It is always a great read when you see your foreign minister telling off the US saying that Pakistan will not follow American interests and only pursue its own. It is only when you start reading other things elsewhere that you start thinking what the former and latter are.
So what exactly are the US interests in Pakistan?
Considering that it is not 1982 the US interest is no longer to wage jihad in Afghanistan to drive off the Soviet forces. As it happens the US interest in 2018 is the exact opposite.
Yes, we can fill opinion pages, consume air time and rehash official statements, underlining how the US funded those very mujahideen that it now wants out, but the argument at best illustrates passable knowledge of high school South Asian history, or International Relations 101, and does not in any way whatsoever have anything meaningful to contribute in the world we currently live in.
For, those that are actually surprised, nay shocked, by a state not having the same policy for a region after over three decades are either used to rigid evangelic doctrines in the garb of policies, or have a similarly fixated comprehension of the term ‘interests’.
So let’s all give out a collective bellow of shock at this turnaround in thinking at White House drawing board, and get it done with once and for all. Because next we will have to juxtapose our own deep state’s interests in Pakistan.
So what exactly are the deep state’s interests in Pakistan?
They are to use jihadist proxies to gain control over Afghanistan and Kashmir. In the former, the deep state wants to ram in a radical Islamist government that wouldn’t be wooed by New Delhi, and in the latter it wants to militantly take over what it believes is its right.
Funnily enough, these were the exact same interests for the Pakistani in 1982. And indeed in 1962 – or 1952 – or as long back as you want to go back in time.
Even when the ‘first Pakistani’ Mohammed bin Qasim arrived in the Indian subcontinent and slaughtered the indigenous people in the 7th century, the ‘first Pakistan’s’ interest too happened to seize control over the region through jihad.
Little wonder that he has occupied such prominent space in Pakistani school curricula, which helps not only create those willing to wage that very jihad, but also significantly more – but equally important – those buying and selling it ideologically.
Therefore, as of 2018, it is Pakistan’s interests to continue to back jihad and jihadists as foreign policy and security tools, with the illusion that it would help Islamabad ‘control’ Kabul and somehow liberate Kashmir as well.
Jihad, the idea that actually has kept the Pakistani state hostage throughout the current century, is actually continued to be believed in as a policy that would liberate Kashmiris. And this is not just an idea perpetuated by fringe terror groups – this is the military establishment’s official policy that is in turn embraced and propagated by the state.
Therefore, Pakistan’s interests entail keeping the jihadist groups active, or at the very least relevant – which is why there’s a full-throttle mainstreaming of them going on right now – domestically, so that they can be ready to explode whenever, and wherever, required.
Hence, if over 70,000 people dying and complete devastation of economy hadn’t thoroughly conveyed this, perhaps it should be spelled out in words as well: the interests of the Pakistani state are not the interests of Pakistan and definitely not in the interests of Pakistanis.
This gives some context to the foreign minister’s words saying that Pakistan will not follow American interests but pursue its own. For, while Uncle Sam is no saint crying out for the Pakistanis, apparently it’s in ‘US interests’ to implement policies that would make Pakistan a less volatile place.