National Security

Strategizing Pak-US Partnership

By Rana Athar Javed

There are times when it is possible to negotiate directly with the US and confine Pakistan’s concerns over declining professional and institutional relationship beyond maintaining the historical ad hoc strategic arrangements. The 21st round of thetwo-day summit of Pak-US Defence Consultative Group (DCG) illustrates a positive impression. After the settlement, it is proper for the US to adopt a strategy of adhering to permanent national security interests of Pakistan. The principal of sovereignty and legal norms put forward in the post-Salala and against the illegal drone campaign symbolizes that prioritizing Pakistan’s defence & security requirements would eventually be contributing to dissipate controversial provisions of Pak-US dialogues, especially in terms of sanction regime and International law. Thus, proving that the US/NATO should realize that the states “under threat” from militancy and foreign infiltration would never risk its sovereignty at any cost. It was essentially counterproductive to impose harsh economic/military sanctions and not awarding concessions as an application to defeat terrorism and extremism and thereby chance to stabilize Afghanistan.

The DCG meeting of December 3-4, 2012 jointly stated that, “recognizing the enduring security requirements on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the two delegations agreed to cooperate on a prioritized set of Pakistan’s defence requirements which will follow-on consultations on security assistance. The United States and Pakistan also discussed the importance of the Coalition Support Fund and security assistance programs, and agreed to continue consultations on the way forward.” With this type of dispatch, the DCG agreed on continuing American support to Pakistan under Coalition – the DCG remains an invaluable forum to discuss strategic defence policy issues and exchange views on shared security concerns, and committed to continue working together to implement a framework for defence cooperation based on areas of convergence between the US and Pakistani interests to promote peace and stability in the region.” Since both countries tremblingly face the brutal threat of fragmentation in Afghanistan and by extension to other regional economic powers. One assessment is that such situation can be prevented if the US policies shift to a footing of “maximum equality”, which no longer desire Pakistan to just “obey” the orders of a powerful friend. For the most part, Pakistan never seek to replace the US as strategic partner, but a stable and democratic Pakistan needs foreign investments and access to the US market, rather than threats and plans to modify the territorial map of South Asia. Strategizing Pak-US partnership therefore will not only help defeating terrorism and extremism, but will also supply crucial and timely material support to the Pakistani people.

The recent settlement between the US and Pakistan conceded more than the mistrust by which both countries felt the need of appreciation, and deemed it unnecessary to slide into deep and permanent hostility. However, there are groups and ideologues charged with warning policy makers in the US, who consistently construct synthetic threats emanating from nuclear accidents/Taliban controlling the Pakistani state and Balkanization of Pakistan. The presentations of such dangerous scenarios are justly infamous because gradually they are also being employed as psychological methods by negotiators. Providing implicit or explicit support to such rumors, media ploughs, diplomatic intentions, legal and military operations are fully against the array of challenges that both the US and Pakistan are facing.

From its creation in 1947, Pakistan has been the primary target of economic, political and military threats from the forces grew out both from domestic and international networks of vested groups. Over the next two decades, it is crucial that the US and Western powers must help Pakistan in enhancing its economic, energy, defence and security capacities as the emerging new alliances are not limiting their strategic partners to the traditional regions. Also, conducting a foreign policy under the shadow of extreme economic crisis bitterly betrays the sense of equality and national identity character. As far as intelligence sharing arrangement goes, finding a better & balanced system of exchange is increasingly becoming the only option to turn around the fears of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and in the wider world. The intelligence professionals seemed to agree upon that too much hostility and anti-sharing behavior could risk terrorists and “bad guys” slipping out into tiny groups, an assessment that evidently would affect the value of information.

There is also the need of a “new strategy” with the proposition that “before” the US/NATO withdrawal in 2014, every opportunity that enables both Pakistan and Afghanistan to work together must be encouraged and supported by the US. In retrospect to negotiation with Taliban and upgrading Afghan military/security forces, drafting Pakistan’s expertise would open up new channel of communication and trust between the two brotherly neighbors.

Furthermore, apparently dismissive of calls for technological modernization of Pak-military’s weaponry systems, the prevailing optimism can be realized if the US benefit itself by offering to share modern military weapons and education with Pakistani professionals. It would be a leading act of building bridges between the future cadres of army officers and soldiers of both allay countries, which in turn would prevent the nourishment of anti-American sentiments in Pakistan’s civil & military institutions.

To be concluded; the twenty-first century focus of the mighty & dynamic US should not be weakened by specifics of territorial gains OR divide & rule because the lasting repercussions of Vietnam & Cold war created inherent defects in the future foreign relations policy-making. The DCG joint communiqué correctly stated that the future of Pak-US partnership is based on counter-terrorism cooperation, support for the Afghan-led peace process, the 2014 transition in Afghanistan and the need to move the US-Pakistan economic agenda from aid to trade, with specific emphasize on the market access and investment for Pakistani businesses.