Pakistan’s Role in Regional Stability and Peace
Taking cognizance of the modern world trends such as renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development, Pakistan has always played a positive role in regional stability and peace.
As regards the sacrifices, rendered by the people of Pakistan and Armed Forces, during the Global War on Terror, the idea of regional stability and peace cannot be better understood other than Pakistan which has faced huge losses in political, social, economic and military terms. In this regard, several personnel of its Armed Forces and intelligence agencies, especially those of the ISI were martyred; while the country has born the brunt of unimaginable collateral damage, instability, perennial acts of subversion, sectarian violence and so on. In the last 13 years, Pakistan’s losses, during war against terrorism have amounted to 102 billion dollars.
In the last few years, while ignoring the responsibilities of the US, ISAF and Afghan regime, US-led NATO powers have continuously been insisting upon Pakistan to ‘do more’ against the militancy in the tribal areas in order to stop cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. In this regard, the then US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and some high officials accused Pak Army and ISI of close contact with the Haqqani network.
During her visit to India, the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, while showing US paradoxical approach had remarked, “New Delhi would bring prosperity and peace to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Pakistan must do more to tackle terror groups operating from its territory being used for attacks that destabilize Afghanistan or India.” And when she visited Pakistan, she recognized by saying, “Pakistan has a critical role to play in supporting Afghan reconciliation and ending the conflict.” The US Secretary of State explained, “Her country is also committed to the economic development of Pakistan”, and “supports regional economic integration between Pakistan and all its neighbors.”
Besides, US top officials have repeatedly stated that Pakistan has a key to the stability and peace in Afghanistan, and they need Islamabad’s help in this respect.
It is mentionable that since April 2011, some 200 to 400 heavily-armed insurgents from Afghanistan’s side entered Pakistan’s region from time to time, targeting the security check posts and other infrastructure. They have massacred several innocent people and the personnel of security forces. In one of the worst incidents, around 400 Taliban militants who came from Afghanistan attacked two security posts outside Peshawar on December 27, 2012. They killed 2 soldiers and kidnapped 22 Levies personnel whose dumped bodies were found. On June 24, more than 400 hundred militants, entered Pakistan’s region of Dir, and attacked two check posts of the security forces, while bloody clashes between the intruders and Pak Army continued for two days, which resulted in martyrdom of 12 Pakistani troops, beheaded by the Afghan miscreants. This sort of intrusion and mortar attacks also continues inside Pakistan from Afghanistan from time to time.
In this connection, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership have lodged a strong protest with their counterparts in Afghanistan and NATO, saying that their forces were doing nothing to check the activities of the insurgents, based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Afghan government also refused to hand over Maulvi Fazlullah, leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants who have been conducting subversive acts in Pakistan. TTP has also accelerated terror-attacks in Pakistan.
In his meetings with the then US commander General John Allen on June 27, 2012 and with the new NATO/ISAF commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F Dunford on April 1, 2013, Pakistan’s former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani asked them to stop cross-border incursions from Afghanistan.
The way the Afghan militants are challenging a highly professional Pak Army by cross-border attacks is enough to prove that secret agencies—American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have well-established their collective network in Afghanistan are fully backing these incursions to destabilize Pakistan in order to implement their covert agenda against Pakistan, Iran and China.
Regarding regional instability, in 2013, a released video by Washington Free Beacon pointed out that the US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel disclosed during a speech at Oklahoma’s Cameron University in 2011, “India has always used Afghanistan as a second front” and “has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.” Earlier, the then NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal had revealed: “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.” Smilary, US Senator John McCain reminded the Obama administration that encouraging India to take a more active role in Afghanistan, while simultaneously criticizing Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.
However, Afghanistan has become a hub of from where external secret agencies are also sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements to dismember Pakistan to obtain the secret strategic designs of the US, India and Israel against China and Iran. Besides several personnel of security agencies in Balochistan, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and killed many innocent people and Chinese nationals, while conducting subversive acts in other palaces of the country.
Nevertheless, in the recent years, a series of international and regional conferences were held so as to bring stability and peace in Afghanistan before the withdrawal of foreign troops from that country, which would be completed in 2014. NATO has started moving its equipments via Pakistani route. US-led developed nations also pledged billions of dollars for the development of Afghanistan.
As a matter of fact, especially India wants instability in Afghanistan, which favors its clandestine aims. But Pakistan seeks stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible owing to Indian presence there. Hence, Pakistan has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, in the post-2014 scenario, despite the presence of American troops on small scale, New Delhi which has been assisting the Northern Alliance against the Afghan militants will not be in a position to maintain its network due to successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban. Afghanistan will be thrown in an era of uncertainty and civil war. In that drastic situation, foreign donors will not be able to sustain their economic aid in that lawless country.
So, by showing realistic approach, US and other western countries should realize that unlike India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan, while Pak-Afghan stability is inter-related, which is also essential for their global and regional interests. Particularly, Washington must abandon its faulty strategy in this region and double game with Islamabad, and must check Indian secret strategy against Pakistan as well as Afghanistan including other countries of the region.
It is notable that Pakistan has backed stability and peace in the region, as its civil and military officials including diplomats have pointed out on in various global and regional forums. In this connection, Pakistan’s positive approach could be judged from the third trilateral summit at Islamabad, when on February 17, 2013, Pakistan’s ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai put their heads together to forge regional cooperation in multifaceted areas. They also pledged to strengthen cooperation to eradicate terrorism and militancy from the region.
Recently, Islamabad concluded security agreement with Iran for border management. Besides, Pakistan has also participated in the conferences which also include Turkey—with the aim for regional stability and peace.
Pakistan’s willingness to resolve issue of infiltration across the Pak-Afghan border, terrorism, and to invest in development of social sector like health and education in Afghanistan shows its peaceful diplomacy.
It is noteworthy that on May 18, this year, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Afghanistan, and participated in a tripartite meeting with the Afghan Chief of General Staff, Gen. Sher Muhammad Karimi and ISAF Commander Gen, Joseph Dunford. They reviewed the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan. The transfer of security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces in the wake of US, ISAF drawdown—enhanced bilateralism between Islamabad and Kabul with particular emphasis on coordination arrangements along Pak-Afghan Border. Gen Sharif said that Pakistan considers security and terrorism as the common enemy of both the countries.
Unfortunately, anti-Pakistan propaganda by hostile foreign elements, particularly India, calling it epicenter of terrorism is not only in contravention to ground realities, but also totally skewed and baseless.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan supports Afghan peace process, as initiated or led by Afghanistan and other neighboring countries including some western powers and Turkey. Pakistan believes in zero interference in affairs of any other country, especially Afghanistan and India which itself is creating instability in the region. So, anti-Pakistan entities must know that only a peaceful and stable Pakistan can help in facilitating regional stability and peace which are also parts of the US-led western interests.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations