If American diplomacy came up with the abbreviation “AfPak,” that was not just a simple simplification. On the contrary, it reflected a deeper analysis, highlighting a problem.
Afghanistan is a pawn in the regional geopolitical conflict between countries such asPakistan,India,Iran,Russia and China. But if the Americans are calling it AfPak, instead of AfIndia, or AfIran, it is not just a matter of phonetics. In comparison to other players,Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan is the most critical one. But so far, that role has been more of a destructive one, rather than a constructive one.
Pakistanis waging its proxy war with India in Afghan territories. But this is a war it cannot win. What’s more, while waging this war, it is fast becoming a failed state – if it is not one already – which could land it the category of rogue state.
TurkeyandPakistanare known to enjoy particularly warm, friendly relations, but cold winds have started to blow between the two due to the Afghan problem.
The Istanbul meeting tomorrow, which aims to lay the groundwork for positive relations among regional players leading to the transition in 2014 when security responsibilities will be transferred by NATO to Afghan authorities, seems to have rung alarm bells in Islamabad. WhilePakistanis not in theory against regional cooperation, in practice it does not want regional players, India especially, to become involved.
Looking at the articles written by retired Pakistani ambassadors (one from Tariq Osman Hyder was published in the Hürriyet Daily News; and never mind the fact that they were written by former officials, it certainly reflects the official view), Islamabad is quite annoyed at Turkey for its role in the conference.
The diplomatic initiative is ambitious in its sweep but confused in its emphasis and flawed in its approach and sequencing. Led by Afghanistan and Turkey, the plan is being driven by the US and its key NATO allies.
But at the end of the day, treatingAfghanistanas its backyard and waging a proxy war will be to the detriment of Pakistan’s own interests. Pakistan needs to change course and stop relying on its nuisance value.