In Approach to South Asia, Trump is On Wrong Side of History – Gen Mirza Aslam Beg

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US President Donald Trump with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Trump’s strategy is out-dated; because it is based on the post-World War II notion of a super-power, enjoying unprecedented military and economic power for global domination, whereas, over the period this super-power has lost its shine, particularly, after its defeat in Vietnam and Korea, and the deliberate loss of old allies and friends

GEN (R) MIRZA ASLAM BEG | Caravan Daily

US Secretary of States’ hop-over visit to Pakistan, on his way to India, was a crude diplomatic gesture of brow-beating Pakistan. He handed over the demand note, as confirmed by a senior US diplomat – Alice Wells: “US wants to see practical steps from Pakistan, over the next few weeks, and not months, to use its influence to get the Taliban to the table,… thus ensuring that its own country is not destabilized.”
Outrightly, Pakistan rejected this demand because Taliban won’t listen and the demand to accept India as the Strategic Defense Partner of America is unthinkable. Now, there is a kind of diplomatic stress between the two countries and the credit goes to President Donald Trump and the concept of achieving his purpose, by use of force, by whatever means possible.  

In fact, Trump’s strategy is outdated; because it is based on the post-World War II notion of a superpower, enjoying unprecedented military and economic power for global domination, whereas, over the period this super-power has lost its shine, particularly, after its defeat in Vietnam and Korea, and the deliberate loss of old allies and friends, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, in a short period of a decade and a half.
All are Muslim countries and victims of post 9/11 crusade. And this decline is sharp, while today’s international relations – both geo-political and geo-economics – dominate the inter-state relations, with China and Russia providing the strategic pivot, towards which the regional countries are gravitating.

Oblivious of the emerging global realities, “Trump is doubling down on an unsuccessful war in Afghanistan, which is a sign of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He didn’t even bother to look at the Soviet decision of withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, because the Soviets knew they were defeated and the logic of conflict suggested a timely withdrawal. That timely decision of the Soviets helped them make good friends of Taliban. And now a timely withdrawal by the US is not forthcoming, because of two basic reasons:

 One, America hates Islamic states and political Islamic state such as Egypt under president Morsi, as well as a moderate Islamic state like Pakistan, of today; two, by retaining American influence in Afghanistan, they are hoping to prevent the formation of the alliance, between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan that could provide a depth of security, to these countries.

The proposal for the formation of the said alliance was expounded to the formation of commanders and garrison officers of Rawalpindi on August 25, 1988, as to how strategic depth of security to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan could be achieved. This concept was distorted by some of our own and foreign writers saying, that I had proposed a defeatist concept of “withdrawal to Afghanistan for territorial depth, against Indian military ingress”. This was unthinkable, because our armed forces mission is: “Defend all territories of Pakistan and develop counter offensive capability to carry the war into the enemy territory.”

Thus, the Offensive-Defensive concept was developed based on our real military capability. I spoke verbatim, as recorded by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), I quote:

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that in this hour of struggle, we are not alone. The entire nation is with us… The second positive note which has emerged is the heroic struggle on the north-western borders… The days of hegemony of super powers are over and now we will witness the dawn of the supremacy of Islam. The triumph of democracy is in sight…The three countries – Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan – are emerging free, strong and resilient, and are moving towards a common destiny, to unite together and form the bastion of power – the Strategic Depth of the Muslim World. It’s a vision which must be converted into a reality.”

After three decades, we now stand at the choice point, while the Afghan struggle for freedom has reached a decisive phase. The hard core of the struggle is for the 45 million Pakhtuns living on both sides of the Durand Line, divided between Pakistan (60 per cent) and Afghanistan (40 per cent), and the 10 per cent of them are residing in Karachi, the heart of Pakistan. During the last three decades, they have humbled and defeated the mightiest of the mighty of the world. Our Pakhtuns supported Afghan struggle for freedom, and will continue to do so till they win their freedom. Win they will, Insha Allah.

The Indo-US collaboration against Pakistan is a failed attempt. After occupation of Afghanistan, India was facilitated by the USA and its coalition partners to establish a vast spy network in Afghanistan, targeting mainly Pakistan. Thus, India let loose a reign of terror in Pakistan which has continued unabated.
In order to establish the Indian hegemony over the region, Afghanistan was declared as part of South Asia and the strategic partnership agreement was reached in 2005/2014, with declared objective to curb and contain rising Chinese military and economic power. These attempts failed as the Afghan Taliban defeated the occupation forces, while the Pakistan Army and its Air Force, dismantled Indian terror network extending into Pakistan.

Both the USA and India are facing serious internal problems. Trump has emerged as the most unpopular president because of his style of governance and whimsical decision making. Secondly, his top advisers and policy makers are the generals, who failed to deliver in their war in Afghanistan. They can only repeat failures and no better, and that is what precisely they are doing now. “Trump has been tragically effective at dismantling environmental and health regulations, as his most enduring legacy of Cancer, Infertility and diminished IQ” (Nicholas Kristof).

On the other hand, India is faced with a serious socio-political crisis of conflict between the secularists and the ultra-nationalists. Historically, such trends had emerged in India, in the past, causing serious poly-centrism, that would now be accelerating regional drift by more than a dozen on-going insurgencies.

Pakistan has faced challenges of myriad dimensions during the last decade and a half, yet, it is politically stable despite weak governance, poor decision making, and now is focusing on the 2018 elections, that would lead the nation to a robust democratic order. Moreover, Pakistan has found its rightful place in today’s international relations, based on geo-political and geo-economic relations – the forceful trend sweeping the region that would actualize a peaceful environment, without fighting a war.



General Mirza Aslam Beg is a former Chief of Pakistan Army. The views are personal and Caravan does not necessarily share or subscribe to the writer’s views 

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