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November 28, 2018

Superpowers and security dynamics

Opinion

November 28, 2018

Pakistan has suffered the most in the war on terror, contributed towards curbing terrorism to a great extent, and adopted relentless efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. That’s why the claim made by US President Donald Trump that America had stopped assistance to Pakistan because it did not do a “damn thing” for the US and the insinuation that everybody was aware of Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan are regrettable to say the least.

Our civilian and military leadership has rightly rejected his assertions, reminding him of the losses suffered by the country and underscored the fact that the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden was provided by its own authorities.

Pakistan’s refusal to bow down before the coercive antics of the US, and its efforts to tell the country and its allies that it has already done enough and it is now their turn to act, reflects the country’s uncompromising sense of pride. The reality is that Pakistan wasn’t fighting the war on terror for US money. It only wanted earnest recognition for the efforts that it has made to tackle terrorism.

Our country remains committed to continued engagement with the US to tackle terrorism and finding an amicable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The position taken by Pakistan in the wake of these threats is beyond reproach.

But the dilemma is that no matter what Pakistan does, the US and its allies aren’t going to give credence to its claims because they want to remain in Afghanistan for an indefinite period and keep the region consigned to instability. I have persistently maintained that Pakistan would have to brace itself for a permanent US presence in Afghanistan. An exit from Afghanistan doesn’t fit into their scheme of priorities in the context of global politics.

The question is: why does the US want to remain in Afghanistan and foment instability in the region? This can be best explained in the context of the country’s global designs and strategies. The emergence of China as an economic powerhouse and a military power is perceived to be a grave threat to the global interests of the US and its stature as the only superpower.

Economists believe that China will become the leading economic power of the world by 2050 if its economy continues to grow at the same speed. It may also become a formidable military power, which isn’t acceptable to the US and its Western allies whose economic and strategic interests are inextricably linked with America’s global interests.

This factor is the determinant of the China containment policy. US strategists believe that China can be prevented from becoming the leading economic and military power if it could be confined to operate from the South China Sea for an outlet to the outside world. They believe that China could even be denied that access by blocking the Strait of Malacca, which was a narrow waterway for connectivity with the Indian Ocean and beyond. The presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea and, of late, the arrival of British naval ships in the region bolstered Indian naval strength and are strong portents to corroborate those designs.

They view the One Belt One Road initiative as the potential determinant of making China the world’s leading economic and military power. This is particularly true for CPEC, which will provide China with the shortest and the safest access to the Gulf countries from where it obtains oil to run industrial machines. CPEC will also help China to send out its products to other continents in the shortest possible time. In addition, China, the US and its allies also want to make sure that Russia is also not allowed to become a credible threat to US interests and its status as the leading power of the world.

The best bet for the US and its allies is to thwart the successful implementation of CPEC, which is purported to establish connectivity between South Asia and the Central Asian States through Afghanistan. They are, therefore, determined to keep Afghanistan volatile and scuttle the chances of an Afghan-led reconciliation – though they only pretend to do so to hoodwink the world. They have chosen India as an ally in this regard. Unfortunately, the Indians have accepted the role of importing instability in the region, unmindful of the fact that they could in the long run also find themselves stuck in the quicksand that they are trying to create.

Indian attempts to foment insurgency and sponsor acts of terrorism in the country are part of this plan. Due to its geographical location, Pakistan has a pivotal position with regard to the success of CPEC and OBOR. That’s why Pakistan is being put under pressure and deliberate attempts are in the offing to promote instability within its territory and in Afghanistan.

China and Russia are surely seized of the matter and are making strenuous efforts to strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that apart from ensuring economic linkages and partnerships, also provides an effective security apparatus to neutralise the impact of US machinations and strategy in the region without entering into formal alliances. For China, the success of the SCO as well as CPEC is important to realise its full potential for its own prosperity as well as share it with other countries in the region and attain the status of the world’s leading power.

One-fourth of the world’s population lives in countries that are members of the SCO. With the CPEC countries joining the SCO, it could create linkages among half of the global population, which promises infinite avenues for economic prosperity. Pakistan can become the hub of this activity by translating that potential into reality through providing connectivity between the SCO and CPEC.

In the prevailing scenario, Pakistan has both internal and external security threats. The external threats can be mitigated with the support of regional countries through the SCO platform. The internal security challenges – which, to some extent, also have an external dimension – can be tackled through the unrelenting pursuance of operations unleashed against terrorist elements and securing borders to prevent the cross-border movement of terrorists, even though it has to be done unilaterally.

One thing that needs to be understood is that security doesn’t only entail military strength. It involves dealing with the challenges that confront us. There are a host of other factors that contribute towards strengthening the country’s security. These include political stability; good governance that ensures justice without discrimination; human security; food security; health security; energy security; human-resource development; and redressing the social faultlines that promote extremism and sectarianism. It is time for those who are privileged to run the affairs of the country and state institutions to realign their priorities that can help achieve the foregoing objectives.

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Email: [email protected]

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