Planned from 20th-23rd July, this visit couldn’t have come at more inopportune time. There are strategic reasons like having to explain Pakistan’s stance with regard to US vs Iran conundrum, US vs China Trade war or power contest and if stretched a bit, Trump’s Deal of the Century which would actually kill Palestinian issue for good.
Then there’s this American wish list about so-called peace process in Afghanistan. For starters this could include roles of Russia and China in the success or otherwise of the process because America wouldn’t be too keen to allow anything but the most limited space to its strongest competitors in the region. Having spent countless billions, Trump would be loath to concede to an extent which could lead to US exclusion from this region.
It would be catastrophic for US Great Game aimed at total domination of Indo- Pacific Region linked with all important Eurasian Land Mass via Pakistan- Afghanistan.
There is also this thorny question about allowing greater piece of the pie to India in Afghanistan, far beyond Pakistan’s legitimate interests. Being its only strategic partner in this part of the world and having ambitions of its own, India would certainly have given its requirements to US Administration. Let’s not be fooled by the optics where India seems to have been excluded from the ongoing peace process.
And while we are at it, wouldn’t it be appropriate to clarify from Mr. Trump as to what is implied when the leader of the free world declares that America will not abandon Afghanistan totally once peace deal comes through.
Instead, it would leave behind “a very strong intelligence presence, very strong indeed”, his words, not mine. Kinda Catch 22 , wouldn’t you agree? And pretty tricky for our first time PM’s first ever visit to the capital of first world?
If that’s not a bag full then consider the situation back home. Its not a rocket science to know that country’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts flowing as a consequence are only as good or as strong as its national power, political and economic stability if you will. This is where Mr. Khan would be on the weakest wicket. While its reassuring to know that government and much maligned establishment are pretty thick, there’s little else to rejoice about. COAS was on the button when he said that Pakistan is in the middle of 5G Warfare. Our liberal or progressive thinkers laughed it away as yet another scare tactics. Others generally agreed but our political leadership kept itself religiously out of this debate, there wasn’t much of it any way. Public at large, caught up in its own worries couldn’t care less so long as they could make their two ends meet.
Implosion from within can be caused by confluence of a lot of elements, some of which are quite apparent. Besides induced political unrest, scandalising judicial system, increasingly spiteful harangue against establishment aided and abetted by section of our media and topped by country’s precarious economic health, doesn’t add up to be very strong footing for our foreign policy initiatives.
Beauty is that most of us saw it happening right in front of us but chose to either retain spectators role only or of a critic who knows everything, can target you for all the mistakes committed but rarely has alternative solutions.
Mr. Khan and team have a very tough task ahead, steering Pakistan through the most turbulent seas it isn’t just anyone’s cup of tea. Let’s hope and pray that our Kaptan is up to it because alternatives aren’t that promising. At least he has the grit, determination and single-mindedness of purpose. We may have lots of disagreements with him but no one can doubt his sincerity. Rest can be made up by a good team of equally sincere but capable and focused advisors.
Best of luck PM. Pakistan needs you to succeed.
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