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Our hearts go out to the families of the recently martyred senior police officer and his subordinates in Quetta in expressing our deepest condolences with a sense of personal loss. May God bless the departed souls with eternal peace and their loved ones fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. The brave soldiers and members of the LEAs are undoubtedly committed to defend the people at whatever cost. The resolve is indeed the zenith of bravery for which the nation is proud of them. However, at the same time, it is incumbent on the political and military leadership to huddle together to figure out a coherent political strategy, devoid of strong arms tactics, to get Balochistan out of vicious violence that has been besieging the province far too long. The focus of this strategy may be to reach out to the dissidents and engage them in dialogue with sincerity and commitment that should be seen as walking the talk in letter and spirit. The half-hearted attempts may not succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the people. For dialogues major confidence measures (CBMs) may be taken before hand aimed at engaging the entire political leadership of the province in particular considering stalemate is no more an option.
PPP previous government’s landmark achievements like 7th National Finance Award substantially increasing financial resources, 18th Amendment giving provincial autonomy and Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan, were instrumental in addressing their political and economic deprivations to an extent thus paving the way for durable solution measurable to the aspirations of the people. But, unfortunately the momentum could not be maintained by the successor governments though the provincial government seemed keen to follow the trajectory but has not yet succeeded in making qualitative difference on the ground. However, it may continue its quest on pro-active basis because the political means can achieve that cannot be imagined to be achieved through the military means.
At the national level, the security and foreign policies’ chart, ironically, falls short of legitimate expectations of the nation. The narrative like’ strategic depth’ has become the albatross of current security and foreign policies paradigm. Our relations with our neighbours have been on the downward spiral and the turnaround seems as elusive as ever because movers and shakers continue to see redemption in the unabated application of Einstein’s theory of misplaced repetition -- sticking to the same approach pitiably hoping propitious results. The US has been fuming on us and has warned to come clean or else face the consequences leading to hurting the long standing strategic partnership. The recent Brics Declaration, a consortium of emerging big economies which included China and India, have also declared Pakistan based proscribed organisations as danger to the peace and security of the region and beyond. Former distinguished Foreign Secretary, Riaz Muhammad Khan, recently while addressing a gathering in Washington maintained that Mumbai attack, allegedly masterminded by Lashkr-i-Tyabba, had harmed the Kashmir cause the most giving credence to the Indian allegation of Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terrorism. It also drew unprecedented international opprobrium on Pakistan along with ruining the image of the country. The abhorrent incident also derailed the process of much desired Structured Dialogue Process between India and Pakistan which was moving in the right direction slowly but steadily.
Despite the frightening piling up of failures of our policies the state institutions are seldom pushed to embrace paradigm shift to infuse new dynamism in the policies in order to reverse the vicious cycle of consecutive mortifications. They are continuing to tread on the beaten tracks to continue the jinx the chronology of which is filled in myriad embarrassments of appalling proportion. The zero sum game pursuit may not give this nation sigh of relief of peace, security and economic prosperity. Their state of denial thwarts them to appreciate and follow the new approach to get the country out of the holes of diplomatic isolation and strive for restoring the credibility that has been hurt to the hilt. Sadly, the international community is not prepared to appreciate and recognise the country’s unprecedented contributions and successes against extremism and terrorism despite our lungs-out clamouring to the effect. The perception of our double-speak has offset the due credit as the world is standing on the other side of the equation to our utter frustration turning into the helplessness. Pakistan has not been able to address the credibility gap as the world gives cold shoulder to our stance on issues of extremism and terrorism. The presentation of credible evidences of foreign interference in Balochistan has not moved the international community much in our favour at the international forums.
Our unwillingness to revisit the policies has also given impetus to India to successfully divert the world attention from the brutal human rights violations perpetrated by its security forces in IHK.
The Indian projection of Pakistan’s involvement to create unrest in the Valley may not have won the international support to the desired level but it has certainly succeeded in winning the support among the countries those disarmed Pakistani delegates when they visited the world capitals to highlight human rights violations in the Indian held Kashmir. India projected through aggressive diplomacy that Indian Kashmir violence was perpetrated by the non-state actors with the alleged support of Pakistan. The world may be with India in this count because proscribed organisations based in Pakistan have been continuing their activities with impunity giving credence to the Indian position. The activities of the proscribed organisations in this country in the full glare of media send across numerous loud and clear negative signals to the annoyance of the Pakistan government: first, civilian government is scared of taking them on upfront, second, the powers that be are still supporting them to use them as cat paw, third, civil-military are not on the same page. How come the international community gets serious towards us in the face of this perception?
Pakistani people may have suffered a lot and this ordeal may not come to an end till the time the legitimate forum, Parliament, does not take the charge of the formulation and implementation of policies under public scrutiny. The hijacking of the policies has landed the nation in successive national embarrassments and indignities like of 1971, Siachin’s occupation, Kargil debacle, Abbottabad embarrassment, numerous attacks on very sensitive defence installations by terrorists etc. The American Seals inserted deep into the country without the knowledge of the concerned authorities and went back after killing OBL in Abbottabad. But those responsible were never brought to justice. The much publicised Abbottabad Commission report has not been made public and may meet the same fate like all other Commission reports.
Today, Afghanistan has totally turned against us and has rather become the spokesman of India. The country has made it clear that it would not join CPEC if Pakistan failed to agree to provide transit facilities to India. It means that the Central Asian Republics may not get access to the outside world through CPEC because Afghanistan is not prepared to serve as a conduit state. Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan may also be thing of the past in the not too distant future because the country has sought the alternative routes via Iran bypassing Pakistan. The Chabahar port developed with the assistance of India is now being used by Afghanistan as an alternative route. The air corridor between India and Afghanistan has also making significant strides toward connectivity between the two countries resulting surge in trade activities at the expense of Pakistan. Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been on the decline because of the policies based on giving priority to dreamy geo-political interests over the available geo-economic interests. The policies have reinforced the double disadvantages: both geo-political and geo-economic interests remain a pipe dream as the regional developments have overtaken leaving us behind high and dry.
Pakistan’s geographical assets may become redundant at the altar of the geo-political interests. The culmination of the geo-political interests ironically remains a distant cry because a lot of waters have flown under the bridges. The policies have doubly straight-jacketed the country -- neither the geo-political nor the geo-economic interests have come to fruition. The capitalisation on the geo-political location could have brought immense economic benefits for the people including leverage over the countries those have been desperately looking for availing themselves the transit facilities within the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan. India is using Afghanistan against Pakistan that speaks volumes of the miserable state of affairs of country’s policies towards a brotherly Muslim country. Afghanistan has gone to the extent of banning the entry of our trucks inside its country. The policy has reduced our trade to a staggering level and the vacuum is being filled swiftly by Iranian and Indian goods. What is the use of remaining glued to the failed policies undercutting the country from both ends?
Connectivity brings prosperity and isolation poverty as rightly maintained by Dr Ishrat Hussain in his recent article further adding economic strength should be the pillar of security and foreign policy. China, great friend of Pakistan, is on the verge of becoming the superpower only because it has emerged as “economic powerhouse” of the world. Pakistan may follow Chinese model to emerge as an economic power to be reckoned with. China gave preference to geo-economic interests. China is a remarkable success story of economic prosperity. Today, the USA is luring the country to seek its partnership. This is the physical manifestation of miracles of economic power as a pillar of security and foreign policy. The Soviet Union collapsed because it opted for geo-political interests in the first place and the resultant implosion. Pakistan’s policy planners may take the leaf from the history of USSR collapse and China and revisit policies in order to give promising future to the people of Pakistan who deserve a better deal, after all.