Monday, July 22, 2024

Pakistan’s New Security Policy is Neither Here Nor There

Washington, DC – It took seven years of study and analysis for Pakistan to produce a 110-page National Security Policy (NSP) document, but only half of it has been released in the public domain. It talks in two contradictory tones while building the narrative that Pakistan is a peacenik and that the ‘lingering’ dispute over Kashmir with India threatens regional security. The NSP was silent on history- that the sub-continent had seen four wars over Kashmir, each started by Pakistan in a vain bid to wrest the Indian territory.

The Pakistani NSP places a caveat to its desire for ‘peace’ with India for 100 years. Pakistan and the whole world know that India will not accept the condition put by Pakistan. So, the brouhaha over 100 years of peace with India is just nonsense or, at best, a publicity stunt by Pakistan, which is wading through a troubled economy and is desperate to restore ties with the outside world, particularly the US.

Interestingly, the Pakistani Security Policy document devotes very little attention to the wealthy friends in the Muslim world or even to China and is satisfied with pleading for better ties with the US. Perhaps Pakistan knows that the wealthy Muslim ‘brothers’ can be relied upon to dole out money as and when it requires, and there is no security angle to relations with them. Pakistan’s deep alignment with China hamstrings the approach towards the US. That leaves scope only for bashing India to please the domestic audience, which, of late, has begun to turn against Imran Khan.

There is an inextricable link between the security of a country and its economy. Pakistan’s economy has been going downhill for some years. Some of its economists believe that it might help the country to open up trade links with India. The security policy document does not make a strong case for it. The establishment in Pakistan, a euphemism for the military, may have sometimes read from the wrong script to commend resuming trade relations with India. Still, eventually, it appeared that Pakistan would rather commit hara-kiri than have any meaningful and helpful relations with India.

Excerpts from the security document in the media make it clear that Pakistan’s obsession with India will last for at least another 100 years. Make no mistake, Pakistan will not change even if India gifts it Jammu and Kashmir. Policy planners in Rawalpindi and Islamabad invariably talk about India’s ‘expansionist’ and ‘hegemonic’ policies. It is a monumental lie. The fact is that India has no such intention either in the past or the present; that is why New Delhi had returned to Pakistan territories won in the 1971 war in the foolish hope that it will make Pakistan a friendly neighbor.

The hawkish and mercurial late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had sown the seeds of a permanent state of animosity with India. His successors may not have repeated his words, but they quickly reverted to the hawkish position even when they occasionally strayed into making a conciliatory statement on India. Clearly, they were forced to do a U-turn by the all-powerful army.

Pakistan has been trying hard to spread the narrative that the ‘lingering’ dispute over Kashmir with India threatens regional security. The sub-continent has seen four wars over Kashmir, each started by Pakistan in a vain bid to wrest the Indian territory.

No security document or policy statement by Pakistan rules out another war with India over Kashmir but be sure that the first shot will be fired from across the border if there is another war. The Pakistani proxies are active, once again, crossing into India with murderous intentions. Of late, Pakistan has been sending drones laden with explosives– and drugs—to the Indian side of the border, both in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

ZERO TOLERANCE – HOGWASH

In an effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the world, the security document has spoken of ‘zero tolerance’ of terror activities on Pakistani soil, which is a patent lie. But talking about ‘zero tolerance’ has become a compulsion for Pakistan, given the sword of blacklisting by the FATF and the troubles that it will bring.

The National Security Policy document presents old wine in a new bottle when it says that use of force by ‘adversary’ is not ruled out and the country will be defended at ‘all costs.’ The bogey of ‘adversary’ (shorthand for India) planning to attack is as old as Pakistan, and the current embattled prime minister Imran Khan has made it almost a daily Mantra. His favorite jibe at India is that its ‘Hindutva’ following government will launch a “false flag operation” – a military operation on Pakistan under a false pretext.

Islamabad has been making a hue and cry about the possibility of another Indian attack inside Pakistan since 2019. Because that year, India had carried out an air attack on militant bases at Balakot deep inside Pakistan in retaliation for a terror attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani air force was credited with ‘foiling’ the Indian attack, and the Pakistani ‘Awam’ (people) were assured that Pakistan would similarly foil any future airstrike by India. Pakistan has been very vocal in declaring that the Balakot strike in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province hit only trees and a few crows or other birds!

Pakistan’s most precious family jewel is its nuclear stockpile built with considerable Chinese help. The National Security document has made veiled references to using its nukes against India in the event of a war. Again, there is nothing new about this kind of irresponsible assertion.

The security policy document, which Pakistan will review yearly, had drawn attention to the danger of ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalization’ inside Pakistan, which has grown with the blessings of civilian and military rulers. That is why perhaps no effort has even been made in the land of the pure, as Pakistan styles itself, to eradicate the twin evils. Yet, Prime Minister Imran Khan thunders every day over India. Bytes and bravado lead him neither here nor there.

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