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ISI's rogue child has turned its guns on Pakistan

By M P Anil Kumar
Last updated on: May 15, 2009 15:11 IST
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In the third part of his series on the Afghan-Pak conundrum, M P Anil Kumar, a former fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force, looks at the sins, omissions and commissions of Uncle Sam.

Though Uncle Sam struts about the globe with the air of a self-appointed sheriff, a firehose in hand for good measure, to extinguish anything from bushfires to raging infernos, one wishes to remind him humbly that he was the one who set many blazes burning. Yes, he is as much a part of the problem, like it or not.

For example, the Afpak terror nurseries were bred by Uncle Sam and an obliging General Zia-ul Haq to deliver the knockout punch to the tottering arch-enemy USSR to conclude the Cold War.

Armed jihad ignited then has now intensified into a conflagration, and the Americans were compelled to return to firefight lest the firestorm reduced the region into cinders. Having tasted blood, the Pakistan army and its intelligence arm, the ISI, then replicated armed jihad in Jammu & Kashmir to destabilise the state and therethrough India.

Quirkily, thirsting for blood, the rogue progeny of that ogre has now turned the guns on Pakistan itself. And governmental paralysis has made their task little harder than a cakewalk. Hoist now with its own petard, Pakistan has hopelessly snared itself in this vortex of jihad-inspired violence. You reap what you sow.

Sample another: Since the US was at war with Vietnam, it allowed the Khmer Rouge to flourish primarily to counter the Vietnamese. With furtive American backup, the Khmer Rouge mutated into a killing machine and it allegedly slaughtered around two million innocents. The US did not lift a finger to halt the carnage! Need I cite more?

Okay, one more, very relevant to our inquiry. Just before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter nodded the go-ahead for US-Pak covert operations to dethrone the Khalq-Parcham regime (factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan). What was unsaid but agreed to was the US readiness to turn a blind eye to clandestine Pakistani nuclear acquisition. And proliferation.

It is no secret that when Pakistan first assembled the bomb in 1987, the CIA sleuth (Richard Barlow) who blew the whistle, was censured rather than being commended! Later when China conducted a nuclear test for Pakistan on May 26, 1990, George Bush Senior pretended as if nothing had gone awry, and preferred to kill Pakistan with kindness! Why?

Permissiveness was the price the US was ready to pay for the Pakistani help to worst the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Now the Americans get goosebumps the moment there is speculation of Pak-nukes being taken over by inimical hands. There will be an outbreak of goosebumps if I add the A Q Khan nuclear mart to that. Again, you reap what you sow.

Once they take root, monsters foster an ambition of their own, then they come home to roost, with their indoctrinated cubs in tow. QED.

President Obama has set vital store on culling the good Taliban and moulding this rabble into a formidable militia. This US trick is as old as the hills: Pit one against the other later to obliterate their former jihadis-in-arms through a fraternal war. However, history is strewn with episodes of such a showdown spawning a super monster, not peace. So, one can only hope that Uncle Sam has learned the right lessons from fathering several Frankensteins around the globe. Ah the uncommon wisdom of thinking thrice before you leap!

Despite policing Afghanistan for more than seven years, one fact that should frustrate the Americans and allies is the ubiquity and abundance of opium, money and arms -- the very lifeblood of the band of extremists. Stopping the free flow of the triad was critical to subduing these groups, but the ISAF flopped to strike at the roots of their economic sustenance.

Part I: Deceit comes naturally to Pak military!
Part II: US erred in blindly trusting the Pak army
Part IV: The AfPak flu and India

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M P Anil Kumar