Do CIA and RAW really gang up against Pakistan?

Eurasia News

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By Agha Iqrar Haroon

Agha Iqrar Haroon is a senior journalist and Development Observer working in the regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe
Agha Iqrar Haroon is a senior journalist and Development Observer working in the regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe

“Destroying a country is a “strategic fun” for western powers and United States is the master in this game play”, commented one former soldier of Afghan-Russo war when we were walking at the bank of Amudarya in the winter of 2014.

Obliterating a country needs destruction of its regular army before ground engagement of western powers. United States successfully destroyed Afghanistan in Operation Cyclone by first creating and then using radical purist Islamists by giving them title of “Mujahideen” against Afghan Army during early 80s. This experiment was successful and Iraq got the same treatment in early 90s.

The sketch of destroying a country includes develop such conditions those can help to devastate its regular army at first stage; then creating smaller militias/radical groups and then let such groups to fight with each other.

United States launched successful Afghan Jihad in late 70s against former Soviet Union.  This Jihad — Operation Cyclone was funded by Saudi Arabia and manned by military establishment of Pakistan. Such operations always need extensive involvement of intelligence agencies therefore a cadre of religious minded army officers was raised with compulsory background of Pushto language in the prime intelligence agency of Pakistan –Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) that was “delivery window” of Afghan Jihad. ISI successfully worked along with CIA in changing the region as well as changing the mindset of the than moderate Afghan and Pakistani societies. Today, ISI and Pakistan Army are blamed by United States for their alleged relations with radical forces although both were given a task by the United States to create, train and keep radical Jihadis on the soil of Pakistan in early 80s.

Pakistan is also blamed by United States to support Haqqani network in Afghanistan although Haqqanis put their seal in favour of sitting chief (Ameer) of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mullah Fazulhullah who has been waging war against the state of Pakistan by living in Kunar province of Afghanistan. Haqqanis could stop the way of Mullah Fazlullah to become Ameer of TTP if they were friends of Pakistan Army because everybody know that Mullah Fazlullah is one of the biggest enemies of Pakistan Army in the region. Over 55,000 civilians were killed by TTP and other radical outfits in Pakistan till the time Pakistan Army flushed them out from their hideouts. “

“Bracketing Pakistan with Haqqani network after year 2006 is unjustified and callus attitude”, said a retired Army officer when asked to comment on Army-Haqqani relationships.

He added that Pakistan Army fought its war against terrorism and radical groups all alone and no help came from any radical group or country to neutralize dreadful situation for Pakistan when radical groups were on killing spree of innocent civilians and army officers.

After 40 years of their joint action in Afghanistan, ISI and CIA still collaborate in regional developments but at the present ISI has reasons to believe that United States has changed its strategic partner in the region and its (Pakistan) arch rival India is new US strategic partner for regional adventures and this time target can be Pakistan.  If it is true, then the first target would be the military of Pakistan.

There are circumstantial evidences that Indian intelligence agency RAW is trying to destroy moral and reputation of Pakistan Army since the last decade. The arrest of RAW agents in largest province of Pakistan—Baluchistan followed revealing information about how RAW was involved in spreading terrorism in Pakistan from Karachi to North Waziristan.

One has to look in past to understand what is happening today in Pakistan and why military leadership has become conscious about its relations with United States.

Afghan Jihad needed Jihadi school of thought of religion that was provided by purist Islamists from Middle East with the financial help of Saudi Arabia. Thousands of Middle Eastern religious scholars were imported to Pakistan where Afghan Jihadis were trained, equipped and then sent for Jihad inside Afghanistan. ISI was responsible to provide workforce for Jihad. Operation Cyclone helped ISI to understand mechanism of CIA and later had opportunity to comprehend the worth and exceptional reach of ISI in the region.

Unexpected withdrawal of Red Army of former Soviet Union left certain tools of destruction behind Amudarya including huge cache of arms, jubilant radical youth with AK-47 in their hands, infighting Mujahideen and a destroyed country with no army. Some politburo reports of former USSR suggest that decaying Communist era decided in principle to leave almost all weapons within Afghanistan and ordered its soldiers just to carry one gun and vehicles to take them out from the land of blood and destruction—Afghanistan. Therefore, Red Army by design left thousands of T-52 tanks, Mil Mi-22 light helicopters, BM-21 Grad (moveable rocket launching pad), assault rifles like AK-47 and millions of live bullets and RPGs behind in Afghanistan. Some former Soviet military officers claim that decision was taken in politburo to leave weapons in Afghanistan so Afghan would have toys (weapons) to play for next three to four decades and keep destroying not only their country rather Pakistan —-a country that played pivotal role to help United States.

Former generals of Red Soviet Army claim in private meetings that Soviet Union had no iota of doubt that radical Islam equipped with Soviet made AK-47 would change social fabrics of Pakistan right after the departure of Red Army because Afghans would start selling their weapons to private hands in Pakistan. However, Soviet Army thought that Pakistan Army could buy rocket launchers, BM-21 Grad, MI22 and tanks from Afghan Mujahideen but it never happened and Pakistan Army never thought about this.

CIA and ISI kept collaborating in the region although western media started portraying ISI as “dangerous animal” in the region right after the withdrawal of Soviet Union from Afghanistan.

United States and Pakistan again worked together to eliminate “made-in-Pakistan Jihadis” under Operation Enduring Freedom and Pakistan intelligence agency ISI was again given a lead role to clean up region from those who were invited from Middle East— Al-qaeeda. From 1979 to 2001, Pakistan became a visa free country for Jihadis from all over the world and they spread all over Pakistan after Afghan Jihad ended in early 90s. However, majority of Jihadis opted to stay in rugged tribal areas of Pakistan as these areas were out of the legal writ of the state of Pakistan under an agreement with tribal elders.

Afghan war had gone through many stages till 2001. Civil war among Mujahideen started just after the departure of Red Army that continued till 1996 and then Pakistan pitched another version of Jihadis and they were given name of Taliban— students. Taliban threw out Mujahideen and established their writ over the 70% of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, US policy towards Afghanistan and towards Jihadis kept changing and people like Osama Bin Laden (OBL) who were invited and trained by CIA became “Most Wanted” for United States after 9/11 tragedy.

Operation Enduring Freedom started in last week of September 2001 and western world started bombing Afghanistan.  Pakistan and its prime intelligence agency ISI were again in lead role. Taliban and Al-qaeeda left Kabul and Kandahar instantly and spread over in tribal areas of Pakistan. Now Pakistan was asked by United States to flush them out from its area and ISI led hunt against Al-qaeeda started. This was the beginning to end of long lasting relations between Jihadis and ISI. Foreign Jihadis felt betrayed because they used to collaborate and work with and for ISI since they came to Pakistan and now they were considered as enemies.

Almost in same juncture of time, radical Islamist popularly known as Pakistani Taliban managed to establish their writ not only in tribal areas rather in settled areas too including Swat Valley of KPK province. Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law took over Dir, Malakand, Dargai and Swat in 2007 and established Shariah law in these areas.

Pakistan Army launched military operation namely Operation Rah-e-Haq, on October 24, 2007 and regained Swat Valley in next five months. This was the first time that military establishment of Pakistan sensed that Indian intelligence agency RAW was present among radical religious outfits. All doubts in the minds of ISI leadership were eliminated by the formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007 when Pakistan Army was engaged in Swat. 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud with a stated objective to launch resistance against the State of Pakistan. TTP instantly enforced Sharia in areas under its control in tribal belt.

According to reports, military leadership of Pakistan shared information with CIA that Indian intelligence agency RAW had launched fourth generation warfare (WG4) against Pakistan. However, Pakistan did not find any help from Pentagon. Russian regional experts claim that CIA understood that brutal war between ISI and RAW was inevitable and kept itself away from this scenario.

Suicide terror attacks became a routine of the day in Pakistan and over 55,000 civilians lost their lives from 2008 to 2014. “Pakistani newspapers used to carry more than three news item everyday about terror attacks and death of civilians”, commented a researcher working in Strategic Institute of Bishkek.

Military establishment of Pakistan got another trimmer in early 2009 when it came to know that Punjab based radical group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi  (LeJ) was also linked with RAW and it attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. ISI got information that LeJ was receiving instructions from New Delhi for this attack although LeJ was considered a radical outfit having cordial relations with provincial government of Punjab as well as with certain circles of ISI.

Indian RAW through TTP managed to attack even General Headquarters of Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi on 10 October 2009 and terrorists managed to stay inside GHQ for over 40 hours before Army Special Forces and the 13th Regular Regiment concluded Operation Janbaz and killed terrorists. It was too much embarrassing for Pakistan Army but it had to live with these circumstances for another five years and terrorists kept attacking places of their choices.

From 2006 onward, military establishment kept fighting radical groups and its cordial relations with purist Islamists and radical groups lost forever because yesteryear friends were now blood sucking enemies.

Pakistan military launched its first full-fledged operation against terrorists in June 2014 under the name of Operation Zarb-e-Azb although sitting government opted dialogue and negotiations with hardcore terrorists. Dialogue and negotiations with TTP failed when TTP massacred more soldiers and shared the video of killings on social media. TTP used all options and tools to demoralise Pakistan Army including attacking an Army Public School in Peshawar for killing sons and daughters of army officials.

The attack on Army Public School of Peshawar was similar to Beslan school massacre (1 September 2004) where a group of armed Islamic group occupied School Number One (SNO) in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia Russia. There was another similarity in both gruesome incidents and that was the city of Peshawar. Russian intelligence found credible links that planning of Beslan School massacre was done by a group of Chechens living in University Town Peshawar while Army Public School attack took place in Peshawar.

“The only objective of TTP was to destroy the moral of Pakistan Army and it was the reason that TTP attacked Army Military School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 and massacred over 130 students under the age of 16 and almost all of them were children of soldiers and officers of Pakistan military”, said a former general while commenting over terrorism in Pakistan.

After launching of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the world of intelligence agencies kept their eyes on situation in Pakistan because everybody knew that ISI and RAW were fighting eye to eye and that was their first overt fight. Interestingly, Pakistan Army in less than two years destroyed TTP network, regained lost areas, reclaimed mountainous posts and dismantled factories where suicide bombers were trained and suicide jackets were made.

ISI believes that RAW has infected not only religions cadres rather a large number of Pakistani politicians are also funded by RAW and prime example of such relationship is one of the biggest ethno – politico party of financial hub of Pakistan— Karachi.  The Chief of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussian has known links with RAW and he has openly been ordering his workers to destroy Pakistan while living in United Kingdom. Political circles in Pakistan believe that Altaf Hussian has been enjoying backing of not only RAW but MI5 and this is the reason that he was not sent in jail despite of criminal charges against him including his alleged involvement in a murder case.

There are reports that military establishment and political government of three-timed elected Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif are not enjoying cordial relations. Military in Pakistan has a long history of running over political governments and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed and jailed by military leadership in October 1999 by the than Chief of Army Staff Gen Musharraf.

Reports suggest that a news report published in an English daily helped to intensify tension between civil and military leaderships. This report is related to a top secret meeting held in Prime Minister House. Government categorically rejected the report in which it was stated that political leadership blamed ISI and military to support certain radical elements including Masood Azhar who is the founder and leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed—a UN-designated terrorist group. However, the name of Masood Azhar is not on international terrorists list.

Political circles in Pakistan believe that news item had motive to demoralise and defame Pakistan Army. Opposition parties believe that certain elements in political government are intimidating military leadership and such situation can incite military leadership to overrun political government like it happened in past although current military leadership is apparently keeping itself away from political issues and giving full support and confidence to political government to run its working without the pressure of military establishment.

Political circles believe that any tussle between military and civilian leadership will benefit India and its intelligence agency RAW because India wants to send a message to the world that Pakistan is a dangerous country and anything can happen in Pakistan anytime therefore investors and regional partners should avoid long-term strategic investments in Pakistan.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Eurasian Desk of Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.