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General Ashfaq Kayani’s Extension and its Interrelated Serious Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Issues

Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

As expected Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been given another three years tenure in office. Many political pundits in the country are predicting its long term complicated consequences on politics and foreign policy. Some analysts term it strategic political cushion for the current regime. Due to emerging serious geo-political and geo-strategic problems in the region, many policy makers label the extension a right step towards right direction. It would provide essential continuity in the macro policy of war against terrorism. It would also provide stability in the country at large. Gen Kayani is the 14th COAS of the country and will serve till Nov 2013.

Valid Reasons for Extension

General Kayani is a true professional solider and visionary general. Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani successfully implemented his war plans and also used his tactics against militants in many part of the country and lodged full-fledge military operations. He has been involved in planning and monitoring of operations in militancy-hit areas. Now, militants have been marginalized and weakened. Under his dedicated and honest leadership the armed forces have successfully routed the Taliban in Swat and South Waziristan within a relatively short period. Now, the US hopes to get Pakistan’s support in clearing the border areas with Afghanistan which is crucial to implement the roadmap for Afghanistan. The so-called alleged incidents of infiltrations have also been minimized. Pakistan Armed Forces are giving their best to protect the best interest of the country and fighting against all odds to eradicate terrorism, separatism and militancy from the soil of Pakistan under the supervision of Gen Kayani.

Being the army chief he immaculately pleaded Pakistan’s case and cause in the ongoing war against terrorism at every regional and international forum. He held in high esteem at the international level due to his excellent military leadership qualities and pro-democracy views. Internationally Gen. Kayani has won over hearts and minds in the west which proves beneficial to government of Pakistan in terms of seeking socio-economic projects, financial assistance or grants. Since the middle of 2008 when the Pakistan military had launched its offensives against the local Taliban in many parts of the country’s northwest, most western leaders and diplomats are convinced that Gen Kayani would fight seriously.

He strongly protected the interests of ISI and successfully absorbed all the international pressures on the allegedly projection of its secret connections with Taliban and militant groups in Afghanistan. He has already done beneficial measures for the safety of national nuclear program. In geo-political and geo-strategic terms he convinced the NATO allied forces, USA and UK about the positive role of Pakistan to bring durable peace in Afghanistan with out zero engagement of India. Moreover, he has been advocating of using other means to bring peace in Afghanistan and at last they are ready to talks with Taliban. In the recently concluded international security conference held in Kabul, all the participants agreed to talk with good Taliban which was the child brain of Gen. Kayani.

He defended Pakistan’s claims of unlimited sacrifices in the ongoing war against terrorism at every regional and international stage. Now, despite all the wrong notions of Western media and propagations tactics of our enemies the USA, NATO and EU acknowledge our extended commitment, cooperation and coordination to flight against terrorism and to bring peace in the Afghanistan. He did not take their words and wishes for granted i.e. “do more mantra” and proposed his own vision, time preference and national priority for any specific military operation or demand in the country.

Geo-political and geo-strategic importance

Now, the war against terrorism has entered in a crucial phase which requires continuity of war policies and unity of command so, extension of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is a courageous step to match with all the emerging regional geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios. The USA and UK have already announced their exit policies of Afghanistan. In this connection, we need continuity factor in our national policies, actions and military operations. It is predicted that Gen Kayani extension would also not be good news for rogue terrorist elements in and around the country. Keeping in view the multilayered importance of Gen. Kayani’s extension Richard Holbrooke welcomed the most recent dialogue between Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and COAS Kayani. Furthermore, he is the part and parcel of Pak-Afghan policy.

The recent indigenous surge in occupied Kashmir for freedom and liberation demands clarity in our national policies, diplomatic understanding and friendly gestures and extension of Gen. Kayani gives meanings to it. Ongoing spells of Pak-US Strategic Dialogue between the two countries would also be well placed negotiated after the extension of Gen. Kayani. India is unlikely to welcome it. The COAS has maintained the military’s traditional focus on India and Afghanistan. Under Kayani’s command, the Pakistan Army this year staged its biggest manoeuvres in 21 years near the Indian border to practice for the threat of conventional war with the old regional rival.

At national level COAS Kayani played contributory role in strengthening of democratic system. He stayed away from the politics and always believed in professionalism. In January 2008 he issued a directive ordering military officers not to maintain contacts with politicians. Ahead of the general election of 2008 he announced that the armed forces would stay out of politics which shows his unconditional commitment and support to democratic norms and system. He also introduced many meaningful measures to upgrade army image in the country. He presented many effective programs and reforms for the wellbeing of Pakistan Army. Armed Forces of Pakistan feel proud on his leader General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Hidden Agenda of Mullen’s demand

On his 19th visit to Pakistan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, Admiral Mike Mullen stressed to take immediate actions against the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). He further warned that it has become a very dangerous organization and a significant regional and global threat. He also insisted that the Al Qaeda leadership and Osama bin Laden were present in Pakistan. Mullen claimed that the tribal belt on Pakistan’s western border has become the ‘global headquarters’ for the Al Qaeda. He spoke strong words for the Haqqani network within Pakistan. The in-depth analysis of the timing and interrelated consequences of his visit and demand sparks that now the US is playing a crude and blame game to force the government of Pakistan and military alike to start operation the Eastern Waziristan, along with other rough elements. Behind the corridors of power it is also learnt that this statement Admiral Mike Mullen is titled towards India.

WikiLeakes: Hidden Agenda

Most recently, more than 90,000 war documents have been leaked and subsequently published. It comprises of tactical reports, small unit operations and broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the United States and Pakistan. It is full of conspiracy theories and assumptions about many important entities. Many secret documents unearthed not so positive role of Pakistan’s army and ISI in the ongoing war against terrorism. The documents showed the so-called alleged connections between ISI and different militant groups operating in Afghanistan against the allied forces and NATO.

(a) National implications

It is obvious that WikiLeakes has multidimensional geo-political and geo-strategic repercussions for Pakistan and in the region. It is not incidentally leaked and published but has some special targets to be achieved afterwards. It is predicted that it may spoil for working relations with the USA, EU or NATO in the days to come. But most recently the US secretary Defence conducted a news conference and said this leaks would not harm our strategic engagements with Pakistan’s military and the government alike. The critical analysis of the WikiLeakes reveals the dark side of carrot and stick policy generally pursued in bilateral diplomatic relations.

The time and sequences of this publication shows the ugly side of power politics and supreme of geo-political and geo-strategic interests too. It also portrays the ancient philosophy that in every thing is right in war and love. The hidden agenda is not so secret in case of WikiLeaks. The USA and NATO brutally demand do more and more engagement of armed forces of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. They have also demanded the start of full-fledged military operation against militant groups operating within the soil of Pakistan especially in Eastern Waziristan. So, the extension of Gen Kyani and the publication of WikiLeaks have some valid correlation. Moreover, for proper liaison the USA ambassador in Pakistan has also been given extended for another three years.

The training of armed forces of Pakistan makes it among the best in the world. It believes in unit of command and total effort and submission to the orders and national causes. There is not concept of defiance of order, disassociation and parallel mechanism in the armed forces of Pakistan. So, all these allegations are nothing but unsuccessful effort to shift responsibility of failure to others, start of grand blame game to cover up the killings of unlimited civilians in Afghanistan and the last not least, give justification to its rigorous drone attacks within the soil of Pakistan.

While visiting to India, Britain Prime Minister also used these allegations and presented his chart of demands along with serious warnings which the government of Pakistan strongly rejected and showed his concerns. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned US and its allies, particularly UK, against negating or belittling sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war on terror, saying that such an attitude may even harm the on-going war against terrorists and extremists. Afterwards, even puppet president of Afghanistan again repeated these allegations and instigated extended NATO military operations on the soils of Pakistan.

(b) International repercussions

The chessboard of international power politics has been reorganized in order to take advantage from the WikiLeaks. They are busy in meetings, press conferences, issuing PR and writing many articles to make it genuine and precise. According to many military experts most of the allegations regarding the modern technologies and facilities are nothing but based no wrong assumptions.

The above diagram clearly shows the motives of well planned publication of classified war documents in WikiLeaks. The focal point remains the protection of US geo-political and geo-strategic goals in the region and to moreover successfully bargain with the military establishment of Pakistan. New lines have been drawn between the armed forces of Pakistan and militants and any misunderstanding between Pakistan and the USA would only benefit the militants.

International security conference, Afghanistan

Most recently, an international security conference was held in Kabul. Up to 70 international representatives and 40 foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended the security conference. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it a “turning point” in the Afghan war. The participants offered their support to Afghanistan in restoring peace and security and to define the steps that Afghanistan would have to take to provide better governance, to eliminate corruption and to provide its people with the hope of a better, more secure life.

Pakistan’s Perspectives

The above diagram clearly shows that the most notable of the targets is a gradual handover of security that could begin later this year and will be complete by the end of 2014.

Salient features

a) Conference backs Karzai’s call for ANSF to lead, conduct operations in all provinces by 2014 afterwards gradual shifting of responsibility to Afghan’s governmnet
b) 50 percent of development aid will be channelled into Afghan government’s budget within 2 years
c) Endorses Afghan government’s reintegration plan to reach out to insurgents
d) NATO chief says foreign forces would not leave will move into supporting role
e) Strengthening of the public financial management and reduce corruption

Main Objectives

(a) Afghan’s government tried to seek more financial aid from international donors for Afghanistan. The International Monetary Fund has announced a 125 million-dollar loan for Afghanistan to help the country move towards financial sustainability.
(b) International community/forces to set measures to be taken next year for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

United Arab Emirates is playing very important role in the diversified but integrated peacekeeping activities in Afghanistan. The peacekeeping forces of the UAE are making all possible efforts in construction, health, infrastructure, education and communication fields in Afghanistan. Time and again, the UAE has pledged meaningful financial support for the peaceful cause of Afghanistan.

UAE Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan showed great commitment of his visionary leadership, government and people to continue their support and assistance for efforts to maintain security and stability in Afghanistan. He proudly shared that the UAE government and non-government organisations and civil society institutions have delivered development programmes that contributed to creating job opportunities and improving living conditions of the people of Afghanistan. He also briefed about the many educational programs and schemes of the UAE in Afghanistan. In his address, Sheikh Abdullah noted that the health sector had received focused attention through the construction of hospitals and clinics in different provinces of Afghanistan. Medical professionals were also trained to run these health facilities.

Concluding Remarks

Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s extension has full justification, importance and need of the hour. The emerging geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios occurring around us demand harmony among us. Continuity and unity of command is essential for wining war against terrorism, militancy and separatism. Conspiracies are being prepared to defame armed forces of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies in and around the region for specific reasons; therefore we need a true statesmanship to defend our sovereignty, national integrity and macro-policies. So, extension of Gen. Kayani is a right step towards a right direction.

It is the successful operation against insurgents in Pakistan or bring peace in Afghanistan or stop alleged infiltrations, the armed force of Pakistan always stand first and firm. Any bashing to government of Pakistan and ISI will not be beneficial for the West’s bailout or exit strategy in Afghanistan.

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