Major GeneralJamshed Ayaz Khan (R)
The holding of free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections in Pakistan is a great achievement. The credit for this goes to all concerned, the masses the political parties and the President. Now, a heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of the victorious political parties. With a divided mandate, the need for national unity has increased manifold. Pakistan is beset with two major problems, viz terrorism and extremism. Finding a quick and practical solution of this problem is extremely important. Half of the problems could be solved by means of negotiations. More is needed to be spent in education and social welfare sectors like building roads, schools and colleges. The strategy to combat the aforementioned problems should not be termed “war on terrorism” as it gives a very negative connotation. Instead, it should be called “strategy against terrorism”. The strategy should cover all the details from the starting point to the end in an elaborate manner and should be pursued in a comprehensive way. Only a permanent solution can lead to long lasting peace. The strategy should be flexible and must involve masses, politicians Ulema, teachers and intellectuals to achieve maximum success in curtailing extremism.
Pakistan needs to expand its relations with other countries as in this era of globalization; no country can live in isolation. In order to safeguard Pakistan ’s interests, the treasury benches should discuss the matters with their allies and plan a comprehensive strategy to address the problems faced by Pakistan . As far as the war in Afghanistan is concerned, the stability in that country is bound to have its effects in Pakistan . If peace prevails there, there will be peace in Pakistan too and vice versa. Afghanistan should join hands with Pakistan in order to devise a policy of “mutual cooperation”. For this purpose links shall have to be further developed with Afghanistan , International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), NATO and US forces.
In the backdrop of above mentioned scenario the relevance and significance of the Gwadar Port increases at large. If a road network is established linking the Gawadar port, Central Asian countries and China as envisaged, will benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan and help improve their economic conditions
Similarly, other countries like Malaysia , Japan , Indonesia , Australia and New Zealand , can benefit from the Gawadar port through trade. But, safety and security of this route is required to be guaranteed and this could be achieved through political stability alone. The new political government in Pakistan needs to ensure the security of the Gawadar route to get maximum economic benefits for the country. Additionally, the government should pay attention to the pipeline project as well.
Though the present government is already reviewing the foreign policy yet they should concentrate on keeping good relations with all the countries and regions, in particular with China, the US, European Union, Russia, Central Asia and India. Besides, Muslim countries should not be ignored. Despite the fact that Pakistan has tried its level best to strengthen OIC, regretfully the institution couldn’t be strengthened to the desired level; reason being that every country has its own national interest. An ideal yet pragmatic step could be to have developing countries like Indonesia , Malaysia , Egypt , Jordan , Pakistan , Bangladesh , and Afghanistan setting up an independent organization of their own so that concrete and practicable decisions could be taken for the establishment and development of commercial links, enhancing trade and defence cooperation.
As for the “war against terrorism”, it requires a statesmanlike decisions. Through consultations and dialogue conducted by seasoned politicians, we could be able to get the United States understand the problems we face and the benefits our strategy could yield. However, it is possible that American policy makers might make certain suggestions in this regard. It is a must that our politicians ensure consensus before taking decisions in this matter because the war against extremism, terrorism, poverty, solution to Kashmir issue, water crisis, inter-provincial harmony and other such problems demand mutual cooperation. All and sundry should join hands, including the President of Pakistan in saving the country and making it strong. It would be better to make full use of President’s experience and the political acumen of politicians to accomplish the common goal.
Pakistan-India relations cannot possibly be normalized by sidetracking the Kashmir issue. The Indian intellectuals advocate Pakistan taking its cue from China in dealing with the issue. According to them China in its bilateral relations with India has delinked “border issues” from “commercial ties”.
What they fail to understand is that Kashmir is not a border issue; rather it is a human rights issue, entailing the right of self determination for the people of Kashmir . If peace is desired to be maintained and development accelerated, the issue of Kashmir shall have to be resolved. Pakistan has shown great flexibility in seeking the resolution of this issue but India did not budge an inch. It is certainly impossible to settle all other issues without solving the Kashmir conflict; Kashmir cannot be put on the backburner, for the reason that the formidable problem of water which Pakistan is beset with is linked to the Kashmir issue.
It seems that the Indian leadership has started understanding this point but they could not manage to get out of the influence of their hawks. In four rounds of peace talks between India and Pakistan , no substantial progress has been made, in spite of the fact that bus and train services are on. If India and Pakistan succeed in solving their problems, this can turn this part of the world into a heaven on earth. India and Pakistan hostility, is adversely affecting the progress of South Asia . Besides, there are some reports that Indian secret agencies are very active in Balochistan and FATA, of Pakistan aiming to stoke up disturbance there. This is about time that India needs to stop this clandestine game. The need of the hour is to forge joint effort in order to put an end to terrorist activities.
Another important dimension of this antagonistic relationship is the presence of a lobby in India which considers other people inferior to them. That is why India ’s relations with Sri lanka and Nepal are also strained. There were the same people who spoiled the game when the Musharraf-Vajpayee meeting at Agra was going to be success. They frustrated all the efforts as such. The middle class and the commoners in India shall have to be in the vanguard in the efforts to ensure that a favourable ambience gets created between the two neighbours. Indians visiting Pakistan get a much better treatment here and they openly express that they found Pakistan altogether different than what the said lobby portrayed. A change will surely take place in India but the process of this change is far too slow.
—The writer is the ‘President’ of Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad
Source: Pakistan Observer, 24/4/2008