Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
IN the wake of dissenting US South Asia policy accompanied by a deviously crafted New Delhi-Kabul strategy in the region, ipso facto, our best strategy to counterpoise this negative situation, should be to revitalise our strategic power thereby enhancing the scope and vitality of two strategic trios: One, Pakistan, China and Russia; and two: Pakistan-Turkey-Iran. Yet to accomplish this demanding task requires that Islamabad must exert an all-round diplomatic acumen to establish our strategic clout.
The developing nexus between the three atomic powers: Russia, Pakistan and China is the heraldry of new geostrategic, geo-monetary and geopolitical equation in this region. Remembering that CPEC has been assuming a noteworthy part in diplomatically associating the three nations. Together this trio will achieve a noteworthy move on both the regional and international arenas and will orchestrate a prism effect to attract the other regional actors towards this productively evolving strategic regional order.
Looking at the trio’s political comfort under the essential magnifying lens of International Relations, the coalition really taking shape depends on the firm guideline of “mutual reciprocity”. And surely, we must take our Russian and Chinese partners into confidence regarding our strategy to combat terrorism– finish trust will be the main factor that will move from the trap of falling and enduring commonly confronted challenges that are making the strategic peace culture of this region murky because of the growing US-India alliance. In this context, Islamabad’s propelling approach towards West Asia via friendly bondage with Turkey and Iran will revitalise and enhance Pakistan’s strategic position. In the given geostrategic exigency, we must rebuild and reset our relations with Tehran that are fairly stressed on account of three main considerations: Our superseding tilt towards Riyadh, our ties with the Taliban; while Tehran’s tilt towards India, and its penetration into Balochistan. The settlements of these sensitive issues requires a pragmatic course of our diplomacy towards Iran. Iran’s gravitating ties towards India make Pakistan awkward. Islamabad blames Iran for enabling its dirt to be utilized by Indian covert agent organization RAW to support, enlist and arm separatists and guerillas in Balochistan and penetrate Pakistan with Indian government agents by means of the outskirt with Iran.
Though the Iranian establishment is not comfortable with our decision to take part in the Saudi- led Islamic coalition of 41- states to fight terrorism(IMAFT), we may take the Iranian leadership into confidence and should try to address their concerns. Iran must appreciate that Pakistan has endeavored to stay nonpartisan in the current debate amongst Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and even tried utmost to arrange a diplomatic settlement. With respect to the bringing down of the Iranian drone in June in Baluchistan, Pakistan has had the privilege to ensure its airspace and no inquiry by any means. From Islamabad’s point of view, Iran must make Balochistan province totally smooth.
On the other hand, Pakistan and Turkey appreciate a novel course of their relationship. This relationship has a strong establishment construct as it is with respect to normal confidence, shared history and social affinities. Our long-standing relations traverse various ranges – from political to monetary, to protection and security, to instruction and culture. Pakistan and Turkey work nearly in the United Nations and other global and provincial associations. The two nations bolster each other on issues like Kashmir and Cyprus and have comparable points of view on local and worldwide issues. It is conceivable, and to be sure profoundly alluring, to additionally extend this effectively cozy relationship by understanding the undiscovered potential in different zones. Also, this is the purposeful exertion on the two sides. There are vital signs of bilateral engagement between Ankara and Tehran.
Some of the most prominent examples of this growing rapprochement between Ankara and Tehran include the historic visit of the Iranian Foreman of Staff Mohammad Bagheri to Ankara in August 2017, a first visit of this nature since the Islamic Revolution in 1979; the candid encounter of president Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the talks held in the capital of Kazakhstan on September 9;and the agreement signed between the two leaders and the Russian president Valdimir Putin vis-à-vis denuclearization zone near Idlib in Syria on September 16 as the three leaders are patrons and guarantors. And notably, Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan has visited Iran on October 4. And likewise, the Pakistani premier has shortly visited Ankara.
In this backdrop, by reviving or resurrecting an RCD spirit advocated by the then Izmir Treaty (1977), the three partners Islamabad-Tehran-Ankara can unanimously adopt a diplomatic strategy to enhance their economic and political understanding and mutual cooperation thereby also sharing their mutual resolve against terrorism and crisis management. Pakistan should foster its objective diplomacy towards Tehran when Washington is trying to sabotage the Iran Nuclear Deal. The three partners , Pakistan ,Turkey and Iran (who are presently Washington’s bete noires Muslim states) must realise and comprehend the concealed potentiality of this trio holding symbolic significance of Muslim peace unity across South Asia, West Asia and Middle East may also become an anchor-sheet to advance credo of D-8 group.
Inevitably in the arena of today’s International Relations, both geo-politics and geo-economics dominate the domain of inter-state relations. While moving in tandem with two strategic trios, Islamabad can gain a potentially strategic edge over India in the region. And while seeing this positive regional development manifested by the CPEC’s deus ex machina effect against US’ realpolitik, there is every likelihood that the Afghan government may also join this pivotal forum.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.
Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi