The civil-military imbalance and Pakistan’s isolation
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2016-06-02 09:47:13

The civil-military imbalance and Pakistan’s isolation

 

Two former defence secretaries insist the trade route which is being established by Iran, India and Afghanistan, linking Chabahar Port with Afghanistan, is a security threat. The comments made by the former defence secretaries just a week after the agreement for the trade route was signed by Iranian, Afghan and Indian leaders, is a reflection of the opinion held in military circles, which have been deeply suspicious of the port and the trade route. Speaking on the first day of a three-day workshop on Monday which was hosted by a local think tank, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) on ‘National Security, Deterrence and Regional Stability in South Asia’, former defence secretary retired Lt-Gen Asif Yasin Malik said: “The alliance between India, Afghanistan and Iran is a security threat to Pakistan” and added that he feared that Pakistan is going into isolation. The civil-military divergence of views on foreign policy issues is best illustrated by the statements of Sartaj Aziz and two former defence secretaries on the Chabahar agreement. Aziz had said Pakistan welcomed projects of regional connectivity which have potential to generate economic activity. Further that Pakistan was considering linking Gwadar with Iranian harbour Chabahar and declaring Gwadar and Chabahar as “sister ports”. A full time foreign minister will make little difference if he is required to sell unworkable policies made by an inflexible establishment. While dealing with sovereign countries, irrespective of their size or strength, there is a need for patient bargaining. When a fait accompli has taken place, irrespective of its being undesirable, diplomats do not lose calm and try to find a way out. The establishment on the other hand remains inflexible and insists on having the results of its own choice even if this leads to useless confrontation. Pakistan faces isolation today. The US Congress has put restrictions on the sale of F16s to Islamabad through American funding and has also put conditions on disbursement of a big chunk of aid. Action against the Haqqani Network and the release of Dr Shakil Afridi are not issues on which the FO can take a decision. Kabul insisted on access to its trucks carrying goods to Indian cities. When this was denied by the establishment it decided to go for the Chabahar route. Lodhi suggests Pakistan use China’s influence for fixing problems. Despite its longstanding border dispute with India, China has good working relations and a booming trade with India. We continue to ignore Beijing’s suggestion to have a similar policy towards New Delhi.

pk.shafaqna.com

 

 

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