National Security

Peace & Democracy

A democratic transition can be utilized to preempt the decision-making thereby strategizing a future plan for a state, which has been victim of chaos, manufactured perception that a country with history of wars does not possess the capacity to function as a democratic nation. The latter assessment lacks substantial elaboration, rather than the preposition that “only” a Western style or American democracy would warrant system validity, is inherently wrong. Most of the democratic states fought wars, generated chaos and through unwritten laws of war procured legitimacy to develop an action plan for nation building.

Thus, rewriting the history of invasions (e.g. Afghanistan & Iraq) as victories in the battlefields and practically omitting the role of diplomacy for the future governments in these countries. This characterization must concern historians because validity of a democratic system is linked with establishing peace, rather than initiating wars and expansion of hostilities.

This distinction is also important because currently, as Pakistan approaches its own democratic transition, the so-called diplomatic activity is fully operational. Everyday a new international guest orchestrates offensive charm to gain the attention of the Prime Minister-elect Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The sole purpose appears to be cultivating the sense of understanding of US national security requirements in Afghanistan and recollecting the assurances that the new democratic government will continue to promote US image in Pakistan.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins also made his maiden visit (May 29 to 30th). In his meeting with prime minister-elect Nawaz Sharif, he discussed “bilateral and regional issues, including advancing shared counterterrorism objectives; increasing economic opportunity; strengthening civilian democracy and civil society; and supporting an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process”.

The flaw in such a traditional statement is that it raises the hopes of ordinary citizens that since Americans are once again need Pakistan for the next nineteen month (2014-withdrawal plan), there may be an economic opportunity to stabilize socioeconomic structures. But, the way statement begins, “bilateral and regional” and “advancing shared counterterrorism objectives” concludes the entire engagement plan. The US requires Pakistan to assist in bringing the Afghan Taliban to negotiation table, although its own territory is being attacked from across the border in Afghanistan.

What makes it even more complicated is that the US rarely uses its leverage to tackle the question of safe heavens of terrorists that are being used against Pakistan. Whereas, President Obama desires a strong democratic system in Pakistan and seeks more cooperation, his diplomatic & defence entourage, NATO and ISAF never really supported the building of more border check posts at their side in Afghanistan. This step is important to convince Pakistani people that Americans are not using their country to make strategic gains, as it did during the post-Cold War era.

Ostensibly, the absence of wars and conflicts among the democratic states projects a threatening future for the developing nations. The contemporary states including Pakistan should be able to create a stable security environment, if its own national interests are not being placed in competition with the US. The error of judgment would lead to create further misunderstanding between the two allays.

On the other hand, the wide spread assumption that the US holds the key to establish democratic states, which can cause peace appears to be eroding because war is being fixed in the international political system. The US along with NATO countries is conducting wars in Afghanistan and aiding rebels throughout the world. The World’s largest democracy India too is involved in massive human rights violations in Kashmir, establishing its bases in Afghanistan with an objective to destabilize Pakistan’s regional relations.

The question then is does democracy of today promotes peace? The empirical evidence of past couple of decades demonstrate that a democratic government through holding elections may be the best system, but, the sociopolitical environment of respective countries is paramount to sustain the wide requirements of democracy.

To be concluded, a knowledgeable facilitator and peace maker is the one who sees common sociopolitical mechanism of a nation, ideally, a certain level of leverage would be a threshold, which is simply appealing to the general masses and all the stakeholders. To interpret cooperation only in terms of effectively influencing a country’s state affairs is not justifiable because the US and European countries clearly show their desire to micromanage Pakistan’s national security and energy matters, hence raising suspicion about the level of future US interference in sociopolitical construction of the new democratic government. This situation must be avoided during the tenure of next democratic government.