Centre for Research on Globalisation

The outbreak of a war between India and Pakistan, not only raises the spectre of a nuclear holocaust in a region which encompasses almost a quarter of the World's population, it also raises the possibility of a broader war which could potentially engulf a much larger region, with far-reaching implications for the future of humanity.

Washington is pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war

by Michel Chossudovsky

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), globalresearch.ca , 23 May 2002


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India and Pakistan are currently at the brink of war.

presented by the media as a conflict regarding the status of Kashmir, the role of US foreign policy in feeding this conflict is invariably overlooked. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has deliberately contributed – through covert intelligence operations – to fuelling the Indo-Pakistan conflict. In the wake of September 11, amidst new terrorist attacks and ethnic riots in India, conditions have developed which favour the outbreak of war between the two countries.

The Indo-Pakistan conflict must also be seen in the broader regional context. The US is presently involved in several related war theatres extending from the Middle East to Central Asia:

1) The war in Afghanistan is marked by the militarisation of the entire Central Asian region with US troops stationed in several of the former Soviet republics.

2) The Bush Administration has supported Israel in the invasion of Palestine under a Secret Plan dubbed "Operation Justified Vengeance". The latter seeks to destroy the Palestinian Authority.1

3) Washington has announced its intention to wage an all-out war against Iraq, which could potentially spill over into the entire Middle East region.2

The outbreak of a war between India and Pakistan, not only raises the spectre of a nuclear holocaust in a region which encompasses almost a quarter of the World's population, it also raises the possibility of a broader war which could potentially engulf a much larger region, with far-reaching implications for the future of humanity.

Both countries have nuclear weapons and a sophisticated missile delivery system. This week, Pakistan reportedly deployed its Shaheen missiles, which have a range of 750 kilometres,... " 3 The Pakistani government has stated that the "country would exercise the nuclear option if its survival was at stake" 4 Pakistan's president General Pervez Musharraf, had advised the United States government, "that in case of any moves, Pakistan will use all options for security of the land. In this case, it will be an unlimited war." 5  India's nuclear arsenal is also on high alert.

US military and intelligence planners have no doubt analysed the linkages between these various war theatres. Intelligence operations in the broader region are carefully coordinated. The evidence confirms that the same CIA sponsored insurgencies – using Pakistan's ISI as a go-between – in support of Islamist groups are carried out in a large number of countries.

US Sponsored Intelligence Operations in the Indian Sub-Continent

It is important to understand the background of the Indo-Pakistan conflict and the history of US sponsored intelligence operations in the Indian subcontinent, channelled through Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI). 6 Backed by the CIA, the ISI has, since the 1980s, provided support to several secessionist Islamic insurgencies in India's Kashmir. Although officially condemned by Washington, these covert ISI operations were undertaken with the tacit approval of the US government.

Coinciding with the 1989 Geneva Peace Agreement and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ISI was instrumental in the creation of the militant Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen (JKHM). 7

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament – which contributed to pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war – were conducted by two Pakistan-based rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") and Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Mohammed"), both of which are covertly supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 8

The powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which plays a behind the scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy confirms (in a CFR background document) that the Lashkar and Jaish rebel groups are supported by the ISI:

"through its Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI), Pakistan has provided funding, arms, training facilities, and aid in crossing borders to Lashkar and Jaish. This assistance-an attempt to replicate in Kashmir the international Islamist brigade's "holy war" against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan-helped introduce radical Islam into the long-standing conflict over the fate of Kashmir…

"Have these groups received funding from sources other than the Pakistani government?

Yes. Members of the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in England send millions of dollars a year, and Wahhabi sympathizers in the Persian Gulf also provide support.

Do Islamist terrorists in Kashmir have ties to al-Qaeda?

Yes. In 1998, the leader of Harakat, Farooq Kashmiri Khalil, signed Osama bin Laden's declaration calling for attacks on Americans, including civilians, and their allies. Bin Laden is also suspected of funding Jaish, U.S. and Indian officials say. And Maulana Masood Azhar, who founded Jaish, traveled to Afghanistan several times to meet bin Laden.

Where were these Islamist militants trained?

Many were given ideological training in the same madrasas, or Muslim seminaries, that taught the Taliban and foreign fighters in Afghanistan. They received military training at camps in Afghanistan or in villages in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Extremist groups have recently opened several new madrasas in Azad Kashmir. 9

What the CFR fails to mention are the links between the ISI and the CIA. Confirmed by the writings of Zbigniew Brzezinski (who happens to be a member of the CFR) the "international Islamic brigade" was a creation of the CIA.

Attack on the Indian Parliament

The December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, followed by the terrorist attacks and ethnic riots in Gujarat in early 2002, were the culmination of a process initiated in the 1980s, financed by drug money and abetted by Pakistan's military intelligence. These ISI supported terrorist attacks serve the geopolitical interests of the US. They not only contribute to weakening and fracturing the Indian Union, they also create conditions which favour the outbreak of a regional war between Pakistan and India.

Cross-Cutting Military Alliances

In late 1998, Russia signed a "long term military cooperation agreement" with India, which was followed in early 1999 by a defence agreement between India and France. The agreement between Delhi and Paris included the transfer of French military technology as well as investment of French multinationals in India's defence industry. The latter includes facilities for the production of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads in which the French companies have an expertise.

This Franco-Indian agreement has a direct bearing on Indo-Pakistani relations. It also impinges upon US strategic interests in Central and South Asia. While Washington has been pumping military aid into Pakistan, India is being supported by France and Russia.

Barely a few weeks into the 2001 bombing of Afghanistan, France and India conducted joint military exercises in the Arabian Sea. Also in the immediate wake of September 11, India took delivery of large quantities of Russian weapons under the Indo-Russian military cooperation agreement.

While France and the US seem to be on opposite sides of the India-Pakistan conflict, France also supplies military equipment to Pakistan, in competition with US weapons producers. More generally, this conflict means billions of dollars of profit for Western and Russian arms suppliers. In this regard, US foreign policy is geared towards securing a market for the Big Five weapons producers, now allied with British Aerospace systems, against their French and Russian competitors.

In early May, France rushed its defense minister Michele Alliot-Marie to Pakistan following a terrorist attack which led to the death of 11 Frenchmen of the Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) involved in the construction of three Agosta submarines for the Pakistan navy. The attack, which in all likelihood was politically motivated, could lead to the suspension of weapons deliveries by France to Pakistan. The suspension would serve the interests of US weapons producers..

On the Brink of War

This week, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee stated that India is prepared to go to war in response to the terrorist attacks. Delhi has warned Islamabad of a “decisive battle” against terrorism and "told its soldiers on the tense Kashmir border to be ready for sacrifice". Pakistan retorted "that any cross-border action by India would provoke retaliation", which could predictably "trigger a wider conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours." 10 

Meanwhile Indian warships have positioned themselves in the Arabian Sea, in proximity of the Pakistani coastline. A report by Jane Defense Weekly confirms that India's Strategic Nuclear Command (SNC) is expected to be in place by June. 11 The SNC will be commanded by the Indian Air Force (IAF). India is said to have some 60 nuclear warheads compared with Pakistan's 25. The use of nuclear weapons cannot be dismissed. Both countries have activated their reserve forces.

The Role of the US

General Pervez Musharraf is a US puppet. Since the beginning of the bombing campaign of Afghanistan, the US Air Force controls Pakistan's airspace as well several military facilities in Pakistan. US military and intelligence advisers are working closely with the Pakistanis:

The United States is now heavily engaged in the region. It has full use of two Pakistani military air bases and since the start of the war has taken control of about one- third of Pakistan's air space to facilitate its military operations over Afghanistan.

Up to 35,000 Pakistani troops have been assigned to protect the US forces stationed inside Pakistan. In addition, 60,000 Pakistani troops have been dispatched to the Durand Line, the 1400km Pakistani-Afghan border, to catch any al-Qa'ida agents, including Osama bin Laden, who might be tempted to cross over. 12

Under these conditions, a war cannot in practice be waged by Pakistan without Washington's green light. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has been dispatched by Washington to the region for consultations with both governments. Armitage was one of the main architects during the Reagan Administration behind US covert support to the Mujahedin and the "militant Islamic base, both during the Afghan-Soviet war as well as in its aftermath. US covert support was financed by the Golden Crescent drug trade. "Armitage, who was denied a 1989 appointment as Assistant Secretary of State because of links to Iran-Contra and other scandals, served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Reagan years. U.S. Government stipulations in the Oliver North trial specifically named Armitage as one of the DoD officials responsible for illegal transfers of weapons to Iran and the Contras."13

In other words, is Richard Armitage on "a peace mission" or is he part of an ongoing intelligence operation, which ultimately consists in fostering political instability, by pushing one country against the other? 

Washington's Ploy: Arming both Sides

The US has military cooperation agreements with both India and Pakistan. America sells weapons to both countries (as does France). At the same time, Washington controls the types of advanced systems made available to each country.

Ironically, while America is Pakistan's closest ally, US-India military cooperation has been stepped since September 11. In November, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on an official visit to India, stated the need "to strengthen the military and defence ties between our two countries" in the context of the war on terrorism.14 An Indian defence delegation led by India's Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain was at the Pentagon this week, "to discuss prospective military cooperation, including expanding the scope, size and frequency of joint exercises between their armed forces"15 

Meanwhile, Washington was beefing up it military support to Pakistan. The Bush Administration, through the CIA, also oversees the ISI sponsored covert intelligence operations in support of Islamic insurgents inside India.

In country after country, these insurgencies are used by Washington to destabilize national societies. The underlying pattern is very similar that used recently in Macedonia, where the KLA sponsored insurgencies were being supported by NATO and US military aid. Meanwhile, the US had an ongoing military cooperation agreement with the Macedonian Ministry of Defense in the context of the Partnership for Peace Programme.16

While Washington is arming Pakistan, it also has a military cooperation agreement with India, which is intended to deter armed aggression and defend Indian territory. Moreover, behind the scenes – using Pakistan's ISI as a "go-between" – the CIA is funnelling support (money and weapons) to the Kashmiri separatist forces. In a cruel irony, Washington is arming and advising both sides under military and intelligence authorization acts approved by the US Congress.

"divide and Rule": Advise both sides on the conduct of war. Arm both sides in the conflict, fuelling America's military-industrial complex. Develop joint military and intelligence cooperation with both countries, enabling the US to oversee the theatre of an eventual war. Fracture and impoverish both countries. Restore the Empire.

 The hidden agenda is to eventually extend America's sphere of influence not only in Central Asian but also in the Indian sub-continent. 


Notes

1. See by Ellis Shuman, Is Israel preparing to dismantle the Palestinian Authority? http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SHU204A.html , Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), www.globalresearch.ca  7 April 2002

2. See Ian Bruce, Military planners at the Pentagon have drawn up a blueprint for a two-pronged invasion of Iraq, CRG 1 February 2002) .

3 India Daily, 21 May 2002.

4. Quoted in Hindustan Times, 23 May 2002

5. India Daily, 22 May 2002

6. Michel Chossudovsky, Coverup and Complicity, The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence, CRG, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO111A.html, 2 November 2002.

7 See K. Subrahmanyam, Pakistan is Pursuing Asian Goals, India Abroad, 3 November 1995.

8 Council on Foreign Relations, Terrorism: Questions and Answers, Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, http://www.terrorismanswers.com/groups/harakat2.htm Washington 2002.

9. Ibid.

10. Dawn, 22 May 2002

11 Jane Defence Weekly quoted in India Daily, 22 May 2002

12 The Independent, 29 December 2001

10 See Murali Ranganathan, Human rights Report Draws Flak, News India, 16 September 1994.

13. Michael Ruppert, Richard Armitage Quietly confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, From the Wilderness, 25 March 2001

14. The New York Times, 5 November 2001

15. The Hindustan Times, 22 May 2002.

16. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, NATO Invades Macedonia, CRG, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO108C.html, August 2001

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CRG's Global Outlook, premiere issue on  "Stop the War" provides detailed documentation on the war and the September 11

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m. chossudovsky | globalresearch.ca | 9-11 | www.agp.org