By Farman Nawaz
American duplicity in the war on terror has changed the mentality of Pakistani policy makers. Keeping in view the American way of politics of pressurizing, implication of sanctions, direct attacks and supporting anti-state elements has warned Pakistan to take necessary steps to avoid circumstances like Libya, Egypt and Syria.
Liberal, secular and democratic circles here in Pakistan have always opposed Pakistan army dual policy regarding Taliban. We always criticized army for supporting nurseries of Taliban. Several times in my articles I suggested that Pakistan should also keep in touch with anti-Taliban sections in Afghanistan to gain their support for establishing pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan and to eliminate extremism. But I think our analysis was not based on the ground realities.
Pakistan military has always supported Afghan Taliban and even kept in touch with Pakistani Taliban too. The reason was simply just refraining extremists to sell their loyalties to Western powers and to take any serious action against Pakistan integrity. Similarly Pakistani army also allowed the politicians to govern the country so that no one can get the support of the Pakistani public to rebel against the state. For the same reasons new faces and ‘clean’ politicians are introduced in the system as an alternate leadership. Corruption scandals in Pakistan can result in the loss of confidence of the people in politicians that’s why people like Imran khan are encouraged to take part in the main stream politics.
Keeping a strong control on the internal politics of the country the Pakistani policy makers have now decided to get in touch with the enemies of the past. After saying ‘yes’ to American demand in 2001, Musharaf, the planner of Kargil mission, tried his best to settle the disputes with India to secure its eastern border. The decision of Musharaf to get involved in War on terror is severely criticized in Pakistan but it was his compulsion to divert the expected American anger. Russian and Chinese leadership never criticized Musharaf decision of taking part in the war on terror. The perception that India and Pakistan are coming closer to each other because of American pressure is not logical because in Musharaf period there was no American pressure to settle disputes with India.
Pakistan’s tilt towards Russia is the part of the same policy. Chinese inability to invest in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline has forced Pakistan to look towards Russia. May be it could be a an understanding between China and Russia, as China always avoided to come in direct confrontation with US, to engage Russia in Balochistan and indirectly in Iran to stop the American pace in the region. Similarly Russian engagement – still a strong military opponent of US – in Pakistan can change the scenario of the region. Once Russian advancement in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s support has given a chance to Western powers to get a strong foothold in the region and now again the mutual efforts of Pakistan, having a strong control over anti-US forces, and Russia, a force that has still the capacity to pay back in the same coins, can bring peace to this region.
Wrapping Taliban in Pashtun culture, Pakistan can make them acceptable for the regional players. Sitting with Taliban is better for anti-Taliban forces in a scenario when there are rumors of creating a Pashtun state by combining Pashtun belts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. If Pakistan and Russia make such an arrangement that hardliner Taliban sit with moderate forces of Afghanistan then I think it would be a political charisma of the last four decades. Once Russia has invited leaders of Hamas to Moscow so why should not it now invite Taliban to Moscow to again play a role in the region but keeping in view the interest of Pakistan.
Once Russia has settled our dispute with India in 1965 and now again Russia can settle the dispute of Pak-Indo-Iranian gas pipeline. This gas pipeline dispute is not just a matter of solving a problem of gas shortage but rather its solution can cause in a major shift in policy making of the region. This event can give an upper hand to Russia to exploit the defense as well as civil markets of the region. Still there are opportunities in this region which are out of Chinese control. But Russia has a different history of handling the issues and only Russia can invest in the unexplored opportunities of the region.
Russian media is not very optimistic about the recent contacts between Pakistan and Russia but some segments of Pakistani media are very enthusiastic about the recent Pakistan’s tilt towards Russia. But it is a fact that Russian involvement in the region can win the hearts of anti-US Pakistanis. Russia must exploit the anti-US sentiments in Pakistan. This time not only Pakistani public but the army too is fed up of American behavior. American involvement has always supported Martial Laws in Pakistan but Russian tilt may cause in strengthening democracy in Pakistan. Democratic governments in Pakistan have always supported strong relations with regional players. Ball is now in Russian court.