Akbar Jan Marwat
The recent cozying up of the US to India is not only unprecedented, but seems to be in total disregard of Pakistan’s sensibilities. In Modi’s recent visit to the US, the tremendous applause that the Indian Prime Minister received whenever he alluded to Pakistan – without naming it – in context of terrorism and religious extremism, should be an eye opener for Pakistan. The concerted efforts of the US to include India in the Missile technology control regime (MTCR): and its untiring endeavours to put India in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) seem to be a paradigm shift in the Indian American relations.
The efforts of the US to make India member of the NSG, is, of course, in addition to US having entered in to a civil nuclear deal with India in 2006. Membership of NSG, will allow India to further import and export nuclear technology from, and to, the entire group of countries holding the membership of NSG. Instead of maintaining even a semblance of even handedness vis-a-vis Pakistan, the US has been exceptionally harsh with Pakistan. Of the slew of demands made from Pakistan, the most sinister has been US’s insistence that Pakistan remove its theatre or tactical nuclear weapon deployed against India. This demand seems especially unfair in view of American facilitation to India on the nuclear front. The (MTCR) also gives great advantage to India in terms of importing missile technology form other members of the Group. Pakistan’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz expressively cautioned the US that by expanding its cooperation with India, it would upset the South Asian strategic stability. The Advisor told a media briefing at the Foreign Office that increasing defence cooperation between India and US will disturb the regional balance in both the conventional and strategic sense.
The American Congress’s refusal to allow the US govt to sell F-16 planes on subsidised rates to Pakistan was also quite grating for Pakistan. The latest proverbial, last straw on the camels back in present low between the two countries, was droning of Mullah Mansoor the Chief of Afghan Taliban as he was apparently in Pakistani Balochistan en-route from Iran.The killing of Mullah Mansoor was particularly paradoxical, as on the one hand the US and Afghan government wants to negotiate peace with Afghan Taliban, and on other hand, they continue to follow the policy of killing their leaders, which only exacerbates the aggression of the Afghan Taliban.
US is continuously pushing Pakistan for taking military action against the Haqqanis. It would be fare to say that during operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Pak Army took indiscriminate action against all Taliban groups, and as a result all these groups including the Haqqanis relocated across the Durand line to Afghanistan. But to especially take on the strongest of the Afghan groups just to please the US and Afghanistan, may not be in the national interest of Pakistan. It must be said that the US and Afghanistan in spite of US troops and resources, could not do much about the Haqqani group in all these years. The droning of Mullah Mansoor on Pakistani territory seems to be a measure of embarrassing and isolating Pakistan by projecting it as a supporter of terrorist groups.
Even in the US, some significant sections of press are against this US policy, as they fear, that these unilateral concessions to India will upset the strategic balance in South Asia. Senator Ed Marke and some other congressmen are also opposed to the US granting unilateral favours to India. It is almost farcical to note, that on the one hand the US warns of a nuclear conflict in South Asia, but on the other hand it is actively pursuing a nuclear imbalance by unilaterally supporting India by helping it become a member of NSG.
Realizing its unabashed partisanship, perhaps, US sent a high power delegation to Pakistan only a couple of days ago The delegation comprised of Dr. Peter Lavoy the Director of Pakistan and Afghanistan at the US National Security Council, Richard Olson Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and General John Nicholson Commander of the resolute support mission in Afghanistan. The delegation first met the Advisor of Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz and his team, and later on called on General Raheel Sharif in GHQ.
It seems that the Pakistani sides, both civilians and military, showed some real assertiveness, perhaps, for the first time while dealing with the Americans. The Americans typical grouse was that Pakistan was not doing enough against the Haqqani network, and was letting Taliban leaders roam freely on Pakistan’s soil, as was the case with Mullah Akhter Mansoor. The Pakistani side led by Mr. Sartaj Aziz very clearly told the American side that by targeting Mansoor the US not only violated Pakistani sovereignty and United Nations’ charter, but also dealt a very damaging blow to the Afghan Peace talks recently being held under the auspices of QCG.
General Raheel Sharif told the American delegation that ‘censuring Pakistan for Afghanistan’s security woes was wrong’. He asked that a comprehensive view of the situation should be taken, taking into account the ‘porous border, inter-tribal linkages and decades old presence of over 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan’. General Raheel further asked the US delegation, to take action against TTP and especially its commander Mullah Fazlullah.
The real reason for the American pique with Pakistan may be Pakistan’s enthusiastic partnership in CPEC, with China. The US, somehow, feels threatened and insecure by the Pak-China Economic Corridor.
But the very intractable Afghan crises are not likely to be solved by such shenanigans. A sincere effort by Pakistan, Afghanistan, USA and the regional powers like China, India and Iran is required to curb this menace of religious extremism turned into radicalization. If menace is not stopped in its tracks, it will not knock at Pakistan and Afghanistan’s door only, but would engulf whole region.
— The writer is author, citizen journalist and entrepreneur based in Islamabad.