|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
The dawn of New Year in Pakistan was twitter-bombed by US President Donald Trump accusing Pakistan of double-dealing by saying, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" The result was Khawaja Asif, Pakistani Foreign Minister rushing to meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and later summoning US Ambassador David Hale at 9pm at night to lodge a protest against Trump's tweet. Abbasi was clearly defiant in saying, "We have already refused to the US mantra of 'do more' for it (US). We have told the Trump administration that we will not do 'no more' for it. The 'do more' does not hold any importance. Pakistan is ready to publicly provide every detail of the US aid that it has received over the last 15 years".
Interestingly, Pakistani senator Sherry Rehman stated, "Coalition support funds has never been counted as AID in any accounting by Pakistan, nor will it be seen as part of assistance. It was compensation on expenses incurred on joint action on border. Other 'Aid' we should indeed talk about, because Pakistan never charged for NATO traffic". Not only is this untrue, Sherry fails to mention billions of dollars paid to Pakistan for movement of NATO support columns through Pakistan to Afghanistan, despite which hundreds of containers went "missing" in Karachi and on account of terrorist actions against these columns engineered by Pakistan's ISI. The Pakistani public is blissfully unaware of the billions of dollars of US aid spirited away by the politicians and military hierarchy, reducing the country to its present state of instability and its sovereignty palmed off to China. A recent display of Pakistan's military-radical nexus was when the military forced its government to surrender to the Faizabad Islamist on November 26, 2017 through a six point agreement. A radical mullah like Hafiz Saeed has been let loose. The publicized move of banning Hafiz Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) from collecting charities is no more than façade when ISI coffers are open to his terror activities and the newly formed political party Mili Muslim League (MML) that follows JuD ideology has donations aplenty flowing in. Pakistan conveniently changes funding accounts; through change of name, like from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to JuD to MML and thereon. Sitting in China's lap, Pakistan is defiant to the US but the public is getting wise that China pouring in $47 billion into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is at 8% interest and all contracts for major works will be given to Chinese companies which are state owned – implying all Chinese money will be flowing back to China. And of course, default like in Sri Lanka's Hambantota will turn Pakistan into China's equity province. The PLA garrison in POK with a second one on the cards together with the CPEC has added to the geopolitical complexities of the region. The US worry also would be the strategic ambitions of China both in the Indian Ocean Region, as also Afghanistan. The emergence of some 10,000 ISIS fighters in Af-Pak will fuel the boiling pot further.
Pakistan's military continues to ride the terror tiger – in synch with multiple terrorist organizations running their private armies with support of the ISI and with tacit Chinese support. The violence in Baluchistan has gone up exponentially with increased Pakistani genocide on the Baluchi population, China gifted gunship helicopters being used in the killings. As per recent reports Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar, leader of UN-designated terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have joined hands to target India. China's malafide intentions and double standards towards terrorism have been amply visible by it repeatedly vetoing the move to designate Masood Azhar terrorist by the UN. Without doubt Pakistan will continue to face terror backlash but the stranglehold of the military over Pakistan is growing stronger by the day since it has infiltrated every sector of Pakistan – both government and non-government. In order to retain this power and money, the military ensures that Pakistan continues with the state policy of terror against neighbours India and Afghanistan. With its strategic ambitions, China will play the binding factor for Pakistan even as it practically absorbs the latter as its own province. At the same time, fragmenting Pakistan with externally assisted implosion cannot be completely ruled out, especially, if Pakistan directly or indirectly blocks movement of support columns to US forces in Afghanistan through its own territory. Plans to link CPEC to Afghanistan will attract more terror and violence. With Pakistan continuing to export terrorism, will the US raise the strikes against terrorist havens in Pakistan beyond drone attacks – cruise missiles or direct ground action by US-supported Afghan Forces? These are all uncertainities but we should be certain that Pakistan will increase terror attacks on India to divert attention of the Pakistani public and rally all terrorist force under the umbrella of radical Islam. India needs to be prepared to face the developing threat in far more proactive manner than what it has been doing till now.