Foreign policy review is imperative
Mohammad Jamil


The US talk has become intolerably nauseating. Not only because it is basically specious, deceptive and mischievous but also because it reflects Americansí dogged defiance to introspect honestly as to why they are in Afghanistan so enviably in the first place? But to cover up their failures, members of US administration and US and NATO commanders accuse Pakistan of a duplicitous role. They blame its military is not fighting the war on terror wholeheartedly, and top leadership of Al Qaeda and Taliban is in Pakistanís tribal areas. Such remarks canít be from friends and allies, but from those having either deep distrust or mala fide intent.

After his recent policy review of troop-surge strategy in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama reiterated his mantra to do more to secure and stabilize Afghanistan. His remarks that Ďhis patience has run outí is specious. It is not Pakistan that has to do more but the US and NATO forces have to show a bit of soldiering they have yet to show. And for its part Pakistan military has done far more than was its due. If at end of the day, Pakistan has to draw flak and to be made scapegoat for their failure in Afghanistan, is it not the time to call a day, and withdraw from the war on terror?

In fact, American media is a conformist media that does not ask them the question as to what their armies have been doing in Afghanistan for more than nine years, as 70 per cent of Afghanistan is beyond Kabulís writ as yet. They sit in their heavily fortified bases there; beyond, they are as vulnerable, insecure and fearful as a lamb in the butchery. The occupying forces therefore cannot claim of their control over any major city in the south or in the east. Not even in north and west, touted to be relatively peaceful and under government control, as only warlords and chieftains rule the roost there. As their botched-up Afghanistan war is clobbering them, Americaís movers and shakers are still living with theatre, uninformed, unrepentant and shameless. In June 2010, CIA chief Leon Panetta said that Osama bin Laden is holed up somewhere in Pakistanís tribal areas. But this is disgraceful for a top man of a spy agency that Al Qaeda leader is Ďsomewhereí in the tribal belt. Why canít Mr. know all exactly identify where he is and take him out. But they canít because the world knows that Osama bin Laden is dead. In fact, this spy agency must thank its stars that it has gullible public out there at home that let it go off the hook for the collapse, otherwise he would have been grilled properly.

To make things worse, America is propping India to have a role in the region and especially in Afghanistan, which has increased Pakistanís security concerns. Evidence suggests that the US and the West have never been reliable allies; during two wars with India in 1965 and 1971 they stopped military and economic aid to Pakistan. If we dispassionately examine the relations with the US, one would conclude that it used Pakistan and then ditched it. It has to be mentioned that the rift between former Soviet Union and Pakistan developed after U-2 spy plane incident that occurred during the Cold War on May 1, 1960 (during the presidency of Dwight D Eisenhower), which was shot down over the Soviet Union. At first, the United States government denied the planeís purpose and mission, but was forced to admit its role as a covert surveillance aircraft when the Soviet government produced its remains (largely intact) and surviving pilot, Francis Gary Powers. Former Soviet Union had then marked Pakistan for teaching a lesson at some Ďproperí time and occasion.

Our ruling elite continued with internecine conflicts and always looked towards America for help in either to gain power, and after gaining it to sustain it. From 1977 to 1988, late General Zia-ul-Haq had gone all out help America in their tirade and fight against communism. But America stopped aid to Pakistan after the Soviet Union was disintegrated, and had also imposed sanctions for pursuing nuclear ambitions. From 1988 to 1999, the PPP and the PML governments continued to appease the West by surrendering to their pressures to achieve their objectives of power and pelf.

After 9/11, Musharraf government was coerced into cooperating with the US in its War on terror, and this time war was against those who had fought the Soviet forces shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan army fighting the US proxy war. Pakistan stood by the allies for about half-a-century, got dismembered as a result of its involvement in military pacts with the West, and even risked its very existence by becoming the frontline state against another Superpower. Having all said, the time has come that Pakistan should seriously review its policy and take extraordinary measures in the realm of foreign policy to safeguard out national interest.

The Government needs to ensure that the principles of the independent foreign policy must be grounded in strict adherence to the principles of policy as stated in Article 40 of the Constitution, the UN Charter observance of international law, respect for the free will and aspirations of sovereign states and their peoples. It will not be wrong to say that during the last six decades no serious effort was made to make Pakistan a self-reliant economy with the result that dependence on the US and the West has been the reason for many a challenge confronting the country today. Before the disintegration of the USSR, the US and the West always vowed that Pakistanís survival was the cornerstone of their policy, but they their actions were at odds with their words. In early 1980s, Pakistan became frontline state and as a result of Afghan war Pakistan suffered in playing host to 3.5 million Afghan refugees, from terrorist acts from Peshawar to Karachi, and faced the menace of drugs and Kalashnikov culture. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and end of Cold War, the US and the West ditched Pakistan, as in the changed geopolitical situation, their priorities changed.

Historical evidence suggests that foreign policy framed by keeping in view the aspirations of the people can withstand the pressures brought to bear by external interests. The Quaid-i-Azam had envisioned a foreign policy for Pakistan that would safeguard our national security, independence, and promote the well being of the people. He had great hopes that Pakistan would play a major role in international affairs and for world peace. The question arises whether Pakistan can at this stage afford to review its foreign policy? The answer is in the affirmative, but the ruling elite have to shun profligacy and adopt austerity. Anyhow, our priorities, however, must be based on our national interests and to achieve broader objectives.

Despite tremendous sacrifices in war on terror, Pakistan is being maligned and insulted by the US. At one time, its leaders and commanders appreciate Pakistanís role in war on terror and for decimating the terroristsí infrastructure and their strongholds, and at another expresses concerns that terrorists may succeed in laying their hands on Pakistanís nukes. After the end of the Cold War when the US and the West changed their priorities and attitude toward us, it was imperative to review our own priorities and goals in a drastically changed international landscape.