Pakistan’s continuing challenge: Afghan Gordian knot ! | By Gen Tariq Khan 

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Pakistan’s continuing challenge: Afghan Gordian knot !


The Pakistan Government bent over backwards to give peace a chance, so much so, that they surrendered the people of Swat to the Constitution of Sufi Muhammad while the Supreme Court, always eager to take suo motu action, remained criminally silent.

Agreements after agreements were signed and violated from 2001 till 2008 till the Mehsuds publically declared war on Pakistan in January 2008 – that is when the shooting war began with Operation Zalzala.

What was done then was needed then and it is unrealistic now to condemn it as “so wrong”.

And what is the need to be so critical when there is so much still to be done and where the real focus should be to do it correctly? It was famously said by Mark Twain, ‘Get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please’.

Any criticism of the Musharraf regime regards the War on Terror is justified in terms of how agreements were concluded and executed but not in the intent.

The rest is hindsight wisdom. To brag that we have established our sovereignty is another slogan without substance. As long as IMF and the World bank remain our benefactors, we cannot claim sovereignty.

United States & India embarrassed: New Challenges for Diplomacy. So having seen the United States ousted and the Indians evicted from Afghanistan, it is time to show a little humility and grace.

It will help us in dealing with the comity of nations from a higher moral plane. In no way does this imply that Pakistan should be pliant or acquiesce to its legitimate claims but simply suggests, ‘speak softly but carry a big stick’.

We talk of political solutions and promote a belligerent orientation as if we are in search of a challenge and a conflict.

In no way is it suggested that one should not be firm where it matters but then in this light there is too much rhetoric and no substance on Kashmir as it is devoured before our eyes.

Here lies a genuine case where one needs to be more aggressive and where our claim to sovereignty may be justifiably invoked.

One only needs to study and learn from Azerbaijan and its recent conflict in Nogorno-Karabakh region to understand what sovereignty really means and how one acquires it; it was not a political solution just as the Taliban have rightly discovered long ago.

Instead, it is sad to witness mullahs challenging the writ of the Government every day, yet that obsession with sovereignty is lost in cacophony of ideological restrictions imposed upon one’s own society in general and the country at large.

Self-righteous attitudes are not the method to acquiring sovereignty but a road to conflict and division. Too many sermons and even more preaching will not bring Pakistan the sovereignty it’s in search of. Thus with an annoyed United States and a bitter India what can one expect.

Some of it has already been seen in the form of the Lahore blast, the uptick in violence along the western border, the result of the FATF and suddenly out of the blue declaring Pakistan a Child Recruiter.

The Indian military build up in Kashmir is not co-incidental and the staged drone attack on an airbase in Srinagar was not something that was past Indian machinations, especially when we note the timing of the incident.

The US is likely to encourage India to assert itself. There will be claims to Gilgit-Baltistan and Indian protests that the CPEC rout is going through a disputed territory.

This may become a casus belie for an Indian military adventure into Skardu and surroundings to disrupt CPEC progress.

The United States is likely to put sanctions on Pakistan for one reason or the other, so as to disrupt economic growth and development.

The Government will be embarrassed by hostile flyovers by fighters to bomb Afghanistan and one may expect Cruise Missiles violating Pakistani airspace on their way to targets in Afghanistan.

Baluchistan Separatist Movement will pick up and political polarization will increase as some politicians and leaders will sell themselves out for pennies.

Foreign travel restrictions may be applied to Pakistan’s senior leadership and some so-called dissidents will be allowed political asylum and encouraged to criticize Pakistan freely on the international plane. Keeping this situation in mind, it is recommended that Pakistan must up its diplomatic game.

Attempt at convincing the United States to remain relevant by partaking in a similar project such as CPEC.

They need to be convinced that economic competition is another route to global dominance as opposed to military conflict.

Furthermore, Pakistan should use all its resources to keep the US-China conflict out of its space. If this does not happen, regardless of who is the victor, Pakistan stands to lose.

Such a conflict must be taken away into the South China sea or East of Pakistani territory. It’s a big ask but that should be the focus of Pakistan’s diplomatic offensive.

Nevertheless, if a conflict is imminent and unfolds as analyzed above, then Pakistan needs to seriously review its Law enforcement capacity.

The Intelligence Agencies have to be up to speed. The Government must be prepared to declare emergency and suspend the parliament.

The National Security Council under the Prime Minister should govern aggressively and deny any anti state movements from within.

Borders must be secured. Indian adventurism must be responded to with well-prepared plans deterring any further aggressive initiative by them.

Logistics will take on a new meaning if put under sanctions and stocks of fuel and food must be bolstered now.

Alternative lines of communication must be established for maintaining continuity and stability within the country in case of disruptions.

Infrastructure protection plans must be made in detail and implemented. Difficult times may be coming Pakistan’s way in the immediate future but Pakistan has the capacity and capability to handle it.

It requires forward thinking and planning. These difficulties will not be on account of the Afghan Civil War but because of an Indo-US nexus that has arisen on account of being evicted from Afghanistan with their common strategic objective to contain China.

Pakistan must ensure that it takes every precaution to avoid getting dragged into a war not of its making, but if it comes to that it must take measures to not only survive but to show a good account of itself.—Concluded.

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