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Army sur­ren­dered to In­dian troops in Dhaka.

By mid-1970s we were back on talk­ing terms with the US but sans any sig­nif­i­cant re­sump­tion in as­sis­tance, mil­i­tary or eco­nomic. Mean­while, our nu­clear am­bi­tions had come into di­rect clash with Amer­ica’s non-pro­lif­er­a­tion de­signs and once again a con­fronta­tion en­sued be­tween Islamabad and Wash­ing­ton that re­sulted in mas­sive political tur­moil in the coun­try, top­pling of the elected gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter ZA Bhutto by the then Army Chief Gen­eral Zi­aul Haq and sub­se­quent hang­ing of the man who had ac­tu­ally turned the na­tional nu­clear am­bi­tion into a con­crete ac­tion plan. And it was a pariah state shunned by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that saw the So­viet troops in­vad­ing neigh­bour­ing Afghanistan in late 1979. This was a sig­nal for the other su­per power to plan its counter moves in the re­gion. And it seemed to be a god- sent op­por­tu­nity for the pariah state to get out of its iso­la­tion by of­fer­ing its ser­vices to the US in re­turn for guns and gold it needed to avenge its 1971 de­feat at the hands of the In­dian troops and also in the process, if it can, lib­er­ate the In­dian held Kash­mir. This sec­ond­honey­moon be­tween the US and Pak­istan lasted un­til the col­lapse of the So­viet Union in the late 1980s. As it walked away from the re­gion, the US handed over to Pak­istan one war rav­aged coun­try—Afghanistan—, a huge cache of arms and am­mu­ni­tions in­clud­ing stringer mis­siles and large squadrons of air­craft along with scores of madrasas pro­duc­ing ji­hadis re­cruited from all over the Mus­lim world by the hun­dreds. In the decade of 1990s Pak­istan was happy to be left alone by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to go its own way un­leash­ing non-state ac­tors against the In­dian troops oc­cu­py­ing held Kash­mir. On the one hand it handed over Afghanistan to mil­i­tant ji­hadis called Tal­iban and on the other sent trained ter­ror­ists into the IHK to bleed In­dia like the US bled Sovi­ets in Afghanistan hop­ing that one day soon the ji­had in IHK would cause the col­lapse of In­dia and IHK would its on a plat­ter. It was not the ‘Friends, not mas­ters’ mode this time but what the crazy duo of As­lam BegHamid Gul called the ‘strate­gic de­fi­ance’ that de­ter­mined our re­la­tions with the US dur­ing this pe­riod. It was again, dur­ing this pe­riod that the same crazy duo came up with the hair-brained idea of strate­gic depth in Afghanistan. And all through th­ese ten years we op­er­ated with funds from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Mid­dle East coun­tries and a Wa­habi ide­ol­ogy with­out any need for pa­tron­age from the sole su­per power of the world or its ide­ol­ogy. In fact as the late Dr Me­hbubul Haq once told me in hor­ror: Look Zi­aud­din what we are do­ing. All through the cold war we had our­selves at­tached to the apron strings of the US and now af­ter hav­ing been partly in­stru­men­tal in the demise of the other su­per-power we jump out of the lap of the US and start mak­ing faces at it sit­ting on the fence. In­deed, dur­ing this in­ter­lude in our re­la­tion­ship with the US we did not feel like the jilted lover but like one that could shape the world in its own de­sign through the in­stru­ment of Wa­habi ter­ror as a for­eign pol­icy tool. In the ini­tial stages this strat­egy met with some sig­nif­i­cant suc­cesses as un­able to take the on­slaught of our non-state mil­i­tant Ji­hadis any­more the then Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee un­der­took the so-called bus ya­tra to La­hore and at a Mi­naar-e-Pak­istan cer­e­mony said: “My friends ad­vised me not to visit Mi­naar-e-Pak­istan be­cause that would put my ap­proval seal on the cre­ation of Pak­istan but, a strong and pros­per­ous Pak­istan is in our own in­ter­est”. A mes­sage was dis­sem­i­nated to all Pak­ista­nis that In­dia has fully ac­cepted Pak­istan as a sov­er­eign coun­try. The two coun­tries also signed the his­toric La­hore Dec­la­ra­tion. Ear­lier, in 1997 on the side-lines of SAARC Male sum­mit, the then In­dian Prime Min­is­ter IK Gu­jral as well as lead­ers of some of the other SAARC mem­bers com­plained to the then Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif about the al­leged shenani­gans of Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence agen­cies in their re­spec­tive coun­tries re­quest­ing him to rein in th­ese agency men in­ter­fer­ing in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of their re­spec­tive coun­tries. Even ear­lier, dur­ing the ten­ure of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W Bush (198896) Pak­istan’s pol­icy of strate­gic de­fi­ance had at­tracted the US wrath against Pak­istan al­ready suf­fer­ing sanc­tions un­der the Pressler amend­ment thanks to our nu­clear am­bi­tions. He was ad­vised to de­clare Pak­istan a ter­ror­ist state be­cause of its al­leged in­volve­ment in ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties in many parts of the world. Even Hosni Mubarak, the then Pres­i­dent of Egypt is said to have warned the then Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to de­sist from this pol­icy. Since the ad­vice had come very late in his ten­ure, the Se­nior Bush in­stead of sign­ing on the dot­ted lines passed the file on to his suc­ces­sor, Bill Clin­ton.

Mean­while, our es­tab­lish­ment re­al­iz­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion had made Nawaz Sharif the scape­goat and top­pled him through a con­spir­acy and brought in Be­nazir Bhutto as the Prime Min­is­ter who it was thought would use her con­nec­tions in the US political hi­er­ar­chy and the Clin­ton cou­ple’s per­sonal ad­mi­ra­tion for her to get Pak­istan out of this jam which she did with aplomb. Thus Pak­istan es­caped be­ing de­clared a ter­ror­ist state in 1996 be­cause of change of guards at the top in the US and the timely change of prime min­is­ters in Islamabad.

Dur­ing the decade of 1990s and as well as even un­til a day be­fore the Septem­ber 11, 2001, Pak­istan’s for­eign pol­icy led over­whelm­ingly by the in­stru­ment of ji­had had forced In­dia twice, once when PM Va­j­payee came to La­hore on Bus Ya­tra and again when he in­vited Mushar­raf to Agra in July 2001 for peace talks, to agree to dis­cuss Kash­mir and find an eq­ui­table so­lu­tion of the prob­lem. But on both oc­ca­sions it was Pak­istan’s in­ex­pli­ca­ble ap­proach to the In­dian peace ini­tia­tive that caused the two op­por­tu­ni­ties to slip by with­out any pos­i­tive out­come.

One felt as if Pak­istan on both oc­ca­sions had wanted In­dia to of­fer the IHK on a plat­ter with­out get­ting any­thing in re­turn. Pak­istan per­haps adopted this po­si­tion believing that a bleed­ing In­dia was on the back-foot and would fi­nally de­camp aban­don­ing IHK. Also, de­spite hav­ing been shown the so-called in­dige­nous free­dom strug­gle inside the IHK for what it was dur­ing the Kargil mis­ad­ven­ture our es­tab­lish­ment thought even the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity would like In­dia to agree to a set­tle­ment with­out try­ing to eke out a bar­gain so that the world would at last see the nu­clear flash-point in South Asia dis­ap­pear­ing for good.

But then 9/11 hap­pened and things started get­ting out of Pak­istan’s hands.

The US came back to the re­gion and once again we of­fered our ser­vices, this time not against the in­fi­del Sovi­ets but against a Mus­lim Coun­try gov­erned by an Is­lamic regime. Dur­ing the ini­tial months we used to catch the flee­ing Al Qaeda lead­er­ship and hand them over to the US but not the fleet­ing Tal­iban lead­er­ship be­cause they as­sured our con­tin­ued in­flu­ence in Kabul and guar­an­teed that In­di­ans would not find a foothold in an A-Qaeda- free Afghanistan.

Per­haps the US would have lived with the emerg­ing sit­u­a­tion but the an­nounce­ment of the $46 bil­lion Chi­naPak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor project seems to have alerted the US and now Wash­ing­ton which has al­ready been build­ing up In­dia as a coun­ter­poise to China in the re­gion is now plan­ning even closer ties with In­dia to bring Pak­istan un­der pres­sure both from across its Eastern bor­der as well as its north western bor­der forc­ing it, in the process, to go back to the ‘Friends, not mas­ters’ mode of re­la­tions with the US.

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