In order to leave behind the thorniest issue between Pakistan and US relations, a formal agreement has been inked on July 31, 2012 to reopen the ground lines of communication (GLOC) for NATO supplies through Pakistan. According to the agreement, US agreed to pay Pakistan $1.8 billion of reimbursements under Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and also will pay $230 customs duty on each container. The latest tug of war ensued at the start of 2011 has resulted in strained relations among the two long term but inconsistent allies. Though both the countries need a middle-way real-politik based policy.[i] But under current circumstances, it is nearly impossible as the divergence of interests is very sheer. Even the situation has deteriorated gravely as the cross-border infiltration is responded by tit for tat.[ii] From tit for tat, it is crystal clear that the attacks from Afghanistan have also soared in number and magnitude. At least 15 cross-border incursions from Kunar and Nuristan into Upper Dir, Bajaur and Chitral, resulting in 105 deaths of Pakistani army and paramilitary forces in the last 12 months or so are reported. Pakistan, though officially protest to Afghan government, but in reality, Afghan affairs are controlled by NATO forces and it can be inferred on the part of Pakistan by looking through the prism of “correspondence inference theory” that the Western forces are behind these attacks either supporting the terrorists or providing them safe passages by ignoring their movements[iii].
The campaign of sowing terror and fear in the minds of people of Pakistan continues. The recent spate of violence against the security forces – beheadings of seven Pakistani soldiers, who were ambushed during a patrol and brazenly executed late June[iv], the slaughter of 14 bus passengers in Orakzai Agency on July 21 or the storming the same day of a Coast Guards unit in the Pushkin area, some 35km from Gwadar, or the July 9 assault on a small army camp on the banks of the river Chenab that left several soldiers dead, the massacre of Hazara community in Quetta (Balochistan) which is sooth of the forthcoming sectarian violence – are all but obvious signs of a calculated campaign to sow terror and create uncertainty across Pakistan.
The cross-border attacks in Upper Dir/Chitral are perceived to be widening the area of operation of the Pakistan Army. Who is actually interested in expanding the theatre for Pakistani security forces? Can it be the countries i.e. the United States, India and Afghanistan who are bothered with the presence of certain militant outfits used by Pakistan as strategic assets[v], including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) alias Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).? Afghan and Pakistani Taliban i.e., the so-called Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are also using the Pakistani soil to wage holy war against ‘foreign occupation’ of Afghanistan. It is commonly alleged that Pakistan has and is still using its “strategic assets” in pursuit of its strategic depth. [vi] But these groups are spoiling US interests in Afghanistan and the divergence of interests has caused the current imbroglio.
Pakistan, or parts of its establishment, believes that front-runners like the LeT and the JeM can keep pricking the Indian security apparatus and keep it at bay as well as bogged down. The same forces also believe that an alliance with, or tolerance, of all those wedded to the ‘liberation of Afghanistan’ serves the country’s long-term strategic interests.
Meanwhile, the World continues to pressurize Pakistan to abandon its policy of achieving its objectives through supporting and sponsoring terrorist groups. These terrorist groups are highly indoctrinated with religious sentiment. The rewards after death makes these irrational terrorists rational and they go to extremes. Can Pakistan be able to tame these radical fanatics? No, it is totally impossible. The result will be that these groups will slit the throats of its own architects. The evolutionary theory of religion shows that religious zealots will contradict with its own leaders and fortune makers if there any sort of difference in theory and practice.[vii]
The writing on the wall is quite clear; India, Kabul and the USA are convinced that such groups constitute an essential part of the instruments that Pakistan Army has deployed to pursue its foreign policy objectives[viii]. As a consequence, there is ever greater unity among the three countries (following Soviet dictum of the enemy of my enemy is my friend) on the issue of countering Pakistan for its “abetment of terrorist forces operating on the western and eastern borders.”
As far as the Pakistani Army and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are concerned, it has no specific long term policy but it seems as its policy changes with day to day happening in the region. It has no clear vision of future relationships with India, USA and Afghanistan and is still playing the cards with realist paradigm. They still maintain, and in this case legitimately, that for Pakistan, Afghanistan is a long-term reality and it cannot frame its policy in the “endgame context.”
The mechanism of foreign policy which Pakistan is following is faulty and the matter of fact is that external casual factors cannot shape foreign policy of any country. It seems that Pakistanis are following Morganthau School (foreign policy is driven by international politics) of thought of foreign policy[ix] with some modifications as it focuses on casual factors as a pivot. As it is clear that Army is the sole source of defining national interests of Pakistan with main focus on India as an enemy, the whole foreign policy of Pakistan is revolving around India as a focus point. If the course remains the same, things are not going to change for better.
Pakistan’s Afghan policy is still grabbed by the future of setup of that very country. Indo-phobia is very much there, countering whom is the sole objectives of Pakistan.[x] The presence of US and India in Afghanistan is not bound to short term interests but it seems to be stationed for long term as the interests of both these states have grown rapidly in the region. The constant presence of these two giants will hamper Pakistan’s “security and political interests.” So, the only option for Pakistan is to come out of rotten realist policies of nineteenth and twentieth century and should stop looking through the prism of ideological differences in dealing with its neighbours. Pakistan has witnessed the failure of such policies time and again in the past, but this time the price of complacency may be daunting.
[i] C. Christine Fair, “Time for sober Realism: Renegotiating U.S. relations with Pakistan”. Available at: http://home.comcast.net/~christine_fair/pubs/Fair_Sober_Realism.pdf (Accessed on July 31, 2012)
[ii] Imtiaz Gul, “The issue of border attacks”, the Express Tribune. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/412931/the-issue-of-border-attacks/ (Accessed on July 31, 2012)
[iii] Pakistan’s Military Chief urges US to curb cross-border incursions”. Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/06/28/248347/pakistan-demands-end-to-border-incursions/ (Accessed on July 31, 2012)
[v] Hussain Haqqani, “Pakistan between Mosque and Military”, Vangaurd Publishers, Lahore, (2005).
[vi] Qandeel Siddique, “The future policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan”, DIIS Report. Available at: http://www.diis.dk/graphics/publications/reports2011/rp2011-08-pakistans-future-policy_web.pdf (Accessed on July 31, 2012).
[vii] Richard Sosis and Candace S. Alcorta, “Militants and Martyrs: Evolutionary Perspective on Religion and Terrorism”, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Available at: http://www.anth.uconn.edu/faculty/sosis/publications/SosisandAlcorta,MilitantsandMartyrsforNaturalSecurity.pdf ( Accessed on July 31, 2012)
[viii] Qandeel Siddique, “The Future Policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan”.
[ix] Hans J. Morganthau, “Politics among Nations”.
[x] Qandeel Siddique,” The Future Policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan”.