What is it that Pakistan fears from India? Ever since the unveiling of Trump’s new policy on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s intelligentsia and media has gone into a defensive mood to shield Pakistan from the danger it faces now that the US has given a larger role to India in Afghanistan. There is nothing unusual about the new policy review on Afghanistan. The tone could be harsh, but that is how the Trump administration voices its concern on almost any issue. From Donald Trump to the NATO’s head, to the Chief of the US military regime, to the leaders of the Afghan government, it is Pakistan that has made the war on terrorism a hard win for the US in the last 16 years. The accusation goes that Pakistan provides ‘safe haven’ to the terrorists to offset elements hostile to Pakistan’s interest in Afghanistan. This narrative has been around for years now. Trump’s policy review has only refreshed the memories. Instead of going into the hues of blaming the US of backstabbing Pakistan it would rather be useful if Pakistan looks inward and find the reason for the neglect of the international community of the sacrifices the country has made against terrorism.

Playing innocent would further isolate us. And if our only modus operandi is to replace one master (the US) with another (China) than of course, we can let Indian fear, US fear, and Afghan fear play us down. India on many occasions, especially after the CPEC project, has openly confessed harming Pakistan’s stability and economic interests. We have presented dossiers ad nauseam to the United Nations and the US about Indian involvement in Balochistan. And when Allah favoured us with Kulbhushan Yadav, living proof that India has been undermining Pakistan’s interest from Afghanistan, we had our moment of relief. But the world kept perceiving Pakistan standing at the wrong side of Afghanistan. Why? Has Pakistan ever asked as to how it lost the goodwill earned from Afghanistan after fighting its war against the Soviet empire and giving shelter to millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan? Where did the country go wrong that the Afghans got closer to India? The problem lies in our foreign policy derivate that depends on the military solution for every problem the country encounter from across borders. Our diplomacy, on the other hand, has been the victim of inertia due to the internal political skirmishes emanating from corrupt practices of the ruling elite. For the last one year, the entire government machinery has been invested in protecting the ruling family from Panama effects.

Pakistan has said loud and clear that it no longer supports either the good or the bad Taliban. The Trump administration has yet to finalise its strategy about dealing with Pakistan, according to the policy review. We do not know whether we would be facing financial sanctions or diplomatic cul de sac. If our conscience is clear and we have dissected the jihad narrative from our foreign policy than we should not have any problem in satisfying the US or its allies about it. Now is the time to prove our dissociation from rogue elements, especially when China and Russia have come to support us against the US. Even though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has welcomed US policy on Afghanistan, many sane voices have rejected it. Even the former Afghan president Hamid Karzai rebuffed it. Any political and economic space given to India in Afghanistan will start a new arena for a proxy war between India and Pakistan. It will turn the clock back to 90’s when the Afghan soil was used for the same purpose. It would further intensify the Kashmir insurgency.

The problem is that the US refuses to see Pakistan emerging as a different country in the new South Asian context where Chinese economic dominance is a reality. What was effective yesterday may not work today? Using the power of the purse to nudge Pakistan to comply with the US demand is perhaps no longer an option. Why would Pakistan endure a loveless affair for $ 900 million when it could get billions from China? The new Afghan policy has been painted on an older canvass that the Bush administration built. The policy is flawed. However, the question is why the US would keep its policies antiquated while spending billion in a winless war. Could it be that winning war in Afghanistan is not an option?

Guess work aside, the reality is that the US may spend as many years in Afghanistan as it may desire, but winning Afghanistan would remain elusive, even if a ‘Mad Dog’ (Nickname of US Secretary of Defence John Matties. He earned this name because of the war crimes he committed in Falluja Iraq) is made in-charge of the war, or more US soldiers are sent to perish in a wilderness that is 60 per cent now in the hands of the Taliban. The salvage of Afghan crisis lies in a political and not a military solution. Once the CPEC project becomes operational, and the Russian economic stakes get stronger in Afghanistan, the US might find staying back even costlier and worth nothing.

Pakistan fears India because India’s bad designs on Pakistan and its rouge policies in Kashmir would spoil the peace of the region. Now is the time for Afghanistan to earn stability not on the back of the US, which can never come, but with the support of the economic development initiated by China in the form of One Belt One Road project.