Mirza Aslam Beg
WHILE talking to PM Nawaz Sharif, President Trump complemented him with the words “He is a terrific guy” and now uses the same words for the Egyptian Dictator, General Abul Fateh Al-Sisi.” These are symbolic words with deep meaning. General Al-Sisi, encouraged by America and Arab friends toppled the democratically elected Government of President Morsi, because the Ikhwanul Muslimeen led, “political Islam was not acceptable”, same as Afghan Mujahideen led Islamic State of Afghanistan is not acceptable. This is the conspiracy against Afghanistan and there may not be a role for our “terrific guy”, but there is a role for him within Pakistan.
The emerging situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan therefore demands a careful review, particularly in the light of the warning words of President Erdogan of Turkey: “that Pakistan has to be watchful of the Gulen like elements in Pakistan and the threat of Daçsh sponsored by enemies of Islam.” In fact, he is warning about the conspiracy against the world of Islam – the “Shock and awe” Crusade led by President Bush after 9/11 attack which led to occupation of Afghanistan and in the process destroyed and decimated countries like Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Now the instruments of aggression for achieving the objectives of this Crusade are more subtle, deceptive and dangerous. A kind of hybrid war has been imposed which cannot be won only by conventional means.
In 2007, the American government allocated a huge sum of money for “perception management of the Pakistani nation”, managed by the NGOs, to weaken the national resolve. Surprisingly the focus was on the moderate Pakistanis whereas the declared target were religious parties – the marginalized lot, who have no role in the matters of the state. Jamat-ud-Dawah (JUD) is the only exception. They are concentrating mainly on social welfare across the country, defining a political future for the party, which has unnerved the main-stream political parties of Pakistan, JUD is emerging like the Justice and Development Party (JDP) of Turkey and Ikhwanul Muslimeen of Egypt, who were swept away from power. Pre-emptive measures therefore are being taken in Pakistan to put a curb on JUD spreading its wings across the country. JUD relates to the people and their problems served through extensive welfare measures, which is the cause of their success. Putting restrictions on their leaders and workers would not deter them.
Perception management of the Pakistani nation has succeeded to the extent that the majority in Pakistan now hold liberal views and the government institutions are using the same prism to view the opposing forces like JUD and the Afghan Taliban, as terrorists. Taliban are fighting for the freedom of their country for the last over three decades, defeating the mightiest of the mighty – a feat which goes unparalleled in the history of mankind. While JUD has been restrained by the government for the fear that “they might become dangerous”, emerging as a challenging political force against their corruption ridden politics.”
Operation ‘Raddul Fasaad’ has been launched against the terrorists within the country and the Pakistani rebels’ operating from Afghanistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the operation which was promptly endorsed by USA, NATO and Afghanistan government. For sure our armed forces would soon flush-out the rebels from the border regions and then there would be the demand to “do more” against the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Group and others. Our government supports Ashraf Ghani’s government, which is part of American agenda in Afghanistan, whereas our armed forces cannot be drawn into engagement with Afghan Taliban, who remain undefeatable against most powerful of world and are firm in their resolve to win their freedom by sheer will power, deriving strength from their faith and belief in their ideology.
The Russians and the Chinese know this reality and have made friends with them. They will soon be meeting in Moscow to decide the future of Afghan conflict which is possible only through Intra-Afghan dialogue and engagement. Such a process was initiated by France in 2012 and was successful, but was not allowed to progress any further. The spread of Daçsh in Afghanistan is being sponsored from outside. The Afghan Taliban are the only force who can weed them out, and all other militant groups operating from Afghanistan, but by design Taliban are being restrained by the occupation forces, with the result that Daçsh now number over 15000 and is increasing by the day, creating existential threat to Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries.
No doubt this is a strategy of indirect approach against the Muslim countries and is more dangerous and ominous than the ‘shock and awe’ strategy of 9/11. President Trump has declared that he will defeat terrorism by defeating their ideology. Afghan freedom fighters have been called terrorists and it is their ideology, they are targeting. They better be reminded of the famous saying of the Chinese philosopher, that “do not take-on the revolutionaries, unless you have an ideology stronger than theirs.” And there is no ideology stronger than the ideology of Islam.
Pakistan is unprepared to face the hybrid warfare, launched by the enemy targeting Pakistan from within, through perception management; extremists and terrorists “as proxies for thousand cut strategy”, and to weaken our national resolve to face the challenges. It is time now for retrospection by Pakistan, rising above mundane prejudices and hollow claims. We have to face the reality with a cool mind and a heart filled with faith, belief and existentialism.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.