Listing Pakistan a terrorist haven

By K.N. Pandita

Should Washington enlisting Pakistan among countries that provide safe haven to terrorists give us any solace? No country will have laughed more heartily than Pakistan on being told so.

Trump is not the first President to play the antics. His two predecessors were no less skilled in the art of playing political hoax.

Earlier, hours before PM Modi met with his counterpart in White House State Department designated Sayyid Salahu’d-Din as global terrorist, Based in Muzaffarabad Salahu’d-Din is the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, and also the chief of the United Jihad Council – a conglomerate of several ISI sponsored terrorist outfits active in Kashmir.

ISI chose Salahu’d-Din as Chairman of UJC on the count of him being an ethnic Sunni Wahhabi Kashmiri Muslim and a Jamaat-i-Islami diehard who would be acceptable to Kashmiri insurgents because of his MUF tag. ISI has provided him crutches. Years back when Abdul Majid Dar, Hizbul Mujahideen leader announced ceasefire on the recommendation of Central Command of Hizbul Mujahideen in Rawalpindi, Salahu’d-Din confirmed it in a press conference the same evening. But two days later, under tremendous threats from ISI, he retracted his statement and said it was Majid Dar’s personal decision and not of Central Command. ISI scuttled US” initiative.

Salahu’d-Din’s position in the overall terrorist structure in Pakistan is zero. If he were of firm conviction, his sons and daughters would not have sought employment with J&K State government.

The reason why the US designated him as global terrorist is that a few days earlier to Modi’s visit to Washington he had issued a statement saying that he had invited Taliban and ISIS to support seditionists and traitors in Kashmir. Washington knew that Salahu’d-Din was ISI’s proxy and what he said was actually Pakistan’s message to the US that has been bringing pressure on Pakistan to wind up Haqqani group’s safe haven in Quetta, Pakistan and its patronage by ISI.

The US cares for her interests in Afghanistan where success in suppressing the Taliban has eluded her and she is frantically trying for a deal with them. This was also the reason why Ashraf Ghani was chosen and Abdullah Abdullah sidelined for the presidency two y ears ago.
Former Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama, all have been exuding same rhetoric as Trump does in the context of Pakistan providing all support to the home-bred Theo-fascists to launch attacks on her neighbours – Afghanistan and India – without naming them. What has been the impact of so many warnings and admonishments that the US has conveyed to Pakistan in the past? Pakistan has been graduating terrorist tactics strategically as well as logistically against both of her neighbours.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the then President Bush asked Pakistan whether she was with the US or not. It does not need any hard analysis to infer that the US was convinced of Pakistan’s covert links with Islamic Theo-fascists.

India has kept the US well informed along with strong and irrefutable evidence of Pakistan-based Theo-fascist organizations’ involvement in numerous terrorist attacks in J&K and other parts of India like Mumbai, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Samba, and Uri etc. All that the US did was to belatedly declare LeT a terrorist organization, put a prize on the head of Hafiz Saeed, designate Salahu’d-Din and then bring Pakistan on the list of countries providing safe haven to Theo-fascists. As I am writing this piece, news has come in that the US has stopped release of 350 million dollars as the remaining part of 900 million dollars package sanctioned as aid to Pakistan for the current fiscal year leaving a caveat that the amount can be utilized under other heads.

Have these steps resulted in Pakistan army and ISI putting any effective curbs on the terrorist activities of Pakistan-based terrorist organizations? None whatsoever. Has designating LeT a terrorist organization in any way brought down its terrorist activates?
When the US felt that it must do away with Osma bin Laden, it cowed down Pakistan army, ISI and the Islamabad regime with a single wink and finished the job with not a single Pakistani citizen or official functionary daring to utter a syllable about the episode. That is action and not the rhetoric. The US knows is better.

Former US President Bush minced no words when he said that the US will not let Pakistan fragment further. America’s interests in Pakistan are historic, strategic and militarily very significant. Pakistan has been integral to America’s international strategy and oil diplomacy. As for the international strategy, some observers think that with the implosion of Soviet Union, Pakistan’s significance in US’ strategic interests has come to an end. That is not the correct analysis. China – Pakistan bonhomie is the emerging scenario in South and Central Asia. As a client State of both super powers, Pakistan is naturally assigned to play the role of buffer which she has gladly accepted. She has the absorption capability because a fractured democracy and ascendency of her Army are decisive factors.

As far as the oil diplomacy is concerned, Pakistan has, through its nuclear capability, attained significant status to protect Saudi and Gulf oil reserves as well as their monarchies, which have been under the looming shadow of anti-monarchy uprisings ushered in by Osama bin Laden. By protecting Saudi monarchy against Arab Spring-like uprisings, Pakistan is playing a role that directly serves oil interests of the US and the western world. More than Israel, it is Saudi Arabia that wanted closing down of Iran’s nuclear programme. Quite natural if Saudi is pandering to Israeli line. Trump’s revivalist policy towards Iran is part of that game and the liquidation of Saddam and destruction of Iraq both are directly linked to American oil strategy. It is the Saudi monarchy that provided funds to Pakistan to build nuclear arsenal and it is Saudi petro-dollar booty that keeps Kashmir Theo-fascist pot boiling.

Stabilization of democracy in Pakistan in which the army and ISI will have to play the second fiddle to the “elected” government is gall to the US. The US finds redemption of her strategic as well as economic interests in the proliferation of Theo-fascist culture in Pakistan and the Sunni Wahhabi Islamic world (Kashmir included).

US never hesitated in extending soft warnings to India that she should not close the doors of talks with Pakistan. She has indirectly touched on both the corollaries of Indo-Pak stand off, viz. the Kashmir issue and India’s footprints in Afghanistan. Whenever there is accelerated emphasis on Indo-Pak bilateral talks, the wire is pulled somewhere in the lands discovered by Columbus.

To India’s good luck, she is headed by a strong government which is both popular and acutely nationalist. She has demonstrated her capability of withstanding political as well as military blackmail. Home-bred blackmailers are sometimes seen joining voice with our detractors abroad. Imagine a spineless parliamentarian suggesting that China is invited to mediate in Kashmir dispute forgetting that throughout his life he has been protesting against China illegally occupying a large chunk of J&K territory on our north-eastern border. India’s iron leadership is not going to give in and India is bound to emerge the real Asian power in days to come.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, India, E-mail: knp627@gmail.com).

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