Pakistan’s security forces may be fighting with one hand tied behind their back. Some of Pakistan’s most vocal ‘democrats’ seem to take pride in denigrating their own country’s armed forces while remaining silent or ignorant about the actions of Pakistan’s adversaries. The differences between the civilian and military leadership are out in the open.
In the challenging environment emerging in the region, Pakistan needs to evolve a clear plan to preserve its security and safeguard its interests.
The first priority is to militarily defeat and politically divide the TTP and make peace only on terms that respect Pakistan’s Constitution, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Both the Afghan Taliban and the Americans should be asked to support this effort or get out of the way.
Second, Pakistan should seek peace with and within Afghanistan. This can be achieved only from a position of strength. Kabul should be asked to end its support for the TTP and the BLA. Pakistan may need to demonstrate its influence with the Afghan Taliban to secure Kabul’s cooperation. Meanwhile, opening a dialogue with the Northern Alliance could lay the ground for a future deal.
Third, the intercession of the US, China and Russia should be sought to build a regional consensus, incorporating Iran and Saudi Arabia, for peace within and around Afghanistan. Despite their escalating rivalries in Europe and East Asia, each of them has an interest in pacifying Afghanistan, not least to counter global terrorism.
Finally Pakistan’s difficult relationship with India will need to be managed through a combination of deterrence and diplomacy. The major powers also have a stake in preventing a major crisis between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. They can be persuaded to temper Modi’s anticipated belligerence.
The success of such a plan can be assured only if Pakistan’s political leaders, security forces and diplomats work cooperatively to realise these national objectives.
By Munir Akrsm, a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN. Dawn.com