April 14, 2007

How it will take US to understand the Mushraf game

M.Mumtaz Khan

How long it will take US to understand the Mushraf, who portrays himself as front ally against terrorism but his close aids from arm and ISI continue to shelter and protect them in Pakistan . First he got his religious political parties elected in two strategically important Provinces which have been sanctuary for extremists and terrorists. By getting MMA elected Mushraf has killed two birds with one stone; first he exonerated himself from being blamed for supporting terrorism since where Taliban and Al-Qaeda are believed to be based or hiding, are under MMA governments. In the center Mushraf by giving MMA reasonable seats, sidelined the genuine political opposition and brought his indirect ally MMA into the opposition for smooth sailing. The victory of MMA in last elections is attributed to the surging anti-US sentiments in those two provinces as arguments are largely advanced by Pakistan officials and US officials but hardly anyone takes serious notice of those factors and forces that facilitated the victory of MMA in Provinces and center; in order to have justification to maintain the support to Taliban and extremist organizations under MMA cover. While, externally he has been successful to translate, all his covert support he rendered to MMA, as perceived serious extremist threat to blackmail US and west, and to show that only Pakistan military is capable of dealing with or neutralizing that threat. US have not been only generous to pour billions of dollars to strengthen Mushraf position and to extract maximum his cooperation against the terrorists. Mushraf has succeeded to convince the Bush administration that if Mushraf loses power, threat of taking over Pakistan ’s nuclear weapons by extremists is very imminent. Under this self serving argument Mushraf has been successful to trigger the fear among US circles of serious extremist threat of taking over Pakistan nuclear weapons. Under the false hope of winning against terrorism with the Mushraf’s help they turned blind eyes to every other social and political aspects, and forces that could have been useful in sidelining extremists politically and socially in Pakistan . Mushraf, government is collection of such people those are widely hated and disliked elements of society including the growing hate against the overwhelming presence of military generals in every walk of life has further undermined the direct appeal to the people against extremists by Mushraf government. While any popular leadership could have been politically very effective to neutralize extremists politically if ISI had stopped backing them and had allowed popular leaderships to participate in the elections. Keeping them out of country and forcing their workers and leaders in pre-and post poll days to change their loyalties were meant to benefit pro-Mushraf forces that directly supported MMA. But If US has had serious interest pushing Pakistan on right direction would have forced Mushraf to bring someone who had public acceptance and had lent him political credibility.

Mushraf, who after 9/11 had no option except to stand with US but never gave up option of supporting Taliban and extremists in Pakistan . Pakistan military and ISI have not only hid them and sheltered them but continued to infiltrate them in Afghanistan and Indian administered Kashmir , though at very small scale in the former in first few years. India criticized US double standard of turning blind eyes toward the infiltration and terrorism, to which India is victim of, while US is busy in praising Mushraf who has not been serious and sincere in rooting out his home grown terrorists and extremists.

US, forced by its own compulsions in Afghanistan pressurized Mushraf to take at least some cosmetic steps to please India . As a result of that Musharf’s announced banning of some extremist groups, promising not allowing his territory to let terrorists use against India , and US finally succeeded to get them agreed on ceasefire. Mushraf, arrested some extremists organizations leaders especially LeT, JeM, the most notoriously terrorists organizations operating from Afghanistan to Kashmir, as cosmetic steps but they remained effective and active in carrying out their activities and operations within Pakistan and across the border freely and openly, only they have to rename themselves.
US primary object was to lessen Indian military pressure from eastern borders on Pakistan that would allow Mushraf to shift his forces to western border to guard the infiltration into Afghanistan from the porous border.

In spite of easing tension between India and Pakistan encouraging further CBMs that eased Pakistan to divert its forces to North West frontiers to help allies in Afghanistan but infiltration didn’t stop. But US despite its intelligence personnel presence in Pakistan, capturing many of important Al-Qaeda leaders and staging some skirmishes in Wazirastan against the Al-Qaeda terrorists, but never renounced his support and sheltering key vital Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan. US underestimated Pakistan ISI’s skill to manage both sides while further equipped them with new technology and skill that ISI was lacking in intercepting internet based information and many other that further helped them to train their extremist elements active in Indian administered Kashmir and Taliban presently demonstrating that skill in Afghanistan. Pakistan, military leaders once called Taliban and extremists organizations as their strategic assets, have not completely abandoned them, and now Taliban and extremists are strategic assets for military to hold on to the power using their threat to keep continue to reap rewards and concessions from US.

The agreement in Wazirastan with Taliban, purportedly claimed to contain their activities across the border but benefited terrorists largely by providing them sanctuary, releasing their arrested carders, paying them bounty and assure them non-interference have increased their influence among the local population which was not inclined to subserve their interests before. But in the wake of agreement, power and authority of Taliban was endorsed by the Pakistan government that shunned every possibility of resistance against them. No matter what Pakistan government have advanced the arguments in its favor to convince the US but this agreement have benefited Taliban and Al-Qaeda by and large; as following increasing attacks in Afghanistan are fully reflective of this fact that how they have spread their political influence beyond the WANA and Wazirastan, as in Bannu, Kohat and other Areas; are continued facing the wrath of their political Islam, threatening video stores, forcing to closure of co-education schools, warning barbers not to shave and closing of English medium schools; recruiting school boys and killing principle, police and civilians those were not cooperating is not happening itself unless state support is rendered.
Now militant Islam is on the street of Islamabad, as largely believed that forces behind recent incident of Jamia hafsa and announcing to implement the shria Law by Imam of Lal Musjid is the handiwork of Pakistan ISI to divert the attention of people’s from serious judicial crisis that has threatened Mushraf’s very basis of the power and upcoming issue of his uniform and presidential elections. Interestingly enough that Imam of Lal Mujid is employee of Pakistan government who draws salary from government ex-chequer and in grade 19 but military ruler is still issuing warning and mediation now is being conducted by Mushraf’s close ally Chaudhry Shujat the government employee, who attacked few women, kidnapped and dragged them in day light to Lal Musjid, kidnapped their police officials, announced sharia Law in Islamabad surprisingly military took no time killing Nawb Akbar Bugti, who was former Chief Minister, Governor, minister and strong political leader, because he was real challenge. The US illusion will soon over to lure Mushraf or Pakistan ISI when in coming days allies will face further serious threat from Taliban. Although presently under the growing US pressure and visit of Cheney they handed over one Taliban leader, which is another indicative of that Pakistan military, has complete access to these wanted elements. As in the past whenever Mushraf traveled to Washington Pakistan handed over the Al-Qaeda leader to Bush administration to provide justification to fill their pockets and continue political support to military rule in Pakistan . Now, military ruler sensed the US priority of defeating Taliban than Al-Qaeda, and handed over Taliban leader to show their utility and indicate that they are still in control of their strategic assets and can use them or abuse them whenever they want to.
Time is crucial for US to make tough decisions about Pakistan if serious to eliminate the threat of terrorism. As 90% terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan whether it is regional or global but Pakistan ’s direct or indirect involvement is somehow was always found in most of the cases. The recent Mushraf action against the Chief Justice and people’s reaction should serve as warning that military is losing its image among the people and coming elections in Pakistan will be benchmark for both US policy toward it and containing the threat of terrorism, and also people will assess US commitment toward democracy and democratic values it always claims to uphold and promote in the Muslim world. These elections will also determine the public perception about the US whether US sincerely interested in seeing democratic and stable Pakistan or wants to use it through military dictators. The idea of winning public support by offering aid in social sector will not make any difference unless US makes clear political choices between supporting democracy in Pakistan or military, no matter how any military dictators poses but he is perceived to be usurper of rights and US support is viewed only to strengthen that dictatorship not to the people. This impression that military is capable of delivering since it wields tremendous political influence in policy making during the civil government too, which is true, but that happens because of US continued support to them. The fight against terrorism has entered into serious phase and future of Afghanistan will determine the future of this region and political influence of US. If US fails in Afghanistan and Taliban or extremists take over then US power and authority will seriously suffer its global image. The aid to military is neither strengthening Pakistan nor liberal forces in Pakistan, and ultimately helps military to hold on to the power. Extremist and religious forces are natural ally of Pakistan military and they will never seriously try to undermine or eradicate their influence.
It is the time that US support the genuine liberal parties, and force Mushraf to let them to return to Pakistan and participate in the coming elections, and meantime it should force him to take action against the homegrown extremists parties. While its continued support to the extremists in the name of Indian administered Kashmir is an excuse to protect these extremists. By showing serious interests in democracy will enhance US image among the people of not only in Pakistan but most of the Islamic countries where US support to dictators is interpreted that US is not serious in democracy in Muslim countries.


Executive Director
International center for peace and democracy-ICFPD
Vice Chairman
International Kashmir Alliance-IKA

55 Nugget Ave suite 230 Toronto
M1P 3L1 Canada

No comments: