India encircles Pakistan
I would like to warn the Pakistani people and the leadership that there would be catastrophic consequences of the new Transit Trade Agreement for economic and later for defence interests of the country as India, with the full blessings of the United States, is fast moving closer to its strategic ambitions to become a regional power. The Agreement would not only strengthen its all-round presence in Afghanistan to the disadvantage of Pakistan but also further expand its area of influence to CARs where, as I would mention later, India has already established a Pakistan-specific Air Base. There is a clause in the MoU signed on 6th May 2009 by Pakistan and Afghanistan in Washington in the presence of Hillary Clinton that India too would be given transit trade facility later on. There was late night burning of oil on 17th July 2010 to finalize the Agreement ahead of US Secretary of State's Pakistan visit and the same clause relating to Indian access to Pakistani land route has been retained in the Agreement signed on 18h July. Copies of the Agreement (which is being trivialized by describing it just signing of notes) are being kept secret but I think this Agreement, which has been strongly opposed by the patriotic circles and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry for any future colossal losses to the Pakistani economy, will have serious consequences for the security of Pakistan as well.
There has been a national consensus during all governments in the past, whether it was a military or an elected one, that in no case India would be given land route facilities till the final solution of Kashmir problem. Now this Agreement is quite a U-turn in our national policy. The Transit Trade Agreement is really a big victory for India which it has achieved after sixty-three years.
I am dwelling at length on the new Transit Trade Accord because it is a part of the India's long-cherished dream of turning Pakistan into its market and encircling Pakistan from war point of view. Apart from the fact that over 80% of the Indian Army is directed at Pakistan and its Navy is fully geared to block Karachi the hub of Pakistan's import and export activities India has been making strategic moves for decades to encircle Pakistan. Way back in 1990s, when there was a clash between Taliban and anti-Pakistan Northern Alliance, New Delhi actively supported the latter by providing military hardware, training, funding and even repair of Soviet-made Mi-17 and Mi-35 attack helicopters being used by the Northern Alliance against Taliban. This was aimed at creating a space for India in any future scenario in Afghanistan and New Delhi tried to grab the opportunity by offering every possible logistic support to the United States to invade Afghanistan following the tragic incidents of 9/11. Though Pakistan became the first and preferred choice of the United States for the purpose because of proximity factor, yet despite the fact that Pakistan suffered hugely, in all respects, because of its unprecedented support to Washington, the United States thought it appropriate to help India in getting a strong foothold in Afghanistan. India has such a strong intelligence and military presence in our neighbouring country that it has been successfully carrying out its subversive activities right in Pakistan with a view to destabilizing this country of the Quaid.
According to former Army Chief General (Retd) Aslam Beg, who keeps a close eye on regional developments affecting Pakistan, after signing of the strategic partnership accord between the United States and India, Afghanistan was declared as part of South Asia and India was able to establish a very strong intelligence network in Afghanistan which works against all the countries in its neighbourhood including Iran. This network is supported by CIA, Mossad, the German Intelligence MI6, and French Intelligence. It is regrettable that India which did not shed a drop of blood in relation to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, was not only materially rewarded by awarding nuclear and defence deals but also made a strategic partner and given all-out help to expand its influence in Afghanistan, and also in CARs, to emerge as a key player in the region.
Worst of all, there are reports that CIA and FBI actively collaborated with RAW to cultivate Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) in FATA, militants in Swat and dissident elements in Balochistan to create lawlessness. There are also credible reports that apart from the main objective of destabilizing Pakistan, militant outfits are used for spoiling Pakistan's relations with its neighbours particularly Iran and Peoples Republic of China. Kidnapping and killing of several Chinese officials working on development projects in Balochistan and in FATA, were undertaken at the behest of India. Attacks on Imambargahs and targeting of Shia clerics and notables as well as acts of terror in Zahidan Province of Iran using Jindollah Group from Balochistan, were RAW-CIA-MI-6 sponsored to fan Shia-Sunni conflict and to mar Pak-Iran relations.
India has established Pakistan-specific Consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat and filled these up with RAW agents. Training centres have also been opened in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khwaja Ghar (Takher Province), Khost, Paktia, Urgun, Khandar, Spin Boldak, and Dranj (Badakhshan Province), while the so-called refugee camps for Balochistan dissidents were established in Kandahar, Spin Boldak, Helmand and Nimroz to train them for anti-Pakistan activities.
India also heavily engaged itself in different economic sectors of Afghanistan as part of the plan to cultivate its public opinion in its favour. Afghanistan, sitting on vast reserves of iron, copper, cobalt and gold, has already invited Indian companies to tap the nearly US$ one trillion's worth of minerals discovered as the two nations try to enhance and diversify their trade ties. The new Transit Trade Agreement would also affect Chinese commercial interests in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan as India can afford to spend a few hundred million dollars to subsidize its exports and capture these markets and those of CARs. I vividly remember that the late Seth Ahmad Dawood told me during a luncheon meeting about a month before his death in Karachi, “Mr. Malik I foresee a time will soon come when the whole of Pakistan will become a trading house for Indian goods because of the higher cost of production the local products would become totally uncompetitive. India will have a sway in Pakistan.”
How futuristic Indians systematically move towards their long-term plans is evident from what former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif told a gathering when he was the Prime Minister during his second stint that according to him, after the completion of Islamabad-Lahore Motorway India had offered to extend the Motorway up to Wagah crossing point which he very rightly politely rejected. This is to show that how Indian strategists had been planning towards “integration” of the region for the last many years.
And India is now aiming at securing a major role in post-withdrawal period in Afghanistan through active connivance of the United States despite (feeble) protests and reservations by Pakistan.
In addition to the reconstruction activities like building of roads by the Army-supervised construction companies, India has provided the services of teachers and professors in English and other subjects and has also expanded provision of health facilities in Afghanistan to create pro-India sentiments among the youth and the ordinary people there so as to have a strong lobby in the future emerging scenario. Here I would recall my breakfast meeting with Mr. Hamid Karzai during his visit to Pakistan on March 11, 2010 when, in reply to a question, the Afghan President bluntly stated that Afghanistan would continue to maintain in future a strong relationship with India. “India is our benefactor as it has given Afghanistan a grant of $1.5 billion,” Mr. Karzai said rather impolitely and firmly.
After the dismemberment of USSR, India had lost a big market and links with the Central Asian Republics but since then it has regained its foothold there through aggressive diplomacy and effective strategies. It is in Tajikistan particularly where India has taken quiet strides towards: (a) further its ambitions of becoming a regional power and (b) encircle Pakistan from the side of CARs also. It has established two of its military bases in Ayani Air Base, near Tajik capital Dushanbe and Farkhor, close to border with Afghanistan. When fully operational the Indian base will host 12 to 14 MiG-29 fighter-bombers. These Indian planes can reach Pakistan within minutes. This is a significant development because of geographical location of Tajikistan which borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and a narrow strip of Afghan territory separates it from Pakistan. According to defence analysts, from Tajikistan India would be in a position to strike Pakistan's rear in case of any conflict in future.
It is totally apathetic that no voice is being raised by Pakistanis, i.e. by the Government of Pakistan, our worthy politicians, think-tanks and, above all, the now all-vibrant media, against these Indian designs which are aimed at strangulating Pakistan. No one cares about and these extremely serious developments and quite visible threats to our security are going unnoticed in Pakistan.
Pakistan has always considered Afghanistan as a major component of its security. But at the end of the day India has succeeded in establishing itself as a major stakeholder in Afghanistan, and the US and the UK Governments are quite supportive to India in this regard.
I would ask where is that security of the backyard? To add to my and the nation's worries is the fatigue of the Army on the Eastern and Western borders as we have been pitted by the US and India on both sides. And the process goes on.
As far as the politicians are concerned, both within and outside the Government, I don't expect much from them because they have no ability and capacity to study and analyze the threats to this State of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. They are a bunch of inward looking pigmies fighting with each other for temporary petty gains. Regrettably, we also do not have the think-tanks with enlightened expertise in security and diplomacy who could carry out studies and advise the Government and the media which are most of the time gleefully engaged in highlighting the trivial issues. It is time that both the Government and the civil society realize the gravity of the escalating dangers to the security of the State and the economic viability of the country and plans for securing economic and security interests of the country in the emerging grim scenario.