Its probably my first piece on international political influence on Pakistan. I strongly feel that with the developing situation. We soon might need to choose sides again and I hope that we choose the right ones this time. We don’t want to side with a situation that it would take a generation to correct our mistakes as currently we face in Pakistan for our past mistakes.
At the center we have a government whose forte might not be the global policy but it is clearly a regional political player for obvious reasons. It may be a blessing and at the same time might back fire as well depending on how our regional allies are aligned to which global partner emerges or re-emerge.
As I write this piece . Russians have started to sound the horn that they want to regain the lost position they had till the 90’s . After many years its current President Vladamir Putin who was a darling for the West until a few years ago is trying to stretch his muscles. Now it could be that he intend to create a distraction for keeping power for a few more years or it could be well possible that he has achieved monetarily and technologically for his armed forces where he feels that he can now confront the world powers left ruling the world after the fall of USSR; after decades of equal supremacy. Either ways his actions could have an out reaching effect.
Now I have been hearing that he might be not very certain about the military threat to the Ukraine but lets not forget that the regimes that Russia has backed i.e. in Libya and Syria have been either wiped out as in the case of the former and is struggling as in the case of the former. Now seeing the change of anti Russian government right at its border and that too backed by the United States might be too much for him to handle. I am sure they would not let this one slide in their back yard without a fight physical or diplomatic.
Now how does it impact Pakistan in my view. Finally, some force equal in size and capability is again getting up to confront the United States view of the world. So US knowing that no other nation holds the capability to hit its shores but Russia would now look towards the North to confront or contain the rising Russian threat. Means simply that they would need another war machine in the region of Middle East and South Asia to out source its battles. I am sure that whilst the US looks north. They would not want a situation that a gap is created for China to form a stronghold to access the warm waters of Arabian Sea and might add to their troubles.
At the same time whilst they would confront Iran on the diplomatic front. With Russia coming out open against United States . It could mean a bigger group of Nations who have been anti US lately or infact its (US’s) victims might look to Russia for the new big brother. I feel Hamid Karzai who has recently been snubbed by Barack Obama might think as well. I am not sure how the Talibans would react to this news but I am sure they would like to sit on a couch and watch this out.
Pakistan’s role becomes more strategic in my point of view as I feel that with the developing situation United States which was planning to pull out forces from Afghanistan would now like to continue holding its forces there to create a flanking strategy in case Russia becomes too over ambitious to challenge its writ. As I am sure the closest port giving them with land access is through Pakistan. Though Iran provides the same but I feel how much the US might want; Israel would never let that proximity happen. So the dependency on Pakistan is significant.
We heard the recent news that Saudi Arabia is in talks with the Pakistan government to send a few army divisions or a division to the Kingdom to safeguard their interest as they see the unrest simmering in the Eastern Province having proximity to Iran. With Bahrain still restless but under control. At the same time Syria and even Egypt in turmoil closer to their borders means a menacing situation for the rulers . Suddenly Saudi Arabia is feeling that they are in need to have more soldiers on the ground. With distrust on the United States on the ground there as some feel that the unrest in the East is because of the US itself. Fearing that it might create another wave of Al Qaeda type fighters if they look to the US again this time and with wars so close to their border. They know for sure that they would have to look to ancillary options like Pakistan; a brotherly state for the same purpose. I am sure this could be an amicable solution for all as US would now like to focus on Russia and as well at the same time with Iraqi oil under their control would not like to be embroiled in the Saudi issue as it might impact their relationship with the government in Iraq as they (Iraqi government) are now closer to Iran. US would like to out source this to the next best war machine with able bodied men in the region. Pakistan is that ideal fit.
So at the same time whilst I feel that the US is going no where from Afghanistan any time soon to not only keep a check on Russia but also fearing that if Karzai goes the Russian way . The block of Russian-Iran-Afghanistan could mean disaster for their interests in the region. So I feel dependency on Pakistan would increase and at the same time I am sure they would like to focus on one enemy at the time. Means either they would like to clean up the Taliban issue before Russian juggernaut wakes up completely or would like to have peace with Talibans. Now I am sure whilst US may for a moment gulp down their ego and drink to that with a big grin on the face. I doubt the radicals within Taliban would be forgiving and some might continue to fight . Again which means US needs to be closer to Pakistan as an ally to make sure that whilst they focus on Russia they are not attacked from the rear in form of Talibans.
It could be a possibility that Russian might enter an alliance with Talibans to avenge the US for their defeat in the late 80’s . I am sure that Talibans would have less trouble engaging with the Russians now as they are a religious state unlike the communists mindset they earlier had in the past as they were USSR.
So its time that Pakistan plays its cards well. I strongly feel that they should not be an easy ally for United States but should take severe advantage from the arising situation if it reaches that level and bargain properly. If I would be in the government . My first list of demand would be 5000 MW worth of Nuclear Power Facilities across the country. Second on the list would be Desalination Plants at the coast to ensure adequate water supplies for the future and Third to write off its loans by at least 50% . Last but not the least give us the F-16’s which never came as promised . Well I am sure there are more like health care etc but I am sure that our rulers are smart enough to ask otherwise.
I am sure they would all find an opportunity to become richer by selling themselves off. Maybe setting a steel mill in the US or may be in Russia if I am a Sharif. And if I am a Zardari . I would go for a dinner with Cate Blanchett followed by a castle in California. But I wish had it been Gen Pervez Musharraf. He could have negotiated it better. Now don’t tell me that he gave in 2001. He ensured that he get Pakistan bank rolled and at the same time contained the war and also remained with the wealth which he accumulated by serving the Pakistan Army as seen recently that not a single case of corruption has been discovered against him though the hounds chase him.
But lets see how it goes. The situation in Ukraine and its end would determine the future or else I would seem over optimistic after a few months if some one reads this piece. I feel that Ukraine issue can bring the balance to the force. At the same time I wish it reduces pressure on our mother land and serves better for us. Pakistan Zindabad!