Pakistan, through the decades, had to face problems at the hands of a diverse range of indigenous as well as global antagonists, around its eastern borders with India in general and western borders in particular, sometimes under the shadow of communism and sometimes at the hands of the extremist religious factors. It has been trying to curb such foreign tentacles by adopting strategies suitable to the variant situations emerging time to time. Though, the situation has fairly been under control, but it is mostly elusive, leaving glaring adverse internal and external imprints on our society and state.
Octopuses are amongst the most intelligent and behaviourally diverse sea animals inhabiting the diverse regions of the oceans. With four pairs of arms around its beak, a mouth and two eyes in the center, they carry out their numerous strategies to defend themselves against their attacking enemies by way of spitting ink, camouflage, hiding and quickly jetting through waters etc. They stalk their eight arms behind them as they go swimming. Above all, with no internal or external skeleton, they have the capacity to squeeze through tight places in the seabed.
On every imperialistic and terrorist undercurrent in the vicinity of its borders as well as the country, Pakistan always agitates the matter with Kabul and Indian leaderships. It results in statements from the highest political and military leadership, visits to Kabul and New Dehli and calling the ambassadorial staff in the respective embassies.
On its western borders since decades, Pakistan has been facing various threats in multiple forms to its society, state and even ‘ideology.’ Sometimes, it came from the communist Soviet occupation of Kabul posing threats to its ‘ideologies’ and for the other times ‘ideologies’ themselves stood up to be fierce adversaries to its society and state, hitting its very peace and tranquility by terrorism as well as damaging the very spirit of sovereignty by way of direct or indirect aerial drone and land spy interventions. However, Pakistan so far has been able to manage to counter such moves, though at a very high cost of lives and peace.
Pakistan has been endeavoring to react differently to its diverse predators but it has mostly resulted in adverse effects inside the county. Every new situation gave rise to more complex circumstances for the country inside, badly affecting its socio-economic growth. Jihad, Taliban factor and now the recent US support package to fight terrorism in the region, have led to grave implications for the country. We are not sure whether we have been able to rightly identify the trailing movements of our octopus adversaries, without pointing them out whoever they are, or whether we have devised good counter strategies.
It is not the merits of the policies that matter, but theie results. They have obviously not been failures, but neither are they a success. Policies and strategies look meritorious on paper but failures on implementation. Follow-ups in almost all the strategies remained are ignored. They can be labeled as a ‘Geneva mess up’, like in the follow up of withdrawal of Soviet troops from Kabul in 1988 when did not go well for the region.
Paradoxically, during a short stay at Kabul, I saw the local population of Kabul marching on the road against Pakistan strategies, blaming it for not uprooting the terrorists who were working against Afghanistan from Pakistani soil across the borders. However, quite interestingly, it has also been observed in the eastern areas of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border that the local population is fed up with the terrorists and sanctuaries on their soil against Pakistan, maybe, not for any love lost for Pakistan but for their own socio-economic reasons, including border closures and trade benefits. The situation is aggravated by general crime, including dacoits and robbers on the roads, committed not necessarily to the Taliban but perhaps only use their name to intimidate victims.
The fact also remains that the situation inside Pakistan is not that optimistic, rather sometimes it seems worse than that in Afghanistan. True, Pakistani strategies also seem not to be that successful in handling the Pakistan-based Taliban working both against Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, but at the same time Pakistan seems to be falling prey to the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan than the Afghani Taliban. It was fairly substantiated from the fact that our travel from Kabul to Turkham seemed more peaceful than from Turkham to Peshawar which was much more threatening than the former.
What is good for the goose is also good for the geese. If Pakistan is left to face the octopus inroads and strategies single handedly at the hands of various identified and unidentified factors on its western borders, especially, in the wake of CPEC preparations, it has all the justification to chalk out its counter octopus strategies. Admittedly, Pakistan has been left with no other option but fencing and random closures of its borders with Afghanistan, and to resort to the military option by way of shelling on the hide-outs in the bordering areas.
While it has fallen into the whorl of terrorism by any reasons of misdirected or dictated policies of the past governments, Pakistan has to be extra careful in devising its fresh strategies. Skilled movements by the numerous identified and the unidentified octopuses threatening Pakistan on its western borders require sharper counter octopus strategies to defend itself.
Sometimes, the blend of political as well as ‘institutional’ policies will work. However, at most times we have seen national stakeholders wavering in between being firm on policies and being soft, and trying to duck international policy makers as well as analysts.
Relying upon a few traditional friends, time tested or otherwise, we have to now offer and accept strategies even from non-traditional prospective partners such as Russia based on nothing but ‘interest’ on the maxim of ‘no foe, no friend, but interest’, especially in the wake our sheer disillusionment met at the hands of traditional friends so far. This all requires a revisit of our internal as well as external strategies, if we really have the resolve as was manifested by the other contemporary nations like Russia, Sri Lanka and even USA in curbing challenges facing them.