Pakistan Observer

US-Pak clash over national interest

Syed M Tariq Pirzada

Saturday, November 13, 2010 - The Pak-leaderships have tried sixty years bringing the US and Pakistan closer as allies, but the lost time has proven that the two states are still locked in a state of undeclared conflict over a whole range of supreme national interests that divide them on the world stage. The issues dividing the two are, both ideological, and strategic, which explains why their ultimate national interests remain dismissive of the direction of their relationship. The past speaks volumes. What was a US-Pak cold war alliance in the fifties became an anti-Pakistan embargo in the sixties, one that saw its removal later in the seventies but was again imposed in the nineties after the Pak-nuclear explosions. Then came 9/11thrusting the US- terror-war on Islamabad. Pakistanís policies, and interests clash with that of the US over the following:

Ideological divide. A fundamentally divisive issue, and, also the most obvious one, separating Washington, and Islamabad, is none other than the mutually exclusionary ideological character of the two states. By itís creation, and constitution, the state of Pakistan is an Islamic republic, and Islam is the state religion, while the US, a secular state , embraces a constitution that rejects, altogether the entanglement of religion(church) and state. Under the US constitution, the state does not follow, promote or advocate any particular religion. However, an ideological conflict has been growing within the US since 9/11, as itís state institutions, and the die hard religious elements can be seen feverishly engaged in assailing, and ridiculing Islam and, the Muslim fraternity in general.

of any significant regional role, let alone any larger space, for Pakistan, either in the Arabian sea littoral, or beyond, despite Islamabadís hard earned strategic empowerment as a nuclear state. There is, thus, a policy- based US denial of Pakistanís state- respect as well as state-interest, despite Islamabadís decade long ongoing role as Washingtonís frontline anti-terror combatant, both, within its territory, and along the Pak-afghan border. Though still half way hesitant, yet a modest indication by the US, to consider Pakistanís stance concerning post US-ISAF withdrawal , and the -future scenario of, Afghanistan, could only be attributed to the pressures of the dictation of religion, geography, history, and ethnicity to the choice less USA, whose sole strategic partner in the region, Indiaó the local exclusionary element against Pakistan ó is here, virtually unhelpful on the complex Afghan situation. But the prime factor, that, inter alia, seems to be governing the strategic exclusion of Pakistan, is the fact that Washington can not afford an ideologically driven republic, the largest Muslim population center between South Asia and the Atlantic, one that stands for uniting the 1.3 billion strong Islamic community. Rising from the history of Euro-Muslim confrontation, a new power block, or an emerging power in the Muslim world, would be the last development the US would ever want to permit in what it so clearly claims as the specific US sphere of influence.

Nuclear issues: While nuclear non-proliferation died as an issue with Indiaís multiple nuclear tests in May 1998, the resulting Pak-response in kind, not only ensured some strategic balance in the Arabian sea-Indian ocean rim, but also gave birth to a Muslim nuclear state, signaling thereby a discernable beginning of power-shift at the gateway of the Middle-East for the very first time since the early eighteenth century. However, the unacceptability of Pakistan as a Muslim nuclear state was immediately evident when the US- led West reacted with a policy of treating Islamabad as a threat to Western security, some times, in the name of proliferation of nuclear technology, and some times under the excuse of the likelihood of terrorists somehow, at some point, gaining access to Pak-nuclear weapons, or, fissile materials.

The US-Interest in signing special nuclear deal with India is, clearly, in direct conflict with the supreme national security interest of Pakistan as it(1) changes the nuclear equilibrium between Islamabad, and New-Delhi, (2) discriminates against Pakistan in favor of itís regional rival, India,(3) establishes India as a credible nuclear power vis-ŗ-vis Pakistan at the world stage.

US-India strategic partnership: The fact that the US has entered into a formal strategic relationship with India, is, by far, the most lethal blow to the national security of an almost strategically isolated Pakistan. The Indo-US axis opens flood gates, as it is no longer a secret, of state of the art military and non- military technologies, free trade, or preferred trade agreements, joint scientific research projects, and a whole range of multifaceted institutional co-operation at the highest level between the two states. Judged by any conceivable angle, the political, and defense dimension of this strategic partnership is verily aimed at marginalizing Pakistanís as a nuclear power. Branded, by the US as terrorism, the Pak- support for the Kashmiris was halted under US pressure right after 9/11. Musharraf caved in. The one recent example of the emboldened Indiaís new-found strategic arrogance was itís refusal, just a couple of months ago, to include, even nominally, the issue of Kashmir, into the Qureishi- Krisna meeting agenda. Under the much grown Indo- US strategic partnership, the US delivers Indiaís threat of attack to Pakistan if a Bombay like terror-incident ever happens again. Robert Gates, the US Defense secretary, himself brought this message to Islamabad.

The massive political and diplomatic pressure exerted by the US to make Pakistan capitulate to the Indian demand that Pakistan acknowledge that Ajmal Kassab was a Pakistani citizen, was a major strategic warning that the US would essentially opt to side with India in any future confrontation or military conflict with Islamabad. The US role to force Pakistanís withdrawal from Kargil was a huge alarming precursor to what is, now, primarily an Indo-US strategic threat to Islamabad. Todayís Pakistan, apparently a US anti-terror ďallyĒ, is not much dissimilar to the once pro Washington Argentina of the early eighties when the Falkland crises arose and the US chose, on the verge of Falkland-war, to openly support itís natural strategic partner, UK. Few days later- the strategic partners, US and UK, together won against the so called US ally, the abandoned Argentina. The nation, especially, the military leadership, can not afford to miscalculate, or misconstrue on the exact nature of the Indo-US nexus that would, in any future crises, be it Kashmir, or some other disputes, seek to test Pakistanís strategic resolve. India must be keenly looking at, and drawing some conclusions from the scale of US drone-attacks, and the flexibility that Pakistan is exhibiting, in allowing them on itís soil, security, and sovereignty. Image-dismantlement: While Pakistan fights a US- war on itís land, and against itís citizens, the Bush, and Obama presidencies, that together represent a decade of aggression in and around the Muslim states, have succeeded in demonizing Pakistan, both, as the safe haven of terror, and the origin of security threat to the West. A sustained campaign of thousands, and thousands of stigmatizing statements by the US and EU Governments coupled with their malicious media- war against the ďSATANICĒ Islamabad, have, in all these year, virtually destroyed Pakistanís image as a peaceful state, which it was until the expansion of US operations into the Pak territories. The US propaganda has, therefore, quarantined Pakistan with a global circle of infamy and hate, one that is bound to stay long after the US ends itís so called war against terror. The policy followed by Washington effectively separates the US from Pakistan.

The Obama presidency that graces India this weekend, sets the stage for a much too expanded Indo-US strategic equation that dumps Pakistanís national interest in Kashmir, Siachin, and Sir creek, that precludes any role for Pakistan in the region, that establishes India as a dominant military power at the door steps of Pakistan, Persian Gulf, the Red sea, the strait of Malacca, and beyond. With itís particular beginning from Bombay(Mumbai)-the site of terrorist attacks- the Obama Indian trip underscores that both India, and the US face Pakistan based terrorism that, in turn, justifies a joint Indo-US strategy against the Islamic republic to keep it consumed with the anti-terror war- one that would, in effect, disallow any chance of itís emergence as a significant economic and nuclear power. Bombed, coerced, exploited, and discriminated, the crises- plagued Pakistan can ill- afford itís further state-demolition in a war imposed by the India-centric Washington.
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