Staring into the Abyss

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Pakistan has had a busy month so far. Pick up any newspaper, international or domestic, and you will see the chaos that engulfs the nation. Chaos, that refuses to go away. Chaos, which to a large extent is self created and self-perpetuated. The apparent lack of realization about the future of this nation is both, horrifying and sobering.

 Bilateral relations with most strategic and vital countries continue a nose dive. Meanwhile, India continues to chart its course to become a global super star. Its ascent, from slum dog to millionaire, all but guaranteed. India through sheer hard work and nationalist pride has started an effective strategy of isolating Pakistan amongst the comity of nation. The fact that the United States considers India an important and ‘equal’ ally is naturally a great help in this course of action. The Indian encirclement of Pakistan is all but complete.

Take for example, reports of India negotiating the purchase of 40 Predator surveillance drones with the United States. The same reports also state that India wants to equip its military with more unmanned technologies to gather intelligence as well as boost its firepower along the vast land borders with Pakistan and China. It is pertinent to mention, at this time, that India has already purchased an undisclosed number of surveillance drones from Israel to monitor the Line of Control in Kashmir. India has also placed a request with Washington for 100 armed-Predator C Avenger aircraft, which the United States has used to carry out strikes in Fata and Afghanistan. U.S Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart also agreed to strengthen their cooperation on maritime security.

The growing closeness between India and Saudi Arabia is also troubling. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Saudi King Salman last month during his first official visit to the kingdom, home to a large number of Indian workers and a major trade partner that supplies around 19 per cent of India’s crude oil imports. The two sides signed five agreements, including plans to cooperate in intelligence sharing related to terror financing and money laundering, as well as a labor cooperation agreement and another to promote bilateral investments in the private sector. The hope is that someone in Pakistan is watching this growing closeness warily. Hopefully, through the foreign office a diplomatic offensive against India and its spy agency RAW will be launched.

At the same time India is coming up with containment strategies regarding what it views as China-Pakistan Security Collaboration. China and India are moving towards setting up a military hotline, Chinese state media reported, despite border dispute and tensions over terrorism sanctions still lingering  between the Asian neighbors. The Indian government has cancelled the visa granted to an exiled Uighur-Chinese leader wanted by China after The grant of visa to Mr Dolkun triggered a war of words between India and China as the decision was perceived in Beijing, as a counter-measure by New Delhi after China stopped India’s UN campaign to blacklist the Pakistan-based Maulana Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The Indian establishment’s viewpoint is that since the 1960’s China has made conscious and concerted efforts to sustain and use Pakistan to keep Indian power controlled and Indian energies restricted within the subcontinent. According to this perspective, China’s support for Pakistan has had the effect of not only making Pakistan even more intransigent but also, by bogging India down within the subcontinent, and preventing  it from acquiring a larger role in Asian and international affairs. The Chinese security commitment to Pakistan will only increase with the fruition of the CPEC.

Our own relationship with India is already at a standstill. The recent meetings between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference could make no headway. Indian troops continue to violate the ceasefire along the Line of Control by resorting to heavy firing and shelling, according to a press release issued by the military’s Inter Services Public Relations department. News coming out of Islamabad suggests that the peace dialogue with India is effectively suspended.

These developments in our neighborhood need to be noted with concern. India considers China-Pakistan a single threat but that does not stop it from trading with China and moving to improve bilateral relations. India has moved quickly to forge sustainable ties with Iran and has drawn Afghanistan into the Trilateral Agreement. This has long term implications. There is convergence between US, Afghan and Indian interests and the recent US drone attack on Pakistan is perhaps a warning shot from the US. Pakistan must act to safe guard its interests, strengthen internally and move rapidly to change the perception that our policies are in limbo because we do not know what to do. Checking millions of ID cards after the forged one found at the site of the drone attack may be a good step if it is part of a carefully thought out and orchestrated response strategy.


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  • Riaz Bhatti

    Well written analysis. Pakistan has missed many opportunities due to lack of functional foreign policies. Pakistan needs to stand up for itself and come up with a policy that allows it to become a productive regional player. It has the strategic location which it should have used from day one and worked as a “connector” between regional nations. This could have been achieved despite US misadventures in the region. All is still not lost. Pakistan should engage USA and bring them face to face with Afghan Taliban leadership. Pakistan needs to come out in the open and explain its concerns and worries to all participants involved in Afghan peace process. Pakistan can neither offend the US or make enemies out of the Afghan Talibans. This is the point where our diplomats and foreign policy experts must step in and help resolve the issue… only if the govt and the military would be willing to listen and heed sane advice!