Kayani, Khorasan And Kashmir
It had been suggested in these columns that New Delhi could adopt either a hard line or a soft line towards Pakistan. Instead, New Delhi resolutely persists with adopting no line. Developments suggest that the soft line appears to be exceedingly impractical. A hard diplomatic line abjuring war may be the only effective option left. This conclusion arises from the spiraling unrest in the Kashmir Valley, the transparent direction of future Pakistan policy and the persisting US effort to collude with Pakistan. The following few uncomfortable truths need to be considered.
Army Chief General Kayani rules supreme in Pakistan. The country’s civil society and civilian government are like the army’s vassals. General Kayani has the closest relationhip with America dating from his repeated stints of training in different US defence institutes. America respects his professional expertise. It trusts his commitment to American interests.
General Kayani recently obtained a three year extension of his tenure as Army Chief with the blessing of the US government. He will thereby continue as Army Chief beyond the tenures of the present President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. Before his tenure ends he could be elected President. His view therefore is more relevant than that of Pakistan’s civilian government. What are General Kayani’s views?
To put it bluntly General Kayani is a hardcore fundamentalist. Not only does his former ISI role indicate this. In November 25, 2009 just after three of Pakistan’s leading parties, MQM, ANP and PPP demanded that the name of Pakistan should be changed from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to People’s Republic of Pakistan, General Kayani speaking in Peshawar said that “no one can separate Islam from Pakistan as the country was achieved in Islam’s name”.
Currently he is insisting that Indian consulates in Afghanistan should be closed down. To obtain “strategic depth” he is brokering peace between the Taliban and President Karzai through the terrorist Haqqani outfit owing allegiance to the ISI. As Army Chief, Kayani’s record against the Al Qaeda within Afghanistan has been unimpressive. Mullah Omar had publicly stated more than once that he sought non-interference from foreigners in return of which he pledged peace with all foreign nations. He is demonized by the West. Instead the US considers General Kayani as a valuable strategically.
In all likelihood Mullah Omar is little more than a prisoner sandwiched between the ISI and Al Qaeda. Clearly, General Kayani would not help either Mullah Omar or the Pashtuns to share real power in Kabul. He would promote only ISI controlled elements in Afghanistan committed to the Al Qaeda ideology. What is that ideology? It revolves around the dream of creating Greater Khorasan. General Kayani seems to be doing everything possible to make that dream come true.
The Prophet Mohammed prophesied that one day a great power would rise from the east to demolish the enemies of Islam and spread the faith across the world. That gave birth to the legend of Greater Khorasan. The traditional concept of Greater Khorasan includes territories that comprise Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran. General Kayani’s utterances, actions and mindset suggest that his quest for strategic depth in Afghanistan is nothing more than a covert aim to create Greater Khorasan. The Khorasan of his vision doubtless includes Kashmir where the ISI spends so much effort to destabilize and ignite. Annexation of Kashmir therefore is central to Kayani’s ambitions. Overruling President Zardari he called India the biggest threat. And for its perceived short term gains President Obama’s administration appears to give full support to General Kayani’s endeavors.
This, then, is the situation that India is facing. A hostile, all powerful Pakistan Army Chief, who dreams of creating a Greater Khorasan that could serve as a launching pad for spreading the Islam of his vision across the world, is supported by both America and China. Ironically it is only Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron who seems to empathize with India’s concerns. Some years ago former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw in the context of Kashmir acknowledged that Britain made mistakes in 1947. He did not elaborate. One suspects that Prime Minister Cameron shares that view. Britain’s biggest mistake of course was the creation of Pakistan. The challenge before Whitehall now would be to undo the spirit though not the substance of Pakistan. Can India help? That is what South Block needs to ponder.
By Rajinder Puri