In times of mayhem strong allies are a crucial survival factor. And if you are a country with geostrategic position like Pakistan there will be many who will want to befriend you. Yet one has to choose sides wisely in wars. Pakistan currently is in a complicated web of international relations. Where our enemies are residing right next door and our friend-with-benefits presumably USA is a little more than an ocean away. However USA and Pakistan have a mutual friend i.e. Turkey that is both wise and also relates with us on religious grounds. Another of our benevolent friends that has done nothing but help us in desperate needs is China. Now China knows the importance of strategic position of Pakistan even more than Pakistanis do. They are wise people, followers of Confucius, Sun Tzu and Dalai Lama. Sun Tzu in his book The Art of War said: “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Chinese know their enemy quite well and they know their friends even better.
In the midst of all these healthy relationships is our love-hate relationship with Iran. Iran is our Muslim brother but the one like Mufasa had in The Lion King. It is a strong country and on the path to becoming the next super power of Muslim world after Pakistan. And with its newly formed strategic relationship with USA, it might get there in short time. Of course USA will aid its new love because they know if you can’t beat them, join them. Quite interestingly, the long-distance relationship between USA and Pakistan got even better since USA decided to come live next doors in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the tragic part of this relationship is the love triangle that Pakistan tends to get into when choosing between China and USA. A benevolent lover and a friend-with-benefits. One knows the jealousy prevailing in love triangles and how it can disrupt anything productive.
Pakistan can never forget its ex though. No matter how much both of them want to set things straight and move on in their lives there’s always something reminding them of the tragic break-up and its aftermath. Then like a lingering dispute on the ownership of a house during divorce, Kashmir was left behind by our elders i.e. British. It is perplexing to think why the elders would leave out one single property when dividing all the assets. Why not get done with the matter once and for all. Oh well, one can never understand the wisdom behind decisions made by our elders. Anyhow India, another super-power, is our ex that can never move on. India is like the ex that will always be stalking you, criticizing everything you do in life, depreciate every achievement and make the world hate you by propagating her tantrums.
Our relationship with big brother Saudi Arabia is like being a low-born in a royal family more likely an adopted one. Pakistan, rather Pakistanis, get aid from Saudi Arabia we are obliged by everything that big brother does for us. However, it is unknown if everything it does for us is in our benefit or not.
Now another block consisting of our Muslim brothers is in turmoil. Arab Spring, a supposedly revolutionary movement to bring positive changes in the region, has kind of backfired. The region is far from any development, instead suffers from terrorism, food crisis, grave war crimes, genocides and other atrocities. Schools, hospitals and civilian residential areas are being bombed by who-knows-who. Libya, once a flourishing, zero-interest backed, economy is now in ruins. Egypt a heaven for tourists has still not regained its composure after the revolution. And then we have Syria facing the most gruesome aftereffects of the Arab Spring by losing more than 40% of its land to terrorist organizations. It is however interesting to note how the Arab Spring led to history’s greatest immigrant crisis. Bet Europe didn’t see that coming.
Concluding the international love-hate affairs it may be stated that Pakistan will have a tough time choosing sides if the world comes down to World War III. Reason being that Russia, China, Syria and Iran notably will be on one side. These countries will be significant due to the strong leadership they possess that might make good strategic war decisions. India, Turkey, USA, Iraq, Afghanistan and big brother Saudi Arabia will be on the other side. Pakistan with its unique geostrategic location, natural resources, growing economy, 60% young population, nuclear power, greatest armed forces and strong leadership (a little satire doesn’t kill) will be like a pretty damsel with suiters lining up. What will the maiden prioritize while choosing her suiter? Wealth, power, status, wisdom or trustworthiness and credibility? That will be a tough one.
With hopes that the world will never come down to World War III let us all indulge in the great real-life Game of Thrones.