The venue says it all


M Ziauddin

THE photograph of the event released by the ISPR did make a reluctantly transparent attempt to present the event at the General Headquarter (GHQ) on Tuesday (June 7, 2016) as a conference between two equals—civil and military officials—very little doubt, however, was left as to who presided over the meeting. And the press release issued by the ISPR after the meeting made it even clearer that regional security concerns and territorial sovereignty continue to dictate our foreign policy rather than the foreign policy determining relations with the regional countries as well as with the world’s sole super power. The signals coming out of this very important meeting indicated that the nation was in for more of the same that it has been witnessing on this front for the last 70 years and especially since the first Afghan war when our foreign office was made to abdicate its responsibilities in favour of the ISI-CIA combine which ran the so-called Jihad against the Soviet Army occupying Afghanistan. At the time it was a highly lucrative proposition for both the US and Pakistan.
The US was bleeding its historic foe in Afghanistan without using a single soldier of its own. And Pakistan was being rewarded with a flood of unencumbered dollars for fighting a ‘Jihad’ on behalf of the so-called free world. Pakistan did not have a plan B in case the war took care of one of the two super powers. We thought we are fighting a never ending war without committing a single soldier of ours and would continue to be paid for the services rendered for all times to come.
But when the Soviet Union collapsed and the US walked away from the region, Pakistan instead of abandoning the so-called jihad and returning to normal ways of life resorted to the way of knife determined to bleed India in held Kashmir the way the ISI-CIA combine bled the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and force New Delhi to hand over on a platter to Islamabad what we could not win in the three wars we had fought against India. We promoted Jihad as an instrument of foreign policy and fought two low-intensity ten-year long jihads, one in the IHK on the side of Kashmiri freedom fighters and another on the side of Afghan Taliban against the Northern Alliance which was being aided by Russia, India and Iran.
These Jihads instead of achieving the objectives for which they were waged brought to Pakistan a free-for- all jihad in which well armed, well equipped and well funded non-state actors started killing each other as well as the Pakistani security forces in the name of their particular version of Islam. Since these non-state actors were being used to promote our regional foreign policy which in the initial stages had met with a measure of success, those that handled them at the highest policy making level felt like the gambler whose appetite for more of the same gets whipped up by occasional wins until he losses it all and therefore, it was more of the same all through the post-second Afghan war as well for us. But by this time the world’s sole super power seeking a strategic partner in the region to counter the expansionist policies of China had found in India an ideal side-kick and shifted gears abruptly abandoning Pakistan to the vagaries of nature. Now, we seem have been encircled by three hostile countries—India, Afghanistan and Iran, while our long time ally the US has gone over completely to our enemy number one, India. We are now totally dependent on China, like we were some time back on the US without a plan B to meet any emergency that would arise if we are abandoned by America.
China has avoided confrontation of any kind since its revolution in 1949. It has not even tried to forcibly integrate Taiwan which it could have easily done any time since early 1970s. It waited the 100 year agreement to expire before accepting back Hong Kong from the British instead of forcing its integration long before which it had the strength to do by the 1970s. So, Beijing would not enter into confrontation with either the US or India on behalf of Pakistan, notwithstanding its extension of innocuous diplomatic help here and there. So, time has now come for those who have been running our foreign policy all these years to realize that they are neither trained to manage this policy nor have they the capacity to formulate it. The making of the foreign policy and its management should go back to the foreign office. Let the foreign policy mandarins come up with a policy to get the country out of this mess created by keeping foreign policy subservient to our security policy all these years. Let the foreign office come up with a foreign policy that would rescue the country from the security mess it has been mired into by the security wizards trying to pass off as foreign policy experts. Here are some of the foreign policy challenges the country is facing today:
Last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a major transport corridor deal with Iran and Afghanistan. This accord also helps advance U.S. interests in the region, and Washington, therefore, is most likely to embrace it. And on Tuesday (June 7, 2016) US President Barack Obama and the visiting Indian Prime Minister welcomed in Washington the start of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India, a key step in closing the first deal stemming from a US-India civil nuclear accord struck over a decade ago. Under the transport corridor deal India will provide $500 million to develop a port in the southern Iranian city of Chabahar. India will also invest $16 billion in a free trade zone around the city. The proposed project would include new roads and a railroad going northward from Chabahar to the Afghanistan border. The completion of this project is expected to open up new trade routes to and from Afghanistan, Central Asia, and beyond.
On the face of it the Chabahar project looks modest in scale relative to China’s $46 billion CPEC project in Pakistan; but its geopolitical implication would seem equally vast. With the opening of Chabahar Iran could become a gateway to the critical sea lanes to its south and the highly coveted markets to its north. Afghanistan could host flourishing northward and southward trade routes. And India, long denied transit rights by Pakistan, could have direct land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia for the first time since Partition.
The joint statement issued after Obama-Modi meeting on Tuesday said: “Once completed, the project (civil nuclear plants) would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the US-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels.”

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