Extended Bajwa’s doctrine & changing regional security preferences | By Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan


Extended Bajwa’s doctrine & changing regional security preferences

WHILE delivering a “keynote” speech in recently held “Islamabad Security Dialogue” Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa outlined various aspects and far-reaching consequences of South Asia security.

The COAS extended hand of peace to India by saying time to bury the past and move forward.

Gen Qamar showcased new vision of Pakistan’s foreign and strategic policy and termed it forward-looking having mainly geo-economic orientation.

Pakistan’s perennial dispute with India has been one of the main hurdles in the way of the country realizing its full geo-economic potential in terms of leveraging its geographical location at the intersection of South and Central Asia.

Thus geo-economy has become heart of Pakistan’s foreign policy which is indeed a giant step in the right direction.

He further elaborated that peace with India as a pre-condition for this geo-economic pivot and reaffirmed Pakistan genuine stance for collective action to meet transnational threats in the post-COVID-19 era.

Gen-Qamar highlighted that concept of national security has now drastically changed because of globalization, digitalization and connectivity in which regional as well as international interconnected actors play an important role.

He described national security as “multi-layered,” shaped by a mix of external and internal variables, in which no single nation in isolation, can perceive and further its quest for security, as every single issue and security dilemma faced by today’s world intimately linked with global and regional dynamics.

Gen. Bajwa claimed that the “Kashmir dispute remained the core issue of regional rivalries since long.

He asserted that without its conflict resolution through peaceful means, process of sub-continental rapprochement would always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity.

During his remarkable speech he highlighted core pillars of geo-economy based on inclusive peace (internal & external), non-interference in the affairs of other states, trade and connectivity within the region; and “sustainable development and prosperity through establishment of investment and economic hubs within the region.”

He rightly negated notions of Cold War which achieved nothing but further division and destruction in the world.

He desired that international movers and shakers must reach a stable equilibrium in their relations through convergences instead of divergence for the global peace and harmony.

Gen. Qamar highlighted the real potential of South Asia, the home to one quarter of world’s population.

He was of the opinion that despite tremendous human and resource potential, the unsettled disputes dragged this region back to the swamp of poverty and underdevelopment.

Due to which inter-regional trade, infrastructure, water and energy cooperation remained at its lowest ebbs.

Gen-Bajwa clearly highlighted that despite the rising security challenges has resisted the temptation of involving itself in an arms race.

Pakistan’s defence expenditures have rather reduced instead of increasing he further added.

While highlighting the strategic importance of country’s geography he termed it a bridge between civilisations and connecting conduit between the regional economies.

He elaborated that Pakistan has enterprising demography, fertile soil and adequate logistical infrastructure.

He wished to leverage country’s vital geostrategic location for own, regional and global benefit.

He also showcased Pakistan’s positive, productive and participatory role for peace in Afghanistan.

He shared that country’s close collaboration and crucial support for the peace process led to the historic agreement between Taliban and US and paved the way for intra-Afghan dialogue.

Gen-Bajwa shared country’s unprecedented steps to enhance Afghanistan’s trade and connectivity by re-energising Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and also providing access to Afghanistan to export her goods to India, improving economic and trade environment along Pak-Afghan border by establishing border markets and development of infrastructure and last but not the least, being part of energy and trade corridors binding Central Asia, South and West Asia through land routes and inviting Afghanistan to be part of CPEC.

Gen. Bajwa termed that stable Indo-Pak relation a key to unlock the untapped potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia whose potential however, remained hostage to disputes and issues between two nuclear neighbours.

Gen. Bajwa labeled CPEC as the heart of country’s economic transformation plan. He termed it inclusive, transparent and attractive for all global and regional players, with the aim of bringing its benefits to everyone.

He further elaborated that CPEC and country’s vital geostrategic location and a transformed vision has further enhanced its diverse potential which can very positively contribute to regional development and prosperity.

He concluded that South Asia should create synergy through connectivity, peaceful co-existence and resource sharing to fight hunger, illiteracy and disease instead of fighting each other.

Chronological order of few days and months revelled that UAE has been carrying successful track-II diplomacy to bring peace and stability between Pakistan and India.

Some days ago, the COAS Gen Qamar “to bury the past and move forward” with the intention that the military was ready to enter talks to resolve “all our outstanding issues.”

The comments came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan after called for a resolution on Kashmir, which he described as “the one issue that holds us back.

On 20 March 2021 Modi sent a tweet wishing Khan well after he was diagnosed with Covid-19 another sign that relations between the countries are getting warmer.

On 25 February 2021 Pakistan and India had issued a joint statement recommitting themselves to the informal 2003 ceasefire agreement.

It seems that the joint statement was the result of considerable back channel talks between the two countries, conjecturally involving Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Khan’s Special Assistant on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf with the help of brotherly country the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which has now even confirmed by the international Al-Jazeera and Bloomberg.

Critical analysis of current geo-political activities and diversified diplomatic endeavours reconfirmed the productive role of the UAE.

In November 2020 Foreign Minister of India Jaishankar visited the UAE and met Bin Zayed and the crown prince on a two-day visit to Abu Dhabi, followed by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi the following month.

Roughly two weeks before the 25 Feb announcement, the UAE Foreign Minister held a phone call with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wherein they discussed regional and international issues of interest.”

And just days before, India allowed Khan’s aircraft to fly over Indian airspace as he headed to Sri Lanka for a state visit a practice suspended since the 2019 hostilities.

On its part, the UAE issued a statement and welcomed the cease-fire announcement, and hailed the efforts made by the two countries to come to this agreement.

Thus extended Bajwa’s doctrine has changed the regional power politics and lightened the chances of conflict resolution between two countries and enhanced regional connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.

—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.