The time is right for a military coup in Pakistan. The military has been out manoeuvred by BOTH India and by the Pakistani civilian government.
What has been discussed earlier – given in short snippets here:
1. Pakistan military has embedded its ex-soldiers, and some current soldiers into the fold of Taliban, Al-Qaeda and terror groups like Laskhar e Taiba for deniable operations in foreign countries. We saw this in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Philippines etc where ISI does the co-ordination for these terror groups.
2. The current dispensation in Afghanistan (Karzai's gvt) went against the Pakistan military doctrine of achieving strategic depth. Also, under US pressure, it had to fight the Taliban – which was akin to one brigade of Pakistan army fighting the other brigade. And as a result of this, there has been the proverbial backlash and a civil war like spectre in several cities of Pakistan, most notably Peshawar.
3. To kill two birds with one stone, the Pakistan army engineered the Mumbai attacks through ISI which in turn opened the Lashkar e Taiba tap for the operations. The idea was to “heighten tensions” with India such that Pakistan army has to move its 100,000 soldiers from the Afghan border to the Indian border. This would have freed its covert operations brigade of Taliban and Al-Qaeda to wreck havoc in Afghanistan that would have led to early defeat and departure of US/NATO forces.
Out manoeuvring by INDIA:
India stepped up the pressure on Pakistan alright after the Mumbai attacks, but did not move its army to the borders. Thus Pakistan Army had no rationale to move its army from Afghan border and this “military objective” of the Pakistan Army failed. That Indians have activated air and sea defence: these are active military tactics which Pakistan has to counter with air and sea defence counter measures leaving the role of the Army to a minimum.
Pakistan army’s covert operations took the biggest hit in recent years by the capture of the lone terrorist Ajmal Amir. ISI dirty tricks department, made the terrorists wear saffron wrist bands – they would be passed off as Hindu terrorist. This to take advantage of the divided Indian polity and the ugly spat India was having on Islamic terrorism versus Hindu terrorism. With all terrorists dead, Pakistan army and ISI hoped to divide our political parties even further along religious lines. Unfortunately for Pakistan, India caught one terrorist alive and this completely turned their final objectives upside down - and INDIAN political parties, instead of becoming divided became resolutely UNITED on terror.
The Pakistani media were given directives by Pakistan Army to label the Mumbai attack a conspiracy hatched by India's Research and Analysis Wing, Israel's Mossad and the US's Central Intelligence Agency to tighten the noose around Pakistan. Read Humayun Gauhar’s article which follows this directive.
OUT MANOEUVRING BY PAKISTAN'S CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT.
Everyone knows that the civilian government does not call the shots in Pakistan and it is the all powerful Pakistan Army through ISI that dictates the civilian machinery. The civilian government earlier on, clipped ISI's wings by closing down the "political wing of ISI". Through terror groups like Lashkar and also through hidden cameras and telephone intercepts, ISI keeps the government servants and politicians in place.
Even then, Pakistan army got out maneuvered by Pakistan’s civilian government.
DAWN – a leading newspaper in Pakistan, defied this Army directive (to label the Mumbai attacks as a conspiracy hatched by India) and brought out an article which stated that the captured terrorist is indeed from Pakistan. It stated: "During the course of Dawn’s own investigations last week our reporters were able to locate a family who claimed to be the kin of the arrested young man in Mumbai. However, the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son.
For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.
“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.
“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”
The deception cannot be carried out any longer and this hurt the “covert ops” of Pakistan army.
However where the Civilian government of Pakistan truly hurt the Pakistan army was in its complicity in getting Jammat ut Dawa declared as a terrorist entity by UN. The Pakistan government clearly told India that it could not be seen as acting under orders from India and / or US – however a UN mandated resolution will help the civilian government clip the wings of the military.
The United Nations Security Council's declaration this week of the Pakistani group Jamaatut Dawa as a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), which is banned as a terrorist organization, marks a major setback for Pakistan's military establishment.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his diplomatic corps based in Washington and New York had lobbied hard to counter efforts by the Pakistani military establishment to protect its strategic assets, as Islamabad wants a real clampdown on the LET and Jamaatut Dawa.
It has got its way, with the Security Council's al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee also designating as terrorists four men believed to be members of the LET or Jamaatut - group leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of operations Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, finance chief Haji Muhammad Ashraf and financier Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq. Bahaziq is also a former leader of the group in Saudi Arabia.
The designation also covers all aliases and affiliates of the LET, including Jamaatut, a charity formed after the terror ban was imposed on the LET in 2002.
Within 24 hours of the UN announcement, Pakistan carried out raids on Jamaatut offices throughout the country. Saeed and other leaders have been placed under house arrest, while several Jamaatut leaders have gone underground.
However, top military leaders, who have kept a low profile in the post-Pervez Musharraf period that effectively ended at the beginning of the year, went into overdrive and the office of the president, prime minister and Foreign Office were held hostage on this issue.
Amid some drama, last Sunday Pakistani helicopters flew to Shawai in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to arrest LET commander Zakiur Rahman. But LET offices and training centers had already been evacuated soon after the Mumbai attack, on the military's advice, in the event that India launched retaliatory attacks.
Zakiur Rahman, commander-in-chief of the LET, who lives in Islamabad in a residence provided by a Pakistani security agency, was called in on Monday morning to tender his arrest. He did so without any fuss.
The Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Professor Husain Haqqani, and Pakistan's permanent representative at the United Nations, Hussain Haroon, took a pro-active role in soliciting the international community to help Pakistan.
They got their message across and the UN aimed at the core of the discord by explicitly naming Jamaatut. Soon after the UN announcement of sanctions, a message was communicated to the army chief and to the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through Pakistan's advisor on national affairs, retired Major General Mahmood Durrani, that the security agencies would have to cooperate in implementing the ban in both letter and spirit.
On Thursday, the sidelining of the military establishment was complete when police independently raided Jamaatut offices throughout the country without the intervention of any intelligence agencies. The State Bank of Pakistan announced a freeze the accounts of Jamaatut.
These developments are significant in that the military establishment, which has for so long dominated the affairs of state in Pakistan, has been completely outmaneuvered by the political government.
The next and most crucial step is to dismantle the unlimited powers of the ISI. Washington has already provided evidence of the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai attack. Pakistan has previously tried to clip the wings of the ISI by putting it under the Ministry of Interior, but the move was repulsed by the army.
An emboldened government, with the full backing of its Western allies, will be ready to try again. But the ISI, with its military nexus, has not become as powerful as it is by giving up any battle without a fight.
ISI is the blue eyed son of Pakistan Army. Pakistan army conducts covert operations around the world through ISI which in turn turns to its blue eyed children like Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), Jamat ut Dawa (JuD). Which makes LeT, JuD a favoured grandchildren of Pakistan Army. This favoured grandchild (JuD in this case) has now been dealt a blow by the civilian government of Pakistan. Hence what will the grand dad do to save its grandchild?
Hence I can sniff dangerous times ahead in Pakistan.
There could be massive explosions inside Pakistan to kill off the civilian government in Pakistan (Marriott strike was one such instant)– Pakistan military can then blame RAW for engineering this to revenge Mumbai attacks and once again usurp power in Pakistan. This will then allow it to fulfill its military objectives of drawing down soldiers from Afghanistan border.
The truth is, after many decades perhaps, there is a civilian government in Pakistan that India can do business with and one that shares similar antipathy towards Pakistan Army and its “terror surrogates”. It may survive with American backing, but I can sense clear and present danger to their lives. Pakistani President and PM have no special love for INDIA but their animosity towards ISI and Pakistan Army goes well with our objectives.
Let us pray that PM Gilani and President Zardari live through the machinations of Pakistan Army and ISI.