It is always a great opportunity and good fortune for a nation to be on the right side of the Great powers. Great in terms of values, systems and people, USA commands huge political and economic clout, that can help build weaker countries and serve the humanity at large. But to be too close to such a power (as we have been) is also quite risky, as any misunderstanding or crossing of interests can wreak havoc on the smaller and weaker erstwhile friends. Because of the deep ingress in the polity and economy of allies, later can create tremendous leverage for the greater power. This is exactly what is happening to Pakistan (and maybe Saudi Arabia).
It may be futile to remind the American people, Pakistan’s roles in SEATO, CENTO, creating bridge to China, Russo Afghan War, etc. But the ongoing Afghan campaign and the price that Pakistani people and armed forces are paying for siding with USA cannot be easily dismissed. And what a great advantage US is contriving by lumping the reasons of their failure in Afghanistan on hapless Pakistan. The Pakistani governments probably went wrong in not establishing a transactional relationship, and in their misplaced sincerity went for emotional links.
Americans can possibly boast of huge tranches of aid and grants afforded to Pakistan, during the history of wavering relations, but that did not bring an iota of change in the social and economic woes of common man. And let us not discuss , here, for the time being , who is to be blamed for that. Anyway this was a short perceptual background that may not be aligned with the thinking of many.
American interests in our region range from stemming the political, military and economic expansion of China and Russia, up to closely watching Iran, Pakistan and CARs for different reasons. Thus their desire to stay in Afghanistan and/or have a strong partner/proxy (with some overlapping interests) in the shape of India, can be easily understood. But in pursuit of these interests dumping longtime partner Pakistan, needs to be reviewed by US Strategists.
Even if America was earnestly planning to leave Afghanistan in a certain timeframe, some new developments in the region (like CPEC etc ) and elsewhere, (like a more assertive Russia) have definitely forced a change in their strategy. After finding a willing partner in the shape of India, prospects look much better for United States , to further her interests in the region. While forging this newly found alliance, American Government and people, probably have not evaluated the genesis of the present Indian Government, that sprouted out of an extremist and terrorist organisation. The ongoing atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir, have been conveniently overlooked by the champions of democracy and human rights. Moreover, in our assessment, the large establishment and polity of India, may soon get disenchanted from their American allies, as they are generally used to a non-aligned and independent approach, at least diplomatically. This time, somewhere in future, Americans may face a reverse phenomenon, when they get dumped by an ally at some critical juncture.
But, looking at the very question of the Congressional Panel, ‘Pakistan is a friend or a foe?’, it seems that the die has been cast. The ensuing expected events would be tightening of conditions (under the American influence) by IMF and World Bank etc, that may put already cash starved economy of our country under severe stress, bordering at sanctions like situation. Most of the western countries are likely to follow suit, that may further aggravate the situation. Such a scenario will further comprehensively push Pakistan in China’s lap and Pak -US alienation will be complete. That would severely curtail our political and economic options, which definitely is not a good omen.
This all happened due to our own diplomatic apathy and sluggishness. When these important developments were taking place, we were totally engrossed in some serious internal turmoils related to high profile corruption and its relationship with terrorism and bad governance. It seems our ambassador in the US and Advisor on Foreign Affairs had no initiative or guts to make efforts, at their own, to foresee and stem such serious developments. It is suggested that even now, before the train of follow up events, get unleashed against Pakistan, diplomacy should be given a fillip. This would be a hard ball game for Pakistan, and definitely outside the ability and limited dynamism of present Foreign Affairs team. A brand new dynamic and effective group with foreign affairs professional background, well versed with American Systems and enough initiative may retrieve the situation. The American side is also suggested, in our humble capacity, to review this big shift in their policy before it crosses the rubicon.
If America wants stable Afghanistan and aspire to remain perched peacefully at this vantage position to supervise all military, economic and political activities of half the world, they will need Pakistan. Only we, can help them restore peace in Afghanistan (provided they listen to us), and evolve a balanced political dispensation. The American desire that CPEC remains ONLY an economic corridor and American interests are not threatened can only be ensured by the balancing act of Pakistan. Another important factor worth considering is that there is no other country like Pakistan, with a stronger resolve to fight terrorism. Weakening Pakistan to an extent of creating splinters (Allah Forbid) will greatly add to the difficulties for the world as that ominous eventuality, would reinforce extremism and unleash stronger terrorist forces. The role that a strong Pakistan can play in restoring Middle East order may also be considered. On the other hand the role that US can play to help resolve our long standing issues with respect to India and Afghanistan cannot be over emphasised.
Let us leave the above paras loaded, as they are, without going into further details.
Suggestion for the great powers, if they like to listen to smaller entities, is to help Pakistan and other turmoil ridden countries in maintaining solidarity and enabling the governments to institute good governance and Human Resource Development. Listen to the proposals of smaller countries like Pakistan, in tackling the political issues of the regions first, and then if appropriate also of the Muslim world. The recently instituted concept of unilateralism, self assigned right of preemptive intervention, concocted by one great power is being mimicked by some medium sized powers also, with grave consequences for world peace.
No doubt the US is a great country but Pakistan in its own right is an important country that may not be taken lightly. Cooperative rather than adversarial relationship is likely to produce win win situation for US, Pakistan, region and the world. Let us rebuild the broken trust and not dump the responsibilities of the failures of the two sides on each other.