by Urooj Tarar
Pakistan, undoubtedly, is facing an existential crisis and the reason behind it is lack of vision. This crisis emanates from several factors, both internal and external. Unfortunately, the government, as well as the law enforcement agencies, were myopic enough to ignore all the signs along the way.
In the current crisis, the external factors played a vital role, the global war on terrorism took its toll on Pakistan and the country has been shaken badly by it. The instability in the region, mistrust by the allies in the war against terrorism and constant allegations of having contacts with the terrorist outfits has brought Pakistan where it is today. The internationally isolated – somewhat, if not completely – politically and economically perished country, needs to review some of its internal and most of its external policies.
The recent predicament is credited to the Soviet-Afghan War, the creation of the Taliban as a result of ‘run amok’ policy and the spread of radical approach. This ‘run amok’ policy of ‘let’s recruit Taliban’ was a clear example of the myopia World Super Powers were suffering from. Once the Soviet Army was defeated, there was no counter insurgency strategy and the monsters needed to be fed on chaos and bloodshed. Thus, the world saw the incident of 9/11, suicide bombing and terrorist attacks of all sorts.
U.S – once again – continued with the ‘run amok’ policy and attacked Afghanistan in 2001. The already conflicted region – due to the dispute in Kashmir, the cold war between Pakistan and India, Refugee crisis after Soviet War and rule of Taliban in Afghanistan – became more troubled. Sixteen years after U.S attacked Afghanistan, the situation remains grim. Pakistan’s involvement in the war without analyzing the consequences has brought the country at a point where allies are no more allies but enemies are still enemies.
The presence of other players, such as India, back door diplomatic policies and ties of key players with militants and to use them to carry out terrorist activities has further worsened the situation in the region. RAW’s links with TTP are no secrets and ISI’s alleged relations with banned terrorist outfits demand for a separate debate. However, Pakistan has always been the only victim of U.S’s wrath. President Trump – while unveiling the new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia – blamed Pakistan for providing safe havens for terrorists.
What Mr. Trump forgot was the loss Pakistan has endured. What Mr. Trump forgot was the fact that India’s continuous interference in Afghanistan and its relations with TTP has added more complexity to an already complex issue. The recent visit of U.S Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to India gave a little hope to strengthen Pakistan’s stance on India’s role in Afghanistan. However, Mattis’ appreciation for the contribution of India in Afghanistan and encouragement for further input is a matter of concern for Pakistan.
Mattis’s statement on the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan is equally troubling. The Defence Secretary said that U.S will ‘try one more time’ to work with Pakistan before Mr. Trump looks for further options. This statement shows the rift in relations between U.S and Pakistan. Once allies, the two countries are at the point where one is threatening the other. This situation is troubling for the country who has been fighting the War on U.S’s behalf for long and is suddenly the bad guy. Pakistan has always played a vital role – upfront or back door – and no matter what U.S says the success in Afghanistan can’t be achieved without active participation by Pakistan.
Pakistan has suffered enough in this long war, the loss of life and financial loss is immense, the instability and insecurity in the country came as a by-product too. The internal problems along with the external threats require a strong stance and immediate change in dual policies. The new formulated trio of U.S, India and Afghanistan will cause more distress for Pakistan, if Islamabad fails to put up a fair play.
Being a ‘security state’ Pakistan needs to prioritize its own interests and should opt for clean play to regain the trust of its allies. Keeping the fast-paced changes taking place on the international level in mind, there is an urgent need for Pakistan to sort out who to be friends with and who to keep at a distance. Taliban and all other banned outfits, definitely, need to be keep thousands of miles away.
The situation in Afghanistan is grimmer than ever. There is a dire need for all the key players to have mutually beneficial policies because the backdoor policies or threats aren’t going to solve the issue which already has consumed a lot of lives. There are a lot of other factors on the international scenario to be worried about, this long battle needs to end.The Afghan people deserve a peaceful homeland, refugees need to return to their homeland, backdoor policies need to minimized, U.S needs to back out and the regional stability needs to be prioritized. In short, we all need to act a little humane, this is the only way to survive the current existential crisis.Share: