Isha khan’s Weblog


US anti-Islamic policies responsible for terrorism
July 1, 2008, 11:20 am
Filed under: Muslims
US anti-Islamic policies responsible for terrorism
Asif Haroon Raja

Till 9/11, all our Jihadis (now dubbed as extremists) were waging Jihad outside Pakistan, whether in Kashmir, Afghanistan , Chechnya or Kosovo. After terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Pakistan was roped in to fight the US sponsored war on terror to provide safety to USA located 10,000 miles away. In our bid to please the USA, we inducted 80,000 regular troops into the tribal belt and vigorously hunted and captured 600 Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives from our tribal belt and handed them over to the Americans without any trials in return for reward money. Many among the captured lot were later on repatriated being innocent. Military operations were also conducted to flush out foreign terrorist but in the process killed many innocent civilians. The army was primarily used to restrain the militants from crossing the border and fighting the foreign occupation troops in Afghanistan. All these unfriendly acts added to the resentment of the locals and a time came when Pak Army earned the ignominious name of a mercenary army operating at the behest of USA.

The Jihadists got sandwiched between US-NATO-Afghan forces and Pak troops. Caught between devil and deep sea, the militants under the leadership of Nek Muhammad and later under Abdullah Masud and then Baitullah Masud were left with no choice but to turn their guns inwards. CIA-RAW-RAM intelligence axis took advantage of the changed situation and exploited it to the hilt with a view to bog down our forces permanently, cause tribal-army estrangement and discredit the army. When casualties on both sides began to mount, elders of the affected area tried hard to convince the authorities to withdraw regular troops and not to meddle in their affairs. In return, they promised to meet most demands of the government. After several failed attempts of army backed Jirgas, the two sides agreed to restore peace on certain terms.

Once peace was restored after signing an agreement in February 2005 in South Waziristan, the army opened another front in North Waziristan on the pointing and nudging of USA. When things went out of control another agreement was signed on 15 August 2006 with the militants of that area to avoid bloodshed and restore normalcy. It was agreed to wind up check posts along the roadside and some forward posts. This arrangement did not suit our detractors and Pakistan came under ever-increasing pressure that increased militancy in Afghanistan was due to the peace agreements. It was also alleged that certain quarters within the army including the ISI were quietly supporting the Taliban. Under mounting US pressure the agreement was dishonoured and check posts were re-established and search and destroy missions against suspected hideouts of militants intensified.

After the US missile attack in Damadola in January 2006, things took an ugly turn when US predator fired missiles on a house in Bajaur in October killing almost all inmates. Rather than condemning the attack, Pak army took the blame, saying that own gun ships had attacked the hideout of terrorists. It incensed the locals further and they started to project the army as the private army of USA . They told their sons not to join the army of infidels and the religious Mullahs gave a fatwa that soldiers killed in action were not martyrs and unworthy of funeral prayers. On 26 August 2007 when US predator again attacked a suspected terrorist hideout in Bajaur and killed 19 innocent people, the government accepted it as a fait accompli and preferred to remain mum. Whatever little respect the army had was washed away after the brutal military operation against religious seminaries in Islamabad in July 2007 killing large number of innocent men, women and children. The grisly episode propelled the militants in North Waziristan to scrap the ten month old agreement on 15 July 2007 on the plea that the army had dishonoured it. They virtually declared war against the army and ever since the army is being targeted with impunity. Mohmand Agency also heated up where a mosque was named as Lal Masjid. The ISI and the commandoes involved in Lal Masjid operation and in the tribal belt and in kidnapping of religious elements were marked as their prime targets. This was evident from the deadly suicide attacks in Rawalpindi and in Tarbela.

After a lull period of over two years, South Waziristan became volatile once again from August 2007 and the peace accord was nullified by militants of Mahsud tribe on the pretext that the army had violated the accord by inducting more forces and conducting uncalled for operations. Several physical attacks and suicide bombing incidents took place including attacks on forts resulting in human losses on both sides. Although another peace accord was inked in November last but peace remained illusive. Four missile attacks by US drones against suspected targets in FATA have taken place in the last five months but have not evoked any reaction from the regime. Missile attack in Bajaur on 16 March which claimed 20 lives was launched despite US assurances not to indulge in such barbaric acts. This provocative step was initiated to scuttle ongoing peace talks between the militants and government. Yet another highly provocative act was undertaken by Nato-Afghan forces when they launched an aerial attack on a security post in Mohmand Agency on 10 June killing several soldiers and civilians. Soon after, Hamid Karzai threatened to send his troops into Fata to combat Baitullah led Taliban. US drones have intensified intrusive flights over the tribal belt while Indian drones have started to indulge in similar provocations in Lipa-Pandu-Chakothi sector in Azad Kashmir which I once commanded.

The security forces numbering 120,000 are involved in counter insurgency operations in Fata for the last five years and have lost more than 1200 combat soldiers without achieving any results. In fact the militants have become more aggressive and apart from attacking small posts, they are making use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers against moving convoys. Several incidents of kidnapping and ruthless beheading of soldiers by the militants took place in 2007. The army on the other hand used gun ship helicopters and artillery guns in support of ground operations which enhanced collateral damage. Even jet fighters were employed on few occasions. It led to large-scale displacement of people and brought untold suffering to the people of FATA and destroyed their fragile economy. These punitive acts added to the resentment of the tribals and in turn gave rise to Talibanisation which has spread to all the seven tribal Agencies and to nearby settled parts of NWFP. It is now slowly making inroads in Punjab as well.

Our troops have been fighting the militants under most adverse conditions. The regular troops were pushed into the tribal belt without any acclimatisation and training in guerrilla warfare. They had to contend with the reservations of the paramilitary troops who felt that their domain had been intruded and they had been relegated to lower position. Lack of intelligence and language problems were other problems faced. They did not know how to deal with suicide attacks or IEDs and had no night fighting capability. The jammers and night goggles provided by USA as late as 2006 were limited in quantity. The assigned targets were kept secret from the concerned unit till the last moment on the excuse of security leak leading to fleeing away of the intended prey. Based on the intelligence provided by CIA or FBI, they were given marching orders in the middle of the night to reach a particular area in quick time without disclosing the purpose. As a result, the attacking troops remained seriously handicapped with regard to reconnaissance of the target area, preparation and planning and kind of fire support needed. With such handicaps and lack of coordination between various elements, most attacks proved costly and unproductive.

While our leaders constantly blow up dangers of extremism and terrorism, most Pakistani do not buy their arguments. They believe that the US anti-Islamic policies and genocide of Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and also in FATA, together with Musharraf’s role to assist US forces in killing Muslim militants have fuelled religious extremism in Pakistan . They are of the view that the Americans are not fighting the war on terror to control militancy but to control natural resources of the Muslims. They are of the view that Pak army is being misused at the behest of America to fight its own people to protect US interests and not Pakistan ‘s interests. This impression is prevalent among the lower ranks of the army as well.

While the rulers and USA put the blame of every terrorist act on al-Qaeda or Baitullah led militants, the Taliban in Pakistan are not shunned by the public since they offer better system of governance and quick justice. The Taliban in Afghanistan had demonstrated their ability to make the restive country peaceful and drug free. In Fata and settled areas of NWFP the local Taliban have been able to control the miscreants and brought relief to the tribals by taking to task the criminals. This is contrary to the policy of our rulers and law enforcers who tend to protect the corrupt and criminals. The corrupt lower courts take years to decide cases and in most cases give verdicts in favour of the criminals.

The public does not fear the religious extremists and are not fearful of them. It is USA and our spineless secular leaders that are afraid of them. The people sympathies are with them since they consider them the real bearers of Islam and the only ones who can keep the perverse American influence and western culture at bay. They feel that the Islamists and not the nuclear capability is the best deterrence against foreign aggression. How can they forget the commendable role of the tribals in 1948 war? But for their voluntary intrusion, Azad Kashmir would also have become part of India . During the 1965 war and ten-year Afghan war, they zealously guarded the western border without army support. They are natural fighters and a great asset for the country but wrong policies of our leaders have turned the asset into liability.

The people feel that USA and India are behind terrorist acts to keep the army permanently engaged in the US war on terror. It is questioned as to why the BLA in Baluchistan with its leadership residing in Kabul is being backed by RAW-RAM-CIA-Mosad-MI-6 axis of evil based in Kabul . It is an open secret that the military bases provided to US forces in Baluchistan in October 2001 are being misused for clandestine operations in Baluchistan . Thousands of FBI and CIA agents are still operating unchecked in Pakistan under the plea of nabbing terrorists. The MQM, which indulges in terrorism is patronised by USA , UK and India. The Islamists feel that Musharraf is an American lapdog and as long as he remains at the helm of affairs, Islam will be in danger; hence their moral and religious obligation to rid the Islamic State of an evil through violent means. They add that Musharraf has been fighting this futile war not to end militancy but to prolong his stay in power.

There is a widely held perception that USA will continue with its efforts to keep the pot of Baluchistan simmering so as to prevent Gwadar from becoming a seaport with the assistance of China , and to create misgivings between Iran and Pakistan . It will also keep stoking the fires of militancy in FATA, and NWFP to keep the leadership on the tenterhooks and make it fight the losing battle of terrorism irrespective of its consequences and thus pave the way for denuclearisation and destabilisation of Pakistan . Nuclear proliferation card will also be played off and on to keep Pakistan under pressure.

Peace deals have irked US Administration and it is trying hard to rupture the developing understanding between security forces and militants. Americans have got so used to receiving positive response to every command that they are finding it difficult to reconcile with changed tone and responses. The new army chief Gen Kayani is also not showing any inclination of emulating his predecessor. Without a willing COAS saying ?yes’ to every command of Pentagon, the US war on terror might run into snags. Had Kayani agreed to play their game, they would have dumped Musharraf by now. In order to build pressure on Pakistan , while Karzai will maintain his aggressive stance, sooner than later India will come out in its true colours and start heating up the LoC in Kashmir. Insurgency in Baluchistan might be intensified to tie down our forces in the south.

It is believed that docility and policy of appeasement of Musharraf has encouraged USA to interfere in our internal affairs. Since the whole wrath of war on terror has befallen upon the Pashtun, they rightly feel aggrieved. There is an urgent need to redress their grievances who believe that they have been given a raw deal. It is now to be seen how the new government tackles the issue of militancy at home and the lurking external threats. It has made a good beginning by opting for dialogue instead of use of force. However, if it also tries to please USA by subdividing the people of FATA and holding talks only with those willing to surrender arms, it should not hope for any positive outcome. In that case the youth of Fata and Pashtun areas will gravitate towards the neo-Taliban rather than standing up against them. Without public support, extremism cannot be defeated. The real test of the new leaders is how they manage to win over the armed militants and convince them to live as law abiding peaceful citizens. Our sovereignty that is being gradually eroded since 2006 must be protected at all cost and all aggressive intrusions must be promptly replied in the same coin.

(The writer is a retired Brig from Pakistan Army and author of several books. He is an analyst on security and political matters.)

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at bdmailer@gmail.com

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