The US has pressured India to include the name of Balochistan in the now “infamous” Indo-Pak joint statement. In the grand game, India was played along with US designs in the region and the grandeur of India becoming an equal partner to the US in the global stage suckered India into giving in.
The text reads ambiguously: "Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Baluchistan and other areas." Why on earth should Pakistan put this innocuous statement if India has had nothing to do with it. And if India has had nothing to do in Balochistan - and "other areas", then why should this seemingly innocuous statement find its way in a joint statement?
Pervez Kiyani to India - You want action on LeT - ensure you stop meddling in Balochistan, else we do nothing. That is the essence of the bungling Mr. Manmohan Singh. Times of India : "Reports in the US media quoting official sources said Pakistan army chief Ashfaque Kayani recently sought to link Pakistan's actions against Lashkar-e-Taiba with India putting a stop to its alleged covert operations in Balochistan."
Full text of joint statement - click here : SOUTH ASIA MONITOR
Hence, India was armtwisted to accommodate the Pakistanis by inserting the “B” word, in lieu of a greater “supposed” sweet defense deals with the US and a larger role in Central Asian politics. But Americans are Americans – the only other shoulder they see are their own shoulders – there is no team work – there is only “subordinate” work.
Before India gives in to the charms of the US as it puts in a strong pitch its aircrafts for the deal of the century - it should look back - not too far and learn certain lessons from history.
Before leaving India, Royal Air Force (RAF, UK) decided to destroy valuable aircrafts in the newly independent India with the aim of denying these to the nascent Indian Air Force (IAF). Over fifty (50) Liberator bombers stationed in Kanpur that could have formed several bomber squadrons, were, as the then seniormost Indian engineering officer in Royal Indian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh, recounts in his memoirs, ‘ broken up by using the heavy cranes. The undercarriages were retracted as they were lifted high up and then suddenly the aircraft would be dropped nose down, on the ground’ or sledge hammer to ‘to damage the mainplanes and tail units’. Spitfire fighter aircraft came in for similar treatment and the Aircraft Repair Depot on base, moreover, was stripped off all tools and maintenance equipment, and several expensive machines and instruments were simply ‘thrown into a large water tank.’ Having forcibly rid the force of the Liberator bombers, the presiding British officers then tried to induce the Indian government to buy the ‘obsolete’ Lancaster bombers from the UK.
Nehru faced similar rebuff from the US too. The initial query for the supply of hardware to India, including 1000 jeeps and 43 B-25 Mitchell bombers, and for the placement of some thirty ‘aero-engineers’ was made by the Indian Military Attache in Washington and concurrently Military Adviser to the Indian Delegation to the United Nations, Colonel (later Lt. General) BM Kaul, in January 1948, on the instructions of the Defence Minister Baldev Singh. India did not get but note the important US Joint Chief of Staff’s (JCS) recommendation.
The JCS note stated: “..the strategic importance of the Karachi – Lahore area … under certain conditions as a base for air operations against central USSR and as a staging area for forces engaged in the defence or recapture of Middle East oil areas.’ This JCS document deemed other countries like India in South Asia to be of negligible positive strategic importance to the US. (See Venkatramani: A Mission without success’: pp 61-65)
And true to form - In the middle of this, the US is building the biggest base in Islamabad, just a little smaller than the one it built in Iraq. This cannot be good news for Iran, China, Russia and India. That is the other story playing out. Will come to this “old Great Game” at a later date.
PAKISTAN ARMY - TROUBLES MULTIPLY:
A few going ons and the rationale thereof. The troubles of Pakistan Army have multiplied and if India does not co-operate, the grand designs of the Americans for this region will be tattered business plans destined to be consigned into the dustbins of history.
WASHINGTON POST (21ST JULY'09) : A few hundred thousand people in Pakistan belong to the Mehsud tribe, a Pashtun network divided into three major clans: the Manzai, the Bahlolzai and the Shaman Khel. Although they are scattered across the country, their home territory is South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan and is a refuge for fighters operating in both countries. The violence has pushed tens of thousands of Mehsuds out of South Waziristan. But there is little respite wherever they turn.
Pakistan Army, not known to understand Geneva convention, and given to the draconian FCR - under Section 21 of the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) , a legal framework was developed to help the British Raj control rebellious Pashtuns. The regulations, which tribal leaders have tried to repeal or amend for years, give vast powers to the top official in each tribal district, known as the political agent.
And Pakistan army has decided that niceties and peace treaties be damned – Baitullah Mehsud must be captured and killed. And how is the Pakistan Army going about it : 2 incidents.
FIRST incident (JUNE 2009): Karachi police arrested five bandits in the southern port city of Karachi - Adil, Shah Hussain, Ahmed Baloch, Rahmat and Sher Muhammed, all from the Mehsud tribe and none of them from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
They were simply bandits who happened to be Mehsuds. However, the army was so keen to settle scores with Baitullah that a military security unit ordered a police officer, Raja Umar Khattab, to shoot them. Khattab refused, as he was aware, after their 15 days in custody, that they were just bandits and that an extra-judicial killing would land him in serious trouble.
The five were then transferred to another police officer, who did the deed. The bodies were immediately sent to South Waziristan with a message to Baitullah that the "more you defy us, the more you will collect the bodies of your tribal men".
This sordid episode further cemented the support of the entire Mehsud tribe around Baitullah, including all Taliban commanders. Baitullah is once again the undisputed number one commander of the Pakistani Taliban.
SECOND incident (JULY 2009): The Sina Diagnostic Center and Trust does not appear to be a menacing enterprise. The clinical pathology laboratory's 15 staff members conduct ultrasounds, X-rays and CAT scans and run free hepatitis and HIV tests for poor people and refugees in this teeming northwestern city of Peshawar.
That did not stop about a dozen Pakistani government revenue officers and police from marching up to the lab's second-story office this month to demand that the owner, Noor Zaman Mehsud, shut it down. They ushered patients and staff members outside, pulled down the metal gates and wrapped white cloth around the padlocks. Within 15 minutes, they were gone.
"They just said, 'You are a member of the Mehsud tribe, and we are going to seal up this business,' " Mehsud recalled. "My crime is that I belong to the Mehsuds."
Under regulations formulated a century ago by British colonial rulers - FCR, Pakistan's tribes are still bound by a legal concept known as "collective responsibility," under which any tribal member can be punished for the crimes of another.
That sweeping order has led to the closure of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of businesses in towns such as Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Peshawar in North-West Frontier Province, according to lawyers, human rights officials and residents. One South Waziristan political official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said 25 Mehsuds have been arrested in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.
"This is the law of the jungle, not for civilized people. They are treating people like animals," said Noor Zaman Mehsud, the 39-year-old lab owner, who denied he had any connection to the Taliban. "If I am a criminal, they should arrest me. But they are giving other people's punishments to me."
Hence, as far as Mehsud tribe is concerned, Pakistan Army is an enemy and US too as its drones have now started to target Baitullah Mehsud. In fact, the US drone attacks should not be underestimated in making the region volatile to the detriment of Pakistan Army and its interests in the region.
The turning of several “good Taliban” against the Pakistan Army – a brief background.
The only Pakistani Taliban commander who sends his men to Helmand is Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan. Over the past few years, he has dispatched several thousand fighters.
A command structure comprising former Kashmiri fighters, under Abdul Jabbar, also sends men to Helmand. (IMPORTANT)
ASIA TIMES ONLINE: Few months ago, when the Malakand operation was in full swing, the Americans became so desperate that action should be taken against Pakistani militants who were due to go into Helmand that the Pakistani establishment believed they would take matters into their own hands and move into Pakistan.
To pre-empt this, all possible tribal rivals of Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan were organized (all were Taliban) under the banner of the Pakistan army. Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, whom the army claimed had 3,000 men, could hardly gather a few dozen, as with Haji Turkestan. The biggest Taliban commander on the Pakistani side, Mullah Nazir, an arch-rival of Baitullah due to tribal feuds, initially assured the army he would stay neutral if action were taken against Mehsud. Another Taliban commander, Gul Bahadur, also a rival of Baitullah, was silent.
Baitullah responded by conveying a message through influential commander Sirajuddin Haqqani to all Taliban leaders that if the Pakistan army entered South Waziristan, it would be completely under American pressure. As such, they should not make any agreements with the army.
Mullah Nazir promptly refused to allow the army passage in his area; Qari Zainuddin Mehsud was assassinated by Baitullah's men and Haji Turkestan went into hiding and refused to cooperate with the army.
With the army nevertheless poised to attack Baitullah last month, Gul Bahadur, considered "good Taliban" by the army, broke a ceasefire in North Waziristan by carrying out a devastating attack on a military convoy in which three officers and 26 soldiers were killed. Thirty military personnel were also abducted.
The incident stunned the army and it was faced with the reality that far from eliminating Baitullah, he had emerged as the leader of all of the Pakistani Taliban; tribal feuds had been put aside. This was despite the fact that the army clarified on a number of occasions that the military operation was only against Baitullah, not even against his tribe. Clearly, no one believed the army.
The turning of Sirajuddin Haqqani:
ISI’s greatest asset is the Haqqani group. It was ISI’s baby for strategic depth in Afghanistan. However, with the ill health of the legendary Jalaluddin, his son Sirajuddin is slowly slipping out of the grips of the ISI.
(However, I must point out, there is the other ISI – very active – made up of former DGs of ISI and their cohorts and some of the current ISI operatives too – who owe their alligience to Taliban and Al – Qaeda. At the very top is Hamid Gul. US is trying to marginalize this group for a long time – without any success)
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), US intelligence and Arab states have for many years maintained excellent relations with Jalaluddin Haqqani, the legendary Afghan commander against the Soviets in the 1980s. Haqqani, now seriously ill, supported the Taliban movement in the mid-1990s on the instructions of the ISI. But the Taliban never considered him a part of the movement, more as a warlord who had allied with them.
As a result, Haqqani was never given any significant position in the Taliban regime. When the Taliban abandoned Kabul in the face of the US-led invasion in late 2001, Islamabad tried hard to get him to abandon Taliban leader Mullah Omar and become the next head of the Afghan government. He flatly refused the proposal and went to a base in North Waziristan.
In 2006, he was elevated by the Taliban to the number one commander in Afghanistan. Pakistan was not too concerned as Haqqani had never meddled in the internal affairs of Pakistan, never allied with a Pakistani political party or group and he had never supported any mutiny in Pakistan.
But now that Haqqani is ill and bed-ridden, his power has been handed to his son Sirajuddin. Siraj's strength, like his father's, is his Punjabi comrades, but his friendship with al-Qaeda's Arab ideologues has influenced him.
Unlike his father, Siraj is close to Pakistan militants hostile to the establishment. The intelligence apparatus was prepared to overlook this, but not any more.
Some while ago, Siraj's brother, Dr Naseer Haqqani, was arrested while attending a meeting that included several wanted people. To the surprise of the security forces, Baitullah Mehsud negotiated for his release, agreeing to swap a few Pakistani soldiers for the detained man. Subsequently, Baitullah and Sirajuddin became close.
This explains the failure of the recent operation to get Baitullah. It depended on the cooperation of local anti-Baitullah tribes who happened to be Taliban, such as those of Mullah Nazir and Gul Bahadur and the now slain Qari Zainuddin Mehsud. Sirajuddin quickly sent messages for all commanders to unite in support of Baitullah, and their compliance ended any hope of him being isolated.
It also explains why the Haqqani network is now in the sights of the military as it prepares for a renewed battle against militants.
MULLAH RADIO - SERIOUSLY WOUNDED says PAKISTAN ARMY. REALLY??
Long War Journal reports: Swat Taliban leader 'alive, healthy and has never been wounded' - spokesman Muslim Khan.
And then there is Bin Yameen in SWAT
Contrary to the military's claims of hundreds of militants killed, the militants say they have lost only 50 of their men, with the remainder being civilians killed in crossfire or in aerial bombings. Of the 50, two commanders - one named only as Daud and the other as Shah Doran - have died.
The military operation has seen the emergence of a new supreme commander of the Swat Valley - Bin Yameen. He is fiercely anti-army and insiders say that even if ceasefires agreements are made, he will ignore them and fight to his last man and last bullet.
Renowned as a pir (spiritual guide), Bin Yameen is a former Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM - led by Maulana Masood Azhar) leader in Swat. He spent seven years as a prisoner of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance after being captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban in the 1990s. On his release, he returned to Swat and joined the JeM. In mid-2000, he was picked up by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence for alleged involvement in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate president General Pervez Musharraf.
Bin Yameen was the victim of the worst sort of torture by army personnel, right up to the time it became crystal clear that he was not involved in any activity against the army or Musharraf. He became full of venom against the army.
After his release, Bin Yameen joined Mullah Fazlullah's TNSM, but retained command over a group of men loyal to him. Now there is a slogan that says "Bajaur [Agency] belongs to Faqir and Swat belongs to pir". (Faqir refers to another anti-army militant, Maulana Faqir Mohammad, whose brother was killed by the army in a torture cell.) At present, the entire Taliban leadership in the Malakand area is lying low, leaving Bin Yameen and his men face-to-face with the army.
Bin Yameen is just one example of a Talib who was once used by the military to further its strategic depth in Afghanistan, but who is now bitterly opposed to the army.
THE US ROLE :
The high-profile arrest of a group of Pakistani militants in mid-April 2009 in the restive Afghan province of Helmand by the Afghan army and their subsequent handover to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for grilling exposed a jihadi network running to the heart of urban Pakistan.
In the course of interrogation, the militants confessed to being recruited, trained and then launched into Helmand after spending some time in places such as the southern port city of Karachi and Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
They also gave details of their Pakistani leaders and their activities, including how these leaders could move around freely and how they owned huge religious establishments.
Three of the men have been identified as Enyatur Rahman (North-West Frontier Province - NWFP), Saeed (NWFP) and Imran (Punjab). When they were apprehended along with the four others, a Pakistani Taliban commander named Mansoor, based in Helmand, aware of the possibility of them exposing a major jihadi network inside Pakistan, tried his level-best to negotiate with ANA to prevent them from falling into the hands of NATO.
But a little mishandling caused ANA to turn them over to NATO.
There is an arrangement between the Taliban and ANA all over the south of Afghanistan, especially in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Helmand and Ghazni provinces.
Under this, when ANA troops are sent on patrol inside Taliban areas, they pay the Taliban to avoid being killed. The price is arms, ammunition or rockets, which is handed over and then reported as having been lost during an encounter with the Taliban.
In turn, when ANA arrests any Taliban fighters, they demand cash money for their release. If the fighters are Pakistani or non-Afghan, ANA takes a little longer to negotiate a price, but if the fighters are Afghans, ANA personnel will not take unnecessary risks. Either they strike a deal then and there and release the Taliban fighters, or within a few days they hand them over to NATO. The reason is to avoid direct confrontation with the Afghan Taliban and their tribal constituencies, which could cause problems in any prolonged negotiations.
Under this arrangement, as the seven men were Pakistani, Mansoor started negotiations with ANA for the release of his men. ANA demanded US$200,000, Mansoor countered with an offer of 2 million rupees (US$25,000), which was refused. Mansoor then arranged for 10 million rupees to be paid, but since almost 10 days had passed, ANA handed the Pakistanis over to NATO.
Mansoor mishandled the situation on two counts. First, he did not involve the Afghan Taliban command, and secondly he took too long in reaching an agreeable figure.
Apparently, the youths soon began talking under interrogation. In particular, they gave details of a jihadi network known for its past association with the defunct Jaish-e-Mohammad. They also gave details of their backgrounds and how they were recruited and how they had spent time in different Pakistani urban centers, where the leaders of their network openly ran religious establishments.
This information was shared with concerned Pakistani quarters, but by that time all senior Pakistani Taliban commanders had gone underground. In the bigger picture, though, the incident provided Washington the ammunition it needed to really go after the Pakistan national leadership and warn that the entire country needed to stand up as one to fight against all sections and groups of the Taliban in the country. They reminded that it is not any particular government or political party, but the state of Pakistan that is running out of time.
This is where a new joint government involving Sharif could come into play, and Pakistan will once again be dancing to American tunes.
Actually US has bluntly warned Pakistan and it seems Pakistan is planning a major ground offensive against the Taliban. However it is loathe to take away any soldiers from its eastern borders with India – that will help the fight from the Pakistani side. The US surge will be on and it requires Pakistan’s support.
Pakistan is staring at an abyss. Its former “assets” have turned against it (not all – but a good many – and enough to give Pakistan Army a fight and beat them too).
The US desperately needs the Pakistan Army to fight its part of the “war on terror” judiciously.
Under US pressure (more than 500 Americans have arrived in Islamabad to observe developments) an operation was organized against militants in the southern Punjab and several high-profile commanders, including one named Farooq and other members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, were arrested.
A top jihadi leader commented: "We never imagined such a reaction. We have not fought against the Pakistan army and we do not consider it right. But if the present arrests continue, what option will we have ... without going to Waziristan and doing what other people are doing there?”
The US observer status as Pakistan Army attacked, infuriated the already volatile Taliban. At this juncture, US needs India to heed its advice and not do “funny” things inside Paksitan.
Funny things is an euphemism for taking revenge for the Indian embassy blasts in Kabul and 26/11 attack in Mumbai. India may well have made their intentions clear one way or another to Paksitan about what its assets can do too inside Pakistan and Pakistan had no choice but to go and cry on the shoulders of the US. The US in turn, have turned the heat on to India to curb its supposed “activities” in consulates in Afghanistan.
THE US – PAKISTAN CURRENT BONHOMIE:
ASIA TIMES ONLINE :The seamless friendship between the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, has cemented the relationship between the military establishments of the two countries to levels not seen since the 1950s, when Pakistan was a frontline state against communism.
The result is that Islamabad and Washington are in a position to implement coordinated, long-term policies in the region, which include action against militants, moves to improve ties between Pakistan and India, especially their dispute over divided Kashmir, and the evolution of a broad-based, stable civilian government in Pakistan.
First, Pakistan will launch a comprehensive battle against all Taliban groups in the country, irrespective of whether they are perceived as good or bad. Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to split the Taliban by making deals with the good ones, that is, those seen as more moderate, to bring them into a peace process.
Second, an initiative will be made by the Pakistani government, supported by the country's Western allies, for better relations with India, strongly mediated by the Pakistan army. The aim will be to reopen the dialogue process on Kashmir which was stalled following the Pakistani-linked terror attack on the Indian city of Mumbai last November in which 166 people were killed. This could also help in building a joint mechanism for cooperation between India and Pakistan with the US in fighting terror.
US has hard sold the second initiative to India and been sucker punched into approving the “B” (BALOCHISTAN) name in its joint declaration draft (a non-legal and non-binding statement, for what its worth).
TALIBAN – AL QAEDA response:
And in all this supposed grand plans – what about the militants? Will they sit idle and be attacked from two fronts?
The Pakistani Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies obviously will not stand back. Al-Qaeda's command has already drawn up plans to stir up a reaction all across the country - the masses will be urged to show their allegiance in black and white.
The militants, too, have their mechanisms in place, and they too don't plan to deviate. A MIGHTY COLLISION IS INEVITABLE.
India’s response should be wait and watch. If the democratic government pulls off another IK Gujral stunt (which stopped R&AW’s black ops inside Pakistan) – which it really did not – as R&AW simply handed over the assets to some other Indian organization – then we should not heed the UPA government.
Pakistan is at its vulnerable best. It has no other choice but to lean on the US to give it a guarantee that India will not play a spoiler as it passes through its toughest fight internally post independence. And US is pushing the right buttons in India to facilitate just that.
I think time has come for India to look beyond and see what is good for India. A shared border with Afghanistan is not a bad idea, I would think. Let the Pushtuns get Pushtunistan and the Baloch – Balochistan.
TWO RELATED ARTICLES BY EX-INDIAN SPYMASTERS - MUST READL
1. VIKRAM SOOD'S SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY : (excerpts) - "The Sharm el-Sheikh declaration is perhaps the shortest, the most perplexing and worrying piece of drafting that has been signed by two heads of government. It now exists as a document that would be the basis for continued acrimony between India and Pakistan and among Indians. Never have so few led the country so astray as in this document.
One of the sentences that has generated considerable debate is when it states that “Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats.”
2. MALOY DHAR'S (ANGRY) ARTICLE "Shame at Sharm Al Sheikh : How Manmohan succumbed to US & Pak blackmail?": (excerpts):- "What was India doing at Sharm-al-Shyakh? Attending the Non- Aligned Nations Meet (NAM). What was Pakistan doing there? Also attending the NAM. The basic questions are: 1. How can an American Client State be non-aligned? 2. How can a Chinese client State be a member of the NAM? Some wise cracks say that both the Giant Panda (Chinese national animal) and the Markham (hill goat-Pakistani national animal) can piss at the feet of a giant elephant-that is India. They not only can, they really piss every now and then and the thick-derma Pachyderm keeps on lurching helplessly in spite of being pissed at day in and day out. The USA also pisses, but its piss gives Skunky odour, very foul and soul sickening. And many Indians worship that white man’s Skunky piss, as the holy reservoir of World Bank, IMF"
TO P.M. MANMOHAN SINGH: The lure of a Nobel Peace prize should not cloud your judgement on the true intentions of Pakistan and cause you to compromise India's national security interests.