Since its creation, the state and citizens of Pakistan have gone through various ups and downs. Pakistan was created with a view that its citizens will be free from oppression and live a peaceful life. But unfortunately, this dream never materialised. Democracy, dictatorship, autocracy, Islamisation were each tried but no solution for having peace and prosperity emerged from these experiments.
After the fiascos of martial laws and 1965 War with India, the advent of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Bhuttoism were seen as a blessing in disguise for the downtrodden multitude of the country. But Bhutto’s repressive state policies and military action in Balochistan soon alienated the peace loving community of Pakistan and the socialist rhetoric only served the interests of the selected few.
The Cold War provided with an excellent opportunity to prolong the dictatorship of a dictator as well as to provide a basis for the tyrannical rule of General Zia. The western masters needed a puppet to support their campaign against the USSR. Democracy and human rights violations, the bedrocks of western foreign policy, were totally ignored.
Realism was the need of the hour and in the Cold War scenario the western realism prevailed over the so-called idealism. Pakistan’s participation in the Cold War (and the Afghan Jihad) was the start of what we are reaping today. Afghan refugees were allowed to settle freely anywhere in the country. Though there were camps but no efforts were made to limit them only to the designated camps. They soon became part of the local population thereby giving their females in marriages to Pakistanis.
Outside our national boundaries, a dangerous game was being played by international actors on the land known as black hole in international politics (ref Afghanistan). The spill over effects of the great game were totally ignored by policy makers of Pakistan. Pakistan by itself was not aware of its own interests inside Afghanistan.
All the Actors of the great game were playing with a precise and defined set of objectives. These actors included the United States, Russia, and India. Indian interests were mainly defined by its anti-Pakistan strategy and Cold War provided an opportunity for the Indian Intelligence Agency, RAW, to start its nefarious agenda against Pakistan and to establish close contacts with Northern Alliance.
To date most of the Suicide attacks have been carried out by these Uzbeks of Northern Alliance. The Cold War was an opportunity for the intelligence agencies of the world to establish its connections with the factions of its liking in Afghanistan. Saudi-Arabia and other pro-western gulf states favoured US designs inside Afghanistan.
The Sunni Arab states sided with the US for seeking US support against Shia Iran in return. Chinese interests were dominated by unrest in Xinjiang as China shares a 76 km border with Afghanistan. Pakistani markets and society was soon flooded with foreign made weapons thereby deteriorating the internal security of Pakistan. Bomb blasts and suicide attacks became a routine matter. Islam was used for political gains and as an element of foreign policy. Even when the aftermath of the Cold War and Afghan Jihad was yet to fade, a new fiasco hit the region in the form of War on Terror.
Pakistan again jumped into the fray without any predefined policy. Some security analysts urged that there was no other option but to be a part of the western alliance in Afghanistan. Again our internal security demands were totally ignored at the cost of external security. Pakistan was declared as a major Non-NATO Ally.
Pakistan’s sacrifices were never acknowledged but was frequently pressurized to do more. India was given a free hand to establish its consulates deep inside Afghanistan. On one hand Pakistan’s land was used for waging war against the Taliban, whereas on the other, global efforts were put in place to isolate Pakistan and declare it a terrorist state.
There was also growing support for India in the West to give more power and influence to neutralize China in the region. Due to the western support, India openly maligned Pakistan and even today blames Islamabad for any terror attack that takes place in India.
India’s main motive is to neutralize Pakistan’s military and political leadership to a level where it stops supporting the Kashmir issue. The skirmishes on the Line of Control (LOC), constant threat of repulsing the Indus Water Treaty and hatching conspiracies with Afghan Government are all means to destabilise Pakistan so that it may not be able to give a practical shape to the current China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
America is neither our friend nor our foe, rather it is a Global power interested to accomplish its own national interests. Our relations should be of mutual respect for each other and national interests should hold Supreme. India has never accepted the creation of Pakistan as a reality and same is the case with Afghanistan.
Alternative policy options should be devised to deal with the two rivals in case where Plan A fails, Plan B should be put in place. National institutions should be made strong and rule of law, accountability and transparency should be the guiding principles of state policy. An independent foreign policy based on national interests should be devised for dealing with the conundrum of deteriorating security situation in Pakistan.
The author Haroon Barakzai is a Lecturer at IMS UST, Bannu