Pakistan not facing isolation anymore

(Sardar Fauzia Saleem Niazi, Islamabad)

The question whether Pakistan is really being isolated needs a fair answer. Somehow successful propaganda has been made to give an impression that the Afghanistan-India collaboration has managed to paint Pakistan black in and outside of the United States. Major role in this connection has been played by a video of Hussain Haqqani that is viral on social media these days. Recently, HH has joined with the Indian lobby to tarnish the image of Pakistan. Moreover, since April when Congress obstructed the Obama administration’s plans to spend $430 million through the US foreign military financing budget to subsidize the sale of F-16 fighter jets, there has been a continuous decline in US-Pakistan relations.

Despite all this, Pakistan is fairly managing well to assert itself in the international diplomatic circles. Though the propaganda is not being given a befitting response because of lack of capacity and capability, yet it is beginning the pace with the Prime Minister’s comeback after the open-heart surgery in London. The Prime Minister staged his comeback with his sojourn to Muzaffarabad after the PML-N victory in the elections. The next day there was a marathon meeting of the National Security Council in which the issues of national interest were discussed threadbare, including Indian atrocities in the Occupied Kashmir. The Prime Minister hurled a warning to India calling upon New Delhi to eschew the path of barbarity on the unarmed innocent youth of IOK, followed by a harsh reaction from the Indian side.

On July 25 he telephoned President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and while condemning the Sunday bombings of the ethnic minority Hazara’s rally, he offered all kind of help in its investigations. Before him, reliable sources were quoted as saying that the Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and condemned the Kabul rally bombings, offering all kind of help in the investigations. The President thanked both Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif for their concern and stressed upon the need to act together against the terrorists.

Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif went to China for more investments and enhanced bilateral relations. The Chinese have started using a term “Punjab Speed” as a role model, not only for morale boosting of workers but also to motivate them to accomplish their assigned tasks in the extraordinary way he is doing in the Punjab province. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua carried Prime Minister’s special message to Tehran. While positively responding, the Iranian government assured Pakistan that it would not allow a third country to sabotage relations between the two friendly neighbours. They stressed the need of the hour that Iran and Pakistan must design a joint mechanism to thwart the threat and take measures to deal with the new security situation.

On the other hand Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif dashed to Cairo on a two-day official visit, where the Egyptian government sought Pakistan’s help to transfer expertise and training techniques for fighting terrorists, which manifests successes of the all encompassing Zarb-e-Azb operation. Gen Raheel met the Egyptian Defence Minister and Chief of Staff separately after his arrival in Cairo and both sides vowed to synergize all efforts and resources to fight and eliminate terrorism. Egyptian leaders expressed specific interest in benefiting from Pakistan Army’s experience in all facets of fighting terrorism including countering IEDs.

Recently a high-powered US delegation led by Senator John McCain visited Pakistan and met General Raheel Sharif at his Rawalpindi Headquarters. The delegation also visited the Waziristan areas of operation. Senator McCain expressed his pleasure and appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to fight out terrorists. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, has forcefully highlighted the issue of Kashmir before the world body.

The PAF Chief was recently on the visit of Russia on the invitation of the Russian Defence industry. Obviously such visit invitation is a hint that Russian defence and aviation industry is opening up its products for Pakistan. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman visited the Air Base and Aviation Industrial Complex in Moscow and monitored performance of modern fighter jets and other important military hardware. He was briefed about the role and tasks of Russian Air Force and was shown various aircraft on its inventory. He highlighted the significance of having mutual training programs and conduct of Operational Exercises of the two Air Forces to benefit from each other’s experiences.

Later, he met the aviation industry hierarchy of Russia for exploring multiple options with special regard to enhancing cooperation in technical fields. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman also called on Colonel-General Victor Bondarev, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation Aerospace Force, and discussed matters of professional and mutual interest. Both agreed for increasing bilateral cooperation in particular and Aviation industry in general, and boosting aviation technology jointly.

Emerging geopolitical dynamics in the region have also witnessed cordial relations between Pakistan and Russia in various fields including the defence sector. Russia and Pakistan had bitter relations in the past, dating back to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan when Pakistan was allying with the US and West against the Russian onslaught. However, with the changing geopolitics, Pakistan and Russia have come close to each other with Russia gradually opening up its defence industry for Pakistan. Bilateral visits of the highest level defence dignitaries of both the states have taken place in the recent past. Russia is delivering Pakistan with the state of the art Mi35 combat helicopters and the defence collaboration between the two states is likely to be enhanced further in coming days. Pakistan Air Force has also shown interest in the latest Russian Su-30 Fighter Jets.

The holding of crucial meeting of the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States in the Afghan capital on July 26 was to flesh out an agreement aimed at improving coordination between the border security forces of the two neighbours. The move came on the heels of a border flare-up last month over the installation of a security gate. Pakistan remains firm on its efforts to manage the border on its side to check the crossing over of the terrorists from Afghanistan’s side.

The success of Zarb-e-Azb operation and the firm and bold stand of General Raheel Sharif has played a pivotal role in giving a rethink towards Pakistan. Those who have not been in talking terms are ready to forge alliance with the army or benefit from its experiences to tackle the menace of terrorism. Saudi Arabia reportedly went to an extent by offering Gen Raheel to accept the slot of the commander of joint Islamic forces after his retirement. One is hopeful that if all is not well, then all is not unwell. If there is disappointment, then there lies hope also. Pakistan needs to gear up its diplomatic efforts in order to highlight to the world the Indian atrocities in Held Kashmir, effectively and resourcefully.

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