International politics knows no morality. It’s all about national interest. Those who wield power- Economic, Political, Military, Diplomatic – are usually the ones ruling the roost, on the world stage. Those who are comparatively weaker have a tough job at hands i.e., to keep the ‘Boss’ happy while minimizing the damage caused to her own interests, by such imposed subservience. This clearly tells us that the developing nations ought to master shrewd diplomacy. Such states do not have any other department to fall back on, unlike the developed nations. They simply cannot afford to have bad intelligence or weak diplomacy. And that’s exactly what Pakistan has done.
Afghanistan war was not Pakistan’s- Plain and Simple. In fact, Pakistan had recognized the Taliban government and was its ally. India couldn’t even think of encircling Pakistan from Kabul. Ideally, Pakistan should’ve fought on the side of its ally, not on the side which attacked it, against all international laws. Well, that takes me back to the opening statement of this write-up i.e. International Politics knows no morality. Islamabad, headed by General Musharaf, thought if it denies cooperation to frustrated and visibly angry Washington, it would be decimated along with Kabul. So, it deserted its friend and joined the friend’s bête noire, although half-heartedly. 17 years have gone by but the war is still on.
So, in somebody else’s war, Pakistan lost thousands of its security personnel, civilians and above all, the country is ranked #2 for being worst hit by terrorism. This is simply because the government had to take a call under duress, against the sensitivities of its people. Those who waged this war are thousands of miles away, unaffected by it, while they turned Pakistan into a battlefield. Those who lost their families due to American drone attacks- be that in Pakistani tribal areas or Afghanistan- had all the reasons to be in a rage. Could they vent it out in Chicago, LA or Dallas? Obviously not. These people trickled down to Pakistani cities to attack GHQ & other military installations. Apart from the fact that the US was inaccessible to them, they were deeply hurt by their own government being in cahoots with the foreign enemy who would sip coffee while sending missiles to civilian areas. Whether right or a wrong decision, now it became Pakistan’s own war to kill the terrorists who it forced to be terrorists, albeit due to its compulsion, or else they would’ve wrecked havoc.
The situation exacerbated when Pakistan’s rivals, mainly India, jumped in to capitalize on country’s misfortune. These angry men from NWFP, SWAT & across the Durand line in Afghanistan were religiously indoctrinated and armed to teeth, who were then organized into Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP)- not to be confused with Pro-Pak Afghan Taliban. India has about 8 embassies/consulates in Afghanistan as if hundreds of thousands of its students are studying in Afghan Universities. All in the name of reconstruction of Afghanistan. The country which is yet to construct toilets for its burgeoning millions is out there to build some other country. Quite appalling!
This year, Donald Trump’s first tweet was to bash Pakistan for taking US aid but harboring some of those militants especially Haqqani network which the US wants to eliminate. An aid of US$255 million has been withheld and accusation of usurping US$33 billion has been voiced out. Americans were not foolish to do so till now, as President Trump would like to call them. They put an ally of their enemy-Pakistan, on a self-destruction mode for 17 years, which not only resulted in the loss of lives but it thwarted the economic progress of the country. It became the terror capital of the world, which it never deserved to be. Yes, it supported Kashmiri self-determination, but that was the world-recognized dispute, which only New Delhi would refer to as terrorism.
It’s quite axiomatic for the ISI or the military to have certain links with Afghan Taliban, despite war against other groups, since they are not actually their enemies. The US has got Pakistani services in return to its exaggerated aid figure and if that’s not been enough for the sole superpower of the world to win Afghan war, it should revisit its own policies, rather than shift blame on others. If Islamabad has retained some policies of its own while surrendering everything else, it’s the only proof of Pakistani sovereignty and the country should celebrate it and build upon it.
The regional dynamics have completely changed. CPEC- the most important link of Chinese OBOR has given an opportunity to the country to change its foreign policy and sit in the Chinese camp. Russia- a long time Indian ally- is an ally to Pakistan now, completely snubbing India. This diktat-issuing attitude of Trump administration should clear its ambiguities and it should shun any dependence on the US. The US has also called for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan. And that leaves Pakistan with no choice. It’s not about just furthering its foreign policy anymore. It’s about saving its existence. Pakistan cannot afford to have India in Afghanistan. The US has called just for that. It’s a serious fault-line which Trump shouldn’t have crossed. The country can try to maintain a normal relationship with the US but it should come out of its block, strategically. The two nations do not share objectives or even the modus operandi. Pakistan cannot take more than this. It’s enough of fighting your allies for an ungrateful far-off power. Embrace regionalism and prosper. You need to make up for the last 17 years.