Saturday, 26 August 2017

Way forward after Trump's Afghan policy speech

Following post may serve as analysis of Mr Trump's speech,  Thanks, but no thanks, Mr Trump:
Following forward for Pakistan is suggested:
* Regardless of threatening posturing by Mr Trump, we need to focus & guard our own interests in the region, because his was just rhetoric. US strategy in Afghanistan may be evaluated from issue to issue basis as when they happen. This will allow us to see the difference between caliberated, intimidating and formal speech & follow up actions.
*Preferably, make peace with less threatening neighbors like Iran & Afghanistan. Reach out.
* Secondly, if possible negotiate with India or at least show intent for it. This may reduce threat from the Western borders. Political govts on both sides play mutual  hate card in line with their short term political gains.
*Better relations with Afghanistan & involvement in its affairs to form a consensual govt are crucial. Afghan Taliban card needs to be played adroitly to remain relevant in evolving regional power matrix.
*China factor is our plus but it also figures out as source of our current problems. Balance has to be drawn from being once US backed frontline state in GWOT to being declared a terror harboring country after giving 70k plus life toll to being a Chinese colony. We matter thats why every big player in the world has interest in our geography and military strength. We should play on our strengths.
*Favorable Russian stance after Trump speech also needs to be evaluated against interests of Pakistan. We should tailor this support to our advantage instead of becoming a tool of Russia. We should learn from our mistakes of previous breakups with US. Big boys need you as long as they need you. No friendships only interests.
* Gain in on already a respectable status among Muslim countries. Political leadership for once has to take reins to safegaurd Pakistan's interests.
*Bring own house in order and renew social contract with people of FATA and Balochistan through education & equal economic opportunities.
*Strengthen institutions. Army is strong institutionally, simply bcoz its independent in its decision making. There might be grey areas but leadership keeps rotating & institution keeps getting stronger. Do Pakistan a favor, instead enslaving institutions, set'em free, make'em independent. For example, if our Foreign Office was a 'free' instituion, it must have had number of options prepared before Trump's speech & they  should have immediately responded & would have guided govt on way forward. Freeing institution will only strengthen the govt.
*Involve public through electronic media debates. Make parliamentary committees for negotiations and dialogue, giving them briefing through foreign office.
*Govt should step forward and take full responsibility of ongoing operations along with Army. Instead of ISPR, information ministry to take charge & defend Pakistan's interests instead of its party leadership.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Thanks, but no thanks. Mr Trump

Though Mr Trump with his showmanship style of unequivocal speech used to utter total nonsense with remarkable conviction yet at Arlington he appeared composed, well-rehearsed and presidential. The reason behind newly found composure was not his seriousness to presidential duties rather mounting pressure on home front particularly spiraling aftermath of Charlottesville incident. In last week his approval ratings plummeted to 28% which also has to do with his bullying of media particularly CNN whom her refers to as Counterfeit News Network. He continues to sack his handpicked cabinet members or they continue to resign from respective jobs. Russian hacking continues to factor in his election campaign of last year. Dwindling economy, high unemployment and inflation rates have been a thorn in his side. On foreign front, once sole superpower of the world, US continues to lose power mileage against China and Russia. Amid these whirling issues, Mr Trump needed auspicious platform like Arlington to connect with his men and women in uniform. He needed to re-assure American people that he was not only a compulsive 'tweeter' but he was also capable of taking on some serious business of statesmanship. 
In South-Asia, Donald Trump’s Afghan policy speech at Fort Myer was eagerly awaited, keenly heard and intensely discussed. Most of our analytical conjecturing missed out on the chaotic background of the speech. Our pundits registered few catch phrases and started cooking their evening broth. Anchors and analysts had another good payday. Opposition lashed at the ruling party and ruling party resorted to its favorite sport on such matters i.e doing nothing. 
 Trump’s speech brought nothing new for Pakistan, Afghanistan or India. Since he did not have the guts to say that he had no choice except continuation of Obama Policy in South-Asia, he resorted to his very own intimidating manner which rose false alarm bells in Pakistan. He mentioned no immediate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan which is continuation of Obama Policy. He gave big brother role to India in the region which is continuation of Obama Policy. He asked Pakistan to do more which is continuation of Obama Policy. In the same speech, whereas Mr Trump blamed Pakistan for harboring Taliban, quite ironically, he hinted to include the same Taliban in formation of government in Kabul, this paradox is also continuation of Obama Policy. He acknowledged sufferings of Pakistani people and threatened to stop American aid to Pakistan which is again continuation of Obama Policy.In the end, it was the same old Obama wine bottled at Trump Towers.

Let’s take stock of Pak-US relations through time. There is nothing to take stock of. There was no relation. Multiple failed marriages of inconvenience between the two states were always necessitated by US interests in the region. Presently, again US does not require Pakistan’s services anymore, so it resorted to same old ‘do more’.
Yes, nothing has changed in US Policy in the region. It does not mean we should never try or stop trying to improve our image across the board. We miserably failed on diplomatic front because for the past four years we had larger than life Mr Nawaz Sharif as our Foreign Minister. While Indians were pulling strings through their business community, notables, Indian-American legislators and lobbyists in Washington, Mr Nawaz Sharif was doing them a great favor, he was busy doing nothing at all. The way he was losing his throat over his abdication from the throne, even one tenth of that energy spent on generating diplomatic goodwill could have done wonders for Pakistan. There is no harm in generating goodwill among comity of nations. Our exports have taken a nosedive. There is no harm in expanding economic relations with other nations.
One last thing on speech, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’, Mr Trump, both literally and figuratively.
Literally, thanks that you made American aid conditional and apparently impossible for Pakistan but no thanks figuratively that we don’t really need your blood dollars. And this is not a reactive thanks rather joyful and gracious thanks. Look at the casualty table and American aid graph over the years.

Flow of Blood Dollars from US to Pakistan over the years

Terrorism related casualties in Pakistan over the years

Terrorism related casualties in Pakistan are directly proportional to the amount of dollars we received from US. In 2009-10 highest amount of American aid was given to Pakistan and now look at casualties in the same years, the highest ever. Has aid of any kind ever changed the fate of a nation? Not in known history.   
No country on God’s earth has fought terrorism the way we have fought. No country on God’s earth has quelled the magnitude of terrorism that we have single handedly quashed. No country on God’s earth has given more life toll than us. No country on God’s earth is ruled by inept nincompoops like our rulers yet the nation perseveres with resilience.
In simple words, after Trump's speech there is hardly any change in US policy towards South Asia except cessation of blood dollars' aid to Pakistan which would mean spillage of innocent blood may also cease. However, what needs to change is the way we manage and govern ourselves. The way we diplomatically move. The way we economically grow.

Only Allah knows the whole Truth.