National Security

Relax, Pakistan is not a Fragile State

By Rana Athar Javed

Michael Foucault argues that the constitutive metaphor of modern governance is the ship; from the seventeenth century onwards, politics had been guiding the ship of the state to a safe a harbour. (“Governmentality”). Under the current security environment, the politics of error has made that safe harbour disappeared from the horizon. The recent visit of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry reflects that even the representative of the most powerful government in the world narrates a story before plan a serious engagement.

For all the upheavals and changes that constitute the contemporary Pak-US relations, the basic policy pattern is about giving upheavals meanings and changes a sense of direction in future strategic dialogue. From negotiating with the Taliban to assigning military role to India in Afghanistan and, from helping in counter terrorism strategy to end drone strikes “very soon”, all narratives hint at “happening now” scheme. The substance to a sustainable strategic partnership is omitted.

The defining narrative appears to be related to construct peace around a lead role of India in South Asia. This concept is risky because planning to eliminate risks requires a functional plan. From the regional and Pakistani perspective, placing hostile forces, in order to grant protection and peace to Afghanistan will be a failed policy. Perhaps, under the surface of risk calculations, the US and NATO may have plans to withdraw from new kinds of threats and warfare OR establishing a wider support system to manage the vital air/sea routes of the region.

Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center think tank, said “he believed Washington had no intention of ending drone strikes in Pakistan before the end of 2014, when it pulls troops out of neighboring Afghanistan”. “Behind the bonhomie, trouble lurks,”…“Instead of depicting Kerry’s Pakistan visit as a prelude to an extended period of goodwill, we should simply regard it as a respite from the tensions…”, although Mr. Kerry announced the re-launching of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, broad based talks focused on security, economic and development issues.

For Pakistan, forming a coherent national security narrative about what would happen in the post-2014 must be framed on the basis of both internal and external threats. In the next six months, Pakistan’s vulnerabilities in the fields of energy and counter terrorism could take the battle of policy making at all domestic and international platforms.

How political parties and other institutions response to this difficult situation will ultimately decide the fate of Pakistan’s next generations. Comparatively, the link between making a comprehensive national security policy and relations with the US is a direct one, which is often referred to describe Afghan-India nexus against a peaceful pull out of the US troops in 2014.

Whereas, the revolution in conducting military affairs by the US gives President Obama authority to use precision weapon and drones; the US faces great risks in managing such a doctrine in the long-term. This leads to a timely question whether the US is making “China increases its defence spending, and this may lead the US to a pre-emption-trap. For Pakistan, there are many reasons to frame its independent foreign and security policies because concept of anticipatory defence and shifting balance of power could become a source of permanent instability in Afghanistan.

Additionally, the US and European backing for military and information operations throughout the Middle East have a damaging influence on the political and diplomatic capacity of countries such as Pakistan. The “pulling out” mission” from Afghanistan in 2014 and the subsequent “support role” of the US military to Afghan National Security Force (AFNS) is tearing the confidence of policy makers apart, because once again the US is busy in expanding its post-2014 mandate, rather than reenergizing the negotiation process with the Taliban.

Domestically, while the war on terror and national security policy making have opened up a new discourse over the capacity of civilian and military intelligence services, the notion of Pakistan becoming a fragile state is being propagated by our friends and foes. The increasing risk and moral hazard to undermine such type of information operation relates to the slim role of ordinary citizens, civil society and media. Media’s exaggerated enthusiasm to capitalize on internal security weaknesses will only harm the civil-military relations.

Realistically, it is just becoming fashionable for the major media outlets to deliberately spread despair and response to the ongoing conflict in a manner in which “doing nothing at all”, but debating every aspect of policy that may destabilize and legitimize the views of non-state actors.

To be concluded, despite all the delays and failures, Pakistan’s democratic and military institutions are seriously debating the formulation of a viable security policy. The economic-based security approach could be a useful model for future policy planning. The recent Pak-Chinese trade and economic agreements, Pak-Iran gas pipeline and efforts to establish serious intelligence and resource sharing system between civil and military agencies should send a positive signal to the outside world that, “relax Pakistan is not becoming a fragile state”. The end of hope and less cooperation therefore should not be the options for the democratic and military institutions.