US-Pakistan Military Axis
Unlike India, Pakistan began with weak grassroots political organizations, with the British-era civil servants strengthening bureaucracy's hold over the polity and decision-making and soon called for the military's help. Soon General Ayub Khan, encouraged by the US military, forged closer cooperation with the Pentagon. And in 1958 the military took over, with Ayub Khan, a mere Colonel at the time of the partition promoting himself to Field Marshall soon. He eased out officers who did not fit into the Anglo-Saxon scheme of using Pakistan's strategic position against the evolving Cold War confrontation against the communist bloc.
General Zia ul-Haq was a cunning schemer, veritably a mullah in uniform. While seducing the ignorant North Indian media (whom another General President Parvez Musharraf had for breakfast in Agra in 2001) with lavish praise and kebabs, he planned Operation Topaz, which in 1989 fueled insurgency in Kashmir. His Islamization of the country made the situation for women and minorities untenable. The judicial killing of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977 turned General Zia into a pariah, but the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made him a US darling, restoring and vitally strengthening the Pakistan military's links with the Pentagon.
This led to the hold of Pakistani military and ISI becoming pervasive, omnipotent, omniscient and ominous for Pakistan. This defense alliance, the seeds of which were planted by Ayub Khan, and the symbiotic relationship between the ISI and the CIA bolstered under General Zia, has never been really dismantled and is unlikely to be fully ruptured. In any case Washington prefers to deal with military and other dictators; easier to handle.
Like the 1979 entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan, brought about by US provocations and support to Jihadist elements in Afghanistan, as arrogantly admitted by Carter’s National security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski to French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, September 11 revived the ostensible necessity to bring Pakistan to toe US objectives once again (Washington even threatened to bomb Pakistan to stone age if it did not fall in line). Washington needed Pakistan to protect itself from a so called backlash of its earlier Afghan policies of creating the Mujahidin, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. USA desperately wanted to stop Pakistan's nuclear material or bombs falling into Jihadi hands. Reports suggest that in such a case, US special forces would intervene, while another report suggests that the key nuke elements are hidden near the border with China, to be easily taken away. In any case it is a dangerous scenario, especially for Pakistan’s neighbors, which regularly blackmails India, much to Western glee but no condemnation. How the West gangs up against Tehran enriching Uranium for power generation!
Establishment of Terrorist Nurseries
in Afghanistan and Pakistan
From 1979 to the exit of Soviet troops in 1989, USA , UK other western countries, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Muslim states and even China (which sold AKM assault rifles and Type 69 RPGs and US even supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles systems!) exploited Jihadis as a weapon against the Russian forces in Afghanistan. Washington and Riyadh contributed most of the funds, reportedly totaling up to tens of billion dollars for the war in Afghanistan (US with $600 million in aid per year, with a matching amount coming from the Gulf states.) The CIA and its allies, Pakistan ISI, British MI6 and others recruited, supplied, and trained almost 40,000 hard core radical Mujahedeen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Zia's military government established some 2,500 religious school nurseries, which were funded by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S. Some 225,000 children who went to these schools were trained to fight as guerrillas in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Not a penny was spent in defense of the Afghan people or economic development.
Among those who answered the call for Jihad was Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. Although in his violent campaign against US interests, bin Laden had attacked US embassies in East Africa, with his camps being attacked by US missiles in retaliation, it was not until the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September 2001, when the realization came painfully to USA of the possibilities of nuclear terror, with linkages between Al Qaeda, Taliban and others in nuclear armed Pakistan's powerful ISI. (Of course, most people, many in US believe that 9/11 was a false flag operation to provide a pretext for USA’s illegal invasions.)
After forcing the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, which led to USSR’s unraveling and breakup, West largely forgot about the monster it had created. But it was obvious that the festering nurseries of terrorists left south of Russian underbelly and just across in the restive Muslim Xinxiang province of China and India's Jammu and Kashmir would sooner or later adversely affect these countries. The Mujahidin mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah's name against the purveyors of secular "corruption." In fact Lashkar-e-Toiba, India’s implacable enemy, was born while the West and Muslim countries were waging their war against USSR in Afghanistan. For US it is only a collateral damage against India. What a pity!
The 1980s jihad also spawned a home-grown malignancy in Pakistan - one that now poses a powerful threat to unravel Pakistan itself. Free from the Jihad against Soviet troops after the Russians withdrawal, in 1990s Pakistan's ISI gave the Jihadis a fresh assignment, to create terror in Jammu and Kashmir. Led by Afghan veterans, fighters were secretly trained, armed and funded by the ISI to fight Indian soldiers in Kashmir. Thousands were airlifted by USA to the Balkans to fight the Serbs giving them international exposure. The best were later sent to help the Taliban in Afghanistan against NATO and US troops supporting the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul, foisted on Afghanistan by Washington in 2002.
Role of Islamic Warriors in History
The tensions between the ruler, the clerics and religious warriors i.e. Mirs and Pirs have still not been resolved in the Islamic world. It is in reverse gear even in modern Turkey, the only secular Muslim nation, with the ascendancy of the ruling religious AK Party with billions of Saudi investment in Turkey and direct gifts to the party. Support of Saudi finances to Madrasas and mosques remains the major obstacle in the modernization of education and development in Islamic societies. It will not happen until the Saud dynasty protected by Washington is overturned.
Rise and Fall of Janissaries in Ottoman Empire
- Comparison with Taliban Power
As Iran became a barrier to recruitment of non-Muslim Turks from central Asia, a practice which the Arabs had followed, the Ottoman Sultans, who succeeded the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia as Turkey was then known, finally conquered the Byzantine empire and made Constantinople, its capital, their own Istanbul. They then started recruiting Christian young boys mostly from Balkans but even from Anatolia for its famed shock troops, the Janissaries and top civil service cadre in a system known as 'Devshirme'.
Beginning with the forced recruitment the system progressively developed into a privileged and influential warrior force that converted young Christian boys to Islam and instructed them in the Turkish martial arts. Unlike feudal levies Janissaries owed loyalty to the Sultan only. Regimented training and strong moral codes transformed them into more than an impressive military force, a political entity of such unchecked power (shades of ISI and its protégé Taliban?) that they unwittingly contributed to the very downfall of the empire itself. The Janissaries were an important factor in the military expansion of the Ottoman Empire from the 1453 capture of Constantinople to the battles against the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. ( Punjabi dominated Pakistan hopes to extend its sway over Afghanistan! And even beyond .Many Pakistan rulers like Gen Zia dreamt of creating Caliphates!)
While the Ottoman power grew a succession of uprisings by Janissaries resulted in more power flowing into their hands. The first Janissary revolt of 1449 served as a model for many later revolts, each bringing more power and pelf. The Janissaries reached such an enviable state of influence by the late 1600s that the Ottoman bureaucracy was effectively held hostage to their whims and demands. A mutiny led to change in the policy of the politicians. Eventually, the Janissaries started to engage in successful coups to topple even Sultans, not receptive to their specific demands. They put their own self-interests first and placed obstacles in the path of modernizing the army. (The Pakistani Militants /Jihadis tied to Al Qaeda tried to assassinate President Gen Musharraf and have attacked many important religious shrines including of Sufi Saint in Lahore and even police and military strongholds)
In 1807, the Janissaries revolted against Sultan Selim III, and replaced him with Mahmud II, who finally decided to decimate the Janissaries to preserve the empire. In the summer of 1826, when the Janissaries staged another uprising, the rest of the army and the people were ranged against them. The Janissary force finally faced either death or retreat and exile. The survivors were banished and their wealth taken over by the state.
Like the Konya Sultanate the Pakistanis under its religious President Zia-ul- haq sent Jihadist and militants' aka modern day Ghazis into Afghanistan in 1980s, who forced the Soviets exit from Afghanistan. Eventually the Communist edifice under mined by Slav nationalism and Orthodox Christianity collapsed by the beginning of 1990s.
Would Pakistan Succeed in Destroying the Taliban!
A conglomerate of various militias, free booters, religious fanatics, nationalists and tribal chieftains classified as Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Pakistani Taliban etc. are somewhat like the Janissaries of the Ottoman empire, their most effective fighting force which then terrorized European Christians. But soon instead of terrorizing the enemies of the Ottomans, they threatened the Sultans. Finally the Janissaries had to be destroyed. Would Pakistan be able to do the same i.e. destroy the Pakistani Taliban. It is big question. Perhaps Gen Musharraf could have done it after 11/9. Now a heavy unbearable price would have to be paid, otherwise!