US-Af-Pak tripartite interests: Time is running out!

Published: September 1, 2012

Today the world is questioning the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and is worried about the possibility of these falling in the hands of Taliban and other extremist forces. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

Amidst reports of an anti-Taliban insurgency in the provinces of Ghazni, Paktia, Kunar, Nuristan and Laghman gaining strength, time for Pakistan’s clay-footed policymakers is running out fast. The restless provinces of Kunar and Nuristan are registering signs of a coordinated anti-Taliban militancy led by the former Mujahideen commanders.

While it looks increasingly possible that US-led Nato forces and IEDs could eventually pull off something resembling a military victory on which to build a negotiated settlement with the hostile forces, the Pakistani defence establishment seems to be frozen in the past. While Pakistan decided to run endless talk shows analysing the pros and cons of a North Waziristan operation, Washington is fed up with the waiting game and is in the process of preparing for and delivering a final blow to the insurgent Taliban factions.

During all these years, Pakistan had the luxury of choosing the way forward in its Afghan policy. It could have shunned the guerrillas choking their supply lines and moved fast in its own national interest which would have attracted immediate dividends. The anti-Taliban operation across the tribal areas would have made Pakistani cities and towns more secure. The prestige of the Pakistani armed forces would have increased to an image of a responsible regional power in the eyes of the international community and Islamabad could have been in a position to press for its own terms of engagement. The economic benefits and market access could also have come as a natural windfall. In the absence of bilateral trade and foreign investment, however, the Pakistani economy is grinding to a halt.

Today the world is questioning the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and is worried about the possibility of these falling in the hands of Taliban and other extremist forces. More than 30,000 civilian and security personnel have been killed during this time. The policy has given rise to extremism and radicalism in Pakistani society which looks to fall in the lap of ultra-orthodox forces who are patrons of  the Taliban. It looks increasingly possible that the Afghan endgame will be played with or without Pakistani support and Pakistan’s seat on the negotiating table could be dictated by other players, including India.

They say time and tide waits for none. It can’t be any different this time round.

Read more by Rizwan here.

Mohammed Rizwan

Mohammed Rizwan

A senior reporter for The Express Tribune based in Lahore.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    NIcely put and makes good sense.
    What the past and our present health shows is, that we got it wrong. Some have benefited immensely from this but the Nation has suffered. As another writer has nicely expressed that we ‘ endorse failure with failure ‘ and history will repeat itself because we lack what it takes to do right. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Well said. I believe the problem is that Pakistan has only been able to see threats, never opportunities. So when there are choices available between a bold move against terrorists that can bolster the nation’s flagging reputation and help it derive some benefit from its endlessly trumpeted geo-strategic location vs continuing its double dealing game so that it can keep the region unstable and prevent India from gaining ground in Afghanistan, it will always opt for the latter, regardless of the high costs that it individually continues to pay. As Pakistan continued to be consumed by its capitulation to the dark side, other nations (including China) are likely to slowly distance themselves from the possible consequences of its economic and political collapse. It is suprising that the armchair analysts and their overactive imaginations never prophesize a scene where Pakistan goes under, and how that can be prevented by some hard thinking and soul-searching.Recommend

  • Anti-Pakistan

    Pakistan played its part, and tried to destroy Afghanistan as much as it could, but it will be answered by wiping out Pakistan from the face of the earth, India and Afghanistan are going to do that in long runRecommend

  • Asif Ali khan

    I don’t agree that nuclear arsenal will go in the hands of extremists.Pakistan Armed forces are capable to save it.As North Waziristan military operation is concerned,yes it is the need of the hour to root out the base of the extremists, the extremists are the enemies of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ofcource their will be backlash in all the cities of Pakistan but I think if Pakistan Army do a sincere operation,common citizens will stand with the soldiers and the whol nation will support our Army as people are fed up with the militancy and bad economic condition of Pakistan.people want to live with peace and honour,in the presence of extremist Pakistan will face disgrace in the international community.Pakistan Army and citizens have the capability to root out this menace.Recommend

  • Anoop

    The real trouble will begin after 2012. The leverage of supply routes would have disappeared and US will threaten Pakistan with sanctions and ultimately slap them. You think the economy is bad now, think of it after having sanctions.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Pakistan is on the horns of a dilemma not knowing how to escape its travails. For years citizens were fed on propaganda that India coveted its territory, Russia wanted a warm water port, CIA, RAW and Mossad were after its nuclear weapons. This created the impression that all its ills were due to scheming elsewhere. Having created gangs of armed lashkars to extend its military reach and attain misplaced foreign policy goals, it is now hoist with its own petard.
    The problem with indoctrination is that the instructor can also fall a victim to his own propaganda. No wonder sympathizers for the Jihadi industry can now be found in all arms of the Government and society, making the job of rooting out terrorists a costly and risky affair. The first signs of a civil war are very visible. The Military is vertically split between Jihadi sympathizers and moderates which explains their dismal results in tackling safe havens in the North east. Media is also not allowed in those areas because territory has been ceded if not lost, but countrymen are not fully informed. Multiple complicated deals have been made without State approval, in short the pack of cards is ready to collapse.
    Those who have the means to emigrate will take their money and scoot, no foreign investor in his right mind will come — without financial aid an economic meltdown is inevitable.

    If Pakistan has to have a chance to survive as a nation state it must show the will by going after all its erstwhile allies like Quetta Shura and Haqqani modules and hunt them down like rabid dogs. The message will go out to all other groups of fanatics that the State means business. The time for pulling wool over the eyes is way gone. Recommend

  • Dera jamali

    Indian trolls cringing as alwaysRecommend

  • Maria

    @Anti-Pakistan: What is about Indian trolls that make them so obsessive that they can’t just read their own news? For your information, Afghanistan has always been a lackey of the Indians from the day the Indians got their freedom from the British in 1947. Afghanistan is paying the price for their own internal discord because all the ethnic groups have fought among themselves and they have allowed themselves to become a base for Indian criminals to cross the border into Pakistan and attack innocent civilians. I think India and Afghanistan should worry more about how they may implode over time and be wipe away as nations.Recommend