Kabul attack a bid to undermine Indo-Afghan friendship
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 10:41
Kabul attack a bid to undermine Indo-Afghan tiesShrinivasrao S Sohoni

The VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) attack that detonated at
0832 hrs on Thursday, October 8, 2009 in Kabul, almost reaching the doorstep of
the Indian Embassy, has very serious implications concerning India which need
immediately to be comprehended by all, particularly the Government of India, the
security agencies and the people living in important urban centres and in the vicinity of
key installations.

The attack was not an attempt only to penalize and undermine India-Afghanistan
friendship and cooperation. The masterminds of the attack know very well that
neither India nor Afghanistan will be deterred from continuing their
bilateral friendship and cooperation.

Indeed, the masterminds of the attack can be assumed to be well-aware that such attacks actually lead to a strengthening and deepening of India-Afghanistan ties and to a worsening of Pakistan’s image.

Nor was it merely an attempt to embarrass the Government of Afghanistan, or
ruthlessly inflict casualties on large numbers of innocent Afghan citizens and even
children and infants. Then why was the outrage perpetrated and that too at the
this juncture?
The answer is to be seen in the calculations and machinations of the supreme
security establishment in Pakistan viz. the joint body of Pakistani Corps
Commanders, presided over by former DG ISI, Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez
Kiyani, and including particularly the DG ISI, General Shuja Pasha.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, this body met and deliberated for the whole day in the Army Head Quarters in Rawalpindi near Islamabad. Publicized next day was their reaction to the Kerry-Lugar Bill under which Pakistan stands to gain at least 7.5
billion dollars over the next five years from the US as developmental assistance. But
there was another issue on the agenda of vital importance to these worthies. This
was the relentless and intense pressure being exerted by the US on Pakistan to strike
against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Waziristan.

Under this pressure, Pakistan most reluctantly and turgidly removed from
its eastern border with India, four full divisions of troops (about 40,000
troops) with heavy and medium artillery, mechanized independent brigades and
helicopter gunship support, to the Waziristan theatre and placed these in so-called
strike positions- ostensibly for a “major offensive against Al Qaeda and Taliban” in
the province. This was done with protests voiced all the time and lodged with the US
military and political authorities to the effect that this shift of military resources
weakens Pakistan’s defence vis-à-vis India. US authorities and the international
community were notified that the “operation is poised to be launched”.
Contrary to any such declarations, Pakistan is absolutely determined to avoid carrying out the operation against Taliban and Al Qaeda forces located in Waziristan. This is on
account of certain perceived considerations and commitments. The Taliban are a
Pakistani creation, trained, equipped, sustained and guided by Pakistan’s military
establishment, with the intention of dominating Afghanistan on the one side, and
sourcing fighters for terrorist strikes in India, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir.

There is simply no way Pakistan will damage, let alone destroy, the Taliban which
Pakistani policy makers consider their key asset. Al Qaeda have an ideology of
extremist fundamental Islam of the Wahhabi sect which Pakistan’s military
leadership is fully in tune with, and resonates with the ideology of the cash-rich
Saudi regime.

Among the other reasons, is also the fact that one-third of Pakistan’s
army and the entire Frontier Corps, and most of the Baloch Regiment, consists of
ethnic Pathan (as Pashtuns are called in Pakistan) soldiers who will simply mutineer,
desert and defect to the other side if forced to attack the Taliban which consists
mainly Pashtun fighters, their kith and kin. (It is noteworthy that while Taliban
and Al Qaeda have different organizations, their ideology and aims are the same.)

At the same time, pressure from the US is severe and unrelenting: to attack Taliban
and Al Qaeda in Waziristan. Pakistan military leadership has therefore calculated
that they can still contrive first to avoid carrying out the operations in Waziristan
that the US is insisting on, and then achieve a reversion of the military formations
back to the eastern border with India in combat positions- without jeopardizing
Pakistan’s relations with the US and its allies.

To create a plausible political and military reason for this, the Pakistan armed forces establishment has again resorted to premeditated actions to provoke India, dramatically intensify tensions, and vitiate the atmosphere in the general security environment of the subcontinent.

Ground would then be created on the basis of which the Pakistani leadership can
proclaim that a mortal threat from India is clear, present and imminent, and that it
poses a lethal danger to the existence of the Pakistan state itself and thus create
arguments for giving up the Waziristan operation and shifting troops back to
the border with India.
How is this to be done? It is by perpetrating terrorist outrages of extreme provocative nature against India. The bombing of our embassy in Kabul on Thursday, October 8, 2009 is to be seen as the first major step in this context. It is to be expected that major terrorist strikes in key urban locations and in the vicinity of key installations will be attempted, designed to provoke maximum public and political outcry in India against Pakistan and to shock and infuriate the Government of India into pervasive national security alerts and urgent armed forces mobilization.

Once that occurs, Pakistan will, on the one, hand complain to the US and the international community that it was facing an inflamed and belligerent India and, on the other hand, will affect a smooth and swift withdrawal of military formations from Waziristan, transferring these back to their designated combat-ready locations on the eastern border.

Thereafter, it is only a question of one month, because winter will set in by
mid-November in Waziristan and indeed in the entire Afghanistan-Pakistan
frontier, and Pakistan can then tell the US that extreme weather conditions, apart from
the threat from India, prevent any return of troops to Waziristan.

India, therefore, should expect major, spectacular terrorist attacks – conceivably,
during the forthcoming Diwali period. It is thus hoped that the
authorities, as well as the general public in India, become
aware of and vigilant against this insidious, diabolical, and imminent threat.

(Incidentally, contrary to the claim publicized about the Taliban having “claimed
responsibility for the October 8, 2009 attack on the Indian Embassy” the real
provenance of the outrage appears to be the final go-ahead by the Pakistani military
establishment in the Corps Commanders’ meeting the day immediately preceding
the Indian Embassy bombing).

(This is a guest column written by an IAS officer posted in Kabul)

First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 10:41

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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