The security situation in the South Asian region remains precarious in the backdrop of the dynamics of the global politics, particularly the efforts of the United States of America and its western allies to contain China with Indian support and connivance and the attempt by the latter to take advantage of the permeating situation to persist with persecution of the people of Kashmir with impunity. The nexus between India and US therefore poses a great threat to the security of the region. Yet another threat to peace in the region emanates from continued conflict in Afghanistan.
For well over a year the Indian security forces have continued to violate the ceasefire agreement of 2003. Reportedly during 2017 the Indian forces committed 1900 violations of ceasefire which claimed 254 lives including civilians and Army personnel. Since January 2018, 150 incidents of firing along the LOC have been reported causing a number of civilian casualties. The continued violation of the ceasefire agreement is a calculated attempt to achieve two objectives. One is in the context of Indo-Pak relations premised on the conflict in Kashmir and the other is related to India-US nexus against China.
Keeping the LOC hot is meant to divert the attention of the world from the Indian atrocities and the excessive use of force by her security forces in occupied Kashmir and also to portray the freedom struggle as terrorism which sells easily in the permeating international environment. The Indian government has invariably claimed after its own triggered clashes along the ceasefire line that those killed on its side of the line were the terrorists trying to infiltrate the IHK to carry out acts of terrorism. Unfortunately the US has been endorsing the Indian claims and putting pressure on Pakistan instead of getting the Kashmir issue resolved in conformity with the UN regulations. Its staunch allies in the western world also toe the same line, notwithstanding the fact that the international human rights organizations like Amnesty International have documented all the human rights violations by the Indian security forces.
Looking the other way by US and its allies in regards to the situation in Kashmir is actually a reward to India for serving their strategic and commercial interests in the region. While they keep putting pressure on Pakistan regarding incidents of terrorism in India influenced by the Indian propaganda, they keep enigmatic silence on the Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan and its covert support to insurgency in Balochistan, notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan has provided dossiers containing irrefutable evidence of Indian involvement to the US leaders and Secretary General of the United Nations.
The US is trying to prop up India as a regional super power and a counter weight to the burgeoning Chinese influence in the region and beyond. USA and India are on one page to thwart CPEC which they perceive as a threat to their interests. The signing of a nuclear deal with India by US and subsequently by UK and France in complete disregard to the NPT clauses and manoeuvering of NSG waiver for her is also a reward for India for doing the US bidding in the region, which incidentally also serves the Indian designs to establish its hegemony in the region.
It is perhaps pertinent to point out that in the backdrop of the announcement of new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia by Trump US has adopted a hostile posture against Pakistan, the Indians have also upped the ante against her. Inebriated by its military might and the support of US and its western allies, India has become a warlike state not realizing the dreadful consequences of this kind of posturing against Pakistan as well as China who are not only her neighbours but also nuclear powers.
Growing tensions in the region and continued instability would equally hurt the Indians. History is a witness to the fact that all warlike states ultimately destroyed themselves. The Indians must realize that its own security and economic progress was inextricably linked to peace and security in the region and having tension free relations with its neighbours. It is therefore in her own interest to revisit her policies towards its neighbours, make sincere efforts to resolve the mutual disputes including Kashmir and refrain from attempts to establish its hegemony in the region.
The US also needs to consider the consequences of its policies in the region. By destabilizing the region it would also be hurting its own long term strategic interests. Pakistan has been a US ally since early fifties and in spite of US betrayals has played a very significant role in the war against terror as a front line state. Putting Pakistan under pressure, the way the Trump administration has chosen to do is against the norms regarding conduct of interstate relations, particularly with an ally state which has suffered the most as a frontline state in the war against terror.
The US has all along been blaming Pakistan of double dealing without understanding the ground realities and the complexity of the situation which requires serious engagement between Pakistan and her. The new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia announced by President Trump is a perfect recipe to consign the region to perennial instability.
The US is terribly wrong in choosing the path of continued military confrontation in Afghanistan and punishing Pakistan for its own failures. Peace in Afghanistan and elimination of the phenomenon of terrorism from the region are only possible through meaningful cooperation between US and Pakistan duly supported by the regional countries like Russia, China and Iran who along with Pakistan are the biggest stakeholders in the regional peace.
Peace in Afghanistan is not possible without involvement of Pakistan and the latter cannot be coerced to succumb to the unreasonable and unrealistic US demands. The military and civilian leadership of Pakistan has rightly taken a very firm stand on the emerging situation by saying that the rhetoric of ‘do more’ was not acceptable any more.
It is however encouraging to note that Afghanistan and Pakistan after a prolonged ambience of mistrust are again talking to rebuild bonhomie and cooperate with each in fighting terrorism and the US has also stepped up strikes against TTP operatives based in Afghanistan. The killing of TTP leader Fazlullah in a drone attack in Afghanistan indicates that the US and Afghanistan have at last recognized the need for hitting the TTP operatives and leadership based on the Afghan soil who have been planning and executing terrorist attacks within Pakistan. It is imperative to continue pursuing that strategy. However the US and Afghan government will have to do more to prevent attacks on Pakistan security personnel involved in fencing the Pak-Afghan border and building fortresses and watch-posts which have resulted in some casualties during the last two weeks. Fighting terrorism, promoting reconciliation in Afghanistan and peace in the region requires sincere and determined cooperation between the three.
The writer is a freelance columnist.