“Pakistan nurtured and supported Taliban”— Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s Foreign Secretary at the United Nations General Assembly
Pakistan is a case of a child gone astray because of the callous and lenient attitude of the parents! It is undoubtedly clear that the United States of America was an estranged father of its spoilt child, Pakistan. Despite Pakistan misbehaving with the USA and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) keeping it under grey list, on account of its terror supporting activities, the US allowed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release a financial aid of $2.7 billion to Pakistan.
The US has a big hand in making Pakistan behave as it does. Splurging on ‘aid money’ from the US and others, has become a second habit of Pakistani Generals and civilian leaders. The first habit is to cheat its benefactor. The US may be annoyed with Pakistan currently but it is a temporary phenomenon. Its love for Pakistan is unlimited. It can ditch any friend for its favourite protege. India ought to be watchful and careful in putting all its eggs in the US basket.
Most of the US and Pakistani military generals have personal relations. Pakistani Generals have economic and financial interests in the US. Lieutenant General Asim Salim Bajwa (Retd), who was the erstwhile Chairman of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is alleged to have 99 companies owned by his family in the USA.
Tarek Fateh, a former Pakistani and now Canadian citizen, claims that more than 200 retired Generals of Pakistan have settled with families in the US, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
US-Pak friendship goes back more than seven decades. Who does not know that Pakistan had helped the US in developing peaceful relations with China during Richard Nixon’s Presidency in early 1970s.
It is also on record that the US knew about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, right from the days of the Reagan Presidency from 1980 to 1988. It had just turned a blind eye. Then do not forget the 1971 war. Richard Nixon had decided to teach a lesson to “that bitch”, Indra Gandhi over the Bangladesh war in 1971. US 7th Fleet, led by the aircraft carrier Enterprise, was heading for Bay of Bengal, when the Soviet Union (Russia) naval flotilla intervened.
Basic reason for annoyance was that Pakistan had played a double game with it over the issue of Afghanistan and Taliban. Besides, Pakistan was tilting towards China, the arch enemy of the US, for the last decade or so, ever since the rise of Xi Jinping in China. It is because of this that the US has shifted its focus on India, not because of any special love for the largest democracy but as a counterweight for China. It wants to use India against China. It does not mean its love for Pakistan has diminished.
Recent events in Afghanistan show that despite all the tension between Pakistan and the USA, 12,000 US troops have been positioned in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, after they pulled out of Kabul on 30 August 2021. This is so after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, had boasted of “Absolutely Not” on the issue of giving military bases to the US.
US president, Joe Biden might not be calling Pakistan’s Prime Minister on telephone but his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director has been meeting Pakistan’s army Chief and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) head. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Yousuf Masood, is an American Green Card holder.
The US knows that the Afghan Taliban was the ISI’s baby and Pakistan has leverage with it. It also knows that Pakistan had cheated the USA on this issue of Taliban but it still wishes to forgo Pakistan’s audacity in harming US interests.
The US is turning blind eye to Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of Kabul on 15 August 2021. Pakistan’s ISI chief, Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid has been seen in Afghanistan with the Taliban offering prayer in a mosque in Kabul. He is there to ensure that the Haqqani network, an ISI protege, gets a major and a dominating role in the Taliban Government.
The US knows all this and also that Pakistan soldiers had participated in ensuring Taliban victory against the Afghan army. It played a key role in the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government. Currently, in the ongoing battle for Panjshir valley in Afghanistan, between Taliban and the Northern Resistance Front (NRF), evidence has emerged in the involvement of Pakistani soldiers in the battle.
An identity card of a dead Pakistani soldier has been found on his body, according to media reports on 4 September 2021. The US had known this long before but it has turned its face the other way around. The US could have rushed to support the NRF to seek revenge. But it is mysteriously keeping silent. Maybe there is some kind of a secret deal with the Taliban and Pakistan.
Sources, Dr Amzad Ayub Mirza, a Pakistani based in London, to be precise, reveal that the Taliban attack on Panjshir valley is personally being monitored by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Pakistan army, aided by Chinese and Turkish Generals.
The operation is directly controlled by the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the Pakistan army, from his office in Rawalpindi. Two battalions of the elite Special Service Group (SSG) of Pakistan army led by Major General Atir Rehmani, chief of SSG, along with three Artillery Batteries and an Armoured Squadron, battled with NRF soldiers on 4 September 2021 and suffered heavy casualties.
Reports have come that Pakistan has given four drones and four Cobra Helicopters to the Taliban. Maybe they are flown by Pakistani soldiers only.
It is learnt that over 200 Taliban and Pakistani soldiers were killed in the 3/4 September battle. Over hundreds of them were injured/wounded. They have been admitted to Kabul Hospital. They include two officers, 24 Junior Commissioned Officers and 40 soldiers of the Pakistan Army. Some 150 Humvees of Taliban were captured.
It is perceived the world over that Pakistan army’s collaboration with Afghan Taliban is with tacit approval of the US, if not earlier but now. The battle for Panjshir valley is actively supported by the Pakistan army and the US cannot be oblivious of it. Speaking matter of factly, as long as Pakistan serves the US’ immediate objectives, it does not care for its other criminal activities.
It is alleged that two recent drone attacks on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) by the US in Nangarhar province and Kabul were carried out from its Pakistan facility. So much for “Absolutely not” boasting of Imran Khan!
It is now known that other than China, the second major security worry of the USA is ISIS/Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The US knows that the Afghan Taliban and ISIS were sworn enemies of each other. Therefore it wants the Afghan Taliban to eliminate ISIS. In doing so, it wants to use Pakistan and ISIS leverage with the Taliban.
This is what lay behind the Joe Biden administration’s secret deal with the Taliban in May/ June 2021, which sought USA troops to leave Afghanistan suddenly and abruptly. This was done even at the cost of its super power image and loss of wield-wide credibility. In the bargain, the Ashraf Ghani Government of Afghanistan was unceremoniously sacrificed. Pakistan allows itself to be used and misused in all American acts of omissions and commission.
It can happen to any other asian ally of the USA . India cannot be a partner in such US misadventures. India should note that more than India needing the US , it is the US needing India. But to wholly depend on the US to counterbalance China would be a grave mistake by India. It is a confirmed fact that the US uses its Asian/African allies as strategic condoms.
‘Use and throw’ is its only unique selling point. India should not only give an impetus to its Self-Reliance (Atma Nirbharta) programme but play a realpolitik game in international conduct. It must refresh and renew its relations with Russia and France.
The UK is as untrustworthy as the US. The UK is also very fond of Pakistan. In fact, it is the UK who is responsible for bitterness in Indo-Pak relations right at the time of independence. It has been favouring Pakistan always. Even in the 1971 war, it had sent its naval task force to the Indian ocean to help Pakistan but Russia (Soviet Union, then) had blocked it and it had to retreat.
India has to choose its independent path; stay away from ‘fair - weather’ friends in the international market. It must wait and watch in Afghanistan. There is no need to panic. India must explore its ties with Shia-Iran to counter balance Sunni-Taliban. If need be, support Panjshir valley clandestinely with weapons and logistics. Raise the cost of Pakistan’s misadventure in Afghanistan.
In order to force Pakistan to pull out of Afghanistan , India ought to raise the tempo of cross border firing. Unfortunately, India had played into Pakistan army’s plan when it went for a ceasefire in February 2021. Pakistan was desperate to transfer forces to Afghanistan to enable the Taliban to get quick victory, which it did.
It is now helping the Taliban to capture Panjshir valley. This cease fire move by the Pakistan army reflects poorly on the strategic vision of Indian Generals. Till date India has not realised as to how the Pakistan Army has fooled it. Maybe Chinese action in Ladakh had blinded them. But Pakistan did get the advantage.
Finally, the Afghan Taliban cannot do anything in Kashmir. This is just a media crested fear. Afghan terrorists were there in the 1990s, too. What can they do now, what they did not do then? Also, what can the Afghan Taliban do, what the Hizbul Mujahideen , Jaish-e-Mohammed or Lashkar-e-Taiba could not do?
Look after your armed forces and be confident of their capabilities. Indian security forces have proven themselves since insurgency in Nagaland started in 1959. Trust them and shun these fears! As they say, no one wipes one’s tears but one self; same was true of one’s own problems and predicaments, no one solves it for you but you alone.
About the Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')