US sows discord in South Asia

This is how the British India looked like in 1860. To consolidate their rule in the subcontinent, the British colonial masters used the ‘divide and rule’ policy amongst its two major communities. Unfortunately the locals helped British achieve their objective. In this regard British propaganda worked to the full advantage of the then colonial power.
This propaganda was infused in the young Indian minds through school texts which carried such material that pitted Hindus against the Muslims. By passage of time the gulf widened to such an extent that in the 1940’s the Muslims led by Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah started a movement for a separate, independent homeland.
The movement finally culminated in the emergence of Pakistan as an independent country for the Muslims of India.
After British the Americans gained more influence in the region and ever since independence, have continued to use the same ages old Imperial policy of divide and rule between the two successor states of British India, namely India and Pakistan. 

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THE CENTURIES OLD BRITISH “DIVIDE AND RULE” POLICY

STILL HOLDS IN THE SUBCONTINENT – THIS TIME BY THE US

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by M K Bhadrakumar

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Once again Mr. Bhadrakumar doesn’t disappoint us with the power of his analysis of the situation on the sub-continent and throughout the Central Asian theater of psywar.  The time is rapidly approaching when the fluid Afghanistan situation will reach a “moment of decision,” when American control over events will be decided for us by the participants themselves.  Like the recent surprise revelation that Iraq will refuse to meet American demands to keep a smaller military force in country,

 Afghans themselves too may deny us the authority to peacefully keep American bases and Special Forces kill teams in Afghanistan past the alleged “withdrawal date.”  If the upcoming Loya Jirga fails to endorse semi-permanent US super-bases, then Obama will receive a second embarrassing rebuke to his attempts to seduce or buy his way with the Afghan govt.  If the Afghan govt. refuses to go along with our demands, then how can the US Congress continue to authorize funds to train and equip them?  Either Obama will soon get everything that he wanted or he will be cut-off from the preferred path of “Mr. Nice Guy,” leaving him with only one option to get his way–Ultimate force.  He cannot blow his carefully crafted cover to the world and reveal the Establishment hit man that lies just beneath the surface.

Other writers are catching-on quickly, as well, that the game is about over, or else it has just begun.  Pay attention from here on out to M K Bhadrakumar from here on out; he knows what is really going down.  The bluffing is about over and we will have to show our hand.  God help us all, when the river of bullshit stops flowing and nothing is left but the brutal truth about American aggression.  Odds are, at that time, exposing the Beast will only increase the violence. [Peter Chamberlin]

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Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.

The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.

IT’S A BALONEY 

A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.

There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.

Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem.

Looking ahead, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation summit in Male on November 10-11. Washington would have been quick to insist that it acted as “facilitator” in fostering the improving climate in India-Pakistan relations. But the US is instead watching with a degree of discomfort that its complicated South Asian symphony is throwing up jarring notes. Calibrating India-Pakistan tensions traditionally constituted a key element of the US’s regional diplomacy.

Washington has “retaliated” to Krishna’s statement by issuing a travel advisory cautioning American nationals from visiting India because of heightened terrorist threats. Delhi, in turn, ticked off Washington saying it considered the US move “disproportionate” – a cute way of saying that the advisory is a load of baloney.

JUNDULLAH IN RETREAT 


What is happening in Pakistan-Iran relations is even more galling for the US. There has been a spate of high-level visits between Islamabad and Tehran and the two capitals have reached mutual understandings on a range of security interests. Last week, Tehran acknowledged that there had not been a single attack by the terrorist group Jundallah from the Pakistani side of the border in the Balochistan region during the past 10 months.

Tehran has accused the US of masterminding the Jundallah terrorists to stage covert operations to destabilize Iran. However, since the detention of Central Intelligence Agency operative Raymond Davis in Lahore in January, Islamabad has clamped down on hundreds of US intelligence operatives functioning on Pakistani soil, seriously cramping the US’s capacity to dispatch Jundallah terrorists into Iran.

Tehran is satisfied that the Pakistani security establishment is finally acting purposively to smash the US-backed Jundallah network. It reciprocates Pakistan’s goodwill by trying to harmonize its Afghan policy and scrupulously avoided pointing fingers at Pakistan for the assassination of Afghan Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was closely allied with Tehran.

Essentially, Iran appreciates that Pakistan’s “strategic defiance” of the US will be in the interest of regional stability, the bottom line being that Tehran is keen to force the American troops to leave the region.

Tehran succeeded in the pursuit of a similar objective in Iraq by prevailing on Shi’ite political elites in Baghdad not to accede to the desperate pleas by the US to allow US troops to continue even after the stipulated deadline of withdrawal in December 2011 under the Status of Forces agreement. But Afghanistan is a different kettle of fish and a common strategy with Pakistan will help.

Pakistan keeps an ambivalent stance on the issue of a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, but it can count on the Taliban to robustly oppose the US plans apropos military bases. Unsurprisingly, Tehran purses a multi-pronged approach toward the Taliban.

CONCERTED EFFORT 

In sum, the overall regional scenario is becoming rather unfavorable to the US. The easing of tensions in Pakistan’s relations with India and Iran undermine US strategy to get embedded in the region.

The US’s travel advisory was intended to raise hackles in India about the imminent possibility of Pakistan-supported terrorist activities. Again, US-sponsored disinformation is reappearing with claims that China and Pakistan are conspiring against India by setting Chinese military bases in the northern areas of Pakistan, which form part of Kashmir.

This is coinciding with a distinct improvement in the security situation in the Kashmir Valley, to the point that chief minister Omar Abdullah openly advocated last week in Srinagar that decades-old emergency regulations should be progressively withdrawn and that Delhi should initiate a serious engagement of Pakistan to settle the Kashmir problem.

United States-backed propaganda about the prospect of Chinese military bases in the Pakistani part of Kashmir is intended to serve a dual purpose: namely, creating discord between Pakistan and India and in Sino-Indian relations, too.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a significant statement last week that he was “convinced” that the Chinese leadership wanted a peaceful resolution of all problems between India and China, including the long-running border dispute. Significantly, he expressed his “sincere hope [that] it is possible for us to find ways and means by which the two neighbors can live in peace and amity despite the persistence of the border problem”.

Manmohan’s remarks assumed significance since the two countries are to shortly hold the 15th round of talks on the border issue in New Delhi. In a meaningful move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Manmohan’s political overture. Beijing said China was “ready to work with India to enhance the China-India strategic partnership”. The statement said:

As important neighbors to each other, China and India have maintained sound momentum in the bilateral relationship. As for the border issue left over from history, the two sides have been seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through friendly consultations. Pending a final solution, the two sides are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas.

A SEASON FOR PROPAGANDA 

The speculative, unattributed – and unverifiable – reports regarding Chinese intentions to establish military bases in the upper reaches of the Kashmir region under Pakistani control are surging again at a formative point in regional security. Their labored thesis is that Delhi should be extremely wary about the “devious” intentions of China and Pakistan and should go slow on the normalization of relations with these “treacherous” neighbors.

Curiously, Delhi is also being bombarded at the same time with US propaganda that Washington is striking a “grand bargain” with Pakistan over the Afghan problem whereby there will be a mutual accommodation of each other’s concerns, which may include US intervention to mediate the Kashmir problem and US pressure on Delhi to roll back its presence in Afghanistan.

In a motivated commentary in Foreign Policy magazine last week on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, two prominent US think-tankers wired to the Washington establishment, actually tried to alternatively bait Islamabad and frighten Delhi by putting on the table the ingredients of the “grand bargain”. Truly, this is all turning out to be a season for propaganda.

The heart of the matter is that the US is desperate to clinch a strategic agreement with the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul that would allow the establishment of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

On Monday, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in Kabul against US bases. The same day, the lower house of the Afghan parliament rejected terms guiding the operations of the Afghan government’s existing agreement with the International Security Assistance Force as violating the country’s sovereignty. The mood in the Afghan parliament seems hostile.

Karzai is convening a loya jirga (grand council) to seek endorsement for the US-Afghan pact. Matters will come to a head when it meets on November 16. Karzai promises that the US-Afghan pact will be sent to parliament for approval after being discussed in the jirga. Washington insists that the jirga approves the draft pact before the Bonn II conference convenes in December. Karzai’s political future depends on whether he can deliver on the pact.

All sitting parliamentarians, some former members, one-third of the provincial council members, representatives of civil society and distinguished people, religious scholars and influential tribal leaders have been invited to the jirga. Two hundred and thirty representatives of Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan, Iran and Western countries will also be in attendance in the 2,030-strong jirga.

On September 13, Afghan National Security Advisor Dadfar Spanta told Afghan parliamentarians that the US might set up military bases in Afghanistan after the signing of the pact, but that the pact wouldn’t be inked unless approved by parliament. Spanta added, “Concerns of our neighbors [over the US-Afghan pact] are genuine, but we will not allow our soil to be used against them.”

The Afghan parliament fears, however, that Karzai might choose to bypass it after extracting endorsement from a pliant jirga and interpreting that as the collective opinion of the Afghan nation. Parliament directed the speaker on Monday to address an official communication to Karzai highlighting its constitutional prerogative to approve foreign policy issues.

The Afghan endgame is moving into a crucial phase; much will depend on regional politics. The worst-case scenario for the US is that subsuming the contradictions in the intra-regional relationships between and among Pakistan, Iran, India and China, these countries might have a convergent opinion on the issue of American military bases.

An accentuation of these contradictions, therefore, would serve the US’s geopolitical interests at the present juncture, hence the US’s “divide-and-rule” strategy.

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Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Related Posts:

1. Moving the India-Pakistan Relationship Forward [1 of 2] 2. Moving the India-Pakistan Relationship Forward [2 of 2]
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A different approach, analyzing the prevailing situation in south Asia by an experienced person of Indian foreign service is of course interesting to read, but there exist impediments, several ones, in accepting the suggested solution to the existing problems in the region. So in order to develop the suggested thinking amongst the policy makers in both the countries, the Kashmir issue must be solved at the earliest.

  2. USA is desperate to start a war between the two nations. the recent string of grenade attacks in Srinagar can be attributed to groups aligned with EU/western interests. India and Pakistan must jointly get out of commonwealth.

    • Perfectly agree with you Captain. It’s quite possible that the string of grenade attacks in Srinagar may result in similar type of attacks in Pakistan. Pakistan will hold the RAW of India responsible for this and India might put blame of all attacks on Pakistan’s ISI. Whereas the need as you have rightly pointed out is that both states need to sit together and see who are these terrorists? Our experience in Pakistan is that most of such attacks [excepting the ones that are made by some religious renegades who claim themselves as more Muslims than Muslims], most of such attacks are the brainchild of CIA and MI6 of Britain.

      But I think instead of Pakistan and India coming out of Commonwealth should sit right there in the Commonwealth as well as the UN Security Council and use their influence, persuasion and diplomatic clout to make the CIA/MI6 planners recognize that the sub continental neighbors now understand who is actually behind these terror attacks. Take the case of this Headley. He is a man of CIA, was sent to Pakistan, developed links with the ISI and then did things which suited more the US interests than those of Pakistan.

      After 26/11 attacks in Mumbai when whole of India was full of anger and thinking of attacking Pakistan, but first demanding an exclusive Indian team’s enquiry against certain persons sitting in Pakistan, I had suggested even then that instead of India investigating terror attacks in Pakistan and Pakistanis investigating terror attacks in our cities in India is not a practical solution. Let the two countries jointly investigate all acts of terror and that would make such investigations more transparent, more conclusive and thus contribute towards clearing so many ambiguities, misunderstandings and confusion existing between the two. I still believe if India and Pakistan sit together will solve a lot of problems. The recent decision by Pakistan to declare MFN status for India and Indian support to Pakistan in the UN Security Council are highly welcome steps and I hope such steps of goodwill will definitely go a long way in bringing the two ‘enemies’ together.

      [Please excuse me for this word ‘enemy’. India was never our enemy nor was Pakistan of India’s but the vested interests in both India and Pakistan first discovered the ‘dushman’ in each of us and then brought us to wars for nothing].

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