Samson Simon Sharaf Pakistan is strategically located on the crossroads of Central, West and South Asia. This position is enviable but fraught with instability. From 1947 to 1975, Pakistan had to contend with a hostile Afghanistan to the north and a declared enemy to the east. In quest for a new Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto rallied the Muslim nations under an Islamic summit and was one of the architects of the oil embargo. In 1974, he laid the foundations of Pakistans nuclear programme. From 1973-75, he created the nucleus of Afghan student resistance to Sardar Daud and forced him into negotiations. In 1977, Bhutto was scheduled to sign an already drafted and agreed agreement with Sardar Daud on the Durand Line. Lamentably, he was overthrown through a military coup, hanged and made a lesson of. His other two allies in King Faisal and Shah of Iran met somewhat similar ends. All three paid the price for disturbing the international equilibrium of the Great Game. As events prove, one of the most compelling reason for Pakistan to participate in the US sponsored mock jihad was legitimacy for a military dictatorship and elimination of a pro Soviet-India government in Kabul. The vanguard of resistance was provided by the Afghan resistance trained in Bhuttos days. With the Soviets driven out, USA withdrew with a pro Soviet-India regime still in place. What followed was anarchy created by warlords, diverse mujahideen groups and rise of Taliban all with active interventions from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Britain and USA. In 1996, Benazir Bhutto tried to rewrite her fathers script. During negotiations led by Nasser Ullah Babar, Taliban agreed to moderating themselves and converting Afghanistan into a federation with a power sharing formula. The atmosphere was so friendly that Babar also flew in an entourage of western diplomat families that went shopping in Kandahar and Mazar. Benazir was unceremoniously removed by President Leghari just a day after the draft agreement had been agreed. In 2002, it was again with Benazirs intervention that the Taliban agreed to make a Lockerberie out of Osama Bin Laden and hand him over to a neutral Muslim country for trial by a Qazi court. USA dissented and walked out of negotiations that could have spared the world this war on terror. Seymour Hersh speculated her to be a victim of special assassination squads. As I wrote earlier, 9/11 was an opportunity for an otherwise besieged General Musharraf to get the Americans off his back and use them to settle the same question. He was misled by Shaukat Aziz who assured scores of billions of dollars pouring into Pakistan. The short-sightedness of this policy became obvious. The entire country including military has been drawn into a most hostile environment where states, agencies and maze of non-state actors compete for influence. Recently, Pakistans direct negotiations led by the military and ISI with Karzai and a nod from McChrystal are now history. For the time being, Taliban with their heads high are unwelcome. Pakistan was prematurely led to play its last cards. The recent rush of defence and Foreign Office diplomacy in South Asia and Afghanistan, statements made by Clinton, Holbrooke, Mullen and Cameron suggest a renewed pressure on Pakistan in which India is being co-opted as an important player. Even Karzais tone has changed. Military despatches, sitreps and intreps leaked through WikiLeaks are in tandem with this policy. The entire western media on a jungle feast is out to discredit and disgrace the military and ISI which has been implicated only in 30 out of 92,000 reports along with a disclaimer about authenticity. The target is Pakistan army and ISI accused of playing a double game, assisting Taliban against coalition forces and creating a new terror network with the help of LeT. This also implies that Pakistan army continues to deliberately and consciously play a double game against its field formations by engaging them in stage managed and fake encounters; a proposition being made to Pakistani media to take on. This propaganda ignores the fact that Pakistans armed forces have suffered the highest toll of casualties in this war. There have been three consistencies in all the events since 1974. First, Pakistan is repeatedly denied to secure its north-western frontier, secondly, to Pakistans chagrin; India has always been allowed an influence in Afghanistan by USA and thirdly, peace in the region has been elusive. However these consistencies may not lead to the logical because the 'elusiveness may itself be a recipe for a bigger disaster in making that can swirl either way. The recent diplomatic offensive indicates that in the next few months, the violence in the region will reach new levels including strikes deep inside Pakistan. If empiricism leads to prediction, then it also points to another elusive summit overseeing valleys full of snakes, in which Pakistan dangerously treads. This makes the positive impacts of the extension of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani questionable. Even western analysts like Anatol Lieven agree that India is a potentially disastrous liability for Afghan policy with limited direct help in the war on terror. Yet, why does the coalition choose the Indian soil to make aspersions on Pakistan? The answer is straight forward; Afghanistan is the base, Pakistan the target and India the containment front. So what is it that Pakistan has to give up to become a trusted ally? The answer can be read on the face of every Pakistani; Pashtun connection to Afghanistan, Kashmir and nuclear. If these be the objectives, then how are the events likely to unfold? First, AfPak also arouses the romantic notion of Pashtun nationalism. There are already suggestions that Afghanistan should be bifurcated on ethnic lines into Pashtun and non-Pashtun zones. India is likely to play a big role in the north both in development and defending the pivots for attacks in Pashtun areas. The operations will ultimately spill over into Pakistan. After total burnout, efforts will be made to enliven the romantic notion of Pashtun nationalism and carve a new Pashtun nation. What AfPak chooses to ignore is that Gujjars comprise 35 percent of Afghan population have intrinsic links with Pakistan. Some of their best known leaders are Dr Abdul Qayyum and Maulana M. Younas Khalis of Hizb-i-Islami. In fact both Hizb-i-Islami and Harkat-i-Islami are Gujjar dominated groups. Secondly, the Government of Pakistan will be forced to launch operations against the Punjabi Taliban. This will create anarchy in the biggest province of Pakistan which will ultimately be divided into more provinces. The myth of Punjabi domination in bureaucracy and armed forced will be broken. Thirdly, full-fledged operations in Kandhar will be launched spilling the conflict into Balochistan. This will most logically happen when Pakistans armed forces are fully stretched in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab. Karachi will become a hot bed of ethnic and sectarian strife. The secessionist movements in Balochistan will intensify and ultimately a direct corridor to Afghanistan will be crafted. A weak and discredited Pakistan will then be asked to negotiate on US terms. In the past many years I have repeatedly and accurately pointed to these dangers, but as events have proved, Pakistan has willingly stepped into partnerships that rather than provide security, compromise it. If it is in the governments interest to extend the tenure of COAS for the sake of WOT, then it is also in Pakistans interest that the tenure of CJCSC be extended. After all, he exercises operational control over Pakistans nuclear forces, the objective of the entire mayhem. The writer is a retired brigadier and a political economist. Email: