Thursday, July 7, 2011

Af-Pak Plot Thickening into War

The scenario projected in my post on "Ilyas Kashmirir: The Trend" (5 June 2011) is playing out to the letter. While militant pressure grows in Pakistan's tribal frontier, Islamabad has developed a new sincerity in attacking the problem of terrorism. It even discovered that a serving Brigadier was providing aid and comfort to terrorist organizations. 

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have gone south rapidly. On 6 July Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express “serious concern” about the activities of militants on their border. That followed several days of intense Pakistani rocket attacks across the border, about which Afghanistan lodged a formal complaint. 

Pakistani officials told reporters that Gilani's call followed what they described as an attack on the north-western Upper Dir region by "hundreds of militants" and clashes with local tribesmen and soldiers. Militants also attacked Pakistani Army forces in the town of Miran Shah.

In a statement issued on the evening of the 6th, Gilani's office said the Pakistani army was exercising the “utmost restraint, despite repeated cross border incursions by the militants." It urged that the situation be “defused quickly” and offered to send representatives to a meeting on how the two countries could thwart the militants.

Meanwhile, Britain has moved to strengthen its representation in Kabul by having UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appoint British diplomat Michael Keating as Deputy to the UN's Special Representative there. Since 2008 the British have been on the diplomatic backfoot in Kabul because two of its senior officials working for multilateral agencies were summarily expelled by President Karzai, who also shot down the proposed appointment of Paddy Ashdown, a former MI-6 agent turned politician, to a proposed new post combining UN, EU and NATO representation (see post of 10 February 2008: "Why Karzai Nixed Paddy Ashdown").

On 6 July British Chief of the Defence Staff General David Richards was in Islamabad for the first meeting of an "Enhanced Strategic Dialogue" with Pakistan that was set up during Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to   the country in April. Speaking to reporters about the event, Pakistan's new Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the beauteous Hina Rabbani Khar, recalled President Zardari’s recent visit to Britain and expressed satisfaction at the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries She welcomed Cameron’s "support and solidarity" with Pakistan and Britain's positive and constructive role in the region.

In reality, Britain has played a deeply destructive role in Pakistan since creating the country as a proxy in South Asia when India gained independence in 1947. It has been the main architect of "Islamic terrorism," working through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (which it also created in dismantling the Ottoman Empire). As the central node of the global black market it created as the British Empire slipped away, London has also been the world's primary money laundering hub, with Hong Kong as the main portal servicing the criminally corrupt regime in China.

Among the most ominous developments is that Pakistan has brought Beijing firmly into the South Asian picture by giving it what looks like a military role in Occupied Kashmir. Beijing's incentive to cooperate is rooted in its fear that the economic armageddon it faces will dislodge Tibet from its colonial grip. All in all, it really looks as if the London-Islamabad-Beijing Axis is ready to put up a fight to protect overlapping national interests in drug trafficking, terrorism and tyranny.

For India, these developments have a positive aspect. Pakistan has moved the bulk of its troops to the Afghan border, and as Foreign Secretary Nirupama Sen found at the recent meeting with her counterpart in Islamabad, there seems to be a newly serious attitude to tackling terrorism in Pakistan. Looking farther ahead, that will not matter much if the Afghan-Pakistan scenario deteriorates into regional war.  

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