The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in its detailed report, has argued that the Pakistani Army has abandoned the British Policy, of 200 years, of confronting Russia in Central Asia. According to the report, Pakistan now sees Russia a strategic partner rather than a threat.
The report argues that the Pakistani military has been emboldened by recent successful operations, Zarb e Azb and Radd ul Fassad, after which it has taken concrete steps towards its new relationship with Russia.
In this regard, Kamal Alam, the report’s author, writes:
In what can be described as the final act of the Great Game, Pakistan’s army, emboldened by Operations Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasaad which pushed the militants out of FATA and cleared the areas of those groups fighting the Pakistani state, have announced an end to the British-era policy of the Frontier Crimes Regulation, by which residents of the FATA are denied basic legal rights. This would mean the fabled ‘buffer zone’ of Curzon and British India would be no more, once the incoming parliament passes it in law in the coming year. This means that for the first time there is no need to have a tribal area. FATA will be abolished, and the areas on the Afghan border will be brought in line with the laws of the Pakistani state. In effect, the Russian threat is over. Pakistan’s army and Russia are sealing an ever-closer defence relationship which will have a strategic impact on the world stage for years to come. Pakistan’s army has also won over Moscow and Tehran to their side of the Afghan issue after decades of mistrust, and as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, land in Islamabad on 5 September to talk about regional peace, they will find it an uphill battle to shift Central Asia’s new dynamic.
The report further argues that the military leadership, under General Bajwa, is set to reverse the Great Game and thereby end almost 200 years of “looking over their shoulder” treating Russia as a threat.
The full report can be read here