Imtiaz Rafi Butt
THE story of present times is that of collective failure for mankind. Countries from the North to the South, rich to the poor and strong to the weak are wrapped in fear of war and impending violence. The spread of terrorism is a result of inability of states to resolve geopolitical disputes. Failing states become a breeding ground for violence and radicalization which eventually leads to armed conflict. These conflicts put negative pressure on the systems of welfare and progress which feeds the cycle of poverty and violence furthermore.
The refugee problem is one of the greatest challenges today and still remains unresolved. The United Nations financial dependence on powerful and developed countries of the West makes it party to the process of conflict instead of being a neutral mediator with proper influence. Europe and United States of America seem to be struggling with their own demons of fear, isolation and probability of conflict. The election campaign from Donald Trump was accelerated by the slogan “America First”.
This implies that America will longer be a stabilizing factor in the world politics but an aggressive player bent on twisting and turning the geopolitical scenario in its favor with sheer force. After the disaster of Vietnam, the failure of the international community in conflicts of Rwanda and the Iraq war, Washington became a voice for stabilization and development. All that is set to change as the Trump administration has already instigated a strategy of aggressive unilateral intervention such as the Mother of All Bomb strike in Afghanistan and the bombing of the Syrian Air base without any dialogue with the stakeholders involved.
Among all the conflicts of the world, Middle East can certainly be referred to as the frontline. The decades old rivalry between Iran and the Gulf countries is now being augmented with polarization of world super powers. Saudi led military coalitions are being supported by the Americans against Syrian Government whereas Iran and Russia are actively supporting Bashar ul Assad. It is ironic that it was an unprovoked war in Iraq that ultimately lead to the formation of IS. The world is not coming to terms with the fact that wars destroy states and failed states become breeding grounds for terrorism activities. For every insurgency and terrorist organization, there is a conflict in the background. Taliban were born as a result of the proxy war between Soviet Russia and the United States while IS was born out of the Iraq war of 2003. Instead of addressing the root cause of the contention, there is active pursuance of geopolitical objectives seeking sides instead of end to the conflict.
Apart from the above, there are other conflicts that have the potential to intensify at any point in time due to fallout of regional conflicts. Pakistan and India, both nuclear armed nations, have locked horns in Kashmir with no roadmap to peace and stability. North Korea continues to threaten Japan and the United States presence in Asia with ballistic warfare. African countries are headed in a downward spiral towards political upheavals and prospect of insurgency and terrorism set to the transform numerous countries into battlefield similar to the Middle East. 2017 is certainly a time of conflict and pain for humanity. The need of hour is to unite from a position of strength. Countries like China must collaborate with European nations to promote long term resolution of conflicts. The strategy of non-interference along with the peaceful progress model is to be enacted in order to put an end to arms race and militancy. The Chinese government is expanding its horizons through mega projects. China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the One Belt One Road project are aimed at exponential growth in trade and commerce in collaboration with Pakistan. It is an opportunity for regional politics to write a new chapter in regional cooperation.
Pakistan can benefit from such an arrangement by bolstering its negotiation strategy with India and implement effective anti-terrorist measures while countering further radicalization through education and development. Globalization is a fact today, we are all connected. All of us are children of the same tribe, if these conflicts across the world are not resolved, they will ripple to every corner of the world and to our future generations.
— The writer is Chairman Jinnah Rafi Foundation, Lahore.