The US should be seen by Islamabad as a friend after its forces leave the neighbourhood, and Washington needs to get rid of its obsessive thoughts about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. It needs to realise that a strong, stable and economically vibrant nuclear Pakistan is required to bring about a nuclear balance in South Asia; it poses no threat to anyone.
Against this backdrop, Secretary of State John Kerry’s pragmatic and amiable views about Pakistan are a good omen. Hopefully, friendly relations with the US will develop in the future.
Pak-US Geopolitics: America is a global power, but also a non-Eurasian power. Washington has a long list of geopolitical concerns. Afghanistan should be on the wane, while Middle East and Africa are rising issues. The Afghan war has lasted too long. President Barack Obama, thus, has taken a bold and wise decision to drawdown the forces Afghanistan. Pakistan can facilitate America in its exit strategy and help stabilise the war-torn country after the occupation forces leave.
Having said that, Mali and Algeria and Africa at large would now be the US-Nato forces’ major concern. The turbulence in North Africa, West Africa and larger Middle East is linked. After all, the geographically and economically north and west Africa is closer to Europe than Afghanistan, and a greater concern of the western world.
Moreover, the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM) was established to ensure American interests. Now, Washington needs to outsource its security concerns to Islamabad to achieve a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. For this purpose, the Pak-US relationship should be improved.
Pakistan seeks peace at home and peace abroad. Washington must respect the aspirations of Pakistani people and coordinate with the army and ISI for a peaceful Pakistan and Afghanistan. The ISI has greatly contributed to regional balance. All this is to America’s advantage so that it exits Afghanistan without worrying about leaving behind an explosive region. The reality is that Pakistan’s army would be the only professional, powerful military force between River Oxus and River Sutlej after the US has left Afghanistan.
All things considered, Pak-US geopolitical interests should coincide in future, only if Washington respects our national interests.
Pak-US Geo-economics: America’s geo-strategy should give way to geo-economics in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian Region.
The Central Asian energy and mineral resources can be easily piped through existing conduits through Afghanistan to the deep Gwadar seaport on the Arabian Sea. Pakistan is already coordinating with China and, perhaps, even Russia for geo-economic confluence. Yet, this is not a zero-sum game.
The USA can also be an economic partner, or part of a greater consortium. Energy and transit highways from Central Asia, the old silk route (China-Pakistan), and even the new silk route (Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) are all possible only through Pakistan. Therefore, it can serve as a bridge between the regions of Central Asia, West Asia, China and South Asia. This can be achieved in an environment of peace. Otherwise, Pakistan has the potential of acting as an interposing state.
Future Geopolitics: With Iraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election, the chances of Israel-Iran conflict may rise. This may embroil the USA even if by default, while North Korea and USA’s relations can worsen. It seems that America is going to remain busy even after it departs from Afghanistan.
Pak-Afghan friendship and geo-economics ties are keys to regional peace. The training of the Afghan forces by Pakistan should go a long way in achieving the quest for stability. Islamabad can bring Kabul and Taliban on the negotiating table. On the whole, America, Pakistan, China and Russia can help achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan.
As Indian ambitions increase, there may be a divergence of interest with the US. Washington has leverage with Russia, China, the EU and other parts of the globe. On India, the main leverage is Pakistan. No matter how much New Delhi talks of ‘Shining India’, it would remain embroiled with Pakistan until it settles the Kashmir dispute.
Even as Israel, and even USA, come in conflict with Iran, a moderating and war-avoiding role can be played by Pakistan. Washington can benefit from Pakistan’s diplomacy that is not just limited to Afghanistan. By the same token, Washington should discourage centrifugual tendencies in Balochistan. Indeed, a united, peaceful, prosperous and nuclear-armed Pakistan is in the interest of regional balance and American efforts for a stable world.
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