Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan |
Twenty weeks into his presidency, President Donald Trump continues to keep the world confused and guessing on how and what he would do to keep it together. More focused on North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s militarization of South China Sea the Trump administration is finding little time to pay attention to other brewing problems in Asia – one of which is the rising tensions in the Indo-Pak ties.
From fighting against the Russians in Afghanistan to the post 9/11 fight in the war on terror Pakistan’s sacrifices are recognized and acclaimed world over. Why has US been so insensitive and callous?
In his typical businessman like style the US President went overboard to please Modi and instead of utilizing the significance of his office to maintain a sense of balance between the two arch-rivals and nuclear powers in the subcontinent allowed the weighing scale to tilt and dip heavily in India’s favour. Never before has a US President sharing a platform with an Indian leader so demonstratively disregarded and disengaged from the huge sacrifices Pakistan has given(not even a passing mention) serving the US interests in the region.
From fighting against the Russians in Afghanistan to the post 9/11 fight in the war on terror Pakistan’s sacrifices are recognized and acclaimed world over. Why has US been so insensitive and callous? Was doing business and selling US weapons and equipment to India more important than acting as a manger of good India-Pakistan ties? If Trump could do nothing to improve them at least he and his administration should have resisted from making them more difficult and intolerable.
Promoting Donald Trump’s ‘business- like return on investment foreign policy’ his two advisors H.R McMaster and Gray Cohn wrote last month in the Wall Street Journal that “the world is not a global community but an arena where nations , non-governmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage…Rather than deny this essential nature of international affairs ,we embrace it.”
Money makes the mare go
This statement made by the trusted advisors of the Trump administration was already setting the tone for the visit of the Indian PM to Washington. In a Trump induced atmosphere of international relations that holds the economic and ‘business interests’ more dearly than the political, regional and global interests the two leaders happily embraced each other in a business-style hug after a one-on-one meeting and delegation level talks at the White House. Prior to this US State Department had already declared Syed Salahuddin the Chief of Hizbul Mujahideen as a specially designated global terrorist. India may be extremely pleased with the American response and overjoyed and relieved on the anti-Pakistan contents of the official joint statement asking Pakistan to “ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,” and to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks” but Pakistan and all that it has done over the years to serve American interests was not.
China’s deft diplomacy
While PM Modi was giving bear hug to President Trump in Washington, in a great display of enduring friendship between the two countries the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi who was during the same period on a shuttle diplomacy visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan was curbing regional fears and raising hopes. His efforts to establish a ‘crisis management mechanism’ was well in time and in line with China’s policy of safeguarding and protecting its infrastructure spending on the belt and road initiative and promoting peace in the region. On one hand are the Americans that are least flexible and more selective in their demands (do more) and extending unilateral diplomatic and military rewards (to the Indians) in the region the Chinese on the other hand are more concerned for equal distribution of opportunities and to do that are fast laying a claim on the power, wealth, diplomatic engagement and to the regional leadership in South Asia. Brokering the recent deal between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a reflection of how China cannot afford to have an insecure environment in a region that it intends to tie with Europe,the Middle East and even Africa.
Just last month in Kabul, the deadliest attack in the 16 years old Afghanistan civil war took lives of 90 innocent people and wounding 400 others. Call it confusion or call it neglect – Afghan war on which America still spends $3 billion a month and further wants to reinforce it with additional 5000 troops is making no headway.
The main diplomatic tool that China is likely to use in the foreseeable future is its own security grouping – Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO). Regardless of what Washington may decide and do it is from the platform of SCO which now has India and Pakistan as well as its members that China to the likely dislike of India will push forward ‘the Chinese guided order in South Asia and Central Asian States.’ SCO has a unique distinction, unlike any other organization or alliance in the world it showcases and gives voice to half the population of the world through its member countries.
The foreign ministers visit showed that China is deeply concerned with the failing Afghan government which is finding it difficult even to provide security within its capital. Just last month in Kabul, the deadliest attack in the 16 years old Afghanistan civil war took lives of 90 innocent people and wounding 400 others. Call it confusion or call it neglect – Afghan war on which America still spends $3 billion a month and further wants to reinforce it with additional 5000 troops is making no headway. In fact had Washington been more mindful of national interests of all the countries and encouraged India only to promote economic and business interests and discouraged it against developing any intelligence and military interests in Afghanistan the world would not have witnessed the unnecessary proxy showdown in the region resulting in the loss of many innocent lives.
For the political and military leadership in Pakistan the present US-India partnership only means further raising the bar of our national security that cannot be allowed to be compromised.
China’s Pak-Afghan initiative is a welcome development. A timely Chinese political punch to an existing regional order that is Washington designed to contain China through a diplomatically and militarily empowered India. The foundations of this order have been moved by the latest Chinese initiative and only time will tell whether Afghanistan will continue to act as an Indian pawn and resist Chinese diplomatic brokering or together with China, Russia, Central Asian States and even India allow this region to embrace peace, develop and grow under a Chinese guided and directed regional order.
For the political and military leadership in Pakistan the present US-India partnership only means further raising the bar of our national security that cannot be allowed to be compromised. Identifying and disrupting threats will continue to be our leadership’s biggest challenge. Indian covert operations in Pakistan continue and even after the capture of Kulbhushan Jadhav and his sensational admissions it is Pakistan that gets the US admonishment. We can no more have our national security dependent on the goodwill of US that under the Trump administration is growing more and more diplomatically erratic, condescending, arrogant and dictatorial. Washington today reaches out to various States not as the guarantor and protector of its own created world order but as a business leader that is not shy of creating a dogged regional strategic environment based not on the balance of power but US business interests that suits Trump doctrine of ‘America first’ and ‘protectionism.’
To sum up our growing relationship with China and our joint investment in the mutual security relationship with Asian giant will stand out as riposte and counterweight to the now very ominous ant-Pakistan US-Indian designs.
We cannot allow India to spread terrorism in Pakistan through its covert network of terrorist operators that infiltrate Pakistan through Afghanistan. It’s not the flyovers and motorways that is Pakistan’s priority now – ‘if everything is a priority nothing is a priority’ – Pakistan needs a completely secure western border to block and shield against Indian recruited physical interference from there. Reinforcing our security we can have speedy results on intelligence based operations all over the country like the Indians themselves. India is better secured internally because over the years it has reinforced its border security with better and efficient management tools. Once externally secure it is easy to share intelligence go after the existing terrorist networks within the country and prevent disasters from happening.
To sum up our growing relationship with China and our joint investment in the mutual security relationship with Asian giant will stand out as riposte and counterweight to the now very ominous ant-Pakistan US-Indian designs. Pakistan is not the threat that India will face in future – that threat( given the Trump administration’s lack of any policy initiative on how to fight ISIS) will come from ISIS and also from Iran when New Delhi’s business interest clash with those of Washington there.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan did his doctorate in International Relations from Karachi Univ; where he also teaches. His Ph.D. work is on ‘Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan’. He served for 25 years in Pakistan Army, and remained an Instructor in Pakistan Military Academy. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.