The Americans are reportedly busy these days trying to give a concrete shape to their main motive behind the façade of the war on terror, in pursuit of Deputy Under Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy’s statement about two months back that the US intended to maintain long-term presence in Afghanistan, beyond President Obama’s stated position of a pull-out by 2014. Thus, a plan to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq is afoot.
According to a press report, this has raised Pakistan’s hackles because US continued stay next door would be a source of instability and friction in the region and is rightly perceived to be a threat to our national interests. One should not, therefore, be surprised to see our leaders mounting a campaign to lobby regional powers like China, Iran and Russia to bring them on board against the US move. Pakistan has had, it must be recalled, repeated experience of US betrayal.
From Afghanistan, the US intends checking the expansion of Beijing’s influence in energy-rich Central Asia – a virtually impossible task on two counts. First, the sharply rising Chinese economic strength inevitably constitutes a strong mutual pull for Central Asian Republics, on the one hand, and China, on the other; and, secondly, the equally sharply declining economic might of the US would deter it from making the kind of investment in the region that a more reliable and friendlier neighbour could come up with. Nevertheless, the US leaders are making desperate efforts to find some way of establishing their hegemony in the region, even if they have to violate their own international commitments about nuclear non-proliferation. The nuclear deal with India is a case in point.
India is Pakistan’s sworn enemy that poses it an existential threat with intransigent attitude on Kashmir and stealth of water that legally belongs to it. In the US perception, that would cut both ways: military might backing up India’s flourishing economy would enable it to serve as a bulwark against China; and, at the same time, nullify the role that Pakistan, the Beijing’s best friend in the region, could play in defence of China’s interests. There are also systematic US moves to destabilise Pakistan, cripple it economically and socially by instigating local dissident leaders to create trouble. From Iraq, the US wishes to protect the Israeli interests, keep a check on Iran and ensure the flow of Middle Eastern oil to run its economy.
In the light of these dangers, it is but inevitable that the countries in the region would come round Pakistan to work against the US attempt to build bases in Afghanistan and Iraq and affirm that by adopting suitable policies they can best solve the problem of militancy in the region. These countries along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia must make it clear to the US that beyond 2014 they would not tolerate its presence here, which has done immeasurable harm to the countries in the region. – Nation