The Emerging Alliance

(Hamza Ali, )

By Muhammad Latif

Clouds of mistrust are finally dissipating giving a way to the rays of hope and mutual trust between Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Russia. For a friendly diplomatic relationship in the region it is essential to mobilize its true economic, political and social potential especially for the Central Asian states. The world known diplomatic proverb that “there are no permanent friends or foes in the international politics or relationship” is now fast becoming as true. Non diplomatic and aggressive policies of the Trump administration are proving key to the upcoming change.

Sequel to the 9/11 events, the US invaded Afghanistan ousting the Taliban regime to bring the perpetrators of attacks in the US to the task. Pakistan was forced to join the so called “Global War on Terror”causing hundreds of billions of Dollars’ loss to its economy and over 87,000 lives to its nationals; while injuries are in addition. While the bulk of Pakistan Armed Forces including Pakistan Air Force have remained deployed on its western borders to fight the war of Americans for the last one and a half decades, the successive US administrations have always treated Pakistan with mistrust and rhetoric of “Do More”.Of late, the US has cut $800 million military aid and also withdrawn training facilities to Pakistan Armed Forces. The United States is also influencing world’s monetary organizations to deny any bailout package to Pakistan.

Russia which was once considered a staunch enemy during the Cold War era has gradually opened up to Pakistan. During the past few years there have been frequent exchanges of high level diplomatic and military visits. The Bajwa Doctrine envisages peaceful relationship with its neighbours,especially Afghanistan, Iran and Russia acrossthe Central Asian Republics. While Pakistan Army is already an unwritten guarantor of the CPEC further fortifying Pakistan-China relationship, Pakistan is meeting approximately 70 percent of its defence needs from China. Russia has also gradually opened its defence market to Pakistan, training programs for Pakistan Armed Forces and joint exercises have changed the status of Russia from enemy to a friend and no more a threat to warm waters rather a partner in development of Gwadar Port.

Pakistan is in the process of integrating its Federally Administrative Areas to mainstream abolishing the buffer zone kept by the British Raj to guard against the possible Russian invasion across the Durand Line. Pakistan has also been able to convey its sincerity to promoting peace to the Afghan government. America to its dismay has lost control over the large part of Afghanistan, and the Taliban are controlling over 60-70 percentof Afghanistan. With the mutual agreement Pakistan is also in the process of constructingfence along the Afghan border which will also address the longstanding issue of demarcation of Pak-Afghan international border.

There is also a visible change in relationship between Iran and Pakistan. There is a growing trust level between the two countries. Pakistan has been able to convince Iran that the Taliban are the actual power to be reckoned with in Afghanistan and prolonged stay of Extra Regional Forces in Afghanistan is detrimental to the regional peace and security. Growing US sanctions against Iran are also forcing it to look for diplomatic and economic avenues in the region.

Prime Minster Imran Khan in his opening speech impressed upon the need to have good bilateral relations with all ourneighbours including India. He also offered to begin dialogue on peaceful resolution of long outstanding Kashmir issue. During recent visit of US Secretary of State, to Pakistan it was amply made clear that Pakistan has had enough of its share on “War on Terror” and that there were no terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan and therefore “NO MORE” to “DO MORE”. While addressing Defence andShuhada Day celebrations in the General Headquarters,the Prime Minister assured all ranks of Defence Forces that Pakistan will no more fight for other’s war.

It is a good omen that all elements of National Power, perhaps for the first time in the history of Pakistan, are on one page of each and every issue confronting the nation may it be foreign policy, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, water crises, corruption and so on. In this scenario, when China, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are almost at consensus to solve the Afghan problem through dialogue with Taliban, US will be left with no option but to resume talks with Taliban, the process which the US has probably already initiated.

Let’s hope and pray that Afghan issue is resolved under the umbrella of Regional Powers, peace and prosperity comes back to the region and full potential of the region is utilized to make it truly a Century of Asia. India will be left with no choice to reconcile its policy to accrue benefits of CPEC, regional integration and access to the Central Asian Republicans. Is about time for change?

(The writer is a defence and security analyst based in Islamabad)
 

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