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.