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Thursday, July 18, 2024

A bouncy journey for Pakistan: 1947-2020 (Part 1)

'Indo-Pakistan peace treaty signed in January 2004 was a cunningly laid out snare by India. Musharraf happily signed it naively thinking that it will help in resolving all core disputes including Kashmir and the two antagonists would live as friendly neighbors."

After achieving which no one else could achieve, Quaid-e-Azam passed away one year after the birth of Pakistan. Allah willed his departure honorably since had he lived longer, the chronic foul-mouthed intriguers would not have spared him. He is the only leader who is held in highest esteem and he is today remembered with greater approbation after seeing the sorry plight of the Indian Muslims and Muslim Kashmiris at the hands of RSS and Indian forces.

His untimely death created leadership crisis and power of pendulum kept swinging between the Governor General and PM. Passage of Objectives Resolution in 1949 strengthened Religious Right and heightened secular-Islamic divide. Murder of Liaqat Ali Khan in October 1951 gave rise to ethnicity and regional loyalties. Corruption raised its head due to unfair allotment of properties to refugees by the Evacuee Trustee Board. 1953 saw Ahmadi movement in West Punjab and language riots in East Pakistan. The political class in West Pakistan was heavy with Choudhries, Maliks, Waderas, Sardars, Peers and industrialists who had gained material benefits from the British in return for their loyalty.

Devoid of high morals and competence to govern the ungovernable, these families put self before national interests. Power tussle between landholders of East and West Punjab and between Punjab and East Bengal delayed constitution making for nine years. The British trained white-collar CSP cadre, the crème of the nation, aped the colonial masters by behaving like snobbish Brown Sahibs and never served the hapless people. Their arrogant attitude and lackadaisical approach of early leaders were the major causes of alienation of Bengalis who were in the vanguard of Pakistan movement. Ghulam Muhammad and Iskandar Mirza’s palace intrigues strengthened bureaucrat-military oligarchy and severely bruised growth of democracy.

Read More: National Assembly: A platform for misleading the nation?

Pak-US Relationship 

Pakistan decided to change its status of non-alignment and join the SEATO, CENTO Western pacts in 1954 due to extreme security threats posed by India and Afghanistan backed by former Soviet Union, which had got irked when PM Liaqat Ali preferred Washington over Moscow for his first state visit abroad. Thereon, Pakistan tailored its foreign and defence policies in accordance with the wishes of Washington and it put all its eggs in the basket of USA. Ironically none of the defence agreements had any clause of security against Indian aggression. Owing to its full reliance on USA, Pakistan was termed as the most allied ally of USA.

Advent of the Golden Era of Pakistan

Once President Ayub Khan took over power in 1958, he made profitable use of the US largesse by carrying out all-round improvements in the country. His ten-year rule is acknowledged as the golden period of Pakistan which no other leader could emulate. He missed the opportunity of liberating Kashmir in 1962, but egged on by his blue-eyed foreign minister ZA Bhutto, he vainly tried to make amends by launching Operation Gibraltar followed by Operation Grand Slam in 1965.

He is credited for defeating the nefarious designs of India wanting to destroy the armed forces of Pakistan in the 17-day 1965 War, and gaining an edge over six-time superior enemy. But for the war and the US sanctions, Ayub could have considerably narrowed the east-west inequity. Prosperity in Ayub’s era made the 22 families affluent and widened rich-poor gap. A class of egotist upstarts believing in pomp and show emerged in the 1960s. ZA Bhutto and Mujibur Rahman emerged as top political leaders in the aftermath of 1965 war who were instrumental in splitting Pakistan.

Pak-US honeymoon period fades

Notwithstanding the closeness with USA, the relationship had its snags. Problems arose when USA under John F. Kennedy started wooing India well-knowing that it was the camp follower of USSR and had refused to become part of the defensive arc laid by USA to contain Communism in South Asia. Motivated by the desire of winning over India, the US provided all out military support to India after it was thrashed by China in 1962 border conflict in NEFA.

The western assistance coupled with Soviet support tilted the military balance in favor of India, which forced Ayub Khan to lean on China and he accordingly brought a slight change in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Governed by the policy of enticing India, the US instead of helping Pakistan in the 1965 and 1971 wars, imposed sanctions. Indian military succeeded in cutting the eastern limb of Pakistan in 1971 due to all-out support of USSR. India’s nuclear explosion in August 1974 and its expansionism were looked the other way by the US led west.

Although ZA Bhutto was criticized for playing a role in truncating the country, but he is credited for gifting 1973 Constitution and laying the foundation of nuclear program. To restrain him, Henry Kissinger threatened him to be made a horrible example. His hanging on 4 April 1979 alienated Sindhis and divided the nation between Bhutto lovers and haters.

Pakistan under Gen Ziaul Haq was once again put under sanctions by Jimmy Carter regime in 1979 after it alleged that Pakistan had undertaken a nuclear program clandestinely and was developing an Islamic bomb. Ronald Reagan took Pakistan on board to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Mujahideen were eulogized and named holy warriors.

Zia era gave fillip to Jihadism, religious extremism and sectarianism, but Zia earned his name in history by playing a key role in ousting Soviet forces from Afghanistan and in completing the nuclear program and also giving Islamic direction to the country. During the rule of Zia’s handpicked Junejo, culture of loans from banks and writing off loans by the politicians came in fashion and black money as well Mafias gained strength.

Pak-US honeymoon ended soon after the US accomplished its objectives in 1989 with the help of Mujahideen and Pakistan. The holy warriors were abandoned and later on declared terrorists. It was put under harsh sanctions due to which it became politically and economically weak. To rub salt on Pakistan’s wounds, the US embraced India and was made its strategic partner.

Israel joined hands with the duo and the trio worked in unison to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program. Their antagonism increased after Pakistan responded to India’s five nuclear tests by conducting six nuclear tests in May 1998, and became the 7th nuclear power. Thereon, denuclearization of Pakistan became an obsession of Indo-US-Israel nexus.

The democratic era from 1988 to 1999 saw PML-N and PPP locked up in infighting, which made Pakistan politically unstable and economically weak. The two mainstream parties in their bid to topple the other had no time to combat the fallout effects of 10-year Afghan war which had militarized the society. The armed uprising of Kashmiris in IOK was not cashed in to liberate J&K. External debts swelled, and the state institutions became feeble. That period intensified ethnicity/sectarianism and fortified Mafias, profiteers, hoarders, smugglers, drug peddlers and racketeers. 10% Zardari blemished the image of Benazir Bhutto.

Read More: Southern Punjab capital: History Lessons for PTI

A new world order 

Disintegration of Soviet Union in 1992 made USA the unchallenged sole super power. The US neo-cons in league with President George W. Bush senior in anticipation to the fall of USSR had conceived a New World Order in 1989 and had chalked out plans to rule the world for the next 100 years. This ambitious goal couldn’t be accomplished without harnessing the resources of the Eurasian belt, and neo-colonization of the Muslim world.

Israel dreamed of establishing Greater Israel since 1982. The first moves made in this regard were the initiation of Iraq-Iran war in 1989, followed by the First Gulf war in 1991, the Kuwait war and inhuman sanctions imposed on Iraq. Color revolutions were instigated by CIA in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe to change pro-Moscow regimes.

In order to evoke the feelings of revenge among the Americans and Europeans, earn sympathies and cooperation of the world, and to justify the invasion of Afghanistan and Middle Eastern Muslim countries, a false flag operation was craftily enacted on 9/11. The blame was put on Al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden (OBL) based in Afghanistan, which had been created by CIA to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. The Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were demonized and painted as the biggest threat to the world security.

Gen Pervez Musharraf was the architect of Operation Drass-Kargil in summer of 1999 in which seven peaks of strategic importance were seized. Nawaz Sharif buckled under pressure of USA and G-20 and ordered withdrawal unconditionally. Converting victory into a fiasco paved the way for Musharraf to dethrone Nawaz Sharif regime and take over the reins of power in October 1999.

Musharraf readily fell into the honeycombed trap of USA since he was badly in need of legitimacy. Being liberal, he was otherwise averse to Mullahs and extremist Muslims. He was led up the garden path by George W. Bush junior regime that it will atone the wrongs done in the past and would build relations based on mutual trust and equality.

Pakistan was made an ally and coalition partner of US-NATO, and a frontline state to fight war on terror on its soil. It was also made a non-NATO ally and a strategic partner. However, irrespective of the impressive labels, Pakistan was never trusted and was given a raw deal. Throughout the 19-year war on terror, it was insulted, humiliated, criticized and pressured to do more. It was encrusted with unsubstantiated accusations of being either complicit with the terrorists or incompetent to deal with them, and providing sanctuaries to the terrorist groups. No proof was ever furnished to prove their allegations.

War on terror brought USA in immediate neighborhood of Pakistan by virtue of which it started meddling into Pakistan’s internal affairs directly. Pakistan was given a step-motherly treatment as compared with India and Afghanistan in spite of the fact that Pakistan had put its national security at stake and had rendered sacrifices much larger than any other coalition partner and had produced excellent results. What Pakistan received in aid or close support fund (CSF) was puny when compared with the human and financial losses it incurred. As against $20 billion, bulk of which was of CSF, Pakistan lost $ 130 billion and suffered 80,000 human fatalities including 7000 security forces. The tally of injured is three times more.

The rise of Musharraf

Musharraf took credit of improving the image of Pakistan which had sunk low and for attracting foreign investments and bolstering the economy. Notwithstanding his superior personal qualities of head and heart and his 7-point agenda which had the potential to bolster Pakistan’s fortunes, Musharraf’s ambitious agenda mellowed down after he empowered King’s Party in October 2002 through enticements and high-handed tactics. Thereon, he started compromising on account of political expediency mainly due to his yearning to prolong his rule. Accountability became selective and anti-Pakistan MQM became his forte. MMA’s hobnobbing with TTP in Baluchistan and KP was ignored.

Indo-Pakistan peace treaty signed in January 2004 was a cunningly laid out snare by India. Musharraf happily signed it naively thinking that it will help in resolving all core disputes including Kashmir and the two antagonists would live as friendly neighbors. He compromised on Kashmir by reining in Jihadi elements, letting India to construct a fence all along the Line of Control, and suggesting out-of-box solution of Kashmir bereft of UN resolutions. In his enthusiasm to develop extraordinary warm relations with archrival India, which never reconciled to existence of Pakistan, he forgot the psyche of Hindu Brahmans and their evil ambition of establishing mythical Akhand Bharat. To please the West, he introduced concept of enlightened moderation and expanded electronic media exponentially, which promoted secularism and obscenity.

The lawyer’s movement in 2007 joined by civil society eclipsed his popularity and paled his impressive achievements. NRO was his last gift to the nation the ill-effects of which are still being borne by the people. It enabled the most corrupt Zardari to ascend to power in 2008 and become the strongest president.

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, member CWC PESS, Member Council TJP. He can be reached at asifharoonraja@gmail.com