WHAT this mean? A ritual or an important development in the shadow of extremely complex geo-political milieu. And, in the backdrop of murky domestic muck. Internationally last one year has been a year of thunderstorm on all fronts. Starting with changing Syrian civil war, elimination of Daesh stronghold there but it is emerging in Afghanistan where with help of reportedly anti-Afghan government. It managed to control sizeable area in the north from Taliban-held some areas and has also been responsible in sabotage activities in Pakistan. Who support them or help, CIA? Let there be no doubt. In the West and Gulf, Iran US stand off on multiple issues beside cancellation of nuclear deal, strikes at oil ship has raised temperature not only in the Gulf but world at large. A little miscalculation can be disastrous. Pakistan has great stakes in region beside Gwadar.
In any conflict this area will get affected. This is a cause of concern for China both for its global strategic interests and its future plans and investment. CPEC is equally important for Pakistan not only strategically but economically. Pakistan has to move with great adroit and determined policy. We have historical relations with Iran. It helped Pakistan during 1965 war. It can never be forgotten. Even now in Kulbushan’s case there has been behind-the-scene support in spite of Indian efforts to agree Iran to state he was kidnapped from Iran. Latest Iran’s cooperation to support Pakistan on terrorist activity in Sistan. On the Central Asian region side growing ISIS activities are cause of concern to Russia. Russia’s thus engagement with Talban has been a major game changer. Pakistan and Russia are closer on this issue, so is China. This is further cementing in the area of economy and defence. Thus this triangular block is not to the liking of both USA and India.
Though US is supporting talks through Russia. In the background superpower interest prevail. In the east LoC remained hot incurring scores of casualties of soldiers and civilian alike. India is trying to pull out of self-created debris in a so-called strike in Feb last. Nevertheless post-election Modi Government has given free hand to Hindu extremists making life miserable for minorities, especially Muslims and Christmas. Modi is determined to change Kashmir status. This has put new life in the ongoing extremist movements, over hundred, whereas seventeen are now very active. Resurgence of Khalistan movement is causing concerns, again blaming Pakistan. Loss of case on Kulbushan in ICJ and US declaring BLA has put Indian planners in turmoil. They fear all the investment earlier gone waste in MNS and now in BLA. They will find other methods, especially to exploit Pakistan’s politico, religious and ethnic fault lines. Plenty of runaway disgruntled, traitors and opportunists are abound in the West and USA.
These are the elements who will be used during PM’s visit to USA to discredit and damage the government. All elements, tools, fifth generation warfare methodology will in action to weaken IK during his visit. Number of so-called estranged groups will be gathering out side White House. Issue of human right and freedom of press will be raised by these elements. Thus above all it will be battle of nerves. India, a master in diplomatic gaming, to gain time has again raised the flag of negotiations and thus track two talks, and softness on Kartarpur issue. Nothing should be expected in short run. It is just to signal to US, look we are talking. It must be remembered that Hindu mentality is very complex. When they say yes, it does not mean so, it could be maybe. Even signed agreements have different meaning for them when they sit on the table.
In such a complex geo strategic milieu the visit is taking place. Obviously, US must be looking for a definite commitment in Afghanistan and Taliban issue. Which in such a milieu of forces engaged in infighting Pakistan has its hands tied. Then, Support on Iran issue is a complex matter, so as to allay their concerns on CPEC which is vital for Pakistan. No doubt there will be foreign office agenda, but knowing Trump and Imran nothing is predictable. Pakistan must dispel the impression that it is a ritual visit to pay respect in the court. Smallest trace of weakness, Trump is too shroud to exploit it. Pakistan must seek good relations with USA but not to allow any shadow on Pak-China relations and growing closeness with Russia. Seek no aid but ask open Pakistan to American tourists and industry, maybe selected areas like Punjab and Sindh to start. Rein in India to perpetuate atrocities in Kashmir under UN conventions, Liaqat Nehru Pact and Simla Agreement to foster good neighbourly relations. In Afghanistan, seek for broad-based government, with majority to Taliban to avert civil war. Interference in Pakistan through NDS, RAW and even CIA. Peace in the region is important to create peaceful environment in Asia. Pakistan’s opposition will also be lobbying but a transparent accountability and structural reforms is the only way forward. Let it be Peaceful South Asia be the message coming out.
—The writer, a retired Brigadier, is decorated veteran of 65 & 71 wars and a defence analyst based in Lahore.