The Ababeel Postscript – Nuclear Arms Madness!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Several weeks ago,  when we test fired Ababeel, I questioned the sanity of nuclear one upmanship by both Pakistan and India, whilst our teeming millions wallow in abject misery and terrible poverty.

I still maintain that position. But and it’s a big mother of all buts, the responsibility for this madness lies clearly on Indian shoulders.

India started this nuclear arms race, refused a Strategic Restraint offer from Pakistan, and now has moved away from its No First Strike strategy, in all but name.

India conveniently uses this NFS mantra in international forums to try and keep Pakistan on the back foot which neither Pakistan or anybody in the world buys into. They obfuscate the matter by bringing in terrorism et al, while conveniently side stepping Kashmir, which for Pakistan, is the core issue bedevelling our relationship. One can, of course debate whether it is so, but we must not forget that both countries have tried moving ahead by ignoring the Big Kashmiri White Elephant, and failed to achieve even a basic working relationship.

The Musharraf 4 point formula was the closest the two countries ever got. So, we must accept the reality that unless the Kashmir issue is addressed, we can’t have a working relationship.  At least for now.

Recently the glib talking Indian movie star aspirant Sashil Thuroor, with the other “Indian” Husain Haqqani, sitting next to him at some forum, repeated the same mantra by bringing up everyone’s favorite whipping bad boy, The Pakistan Army, and disdainfully phoo phooing Kashmir, in his pretentiously anglicized Indian accented English.

Well if India doesn’t want to recognize and address the real problem in earnest and with sincerity, but uses the bogey of the Pakistan Army to whip up hysteria, then unfortunately we will have to continue this terrible and wasteful arms race.

Otherwise given India’s current belligerence and Modi, anything is possible.

The ball today, is in India’s court. And no amount of harking back to the past and bringing up real or perceived Pakistani threats or adventures, can justify the threat Pakistan today faces from a Modi government.

And our super hyperventilating Amn Ki Aasha types must be conscious of current ground realities. While we’re not war mongers, but lets not also be the “turning the other cheek” type.

And no, dear Amn ki Asha,  our Army doesn’t keep the “Kashmir” bogey alive to keep it relevant. But for the Army, you’d not be in a Pakistan as we know it.

Our survival is paramount and not because we are a “security state” as goes the Indian lobby, but because our survival is constantly under threat. India commenced it efforts to break up the fledgling state as early as the late 50’s via Baluchistan.

Strongly recommend a read of the  article Vipin spills the beans by Ambassador Zamir Akram on the dangerously changing contours of Indian military doctrine towards Pakistan.

Muddying the Waters – Hussain Haqqani in full form!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

One has to give it to Hussain Haqqani.  How he masterfully mixes issues, articulates an argument and draws conclusions to favor his actions.

Dawn Newspaper, 25th March article, narrating Hussain Haqqani’s latest claims

In his latest smoke and mirrors routine, he combines three things.

1. He was officially authorised to issue visas by the Government, in the manner he did.

2. Security officials in the Pakistan embassy were consulted prior to visas issuance.

3. People shouldn’t ask him about these visas but question how Osama lived, undetected in Pakistan.

He’s masterfully turned the debate from himself and the issuance of thousands of visas to US security folks, towards an issue which, of course has many unanswered questions.

The is the classic monkey muddying the waters, tactic.

His first two contentions.

Issuing visas with the approval of the civilian PPP government, but basically direct orders from Asif Zardari. PM Yousaf Raza Gilani was a mere postman underling, only following Zardari’s orders.

So the question is. Why would Zardari do so?

The answer lies somewhere between not trusting the Army and bringing it to heel, ingratiating himself (Zardari) with the Americans, to perpetuate his hold on power and offering something really lucrative in return. Most likely our nuclear defanging.  And possibly save himself from a military takeover, an unreal assessment only fed by his mad paranoia.

Hence, in my opinion, as a consequence a devious plan was concocted by Haqqani to achieve the above and also in the process place himself in a position of much greater power and authority such as National Security Advisor or Foreign Minister or Interior Minister, and initiate the process of defanging Pakistan’s nuclear program.

And at the same time initiate the process to bring the Pak Army to the same level of spineless subservience, as our political leadership has done to our Police and civilian administrative machinery.

Let’s not forget that Haqqani has never been known for his strong patriotic values or strength of  character.

The less said about his so called Democratic credentials, the better.

From a rabid right wing Islamic student leader to supporting Gen. Zia ul Haque to right wing politics of PML to left wing of PPP and then to “offer his services” to Gen. Musharraf when the General took over, Haqqani has been Mistress to every Master of all political  shades

His strengths are a brilliant mind, a very powerful pen, his ability to worm his way into positions of power and sell his services to anybody willing to pay for them.

People like him are respectfully called,  Mercenaries or Quislings or Traitors.

A more uncharitable label and perhaps more befitting,  would be that of “A Lady of the Night” or even worse, the person who “manages” her.

Also not to be forgotten is his alleged lack of personal morality and his alleged weakness for the fairer gender with some fairly juicy stories in his closet!

And he also has the unenviable reputation of being a petty forgerer,  having forged Peter Gabriel’s signature to besmirch Benazir Butto’s reputation during one of his many selling of his soul routines, this time working for Nawaz Sharif.

Put this all together and you have the classic description of a person with no self respect, willing to compromise everything including his country. The last being the reason he became an Indian mole.

His second claim of consulting with embassy’s security staff is a classic piece of obfuscation. For those in these roles, usually the Defence Attache and a civilian IB officer, this is a meaningless claim. Unless these offices have the power to vet “suspect applications” via recourse to Pakistan, they by themselves have no data and or information to do the same.

The most the Defence Attache can do, which he did, was apprise his superiors and raising huge concerns about the way these visas were being issued. And that is how we first got wind of this issue.

The question which comes to my mind is, now armed with this insight, what actions or steps did the security agencies or the Pakistan Army leadership take to apprise Zardari (the source of this order ) and to stop this?

Only Gens. Kayani and Pasha and others in the know can answer this question. And they must come out publicly on this issue.

And to Haqqani’s last assertion about OBL living in Pakistan undetected.

The last is serious and must be investigated. But whatever the outcome of that investigation, it does not in any form or shape absolve Haqqani for treason against the State of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army and for working for the Indians.

For this he must be tried and suffer the consequences.

And Asif Ali Zardari has a lot to answer.

Its interesting to see the congruence in the arguments put forward by Haqqani and Zardari’s spokesperson, Senator FarhatUllah Babar, seemingly a good man stuck deep in the rot called Zardari.

Zaradari has now moved from being just a petty corrupt criminal to “selling out” Pakistan.

March 2017 -Musings on current USA Pakistan relations

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

1. Donald Trump as I said in one of the earlier articles, is a deal maker. He will do what he thinks is in the best interests of America. He generally reads things in black and white binaries

2. Hence my reading of Trump’s perspective about Pakistan is that in his assessment Pakistan’s support, especially by our military, is far more valuable for US interests in Afghanistan than India. Therefore Pakistan is to be “supported” whatever form this support means, military aid, economic aid, close cooperation with the military and stop it from completely going into the “Chinese camp”

3.  Consequently we may find an easing up of a US hardline policies towards us. The public evidence of this “easing up” are the recent statements favorable to Pakistan by Gen. Mattis, the Secretary of Defence,  Gen. Nicholson, the US task force Commander in Afghanistan,  and perhaps the most telling, recently by Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander, Central Command, to the Senate Armed Services Committe. And also the release of 350 $ million from the outstanding CSF.

4. But for me, the most visible evidence was the near panic by the Indian lobby manifested in the recent report authored by so called South Asian “experts” amongst others, Hussain Haqqani of the Hudson Institute, a pro Israeli pro Indian conservative Washington based think tank and The Heritage Foundation, another neoconservative forum. The report was Co Chaired by Hussain Haqqani and Lisa Curtis, a former CIA official who had served in Islamabad and reportedly, did not have friendly relations with the Pakistan Army, especially ISI. She’s publicly known for her anti Pakistan bias.

Also in the mudslinging was Christine Fair, whose virulent hatred for the Pakistan Army in most part, allegedly stems from reports of a failed relationship she had with a Pak Army Officer. And so we are now facing the “wrath of a woman scorned”

The fact that this report was put together in a hurry, was an attempt to scuttle and pre empt the effects of the emerging pro Pakistan narrative developing in the Pentagon and Department of Defence, which we now see manifested, as earlier stated.  A clear indication of the Trump administration’s view about Pakistan.

5. The CPEC, indicative of the very close China, Pakistan relationship with Iran joining it fully, is also something the State department, DOD and Pentagon are conscious of. Especially Iran’s ability to stave of its own destruction, and with Russian help support Assad and defeat Daesh has raised questions about USA’S support for other players, especially Saudi Arabia, it’s support of terror groups and it’s fiasco in Yemen.

This has initiated a new wave of analysis where Iran’s geo political strength is being recognized. And It’s likely integration into the CPEC with support from China and Russia are now prime factors which determine future US position on Pakistan. Trump’s relationship with Russia may also be a factor.

In this entire scenario the country which has the worst cards is India. And that, in my opinion is a bad thing for Pakistan, because India, now isolated, will try and create mayhem in Pakistan, add fuel to the “terrorist haven” charge, perhaps even carry out some violent false flag ops in Held Kashmir or on Indian soil, to put us back in the dock and create problems with the USA  

The Pro Indian lobby in the USA lead by Hussain Haqqani as their poster boy, will try and whip up as much anti Pakistan sentiments as they can, within the corridors of power.  So watch out for more anti Pakistan invective coming from them.

Whatever one’s view of Trump is, the tea leaves for now have a distinct green flavour!

March 2017 -Current thoughts on Pak – Iran -India relations.

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

Despite Modi’s win in UP, India’s Achilles heel is still Kashmir.

Also they are very conscious of the emerging Russian, China, Pakistan regional Nexus.

Russia’s distancing from them should be worrisome as would be Russia’s close military association with Iran, the latter coming back into a closer relationship with Pakistan. President Rouhani’s ECO visit would have worried them. It is clear that the Iranians want to forge a closer relationship with Pakistan. The Iranians are pragmatists and know that in the changed geo political environment their interests lie in better relations with Pakistan as compared to their ties with India when they were under US sanctions and out in the cold.

Pakistan, then gave them the cold shoulder because of US and Saudi influence and pressure. Desperate for hard cash they turned to India who happily helped them out by buying their oil and goods, ignored US sanctions and poured money into a desperate Iran.

But now that the tide has returned, Iran will come back towards Pakistan, also driven by its close ties to China who are urging them to come into to the CPEC.

So the chances of Iran  going back into the Indian orbit, though possible, seem improbable and unlikely.

Turkey is also getting closer to Iran today then before, thanks to the early coup warning to Erdogan by Iranian intelligence.

I think India is worried and this may provide an opportunity. If we can show some space by reining in our Kashmiri Jihadis, a very tall order in itself,  and easier said then done, then perhaps a window.  But this has to come from the Army not the civilian government.

As the current US thaw towards Pakistan is also a consequence of the changed Military approach towards the Taliban, any overtures to the Indians will need to come from Army being in the driving seat.

I don’t have an answer whether a changed Kashmir policy and the consequential window could result in some rapprochement.  It could. But these are snowflake type fleeting opportunities, as we had during Musharraf’s time and couldn’t manifest despite near perfect conditions on both sides.

But if India chooses to go the other path of belligerence to try and scuttle our current emerging strong geo political situation then expect some serious escalation from Afghanistan, dormant TTP type groups being re primed, BLA type insurgents in Baluchistan, though Iran will be far more supportive of Pakistan than before, given the emerging re engagement and thaw. Cross border firing and perhaps an incursion or two across the LOC in  Kashmir and even activity in Karachi, now infested with Indian moles embedded in some political parties.

Chinese, Russian and US influence on India is also key.

Given CPEC we may have a window.