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Time for Pakistan to abandon strategic depth for economic central foreign policy

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Time to say good bye to strategic assets

The new world is giving a high priority to diplomatic relations among different countries and nations on the basis of economic interests & human security mainly. America is the sole superpower in the world today, have been also making economic concerns central to its foreign policy.

The new human security concept brings with it a new vista of awareness. In order to operate successfully in the new environment, one need to focus more on economic development, as it provides basis of human as well as state security.

In an Op-Ed titled “America’s pacific century‘, published on the web site of the ‘Foreign Policy’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlines specifically Asia pacific America’s foreign policy based purely on economic interests.

Secretary Clinton has focused increasingly on the economy since taking over at the State Department in 2009, shifting the focus of the world’s biggest economy toward rivals in Asia.

She recently delivered promising remarks to the U.S.-India Higher Education Summit at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where India has acknowledged, educational collaboration is a driving force in US and India strategic dialogue.

I’m sure that world will also welcome us to experience new economic based realities, but we are stuck in strategic depth policy. Lamentably, Pakistani establishment still adheres to its strategic narrative and ‘security state’policy. Though Pakistani security establishment reluctant to change narratives of its foreign policy, yet it’s quite visible that America has gradually lost its faith in Pakistan and made its mind up that old style relations are over. The Washington Post’ Report says, ” The Obama administration has launched the opening salvos of a new, more aggressive approach toward an Afghan insurgent group it asserts is supported by Pakistan”.

The new policy was made at a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Obama two weeks ago and was intended to “send a signal” that the United States would no longer tolerate a safe haven for the most lethal enemy of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, or Pakistan’s backing for it.

The report further unveils:

Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, conveyed administration resolve to Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani at a secret meeting in Saudi Arabia. The United States wanted a relationship with Pakistan, officials said Donilon told Kayani, but it also wanted the Haqqani attacks to stop.

Pakistani officials said Donilon offered Kayani three choices: kill the Haqqani leadership, help us kill them, or persuade them to join a peaceful, democratic Afghan government.

A drastic increase in suspicious towards Pakistan is a matter of grave concern, American experts and think-tank now publicly suggest the old approach needs reshaping. Bruce O. Riedel writes, in his OP-ED ‘A New Pakistan Policy: Containment’:

“AMERICA needs a new policy for dealing with Pakistan. First, we must recognize that the two countries’ strategic interests are in conflict, not harmony, and will remain that way as long as Pakistan’s army controls Pakistan’s strategic policies. We must contain the Pakistani Army’s ambitions until real civilian rule returns and Pakistanis set a new direction for their foreign policy.”

The OP-ED further underlines the seriousness of mistrust and the need for change:

The generals who run Pakistan have not abandoned their obsession with challenging India. They tolerate terrorists at home, seek a Taliban victory in Afghanistan and are building the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. They have sidelined and intimidated civilian leaders elected in 2008. They seem to think Pakistan is invulnerable, because they control NATO’s supply line from Karachi to Kabul and have nuclear weapons.

The generals also think time is on their side — that NATO is doomed to give up in Afghanistan, leaving them free to act as they wish there. So they have concluded that the sooner America leaves, the better it will be for Pakistan. They want Americans and Europeans to believe the war is hopeless, so they encourage the Taliban and other militant groups to speed the withdrawal with spectacular attacks, like the Sept. 13 raid on the United States Embassy in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghan police officers and civilians.

It is time to move to a policy of containment, which would mean a more hostile relationship. But it should be a focused hostility, aimed not at hurting Pakistan’s people but at holding its army and intelligence branches accountable. When we learn that an officer from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is aiding terrorism, whether in Afghanistan or India, we should put him on wanted lists, sanction him at the United Nations and, if he is dangerous enough, track him down. Putting sanctions on organizations in Pakistan has not worked in the past, but sanctioning individuals has — as the nuclear proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan could attest.

Offering Pakistan more trade while reducing aid makes sense. When we extend traditional aid, media outlets with ties to the ISI cite the aid to weave conspiracy theories that alienate Pakistanis from us. Mr. Obama should instead announce that he is cutting tariffs on Pakistani textiles to or below the level that India and China enjoy; that would strengthen entrepreneurs and women, two groups who are outside the army’s control and who are interested in peace.

Military assistance to Pakistan should be cut deeply. Regular contacts between our officers and theirs can continue, but under no delusion that we are allies.

Osama bin Laden’s death confirmed that we can’t rely on Pakistan to take out prominent terrorists on its soil. We will still need bases in Afghanistan from which to act when we see a threat in Pakistan. But drones should be used judiciously, for very important targets.

In Afghanistan, we should not have false hopes for a political solution. We can hope that top figures among the Quetta Shura — Afghan Taliban leaders who are sheltered in Quetta, Pakistan — will be delivered to the bargaining table, but that is unlikely, since the Quetta leadership assassinated Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and a former Afghan president, last month. The ISI will veto any Taliban peace efforts it opposes, which means any it doesn’t control. Rather than hoping for ISI help, we need to continue to build an Afghan Army that can control the insurgency with long-term NATO assistance and minimal combat troops.

Strategic dialogue with India about Pakistan is essential because it would focus the Pakistani Army’s mind. India and Pakistan are trying to improve trade and transportation links severed after they became independent in 1947, and we should encourage that. We should also increase intelligence cooperation against terrorist targets in Pakistan. And we should encourage India to be more conciliatory on Kashmir, by easing border controls and releasing prisoners.

America and Pakistan have had a tempestuous relationship for decades. For far too long we have banked on the Pakistani Army to protect our interests. Now we need to contain that army’s aggressive instincts, while helping those who want a progressive Pakistan and keeping up the fight against terrorism.

It is time for Pakistan to abandon its security doctrine based on Paranoia and megalomania. And now, we have to make economic central to our foreign policy, if we want to protect and ensure our sovereignty.

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Junaid Qaiser

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  • Economic aid should be the focus of foreign policies these days keeping the global financial crisis in perspective. US is doing its level best to send in economic aid to Pakistan. Pakistan should also try to come to the expectations of US