US must honour Pakistan’s sovereign values | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi


US must honour Pakistan’s sovereign values

PAKISTAN forces played a significant role in the extermination of the Al-Qaeda network in the region, this role of Pak forces has been acknowledged all over the world, including the former and present Commanders of the NATO forces.

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in his meeting with President Ashraf Ghani on May 10 in Kabul, reiterated that a peaceful Afghanistan means a peaceful region in general and a peaceful Pakistan in particular.

“We will always support “Afghan-led & Afghan-owned” peace process based on [the] mutual consensus of all stakeholders,” the army chief said.

Many in Pakistan logically believe that the US’s geopolitics plays a significant role in reshaping global economic policies vis-à-vis, its influence over the IMF, the World Bank and the FATF.

Being poised to defend its sovereign interests, Islamabad is equally interested in maintaining its durable relationship with Washington based on the economic drivers. This synergy is absolutely pragmatic, realistic and manageable beyond doubts.

America should not repeat its past trajectory of creating a security paradigm via Pakistan since it will be an unrealistic inversion for both sides.

For Pakistan, it is a worthwhile move that the Biden Administration, in its current budget has extended the funding for Pakistan in the heads of military training, good governance and education.

Objectively, Islamabad wants a more broad-based relationship with Washington beyond nascent strategic concerns and the war game in Afghanistan.

Today, Islamabad has been conveying openness to the West with its leadership stating that the country’s economic fortunes are not wedded to China — and the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative — alone.

In his speech last month, Bajwa said: “While CPEC remains central to our vision, only seeing Pakistan through CPEC prism is also misleading.

Our immensely vital geostrategic location and a transformed vision make us a country of immense and diverse potential.”

But it is wrong to presume that Pakistan wants the Taliban in complete control in Afghanistan, Pakistan absolutely does not want an Islamic minded government on its western border one of the prototype that was anchored after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989.

Yet, Pakistan also does not want an unfriendly government in Kabul — having a honeymoon of the relationship between the Afghan NDS and the Indian RAW precise, it does not want a government that is friendlier with India than it is with Pakistan.

And it is no secret that the India — RAW network — has had an organic relationship with the current Afghan government to destabilize Pakistan.

And most importantly, instead of relying upon its policy of regional dominance, Washington must foster a policy of the combined role in Afghanistan.

It remains an irrefutable fact that China’s CPEC trajectory for the South Asian region is based on promoting its soft power doctrine.

By no means, US should see china’s role as that of hostility to America. Pakistan has largely suffered because of the 20 years of war in Afghanistan. Pakistan has the full right to defend its sovereign interests by all means.

Whilst Islamabad does not view the scope of the US relationship in the spectre of its relations with India, similarly, Washington should not see the future of Pakistan –US relations within the frame of Pakistan’s relations with China.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has also said as much: “[Americans] have to understand that our relationship with China is not a zero-sum game for them. They should come, compete and invest.”

The problem with this pitch is that Pakistan’s regulatory climate is less than ideal for investors.

The US must understand the changing South Asian strategic culture and Pakistan’s genuine policy limitations—warranted by its sovereign national interests.

While Washington has had prioritized security issues in this region for the past two decades; Beijing has gradually and systematically deepened its business and diplomatic engagements in West Asia.

Islamabad is a key stepping stone for such Chinese forays and offers prospective new markets and resources—in particular energy reserves in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Arguably, the idea that there should be a new basis for US-Pakistan relations is much unavoidable because of Pakistan’s unique geostrategic position.

Virtually, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership is equally determined to defend our national interests which, by no means, allows that we should accept any give-and-take deal or quid pro quo vis-a-vis the US unwarranted demand — seeking the military bases in Pakistan. Securing the sovereignty of Pakistan is the core of Pakistan’s national security.

Needless to say, Pakistan remained a major ally in the US waged war in Afghanistan despite the multifarious challenges in terms of its economy and national security.

The growing realization in Washington that Pakistan is no longer a US ally notwithstanding, a reset is inevitably possible. The sane voices in the US still urge that Washington should not ignore Pakistan.

But some of the skeptic Americans are wary of plans that draw the US back into embracing Pakistan or depending on it. American conjecturing is not based on a fair assessment.

The fact remains that for the last five decades, China has been Pakistan’s close friend, yet all the while, Pakistan also remained a US ally.

In this regard, a diplomatic synergy may be formed to reconstruct Afghanistan with the help of other regional stakeholders — China and Russia.

A multilateral workable strategy in Afghanistan would be wiser than a centrifugal strategy—conceived by the Indian and negative Afghan elements.
Indeed, Pakistan commands respect and diversity in the comity of the Muslim nations.

Today, Pakistan is equally supported by its allies— who are important regional stakeholders— Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arab, Turkey, China, and Russia—they all desire to see Afghanistan under no foreign intervention.

If the US wants to contain the dangers of terrorists’ regrouping in Afghanistan, it must form a multilateral anti-terrorist force, including Turkey, China, Russia, and Pakistan to combat regional terrorism. Losing not Pakistan, but rejoining it should be the wise US strategy. —Concluded

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

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