Eating Grass

Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf

The end of World War I was disastrous for the victors. The Treaty of Versailles hurt German national pride. Hitler came to power followed by World War II. The over heated US economy that had grown during the Great War had nowhere to flow. The crash of 30s was an opportunity for the German juggernaut. When history repeated itself in World War II, the lesson for victors was clear. War and Economics had to be inter-related. Post World War II world had to be handled in a manner that created and sustained international equilibrium.

 One such step was the Breton Woods Conference setting the course for a New World Order based on international financial and development institutions with constraints on countries like Germany and Japan over the size and role of defence forces. The new order was to prevent growth of new centres of power. The Cold War witnessed the efficacy of this order till it was disrupted by the Muslim Oil Embargo of 1973 threatening the Gold Dollar Equation. Billions of dollars poured into the coffers of Muslim oil producing countries. Within the next decade this loss was recovered by the West by creating a vulnerability psyche within the rich Muslim countries forcing them to spend heavily on defence equipment. By mid 80s, the entire wealth amassed through surging oil prices had been converted through military imperialism to a security dependency.

The three main actors of this Muslim surge were eventually isolated with two murdered and the third thrown out of his country. Through a new system of multi lateral funding the losses of the West (oil embargo of the 70s) were converted to the debt of third world and military dependency of the rich Muslim countries. Pakistan despite amassing some debt remained the only country that continued to maintain an independent defence and nuclear policy but not for long. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan willingly became a bridgehead for a Mock Jihad orchestrated to only serve the western interests. Despite influx of huge aid and funding, the economic managers took no cognizance of the effects of the Oil Embargo. In the New World Order, Pakistan emerged as a security state arising from its vulnerability against an over arching India. There never was another enemy. No thought was ever given to the fact that in all conflicts against India, International opinion was always biased against Pakistan and to live under sanctions was an obvious outcome.

The lesson was even ignored when nuclear sanctions were clamped on Pakistan for over a decade. Pakistan’s economic managers continued to rely heavily in favour of international monetary institutions thereby ceding financial initiative. Strong military dictatorships looking for international legitimacy expediently became hostage to these institutions facilitating political manipulation. While the defence establishment continued to grow stronger, the core policy construct ignored critical issues like home grown militancy, importance of an unregistered entrepreneur, pluralism in society, ethnicity and dynamics emerging out of an abandoned Afghanistan with its backwash in Pakistan. The net outcome was the emergence of a militant hardcore, weaponisation of society and drug money. In the past decade, the banking sector glutted with liquidity introduced consumerism and curtailed domestic production. Pakistan never ever braced itself for the rainy day.

After the Cold War, Pakistan was ripe and vulnerable to orchestrating an implosion along the main disconnects of a security state and vulnerable political economy. No thought was ever given to the fact that a time could come when Pakistan would be forced to sell its interests for a dime. In the meanwhile the Western notion of a future war began to theorise around a floating, invisible threat of Islamic militants transcending international borders. Pakistan adapted no hedging policies against home grown militant outfits. At some stage many such organisations fraternised with international intelligence agencies beginning a treacherous game of betrayal. A point has now reached when the genie keeps knocking doors of the security apparatus all over Pakistan. Pakistan’s contribution to the present situation is only secondary. Critics forget that it is in the crosshair not because it produces terrorism but rather suffering from the Afghan Burnout strategy. However, this explanation in no way absolves the State of not playing its role in national cohesion. After the withdrawal of Soviet Union from Afghanistan, the rehabilitation of Mujahadeen was rejected by Charlie Wilson saying that dollars do not grow on trees. Afghanistan was left to burnout in a murderous spree of warlords and private armies supported by the regional neighbours and Middle Eastern Countries.

 Concerted efforts by Pakistan to contain the situation through reconciliation received lukewarm or no support from USA and UN. Herein also begins another trail of international betrayal by friends of Pakistan who acted as masters. The worst role was played by countries Pakistan depended for aid; to a point they began to assume control and still do in Pakistan’s internal politics. In the interim, Osama Bin Laden was allowed to grow from a little known CIA logistics operative to a monster bred in Africa. He was then moved in Lockheed C-130s from Sudan to Afghanistan, a rallying ground for all strains of nomadic revolutionaries; unwanted by their own countries. If the western threat assessments were indeed realistic, then why was Osama in presence of USAF and OBL Monitoring stations not intercepted and force landed.

Events that followed highlight that US Security, Intelligence and Academia were apparently pursuing divergent objectives that ultimately morphed into the definition of AF-PAK. At the heart of the issue are two objectives unacceptable to Pakistan; a preferential role for India in the region followed by control over Pakistan’s Nuclear Systems. In Afghanistan, USA and its coalition are fighting a generation born to romantic revolutionaries of the Afghan War, joined by politically alienated Pashtuns and nomadic warriors from world over. US cooperation with the non Pashtun Northern Alliance and drone attacks in Pakistan have deliberately coalesced ethno-religious resistance which over a period of time has married up with other diverse militant organisations as also with foreign intelligence agencies.

The interplay of such conflicting dynamics within the politic fabric; is now Pakistan’s own war for survival. The war that began in 1975 through Bhutto’s espousing of Afghan student leaders has now entered its final phase and a ‘do or die’ situation. Its bloodiest chapters will be fought in South Waziristan and Punjab with USA keen to open a face-saving front in Balochistan. This is where the true test of Pakistan’s sovereignty will lie. Pakistan’s only choice is to militarily defeat these radical groups bred in intolerance, savagery and a stand alone romantic notion of religion.

Pakistani nation will have to fight this war on its own terms not only with the militants but also with supposed friends in the hybrid zone of ‘neither friend nor foe’. Every deal with a weak hand is a bad deal. No more deals please. Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Eating Grass

  1. Junaid

    Pakistani nation will have to fight this war on its own terms not only with the militants but also with supposed friends in the hybrid zone of ‘neither friend nor foe’.

    That sums it all.

    We have to tackle this on our own. The extremist enemies and the capitalist west.

  2. hossp

    “why was Osama in presence of USAF and OBL Monitoring stations not intercepted and force landed.”
    I don’t when that happened. Was the C-130 supplied by the KSA or the US? How sure was the US before the Cole bombing of OBL’s intentions?

    “Through a new system of multi lateral funding the losses of the West (oil embargo of the 70s) were converted to the debt of third world and military dependency of the rich Muslim countries.”

    The oil embargo was not Muslim, it was the Arab oil embargo and incidentally all countries that were part of the oil embargo, were already in the US sphere of influence. That may lead to other conclusions. One of them would be to suggest that perhaps the US encouraged the embargo to compensate the Arabs for two devastating losses. It was also a face saving effort. Let me go a step further or backwards in line with your theories that are somewhat conspiratorial. How about accepting that perhaps the whole outcome of the 1973 war was decided before a single shot was fired?

    You see theories abound and blaming only the outside actors is not enough. Some blame has to be shared by the local forces that conspired with the outside forces. The Pakistan army was interested in escalating the Afghan war for the simple reason that it saw that as an opportunity to get some quick bucks. If you go back to the late 70s you will see that Pakistan economic progress was stalled and the foreign investments after the military coup had dried up. The army realized that it would have to rely on US to sustain it as domestic financial resources were not enough to nurture a large army.

    Let us see who do you think encouraged Pak army to call the first US offer of economic assistance “peanuts”? Was that only Zia’s decision? Or was he promised goodies by other elements in the US administration, the same elements that recently encouraged the army to speak up against the Kerry-Lugar bill after first accepting all the terms. Now per some news reports, US is ready to offer military aid to Pakistan with some more terms attached to it, would the army accept the military aid without the corps commanders statement?

    For the Generals the institution’s interests come before the country’s interests and that, on many occasions in the past, has led them to make decisions that have placed Pakistan in the situation it finds itself now.

    “Pakistani nation will have to fight this war on its own terms not only with the militants but also with supposed friends in the hybrid zone of ‘neither friend nor foe’. Every deal with a weak hand is a bad deal. No more deals please.”

    Nice sentiments but would the army have the same courage that you are expecting from the people of Pakistan. History tells us that it is the army that buckles first before the ‘neither friend nor foe’.

    There are two reasons for the Pak army to be in SWA. First, it sees that the new US admin wants results before its pays up. Second, the army’s hands are tied by the elements it created and now those same elements are playing for the highest bidder.

  3. sharafs

    OBL Monitoring Station had been established much before OBL left Sudan. Bombing of Sudan was a hogwash.

    One of the first assignments of this station was called “Terrorist’s Financial Links (TFL)’ that ultimately morphed into something even sharper and focussed. Geroge Tenet in his book ‘The Centre of the Storm’, alludes that the then obscure name Osama bin Laden kept cropping up in the intelligence chatter and funding of terrorist activities. He recounts that before long the TFL virtual station was renamed Osama Bin Laden Issue Station (OBLIS). Writing with selective memory Tenet recalls that Osama had indeed made some contacts with Islamic militant groups and was now busy funding and recruiting them to form the foundations of Al Qaeeda. The book categorically but mysteriously denies that CIA had any contacts with Bin Laden during the Soviet’s Afghan misadventure. He claims that by 1996, CIA knew that Bin Laden was something more than a mere financier. They followed his activities in Sudan. The intelligence gathered by their TFL/OBLIS station focused on Osama and his threat potential. Though he obscures details, he admits that even then, options were planned and discussed against Osama and his network.

    The United States also pressurised Sudan to expel Bin Laden. There exist abundant press reports, internet chatter and claims by individuals to contend that the Sudanese had offered to extradite Osama to the USA. One such name is a US lobbyist of Pakistani origin Mansur Ijaz. The question is why the CIA did not arrest Osama?

    Amazingly the DCIA shows total ignorance and states that he was unaware of anything to substantiate it. He writes that on May 18, 1996, Osama voluntarily left Sudan and relocated to Afghanistan. This is a very innocent and oversimplified statement of the event. Curiously, he ignores to comment that Osama was provided a C-130 aircraft and that moved him to Afghanistan at the invitation of Prof Rabbani.

    The canning policy of obscurity and revelations continues through the events of bombings in Aden, Kenya and Tanzania, till Osama and Al Qaeeda resurface in the events of 9/11 and beyond. This striking coincidence of chain events must be related to the fact that the American’s had their own agenda and plan. They deliberated, planned and chose their method.

    After 9/11, the Americans chose to invade Iraq on the pretext of Al Qaeeda and WMD. Events later proved that Iraq was connected to neither. Had Osama and Al Qaeeda been the real target, then he and his sleepers were never connected to Iraq. The intent was therefore to gain time and allow Al Qaeeda to reorganise in Afghanistan and draw Taliban into their fold. USA was to shape an environment for intervention in Afghanistan in a manner that facilitated permanent presence in the region.

    Finally, I do not write conspiracy theories.