US Vice President Pence putting Pakistan on notice is not venom but frustration of a Super Power refusing to see reality on the ground and not learning from its past misadventures; be they in Vietnam, the Middle East or elsewhere. US intentions of operation in the eighties in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion ostensibly to prevent Russian warm waters access, were brought into the open as it revisited the region under the smokescreen of 9/11 eying Central and South Asian resources through Afghanistan, finding an alibi in India which it enticed for a major power role and continues to milk through hefty arms sales besides using it as a proxy against China.
Donald Trump refuses to be chastened by an overwhelming 128 to 9 vote in the UN General Assembly rejecting its move to recognize disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital; significantly, even its staunch allies Britain, France, Germany and Japan also voting against the US decision. Arab Nations and Palestinian claim to their lands occupied by Israel in 1967 including Al Quds Al Sharif as their holy place being unquestionable, it had been left to time-healing and sanity to resolve. But little did one fathom that the US President who has the distinction of earning invectives and superlatives of unmatched proportions from its own Party men leave alone his political opponents, Senators, Congressmen, think-tanks and the media over his naiveties, would indulge in another bout of Hara-kiri instead of taking it as a wakeup call.
His threats to enforce funding cuts on those voting against the US decision may have partially worked with some absentees and abstentions; the only 9 voting in its favour were its client States, as were Sikkim and Bhutan for India. The top level official response from Pakistan rejecting Mike Pence as well as his Defense Secretary’s continued accusation against Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, has been matched by Chairman Pakistani Senate Reza Rabbani’s remarks in a telling tone putting aside for a while diplomatic niceties at the 6-Nation Speakers Conference in Islamabad, which received thumping acknowledgement from the forum. “Pakistan is a sovereign State, and is not used to taking notices from anyone least alone from the United States,” said Rabbani; ‘not anymore’ is what though he needed to have added, as expressed by the Pakistan Army.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office has finally plucked courage to say that instead of ‘externalizing notice’ the US needed to put itself on notice, and stressed the need to create peace and reconciliation mechanisms instead of shifting blame onto Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan. The bigger question it said is how the US addresses Pakistan’s concerns about Indian meddling in Pakistan, which had been repeatedly brought to US notice without any tangible response whatsoever. “See no evil hear no evil”, has been the US mantra over Indian machinations despite Indian own open admission of past role and present threats and activities to destabilize Pakistan amply testified by confessions of its active Naval Officer Kalbhoshan Yadhev operating from Chahbahar in Iran under a fake Muslim name, captured in Pakistan’s Baluchistan and facing death sentence.
It is no coincidence that whenever with Pakistani initiative ice has been sought to melt between the Afghan Taliban and the US-installed Government in Kabul, the US has pre-empted the move by drone attacks, bombing and killing of Taliban leadership, which clearly shows that it does not want peace in the region particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Government in the United States has been purposely turning a blind eye to unabated covert and overt intervention in Pakistan by Indian RAW in consort with the Afghan NDS operating from Afghan soil under its own patronage. It has additionally thrown Daesh into the arena after its ouster from Iraq and Syria not only as a counterweight to Russian support of the Afghan Taliban but also to act as a spoiler along with Indian RAW in the region. Pakistan must harbor no illusions any longer about the US to be its ally. The fact is that it never was, nor is it today of India, which will discover sooner that US alignments are all geared to expediencies.
If the US really intended resolution of the Afghan quagmire which it has itself created, all it needs to do is ask India to pack its bags from a country with which it shares no borders, do the same itself, and order its puppet leadership in Afghanistan and its intelligence outfit NDS to sincerely cooperate with Pakistan with whom it shares not only a long border but also social bonds which have enabled it to avail Pakistan’s land and sea routes since ages for its trade and sustenance purely as a good neighbourly gesture to a brotherly Islamic country.
But if the US does not rein in on them, it will at least force Pakistan to say goodbye to a now estimated 7 million Afghan refugees (more than half of them born in Pakistan and unregistered) it has hosted for nearly four decades at the cost and peril of its own not so affluent citizens, and which it is under no obligation to continue because with a fresh wave of suicide bombings and attacks upon its security forces after the grand operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-fasaad against miscreants, points to terrorists and their facilitators mostly Afghans, conveniently taking cover among these refugees and Pakistan can no longer remain on the receiving end.
The first six-Nation Speakers Conference hosted by Islamabad comprising delegates from Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and the trilateral Pakistan-China-Afghanistan resolve in quest of peace and stability in the region is not only a timely response to negative US aspirations in the region but an indication of the changing geopolitical scenario, particularly in this hemisphere, with the above mentioned countries backing a thrust through the One belt, One Road Chinese initiative for peace, cooperation and development, versus the hegemonic agenda of the US which was being globally exposed and isolated.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.