Pakistan’s jihadist military is bankrolled by the US government – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“Indian intellectual thought refrains from taking positions on global issues. … Indian diplomacy is cultivated to be intellectually timid, to hide behind non-alignment and lacks a conception of India’s place in the world. … In any India-US dialogue, America’s Pakistan policy must be on the agenda.” – Tufail Ahmad

Nawaz Sharif and Barack ObamaDays before prime minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Washington last week, the US announced its decision to give 160 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPs) vehicles worth $198 million to Pakistan. According to a statement, the sale “will contribute to the foreign policy” of the US. The decision is part of a larger US plan to hand over military hardware from Afghanistan to Pakistan army. It also reveals the deceptive American argument that selling F-16s and other war-fighting weapons to Pakistan is meant to fight militants. Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador and an astute thought leader of South Asia, has described this American thinking as delusional.

India should call this bluff for the following reason: the US foreign policy hampers India’s interests and its efforts to shape South Asia. Diplomacy is relevant when and where it matters the most. The move to sell the MRAPs is timed with Modi’s Washington visit. India must openly debate the US relationship with Pakistan. Also, the Indian media needs to sharpen its focus on how the US’s Pakistan policy undermines India in its neighbourhood. The US counter-terror policy on Afghanistan has been flawed throughout by overlooking the Pakistani role, except for when George W Bush ordered the CIA to stop sharing intelligence with Islamabad in 2008 and develop a parallel network of human intelligence in the Pakistani tribal region.

Bush’s move followed the realisation that the Pakistani military’s ISI was protecting jihadists in Waziristan despite actionable intelligence. Soon after its creation in 1947, Pakistan began a policy of using jihadists from the Pashtun-dominated north-west region to advance its external policies. The north-west region had been a hotbed of jihadists from the colonial times. In 1947-48, the newly created Pakistan used jihadists to invade Jammu & Kashmir and Balochistan. The use of jihadists continued through all wars against India and in peace time, as well as against its own people in Bangladesh. Its use of jihadists in the Kargil war was comprehensive.

Nawaz Sharif & Rizwan AkhtarIn Pakistan, the final arbiter of its foreign policy, especially with regards to Afghanistan, the US and India, is the ISI, which views itself as the ideological guardian of the Islamic state. In theory, the ISI chief reports to the civilian government, but in practice he answers only to the army chief. The ISI is known for birthing, nurturing and shepherding jihadist groups to advance Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives. Ideologically, the only difference between the ISI and al-Qaeda is this: both stand for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate, while the ISI nurtures the objective that Pakistan, being the first state created singularly for Islam, will be the leader of that caliphate.

In military strategy, generals do not write an exit plan before war; at least they don’t announce to the enemy when they intend to wrap up the war. However, president Barack Obama’s advance announcement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014-end activated the ISI strategists to think beyond 2014. As the US exit from Afghanistan approaches, the ISI’s policy of using jihadist outfits after 2014 is beginning to emerge. There are also clear evidences that al-Qaeda is indeed a branch of the Pakistani military.

Consider three points: one, advancing essentially the ISI’s post-2014 strategy, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has announced the establishment of “Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent”—a terror unit that is succeeding in recruiting Indian Muslims; two, Asmatullah Muawiya, the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab, recently announced that he would abandon fighting, but contrary to the media’s interpretations his decision means that he will fight in Afghanistan and against Indian interests Ashokawhile ceasing attacks “within” Pakistan; three, reports indicate that the Punjabi Taliban will now assist the Haqqani Network, the ISI’s long arm destabilising Afghanistan.

Perhaps rooted in Ashoka’s renunciation of violence, Indian intellectual thought refrains from taking positions on global issues. In 2011, India abstained from a vote on a UN resolution that permitted a no-fly zone over Libya. In July, to gain equivalence on the multilateral track, India voted against Israel—in favour of a UN resolution that avoided mentioning the jihadist group, Hamas. India doesn’t have courage to train some Iraqi policemen, if not to send troops for the fear that Indian expatriate workers could be affected, as advised by Indian diplomats influenced by Damascus. Indian diplomacy is cultivated to be intellectually timid, to hide behind non-alignment and lacks a conception of India’s place in the world.

In the 4th Century BC, Kautilya offered, reminds Henry Kissinger in his new book World Order, “a vision of how to establish and guard a state while neutralising, subverting, and (when opportune conditions have been established) conquering its neighbours”. Now, military generals who mock some of the Indian state’s Kautilyan practices become ministers. It is also doubtful if India would have intervened in East Pakistan but—as Kissinger notes—for “the protection of a freshly signed Soviet defense treaty”. A few years ago, strategists in Delhi called for Nonalignment 2.0, which anchors Indian thought in the Soviet era. In 2012, writing about Nonalignment 2.0, then air vice marshal Arjun Subramaniam happened to observe: being “restrained is a demonstration of the ‘idea of India’”. India’s restraint is a diplomatic mental block.

Obama & Modi on the National Mall in WashingtonOn September 21, The Washington Post warned that Pakistan “is advancing toward a sea-based missile capability and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads”. A nation that cannot make train engines produces cruise missiles and nuclear bombs. It is time the US is told: Pakistani’s jihadist military is bankrolled by American money. The Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan was orchestrated to have the blocked US funds cleared to Pakistan army. The sale of MRAPs appears small but it reveals the US diplomatic mindset that consistently undermines India, a point Indian diplomats are yet to comprehend. If the US expects India to be a natural ally, New Delhi must realise that blunt-talking and brinkmanship are established tenets of international diplomacy. In any India-US dialogue, America’s Pakistan policy must be on the agenda. – The New Indian Express, 29 September 2014

» Tufail Ahmad is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email:


Pakistan Navy Submarine

2 Responses

  1. Obama’s insensitivity to Modi’s fast amounts to a glaring breach of diplomatic courtesy.

    And to add insult to injury, there was no vegetarian option for the main course of the meal (which was fish). So those vegetarians in Modi’s entourage who were not fasting, like Sushma Swaraj, would have had to go without the main course of the meal.

    This is inexcusable. Was Obama sending Modi a message of contempt? Or is he just stupid and indifferent to the needs of his guests?

    As Modi was the chief guest and the dinner was in his honour, it should have been a completely vegetarian meal (never mind whether he was eating or not). This is the basic protocol. No question about it.

    The White house has produced pure vegetarian meals for Manmohan Singh and other vegetarian guests, so why not for Narendra Modi?

    (And we can be sure that Obama’s Jewish guests get kosher dinners even as the Muslim camel drivers who often dine at the White house get halal kebabs served without beer or wine.)


  2. Modi's dinner at the White House

    Obama Invites Indian Leader to Dinner While He Is Observing Religious Fast: Administration under fire for perceived insensitivity to Hindu traditions – Adam Kredo – The Washington Free Beacon – 29 Sept 2014

    The Obama administration was grilled on Monday for inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a state dinner while he is fasting as part of a Hindu religious observance, a move that has been criticized by some as insensitive.

    Obama will host Modi Monday evening at the White House “for a private dinner” that will also be attended by Vice President Joe Biden, the White House announced Monday morning. The event is closed to the press.

    However, the administration appears to have forgotten that Modi is in the middle of carrying out a religious fast in observance of the Hindu navratri, in which the faithful abstain from food, according to reports.

    The administration’s seeming insensitivity to Modi’s religious observance caused a tense back-and-forth during the State Department’s daily briefing with reporters.

    State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was forced to defend the decision to hold the dinner on the holy day.

    “I’m just wondering if anyone thought it was really that much of a good idea to host and dinner and lunch for the visiting president who is the middle of a fast,” asked Associated Press reporter Matt Lee.

    “We certainly understand that and recognize it and respect it, his fast. It’s a way of honoring an individual,” Psaki responding.

    “Are these people going to be actually eating in front of him?” Lee followed up.

    “I don’t have the menu in front of me, Matt,” Psaki said.

    Lee explained that the optics could be offensive.

    “So he’s going to be sitting there drinking his water or lemon flavored water and everyone else is going to be chowing down on a four course meal in front on him?” the reporter asked.

    “We can check and see what the menu is if it’s of interest to you,” Psaki replied.

    “Is there actually going to be food served?” pressed Lee. “It seems a little impolite if someone can’t eat because they’re doing a religious [fast]. You wouldn’t invite a practicing Muslim to lunch in the Middle of Ramadan would you?”

    “It seems kind of odd they would choose an event and then a lunch with someone who can’t eat,” Lee said.

    Psaki responded that the overarching goal of the meals are to “to honor the visit” by Modi.

    Modi has been engaged in a prominent diplomatic tour since arriving in the United States earlier this month.

    He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, in a meeting that generated multiple agreements on a range of economic and security fronts, according to announcements by both governments.


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