September 29, 2022

Volatile Kashmir-Bangladesh: Part of larger strategic conspiracy against India

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Incidents in Bangladesh are parts of a larger conspiracy against India in the name of the Afghan peace process. This is the outcome of increasing intimacy and deepening ties between the US and Pakistan. It is imperative to mention here the so-called global initiatives to de-escalate the Afghan situation making Pakistan the most important stakeholder.

By Shibdas Bhattacharjee

My perception has always been the fact that there should be a single policy in dealing with all bordering nations of India. The reason is simple; present India dwells amid hostile neighbourhoods. The present geo-strategic condition of the region does not allow India to be casual in case of her relationship with any nation. Our concentration should not be only on Pakistan and China but every nation bordering India; be it Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal or Bhutan at the land border and the island nations sharing the nautical boundary of India. Here the significant point is: agenda of China and Pakistan is loud and clear. But those enemies are more dangerous than a stab at the back. All these nations bordering India have done so on successive occasions; better not to play on the monotonous tune of a traditional relationship, cultural affinity, shared values and all such terms that make India weaker on the strategic front. I have no interest in the much-heard rhetoric of tracing back and searching history. What will such grave digging bring ultimately? I mean, what substantives such endeavours will bring in the present context? So, it is better to keep aside rhetorical articulation.

It is often stated in the academic circle that Afghanistan was Gandhar thousand years ago, before the arrival of Muhammad Ghori there were only Hindus in the subcontinent, India was the centre of knowledge and power thousand years ago, our civilization is the oldest, our freedom fighters are saints and supermen, British imperialism is responsible for all odds in India and so on. Readers may think why I am referring to all these with a bit of sarcasm. The reason is: such academic debates make me bore that does not have a distant relationship with the issues and concerns in the given time. Can we make Afghanistan Gandhar again? Can we bring back the state that prevailed before the arrival of Muhammad Ghori? Can we make the British pay for whatever wrong their forefathers did? If not, better keep aside this monotonous narrative. These have no relevance in the present geopolitical context as the so-called academic pundits try to propagate. The existing geopolitical situation does not provide us with the luxury of musing over all these.

The prelude is a bit longer. Let me come to the point. What do atrocities against the Hindu community in Bangladesh mean? This has several ramifications; failure of Bangladeshi administration and intelligence agencies, persistent of radical Muslim outfits in Bangladesh despite the so-called liberal rule of Hasina. Both these issues have been discussed elaborately so far. I like to point something else; the conspiracy. No conspiracy is not against Hasina as has been stated in the media. Conspiracy is the unholy nexus between the Bangladeshi administration and the radical elements. Nexus comprises security establishments of Bangladesh, intelligence agencies and radical fanatic elements there. What is the logic behind this? The way volatility spread and security lapses found in entire Bangladesh prove it. Such vandalism cannot happen without the patronisation of State machinery.

But why will India hype against the things that are otherwise internal matters of Bangladesh? India must because the interests of the country’s eastern frontier are directly related to this. Yes, I am specially focussing on the interests of Assam. If these incidents make a fresh spell of intrusion from Bangladeshis into Assam and the atmosphere becomes hot yet again in Assam regarding Bangladesh, who will take responsibility for this? Seriously speaking, Assam cannot display hospitality anymore. But the far more important point is: if Hindus become victims of Islamic fanaticism under the rule of the present Indian regime that claims to be representing Hindus, what can be more unfortunate? Yes, I am pointing the finger at both the ruling BJP and its parent organisation RSS that vow to safeguard the interests of Hindus. If things cannot be controlled in a tiny State like Bangladesh, where will the government of India display its dominance? Condemning, talking to Hasina through the Indian consulate in Dhaka or making Press conferences cannot be responses. Responses should be action to dismantle the terror network in Bangladesh and compel the Bangladesh government to take decisive action. This is important to safeguard India’s eastern frontier secured.

Incidents in Bangladesh are parts of a larger conspiracy against India in the name of the Afghan peace process. This is the outcome of increasing intimacy and deepening ties between the US and Pakistan. It is imperative to mention here the so-called global initiatives to de-escalate the Afghan situation making Pakistan the most important stakeholder. The following statements of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the 76th UN General Assembly in New York on September 23 indicate a lot; the chemistry forming comprising the United States and Pakistan. Here is what both the leaders emphatically stated, “SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m very pleased to be meeting with my friend and counterpart from Pakistan, Foreign Minister Qureshi. We’ve had many opportunities to speak on the phone these many months, but finally now an opportunity (inaudible) at the UN General Assembly to see each other in person. A lot to focus on, starting with Afghanistan and the importance of our countries working together and going forward on Afghanistan. (Inaudible) appreciate the work that Pakistan has done to facilitate the departure of American citizens who wish to leave as well as others, but a lot to talk about there as well as our own bilateral relationship, including the economic relationship between our countries and working in the region as a whole. So, it’s a pleasure to see you. Look forward to a very good conversation.”

Looking at the saga of terror escalation in Kashmir and volatility in Bangladesh proves one point; the anti-India terror and radical Islamic groups both in Kashmir and Bangladesh have got shot in the arms because of the foolish American diplomacy regarding Afghanistan. Russia has also joined this evil design and Moscow arranged a meeting to discuss the Afghan situation with three countries; Pakistan, China and the United States. Whether US or China participated in the meeting called by Moscow is a different question. This proves that neither the United States nor Russia wants India to play any role in Afghanistan.

“FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: Well, thank you, Secretary Blinken. Thank you for your time today. I’m glad to be meeting face-to-face with you. As you said, we’ve had three telephone conversations discussing the regional situation, the Afghan situation. I thought a time would come where we’d be talking beyond Afghanistan, but it seems Afghanistan is there, we can’t wish it away, and we have to find a way of collectively working to achieve our common objective, which is peace and stability. So, it gives me a good opportunity to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan, to discuss our bilateral relations, and the delicate situation in South Asia. So, I’m looking forward to my meeting with the Secretary.”

Courtesy to the online sources from where I quoted the statements. This proves how Americans have helped Pakistan evolve stronger in Afghanistan. It also proves the policy paralysis of the Biden administration regarding Afghanistan and this foolish US policy depending only on Pakistan. The US has made Pakistan a stakeholder in Afghanistan and Islamabad is utilising this opportunity. But here the point is not confined to the bilateral relationship between two sovereign nations. US and Pakistan are free to formulate foreign policy and make or break relationships. Here the situation is different. As the question is Afghanistan, this can never be a bilateral issue between US and Pakistan. This is related to the larger security issue of the region and especially of India. Naturally, New Delhi has every right to intervene if things in Afghanistan go against India’s interests.

The Dawn reported on September 23 about Pakistani prescription to treat the Afghan wound and the detailed Pakistani roadmap as stated by Qureshi, “Pakistan hasn’t seen a new influx of Afghan refugees — a sensitive issue for Pakistanis, who are highly motivated to prevent it. A humanitarian crisis, a foundering economy and workers who return to jobs and school but aren’t getting salaries and don’t have money could cause Afghans to flee across the porous border into Pakistan, which has suffered economically from such arrivals over decades of conflict. Qureshi prescribed patience and realism. After all, he says, every previous attempt to stabilise Afghanistan has failed, so don’t expect new efforts to produce immediate success with the Taliban. If the US and its allies could not convince them or eliminate them in two decades, how will you do it in the next two months or the next two years? he wondered.”

U. S. Secretary of State Antony John Blinken with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Now see, how Pakistan is using this opportunity and blackmailing the global community regarding Afghanistan. Associated Press asked Qureshi whether he had a prediction of what Afghanistan might be like in six months. Qureshi turned the question back and asked “Can you guarantee me US behaviour over the next six months?” This not only exposes the Pakistani agenda but Islamabad’s higher trajectory in the given time.

Once again, the Associated Press reported on October 8, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Friday held meetings with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, considered the leading architect of Pakistan’s Afghan strategy. She also met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Little information has emerged from the meetings. A statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry said “an inclusive and broad-based political structure reflecting the ethnic diversity of Afghan society was essential for Afghanistan’s stability and progress. That was a clear message to the Taliban: An acceptable Afghan government includes representatives of all Afghan minorities. The statement also had a message for the world, saying “the current situation required positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, the release of Afghan financial resources, and measures to help build a sustainable economy to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people.” The international community has repeatedly expressed concern over Taliban restrictions on access to education for girls and women, both at the high school and university level. It has warned against a return to the harsh Taliban rule from the 1990s when they first controlled Afghanistan and banned women from school, the workplace and public life. Meanwhile, Afghanistan also featured prominently at a national security meeting Friday attended by Pakistan’s military leaders and Prime Minister Imran Khan. A statement warned that instability in Afghanistan would have “severe implications for Pakistan.” Khan ordered that a “special cell” be set up to coordinate humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and manage Pakistan’s border with its neighbour. Sherman, who arrived on Thursday for a two-day visit, also met with Pakistan’s Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf late on Thursday, to discuss developments in Afghanistan and ways to advance cooperation across the bilateral relationship. Pakistan walks a fine line as it seeks to establish a relationship with the U.S. in a changing region, where both Russia and China have increasing influence.”

Kashmir became volatile yet again because of the atrocities of the terror network of Pakistan. Within a week terror struck Kashmir and our brave soldiers courted martyrdom in the Kashmiri soil protecting motherland. This happened since the US made fresh initiatives to intervene in Afghan affairs making Pakistan its loyal comrade. But the foolish Biden administration has failed to heed the reality that Pakistan’s loyalty is outward exposure. Islamabad is utilising Washington in the name of Afghan peace. The same is true in the case of Russia. During this time volatility seemed on the rise in Bangladesh as well.

On the other hand, Reuters reported that Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul on October 21. The report stated, “Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday for the first time since the Taliban victory in August, following weeks of tension over transport links between the neighbouring countries. The visit comes after prolonged problems at the Chaman border crossing, one of the main trade transit points between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been closed for more than two weeks, causing severe problems for truckers and exporters. Qureshi said Pakistan was determined to help Afghanistan avoid a collapse of its economy and had agreed to measures to ease some border restrictions and facilitate trade, including on-arrival visas for Afghan business travellers.”

This is true that hectic developments are going on to restore normalcy in Afghanistan. But the reason why I am stating this is; making Pakistan a stakeholder in Afghanistan has ultimately empowered and legitimised the terror network and radical elements not only in Pakistan but in Bangladesh as well. Looking at the saga of terror escalation in Kashmir and volatility in Bangladesh proves one point; the anti-India terror and radical Islamic groups both in Kashmir and Bangladesh have got shot in the arms because of the foolish American diplomacy regarding Afghanistan. Russia has also joined this evil design and Moscow arranged a meeting to discuss the Afghan situation with three countries; Pakistan, China and the United States. Whether US or China participated in the meeting called by Moscow is a different question. This proves that neither the United States nor Russia wants India to play any role in Afghanistan. A direct question is: how can the Afghan issue be addressed without taking India into confidence? This is against India’s legitimate rights, strategic interests and the larger issues like peace and stability of the region. So also, why not Iran too? Naturally, this puts a big question mark regarding the approaches of the US and Russia.

The result of all these is obvious before us. Kashmir became volatile yet again because of the atrocities of the terror network of Pakistan. Within a week terror struck Kashmir and our brave soldiers courted martyrdom in the Kashmiri soil protecting motherland. This happened since the US made fresh initiatives to intervene in Afghan affairs making Pakistan its loyal comrade. But the foolish Biden administration has failed to heed the reality that Pakistan’s loyalty is outward exposure. Islamabad is utilising Washington in the name of Afghan peace. The same is true in the case of Russia. During this time volatility seemed on the rise in Bangladesh as well. In the name of so-called humiliation of the Quran and blasphemy, atrocities went on against the Hindu community during the Durga Puja celebrations. Radical Islamic organisations of Bangladesh made a well-chalked strategy to kill Hindus, demolish temples and Puja pandals during the time. Significantly, the words Kafir and blasphemy were sounded in a higher octave this time in Bangladesh and the noticeable fact is both these words originally belong to Pakistan and were exported from there to Bangladesh.

Violence and planned attacks went on in Bangladesh that started from a stated humiliation of the Quran in Kumilla district but in a flash, volatility spread all over Bangladesh and atrocities erupted as a volcano in that country. There was a definite Intelligence failure on the part of the Bangladeshi administration. But no one can ignore the fact that such volatility and planned attack on Hindu communities cannot happen without the help of administrative machinery. This will be wrong to perceive the sentiment of Prime Minister Hasina and those of the administrative machinery of Bangladesh. How can one forget the deep-rooted anti-India sentiment of BDR? So also, violent protest erupted in entire Bangladesh against the statement of a minister in the Hasina cabinet Dr Murad Hassan who proposed a constitutional amendment to make Bangladesh a secular country abrogating Islam as a State religion. From Islamic Ulemas to media, social media, intellectual community and a section of Hasina-led party came heavily against this that ultimately compelled the Hasina government to subdue and apologise for the statement in some form or other.

All these are not coincidental developments. These are parts of a well-chalked Islamic agenda against India. Importantly, these did not begin with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Rather, this began since the US reframed its tie-ups with Pakistan. It is only because of the foolish Afghan policy of Biden. Yes, America is responsible for all these be it in Kashmir or Bangladesh. This demands a strong reply from New Delhi. India must display a daring approach to engage in the Afghan issue. New Delhi must search all probabilities in Afghanistan. This includes building stronger ties with Iran, engagement with the Taliban, making the relationship with other stakeholders of Afghanistan Tajik, Uzbek Hazara and others.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman with Qureshi

Playing QUAD card can be both shield and arm for India against America’s conspiracy. This is what a strategic game plan is all about. If the US after two decades can tie-up with India’s worst enemy Pakistan; why not India? Liberalism should not be India’s tune. India’s tone, trajectory, policies and strategies should be aggressive. Only this can make India’s position stronger in the strategic spectrum. I strongly believe so. Any doubt? May be but that should have logic and formula to make India stronger.

Enhancing strategic grip in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and others can be another alternative along with deepening relationships with Iran. India must not bother about QUAD. QUAD is America’s compulsion today and this compulsion opens alternatives for India. Playing QUAD card can be both shield and arm for India against America’s conspiracy. This is what a strategic game plan is all about. If the US after two decades can tie-up with India’s worst enemy Pakistan; why not India? Liberalism should not be India’s tune. India’s tone, trajectory, policies and strategies should be aggressive. Only this can make India’s position stronger in the strategic spectrum. I strongly believe so. Any doubt? May be but that should have logic and formula to make India stronger.

-Shibdas Bhattacharjee is an Assam-based strategic affairs analyst. The views are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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