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American Interests in Pakistan

A famous English writer and poet Walter Savage Landor once said, “We talk on principle, but we act on interest.” The undeniable reality about relations among states is their vault on interests. Interest only is the permanent thing that sets the overall goal and agenda of a country’s foreign policy. With the turn of events in the international arena, a country adopts its strategy and tactics to meet its interests and achieve the foreign policy goals. Geography, economy, nature and volume of trade, political atmosphere, cultural and social values, military strength, population size and location constitute conditions for foreign policy strategy.

History of the Pak-US relations reveals that the latter has at all times used the former for its covetous interests, and when fulfilled, left the former in the lurch. This is the relationship that both partners have sustained, sometimes happily, other times not so happily.

From Pakistan’s wars with India to Soviet entrance into Afghanistan, from grabbing of Kashmir to dismemberment of East Pakistan, from disintegration of USSR to devastation of 9/11, from Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998 to America’s nuclear deal with India and in the post 9/11 ‘India-supportive’ scenario in the region and beyond against Pakistan, from Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to TAPI, from Silk Route to Gwadar, from economic adversity to political quandary, from peaceful Pakistan to fight against extremism and terrorism, from CSF to USAID, the US has always negatively exploited and browbeaten Pakistan.

United States has a variety of interests in Pakistan at all levels i.e. short, mid and long term. Broadly speaking, these can be divided into geostrategic interests and the protracted War on Terror. Among geostrategic interests, the US has severe reservations owing to Pakistan’s inclination toward Russia, China and the SCO. American administration doesn’t like better Pakistan-Russia ties. Pakistan and China have time-tested relations but the US would only bear it if American aims and interests are not put at stake. America would do anything to thwart Pakistan’s joining of SCO as full member.

America has been forcing Pakistan incessantly to shun IP pipeline as it wants the country to go for TAPI project. Through this, the US wants to achieve a dual advantage. On one hand, it wants to inflict more harm to already cornered Iran — though after nuclear non-proliferation deal, the US has no lawful reasons to keep its traditional animosity with Iran — while on the other, it plans to shift Central Asian gas resources to South Asia that will not only help India rise against China but will also severely damage Russian interests in the region.

The US wants the completion of TAPI project at all costs, and at the earliest. It doesn’t care if the route of TAPI is perilous and passes from the insecure areas. It is dead against Pak-China trade corridor through Silk Route as it may make other regional powers functional ergo powerful. The operations at the Gwadar Port, one of the world’s deepest seaports, are still in the doldrums; despite the fact that fully functioning of this harbour can change the fate of Pakistan. The Indo-US manoeuvring or war in this region has been successfully countered by Pakistan and China but it has shattered the regional balance and peace. The emergence of China against the aspirations and designs of USA around the globe, and especially in this region, has changed the state of affairs.

The US has been chanting “do more” mantra to Pakistan.  It is actually the wrapping of a comprehensive pack of American interests and benefits. By unending demand to ‘do more’, the US wants Pakistan to go on with the operations in its tribal areas. Other stipulations include covert permission to launch drone attacks, and a full-fledge, unconditional cooperation in the war against terror. The imminent US withdrawal from Afghanistan is impossible without Pakistan’s support. At present, the US has no option but to support Pakistan because it is fully entangled in the quagmire of war against terror and the proposed withdrawal.

Pakistan has genuine, strong and rational concerns against America. First of all, America has made civil nuclear deal with India at a time when Pakistan is facing acute water and energy crises. It is also pressurizing Pakistan to go for TAPI instead of IP despite knowing that IP gas pipeline is more feasible, safer, and more result-oriented. The US knows that Pakistan and India are archrivals — Kashmir issue is still unresolved due to Indian stubbornness and hypocrisy of world powers — but America’s unconditional support to India is really questionable. With American support, India has built up its presence in Afghanistan thus rendering Pakistan’s Western border unsafe. American antagonism towards Gwadar port and Pak-China trade corridor is another issue of concern for Pakistan.
One thing is crystal clear that America cannot afford a destabilized Pakistan because if it happens, the extremists and militants would take over the whole region and this is totally against the American imperial designs. War on terror — which actually is war for terror — has now unfortunately become an anathema for Pakistan.

It is time for America to do more for Pakistan because it needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs the US. Pakistan should with sensitivity realize its position and importance without any fear and becoming marionette and satellite, and behave accordingly.

By:Zulqarnain Sewag

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