ON this anniversary of 9/11, it is worth considering our approach to Pakistan and its links with Muslim terrorism – yet the top recipient of UK aid at no less than £300million per year.
The 1947 Partition of India resulted in two dominions, the Indian Union and Pakistan – leaving open the future of 562 princely states which had been allied to the Crown. The latter had the choice of joining one the two dominions or remaining independent. The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, was a Hindu but realised his largely Muslim population would not wish to join the mostly Hindu dominion of India with the caste system.
That dilemma had been forecast long before by a concerned Winston Churchill.
Kashmir is a huge territory that includes Gilgit Baltistan with the towering Karakoram Range boasting K2 and other spectacular peaks. Perhaps the most magnificent is Nanga Parbak, rising tens of thousands of feet from the alpine flowers of God’s Meadows. Ladakh is part of Kashmir and larger than Gilgit if one includes Aksai Chin stretching a hundred miles further east and north towards Tibet – which China disputes. South of these magnificent mountains are the green pine-clad hills, fertile valleys and blue lakes of Jammu and Kashmir.
Before Partition Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lived alongside each other in Kashmir as they did on the Punjab Plain. Some villages and towns were home for a majority of Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs, though still mixed societies. Lahore, cultural capital of the Muslims, had a thriving Sikh community; thirty miles away Muslims and Hindus lived in Amritsar, the cultural and religious capital of the Sikhs. All this ended with the Raj. Lahore has a busy shopping and restaurant street called Temple Road. Today there is no longer a Sikh temple – it was burned down with the worshippers inside during Partition.
While Hari Singh tried to make up his mind which choice was the lesser evil, Pakistan’s new leaders employed all the dirty tricks they could. They invited the Pathan tribes of the North West Frontier to invade Jammu and Kashmir. The inevitable result was not just pillage but mass murder, 30,000 Hindus and Sikhs around Punch, another 20,000 around Mirpur. Faced with such horror, the Maharaja swiftly opted for India and the two dominions fought each other until the old front line, the Line of Control, became the effective frontier.
Gilgit became part of Pakistan but most of Jammu and Kashmir stayed with India, as did Ladakh.
Since 1964 Mirpur has been drowned beneath the Mangla Dam lake. I remember one evening driving along the top of the earth dam. To one side was the valley with the river slowly growing wider and flooding it, below the other slope stretched the vast grain field of the Punjab. Further along the dam I saw an old man wrapped in a white dhoti blanket taking a sunset stroll and heading in my direction. I got out of the car and introduced myself, explained I was looking for New Mirpur. He laughed kindly, ‘I fear you are on the wrong continent, young man. New Mirpur is in your country and called Bradford.’
After entertaining me with his low opinions of the people making money by flooding his valley, starting with Ayub Khan and PIA airline chiefs, he sighed, ‘Mind, you and I and others should be thankful that a place of tragedy should be drowned.’
Within a year of that conversation I witnessed close up a war provoked by Pakistan in the mistaken belief that China would support them with hardware and ammunition. The Pakistanis once again sent the forerunners of the Taliban into Indian-controlled Kashmir with the goal of cutting the road from the Punjab Plain into the Himalayas and thereby trapping five divisions, 100,000 Indian soldiers, within Kashmir. This rash attempt at invasion resulted in the largest tank battle since the Kursk Salient in Russia in 1943. I had a grandstand view because the front line ended up less than four miles from my bungalow garden in a leafy suburb of Lahore.
Chou en Lai offered soothing words but no hardware.
East Pakistan resented that West Pakistan had left them defenceless, thereby sowing the seeds of their own separation.
Afghanistan was ruled by a king in those days. Only a year before, the king had introduced a new constitution giving women equal rights. Consequently in some parts of Kabul, the young girls strutted about in mini-skirts. The Khyber Coffee Bar was crowded with young Elizabeth Taylor doubles, including many with those fabulous turquoise eyes. Yet one could drive back into Kabul at night and see ahead a line of cats’ eyes about a yard above the road, only to realise as you drew closer that it was a wolf pack’s curious eyes reflecting your headlamps.
The Soviet Union got rid of the king when they invaded. They had reason. We had far more reason to bring him back.
If you look at an ethnic map of Afghanistan and Pakistan you will find that Pashtuns occupy the southern and eastern half of Afghanistan and the northern and western parts of Pakistan. During the Raj a no-man’s land was agreed with the Afghan kings and an open frontier known as the Durand Line separated the two countries down the middle of this mountainous country for hundreds of miles. The Afghan tribes come down into Pakistan during winter and go home to higher grazing in the spring – they follow their goats. Their Pathan cousins claim to be descended from Alexander the Great’s army and many do have golden curls!
Pashtuns are over 40 per cent of the population of Afghanistan so when American Presidents refused to have the king back, they lost the support of 42 per cent of the people and possibly more than that among the tribes in Pakistan.
When Pakistan’s next attempt to grab Kashmir took place in 1971 the defeat by India was comprehensive. East Pakistanis, after suffering atrocities by the Pakistan Army meant to defend them, separated and became Bangla Desh.
And it looks as though here we go again . . .
Pakistan’s Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed was in Kabul last week, probably to make sure his proteges did not cock up taking the Panjshir Valley. The underlying strategy became visible even for British politicians and diplomats. (Prime Minister Imran Khan is a puppet and certainly has no authority over the ISI or the Pakistan Army.)
The Taliban are tools of Pakistan in the struggle for Kashmir that’s been going on since Partition. September 1965 was round two. The Indians will take pretty well the same action as then and again to block round three in 1971. Should the ISI try to infiltrate the Taliban Army into Indian held Kashmir for round four, the Indians will open up multiple fronts with full-scale armoured thrusts all along the Pakistan frontier until they open one and nobody stops them because there are no Pakistan troops left to fill the gap.
Allow me to quote theTimes of India in February this year:
‘For the last five years Pakistan has been the largest recipient of UK aid at just over £300million a year.
‘Between 2018 and 2019, 53 per cent of UK aid to Pakistan was spent on human development, including health and education; 29 per cent on economic development; 10 per cent was spent on governance and security;5 per cent on climate issues and the environment; and 3 per cent on humanitarian causes.
‘However, even today almost a third of Pakistan’s population (over 60million) lives in poverty, 22.6million children do not go to school and half of the population, including two-thirds of women, cannot read or write. In addition, one in every 11 children dies before their fifth birthday, every year 9,700 women in Pakistan die in childbirth and 44 per cent of children under five are stunted.
‘Pakistan’s population is set to grow by 40million in the next 15 years and the economy needs to grow by more than 7 per cent a year to create enough jobs. There is major inequality based on geography, gender, ethnicity, disability and faith, and a significant modern slavery problem amongst the poor, minorities, women and children. Pakistan carries a high risk of natural disasters, it has the second-highest number of refugees in the world, and continues to suffer from extremism and militancy.’
Are the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office seriously going to keep a huge diplomatic mission and pour our hard-earned money into this sewer of corruption?
Yes, they are – unless we voters say enough is enough.
Always remember we are the ones who pay.
And never forget that the Pakistan army is half a million strong, has nearly 3,000 tanks and almost 4,000 armoured personnel carriers and combat vehicles for infantry. Pakistan’s air force has 500 modern jet fighters, the navy a dozen submarines and the same number of destroyers and frigates. They are allies of China.
Bin Laden was hidden by them for years. They control the Taliban and fought against us in Afghanistan. The ISI provides Al Qaeda with a safe haven in Waziristan.
We should stop all aid money today. Little of it goes to the grandchildren of that old man strolling along the earth dam at Mangla.
Spend the money on the other ninety F-35s the RN and RAF need for a viable force.
We should reduce our diplomatic staff to the bare minimum and send the Pakistan High Commission staff home.
We should ask the Indians what else we can do to help put a stop to these dacoits.
I certainly think the ISI wherever they are operating have made themselves legitimate targets, starting with Faiz Hameed and their headquarters.
How many Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks does it take before our ‘leaders’ see the obvious and act accordingly?