07
February

Kashmir: Call of the Invisible!

Published in Hilal English

Mushaal Hussein Mullick


Just imagine a woman who is a wife and a widow at the same time: she does not know where her spouse is; whether he is dead or alive; would he ever return home or not? Or a mother, who continuously hopes to hear the footsteps of her son, is stuck in a life of hope and fear. A child who is unable to decide if he or she is not fatherless or an orphan, with curious eyes constantly glued to the door and a sister watching outside from her window with never-ending tears in her eyes searching for her missing brother. Sadly, these people have extraordinary titles as they face extraordinary challenges. They are the half-widows, half-mothers, half-orphans and half-siblings of the society. They have very little left to say. Their only choice is to keep on searching for the traces of their loved ones who have entirely vanished from the face of earth. The impacts of dealing with such enforced disappearances and invisibility are far deeper compared to seeing the spilled blood of their loved one.

 

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The saying ‘hope never dies’ fits perfectly with Kashmir’s missing persons saga. The only faith that clings to families searching for their kith and kin and not having seen or recovering the dead bodies of their loved is and the hope that they may still be alive. Most of the emotional, psychological and financial burden is carried by the Kashmiri women: the mothers, the daughters, the wives and sisters of such missing individuals. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) headed by Parveena Ahanger is an organization that seeks the whereabouts of the missing persons. She herself is a mother of Javaid, a member of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front who went missing in 1992. Ever since, her untiring journey began to find the clues, to the whereabouts of her missing son. In the process it brought her in contact with thousands of families from Kashmir facing identical challenges and obstacles in pursuing the whereabouts of their relatives.

 

30th August each year marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances to show solidarity with the victims of the worst form of human rights violation. According to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, ‘No circumstances whatsoever, whether a threat of war, a state of war, political unrest, public emergency may be involved to justify enforced disappearances’. Such days for victims are only another painful and catastrophic reminder of what they have been robbed of or what has been snatched from them.

 

While missing persons is not a new notion to the Kashmir conflict, nonetheless the ratio has kept rising at an alarming rate in the current years. Even though Indian state’s inhumane behavior in Occupied Kashmir is decades old but if we take a close view of the figures ranging from January 1989 to December 31, 2018 the statistics are quite gruesome and shocking. According to Kashmir Media Service Report, during this period 94,888 innocent people have been killed; custodial deaths are 7,099; 143,048 structures destroyed; 22,862 women widowed; 107,676 children orphaned; and 11,036 women were gang raped/molested by the Indian troops. Killings, arrests and enforced disappearances have also continuously been reported during these periods.

 

India has left no stone unturned using all sort of barbarism to suppress Kashmiris’ legitimate right to self-determination but has failed to break the will of the Kashmiri people. The presence of such a large number of Indian troops certainly incite unnecessary incidents of violence which further aggravate the plight of populace, serves as an explanation for warlike situations, violation of ceasefire line, draconian laws, disappeared persons, half-widows, half-mothers, rape victims, economic blockades, lockdowns and curfews that last for weeks-on-end.

 

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights established the working group in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared relatives. India signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in February 2007; however, it miserably failed to abide by the laws of the convention.

 

‘Missing Persons’ terminology is quintessential criminal act that was first adopted by Adolf Hitler in his Nacht und Nebel Erlass (Night and Fog Decree) of December 7, 1941. The single-mindedness of this decree was to seize persons in occupied territories “imperiling German security” who were not immediately executed and were taken secretly to Germany, where they disappeared without a trace. German authorities banned officials from providing any information in order to achieve the desired intimidating effect. The same tact was practiced in Latin America in 1970s and 1980s.

 

Under international law, forced disappearances (or enforced disappearances), as they are officially called, are considered one of the most serious violations of the fundamental rights of human beings as well as a “sin to human dignity and self-respect” and “a grave and abominable offense against the intrinsic dignity of the human race.”

 

The United Nations General Assembly has said that forced disappearance “constitutes an offence to humanity, a grave and flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and a violation of the rules of international law.”

 

Kashmir has the highest number of half-widows in the world. The irony is that those involved in such crimes are the ones offering justice. What relief or compensation can the families of such victims expect from them? The NOKs (Next of Kins) of missing persons of Kashmir urgently call upon the global community to respond and end the sufferings of millions incarcerated without trace. Kashmiris appeal for prompt initiatives in accordance with the international laws and norms. One major element specific to enforced disappearances is that it deprives these innocent victims from all kinds of protection from law, accountability and quite conveniently veils such gross violations out of public sight and the occupying state frees itself from all radars of scrutiny.

 

Such blatant human rights violations will jeopardize the regional and global peace and there can be no enduring political settlement in Kashmir if human rights abuses which have fueled the insurgency are not addressed by the global community at the highest levels.

 

In Kashmir people vanish and land in unmarked graves. There is every possible link of unidentified dead bodies being buried in various unmarked graves with the victims of enforced disappearances. The UN has warned India many a times that Kashmiri families have the right to know the truth of how, when, where and why a disappeared person is found dead, the right to have the remains of their loved ones and to give them the burial rights in accordance with the International Humans Rights Charter, traditions, culture and religion of the said area. Ironically all have turned a deaf ear to the plight of the Kashmiris while India shamefully still champions herself as the largest democracy of the world and a peace loving country. Most often these missing persons all over the world particularly in Kashmir are referred to as some mysterious ghostly creatures spiriting between life and death. There appears to be law of the jungle prevailing in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The question is that can the world really afford to remain indifferent to such forms of consistent crimes of making human beings invisible which is by far worse than all forms of slavery, arbitrary detention, genocide, torture, ethnic discrimination, slave trade and murder. The voiceless cry from the missing persons of the Kashmir Valley is: When will the world listen and respond to cries of millions who have gone missing in Indian Occupied Kashmir?

 

The writer is Chairperson of Peace and Culture Organization and wife of Kashmiri freedom fighter Yasin Malik.

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Twitter: @MushaalMullick

 
09
January

Reigniting the Water Wars

Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai

In the event of a war, states are entitled to suspend treaties, including diplomatic relations by invoking Article 62 of the Vienna Convention. If India or Pakistan consider revoking the treaty, it is itself signaling an act of war. This will equip both the countries with the right under international law to take up any other coercive or non-coercive measure as an act of reprisal. This is not a pretty picture. Perhaps India should also be mindful of the fact that China is an upper-riparian country in Indus and Brahmaputra basins.

What’s ticking between Pakistan and India is not the nuclear bomb, but the water bomb. For years international relations strategists have warned that wars in the future would be over resources. Post-recent tensions in South Asia, Prime Minister Narendera Modi suspended meetings of the committee that oversees water sharing between India and Pakistan, using water as a diplomatic weapon. International experts are of the view that Delhi is using the water issue to put pressure on Pakistan in the dispute over Kashmir. The Indian strategy is to build huge storage facilities and canals over and around the rivers that flow through Indian administered Kashmir but most of the water is allotted to Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty. The 56 year old treaty is under strain, and Modi’s stance and strategy is not conducive to its continuity. Like it is said, sharing the waters of the Cauvery has been an issue for decades but it is particularly contentious now. The latest development is that Pakistan has yet again approached the World Bank to address the violation of the Treaty by India. India has successfully stalled the appointment of the chairman of the Arbitration Court of Justice, which Pakistan had requested, by immediately moving in with a request for a neutral expert.


This new twist to the treaty has come at a time when Modi government has chosen to publicly threaten Pakistan with the abrogation of the treaty. India is threatening to cut Pakistan’s water access. The 56 year-old water sharing agreement has run into trouble as tensions have escalated between the rivals, post-Uri attack. Statements by Prime Minister Modi calling for a review of the Treaty where he said that blood and water cannot flow together, and then hinting at revoking the treaty were seen as confirmation of these apprehension.


However, this is not new. India has been following a policy of ‘dewatering Pakistan’ since long. India already has 20 hydro projects on the three western rivers allocated to Pakistan. It is now building another 10 and more are being planned.


In the past also, Islamabad has complained to the international court that the dam in the Gurez Valley, one of dozens planned by India, will affect Pakistan’s river flow and is illegal. The court had halted any permanent work on the river for the moment but India got the permission to continue tunneling and building other associated projects. In 1987, upon Pakistan’s objection, Delhi had to suspend the Tulbul Navigation Project on the Jhelum River. As per a BBC report, sources within Indian Water Resources Ministry have hinted that the project could now be revived. As part of Modi’s aggressive water policy, this will directly have an impact on Pakistan’s agriculture.


The former chairman of Indus River System Authority, Engineer Fateh Ullah Khan Gandapur said on record that India is using water as a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to convert Pakistan into a desert and is diverting the entire flow into the Indian territory of Rajasthan. Salman Bashir, former foreign secretary of Pakistan, categorically said that diversion of Indus water by India will lead to war. Prime Minister Modi in one of his pre-election speeches in Batinda said that water that belongs to India should remain in India. Diverting the waters of Indus is not realistically possible, and cannot be done without triggering a war between the two countries.


Pakistan, India and Afghanistan Water Triangle
India has also tried to use its influence to start interfering with the flow of water from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Islamabad has shown its concern over New Delhi’s increased help to Kabul for development of a number of storages on the Kabul River without addressing Pakistan’s concerns. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his visit to Afghanistan back in 2011 had pledged $1.5bn in development assistance, with special interest in dam-building on the Kabul River. This commitment, apart from other heads, is meant for building 14 small and medium dams with total water storage capacity of 7.4MAF. International financial institutions including the World Bank have agreed to provide $7.079bn for these projects. In 2016, Indian experts completed the feasibility and detailed engineering of 12 projects to be built on River Kabul. If these 12 projects are completed, they will store 4.7 million acre feet of water, squeezing river flows to Pakistan. Moreover, in the absence of major dams in Pakistan, Pakistan will eventually end up buying electricity from Afghanistan, which may be the underlying purpose of this extensive 12 dam plan of the Afghan government with Indian collaboration. India and Afghanistan are actively exploring Chenab like run of the river projects on Afghanistan eastern rivers as a strategic offensive against Pakistan. Pakistan does not have any water treaty with Afghanistan. The rules governing flow of Afghanistan’s eastern rivers, mainly Kabul, Kunar and Chitral into Pakistan are just some internationally accepted principles. Pakistan in retaliation had hinted at diverting Chitral River before its entry into Afghanistan in the event of attempts made to deprive it of its due share. The strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the constant Indian manipulation of the conflict also has Pakistan’s water security at stake. A latest policy brief by Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan titled “Hydro-diplomacy between Pakistan and Afghanistan” says “planned water projects on Kabul River by upper-riparian Afghanistan will adversely affect lower-riparian Pakistan. It is critically important to arrive at a consensus by understanding issues, maintaining historical rights and arriving at benefit sharing options for both countries through the use of Kabul River waters.”

 

We need to showcase our water vision for the future which includes not only raising objections to what India is doing but having a water conservation plan and a strategy to respond to climate change. Pakistan’s water security is intrinsically linked to its food security. In Pakistan little or no dams are being constructed and to add insult to injury the two largest dams are silting.

India has never underestimated the significance of river waters to strengthen its geostrategic interests in the region. It is now working on a double-squeeze water policy against Pakistan by constantly building on the western rivers in occupied Kashmir and facilitating projects on the Kabul River. The establishment in Delhi has a very aggressive water mindset towards Pakistan. It has under successive governments, talked about reviewing the Treaty “to teach Pakistan a lesson”. Modi is just more vocal about it.


The statement by P.M. Modi was not taken lightly by Pakistan, and it immediately approached the World Bank to appoint a chairman for the Court of Arbitration because Pakistan claims that the design of the 330 MW Kishanganga Project violated the treaty. India followed with the demand for the appointment of a neutral expert. The World Bank’s take on the situation is that both processes initiated by the respective countries were advancing at the same time, creating a risk of contradictory outcomes that potentially endanger the Treaty. Thus, the pause is to address this impasse. Arbitration has been halted over two Indian hydro-electric projects on the Chenab River; 850 MW Ratle and 330 MW Kishanganga. The World Bank has counseled bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan. It has urged both the countries to sort out differences and problems by January 2017. The bank had initially agreed to initiate both the processes simultaneously, but decided to pause them post Indian objection.


India has welcomed the decision and is ready to talk to Pakistan bilaterally to resolve the issue. This sudden desire to talk to Pakistan over water has arised because it suits India for several reasons to achieve its end objectives. One; India has initiated this new twist in the Treaty by continuous violation and hurling threats at Pakistan. Two; India has been stonewalling all initiative for dialogue except on the Treaty, this happened only after the issue was taken to the World Bank. More interestingly, India has habitually sidelined the permanent Indus Commission, established under Article VIII of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), the primary channel of communication between the two countries. Now the question arises why this sudden desire to resolve the water issue through dialogue? It is also important to note here that India, which is ready for bilateral negotiation with Pakistan after Pakistan approached the World Bank, had even suspended routine bi-annual talks between the Indus Commissions of the two countries, and had taken a principle decision to restart work on the Tulbul Navigation Project on the Jhelum.


The last time bilateral dialogue on the Treaty brought some success was in 1978. The situation between India and Pakistan is different today and we are in state of dispute paralysis. The trust deficit between the two countries is at its highest level. The LoC keeps blowing hot and cold. The theatre of conflict now also includes Afghanistan. Indian opposition to CPEC is an open secret. The atmospherics for dialogue to resolve a contentious issue, like water seem unlikely.


The Indian strategy of continuous building of projects and at the same time, threatening Pakistan with revoking of the Treaty and resorting to dialogue only are a time-gaining strategy because of international pressure to achieve its nefarious designs, does not induce any confidence. Pakistan has made it clear that it will not accept any modification or changes in the IWT. Pakistan’s reaction to the World Bank brokered pause is not positive. Since it is seen as an Indian strategy of gaining time to continue building, till it becomes fate accomplished. A review of the Treaty is also not acceptable to Pakistan. The review, as already stated by Indian experts, is aimed at more rights over the western rivers, which is Pakistan’s agriculture’s lifeline.


Legal status of the Treaty
Ahmer Bilal Soofi, an eminent Pakistani lawyer’s take on the Treaty is that “The Treaty has no provision for unilateral “suspension”. It is of an indefinite duration and was never intended to be time-specific, event-specific or regime-specific — but rather state-specific. It will not expire with regime change. It is binding on both the states equally and offers no exit provision. The Treaty survived the two wars as well as other Pakistan-India conflicts because none of them was termed a war under international law.


In the event of a war, states are entitled to suspend treaties, including diplomatic relations by invoking Article 62 of the Vienna Convention. If India or Pakistan consider revoking the Treaty, it is itself signaling an act of war. This will equip both the countries with the right under international law to take up any other coercive or non-coercive measure as an act of reprisal”. This is not a pretty picture. Perhaps India should also be mindful of the fact that China is an upper-riparian country in Indus and Brahmaputra basins.


India is playing with fire using water as a tool of aggressive diplomacy to mount pressure on Pakistan. Using a mutually used resource to gain geo-strategic advantage is a recipe for trouble. On the other hand Pakistan should not take this lightly. India has time and again successfully manipulated the World Bank brokerage to its advantage because of Pakistan’s delayed response and weak water diplomacy. Pakistan needs to put its act together now, both internally and externally. Giving foreign policy statements, largely just for the consumption of the internal audience without any real plan on the ground, will not work. We need to showcase our water vision for the future which includes not only raising objections to what India is doing but having a water conservation plan and a strategy to respond to climate change. Pakistan’s water security is intrinsically linked to its food security. In Pakistan little or no dams are being constructed and to add insult to injury the two largest dams are silting. Pakistani authorities have so far done nothing to develop water uses on River Kabul. There is also no progress on the Munda dam. It paints a very grim picture of our water resources, like it is said, wars in today’s world are not fought on the conventional front but on the diplomatic, intellectual and economic front.

 

The writer is an eminent analyst and anchor person. She is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at IBA, Karachi.

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10
January

باہمی تعاون مگر پاکستان کی قیمت پر نہیں

تحریر: ڈاکٹر ماریہ سلطان

نیوکلیئر سپلائیرز گروپ اگرچہ ایک غیر روایتی نظام ہے تاہم ٹیکنالوجی کو کنٹرول میں رکھنے کا ایک اہم ذریعہ ہے۔روایتی طور پر اس سے نہ صرف حساس ٹیکنالوجی کی تجارت کو منضبط کیا جاتا رہا ہے بلکہ اسی نظام کے ذریعے تمام ہائی ٹیک مواد کی بین الاقوامی تجارت بھی ضابطہ کار میں لائی جاتی رہی ہے۔ دو الگ الگ فہرستوں میں تقسیم اس نظام کا ایک حصہ نیوکلیائی ٹیکنالوجی اور نیوکلیائی ہتھیاروں کے عدم پھیلاؤ کی صراحت کرتا ہے جب کہ دوسرے حصے میں بنیادی خام مال اور اہم مادوں ،جیسے بسمتھ، ایلومینیم وغیرہ، کی تجارت کا کنٹرول شامل ہے۔ مذکورہ دھاتیں اور دیگر نیوکلیائی مواد اور ٹیکنالوجی کسی بھی ملک کی ہائی ٹیک صنعت کی بقا کے لئے انتہائی اہمیت کی حامل ہیں۔ اس لئے نیوکلیئر سپلائیرز گروپ کی اہمیت اور اندیشے ان دونوں درجوں میں آزادانہ تجارت سے جڑے ہوئے ہیں۔


تاہم گزشتہ چند سالوں سے اس ادارے کی غیر جانب داری اور موثر رہنے کے بارے میں شکوک و شبہات جنم لے رہے ہیں۔ ان شکوک کی بنیادی وجہ ہندوستان کو اس گروپ کا ممبر بنانے کے لئے کی جانے والی امریکہ کی جانب سے کوششوں کا بہت عمل دخل ہے۔ گزشتہ چند سالوں میں امریکہ نے انتہائی جانبداری اور لاپروائی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے انڈیا کے ساتھ نہ صرف نیوکلیئر کے میدان میں باہمی تعاون کے معاہدے کئے اور اس کو نیوکلیئرسپلائیر گروپ کی ممبر شب دلانے کے لئے پہلے سے طے شدہ قوانین کو بائی پاس کرنے کی کوشش کی بلکہ اس باہمی تعاون کے منفی اثرات پاکستان کے نیوکلیئر پروگرام پر بھی پڑنے شروع ہو گئے۔اب نہ صرف پاکستان کو نیوکلیئرسپلائیر گروپ کا ممبر بنانے کی، میڈیا بشمول سوشل میڈیا کے ایک مذموم مہم شروع کر دی گئی ہے بلکہ پاکستان کے نیوکلیئر پروگرام، جس کی سکیورٹی ایک مسلمہ امر ہے، اس پر بھی حملے کئے جا رہے ہیں۔


ایک طرف تو بھارت کو نیوکلیئر سیفٹی کے ضمن میں بدترین ریکارڈ اور جوہری عدمِ پھیلاؤ کے عالمی معاہدے پر دستخط نہ کرنے کے باوجود نیوکلیئرسپلائیر گروپ کی رکنیت دی جارہی ہے جب کہ دوسری طرف پاکستان کے صنعتی اداروں کو غیرروایتی ذرائع استعمال کرتے ہوئے اپاہج کرنے کی منصوبہ بندی کی جارہی ہے۔ سوشل میڈیا اور غیر روایتی پروپیگنڈے کا مذموم مقاصد کے لئے استعمال نہ صرف شرمناک بلکہ معتبر عالمی اداروں کی ساکھ پر سوالیہ نشان کا باعث بھی بنے گا۔ پاکستان کے لئے یہ قطعی طور پر ناقابلِ قبول اور غیر منصفانہ طرزِ عمل ہے۔ اس سے جہاں ہماری مختصر اور طویل مدتی صنعتی ضروریات اور توانائی کے حصول کی کوششوں کو زِک پہنچے گی اس کے ساتھ ساتھ پاکستان کے دفاع کے لئے انتہائی اہم نیوکلیئر صلاحیت کو مذموم پروپیگنڈے کے ذریعے داغ دار کرنے کی کوشش اور نیوکلیئر سپلائیرز گروپ کی اتفاقِ رائے کی روایت ، اس کی دوہری ٹیکنالوجی کی تجارت کو متاثر کرنے کی اہلیت اور بھارت امریکہ کا گٹھ جوڑ، پاکستان کی ترقی کی کوششوں پر بری طرح اثر انداز ہو سکتا ہے۔دونوں ملکوں کی جانب سے نیوکلیئرسپلائیرز گروپ کے پلیٹ فارم کو استعمال کرنے کے یہ خدشات نہ صرف ترقی کے لئے ہمارے مشرق کے ساتھ اشتراک کو متاثر کریں گے بلکہ ہمارے ملک کی مستقبل میں تجارت نیز پاکستان اور امریکہ کے باہمی تعلقات پر بھی بُرے اثرات ڈالیں گے۔


جنیوا میں این ایس جی کے حوالے سے گفت و شنید اور بھارتی وزیرِاعظم کی این ایس جی میں شمولیت کی شاطرانہ کوششوں کو اس وقت شدید دھچکا لگا جب یہ انکشاف ہوا کہ نو بھارتی ادارے نیوکلیئرٹیکنالوجی کے حوالے سے خلاف ورزیوں کی وجہ سے حالیہ عرصے میں امریکہ کی درآمدی کنٹرول کی فہرست کا حصہ تھے۔ اس تمام کے باوجود موجودہ اوبامہ انتظامیہ اپنے آخری ایام میں بھارت کی نیوکلیئرسپلائیرز گروپ کی رکنیت کے حصول میں مدد کر رہی ہے۔ ساتھ ہی پاکستان کے نیوکلیئرپروگرام کے خلاف کسی معتبر شہادت کے بغیر ہی سوشل میڈیا اور انٹیلی جنس رپورٹوں کی بنیاد پرپاکستان کی جانب سے اٹھائے گئے اہم اقدامات کے بارے میں شکوک و شبہات پیدا کرنے کی کوششیں کی جارہی ہیں۔


نیوکلیئرسپلائیر گروپ میں شمولیت ہو یا دیگر نیوکلیئر سے متعلق معاملات پاکستانی قوم کے خدشات بے بنیاد نہیں بلکہ اس کی ایک تازہ مثال اوبامہ انتظامیہ کی جانب سے سات پاکستانی گروپس اور اداروں پر پابندی کا اعلان ہے۔ یو ایس ڈیپارٹمنٹ آف کامرس نے ان سات
Entities
کو ایک نوٹیفکیشن کے تحت
Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
کی فہرست میں شامل کیا ہے۔ تاہم یہ امر باعث تشویش اورمجرمانہ تعصب کی نشاندہی کرتا ہے کہ اس پابندی کا باعث بننے والی کسی بھی وجوہ کا ذکر نہیں کیا گیا ہے۔ موجودہ امریکی انتظامیہ کی جانب سے اپنے آخری مہینوں میں برتے گئے اس تعصب سے مستقبل میں دونوں ملکوں کے تعلقات شدید متاثر ہونے کا خدشہ ہے۔ اس لئے پاکستانی اداروں کی فہرست میں شمولیت کا ازسرِ نو جائزہ لینے کی اشد ضرورت ہے۔


غیرمصدقہ اور مشکوک ذرائع جیسا کہ سوشل میڈیا، تجارتی ویب سائٹوں، انٹیلی جنس رپورٹوں اور وکی لیکس کی بنیاد پر تیار کردہ الفا پروجیکٹ پر شکوک کے بادل چھائے ہوئے ہیں۔ اس مشکوک رپورٹ کی بنیاد پاکستان کے پروگرام کے بارے میں شکوک و شبہات اور خدشات پیدا کئے جار ہے ہیں۔ ایسی رپورٹوں سے نہ صرف پاکستان کی نیوکلیئرسپلائر گروپ میں شمولیت کا کیس پیچیدہ ہوجائے گابلکہ نئی امریکی انتظامیہ کے ساتھ باہمی تعاون کی کوششوں کو بھی نقصان پہنچے گا۔ ایسے ذرائع پر بھروسہ کرکے تشکیل دی گئی رپورٹ میں کالعدم اداروں کی فہرست میں شمولیت یا پاکستان کے نیوکلیئرپروگرام کے بارے میں تشویش پیدا کرنے کا جواز نہیں بنایا جانا چاہئے۔ پاکستانی کمپنیوں کی امریکہ کے کالعدم اداروں کی فہرست میں شمولیت ، جیسا کہ الفا رپورٹ میں تذکرہ کیا گیا، پاکستان کی دفاعی ، نیوکلیائی اور عمومی صنعتوں کو بری طرح متاثر کرے گی۔


مذکورہ پروجیکٹ کا بظاہر مذموم مقصد مخصوص عناصر کے ایما پر پروپیگنڈا کو بنیاد بنا کر پاکستانی معیشت کے لئے ریڑھ کی ہڈی کی حیثیت رکھنے والی صنعتوں کو نشانہ بنانا ہے۔ مزید برآں یہ رپورٹ موجودہ امریکی انتظامیہ کی جانب سے مستقبل کی امریکی انتظامیہ کے ساتھ پاکستان کے تعلقات پیچیدہ تر بنانے کی کوشش بھی ہے۔
پاکستان امریکہ کے ساتھ باہمی تعاون پر مبنی تعلقات قائم کرنے کا خواہش مند ہے اور پاکستان نیوکلیئرسپلائیرز گروپ کے معیارِ اہلیت پر پورا اترتا ہے۔ بے بنیاد،کمزور اور مشکوک معلومات کو بنیاد بنا کر امریکہ کی جانب سے پابندیوں کے شکار اداروں کی فہرست میں توسیع پاکستان کی تجارت اور ترقی پر منفی اثرات ڈالے گی۔ اس طریقے سے بغیر کسی اصول اور معیار کے بین الاقوامی برآمدی کنٹرولز کو سیاسی مقاصد کے حصول کے لئے استعمال کرنا باعثِ تشویش ہے۔ اسی طرح اگر بھارت کو ایٹمی ہتھیاروں کا پھیلاؤ روکنے کا قانوناً پابند نہیں کیا جاتا تو اس سے سب سے زیادہ نقصان نان این پی ٹی ممالک کو ہی ہو گا۔


پروجیکٹ الفا کے ذریعے یہ کوشش کی جا رہی ہے کہ پاکستان کو این ایس جی کی ممبرشپ نہ دی جائے اور یہ بے بنیاد تاثر دیا جارہا ہے کہ پاکستان خفیہ طور پر ایٹمی اور میزائل ٹیکنالوجی کے حصول کے لئے کوشاں ہے۔ پروجیکٹ الفا نہ صرف ٹھوس مواد سے محروم ہے بلکہ اس میں توازن کا خیال بھی نہیں رکھا گیا اور بظاہر اس پروجیکٹ کے ذریعے امریکہ۔ بھارت دفاعی صنعتوں کے مابین تعاون میں اضافے کے لئے راہ ہموار کرنا اور بھارت کو نیوکلیئرسپلائیرز گروپ کی رکنیت دینے کی کوشش ہے۔غیر روایتی نیٹ ورکس اور میڈیا میں چلائی جار ہی اس مسلسل مہم کا مقصد پاکستان کے دفاع،نیوکلیئر اور ہائی ٹیک صنعت کے خلاف پروپیگنڈا کرنا ہے جو کہ اصل حقائق سے قطعی مختلف ہے۔


بدقسمتی سے بھارت اور امریکہ کا باہمی تعاون بھارت کے لئے این ایس جی کی رکنیت کی درخواست تک محدود نہیں ہے بلکہ اس کاپس پردہ محرک دونوں ملکوں کے مابین دفاعی تجارت اور ٹیکنالوجی میں تعاون بھی ہے۔ اس تعاون کی چار جہتیں ہیں یعنی یو اے ویز
(Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
کی بھارت میں پیداوار،بحرِ ہند میں بھارتی بالادستی کے لئے اقدامات،ایف سولہ کی فراہمی کا دفاعی معاہدہ اور جیٹ پروپلژن سسٹم جس سے بھارت اور امریکہ کے درمیان ہمیشہ کے لئے دفاعی معاہدہ تشکیل پا جائے گا۔


اسی طرح بھارت اور اسرائیل کا بری ،فضائی اور بحری فوجی تعاون بشمول انٹیلی جنس کا تبادلہ بھی جاری ہے۔ موساد اور را کے مابین تعاون صرف انٹیلی جنس کے تبادلے تک محدود نہیں بلکہ اسرائیل بھارتی فوجیوں کو سرجیکل سٹرائیکس کا اہل بنانے کے لئے تربیت بھی دے رہا ہے۔ دونوں ملکوں کے دفاعی اور سکیورٹی مفادات مشترکہ ہوتے جارہے ہیں جس کے نتیجے میں دونوں ملک وسیع پیمانے پر تعاون کررہے ہیں۔ جن میں بھارتی فضائیہ کے لئے جدید لڑاکا سسٹمز کی فراہمی،طویل فاصلے تک نشاندہی کرنے والے ٹریکنگ راڈار، زمین سے فضا میں طویل فاصلے تک مار کرنے والے میزائل،بحریہ کو جدید جنگی کشتیوں کی فراہمی اور بہتری میں تعاون، اینٹی سب میرین ہیلی کاپٹروں کے لئے تعاون،جاسوس سٹیلائٹ اور اینٹی بالسٹک میزائل ٹیکنالوجی میں تعاون شامل ہے۔ بھارت اور اسرائیل کے درمیان دفاعی اور ہائی ٹیک صنعتوں میں تعاون تقریباً نو ارب ڈالر تک پہنچ چکا ہے۔ دونوں ملک کشمیر میں مشترکہ طور پرپُر امن جدوجہدِ آزادی کو دبانے کے لئے کوشاں ہیں۔ سوشل میڈیا کے ذریعے پاکستان کو نیوکلیئر دھمکیاں انتہائی غیر ذمہ دارانہ طرزِ عمل ہے۔ اپنے مقاصد کے حصول کے لئے پروپیگنڈا مہم اور سوشل میڈیا کواستعمال کرنے میں ماہر اسرائیل کی وزارتِ دفاع کو چاہئے تھا کہ اسلام آباد کی طرف سے ردِ عمل آنے سے قبل ہی پاکستان کو دی جانے والی دھمکیوں سے لاتعلقی کا اعلان کردیتی۔ تاہم جس
Website
نے اسرائیلی دھمکی والی خبر دی تھی اس کی تردید کرنے میں اسرائیل نے 96گھنٹے کی تاخیر کی۔ یہ تاخیر معاملے کی حساسیت کو دیکھتے ہوئے بلاوجہ نہیں تھی بلکہ حالیہ دھمکی سوشل میڈیا کو بطورِ ذریعہ استعمال کرنے اور اسے علمی مباحثے کا حصہ بنا کر حقیقی صورتِ حال کا تاثر دینے کی بہترین مثال ہے۔


پاکستان کے دفاع، ہائی ٹیک صنعتوں اور نیوکلیئرپروگرام کے خلاف ایسے غیرمحفوظ ذرائع سے قائم کیا گیا تاثر قطعی ناقابلِ قبول ہے۔ سیاسی بنیادوں پر پابندیوں کو وسعت دینا اور بھارت امریکہ اور بھارت اسرائیل دفاعی تعاون پاکستان کے لئے مزید پیچیدگیاں پیدا کر رہا ہے۔ بھارت اور امریکہ کا یہ تعاون اپنے مقاصد کو عملی جامہ پہنانے کے لئے کسی بھی ملک کو دہشت گردی کے نام پر نشانہ بنانے کے لئے بھی استعمال ہو سکتا ہے۔ مزید برآں امریکہ کی جانب سے بھارت کو ہائی ٹیک تجارت اور حساس ٹیکنالوجی کے میدان میں تعاون فراہم کیا جارہا ہے اور دوسری طرف پاکستان کو نان ٹیرف اور ٹیرف رکاوٹوں کے ذریعے ننانوے اعشاریہ آٹھ فیصد رسائی سے محروم کیا جا رہاہے۔


دلچسپ امر یہ ہے کہ امریکہ نے بھارت کے اصرار پر ان نو بھارتی اداروں کو پابندی کے شکار اداروں کی فہرست سے نکال دیا ہے جونیوکلیئر ٹیکنالوجی کے حوالے سے غیر قانونی سرگرمیوں میں ملوث رہے ہیں۔ جس سے بھارت پر عائد تجارتی پابندیاں ہٹا لی گئی ہیں۔ یہ تمام ادارے بھارت کے میزائل اور خلائی پروگرام پر دن رات عمل پیرا ہیں۔
بھارت کی این ایس جی میں شمولیت کے لئے امریکہ اس لئے بھی بھرپور کوششیں کر رہا ہے کہ بھارت اور امریکہ کی صنعت مشترک ہوگی جس سے بھارت کے بغیر ایس سی او ممالک کے مابین دفاعی تعاون کم موثر ہوجائے گا۔لگتا یہی ہے کہ ایشیاکی سطح پر بھارت کے ساتھ امریکہ اور دیگر چائنا مخالف ممالک کا ایک علاقائی بلاک بننے جا رہاہے۔ موجودہ امریکہ انتظامیہ کا بھارت کی طرف بے پناہ جھکاؤ امریکہ کے اپنے مفادات کو بھی ساؤتھ ایشیا میں زک پہنچائے گا کیونکہ اس خطے میں امریکہ تیزی سے صرف ایک ملک کے ساتھ تعاون کی جانب بڑھ رہا ہے۔


ماضی میں بھارت کو این ایس جی میں دی گئی رعایت عدم پھیلاؤ کے مقاصد کے لئے اچھی ثابت ہوئی، نہ ہی اس سے جنوبی ایشیا میں استحکام آسکا۔ ایٹمی و کیمیائی ہتھیاروں کے عدم پھیلاؤکو یقینی بنانے کے لئے علاقائی استحکام اہم ترین عنصر ہے۔ نان این پی ٹی ممالک کو رکنیت دینے کے حوالے سے اس کلب کے تمام (اڑتالیس) ممالک کو غیر امتیازی طریقہ کار اپنانا چاہئے۔ نہ کہ صرف ایک ملک کو استثنا دینے کی کوشش۔ پاکستان دیگر نان این پی ٹی ممالک کے ساتھ بیک وقت این ایس جی میں شمولیت کا خواہش مند ہے۔ جس کے لئے ضروری ہے کہ رکنیت کے لئے نان این پی ٹی ممالک کی جانب سے دی گئی دونوں درخواستوں کا منصفانہ اور بیک وقت جائزہ لیا جائے۔ ایسا منصفانہ اور بے تعصبانہ طریقہ اختیار کرنے سے نیوکلیائی پھیلاؤ کو روکنے میں بہت زیادہ مدد ملے گی۔ پاکستان تقریباً ایک عشرے سے این ایس جی کے ساتھ کام کر رہاہے اور اب باقاعدہ طور پر گروپ میں شمولیت کے لئے تیار ہے۔


اس تمام صورت حال میں جس کو نیوکلیئر سکیورٹی اور تجارت کے نام پر پاکستان کے خلاف استعمال کیا جا رہا ہے ایک اور پہلو کو بھی نظرانداز نہیں کرنا چاہئے۔ وہ پہلو پاکستان کی صنعتی ترقی کے لئے ٹیکنالوجی کا استعمال ہے۔ پاکستان اور چین سی پیک منصوبے کو صرف تجارتی راہداری کے معنوں میں نہیں لیا جانا چاہئے بلکہ پاکستان، آنے والی دہائیوں میں، اس کو ایک مکمل معاشی و صنعتی منصوبہ کے طور پر دیکھتا ہے۔ پاکستان میں صنعتی ترقی کے لئے ٹیکنالوجی کا حصول بہت اہم ہو گا اور کسی طرح کی قدغن ہمارے بہتر مستقبل میں ایک رکاوٹ تصور کی جائے گی۔

مضمون نگار ساؤتھ ایشین سٹریٹجک سٹیبلٹی انسٹی ٹیوٹ اور

SASSI

یونیورسٹی کی ڈائریکٹر جنرل اور چیئرپرسن ہیں۔ مصنفہ جنوبی ایشیا کے نیو کلیئر آرمز کنٹرول اور ڈس آرمامنٹ معاملات اور دفاع کی ماہر تجزیہ نگارہیں۔ ان کے تحقیقی مضامین مختلف جرنلز‘ اخبارات اور کتابوں میں شائع ہوتے ہیں۔

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وجیکٹ الفا کے ذریعے یہ کوشش کی جا رہی ہے کہ پاکستان کو این ایس جی کی ممبرشپ نہ دی جائے اور یہ بے بنیاد تاثر دیا جارہا ہے کہ پاکستان خفیہ طور پر ایٹمی اور میزائل ٹیکنالوجی کے حصول کے لئے کوشاں ہے۔ پروجیکٹ الفا نہ صرف ٹھوس مواد سے محروم ہے بلکہ اس میں توازن کا خیال بھی نہیں رکھا گیا اور بظاہر اس پروجیکٹ کے ذریعے امریکہ ۔بھارت دفاعی صنعتوں کے مابین تعاون میں اضافے کے لئے راہ ہموار کرنا اور بھارت کو نیوکلیئرسپلائیرز گروپ کی رکنیت دینے کی کوشش ہے۔غیر روایتی نیٹ ورکس اور میڈیا میں چلائی جار ہی اس مسلسل مہم کا مقصد پاکستان کے دفاع،نیوکلیئر اور ہائی ٹیک صنعت کے خلاف پروپیگنڈا کرنا ہے جو کہ اصل حقائق سے قطعی مختلف ہے۔

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08
January

No U.S. Exit Strategy from Afghanistan

Written By: Ambassador Zamir Akram (R)


On the issue of Taliban safe havens in Pakistan which has strongly been denied, the logical answer would be to effectively monitor the Pakistan-Afghan International Border and deny Taliban the use of Afghan refugee camps as bases by ensuring the earliest return of all Afghan refugees. But the U.S. remains reluctant to implement these measures. Accordingly, it is not for Pakistan but for the U.S. to do more in dealing with terrorism and working to bring peace to Afghanistan. As such, it needs a realistic exit strategy from Afghanistan. But so far, such a strategy is absent. On the contrary, the Trump administration’s “strategy” is a recipe for prolonged conflict in search of an elusive “victory”.

For the last 16 years, the U.S. has been fighting the longest war in its history in Afghanistan. However, it still does not have an exit strategy despite losses of USD 3 trillion and thousands of lives. The only American excuse for this stalemate is to blame Pakistan and keep demanding that Pakistan needs to do more to help the U.S. win its war on terror. But to use Pakistan as a scape-goat for American failure is not a strategy – let alone a means to exit from Afghanistan.


During his election campaign, Trump had advocated a withdrawal from the Afghan quagmire. But after becoming President, he was persuaded by the Pentagon and the CIA to continue fighting without a deadline in search for an elusive ‘victory’ against the Taliban. The so-called “South-Asian approach” to Afghanistan announced by Trump in August, is no more than a rehash of past failed policies. The crux of this policy is to put pressure on Pakistan “to do more” by closing down alleged Taliban safe havens on its territory. Another key aspect is to give India a greater role in Afghanistan, thereby implicitly endorsing the encirclement of Pakistan from the Afghan and Indian sides.

 

nousexitstrategy.jpgBut the Americans soon realized that they had gone too far in trying to corner Pakistan, since no amount of pressure can persuade Pakistan to compromise on its own regional security interests and by encouraging India to play a greater role in Afghanistan they would diminish rather than encourage Pakistani cooperation. Moreover, in the absence of any other options, the U.S. still needs Pakistan’s ground and air space for logistical purposes in Afghanistan. As a result, there have been several subsequent efforts to backpedal from the aggressive and threatening stance expressed by Trump.


In their recent visits to Islamabad, Secretary of State Tillerson and Defense Secretary Mattis, have been at pains to mollify Pakistani civilian and military leaders. The revised approach is to “find common ground” with Pakistan and to recognize Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror. Mattis also reportedly conveyed that “the U.S. is ready to play its role in addressing Pakistan’s legitimate concerns” regarding Afghanistan. In more concrete terms, the U.S. released USD 700 million from the USD 2 billion of held up Coalition Support Funds (CSFs) incurred by Pakistan in support of the war on terror.


While these developments denote a welcome change in the U.S. approach, there still remain major hurdles in the bilateral relationship. For instance, the U.S. still needs to reimburse Pakistan the remaining CSF. It has also reneged on its agreement for sale of certain armaments such as the F-16 aircraft. The size of American assistance to Pakistan has also been greatly slashed. Meanwhile, the typical American good cop/bad cop routine with Pakistan continues with positive comments by Tillerson and Mattis countered by CIA Director Pompeo’s threat that if Islamabad does not close down Taliban “safe havens”, then the U.S. will use all means to do so. Therefore, the “do more” mantra of the past three American administrations goes on.


Such differences between the U.S. and Pakistan do not augur well for either country nor for that matter for Afghanistan or the regional security itself. Continued violence and instability in Afghanistan is not in the interest of any country – the U.S., Pakistan or Afghanistan. There is need for a realistic and pragmatic approach to resolve the Afghan problem. Repeating the mistakes of the past will not generate success for the Americans. The simple truth that emerges from the past 16 years of warfare is that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. The only option is to evolve a political solution involving all stakeholders. This process needs to begin with an American reappraisal of their failed policies and recognize the reasons for the failure.

 

Since the start of its occupation of Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. has failed to distinguish between Al-Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban, who claim to fight against foreign occupation of their country. While Al-Qaeda’s fighters can be killed and defeated, the Taliban, belonging to the Afghan Pushtun majority, cannot be wiped out. To make matters worse, use of air power, such as drones, causing civilian casualties among Afghans has actually helped the Taliban recruit more troops. This has been compounded by the corruption and misrule by the U.S. backed Kabul government. Failure to eradicate poppy cultivation and the drug trade, which has actually grown during the American occupation, has further helped the Taliban by providing a valuable source of funding.

Since the start of its occupation of Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. has failed to distinguish between Al-Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban, who claim for fight against foreign occupation of their country. While Al-Qaeda’s fighters can be killed and defeated, the Taliban, belonging to the Afghan Pushtun majority, cannot be wiped out. To make matters worse, use of air power, such as drones, causing civilian casualties among Afghans has actually helped the Taliban recruit more troops. This has been compounded by the corruption and misrule by the U.S. backed Kabul government. Failure to eradicate poppy cultivation and the drug trade, which has actually grown during the American occupation, has further helped the Taliban by providing a valuable source of funding.


Meanwhile, the U.S. plan to build-up the Afghan security forces with American support has failed. On the contrary, the Taliban have gained in strength, taking control of nearly 40% of Afghan territory, even in non-Pushtun areas such as Kunduz and Herat provinces. Consequently, regional powers with security and business interests relating to Afghanistan, such as China, Russia and Iran, have established contacts with the Taliban. The growing rivalry between the Taliban and emerging ISIS terrorist forces in Afghanistan has further increased the relevance of the Taliban for these countries which perceive ISIS as a growing security threat for them. For all these reasons, it is becoming increasingly important for the U.S. to recognize that their continued military and political opposition to the Taliban is unlikely to succeed. The only way to end this confrontation is to promote a durable political settlement in Afghanistan through dialogue which takes into account the interests of all sides.
Another major flaw in U.S. policy has been the imposition of a unitary constitution on Afghanistan which is inconsistent with the decentralized nature of the Afghan polity, consisting of different tribal, ethnic and sectarian groups. A durable political structure will have to take this reality into account and a government will need to evolve based on power-sharing and greater decentralization.

 

This situation is complicated by the highly dubious U.S. role tolerating Indian sponsored TTP and Baloch terrorist safe havens in Nangarhar, Helmand, and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan, which continue to operate freely despite the presence of U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Moreover, America is unwilling to help Pakistan’s efforts to better manage the Pakistan-Afghan border, giving rise to the suspicion that it wants the TTP and Baloch terrorists to continue with their attacks in Pakistan. This may be to pressurize Pakistan as well as to try and derail the CPEC, which the U.S. has opposed at the behest of its Indian clients as well as to strategically contain China. In these circumstances, the offer by Defense Secretary Mattis to address Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns is hardly convincing, unless proven otherwise with concrete steps on ground.

Another major folly has been the lack of a consistent long term strategy in Afghanistan. Initially, under the Bush administration, the objective was to defeat terrorism. Thereafter, within a few years, the goal was switched to Afghan nation building which was also pursued by the Obama administration. Now President Trump has abandoned nation building and is back to fighting terrorism. Moreover, following initial successes against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Bush turned towards invading Iraq which diverted forces and resources away from Afghanistan and provided the opportunity for the Taliban to re-group and reassert their influence in the country.


Even the nation building effort was half-hearted and misguided, with billions going to American contractors and corrupt Afghan officials, and only a fraction reaching the Afghan people. The irony is that if just a small percentage of the colossal expenditure on the Afghan war effort was used to build the country’s economy and infrastructure, it would have guaranteed popular support for the U.S. and its Kabul allies. As a result the opportunity to win Afghan hearts and minds was squandered, which worked in favour of the Taliban.


To make matters worse, the U.S. consistently relied on the wrong Afghans to achieve their objectives. In their eagerness to defeat the Taliban, Americans relied on the support of non-Pushtun minority groups such as the Tajiks of the erstwhile Northern Alliance, who were given key security, defence and intelligence positions. This not only alienated the Taliban but the majority Pushtun population which continues to harbor serious misgivings about the Tajiks due to their harsh experience during ten years of the Afghan civil war. Even those Pushtuns like Hamid Karzai and others in the government are viewed by the majority as stooges and tools of the Americans.


From Pakistan’s perspective, Washington has consistently failed to recognize Islamabad’s strategic imperatives regarding Afghanistan. For Pakistan, the compulsions of geo-politics and the historical legacies of disputes with India over Kashmir and Afghanistan over the erstwhile Durand Line border (de jure and de facto international border) have combined to conflate the threat of hostile encirclement from its western and eastern borders. Therefore, Pakistan and India have historically competed for influence in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have, therefore, been a function of its relations with India and of India’s relations with Afghanistan. This triangular relationship will continue in the future. Those Americans, or indeed Pakistanis or Indians, who dismiss this reality as ‘paranoia’ of the Pakistani security establishment, need only look so far at the current Indian and Afghan support for the TTP and Baloch terrorists located in Afghan safe havens from where they carry-out terrorist attacks in Pakistan. This clear and present danger for Pakistan, which has existed in various manifestations such as the Pushtunistan bogey and Baloch insurgencies since independence, requires Pakistan to ensure leverage in Afghanistan. For this reason, it cannot now afford to alienate the Afghans including the Taliban nor fight America’s war on its territory, especially since there are 3.5 million mostly Pushtun Afghan refugees in Pakistan.


This situation is complicated by the highly dubious U.S. role tolerating Indian sponsored TTP and Baloch terrorist safe havens in Nangarhar, Helmand, and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan, which continue to operate freely despite the presence of U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Moreover, America is unwilling to help Pakistan’s efforts to better manage the Pakistan-Afghan border, giving rise to the suspicion that it wants the TTP and Baloch terrorists to continue with their attacks in Pakistan. This may be to pressurize Pakistan as well as to try and derail the CPEC, which the U.S. has opposed at the behest of its Indian clients as well as to strategically contain China. In these circumstances, the offer by Defense Secretary Mattis to address Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns is hardly convincing, unless proven otherwise with concrete steps on ground.


Moreover, Washington’s belated acknowledgement of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror holds little comfort for Pakistan. Apart from continuing to withhold over USD 2 billion of CSF funds, the U.S. continues to ask Pakistan to “do more”. It has ignored the direct cost of USD 142 billion that Pakistan has incurred in the war on terror since 9/11. More importantly, by asking Pakistan to do more, the U.S. has trivialized the loss of more than 70,000 Pakistanis, both civilian and armed forces personnel, who have died in this counter-terrorism campaign, the highest number of casualties than even the combined losses of the U.S. and its NATO allies in Afghanistan. Moreover, of all the countries engaged in counter-terrorism operations, not just in Afghanistan, the most successful have been the operations conducted by Pakistan, owing to which there has been more than 70% reduction in terrorist incidents in Pakistan. And this is despite the Indo-Afghan support for the TTP and Baloch terrorists.


On the issue of Taliban safe havens in Pakistan which has strongly been denied, the logical answer would be to effectively monitor the Pakistan-Afghan International Border and deny Taliban the use of Afghan refugee camps as bases by ensuring the earliest return of all Afghan refugees. But the U.S. remains reluctant to implement these measures.


Accordingly, it is not for Pakistan but for the U.S. to do more in dealing with terrorism and working to bring peace to Afghanistan. As such, it needs a realistic exit strategy from Afghanistan. But so far, such a strategy is absent. On the contrary, the Trump administration’s “strategy” is a recipe for prolonged conflict in search of an elusive “victory”.


Meanwhile, the dangers of terrorism in Afghanistan are increasing with the growing presence of ISIS and the activities of the TTP with Indian support leading to a ISIS-TTP nexus. Instead of addressing this potent terrorist threat for the entire region, the U.S. remains fixated on fighting the Taliban.


All this gives rise to the question whether the U.S. actually does want to exit from Afghanistan. A counter-narrative has, therefore, emerged even in the U.S. that the real American objective is to prolong the Afghan conflict in order to provide justification for the indefinite presence of American troops there. This argument is supported by the fact that the U.S. has set up five permanent military bases in Afghanistan and is reportedly beginning construction of yet another base. The presence of these bases was agreed with the earlier Karzai government and endorsed by the current regime. Such a high level military presence would be instrumental for the U.S. to monitor Pakistan, especially its nuclear assets – an objective already acknowledged by several Americans including Trump. It would also facilitate American clandestine activities against China and Iran as well as Russian interests through Central Asia. The killing of Taliban leader Mulla Mansoor by a U.S. drone which derailed the dialogue process being promoted by Pakistan indicates American opposition to a dialogue and further supports this view. The cost of such a policy to the Americans in terms of blood and treasure would be minimal. In fact the American military-industrial complex would greatly benefit from this policy.


These developments cannot be dismissed as mere conspiracy theories until the U.S. comes up with a coherent and realistic strategy to resolve the Afghan conflict and pursues a credible exit strategy. Continuation of the Afghan conflict also suits India as it keeps Pakistan preoccupied on both its eastern and western borders while at the same time threatening the implementation of CPEC.


In this dangerous environment, it is imperative for Pakistan to continue with its efforts to defeat terrorism internally while securing its border with Afghanistan. It also needs to work with Iran, China and Russia to ensure its security and to try and pre-empt the U.S. by jointly promoting an Afghan political settlement. This effort may not succeed, given the Kabul government’s reliance on the U.S., but at least it will expose American and Indian objectives in the region and make achievement of these malafide objectives more difficult.

 

The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan.

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