Editorial

The old American Habit of Coming Clean Late

America in all its infinite wisdom believes in one and one thing only, it is always right, it has always tried to proselytize nations that are unwilling to accept their thinking  and no impediment will be tolerated on the pursue of American way of life. The blunt admission by the Pentagon the American Military Nerve center of the support given by Pakistan to various terror groups which operate in Afghanistan and India to undermine security is not surprising by any means. This is one open secret which they knew but never publicly admitted because for over ten years Pakistan was the launch pad for the logistics to fight terror groups in Afghanistan and now that they have decided to leave it is very clear that the once non NATO partner has been kicked to the curb and the implicit admission of direct collusion with various proxies has now taken the form of explicit admission.

The Pentagon’s report to the US congress was precise and substantiated and was a long time due, however as the old euphemism goes it did not blow anyone’s skirt. In the report it is clearly mentioned that how Pakistan uses proxy elements to sponsor terrorism. In its six monthly report to the congress the Pentagon said “Afghan - and India - focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India's superior military."

Two questions come to mind.

Why admit now Pakistan’s role in destabilizing Afghanistan and use asymmetrical warfare tactics against India?

To answer the first question we must look at the historical relationship post 9/11 between America and Pakistan and how on the one hand Pakistan allowed its land to be used to fight terrorism and at the same time provided material support to Taliban, Al Qaeda, Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan was on a downward spiral after it tested nuclear weapons and in return America imposed sanctions which greatly affected its already fragile economy. But 9/11 was a blessing in disguise for Pakistan as it bought lot of goodies from the US. From military hardware to other financial endowments going into Billions of dollars were given to Pakistan and it secretly and deceitfully used it against India.

Why publicly berate Pakistan and fall short of calling it a terrorist sponsoring state when America and its allies who have packed their bags and are now leaving?

The investment made by America is not working out and all the money spent in building a stable Afghanistan looks very bleak. The amount of Opium produced each year is not going down which in turn is funding the terror network. Also America now needs to focus more on Iraq and fight ISIS and the threat from the Khorasan group. Interest in Afghanistan was long lost with the people of America, Bin Laden is dead and President Obama has other domestic and international problems to deal with.

A lot of people in India were very happy when this 100 pages report was published and called it a vindication of our truth and the problems that we have faced over 20 years of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. But instead of rejoicing we need to think, in the eternal words of the Godfather Don Corleone “why we deserve this generosity?” Why this report should make us happy and what will be the outcome of it? It is not as if Pakistan will change overnight because everyone knows there is no communication between one hand to the other. The other hand i.e. the Army and the Inter Service Intelligence does what it thinks is in their best interests and India cannot expect Détente anytime soon.

By 2016 all foreign troops would have left and it will not take too much time for ISIS to spread its influence over this beautiful land called Afghanistan. Pakistan, especially the Army will always have and always will try to maintain its hegemony over its western neighbor and continue to use now the famous term “Non State Actors” which has now been debunked publicly and the veils lifted. There was and still ample evidence of the direct relationship between the ISI and various terror networks who have carried out direct terror actions against India and Afghanistan and the 26/11 attacks stands out.

All news papers and news network had field day with this news and experts were called to break every bit of this report and analysis were made. But to what use and propose, America had always advised India to show restrain and asked us to be patent but it had always acted by its own rules which sadly it creates as the situation demands. This is something which India has been shouting over the roof for god knows how many years. This report gave our foreign ministry the ammunition to fire and the ever so eloquent official spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said "It manifests a growing acknowledgment in the international community of the extent of Pakistan's involvement in international terrorism."

The question is where was this acknowledgement which we deserved years ago and now since the dynamics of US Pak relationship has changed it is so easy to blame Pakistan. America was on the sidelines for a long time and 9/11 changed all that. For America it is “either you are with us or against us” policy. America needs India more than ever because China is running wild and they need a stable partner to counter that and so do we. But India must ask what about a nuclear and politically unstable Pakistan and its military which would neither let talks happen or relent from supporting terror organizations. This report was an open secret made public and can be called the old American Habit of Coming Clean Late, however it can be safely presumed Pakistan will not heed.

Call it a cruel Irony or a simple twist of fate, it is now clear that America with all its military might just does not have what it takes to degrade and defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria without taking help from Iran. The letter sent by President Obama to the Supreme Spiritual leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he says ISIS is a common enemy and Iran and America must work together to end ISIS dominance in the Middle East. This is an acknowledgement and a long delayed step in renewing relationship with perhaps the most sensible regime in the Persian Gulf. Citing anonymous U.S. officials Wall Street Journal reported "Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran's nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline."

Already the effect of this letter is being felt in Washington and now the republicans who control the Senate and congress, President Obama will have difficulty conducting this foreign policy. Already in a joint statement Senator John McCain and Lindsay Graham said ''The consequences of this ill-conceived bargain would destroy the Syrians' last, best chance to live in freedom from the brutal Assad regime.''

Now if we look at their point of view then yes Assad’s regime in Syria was the cause and rise of ISIS due to its cruel practices against the Sunnis. But if Iran agrees to the Nuclear Accord then this would be a significant foreign policy victory for Obama and America. Iran will be allowed to develop their nuclear program for energy only and it will cut back on its number of centrifuges enriching uranium and redesigning a planned heavy water reactor so they cannot produce plutonium which is needed for nuclear warheads.

All hell broke loose just 35 years ago when angry protesters stormed the US embassy which then led to a hostage crisis which lasted well over a year. But that was then and now the situation demands Iran and America must work together. This letter has already created domestic problems and not to mention diplomatic conundrums with Israel with whom it can be said the relationship between both allies are at their lowest ebb. Also other Sunni Dominant state, especially Saudi Arabia will not be pleased, but if they have any sense they must realize this is the only way out. Anyway America and Iran are already fighting ISIS in their own way.

This will lead to an immediate easing of sections which has crippled the Iranian economy. Also Iran has one of the highest literacy rates and no restriction on woman’s education. Iran as a nation is still haunted by the mistake made by America in the 1950’s when it toppled the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed the Shah who was eventually overthrown. Also the level of support given by America to Iraq under Saddam Hussian is still fresh in the minds of Iranian leaders.

The problem is America cannot have its cake and eat it too. It wants a nuclear free Iran and it also wants the Assad’s regime to fall. Also America wants to destroy ISIS and to do that relations have to be forged and past grudges have to be overcome. America’s Middle Eastern partners must realize the eventuality of a future diplomatic relations between Iran and America is inevitable depending upon who will take over the White House in 2016 or may be President Obama could accomplish this task before his tenure ends.

Whenever Pakistan cries it is a victim of terrorism there is no taker for that and in the next 2 to 3 years it could end up as the next Syria and Iraq. Attacks are being carried out with impunity within Pakistan and almost on a daily basis both civilians and security officials are dying. Also a large number of Pakistanis mindset is not that different from the values of ISIS which believes it has divine providence to attack all non-believers, imposition of Sharia law and create an Islamic state. The recent burning of a Christian couple in Punjab for alleged blasphemy is the perfect manifestation of how minorities in Pakistan are living in constant fear of being killed or have their girls kidnapped and forced to marry someone outside their faith. This has quite eerie resemblance to ISIS.

Now if reports are to be believed which were published in Times of India, ISIS the most powerful and richest terror organisation in the world is now planning to spread its wings in Pakistan. If Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not too wounded or dead if reports are to be believed the next call by the Caliph would be the call of arms in Pakistan. The Dawn Newspaper has reported on its website that the 'secret information report' dated October 31 states that ISIS has claimed to have recruited a massive 10,000 to 12,000 followers from the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kurram tribal district. Also report from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department of Balochistan says “It has been reliably learnt that Daish has offered some elements of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) to join hands in Pakistan. Daish has also formed a 10-member Strategic Planning Wing.”

If these reports are factual then Pakistan, a country which is already suffering from bad economy, rampant corruption, no job prospect for young and to top it all a weak government controlled by the India centric military will be a perfect ground for ISIS. Everyone would agree when there is no development of infrastructure and a majority of populace is in perpetual poverty, it is not very difficult to attract them and give them Jihad as an outlet for all the anger and disentrancement which they feel.

Now just a few days back a Pentagon report submitted to the US Congress, categorically stated that the Pak military and its intelligence wing the Inter Service Intelligence was completely involved in promoting terror in India and Afghanistan. This was always an open secret but the admission does help. Now if ISIS comes to Pakistan and it will easily find many supporters who share its ideology, then the minorities will have no place to run except to India or Iran or face death and slavery.

Al Qaeda is a group which is on the downward spiral because America systematically destroyed its ways and means by either capturing its leaders or killing them. The Al Qaeda has pledged its allegiance to Mullah Omar of the Taliban who was proclaimed as Amir al-Mu'minin Commander of the Faithful, but for how long? Yes money has been raised by cultivating Poppy for Heroin, but they do not have the same level of financial backing and social networking platform like ISIS. Plus there are other Jihadist groups who have no allegiance to the Taliban and its leaders have their own plans. These are the groups which ISIS will get hold of and fund their operations.

Pakistan is the only Islamic country which has nuclear weapons and if nothing else attracts ISIS this surely will. Also a military which has been radicalized for decades is the most fertile ground for recruitment. Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was the body guard who shot and killed Salman Taseer who was Governor of Punjab and he now sits in a prison and knows it would take a very bold step on the part of the government to punish him. People like Qadri have so much influence at present he runs for political office he would win.

If we take all these factors into consideration plus the many groups who share the puritanical ideology, in few months Pakistan will face its  greatest test yet and its military its greatest opponent. They will have to fully concentrate on fighting its own people which will lead to more resentment. Any idea of pointing ISIS towards India will only prove more dangerous and could lead to serious confrontation. The policy of giving support to non state actor’s to wage asymmetrical warfare in India and Afghanistan will prove to be its greatest threat yet and probable civil war in Pakistan. ISIS will be defeated in the Middle East and all the swaths of land under its control taken back but Pakistan could very well prove to be the “place for ISIS” and make Pakistan a Perfect Cesspool for ISIS to Grow.