Dangerously isolated

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Revision of security paradigm required

What needs to be discussed by Pakistan’s foreign policy wonks during the ongoing ambassadors’ meeting is the country’s unending isolation. The unrealistic security paradigm revolving around the concept of India as principle threat led to the creation and nurturing of the virus of extremism that has made the world at large wary of Pakistan. After the 9/11 attacks, choreographed by the Afghanistan-based Al-Qaeda, national liberation struggles, once widely respected, were put into the category of terrorist activities. With terrorists arrested in Western Europe, Russia, and South East Asia found to have been trained in Pakistan, the country’s image received a further setback. The terrorist havens in Pakistan generated tensions to various extents with all neighbouring countries. China which had once supported the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination unreservedly re-designated the militancy in Kashmir as a separatist movement after finding that the Uyghur militants and those fighting in Kashmir were operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan. Iran accuses Islamabad of sheltering Jundullah, Afghanistan of providing havens to the Haqqani network and India of supporting cross-border terrorism. The establishment can argue that the charges are false, but this does not change the reality of a hostile environment created by our strategic paradigm.

The militants in the tribal areas have played a key role in the ongoing confrontation with the US. Whether the US attacked Pakistani military posts deliberately or was lured into the act by the militants remains a contentious issue between the two countries. Meanwhile, Pakistan has taken a number of measures, the latest being the orders to shoot down any Nato plane entering Pakistan. The Obama administration is under pressure from powerful lawmakers, including Senators McCain and Lindsay Graham, to review all military and economic aid for Pakistan. Foreign policy experts need to discuss how many enemies the country can afford to have.

Reviewing all accords with the US and Nato would be a meaningful activity only if the issue is taken up in the overall context of the country’s increasing isolation in the region and how to overcome it. Meanwhile, playing to the gallery can further jeopardise Pakistan’s security and long term interests.

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