Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, America, China, Russia, Terrorism

This mantra needs no reminder that terrorism emanates from extremism, which normally is an outcome of lack of political, social and economic justice, sense of deprivation and exploitation of these cleavages by adversaries. The terrorist entities are not strictly hierarchical organisations, nor do they rigidly follow any central leadership or commands. Most of them are up for sale, at times in franchise format. So these troubles could be home grown, foreign sponsored, or a combination of both which is mostly the case. It is the nature of these creation that we find the same countries sponsoring and fighting terrorists’ outfits at a time, occasionally with the same names. Now before we embark upon findings a panacea for this very complicated, but potent hydra with multiple heads and reincarnation abilities, we need to scan the genesis of this monster.

Quite some time back when a political party with religious leanings won elections in Algeria, they were kept away from power. Iraq was invaded by on a false premise, Sudan was divided into two, and East Timor was carved out because some ethnic/religious groups reportedly were being persecuted. But the continued oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians goes unnoticed by the world conscience.

When the brotherhood party won elections in Egypt, they were not deemed worthy of forming their government. The Qaddafi of Libya committed the sin of challenging the tyranny of petro-dollars. But the array of monarchs elsewhere, towing the line, face no threat of imposition of democracy. Afghanistan has been converted into ashes in a so called hot pursuit of Al Qaeda, Syria is battered into nearly a non-entity and Yemen as a country is just on paper maps.

In this backdrop, the emergence of counter forces, mostly irregular, was just but natural, and the countries that had grudges against the states leading the world order, and could not face them overtly, found good opportunity to align with few terrorist outfits.
Yet this was not all. Asymmetric nature of conflicts, political implications of employing regular forces and their exorbitant expenditures, gave further rise to proxy wars. Thus raising or abetting militias and irregular forces and employing them liberally by some very civilized countries has become a norm rather than exception. Add to this landscape, the treachery of information operations, false flag actions and media manipulations, and we find ourselves confronted with herculean task, that is telling on the resources of even well governed, economically strong countries, and much more difficult to be tackled by misgoverned and weak countries.

Focusing closer in the region, we face a comical situation:

a. We are allies of US but the Indo-US nexus defies all other relations.
b. India vows to teach us a lessons, and the attack comes from Afghan side.
c. We are forging an alliance with China – Russia – Turkey, with Iran a natural member of this bloc, but the NOC given to ex Pakistani COAS General Raheel Sharif to head a loosely organised IMAT (Islamic Military Alliance against Terrorism) with clear anti Iran ambitions and an open US patronage.
d. We are under a heavy burden of debt provided by the international monetary institutions with the main control of US, but aspire to benefit from China Centric CPEC, which would definitely be on eye sore for Americans.
e. We do understand that acme of diplomacy lie in multilateral approach but the balancing act must be seen credible. In our exuberance to gain from all sides, let us hope and
pray that we do not lose all glimmers of bright future. Diplomacy has its limitations as has politics and military strategy that is why only their combination works.
f. If we look at the situations of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Kashmir and try to gauge the mood of stake holders, it resembles a spectre where in an arena several blind boxers are hitting out at each other without any aim and objectives; and referees (US, Russia, UN, etc.) instead of putting a stop to this fight are shouting ‘box on’, as they need to perpetuate these proxies for their own interests.

Having understood the genesis of terrorism (a very complicated socio-economic & politico-military phenomenon), let us scan the prospects of fighting it out successfully, by the Middle East, Iran & Pakistan.

Middle East monarchies are in a good position to fight out this menace due to rich resources, absence of large scale deprivation, strict implementation of laws, due to nature of regimes, and last but not the least, their alignment with the dominant super power. Exceptions are Iraq, Libya and Syria; and their vows can be attributed to the imposition of democracy, falling in anti-American Camp and destruction of stable regimes. Now the emergence of multiple independent zones, division of Syria, Iraq & Yemen seems to be on the horizon. So the wars going on in these countries are purely politico-military struggles with terrorism only as a tool of fighting. Resultantly, this fire cannot be extinguished by the anti-terror forces. It can only be controlled through good politics and diplomacy, most likely resulting into footholds of new emerging political reality in the shape of Russian, Chinese and Iranian alignment.

Iran on the other hand is not a victim of large scale terrorist activities. They have wisely and intelligently adopted a forward pre-emptive strategy by fighting out proxy wars away from their homeland, into Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. So Iran, which may be seen as a part of the problem, actually has devised a strategy to keep the problem away at arm’s length through activity and not passivity.

Coming closer to home; we have allowed things to happen for a long time, creating ideal environment for nurturing extremism and terrorism on grand scales. Lack of socio-economic justice, illiteracy of mammoth proportions, absence of health facilities and unequal eco opportunities, combined to evolve into a combustible land, and people to get ignited & exploited by known & unknown enemies for different motives.

Add to this spectre, the pliable regimes and inter institutional rivalries, resulting into disunity, disharmony and confused foreign policy & nearly stunted diplomacy.
The oft trumpeted success against terrorism is mainly in the kinetic spectrum, and there are hardly any mentionable successes in the field of diplomacy, socio-eco indicators and internal harmony. Surrounded by threats from all around and facing multiple internal challenges, our efforts to balance out between Iran and Saudi, between US and China are actually likely to antagonise all. With Indo-US nexus comfortably perched in the neighbourhood and their firm control on the Afghan Unity Government has dashed all hopes of peace in the region.

Our inability to make the world aware of the atrocities perpetrated in Indian Occupied Kashmir, and Hybrid War waged by Indians in our hinterland, has left us alone to fight out this multidimensional menace. So what are we supposed to do?

a. Ensure that all Iranian & Saudi backed outfits and madrassas are closed and sealed immediately.
b. Join whole heartedly the China-Russo effort to open communication channels with Afghan Taliban trying to convince them into negotiation with other Afghan stake holders.
c. Keep ourselves away from the Islamic Coalition Army, as now it is very clear that it is meant to fight Iranian influence in ME.
d. Stop appeasing India as it is amply clear that nothing of this sort has ever worked with them.
e. Start doing to Indians exactly what they are doing to us (Fight back the Hybrid War).
f. Internally, reorganise governance structures and create a common platform to discuss and formulate efficient diplomacy, plan and execute all required formats of anti-terrorism, with all stake holders on board. Such that a focused, centrally controlled, anti-extremism and anti-terrorism efforts could be undertaken.
g. Make a clear distinction between friends and foes and stop playing an artificial balancing act that could prove counter-productive.

In the end I would only urge, that if given a choice between War and Peace, the prudent option is naturally peace. But if war is imposed on you, do you have a choice of not fighting back?

Lt. General (Retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi

Lt. General (Retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi

is the former Secretary of Defence. He is also the Policy Advisor of CSCR.

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    Maj Gen Zahid Parvez(Retd) Reply

    June 12, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    An excellent expose of our situation —brief ,precise,focused and ‘fresh’.
    A small suggestion to make the recommendations more solid would be to rid ourselves of the old notions of friends and foes and let our national interests be the sole determinants of our international relations.

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