Pakistan and US must work together

by Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The continued violations of the ceasefire agreement 2003 by India, which last year claimed 54 civilian lives and inflicted injuries on 254 of them besides a number of casualties of the Pakistan army personnel, is a calculated attempt to achieve two objectives. One is in the context of Indo-Pak relations premised on the conflict in Kashmir and the other is to promote and support US strategic interests in the region.

Keeping the LOC hot is meant to divert the attention of the world from Indian atrocities and the excessive use of force by her security forces in occupied Kashmir and also to portray the freedom struggle as terrorism which sells easily in the permeating international environment. The Indian government has invariably claimed after its own triggered clashes along the ceasefire line that those killed on its side of the line were the terrorists trying to infiltrate the IHK to carry out acts of terrorism. Unfortunately the US has been endorsing the Indian claims and putting pressure on Pakistan instead of getting the Kashmir issue resolved in conformity with UN regulations.

Looking the other way by US and its allies in regards to the situation in Kashmir is actually a reward to India for serving their strategic and commercial interests in the region. The US is trying to prop up India as a regional super power and a counter weight to the burgeoning Chinese influence in the region and beyond. US and India are on one page to thwart CPEC which they perceive as a threat to their interests. The signing of a nuclear deal with India by US and subsequently by UK and France in complete disregard to the NPT clauses and manoeuvering of NSG waiver for her is also a reward for India for doing the US bidding in the region, which incidentally also serves the Indian designs to establish its hegemony in the region.

It is perhaps pertinent to point out that in the backdrop of the announcement of new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia by Trump and the tweet by him in which he adopted a hostile posture against Pakistan, the Indians have also upped the ante against her. The latest threat by the Indian army chief to Pakistan coinciding with killing of the Pakistani soldiers by Indian firing along the LOC is a ranting testimony to the attempts by India to put Pakistan under pressure at a time when the Pak-US relations had hit the rock bottom. Inebriated by its military might and the support of US and its western allies, India has become a warlike state not realising the dreadful consequences of this kind of posturing against Pakistan as well as China who are not only her neighbours but also nuclear powers.

Keeping the LOC hot is meant to divert the attention of the world from Indian atrocities and the excessive use of force by her security forces in occupied Kashmir

The US also needs to consider the consequences of its policies in the region. By destabilising the region it would also be hurting its own strategic interests. Pakistan has been a US ally since early fifties and in spite of US betrayals has played a very significant role in the war against terror as a front line state. Ninety thousand casualties and loss of $120 billion is too heavy a price to pay for a third world country like Pakistan. Instead of putting it under pressure the way the Trump administration has chosen to do is against the norms regarding conduct of interstate relations, particularly an ally.

The US has all along been blaming Pakistan of double dealing without understanding the ground realities and the complexity of the situation which required serious engagement between Pakistan and the US. Her ally India has also been promoting acts of terrorism in Pakistan and the dossiers of corroborative evidence have not only been handed over to the UN but also the US leadership. But regrettably the Indians are getting away with their state terrorism due to a deliberate indifference shown by US and her western countries.

The US is wrong in choosing the path of continued military confrontation in Afghanistan and punishing Pakistan for its own failures in that country. The peace in Afghanistan and elimination of the phenomenon of terrorism from the region are only possible through meaningful cooperation between US and Pakistan duly supported by the regional countries like Russia, China and Iran who along with Pakistan are biggest stakeholders in the regional peace to further the objective of shared economic prosperity. The US also must review assigning of increased role to India in Afghanistan as it would not only be acceptable to Pakistan but also the Taliban who also regard India as an enemy.

Peace in Afghanistan is not possible without involvement of Pakistan and the latter cannot be coerced to succumb to the unreasonable and unrealistic US demands. That is what has already happened in the backdrop of the Trump tweet. The military and civilian leadership of the country has taken a very firm stand on the emerging situation by saying that the rhetoric of ‘do more’ was not acceptable any more. A former US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, in an article in the New York Times recently disproved the approach of the Trump administration towards Pakistan and advised it to take recourse to the process of continued engagement and dialogue with her.

Olson is right. The ultimate solution to any conflict and disagreements always comes though engagement and dialogue rather than having recourse to putting the other party on notice or adopting a threatening posture. Such antics always have boomerang effect and aggravate the situation further.

The firm stand taken by Pakistan in regards to threats by Trump seems to have created a positive impact and reportedly backdoor contacts have taken place between the two countries to resurrect relations between the two countries by easing the current tensions. US Marine General Joseph Dunford has also stated that he was committed to the US-Pakistan relations. He said “Do we agree on everything right now? No we don’t. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I am not giving up on that” The US assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Alice Wells has also paid a visit to Pakistan.

I think that is a right way of dealing with the situation. If after heightened sabre-rattling between US and North Korea the two Koreas have brought the temperature down by having a dialogue and pledged to cooperate with each other (with US blessing) why can’t Pakistan and US do it?