Time to call out USA, UK and France on their geo-political games in South Asia?

By Imtiaz Gul

Recent geo-political developments in the Asian continent, especially in South and West Asia, have given rise to a number of questions:

Is South and West Asia headed for more turbulence in the days ahead because of the US-led geo-political brinkmanship?

Is President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan mission about to run aground because of geo-political one-upmanship?

Are geo-political divisions about to get deeper because of the unquestioned US-UK-French (permanent members of the UN Security Council) support for the post-Pulwama (attack on the 14th of February) bellicose Indian posturing?

Will the Indo-US-French move to push the listing of Maulana Masood Azhar (of Jasih e Muhammad) through the Security Council disincentives Pakistan and China to facilitate the Afghan peace process?

Does this subversion of the procedures laid down in the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee not expose the duplicitous, double standards of the US-UK-French trio, which has anchored its position on Maulana Masood Azhar merely in the Indian claims?

The three countries have moved a resolution to be tabled before the Security Council itself to list the Maulana as a) a terrorist – whereas the entire Pulwama episode is still under investigation – and b) India has built its case on a claim by Adil Dar in a dubious video as a confession and as a primary source to link it to Jaishe Mohammad.

If that be the logic, Pakistan has a much stronger case on the Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and his video officially recorded confessions. How can it flag Adil Dar’s dubious video as a confession but reject Jadhav’s deposition on his terrorist-espionage activities against Pakistan?

USA, UK and France want to move the Security Council directly because of four “technical holds” that China has placed on the listing of Masood Azhar. China has been consistently criticised by both India and the Big Three for placing these holds, without acknowledging that China’s “holds” are purely aimed at de-escalation of conflict between India and Pakistan.

However, isn’t it time for PM Imran Khan and the Army Chief Bajwa to call out these three countries on the 18 “technical holds” that they have applied, inter alia, on Pakistan’s proposal on the listing of Daesh/Jamatul Ahrar leader Khalid Khorassani.  Moreover, now deceased-TTP (Tehrik e Taliban) leader and one of Pakistan’s most notorious and wanted terrorists Maulana Fazlullah, and many others, have been operating out of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Most of the TTP and Jamatul Ahrar terrorists in fact were found and eliminated in eastern Afghanistan but the three P-5 countries never consented to their listing.

Shouldn’t Pakistani leaders now question – at the highest level – the big Three as to how and why did they condone Pakistan air space violation by the Indian aircraft on Feb 26th,  all based on the bellicose Indian posturing  on Pulwama in the absence of any credible evidence?

Can it be business as usual when the UK and France are openly lending credence to a “less than credible” Indian narrative on Pulwama, which is more a consequence of Indian oppression in the Kashmir valley rather than a case of terrorism?

They must be asked to explain their attitude on Israeli oppression in Palestine and the Indian siege of Kashmiri Muslims, which even the European Union has meanwhile called into question. Kashmir is clearly a political conflict, born out of the Indian reticence, aggression and denial of Kashmiris’ rights. This bellicosity is also in denial of the UN resolutions on Kashmir.

India – through US, UK and France – has relentlessly continued to squeeze Pakistan at all fora any way; be it the Asia Pacific Group of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or the  UN or economic
cooperation blocs, India has consistently tried to defame Pakistan.

Why should PM Imran Khan and the General Bajwa not draw lines and restrict their meetings with visitors from abroad and convey their inability to help in regional peace initiatives? Isn’t time to respond politically to the geo-political cabals being pushed by the Big Three of the Security Council on the behest of India?

Pakistan, already under squeeze, must deploy unusual political tools to negotiate the geo-political roadblocks being created by the three big members of the Security Council. While Beijing, meanwhile fully cognizant of the geo-political motives behind Masood Azhar’s listing, fairly stands by Pakistan, Moscow shall also have to come clean on whether it acquiesces into the US-led geo-political coercion or stands by China and Pakistan. Islamabad must proactively reach out to Moscow and ask as to whether it will support the US-led coercive diplomacy at the UN or with a country it calls its regional friend.

Of course, Islamabad must try to urgently fix its leaking financial system which may have been abused by politicians and non-state actors for money-laundering and terror financing. Not that non-state actors should enjoy unfettered freedom. On the contrary, they must be dealt with according to the constitution of Pakistan. But Pakistan must underscore that such non-state actors cannot be used to as geo-political coercive tools to push a particular country to the wall.

It is about time for our leaders to call out big powers on their cloak and dagger policies on Pakistan. Finally, it is also about time for our leaders to convey to Washington that blackmail through FATF (gray and black list) and facilitation in the Afghan peace process can not go hand in hand.

The writer is Executive Director and Chairman, CRSS. 

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