In conversation with Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar: International community has failed in Afghanistan

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  • As India has in Kashmir

 

 

 

It is imperative for the Trump administration not to turn its differences with Pakistan into disputes and to have multifaceted engagement and revive the six areas identified for strategic dialogue with Pakistan.

 

Islamabad will continue knocking on every door till the voice of Kashmiris is heard and I believe the future is on their side because the use of palette guns might have taken their eyesight but not their vision for freedom.

 

 

 

 

Khusro Bakhtiar is one of those politicians who have served at all three tiers of the democratic process – local, provincial and national. He honed his skills on foreign policy after being appointed the minister of state for foreign affairs in 2004; following his 2008 election victory from NA-194 Rahim Yar Khan-III on a PML-Q ticket.

He was re-elected to the national assembly as an independent candidate from the same constituency in 2013, after which he joined PML-N.

His stature can be gauged by the fact that he was recently elected as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly after being nominated by opposition lawmakers.

He talked exclusively to DNA about Pakistan’s foreign policy challenges and the emerging regional scenario.

Question: In the short while since Khwaja Asif offered a rather candid admission of Pakistan’s position vis a vis certain militant organisations, which caused considerable controversy at home, do you think Pakistan’s foreign policy position has improved internationally?

Khusro Bakhtiyar: The foreign minister admitted at the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting held last week that the US should seek truth from facts in order to find a solution for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, which has been eluding the US for the last sixteen years. The foreign minister’s statement was perhaps taken out of context by certain elements just to appease certain quarters abroad in order to build a false narrative that the civil and military are not on the same page. Moreover, the position and the optics taken by the government in the recent meeting with Secretary Rex Tillerson held at the PM’s House further reinforced this fact.

Also, successive military operations conducted by Pakistan army and the subsequent killings of terrorists inside Afghanistan made it clear that allegations levelled against Pakistan about the so-called presence of militants on its soil are groundless.

Q: Pak-US relations have been on a decline since before the Trump administration took over; with some in Congress still calling for sanctions. Where do you think this equation will stand in the medium to long term?

KB: Pakistan-US relationship spans over six decades and has been categorised as strategic. However, a large majority in Pakistan believes this relationship is transactional. In the recent past, the US-Pakistan cooperation has been seen through the prism of Afghanistan. Therefore, it is imperative for the Trump administration not to turn its differences with Pakistan into disputes and to have multifaceted engagement and revive the six areas identified for strategic dialogue with Pakistan.

President Trump needs to revisit his election manifesto where he pledged to put Pak-US relationship on a positive trajectory unlike his predecessor, Barrack Obama.

Q: How do you see the way the US, perhaps in a bid to contain China, picked India as its strategic partner dumping its decades-old ally Pakistan? Do you think Pakistan and other regional players would accept the regional policeman role being given to India?

KB: I believe US policymakers are becoming hostage to their own strategic construct i.e. Nikki Haley’s statements that India should be the net security provider in the region is in negation of the regional strategic realignments and reflects blurred vision and lack of understanding of India’s true capacity. Pushing Modi’s government which is promoting Saffron nationalism to box above its weight would be a folly and it could lead to a strategic accident.

Q: Can the Pak-China embrace, especially in light of deteriorating ties with America, push Pakistan towards China’s other growing ally, Russia, towards a more lasting trade and security alliance?

KB: I believe since the fall of the Berlin wall, globally there is no zero-some game and the foreign policies of nations are tailored for maximising each country’s potential in the geo-economic world. In this context, our growing collaborative engagement with Russia and Iran should be viewed.

Q: How long, really, will the Kashmir stalemate continue? Which doors is Islamabad supposed to knock on when even the UN is unresponsive? Or is Kashmir, like Palestine, doomed to suffer endlessly?

KB: The defiance and prompt protests emerging in the post-Burhan Wani scenario suggests that India has already lost Kashmir. The barbaric atrocities committed by successive Indian regimes against the indigenous Kashmiri population have failed to crush the freedom struggle.

The young Kashmiris, born after the uprising of 1990s, have witnessed the worst oppressive tactics used by Indian forces. They will never forgive and forget these atrocities and this struggle is going to go on for decades.

The Kashmiris’ renewed vigour despite thousands of killings proves that Modi government has also failed to silence the voice of Jeeway Pakistan in IoK. The recovery of mass graves by the human rights groups in an evidence to prove this fact.

Islamabad will continue knocking on every door till the voice of Kashmiris is heard and I believe the future is on their side because the use of palette guns might have taken their eyesight but not their vision for freedom.

Q: Sixteen years of long war in Afghanistan have failed to bring stability in the war-torn country. Pakistan also had a colossal impact on its economy, security and stability due to the ongoing Afghan dispute. Keeping in view the unabated accusations coming from across the border, what measures do you suggest Pakistan to adopt?

KB: Afghanistan is an example of failure of the international community in bringing peace back to the war-torn nation. Despite spending billions of dollars and stationing hundreds of thousands of troops, stability remained a far cry. It is about time that the international community should acknowledge its failure.

Pakistan should vigorously pursue the herculean task of effective border management and robust intelligence sharing with the Afghan government and impress upon the forty-country alliance, ISAF, to come up with a viable refugee resettlement plan.

We also need to make it clear that there are stakeholders in the region other than Pakistan, which can play a meaningful role in encouraging warring factions to come to the table. It is about time that both Kabul and Islamabad work on a renewed bilateral framework to achieve the mutual goal of peace and stability in the region.

1 COMMENT

  1. Wow keep waiting for the international community to help resettle Afghan refugees. It’s our country, provided shelter to them for 30 years & for sure we can deport them now. Secure the border with Afghanistan & Iran so that we can help the people of Kashmir !

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