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Archive for May, 2018

PAKISTAN’S PLACE IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD

In an increasingly globalised world, we are geographically very beneficially at the crossroads separating South Asia with Central Asia and the Middle East, this must be converted to our geo-political advantage. The new nation state of Pakistan felt quite vulnerable because of Indian hostility on its eastern borders and by Afghanistan’s obstinate refusal on the western borders to recognize the newly formed state. The early compulsions formulating Pakistan’s foreign policy was that we had no choice but to find strong support in the world to help guard its very existence. There is no certainty as to what would have happened if Pakistan had opted for Soviet Union’s support instead of choosing US as an ally. Given the social and mental setting of our early leaders, the evolving global cold war scenario found Pakistan aligned with the US as a natural choice, the Pakistan Army relying fully on American weaponry and equipment for its defensive needs. Our membership in SEATO and CENTO severely limited our foreign policy options.

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THE CARETAKER REGIME

Headed by former Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, the Caretaker Regime taking office today includes in its mission statement (1) running the affairs of the govt according to the Constitution and (2) administrative and operational back-up to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for conducting of free and fair Parliamentary elections on July 25, 2018, or whenever they are held. One is hoping that the Caretaker Regime must not only be neutral and impartial manner but be seen to be so.

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Dangerous Liaisons

The Soviet invasion in 1979 precipitated a large influx of Afghans into Pakistan, mainly from the Kabul elite, the affluent bought up residential homes and even small businesses, mainly in transportation. As the war reached the countryside the not so affluent started to cross over to escape being caught in the crossfire. The (mostly Pashtuns) Afghans owned residences in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad serving as “Rest and Recreation” (R & R) facilities for whatever Afghan faction were the rebels at that time. Hayatabad and New University Town in Peshawar is full of rich Afghans. Some of Karzai’s family still lives in Quetta, one of Rashid Dostum’s wives is said to be still living in Islamabad. A few bureaucrats and Kabul elite sought refuge in the Soviet Union when the Talibaan wrested Kabul from Ahmed Shah Masood’s Northern Alliance in the early 90s.

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PACIFIC, INDIAN OCEAN AND ASIA

Pakistan was founded in 1947 at a time when nobody was thinking about globalization even though the just finished WW II suggested that. History of the opposing military alliances had important lessons to teach; not only Pakistanis but others keep forgetting that political and economic alliances follow the military ones. Pakistan missed learning important political, economic and military lessons both out of 1965 and 1971.

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THE GAME-CHANGERS

With US President Trump scrapping the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions, the possibility of conflict in the region has increased dramatically. From being the US “policeman” in the Gulf, Iran has become the acknowledged target of the US and Israel, egged on by the so-called “Sunni Coalition”. Iran’s ally Hezbollah having won the elections in Lebanon, and the Shia-leaning parties likely to do well in Iraq, the question is not will Israel act but when? For the record Trump’s NATO allies do not agree with him, the EU was quite emphatic! Indeed, given this distinct possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s suspected nuclear sites, will India take advantage for an adventure against us in coordination with its new military ally?

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OUR “ON-OFF” RELATIONSHIP

It is easy now to criticize Pakistan’s leaders of the 50s for becoming a member of the Baghdad Pact in 1954, could our armed forces have repelled any concerted attack without being equipped in the 50s and 60s with US arms and equipment, particularly with India having weapons assiduously supplied by the Soviet Union?

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