Monday, December 8, 2008


Admiral (Retired) Fasih Bokhari
The centre of gravity of the world’s economy is shifting to Asia, because of its larger manpower and resource base. After the collapse of the USSR and the “opening up” of China, the countries of Asia were free to link their economies. This was not acceptable to a population and resource deprived US-led alliance that sought imperial world dominance.
The focal point for Asia’s large economies to link up is the area in which Afghanistan and Pakistan lie. Denial of this area would slow the rise of Asia and prolong US and European control over the world financial and trade systems, till the complete spread of Empire. The US-led occupation of the “Asian link routes/heartland” would also provide a necessary bridgehead to destabilise the larger Asian powers.
The strategy to establish Empire is clear and supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The differences lie in the Bush neo-conservative “shock and awe” approach using the Department of Defence as the spearhead; or the “Intelligent Imperialism: approach of Brzezinski (Obama’s mentor) employing the CIA and Department of State as the spearhead for execution.
The current convergences of interests of India with USA/Europe lie in the short-term aim of weakening Pakistan. The process of weakening Pakistan military forces is being undertaken in Balochistan and the NWFP. The sweet nuclear deal with India to pull it into the fold will sour quickly! USA/Europe will extract their pound of flesh when they set up India as their proxy to destabilise China, and Russia.

The crunch decision time for India and Pakistan will come when the SCO (China, Russia, ex-Soviet Central Asian States) ask us, “Are you with us or against us?” We will have to stand with Asia because our long-term economic and security interests can only be served by linking our economies with Asian economies. That will be the time when USA/Europe will have to decide if their aggressive war-mongering against a vastly superior Asian coalition (on home soil) will be worth the expected losses. Hopefully they will choose to engage Asia rather than confront it.
Currently Russia and China are waiting for the US-led coalition to bleed itself further, even to a point of no return. Wars do cost money and national will/ cohesion.
The UK and France already see the war in Afghanistan as “not winnable.” The Saudi government is brokering a dialogue with the Afghan Taliban. The American public is speaking up against the war. The economic impact of rampant and overstretched Imperial capitalism is affecting markets. All countries engaged in the so-called “war on terror” have stopped calling it a war on terror and are reappraising their policies. The shape of international relations is undergoing a major shift. The government of Pakistan must also now reassess its policy, and not wait to react when it is too late.
Pakistan’s security situation is confused because there are a number of players acting for divergent goals. US-led forces are aggressively violating Pakistani sovereignty, and infiltrating groups on the ground. The Afghans and Afghan Taliban are fighting an illegal occupation. There are many in Pakistan sympathetic to their cause, noting that the Afghan Taliban have never been anti-Pakistan in their military operations. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is essentially fighting for Sharia, promised them by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto. There is external support available to them. The demand for timely justice expected from a Sharia-based judicial system, finds resonance throughout Pakistan where people have resoundingly supported the lawyers’ movement for independence of the judiciary. Inter-tribal and sectarian local wars are also being waged under cover of this confused environment. The time has come to unravel these various layers of violence.
The essential first step is that US-led forces must vacate the occupation of Afghanistan.
Step two is a dialogue with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (not the infiltrated external power agents) to lay down arms with concurrent establishment of a Sharia-based judicial system. Amendments to the Constitution for such a system in given geographical jurisdictions of Federal and Provincial Governments should be expeditiously passed by Parliament to demonstrate sincerity.
The third step is to pull the Army away from local tribal and sectarian rivalry, leaving this to the traditional system of law enforcement practiced in the tribal areas.

The fourth step is to start a sincere dialogue to bring the Baloch exiled leadership back into mainstream politics. The “elimination” and forced exile of Baloch leaders has created a vacuum resulting in violence and infiltration of external powers trying to destabilise both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan.
Unravelling of these four layers of violence will obviate further presence of external power agents on the ground, or at least make it easier to neutralise them.
The “war on terror” is not Pakistan’s war. The government should refrain from advertising it as such through the local press. A government does not go to war against its own people. Groups within a country only resort to violence when their genuine demands are suppressed by violence, or they are excluded from mainstream politics. The Frontier tribal population of Pakistan has been in the forefront of defence of the homeland since the first Kashmir war. Weakening of this citizen based defence through Army action can irretrievably weaken the security of Pakistan by alienating and pitching tribes against the state that will endure even after the departure of NATO.
The relationship between a government and the people finds strength from the people. US-sponsored regime changes are possible where governments have not retained policy roots in the aspirations of the people. Regime changes, when US policy shifts, have not been possible where the people have stood behind their leadership. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, etc., are examples.
Pakistan has come of age and is here to stay geostrategic compulsions facing us have undergone substantial change. The time to cut the politico-military umbilical cord to Washington, and firmly integrate our security and economy with our regional neighbours is long overdue. Peace in the region and security at home are foundational requirements without which an expansion of the economy cannot be sustained A dialogue with SCO, ECO, and our SAARC partners (especially India) must be initiated to back the demand for withdrawal of US-led forces from Asia. Pakistanis are not anti-American. We share the same views as more and more Americans, who oppose the war of Imperial dominance. We must continue to engage the USA and Europe, but only as economic partners for a future that is based on peace and prosperity for all.
The writer is a former chief of the naval staff. Email:

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