war­lords were barely able to keep the coun­try to­gether as they had cob­bled a rag­tag afghan In­terim gov­ern­ment (aig) to give a sem­blance of con­trol in the war-ravaged and vir­tu­ally head­less coun­try.

Beg told Bhutto that if she gave her nod, it would take just a day for him to get the aig to sign the agree­ment for a Pak-afghanistan con­fed­er­a­tion. The gen­er­als be­lieved the afghan rulers were still un­der their con­trol even af­ter ISI chief Hameed gul’s plans of hav­ing the in­terim gov­ern­ment packed with pro-pak war­lords like Jalalud­din Haqqani had mis­er­ably failed in the face of re­sis­tance by dif­fer­ent groups at the time of its for­ma­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, the same Haqqani group con­tin­ues to be ISI’S lynch­pin for car­ry­ing out its game plan in afghanistan even to­day. That is what us pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­ferred to in his New Year tweet: “The us had fool­ishly given Pak­istan more the 33 bil­lion dol­lars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us noth­ing but the lies & de­ceit. They give safe haven to the ter­ror­ists we hunt in afghanistan, with lit­tle help. No more!” This has led to the sus­pen­sion of al­most $2 bil­lion us aid to Pak­istan.

Beg had told Bhutto that usurp­ing afghanistan made sense. “af­ter all we are two Is­lamic na­tions; why have the border?” she re­counts the gen­eral telling her.

Be­nazir writes that she was ap­palled at this idea. She told Beg that such an ar­range­ment would bring in­dig­na­tion to Pak­istan and the world would see it as an ag­gres­sor. Be­sides, she said, it would not be ac­cept­able to the afghan peo­ple, who had closer ties with In­dia rather than Pak­istan and a sec­tion of them – Pash­tuns or Pathans – had even op­posed the idea of Pak­istan.

She told Beg that it would give an im­pres­sion to the world that Pak­istan had wanted to gob­ble up afghanistan. also, it would give a le­git­i­mate cause to In­dia to in­ter­vene in afghanistan. She told Beg that she didn’t want a war with In­dia at this point. Beg also wanted her nod to al­low the march of about 10,000 mu­jahideen fight­ers to Kash­mir un­der of­fi­cial pa­tron­age of the army. She claims to have ve­toed it.

Her prime min­is­te­rial term was in­ter­rupted for ob­vi­ous rea­sons; she didn’t en­joy a cosy re­la­tion­ship with the deep state. The army and ISI were sim­ply used to un­flinch­ing political sup­port from the Zia ad­min­is­tra­tion in its ji­hadi ven­tures, be it in afghanistan or in Kash­mir. She sur­vived as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts, a cam­paign by gen­er­als and cler­ics to get an edict from a Saudi cleric that a wo­man was not al­lowed to head an Is­lamic state, and even a coup d’etat by an army of­fi­cer. This of­fi­cer was caught with a writ­ten speech in his pocket of the ad­dress to the na­tion af­ter com­ple­tion of his mis­sion.

Her gov­ern­ment had com­pleted barely 20 months when it was dis­missed by pres­i­dent ghu­lam Ishaq Khan.

Bhutto’s party the Pak­istan Peo­ple’s Party (PPP) again won a land­slide in the 1993 elec­tion. How­ever, she con­tin­ued to see the un­fazed mil­i­tary men still bask­ing un­der the glory and il­lu­sions of the grandios­ity of hav­ing changed the course of mankind by bring­ing an end to the bipo­lar world.

In her sec­ond term, gen­eral Pervez mushar­raf, direc­tor gen­eral of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion (Dgmo) who later took over as a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor from her suc­ces­sor Nawaz Sharif, came to Be­nazir with a pro­posal: she must or­der the Pak­istan army to march into Sri­na­gar. mushar­raf and his peers at the army and ISI be­lieved that Kash­miri mus­lims would ac­cord the Pak­istani troops a grand re­cep­tion.

Be­nazir writes that af­ter mushar­raf con­cluded his brief­ing she asked him, “and what next?” The gen­eral replied, “a cease­fire would be in place and Pak­istan in con­trol of Sri­na­gar.” The Pm fur­ther asked, “and what next?” mushar­raf was ap­par­ently not ex­pect­ing such in­tense ques­tion­ing. He replied, “The flag of Pak­istan will fly in Sri­na­gar’s par­lia­ment.” The Pm per­sisted: “and what next?”

“You will go to the united Na­tions and tell them that Sri­na­gar is un­der Pak­istan’s con­trol… and you would tell them to change the map of the world tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the new ge­o­graph­i­cal re­al­i­ties.”

“and you know what the united Na­tions will tell me?” Be­nazir looked straight into mushar­raf’s eye, as the army chief sat silently, and said, “They will pass a res­o­lu­tion in the Se­cu­rity coun­cil con­demn­ing us and de­mand­ing that we uni­lat­er­ally with­draw from Sri­na­gar and we will have noth­ing for our ef­forts but hu­mil­i­a­tion and iso­la­tion.” She abruptly con­cluded the meet­ing.

“They [Pak­istan army gen­er­als] had grandiose and mes­sianic visions and did not seem to ap­pre­ci­ate that Sovi­ets were de­feated by US Stinger mis­siles, in­ter­na­tional fi­nance, diplo­macy and pol­i­tics, not just by the bat­tle cries of the ji­hadists. I was not pre­pared to fall for flat­ter­ing sto­ries of glory which I felt would bring ig­nominy to my coun­try.” – Be­nazir Bhutto

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