By ASIF HAROON RAJA
EVER since the troop drawdown plan announced by Obama in December 2010 starting July 2011 and completing in December 2014, I have been mentioning that the senior military leadership of USA and other power centres with vested interests may not stick to the timetable and may extend the stay. A cold war is gong on between Obama administration and Pentagon. Gen David Petraeus disagreed with Obama’s decision to withdraw 33000 US troops from Afghanistan by October 2012 and wanted slower pullout. Pentagon, ISAF leadership, US corporations, defence, security and construction contractors, drug mafia, Karzai regime, Afghan security forces, India and Israel are desirous of extended stay. Their selfish interests clash with political ambitions of Obama’s administration and aspirations of Afghans vying for freedom.
The US Generals doesn’t want to return home disgraced and defeated as had happened in Vietnam. They are least concerned about the poor state of US economy, the continuing bloodshed, hazards faced by soldiers in the field and adverse world opinion. They are obsessed with the idea of victory in whatever shape, which they know cannot be achieved within the left over time of three years. Their heavy salaries and drug profits are added attractions to prolong their stay particularly when they reside in safe confines of overly fortified military bases.
The US and NATO generals somehow are misled with the belief that given the time and resources, the Taliban now deprived of al-Qaeda’s wholesome support would get exhausted and in not too distant future they would be forced to negotiate on American conditions. They are confident that in next 3-4 years the ANA duly backed by the US airpower and technological support would be able to take on the Taliban more effectively. Above all, they want to create a psychological impact that the US has not been defeated and have no plans to abandon Afghanistan till at least 2024. In their view this message would surely dishearten fence sitters within Taliban to jump the fence and join the ranks of moderates who have given their willingness to the US political settlement plan.
The civil contractors of USA are rolling in money and would like the war to continue for times to come. Large chunk of billions of dollars invested in Afghanistan to equip ANA and to carryout development projects are pocketed by them. The lucrative drug trade in which Afghan feudal lords, CIA and NATO are deeply involved is flourishing, has converted Afghanistan into biggest narcotic country of the world. Part of the drug money is utilized to meet heavy war expenditures and covert war expenses. Inept, corrupt and unpopular Karzai regime cannot survive without the physical presence of ISAF and American aid. Karzai whose writ doesn’t extend beyond his palace has agreed to all the clauses of the Afghan-US strategic partnership and has conveyed his willingness to let the US military retain military bases for next ten years. He got his unpopular decision endorsed by Loya Jirga which was boycotted by Taliban Shura.
The Afghan Army and Police are not showing worthwhile signs of improvements in security duties and in discipline matters. Desertion rates as well as cases of ill-discipline are high. They are ineffective in Pashtun dominated southern and eastern Afghanistan. Belated efforts made to correct the ethnic imbalance by inducting larger number of Pashtuns in the two organizations have backfired. Kabul administration believes that recent spate of terrorist attacks in Kabul had been made possible by Pashtun soldiers and policemen.
India has got involved in Afghanistan because of its strategic and economic interests. Helped by USA, India has dug its heels firmly and is using Afghan soil to destabilize the Pakistan regions contiguous to Afghanistan through covert means. Having spent $1.5 billion in development projects in Afghanistan, India now wants to extract tens of billions in return for its initial investment by having a lion’s share in mining of all future mineral resources related projects. In order to become the most influential country in Afghanistan and to fill up the power vacuum in the aftermath of the US departure, India is directing all its energies to washout whatever little influence Pakistan has in Afghanistan.
India’s aim is to make western border of Pakistan hostile so that it could put its arch rival in a nut cracker situation by posing a twin threat in any future Indo-Pak war, or be in a position to continue launching two-directional covert war against Pakistan. Once Afghanistan is bagged by India, it will enable it to fulfill its long cherished dream of encircling Pakistan and thus keeping it perpetually in a state of quandary. Indo-Afghan strategic partnership agreement has brought India closer to the realization of its dream.
Strong foothold of India in Afghanistan will enable it to expand its economic and political influence in Central Asia. Governed by this long-term objective of gaining access to Central Asian markets, India managed to dovetail its place in Pak-Afghan trade transit agreement. This underhand deal facilitated by USA will allow Indian goods to be shipped through Pakistan’s land route via Wagah. In order to reduce land locked Afghanistan’s dependence upon Pakistan, India built a road connecting Chahbahar with Daranj in northern Afghanistan. India also coaxed Karzai to build dams over River Kabul as part of its strategy to coerce and humble Pakistan. It has already constructed dozens of dams over three rivers flowing into Pakistan from occupied Kashmir and plans to build several dozens more dams entirely in violation of Indus Water Treaty to be able to manipulate water flow in accordance with its wicked designs.
True to its reputation, Israel is silently playing the devil’s role by remaining in the background. While it is persistently stoking up fires of antagonism between ISAF and its opponents, it is also playing its part to divide Afghan Taliban and to destabilize Pakistan. Initially it successfully deflected phenomenon of suicide attacks from its homeland towards Iraq and then further shifted its expertise to Afghanistan. In Badakshan, Mossad has established a large cultural centre where Muslim suicide bombers belonging to various nationalities of the region are indoctrinated and trained. Attacks on mosques, shrines, worship places, funerals and religious scholars/clerics are mostly masterminded by Mossad to denigrate Islam and to accentuate ethnic, sectarian and religious tensions in Pakistan. Besides inflaming sectarian fire, Deobandi-Barelvi divide is also being subtly widened. Special technology in FM Radio in use by Maulana Fazlullah in Swat which couldn’t be jammed by the Army was provided by Israel. Long-range sniper rifles and Uzi sten guns were also provided by Israel to militants in Swat.
Israel is also strengthening Indian armed forces by providing latest state-of-art weapon systems and has become India’s largest arms supplier. The two countries are cooperating in the nuclear field as well. Both USA and Israel are desirous of making India a counterweight to China. In reality, this is a smokescreen to justify supply of sophisticated arms and nuclear technology to India. India knows that it is no match to China’s military and economic strength and it will be sheer folly to antagonize the sleeping giant and upcoming super power. India’s chief target is Pakistan and its frenzied force modernization program is geared towards humbling Pakistan on the battlefield. While Pakistan is being systematically weakened from within since 2002, India is being armed to teeth to deliver the decisive blow at the opportune time.
The whole thrust of Indo-US-Israeli nexus is directed against Pak Army and ISI, the two pillars which are braving extremely heavy odds doggedly and keeping the adversaries at bay. Different techniques have been applied to cow down the two institutions but all their onslaughts have been thwarted. The underlying aim of discrediting and enfeebling Army and ISI is to gain access to nuclear and missile sites.
The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org