NEWS & VIEWS
THE Trump administration has said it believes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through disputed territory, an allegation originally levelled by India to thwart the multibillion-dollar project. “The One Belt, One Road also goes through the disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently. The US has been opposing CPEC but had attended the conference attended by 73 countries and had a few words of appreciation. Anyway, this is the first time that Secretary Defence has openly said that CPEC passes through the disputed territory. He should remember that India is also constructing Baglihar dam and other fast-tracked hydropower projects worth $15bn in Indian Held Kashmir, which is a disputed territory. Thus the US has double standards, one for its strategic partner India and the other one for Pakistan.
According to news agencies, China has rejected the objections raised by the US over the CPEC saying that its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative was backed by the UN. “We have repeatedly reiterated that CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes, and does not affect China’s principled stance on the Kashmir issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. That point besides, Pakistan has genuine concerns over Indus Water Treaty violations by India. In 2011, a report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations stated that New Delhi could use these projects to control Pakistan’s supplies from the Indus. Anyhow; the moot point is how India can continue construction of projects in Jammu and Kashmir, when it admits that it is a disputed territory?
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in his brief remarks to the media following the meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif expressed concerns about the future of Pakistan’s government, stressing that Washington wanted a stable government in Islamabad. Tex Tillerson should know that former PM Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by 5-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan, and PML-N nominated S K Abbasi who was elected by the Parliament. Hence, there is not an iota of political instability in Pakistan. One can infer from the statements of US Secretary of State and US Defence Secretary what they think of Pakistan. In fact, their statements are reflective of audacious meddling in internal affairs of Pakistan. National Security Advisor Lt Gen McMaster and Senior Director for South Asia and Central Asia Lisa Curtis have hostile attitude towards Pakistan. However, there are quite a few in Congress, administration and think-tanks who do not agree with them.
In February 2017, Lisa Curtis (months before she was inducted in National Security set up) and Hussain Haqqani had prepared report/brief for the new Trump Administration suggesting “it must review its policies toward Pakistan in order to more effectively contain, and eventually eliminate, the terrorist threats that continue to emanate from the country. Pakistan always wished to maintain long-term, multi faceted and durable strategic ties with the US for the realization of shared objectives. But mutual respect and co-operation at military, intelligence and diplomatic levels should be the hallmark of relations between the two countries. Pakistan was intertwined with the West in defence pacts and had signed a bilateral agreement with the US. However, America’s dubious role of propping India through civil nuclear agreement, its refusal to sign similar agreement with Pakistan, and promising India a role in Afghanistan, bear testimony to fact that US is not sincere with Pakistan.
Like some members of US administration, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen had once said: “Pakistan must be sensitive to the US security interests”. The question is what Pakistani leadership has been doing since Pakistan entered into bilateral agreement with the US? And what it has been doing since the US invasion of Afghanistan, if not this, even to the detriment of its own national interests? In 1960, when US spy plane U-2 took off from Buda Ber near Peshawar, and was shot down by Soviet Union, whose interest Pakistan had served? After shooting down the plane, the then Soviet Union had encircled Peshawar in bold red and threatened Pakistan of dire consequences. What we got from the American lords for imperiling our security? A snap embargo on all military supplies including spare parts for our military equipment immediately after the war with India started in 1965.
Pakistan once again became the frontline state after Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in late 1970s, which was indeed done to serve interest of the US. After soviet forces had withdrawn from Afghanistan, CIA was entrusted with the task to manage and administer Afghanistan; but it was playing wolf in sheep’s clothing in Pakistan. It was cloning in Afghanistan hatcheries obscurities like Naek Muhammad, Abdullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah into murderous thugs and funneling to them loads of cash, weapons and infiltrators to raise their mercenary killer militia with who our military had been fighting in Bajaur, Swat, Malakand and later South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram agencies. Outrageously, apart from working for puffing up separatist moves and tendencies in our tribal areas and Balochistan, it used both these regions for citing insurgencies clandestinely for terrorism in Iran and China to our great diplomatic woe.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
NEWS & VIEWS