Pakistan’s Playing with Wahhabist Fire: Iran and India Must Join to Create a Stability Zone

For some time now, I have been writing upon the strong viability of Indian-Iranian geopolitical co-operation; particularly in light of shared security concerns, and a most unfavourable ‘short schrift’ from the Americans meted out towards both on matters economic.

This concept has, perhaps understandably (although invariably infuriatingly) received much push-back from voices that would identify as being on the “right wing”, who almost seem to *prefer* the idea of being opposed by a monolithic “all Muslims together, all the time” than to concede they share a fundamental interest with many non-Sunni groups; and who are willfully blind to the actual realities of both politics and religion in the broader Middle East.

But I digress. The point is, that recent events would appear to be vindicating my earlier perspective; and in a manner that should now have Pakistan *seriously* worried.

So for context on what’s going on here … literally a day before the attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, Pakistani-backed and based Sunni extremist irregulars (seeing a pattern here?) carried out a *very similar* aggression against an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps convoy travelling in Sistan/Balochistan, very near the Pakistani border.

Iran has wasted no time in identifying the culprits – with the Iranian military directly stating that it believes the Pakistani Government and ISI (and, for good measure, Saudi Arabia) to be ultimately responsible.

Interestingly, they have also suggested an American/Israeli enthusiasm and involvement in the long-running campaign against Iran waged by these militants; and while this might sound like characteristic ‘conspiratorial thinking’, it is worth noting that

a) Israel has over the last few years been at pains also to improve its relationship with Pakistan, particularly within the military sphere; and
b) that Israel has had no issue working with other Al-Qaeda affiliates in the very recent past, where this has been seen to oppose Iran – such as Al-Nusra, in Syria. American involvement with Sunni extremists did not end with the Mujahideen of Afghanistan, either – with recent efforts in Yemen, again against perceived Iranian interests, showing the U.S. to be fully capable of co-operation with localized Al-Qaida And Friends ‘when it suits’.
It is also worth noting that the Americans have had an officially authorized policy of CIA-directed operations against the IRGC to be carried out cross-border from neighbouring countries, since at least the Presidential directive on the matter in 2008.

However, my purpose in writing is not simply to show that there is an abundant and fundamental pattern of Pakistan seemingly actively cultivating instability and iniquity in the borders of seemingly all of its *non-China* neighbours. That has been abundantly clear, and for some time now. Indeed, certified memetic man-of-myth Major-General Qassem Soleimani has directly pointed this out in the context of issuing the Pakistanis a “friendly warning” that continued “test[ing] of Iran” shall lead to “revenge” being taken against the perpetrators and facilitators of such attacks.

His colleague, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi (also a former IRGC commander), the military advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, did not put it so cheerfully – stating Iranian intent for a “crushing and proper response”. Sentiments echoed by current IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jajari: “Pakistan should also know that it should pay the cost for the Pakistani intelligence organization’s support for [these militants] from now on and this price will not doubt be very heavy for them.”

The considerable anger of the Iranians on this front is eminently understandable. After all, they have been waging a long-running effort against these Pakistani-enabled insurgencies for some decades now; and despite periodic assurances from Islamabad that “something is being done” about the militants, they nevertheless keep turning up again – and with mysteriously advanced abilities to infiltrate through the Pakistani border in considerable numbers, with the strength and arms to directly attack Iranian military installations.

Indeed, Maj.Gen. Soleimani himself spent much of the 1990s operating in the ‘convection zone’ that runs along the bounds between the Iranian and Pakistani spheres of influence, actively interdicting and combating the activities of that decade’s crop of Pakistani/Saudi/Americani supported insurgencies.

Given the recent Iranian uncovering of a swathe of ‘potentially’ Pakistani-facilitated terroristic plots targeted at this year’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, which appears also to have underpinned this recent stepping up in Iranian rhetoric against Pakistan, it would seem fair to say that their patience with the Pariah State has run very low indeed.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard do not mess around. With deference to their records in Iraq, in Syria, and in Lebanon, they have abundantly demonstrated their ability to significantly reshape the flow of events – and even entire states – according to their design (indeed, it has been reported that Soleimani played an instrumental role in securing direct Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict).

Admittedly, such craftings can take a number of years to come to even partial fruition; but for those whose hobbies include the cultivation and moving of mountains, this is only to be expected.

Particularly given the IRGC’s habitual preference for measures that enable such dramatic outcomes to be achieved *without* the necessity of a full-scale state-level invasion by the armed forces of Iran. A characteristic considerably informed by the latter course of the Iran-Iraq War, and a long-running observation of the follies of others in this specific regard.

Pakistan is already counting the cost and weighing up the strenuous risks inherent in further escalation of its conflict against India, in conventional terms.

Yet especially with the potential for a ‘stepping back’ to perhaps occur on that front in the near future; it may very well prove that the ‘subtle knife’ of the IRGC shall be what keeps the Pakistani generals up at night for the next half decade.

Soleimani’s simple statement to Islamabad reminds one of the message which Tito sent to Stalin following the latter’s series of attempts upon his life:

“Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.”

Still, if the Pakistanis have proven anything over the past half-century or so, it is that they have an extreme ability for acting in what is ultimately the antithesis of their own self-interest.

In the case of recent developments, this is perhaps partially explicated by their preference for acting in the interests of other states – the Saudi Arabians and others, as identified by the Iranians; and the Chinese et co, as everybody knows.

No doubt, this is why the PRC alone seems to be able to avoid the unique ‘beneficence’ besetting those with Pakistan as a neighbour – of cross-border extremist exigencies at the day-in day-out drop of a hat.

It is regrettable in the extreme – although not, I suppose, un-understandable – that some states continue to throw in their lot with perfidious Pakistan.

But while the situation in, say, 1971 (wherein the Pakistanis were able to call upon the potent potential services of the United States’ nuclear arsenal and the ravening hordes of the ironically titled People’s Liberation Army; and would have been in a position to benefit from same had they not collapsed in rather short order on both the Eastern and Western Fronts against the might of the Indian forces, before these ‘interventions’ could be brought to bear on their behalf), provided Pakistan with a series of ‘backstops’ in the form of powerful international friends fully prepared to overlook the moral turpitude of their colleague’s deplorable conduct …

… today they are looking increasingly isolated.

It is true that Russia has engaged in something of a rapprochement with Islamabad. Yet this is worth little when compared to the strongly enduring Indo-Russian diplomatic and most especially military relationship.

It is true that billions of dollars of Saudi cash swash the coffers of their state, and pad out the payrolls of perhaps half a hundred Pakistani-based and backed “insurgencies” the world over. Just as has been the case for some decades now, at least ever since the US decided to ‘sup with the devil’ in order to ouster the Soviets from Afghanistan.

But how has this flailed – utterly *flailed* – against the opponents they have sought in Syria, and in Yemen, and in India and Iran more currently.

It is also true, although many stubbornly refuse to believe it, that Israel – the so-called “friend” of India – has put serious efforts, perhaps hand-in-glove with their sand-strewn partner in crime to the east, into improving their own relationship with Pakistan. Including by engaging in illicit and illegal military technology transfer of a sort that may even have played a role in Pakistan’s downing of an IAF plane late last month.

Yet while one should never rule out the ability of the Americans to do something stupid and unprincipled, and ultimately against their own best interest in the longer term ; especially given the recent deterioration of relations between India and the United States which is something of a presently-occurring Exhibit A for this phenomenon ; we can be hopeful that the ongoing trajectory of relations between the Hegemonic Hyperpower and the Harappan-situated Pariah state shall continue to work downward and in India’s overt favour.

[We are also strongly supportive of Congresswoman and current Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s strident stance of pointing out exactly what has happened here, with each of America’s so-called “Friends” being the exact opposite in practice. Long may it continue, and much may it catch on!]

The steeling of Iran’s stance towards Islamabad, then, is vitally important, in a geopolitical sense; for the ongoing isolation and weakening of Pakistan – and the severe curtailment of its ability to carry out these sorts of cross-border outrages with apparent heedless lack of regard for the Damoclean blade of Consequence.

Just as Iran has taken the inarguable lead in combatting Sunni militancy extremists, in the forms of ISIS or other vectors of atrocity across the Arabian peninsula and further afield, its declaration that the patience of Persia is running out for toleration of Pakistan’s excuse-making and sundry further shenanigans should be likewise welcomed, and for exactly the same reason.

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