It is a well known fact that the Americans heavily invested in the Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan against the USSR. It is also a well known fact that after the war was over and the American objective of ousting the Russian army was served, they dumped the Mujahideens, which finally resulted in the emergence of Osama. Eventually, when the American funding stopped, these armed Mujahideens turned their heat on the Americans, finally culminating into 9/11. And now the US government has decided to extend military training beyond the Pakistani Army, to their paramilitary forces.
This decision could not have come at a worse time as Pakistan is already reeling under tremendous internal political and civil crises, which is getting more complicated by the day. And add to it the inability of the intelligence as well as the law enforcement agencies to prevent the spate of suicide attacks by the fundamentalists, the last thing that Pakistan needed now was more number of people getting professionally trained to kill!
That Pakistan is a key ally to the US and that Pakistan army is a pampered baby of it, is no news nowadays. But this time the US is planning not to restrict itself to the Pakistani Army only but further extend its support to the paramilitary forces. Pakistan, like India, has a plethora of paramilitary forces, noted among which are, Frontier Corps, Pakistan Rangers, the National Guard and the Mehran Force. As per the globalsecurity.org, ‘the Frontier Corps are primarily responsible for North West Frontier Province and Balochistan and responsible to both the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions and to army headquarters. They are further divided between North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan and includes i the Chitral Scouts, the Khyber Rifles, the Kurram Militia, the Tochi Scouts, the South Waziristan Scouts, the Zhob Militia, and the Gilgit Scouts’.
An important aspect of the Frontier Corps as can be made out by the names of the units themselves, is almost all of the recruitments to this paramilitary outfit has always happened from the tribal population of North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan. These warrior tribals who are more acquainted with the rugged terrains bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan are any day a better proposition than the Pakistan Army, while dealing with the Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Besides ethnically and physically these people are closer to the Afghans (which would invariably help in infiltrating into the ranks of the Al-Qaida) than the Punjabi dominated Pakistani Army. It is precisely because of these reasons that the US has started having a ‘special liking’ for the paramilitary force of Pakistan and hence the ‘strategic plan’ to arm them.
So what would an American training of the Frontier Corps result in? Well to start with, such a training might change the very mindset of how to fight an intelligence backed and information based war, than they age-old strategy which they currently employ. Though there is nothing new in this American plan as the world at large has seen it all in the past, when in the late eighties the Mujahideens of Afghanistan were funded, trained and motivated by the Pentagon and especially the CIA. Unfortunately, the world is still paying the price for the US misadventures of training and arming the Mujahideens.
The question is, what is the guarantee that the Frontier Corps would not go in the same direction, as the Mujahideens? Already there are doubts as to how much even a US aided Pakistani Army is trustworthy, for it is a known fact that a formidable part of it has its sympathy for the cause of Taliban, if not Al-Qaida. If an American trained Frontier Corps turns renegade and head in the direction of the Mujahideens, then it is better that we start right away to count backward.
For the American policy makers, the plan could be just another strategic step towards deepening the fight against the global terrorist holding company. While for Pakistan government and especially for Musharraf saying aye to the US might be the best way of buying time and peace, yet it is no secret how much this road is filled with proven dangers. If things go haywire, then it would not only result in a strengthened Taliban but would also ensure that Pakistan’s split extends geographically too. For many of the countries like India, it was a different thing, even couple of decades back but now stakes are too high. This is one plan in which India should make sure to warn the US about the implications on India, if this strategic step fails. However, it is more surprising that even after creating Osama, who blew on their face, the US is hell bent to repeat the same mistake!! When would the Americans ever learn??
- 02 December 2007 |
- Arindam On America