AS General Joseph Votel US Commander for CENTCOM laid a floral wreath to pay homage to the martyrs at ‘Yadgar-e-Shuhada alongside Pakistan’s Army Chief in Islamabad, there could have been no one more close to recognising supreme sacrifices of the men in uniform than an officer like him who in command of his own men may have seen death as closely, compared to those merely fed on baked information and rhetoric.
By the same analogy one wonders about the fairness of remarks by Gen (R) James Mattis the US Defence Secretary designate who in repeating the American refrain of ‘do more’ with Pakistan, and the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner blindly endorsing the Indian-inspired blame game about Pakistan’s involvement in attacks inside Afghanistan, needs to consult his former fellow-ranks such as Gen. Nicholson besides Senator John McCain who have been facilitated to witness first hand, the inhospitable terrains cleared of all shades of terrorists by the Pakistani Forces laying down precious lives and leaving no room for them to operate from its soil, which the Allied combine did not dare tackle.
Both the US and Afghan Governments must dispassionately introspect as to how Pakistan could be so foolish as to destabilize a Muslim neighbour and as a consequence invite instability for itself while being host to over 3 million Afghan refugees for nearly 4 decades having historical cross-border trade and personal relations with them. They must look for the spoiler within their own closet who continues to exploit its flawed role.
NATO in general and the US in particular will have to seriously revisit their outlook to world affairs where in the backdrop of the Paris Summit of 70 Nations following the Security Council voting a Resolution supporting the Two-Nation Palestine-Israel co-existence plan on pre-1967 positions and re-alignments in the global political chess-board, they would need to abandon their myopic strategies which were leading the US and its new-found partners themselves to isolation, and instead take to engagement in a fast changing scenario. Israel despite Trump’s rhetoric will have to stop settlements and learn to co-exist with Palestine, and India must not only accept the reality of Pakistan but honour the UN Security Council Resolutions by allowing a plebiscite in Kashmir to determine its future.
The US will need to count the costs of its taxpayers monies besides nearly 15 trillion dollars borrowed sums it had squandered over hegemonic pursuits interfering in the affairs of Sovereign Nations rather than spending gainfully on US citizens out of its own resources purely aimed at social welfare, and helping those wherever in need externally. A US Congressman John J Duncan while addressing the Congress in 2012 termed the Afghans an ungrateful Nation because the US thinks that in propping and funding a dicey interference plan and installing a minority Government it had enslaved a jealously independent Afghan nation from amongst whom only a few pawns like anywhere else can be bought. The Afghans are certainly not an ungrateful people.
It was sometime in the eighties of the last century that I had the occasion of escorting a media delegation from Kazakhstan up Daman-e-Koh Hill resort for a bird’s eye view of Islamabad. At that time when the Central Asian States were still part of the Soviet Union I had posed our guests what was then a naive question, that being close neighbours with a similar ideology why don’t the Russians and Chinese join hands to pre-empt imperial plans in the Region instead of going divergent ways and opting for wrong bedfellows.
So much metamorphosis on the global chessboard since then appears to have brought my dream closer to realization as Russia and China engage in a meaningful détente carrying out joint Military exercises on a regular basis and sending an ominous signal to the West by a joint-exercise between the two in the South China Sea. This new equation goes well beyond Military cooperation and takes hold of bilateral trade and economy. As Russia under Putin convalesces from its cold-war setback of fragmentation having lost its big-power status at the hands of the US, it is regrouping to find its feet very quickly, continuing together with Iran to support Syrian President Bashar-ul-Assad to quell an American sponsored rebellion against him, and developing empathy with Turkey despite it downing a Russian war plane months earlier.
The fast-growing People’s Republic of China with its ‘One-belt One-road’ campaign in the region reinforcing the historic Silk route is not only heralding a prosperous future for the Countries of the region but also steadily and surely warming its relations with African and Asian Nations; so much so that even the United States has acknowledged the efficacy of the Chinese initiative. For all one knows, the Russians once upon a time resisted for seeking access to warm waters through Pakistan’s Karachi Port may well be welcome to become part of the CPEC and use a far better access route of Gwadar. Britain besides other European Nations and the Central Asian States in expressing their intent to join the CPEC route has added to the fast growing list of Countries desirous of availing the dream facility.
Notwithstanding the historic Chinese ties with Pakistan further cementing its impregnable bondage by the multi-billion dollar CPEC, the Russians with whom ice has lately been broken by Pakistani initiative resulting in lifting of Arms embargo against it have already resumed Military aircraft and anti-terror monitoring equipment sales besides establishing fresh economic ties. The Russians at the heels of the last UNGA Annual Session have sent a loud signal in the region and beyond by going ahead with their joint Military exercise with Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan the proposed gateway to China into the Economic Corridor, despite desperate Indian bid asking Russia to cancel the drill.
Notwithstanding Pakistan’s relationship with the US, the latest China-Russia-Pakistan initiative for the proposed Afghan-led Afghan owned peace process reinforces Pakistan’s long-standing desire that Afghanistan be encouraged to negotiate a peace-deal among themselves without outside interference as no one could be more concerned than the Afghan’s themselves to bring peace to their battered homeland. Pakistan, China and Russia would at best facilitate dialogue without asserting for any particular outcome as done by vested interests so far who would rather be happy with a destabilized Afghanistan. Had that not been the case the Qatar dialogue would by now have yielded a positive result.
In this world increasingly given over to depleting resources and multiplying mouths, the only way forward is in mutual respect and extending voluntary assistance by the haves to the less privileged and not by pirating and prying upon other’s wealth and resources. Trust has been the casualty and will continue to be so unless vested interests all over the world either pull back of their own or else be ready to be exposed and isolated. It is never too late to make amends.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.