Zeeshan A. Shah
Over the last few decades Pakistan has gone through a major paradigm shift, both within its strategic placement within the region and with its allies all over the globe.
One of the major breakthroughs that the country has witnessed is its increased presence as the “Underdog” in world politics- as the key player in the war on terror. Even with a formidable security, being the world’s fourth or fifth largest army and the only known Islamic Nuclear Power, the country is struggling to maintain regional dominance due to its alleged allegiance to the Dollar.
Post 1947 the country forged its map as an independent unified nation for the Muslims in the sub-continent eyeing being the Islamic Republic. However a few other events took shape that would change the history of this country and lead to its fall from grace.
The nation is dominated by its Sunni population and a significant Shia minority making it the seventh most populous country in the world. Having a nuclear arsenal makes it a powerful state, but its state within a state policy makes it vulnerable to proxy wars and a safe haven for other power-driven Muslim states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Libya and Egypt. Then there are other Non Muslim Super Powers like China, Germany, Russia and the United States wielding influence and funding proxies in and out of the country pitting the country against the India-Israel nexus. The war on terror brought huge capital gains for the government of this country and magnified the Armed Forces while the people of the country were deprived tremendously of peace and stability.
Weapons of war, illegal smuggling, a weak immigration policy and poor border controls fuelled by high corruption within the country have damaged its economic artery as non-friendly states like India and Israel have managed to infiltrate the internal political, legal and financial system, damaging the country from inside, the enemy within. There are obvious enemies and hidden foes, disguised as friendly nations. Under the radar, Pakistan is a victim of changes leading to a civil war. Crimes against civilians are rising leading the country towards disintegration, journalists, lawyers, doctors, teachers and children suffering the most vicious attacks ever witnessed in its history. The legal system has fallen to pieces, as deception and defection remains on the rise from within, weakening the already destabilized justice system.
With a high crime rate, Pakistan also has one of the lowest conviction rates in the world. Actual crimes are underreported and the press is also influenced by corruption. Legally, we stand nowhere as long as the law provides legal and constitutional cover to crimes and perpetrators. Under the previous government in 2008, there was a moratorium enforced where no one was put to death.
This kind of constitutional amendment actually hurts the legal system, making it weak and dysfunctional as the legal order is threatened and criminals roam free and find new ways to flee the system and flag it to failure. Reputational Risk remains a threat to the country as its Global Image is being slowly overturned as an unsafe country while the government has lost its writ and is underpowered.
Firstly, what is happening here is a territorial dispute for regional dominance based on religious division fuelled by sectarianism. Many powerful countries stand to win from this situation in Pakistan as nations constantly thrive on perpetual wars to ensure hegemony and strategic interests to stay intact, at the expense of Pakistan. Money is the only currency that works and oil rich nations use oil and liquid dollars as negotiable instruments to lure greed driven politicians and bureaucrats within Pakistan. Not surprisingly, even the Armed forces are not exempt from this menace.
Conventional weapons, financial aid packages, social developments programs, trade incentives, development schemes, tax incentives and much more is on the table to ensure that the arms race continues meeting foreign political ambitions inside Pakistan.
Secondly, there is a clear lack of a proper foreign policy mandate announced by the government. Using the Islamic symbol of unity and faith, some hidden powers that previously remained invisible are now being seen in clear light, having used their financial might ensuring a stronger footprint and decision making power. They are seriously flawed nations, non-democratic, non-Islamic, non-secular and non-complaint to any legal or ethical laws that apply.
Who is the hidden enemy? History has taught us nothing. We must first learn about motive. Israel was formed in 1948 through CIA supporting its creation as a protective body a year after Pakistan’s independence. The fall of Dhaka was another conspiracy further created to ensure division among Muslims by the third party.
Proxy wars initiated in South Asia was the first step, sowing the seeds of divide and rule strategy right from the very start fuelling the illegal nexus starting this war on terror.
Close analysis also highlighted Saudi Arabia as one of the biggest allies of the USA, while maintaining control of power within Pakistan. Iran was countered and sanctioned along with Syria to further cut off support to Pakistan while China was ignored as inferior, a mistake that has led to a larger loss for the West in recent years.
What Iran and Pakistan had in common was a mutual recognition of Israel as a non-entity from formation to current existence. This gives us the actual clarity on the “motive” as to why external powers like imperialistic neo-cons succeeded to gain external and internal control in Pakistan. In general, whoever commands control power over the government is actually trying to control power over the nuclear controls strategy and eventually the power to manipulate it.
Recently, Saudi Arabian foreign policy has taken a u-turn despite undeniable inter-dependency between the Pak-Saudi economical equation leading to cooperation and bilateral trade relations. Once a haven for job seekers, the Kingdom has now decided not to employ overseas Pakistanis unless absolutely necessary. This affects our foreign exchange, affects inbound remittances to the country and creates a huge unemployment gap within – all part of the pressure tactics to ensure our allegiance to the Kingdom against rising threats like China, Iran and Russia.
CPEC is changing the dynamics in the South Central Asia Region, and the Afghanistan Pakistan Af-Pak equation posing affects the IOR –Indian Ocean Region. China is investing scores of billions of dollars in Pakistan and Iran; undertaking all military and other measures necessary, to secure its interests in this region. Russia’s desire to connect its Eurasian Economic Union project to the CPEC with China ensures the strategic move towards its drive to the Arabian Sea, enhanced further by positively engaging its partners liked Iran, Pakistan and others aiming to defeat Daesh forces in Afghanistan thus creating the ultimate grounds for the Titan wars – the US and India on one side and Russia-Pakistan-China on the other. Arabs in general do not want us to have financial freedom as it reduces their influence within the region hence they are not in favor of CPEC or Gwadar – the two big game changers for the region.
Gwadar Port in Pakistan is clearly the next big thing in Asia. Pakistan’s coast line, stretching from Jiwani in the West to Keti Bandar and beyond in the East, provides any force that develops it for military purposes with overarching strategic advantages. It offers a multiple strategic advantage for free ports, air and missile bases, radar and intelligence gathering stations and communication centers et al. It dominates the IOR and adds value to GMER- Greater middle-east region. China leads here as it takes advantage deeper into the Indian Ocean, marking critical oversight into the Strait of Hormuz as well as choke points from the east coast of Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea-Suez canal, Red Sea to the east pacific.
On the other hand the US too has acquired a “military logistics” base on the western coast of India. It has also outsourced the maintenance of the ships of the US 7th Fleet to Reliance Defense, in Gujarat, India. Multiple challenges for the US include this new China-Russia alliance that would somewhat limit US engagement in the East and South China Seas where the US will require the services of its allies like Japan, South Korea, Australia and India to counter China on the seas, where South Korea, Japan and Australia could be assisting the US in the East and South China Seas and Pacific Ocean region, while India could possibly be given the major responsibility of the Indian Ocean.
Iran with its alliance with China and Russia and Saudi Arabia and Qatar backing the US installs Pakistan in a key alliance position maneuvering CPEC to a greater advantage for itself and the region. Saudi influence in Bahrain and the US is a key ally to both.
Not only is Saudi Arabia the biggest importer of arms, it is also the biggest exporter of crude oil to America. Little is known as to how Saudi foreign policy on Israel is shaping up but from our standpoint, anything favoring India’s interest in the region is also valid as favorable for Israel as it is Pakistan’s arch enemy alongside India. People who talk about improving trade with India are blind to the fact that there can be no trade between countries at war especially with Kashmir at its most critical stage of decision. Still we cannot make obvious enemies.
To attain a country-specific benefit, we might actually need to continue being part of this proxy war for now. Eventually, we have to allocate a significant part of the country’s budget to health and education instead of defense as we are a nuclear power and should act like one, with a no-compromise foreign policy. Future focus must be enforced making Pakistan livable, financially independent and loan-free. The enemy within Pakistan must be isolated through constant resolve and battles against corruption must be carried forward until our situation improves dramatically.
We are part of the proxy wars and seem to know that well. New elections through a swift interim government must be conducted this year or early next year with a technically sound team that will ensure economic and social justice. Post CPEC, we need to move away from being a morally intolerant nation to being a dominant leading Islamic state, ensuring clarity across our landscape and seeking greater powerful relationships with allies, to rise against the enemies of the state and see behind enemy lines.