The hares and the hounds

History repeatedly affirms that a prudent policy invariably suffers at the hands of successors; more true in countries where strong establishments and opinion makers hijack the original ideas to construct whims. The famous Schlieffen Plan failed because those who implemented it were not its architects. The US diplomacy with its lofty spirit of Liberty, Bretton Woods and Reconstruction, rather than bring peace to the world are contrarian. The new meaning of peace is equilibrium, strategic balance and broad spectrum dominance. US led policies have put the entire Muslim World in turmoil. When USA changed its policies of single engagement in Middle East to twin engagements in 2003 (co-opting Iran) it destabilised entire regions. Iraq, Libya and Yemen are in turmoil while Syria is under siege. Rather than address the vacuum in Middle East, the triple engagement in South and Central Asia (addition of India and Iran) poses new challenges. Students of history need to study why such a situation has come to pass. Then they will understand the method in madness.

In the case of Pakistan, well-articulated policies with the correct vision have repeatedly ended in the opposites. Frequent regime changes, influx of advisors into the system with foreign linkages, military interventions and failures on part of successors to incisively read the ends of policy have been counterproductive. Repeated diversions on external prompting and self-aggrandisements dwarfed he original objectives. The visionary policy makers are long gone; replaced by ignorant opportunists.

A case in point is Afghanistan. It was highly improbable that Afghanistan, needing protection of a 17 nation military alliance, would dare to physically attack Torkham. How come a country, that cannot protect itself from warlords take such an initiative? The incident though isolated points towards a larger picture the readers must understand. As I wrote earlier, our leaders like the wind, cannot read.

The story begins in 1919 and has finally flipped poles after 9/11. India, USSR and Afghanistan who created the Pakhtun bogey to counter containment have now been joined by New World Order to contain Pakistan. This is what USA calls the long war and 10 years of instability. It is both violent and non-kinetic. Pakistan will be squeezed socio-economically while Northern regions of Afghanistan will become more prosperous. With economics as major game changer, Pakistan could be effectively impoverished to implode. Like in the past, Pakistan’s rulers will facilitate this to happen. Though the likelihood could be argued, the dangers that lurk in this hypothesis are evident.

The Durand Line extends more than 2,400-kilometres between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was mutually established in 1893 between British India and the Afghan Amir. Following the 3rd Afghan War in 1919, Afghan rulers reaffirmed the arrangement in 1919, 1921, and the adjustments made in Chitral at Arundu in 1930. Durand line was accepted as the Indo-Afghan frontier. It read, “The two high contracting parties mutually accept the Indo-Afghan frontier as accepted by the Afghan Government under Article V of the Treaty concluded on August 8, 1919 and Article II of the November 22, 1921 finalising of the Treaty of Rawalpindi”.

In 1947, Pakistan inherited the 1893 agreement and the subsequent Treaties from British India. Though the Treaty of Rawalpindi ends in ratification, the Afghans supported by India and USSR found cause to dent it. International courts and the Vienna Convention universally uphold via uti possidetis juris that binding bilateral agreements are “passed down” to successor states.

British India’s Cabinet Mission Plan did not suit the Congress Party (a Fabian Socialite) and Soviet Union. USSR immediately understood is containment. Hence on 14 August 1947, Afghanistan became Pakistan’s first enemy. It opposed creation of Pakistan and rejected the border treaties. It began to destabilise the frontier regions and backed secessionist movements in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan right through to 1970s. After the occupation of Afghanistan by US led ISAF, secessionist movements have resurfaced in Balochistan with bases in Afghanistan, Iran and Middle East.

Post 1971, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto began the process of rebuilding Pakistan. However, like 1947, Pakistan was weak. Seizing the opportunity, Afghanistan engaged and financed sub nationalists in Pakistan. The efforts failed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the secessionist had to swear allegiance to Pakistan. The Baloch insurgency had to be supressed with military force. Having stabilised and engaged Pakistan internationally, Bhutto enacted the new Afghan policy that could submit Afghanistan to international treaties.

The scribe has the privilege of many discussions with Late General Naseer Ullah Babar and his team on Afghanistan. In the course, the scribe also had the opportunity to look at drafts signed by Afghan rulers. As IGFC, General Babar became the principal advisor and whip to Bhutto’s new Afghan Policy. Later he was made the governor of NWFP with the prime purpose of integrating FATA. Bhutto made concerted efforts and six monthly visits to FATA. He personally met all tribal Maliks and kicked off development projects. He envisioned economic integration as a first step towards calling the Afghan bluff. Zia’s martial law and the mock Afghan Jihad undid the whole process.

USSR, India and Afghanistan created the Pakhtun stunt. Through some discreet coercion from 1975-77, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto persuaded Sardar Daud into signing an agreement and close the controversy. The final draft was prepared and initialled by Sardar Daud pending a formal ceremony. In a coincidental twist, Bhutto was deposed by Zia Ul Haq in a military coup on 4 July, 1977.  There is enough evidence to suggest that Zia purposely and deliberately failed to go ahead and sign the agreement. Zia’s martial law ensured that the end to the conflict was postponed and economic pincers in Fata halted.

In 1996, Benazir Bhutto under the tutelage of General Babar made another bold attempt at resolution of the controversy. General Babar shuttled between the various warring factions in Afghanistan to seek reconciliation. The Taliban and Northern alliance agreed to a political commission and a federal structure giving representation to all ethnicities in Afghanistan. This was a sincere attempt at moderating Taliban and giving a broad based representation to its political structure. It was pre-empted.

On 3 Nov, 1996, at a meeting in the President House chaired by Farooq Leghari, attended by PM Benazir Bhutto, Interior Minister GeneralNaseer Ullah Babar, DG ISI, Foreign Secretary Najm-ud-din Sheikh and General Jehangir Karamat, it was decided that General Babar would fly to Kabul on 5 Nov, 1996, to get an already negotiated agreement signed between the Taliban and Northern Alliance leaders. In yet another coincidence, Benazir Bhutto was removed by President Farooq Laghari on the night of 5-6 November 1999. General Jehanghir Karamat was ignorant about this civilian coup. The interim government and PMLN government with a 2/3rd majority did not pursue the case.

But Benazir did not give up. In May 2001 the Under Secretary at the US State Department for Pakistan, India and South Asia visited General Babar at Peshawar. They were joined by the Afghan Foreign Minister Mr. Mutawakkal. Mullah Omar pledged to hand over Osama Bin Laden to a neutral Muslim country for trial under Islamic Law with a Qazi each from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.  It was agreed that the trial would take precedence from the Lockerbie Trial. USA sabotaged this bold pledge to entrap the region into Shock and Awe. It was evident that USA was pursuing its own game plan while President Musharraf fell too easily into the trap.

It is also ironic that since the overthrow of Bhutto’s regime, no head of the government has ventured into these forgotten areas. Socio-economic initiatives in FATA are non-existent. Relief if any is coming through the military. Is present government ignorant of the challenges or complicit? Meanwhile, the squeeze on Pakistan is a reality.

Could social engineering sponsored by NWO work? Politically excluded Pakthuns and Gujjars comprise over 60% population of Afghanistan. It is most likely they could fight Panjsheris to the end. The region is indeed headed towards a new round of instability. But the winds cannot read?

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