Pakistan on cusp of security concerns | By Haya Fatima Sehgal

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Pakistan on cusp of security concerns

PAKISTAN now sits on a cusp of several security concerns. The political upheaval has caused a domino effect which has set into motion too many factors (and people) to control.

If amongst this chaos, bad statements and angering old allies have not made the year any less exciting; in came the apocalyptic floods and the failings in monetary policies.

The Taliban are back encroaching the borders creating a real problem again. Cells of militant extremist groups with sympathies towards Taliban have become activated, starting to strike soft targets within city limits.

The brewing internal strife is a cauldron which demands immediate and undivided attention.

This is the region that the world must re-focus themselves upon; the heart of Central Asia. It includes Pakistan, which will play an exceedingly important role in forecast events.

Central Asia is coming into its own as a growing area of interest with investment developing towards Eurasia — and Pakistan will be the nexus of it all.

The route linking through towards Europe will certainly try to weave its way forward one way or the other with several key players.

The old Regional Cooperation for Development Equation (RCD) is a power bloc on its own which is imperative to look towards the future (given its history).

Predictions for 2023 are not looking good in terms of economic growth. The trade-off wanted badly by Pakistan to reset its international relations and position itself in a geo-economic perspective is not happening.

The country pivots back to its old familiar status of being important for its geo-political nature.

IMF debts and the lack of monetary strategies have led to a dissolving market. Unemployment coupled with galloping inflation has created civil unrest and unease.

It is apparent now, that the once thought of recovering economy was earlier shown for the sake of optics.

The global pandemic economic effects have been duly felt within an already struggling economy.

This has been coupled with losses in billions to infrastructure with the floods this year. The only marker of some stability has been Pakistan exiting the FATF grey list this year.

For those living in denial, the Taliban and insurgent offshoots are going back to play a pivotal role in the near future of this nation.

Some brutal decisions are likely to be taken to safeguard the country. One must also be fully aware that the Pakistani military will always remain as its true decision-making power through all things political.

Pakistan’s past record of some strategic decisions during the years of the Afghan war, has led the outside world to distrust it.

There must be an alignment of goals on the international frontline with utmost transparency.

There must also be a reiteration for civil diplomacy. Volatile statements to harness local popularity will backfire on future diplomatic relations — be it against any country.

This play will always be a misstep for a global agenda. A point that must be addressed here; wanting to disengage from the US was one of the worst strategies the country could have come up with even for the sake of populist politics.

In a global village, there must be diplomatic relations set with care with all world powers. To develop trade, economy and prosperity will always be of vital interest for any developing nation.

True, Pakistan often plays the role of a ‘middle child’ having to please certain world powers, already heavily invested in the country.

However, there must be mature diplomatic ties throughout with others and more honesty. One thing which has been sidelined in Pakistan are conversations on Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis is the world’s crisis – and very much so Pakistan’s. It is Pakistan’s concern in terms of the import of wheat and even military equipment.

The floods have already created a food and water security issue, mounting to a crisis. It seems Pakistan will be on the edge of a power play within the region.

Its stability will be of an interest for many. However, as a country it needs a rehaul on its future messaging living in an already fragmented world.

For its own survival and the incoming storm, the nation will need to repair its splintered decision making.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.