RECENT terrorist attacks on Pak national assets in western tribal belt and Baluchistan are real indicators of complex security challenges looming over the entire region. Much can be extracted by relating these orchestrated heinous attacks with recent significant developments on regional chessboard. More importantly, these events are shaping up in the region with bizarre interplay of global powers. Pakistan, while struggling against multiple internal disorders, is bound to play due role in all those regional matters which have a direct or indirect bearing on its security. It is worth remembering that, for a country like Pakistan, the concept of security in present day scenario revolves around conventional military defence, economic strength, political stability, peaceful coexistence with neighbouring countries and socio-ethnic harmony at internal front. Undoubtedly, Pakistan is facing complex challenges in all these fields at both internal and external fronts.
On Western borders, prolonged unrest in Afghanistan still stays as unsettled. More than three million Afghan refugees can be found in all quarters of society all across Pakistan. On one hand, quite a large number of Afghans are visible in posh commercial areas, elite malls, middle class markets doing businesses as legitimate citizens and on the other hand many of them living in camps either doing small businesses or indulged in criminal illegal acts. In urban Sindh especially Karachi, Afghani factor is gradually fuelling ethnic hatred among the Urdu and Pashto speaking permanent citizens of Pakistan. Besides this, pressure groups like PTM are continuously building vague narratives on ethnic hatred and exploiting the hardships of masses in those areas which faced the maximum blunt of foreign sponsored terrorism. This is not a simple affair to settle all the troubles related to western frontier without engaging Afghan government. Problem gets more complicated with rapidly growing deterioration and division in Afghanistan. USA led NATO campaign stretched over almost two decades has proved inconclusive so far. Representatives of all quarters of Afghan society have gathered in Doha to explore the future course. Though, predicting the outcome of Doha talks is not easy but Pakistan cannot make any worthwhile engagement with Kabul until Afghans mutually settle their internal disorder.
On external front, Indian factor is dominating on many accounts. Chaotic vacuum in Afghanistan is being extensively exploited by New Delhi to destabilize Pakistan. All major terrorist attacks on Pakistan have traceable roots in Afghan soil where terrorist groups enjoy Indian patronage. Pak NSA Moeed Yousuf minced no words in exposing the Indian sponsored terrorism during his recent interview to famous journalist Karan Tahpar. BJP regime under Modi has alarmingly extended Indo-Pak conflict at regional arena. Traditional Indo-Pak rivalry revolving around Kashmir issue has rapidly brought China, Afghanistan and SAARC countries in the spotlight at varying degrees due to ultra-violent advances of New Delhi. After illegitimate abrogation of Article-370, now India is badly entangled with China at LAC in a war like situation with Ladakh region as a major bone of contention. New Delhi has serious problems with CPEC, upcoming elections in GB, AJK’s present independent status, China’s growing regional influence and fading role in Afghan peace process. In short, New Delhi has serious problems with Pakistan which make the equation more complex for Islamabad. India has opted to join hands with anti-China forces and openly sowed the seeds of a greater regional conflict. As discussed many times earlier in this paper, bilateral engagement with China has added the vulnerability of Pakistan to all anti-China forces. Terrorism in Baluchistan and tribal belt is outcome of dangerous game being played at regional chessboard.
A serious message is coded for Pakistan and China in abhorrent terrorist attacks of Ormara and Razmak. Beijing and Islamabad should assess the situation by relating all the dots. Regional stability will always remain a far cry unless the vicious cycle of terrorism is broken. Washington should be made clear that strikes on Pakistan by one of its close allies India may reverse the peace process being pursued in Afghanistan. Inter-connectivity between Kashmir issue, Afghan unrest and cross border terrorism in Pakistan must be correctly understood by all stakeholders. Tug of war between US and China has many impacts on all regional issues. New Delhi should reconcile from its baseless posturing as a regional superpower which primarily is nothing but an attraction of its large size market to international community. No regional player can gain stability by sponsoring terror, destabilization and coercion in neighbouring countries. Rapid build-up against China under the banner of Quad countries will have serious consequences for the entire region. Afghanistan and its four decades long sufferings provide countless lessons about the selfish exploitations of global powers who always focus on inhuman crushing of local resources to their benefit. After making all sort of experiments in Afghanistan has been pushed for a complex dialogue process in a more deteriorated and divided condition. India is vigorously fuelling sectarian and ethnic hatred to destabilize Pakistan. While dealing with political differences, government and opposition should not lose sight of the enemy’s ultimate designs.
—The writer is a freelancer who often contributes in national newspapers.