The diplomatic standoff with Afghanistan highlights exactly why Pakistan needs a foreign minister

Pakistan can no longer afford to descend into the quagmire of terrorism and extremism

Afghanistan has long been the battleground of competing interests for mighty states. The war has spilled innocent blood. The misfortune of Afghanistan is its adjoining border with the Central Asian Republic states, with abundant natural and mineral resources. These all states are landlocked, at the mercy of Pakistan and Iran, having no coastal area.

The Unites States extended its presence in Afghanistan, despite the end of the so-called war on terror in 2014. In the meantime, Russia also revitalized its perennial agenda of penetrating into Afghanistan to reach the warm waters as well as maintaining hegemony across the Eurasian plate.

Winning the trust of Afghan’s top brass has been the top-most priority of Pakistan; already the eastern side of Pakistan’s frontier faces skirmishes. Pakistan cannot afford to let go of its porous western side on account of increasing Indian tentacles in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan share commonality of religion, history, tribe and culture. Each state possesses strategic interests which are pretty intertwined with each other.

The Taliban regime was overthrown after 9/11. However, with reference to the contemporary scenario, it shows that war on terror seems to be a perpetual phenomenon on part of the US, because it is yet resorting to aerial strikes not only in Afghanistan but reportedly also in the north-west of Pakistan. This aerial shelling has already gulped thousands of civilian’s lives.

In the absence of literacy rate and grim situation of employment opportunity, the bitter feelings of the aggrieved Afghans take them to combat the foreign forces in reprisal. Thus, the militia of Taliban and other militant outfits frequently get strengthened. In addition, the presence of Da’ish elements in Afghanistan has further heightened the security threat and concern for regional actors.

The Resolute Support Mission deployed in Afghanistan has 13,000 Nato troops, including 8,400 of the US. Continuous retention of US forces in Afghanistan brings forth two suspicions; one is to keep a vigil on the resources of Central Asian countries and the other is to contain China from dual ends of its eastern and western frontiers.

Afghanistan was recently brought to a big blow after the momentous terrorist attack on Afghan soldiers, vehemently condemned by Pakistan. This was preceded by the unprecedented enormous strike of the US. The defence minister and army chief of Afghanistan tendered resignation over their failure to protect the lives of the civilians and soldiers. Nevertheless, the US is attempting to provide aid to the nascent democracy and rudimentary armed forces, which has a lofty rate of desertion. Due to frequent occurrence of terrorist attacks on civilians and soldiers, it appears as democracy of the state is structural rather than functional.

The peace dialogue was once initiated by Pakistan to bring reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The US and China were invited to support Pakistan’s initiation of dialogue process for reviving peace, stability and security across the region. The civilian and military brass of Pakistan expressed unanimity of the policy towards Afghanistan to do so. Despite repeated trials by Pakistan and China to restore peace in Afghanistan, the objective could not be achieved. However, the recent initiation of the same process by Russia is an omen of good fortune.

On the other hand, India has always been fomenting and sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. This can be realized from the fact that Indian premier publicly declared that he would isolate Pakistan by lobbying against and by promoting unrest in Balochistan for declaring it to be a terrorist state. Pakistan remained amicable despite the looming sword of Indian belligerency. In the face of such crises, the lacunae of foreign minister in Pakistan can also not be ruled out.

More importantly, Pakistan can no longer afford to descend into the quagmire of terrorism and extremism. Because, the country is recipient of such a huge foreign investment from China which is better enough to make sure of infrastructural development, elimination of energy crisis, effective communication and regional connectivity. Likewise, regional connectivity has become a concern for Pakistan on account of its geo-strategic location and existence of energy-rich Central Asian states at its proximity.

Even though, the development energy projects such as TAPI, CASA and IPI have never been possible for Pakistan hitherto to various security challenges and complexity of relationship with the neighboring states. But, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) entails predominant significance for maintaining regional connectivity where the bloc of China, Pakistan and Russia is soon going emerge. Certainly, this could prove better for regional connectivity of Eurasian plate.

Under the rise and shine of CPEC project, Pakistan should bring in the intermediary services of Russia and China to ensure peaceful Afghanistan. In this way, the convergence of diplomatic and politico-economic policies would happen in Pakistan to offset external threats and also to ameliorate socio-economic health. The issue of terrorism is the same as being faced by Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. This can never be dealt with until and unless the convergence of state-to-state, military-to-military and intelligence sharing are made sure of.

Further, Pakistan should ask Beijing to extend the gas pipeline to Pakistan; coming from the Central Asian states to China, in reciprocity. Because, Russia has pledged with India that Pakistani LNG pipeline of gas supply will subsequently be turned to India for future prospects. China is believed to be a fast growing oil and gas importer. It is estimated to be the largest importer of energy by 2030 in the world.

Moreover, the boots of Foreign Minister need to be filled at the earliest with a reputed, able man to put the wheels of think-tanks into actions. Soft Power of the country should also flourish. The US may likely increase arbitral aerial strikes in Pakistan after emergence of war-mongering leadership, since the US is maximizing defensive budget by nine per cent to retain its stranglehold across the globe. However, restoration of strikes should not be allowed by Pakistan by nook and by crook. The role Russia and China need to be welcomed to deal with the crisis of cynical aerial blitzing in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan could not be made strengthened under prevalence of Indian factor. India is predominantly investing in Afghanistan which is impediment on the way of Pak-Afghan relationship. So Pakistan may need to continue keeping the diplomatic door of rapprochement opened with Afghanistan for bringing all complexities to an end.

Relationship with Iran bears paramount importance in terms of energy and diplomacy. Pak-Iran relationship could be strengthened by making effective diplomacy by Pakistan to drain away doubts and Indian sway. By doing so, Pakistan would be able to ensure regional connectivity, stability and peace, imperative for CPEC and the region in particular.

Khurram Sajjad

Khurram Sajjad

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt