The results of our involvement in foreign entanglements is well known. The 50,000 Pakistanis whose lives are no more. The cries of mothers. The blood that will forever stain the streets no matter how much we try to wash it away. The toll that has been levied against us has brought us to the current situation in which the government has decided to continue trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution with anti-Pakistan militants despite the fact that the very same militants have said they are not interested in peace. It is easy to point fingers at Musharraf for agreeing to cooperate with the US in their ‘War on Terrorism’, but we can’t stop there.
In pursuit of ‘strategic depth’ and ‘strategic alliances’, we have actually made the nation less secure. The CIA may have provided money and supplies for the Afghan mujahideen during the 1980s, but it was our own agencies that actually delivered those supplies and provided the training and operation support that built the Taliban into the force that it is today.
The idea then was the same as it is today: Pakistan enjoys a strategic location lends it a privileged position among world powers, and clever manipulation of regional powers will provide ‘strategic depth’ for national security. Despite having suffered the most from these delusions, they continue to guide our foreign policy.
Air Marshal (retd) Khurshid Anwar Mirza put pen to paper recently and laid out this pipe dream fully:
To sum up, the world is heading for multi-polarity once again. If anything, it will suit Pakistan better than the unipolar world. Pakistan’s strategic location in a most sensitive region lends it a great importance. Both the blocs would tend to woo Pakistan. China is our closest ally – we must develop even closer relationship with China which is keen to help us develop North-South trade corridor (as part of Silk-route) all the way to Gwadar port. It will provide shortest route to Indian Ocean to the landlocked Central Asia and West China.
In the multi-polar world, India would be hard put to maintain its strategic relationship with the USA, while keeping close friendly ties with Russia. If it comes to choosing between the two, it would obviously prefer the USA. Pakistan should capitalise on that opportunity and make amends with Russia. Of course, our long historic ties with the USA and the West must continue but more at a transactional level. The pivot of our foreign policy must be to enhance strategic ties with China and further strength our relationship with the Muslim world.
The unipolar world of the USA is breathing its last. The Indo-Israel nexus (capitalising on their US strategic partnership) would no longer be able to pose an existential threat that it had particularly been posing over the past decade. Arabs and Iranian confrontation, though very unfortunate for the unity of Muslim world, yet paradoxically, may not adversely affect Pakistan, as both sides, would seek to further their friendly ties with Pakistan. Pakistan, being friendly to all, is well placed to maintain its neutrality, among the Arabs, the Iranians and the Turks – each carrying historic baggage of mutual distrust.
In other words, Pakistan can take all sides and even benefit from regional wars. What is obvious lunacy is being accepted as strategy!
Meanwhile, at home, our clever strategists are continuing to hold onto the well worn belief that there are ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’ despite the fact that they all have the same goal in mind.
Analysts believe the Pakistani security establishment’s warning was meant to dissuade the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban from siding with the Pakistani Taliban in their conflict with the state of Pakistan at a time when the Allied forces are set to withdraw from Afghanistan and both the Afghan militia groups would require the crucial support of Islamabad to stage a comeback in Kabul. In fact, the ultimate agenda of the Pakistani Taliban is the establishment of their own state — the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan [on the pattern of Mullah Omar’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] in Fata where they can impose the Islamic Shariah. On the other hand, the ultimate agenda of the Afghan Taliban is the revival of the lost Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Therefore, following the Pakistani establishment’s warning, Mullah Omar will have to decide whether to befriend the Pakistani Taliban or the state of Pakistan. Commander Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Haqqani Network is bound to follow suit being a disciple of Mullah Omar just like the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban. Well informed sources in the establishment say logically speaking Mullah Omar would like to remain a friend of Pakistan instead of inviting its wrath by befriending the TTP.
However, there are those in the Taliban circles who believe that if the Afghan Taliban succeed in regaining power in Kabul after the withdrawal of the Allied troops, there would be greater chances of their joining hands with the Pakistani Taliban whose aims and objectives and those of the Ameerul Momineen are the same.
The military may believe that they can ‘warn’ Mullah Omar, but what threat can they make if the Taliban leader is already watching Pakistan buckle to the TTP? Side with us or face the wrath of the Pakistan military…just like TTP who playing the Pakistani state like a fool? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. It’s time to stop having an insane national security strategy, or we will continue to reap the same reward.