The Awakening

Spearhead Analysis – 24.08.2016

Threat LevelsPresident Obama set the ball rolling when in a major speech he referred to Pakistan as an ‘abysmally dysfunctional country’. This need not have been taken seriously because President Obama had also stated that Raymond Davis was a diplomat. In fact earlier Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Clinton had all made statements that turned out to be, well, not true. President Obama’s statement was followed by a hearing of the Joint Sub-Committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs “Pakistan, Friend or Foe”. While concluding the hearing the Chairman, Mr Matt Salmon said: “For the record, I personally believe that we should completely cut off all funding to Pakistan. I think that would be the right first step. And then, a State Sponsor of Terrorism declaration. … Right now we have the worst policy that we could possibly have; all we are doing is rewarding thugs.” The panel of ‘experts’ that the Sub Committee had lined up were led by, not unsurprisingly, Mr Zalmay Khalilzad a former US Ambassador to Afghanistan who gave his expert opinion that ‘One may conclude now that Pakistan is a State Sponsor of Terror”.

These developments galvanized all those in and out of the woodwork whose livelihood and status depends on ‘analyzing’ Pakistan and concluding that it is the ‘epicenter of terror’ and that it’s military and intelligence assets are behind every act of terror committed across its borders. In their wisdom no one talked of the US role and past association with the Taliban against the former USSR. There was no mention of the policy failures that have led to the debacle in Afghanistan, the rise of the Islamic State, the spread of Al Qaeda and the complete mess in the Middle East with horrendous sufferings being inflicted on the people — little Aylan Kurdi and Onan being the proof of these atrocities. Nor did anyone ‘analyze’ the price paid by Pakistan in lives, in treasure and in the destruction of its social fabric from the fallout from Afghanistan– and of course no one explained why Pakistan would persist in a policy that would lead to its own destruction and why it was not rolling over and playing dead with all the criticism and punishment being heaped upon it. Finally no one has asked what would happen if Pakistan were to actually become what it is being accused of and what would happen to the region as a consequence of that.

Perhaps there are sane and rational minds that do not forget that Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state and that it is central to the resolution of Afghanistan and peace in the region. They probably also understand the regional animosities that spur hawks in Afghanistan and India and other places to pursue their own interests regardless of the consequences. India treats China and Pakistan as a single threat and this becomes a justification for it to do everything — overt and covert — that it is doing, including isolating and destabilizing Pakistan and displacing the US in Afghanistan. Afghanistan besieged by the Taliban and at the mercy of the US blames Pakistan for all its woes and seeks to exploit the India-Pakistan divide and India’s ambitions. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become the target and there is a convergence of interests in the efforts to derail it. There is also perhaps some understanding of the realities in Pakistan; that it has democracy and that this democracy is being supported by the military, that Pakistan is moving towards changing its internal environment in its own interest and that this change will sideline the elements that threaten it, that Pakistan has to move at a pace and with such deliberation that it does not allow exploitation from outside to destabilize it, that it has to focus on internal security and the economy to sustain the efforts it is making without being distracted by external pressures. Pakistan has to keep in mind the endgame and the end state in Afghanistan. It has to monitor the situation in Kashmir across the Line of Control and now with India’s admission of its hand in destabilizing parts of Pakistan it has to counter these efforts even as it orchestrates its resources for security and stability and economic uplift.

This extract from an article by Admiral Vijay Shankar Indian Navy Retired indicates what Pakistan has to prepare for and respond to and how vicious can be the Indian attack on Pakistan ignoring and obfuscating all realities; Prime Minister Modi’s strategic shift to expose atrocities in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Gilgit and for bludgeoning the Baluchistan independence movement provide a pivotal moment to work a change in the UN policy towards Pakistan. India must now direct its diplomatic efforts to bring the USA on board (to some extent this is already happening) and then orient its strategic exertions along three prongs:

  • Politically, orchestrate through the aegis of the UN, isolation of Pakistan from international collaboration and impose sanctions on the military and the ISI in their ability to move freely out of country through the instrument of a UN resolution specific to that country (on the lines of UNSCR 2255 concerning terrorist threat to international peace and security).

  • On the economic and financial fronts; embargo trade with Pakistan except for humanitarian assistance. Terror financing must be traced and cut (UNSCR 1373).

  • On the military front, action must be stepped up targeting terror leadership and infrastructure. In this context for Pakistan to be designated as a “major non-NATO ally in the war on terror” is strange; rather, Pakistan must be placed internationally on the list of sponsors of terrorism.

Pakistan’s strategic calculus has to be debunked on all counts; particularly the conviction that Afghanistan, with the pull out of NATO troops along with the drawdown of US combat forces, once again provides the space for a return to the “happy-days”. It must not be allowed to thrive under the belief that it can be both the legatee of international largesse and cavort with Jihadists. The international community and India have taken some measures to challenge Pakistan; it began with UNSC resolution 1373 in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack which proscribed terrorist organization, to the more recent UNSC resolution 2255 that identifies threats to international security by terrorism. Blockage of military sales, cutting financial aid, calling to attention atrocities in Baluchistan, Gilgit and POK, increased attacks on terror leadership are all representative of these measures. In this context how does one see Pakistan’s all weather friend China respond? The question ought to be: Can China really afford to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds (it appears to be distancing itself from North Korea)? As Indian and U.S. perceptions on terrorism converge and the growing disquiet over Washington’s bottomless and ineffectual aid to Pakistan attains critical mass, India must work vigorously with America and the UN to ensure that “thugs”, in fact, are not “rewarded.””

The Indian Prime Minister has upped the ante by his statements on Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. It is not a coincidence that these regions figure prominently in the CPEC project and in spite of the atrocities mentioned by him being non existent there are those who have jumped on his bandwagon. Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) where unspeakable horrors are being inflicted on the people by India’s security forces empowered with ‘special powers’ is the reason behind Mr Modi’s well thought out utterances and these are in line with India’s overall unfolding strategy against Pakistan. The rage in Pakistan is very real and there are those who link the recent attempt to create chaos in Karachi as part of this strategy. People are fuming and demanding action against the ‘Pakistanis’ who act against state interests and incite hatred — a night with the Rangers in Karachi seems to have delivered results and led to nervous breakdowns. The coming SAARC meeting could have been an ice breaker but both India and Bangladesh have downgraded their representation. Pakistan has shown restraint. It continues to offer dialogue because that is the only way out of the current impasse — not just with India but with Afghanistan too. Pakistan, however, cannot ignore ongoing events and situations and it has to tailor responses with its own interests uppermost — and right now the priority is strengthening itself internally and warding off external threats.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)