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Strategic Depth turns into Strategic Weakness by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

The signing of nuclear deal by Iran and approval of BSA by Loya Jirga has turned our Western strategic depth into a strategic weakness. For last two years in many of my articles I have suggested that Israel has lost its strategic importance for USA and now they want to get over it. I have also suggested that America’s next focus is Asia in general and Asia-Pacific in particular. USA includes India as part of Pacific Asia and Pakistan as part of Middle East. Another dynamic to consider is that West considers Shai strain of Islam as more liberal and closer to modernity. The concept of Vilayat-e-Faqih, presented by Imam Khomeini, is quite close to Catholic political influence during the renaissance.

From Pakistan’s perspective the Iranian-P5+1 deal is a step towards building a regional alliance between Iran, Afghanistan and India promoted by USA and supported by EU. It is a check on the growing influence of Russia and China in Eurasian region. I have also suggested in many of my articles that it is a deliberate effort of USA to push Pakistan towards China and Russia. We are complying with this plan by protesting against NATO supplies and increasing anti-Americanism. But this will not happen without cost. I have also suggested in an article few days ago that Af-Pak Taliban will become a South Asian version of Israel. That realty is now one step closer after the recent international developments.

The sad part is we seem unprepared to handle the storm that is brewing on our Eastern border. There are many articles of BSA that support a military expedition by Afghan army to declare war on Pakistan in case of terror incidents. The bases requested by USA create a ring around Kabul which in a way means that the interference in Afghanistan is expected from Pakistan. This could also mean that Russia has assured non-interference from the Northern part which are Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In the South-West Afghanistan, Iran can provide guarantee of non-intrusion.

So what are the policy options for Pakistan?

Pakistan has to first focus on internal strength and engages in nation building. For this purpose Pakistan has to disengage herself from all kinds of entanglements that can be construed as interfering in another country. We need to once again adopt the posture of non-alliance as we did during the cold war. Pakistan should pursue increased trade ties with the West while at the same time develop strategic ties with Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as its members include our neighbors. Turkey can be a good strategic partner for Pakistan as member of NATO and a gateway to Europe. In the Muslim world Pakistan should look towards Indonesia and Malaysia to learn from their industrialization experience.

Good news for Pakistan from the Iranian deal is that the price of oil is expected to come down to $50-70 per barrel. Secondly, now it is possible for Pakistan to complete the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project at a much better tariff rate. Pakistan should explore developing a trade block between China, Iran, and Turkey to increase our access to European markets.

But none of this can be achieved unless and until we get rid of the notion of good Taliban and bad Taliban. Pakistan has to assure all her neighbors that its territory will not be used for any kind of terrorism. We need to close down all madrassah’s that are promoting hate speech and sectarianism in the country. We need to tell our Gulf friends that funding of any Madrassah that follow an extremist view will not be tolerated any longer.

On the social front we have to rewrite our constitution to promote Pakistani nationalism rather than continue recognizing cultural identities as political ones. We need to recognize that all citizen of the state should have equal opportunity and rights regardless of their race, color, and religious beliefs. That was the model promoted by Charter of Medinah and that was the preference of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah that he expressed in his speeches immediately after independence.

It is now upto us to create a bright future for us or continue on the path of destruction. The responsibility is on the shoulders of all of us and we should not blame it on politicians, ulema, feudals, generals or bureaucrats if we fail. A nation has all these various segments but none of it should be above the law.

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