Pakistan Needs to Adjust Its Strategic Priorities
| S Kumar Saha, Business Editor, IOP, Mumbai - 12 Jul 2021

International Politics:

A weak and troubled 'ottoman Suleiman' Imran government; every government in Pakistan is a Boot polisher of ISI: Indian Policymakers have failed to implement strategy!

By S. Kumar

India is uncomfortably placed at the heart of a geopolitical landscape – the India–China–Pakistan strategic triangle – that is beset with multiple strategic challenges!

In 1938 Muslim league leader Md. Ali Jinnah tried to reach and unite all opposition parties against Congress, he tried to influence leaders like anti Bramhin activist V. Ramaswamy Naikar to Hindu Mahasabha leader V D Savarkar to Dalit leader Babasaheb Ambedkar. Mahatma Gandhi wanted Jinnah to remain as a big unanimous leader rather than a minority leader but later had other plans in mind, he never trusted Gandhi, treated him as Hindu leader who can never be a well wisher of Muslims. Jinnah believed ‘India neither a nation, nor a country, India is sub-continental of two different religions- Hindu and Muslim’. What Quied- E- Azam Jinnah wanted- a separate nation for Muslims, he anyhow succeeds to win the hearts of Muslims, with the clever help of British, Pakistan born, we are aware of history!

Hardly any elected government completed its full terms except once but not full (almost-nearly four years) by Benazir Bhutto and after the Military headed by Musharaf ousted out Sharif government and ruled nearly ten years then he held an election, won and made himself Supreme, ruled as civilian President. Pak Army since the beginning looks for boot polishers from politicians. The country made such a constitution where its Army made supreme powered, intelligent service (ISI) second in command then the government though the Supreme Court is highest in all Countries but if they don't pass in favor of Army or ISI, Justice are hashed. So, many times bloody cops took place. Unlike India, Pakistan politics is also too sleazy and filthy. Now self-styled celebrity Cricketer after forming a political outfit six years ago became another boot polisher of Pakistan military.

Let rigged, stolen but mandated though far behind the majority. Imran as cricket captain was aggressive with full of patriotism but his personal life was always controversial, all marriages unsuccessful, he was and still upset in personal life, he was drug addicted and may be still, his sexual exploits and illegitimate kids are well known, he can be called as director's actor and in Pak military establishment is always director. He never is a role model for youth, his party PTI is not at all a non-controversial political wing in that country and has a good record for sexual and financial favors, many Pak girls have been exploited. From his Cricket days Imran is a friend till it suits him. His party PTI was behind the popular social media trend ' bhalla ghumao Bharat bhagao' in 2018 to catch voters. He often says he is the dim image which is not at all correct, he even called himself Sulieman the Magnificent (Ottoman Sultan), treating women as Roxelana as disclosed by his ex-wife Reham.

As long as he will remain in power, he needs to keep Army and ISI both happy in every decision making, he need to consult with them before any steps he puts in the government unlike his civilian predecessors and he must want to remain in politics in the subcontinent so he will never be serious towards Kashmir issue, it is one of most valuable weapons to catch voters in the country. He will never curb training centers by ultras, nor he will take much risk to speak against religious unleash. He can't expect much international aid, especially from America, to survive, GDP of Pakistan is almost nil but there are a number of internal problems so he will lend continuously towards China.

China wants to complete its much-invested dream project Economic corridor. Imran since is in politics must have some knowledge of international matters, politics, issues especially in Asia and neighborhoods though he still treating himself role model of EU in Pakistan, time will prove his foolishness, aggressive and jealous which Army even will not tolerate any more but oiling-buttering-damadola politics in Pak, he might be a first politician to complete five year term despite international communities are aware  of day to day affairs of Imran government for last 3+ years, PM there hardly get any deserving respect within the party, government, from Clerics and sensible public.

Pakistan vigorously championed the right of self-determination for Muslims around the world. It's efforts for the independence movements of Indonesia, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Eritrea were significant and initially led to close ties between these countries and Pakistan. However, Pakistan also masterminded an attack on the Afghan city of Jalalabad during the Afghan civil war to establish an Islamic government there. Pakistan had wished to foment an 'Islamic Revolution' which would transcend national borders covering Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

After Independence, Pakistan vigorously pursued bilateral relations with other Muslim countries and made a wholehearted bid for leadership of the Muslim World or at least for leadership in achieving its unity. The Ali brothers had sought to project Pakistan as the natural leader of the Islamic world, in large part due to its large manpower and military strength. A top-ranking Muslim League leader, Khaliquzzaman, declared that Pakistan would bring together all Muslim countries into Islamistan – a pan-Islamic entity. Such developments (alongside Pakistan's creation) did not get American approval and British Premier Clement Attlee voiced international opinion at the time by stating that he wished that India and Pakistan would re-unite. Since most of the Arab World was undergoing a nationalist awakening at the time, there was little attraction to Pakistan's Pan-Islamic aspirations. Some of the Arab countries saw the 'Islamistan' project as a Pakistani attempt to dominate other Muslim states.  

Three powers – China, India, and Pakistan – hold the keys to the future of south Asia. As the West withdraws from Afghanistan and US influence in the region declines, this triangular strategic relationship will become more complicated unless China and India – the two major powers – can define the parameters of a new regional order. 

China’s engagement with the region serves as a good template for speculation on how its rise will change the international order. Will it begin to engage from a more normative and conflict-resolution perspective, or will it continue to approach the region from its unilateral, self-seeking, commercial and strategic positions? By reaching out to the Taliban, Beijing has demonstrated that it is not averse to sponsoring conflict-resolution processes, though this may be mostly aimed at safeguarding its own commercial interests in mineral-rich Afghanistan. Will China follow the historical trajectory of rising powers by attempting to dominate its “near abroad”? If so, how will India and other stakeholders in the region respond? 

The strategic landscape of the sub-region is defined by the complex interactions between these three: a rising “superpower” with a commercially defined unilateral approach to the region’s strategic fault lines; a reluctant emerging power unwilling to commit political or diplomatic resources to stabilize the region or even to preserve the status quo; and a deeply dissatisfied revisionist power intent on redrawing the regional order, with the not-so-explicit approval of the rising superpower.

India is uncomfortably placed at the heart of a geopolitical landscape – the India–China–Pakistan strategic triangle – that is beset with multiple strategic challenges. Even if one were to interpret China’s attempts to engage in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan as commercially driven but benign, the perceived Indo-Pak rivalry in Afghanistan and the Sino-Pak partnership would effectively keep India out of the Afghan reconciliation process, hampering New Delhi’s regional aspirations. The question, therefore, is whether the Chinese leadership can think beyond the false necessities imposed by its partnership with Pakistan to consider the region as a security complex (i.e., acknowledging that the security of each state cannot be considered separately from that of the others), and manage its relations with India in a cooperative manner. Beijing’s tacit approval of Pakistan’s revisionist agenda could prove costly for China and may even hamper its rise. The Chinese leadership cannot ignore the need to pacify the region and stabilize ties with India while it pursues its global ambitions.

India, for its part, must view the region from a wider, long-term strategic perspective and avoid getting tied down in petty fights with Pakistan – for its own sake and for the sake of promoting a stable regional order. Such an order could lead to peaceful coexistence between India and China and conciliatory management of the region’s problems. It could even produce the first signs of a peaceful Asian superpower on the rise. 

New Delhi is used to adopting a strategy of limited engagement when it comes to dealing with China – whether it is resolving border tensions or finalizing an agreement on the disputed border. While on the one hand India seeks to engage China on the trade front, on the other hand it fights shy of engaging China on larger regional security issues. With Pakistan, New Delhi also shows a tendency to indefinitely postpone the resolution of the troublesome issue of Kashmir. Limited engagement, then, seems to be New Delhi’s preferred policy option when it comes to dealing with complex issues. New Delhi also avoids addressing various emerging threats, failing to recognize them politically. For instance, IS hardly figures on New Delhi’s list of strategic priorities, and nor does the geopolitical transformation of Afghanistan. This head-in-the-sand, inward-looking strategic posture is clearly not the exception but the rule in India’s strategic thinking.

Policymakers in New Delhi also exhibit a tendency to deal with what they can, rather than with what they should. New Delhi’s response, for instance, to the two-pronged problem that it faces with Pakistan and China has been to give disproportionate attention to Pakistan, attempting to shame and isolate the country rather than engaging in a sustained and high-level politico-strategic engagement with China to normalize the strategic triangle.

Indian diplomacy has failed to think beyond bilaterally engaging with its neighbors, or the great powers, for that matter. While India has engaged with Beijing on a variety of bilateral issues, it has not been able to join forces with China and other neighbours in fighting terror, stabilizing Afghanistan, addressing the IS threat, or even bringing Iran into the mainstream. Modi’s government has not yet brought pressing regional security issues to the table in its bilateral relationship with China.

For over three decades now, India’s primary security concern has been Pakistan’s attempts at destabilization, be it in Kashmir, Punjab, or other parts of the country. Pakistan’s inconclusive and unsatisfactory trial of the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, and the intermittent ceasefire violations along the border, continue to dominate New Delhi’s perception of its security situation. Another of India’s major security concerns is also linked to Pakistan – the issue of post-NATO Afghanistan, where Pakistan is attempting to control the Kabul regime through proxies and Taliban is gaining ground.

For New Delhi, the near-certain return of the Taliban to Kabul, in one form or another, brings back memories of the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 by a Pakistani Islamist group, when the 'Indian People’s Party' (read BJP) government was forced to release high-ranking terrorists in order to get its passengers released from Taliban-controlled Kandahar province. Another 'people welfare' BJP government is in power today, led by the more resolute Narendra Modi, and it has stated many times that New Delhi will deal with Pakistani aggression with far greater resolve even with China.

Thirdly, India’s disputed borders with Pakistan and China continue to generate insecurity for the country. No comprehensive agreement seems to be forthcoming, despite 18 rounds of border talks with China, and there have been occasional Chinese military incursions into Indian-controlled territory, increasing political tensions between the two capitals. The border with Pakistan is far more complicated because sovereignty over an entire state (Jammu and Kashmir) has been historically disputed. Pakistan’s attempts to directly and indirectly wrest J&K from India have not been successful, but it is unclear whether the Pakistani army has completely given up on its aggressive Kashmir policy. Finally, Islamic State (IS) poses a potential threat to India because it has the ability to gain an ideological foothold in the country and provide a rallying call for disaffected, through disparate elements. The jury is still out on whether Pakistan and Afghanistan would be a fertile breeding ground for the group, given the anti-IS stand taken by the Afghan Taliban and by the Pakistani government.

For many decades now, India has expressed concerns about the clandestine strategic engagement between China and Pakistan, through which Beijing has provided a great deal of assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. In recent years, however, it appears as if New Delhi has made peace with this, preferring to ignore the Sino-Pak partnership and strengthen its own strategic ties with the United States and various Western states, while improving its economic relationship with China.

What worries New Delhi today is the increasing Chinese presence in the Pakistani part of J&K, including Gilgit-Baltistan. However, on a positive note for India, China has been less supportive of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. Notably, it did not support its “all-weather friend” during the 1999 India–Pakistan Kargil conflict, either materially or politically.

The third aspect of contemporary Sino-Pak ties that bothers India is the strengthened three-way partnership between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. China is steadily increasing its influence in the region with its innovative “New Silk Road” strategy, and by offering economic and development assistance to Pakistan. Beijing is also increasingly engaged in regional “conflict management” initiatives, mediating between Kabul and the Taliban, and organizing trilateral strategic engagements with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For example, in November 2014, representatives of the Taliban from its Doha-based office met in Beijing for talks, in February 2015, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan initiated a new trilateral strategic dialogue in Kabul. Then, in July 2019 Pakistan hosted a meeting in Murree, as part of the “Murree Peace Process”, between the Afghan government and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP), the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, which was also attended by representatives of China and the US.

Finally, Pakistan needs to adjust its strategic priorities, in light of its growing inability to act as a modern, functioning state. Its deep-seated obsession with India and the use of non-state actors as a tool of statecraft need to end if it wants to get back on its feet as a viable nation state and contribute to a stable regional order.

(Writer is a senior Journalist and political critic! The views expressed in this article are his personal.)

Image courtesy - Imran-Khan-1 Courtesy dailytimesDotcomDotpk 


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