Pakistan Puts its Foot into its Mouth
Amb Anil Trigunayat, Distinguished Fellow, VIF

Making a nuisance of yourself is a special art which only a few can master. This often happens when you are blinded by some misplaced priorities and others can see through your game. This is what happened when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while speaking to ARY, appears to have been carried away. Pakistan has been urging the Saudis and Emiratis to convene a special or extraordinary session of the OIC ( Organisation for Islamic Cooperation ) to denigrate India against the Art 370 in J&K that revoked the outdated Special status of Jammu & Kashmir which was harming the progress and development of the State.

Pakistan wanted this to happen before the first anniversary of the promulgation so that it could malign India a bit more. However, in his haste and utter enthusiasm not only Qureshi reminded Saudis yet again to convene the meeting but threatened its financial and spiritual masters “If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris”. He further added “It’s right, I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia…We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris.” Realising that he had probably exceeded the brief he tried to moderate the adverse impact but it was already late given the faux pax and the repeated abuse of the bounty that the Saudis conferred on Pakistan.

The stand-alonelong-time benefactor refused to be held to ransom or cajoling in the name of Islamism since Pakistan’s continued association with terrorism has taken a toll on the reputation of its West Asian friends who refuse to bail it out any more. Even the rushed visit by General Bajwa to Riyadh to douse the fire yielded no outcome and he was turned away without meeting the all powerful Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). A highly indebted Pakistan was asked to pay up the second tranche of US$ 1bn like before and $ 3.2 bn credit line for supply of oil stood withdrawn. Last time they had borrowed from China to pay the Saudis and that remained the sole option yet again. In a very short time since the visit of MBS in 2019 in the wake of Pulwama and Balakot to Islamabad and Delhi, Pakistani establishment has managed to squander the good will and the bounty. One often looses on the roulette.

While the Qatar and Turkey options for seeking immediate financial assistance are being explored Foreign Minister Qureshi rushed (August 21-22) to Beijing -its all-weather friend once more to beseech the bail out yet again for the 2nd Strategic Consultations. China would do that but like the proverbial pound of flesh will further extract strategic mileage on the corruption and security issues riddled CPEC and Gwadar project. But a highly indebted failing state of Islamic Republic of Pakistan will not take an easier option of desisting from producing human weapons in its terror factories targeted against India and Afghanistan. This is what has brought the misery to its own people. Instead of celebrating Eid of prosperity it wants Muharram for the ordinary Pakistanis.

Although Imran Khan and his predecessors have been wanting to normalize relations with Israel for nearly last three decades it had to criticise the UAE- Israel rapprochement and tried to champion the cause of Muslims and Palestine. This phony behaviour is clearly evident as they will speak no words against their Masters for subjecting the Uighur Muslims to inhuman indignities and their cultural and religious annihilation by the CPC. Yuanisation of Pakistan is nearly complete. Apart from the epithet of a terror factory it has become a vassal state of the Chinese. Chinese have also kept quiet and even shielded the Pakistani terrorists and the Islamic Republic including Masood Azhar from the ire of the international community in a quid pro quo. But confronting its Saudi benefactor and traditionally ever ready supporter mainly to perpetuate Islamic supremacy Pakistan seems to have created a gulf it will find very difficult to fill even if Imran Khan goes yet again for the barefoot pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Saudis have seen through the game Imran Khan tried playing it up against Turkey as the two claimants to Islamic leadership contest globally.

One must, however, grant that during the past seven decades or so Pakistan has successfully been able to encash its nuisance value with various major powers but these have always been for destabilising causes. It is their naivety or craft may be left to history to judge. But Pakistan is ready to be used and abused due it the ill-conceived notions of its deep state. Democracy deficit and military control of economic and political power combined with its extremist credentials have created a new abyss in the statecraft.

Pakistan was a member of CENTO and others and was a major ally of the US and enjoyed its geopolitical largesse for decades. Helped create and sustain Taliban in late 1970s, during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with the support of US and funding from Riyadh. Actually 9/11 gave it yet another lease of life with billions of dollars as Musharraf became one of the first leaders at mid-night (in his half blue sweater) to extend fullest support to US in the fight against Taliban in Afghanistan. US stopped counting its losses until recently. Hence, again with Qatar it helped the Doha accord between US and Taliban while it also harboured Osama bin Laden for years and large number of terrorist groups including the Haqqani group using them as leverage. Like Americans never forgot Vietnam and the Russians cannot get over Afghanistan. Hence, they supported the outreach to Pakistan once again overtly in the context of Kabul. Yet, most observers feel it was also due to India’s growing proximity to Washington and Beijing’s influence over Moscow.

There are no absolute truths in diplomacy. Proximation is often enough but the outcomes and analysis of patterns through reverse engineering analysis gives you the right lead. It’s great friend Turkey especially Erdogan uses Pakistan to enhance its own regional and religious ambitions. Imran Khan, Erdogan, and Mahathir tried to stich a still-born alternate Islamic alliance since OIC has been unable to deliver on the fads of Islamabad. It could not digest the fact that the OIC could be rational and not always be the platform for its anti-India tirade thereby discrediting itself as an organisation. Saudi and the Gulf leadership were not amused.

Invitation to Indian Foreign Minister in March 2019 by the UAE was a watershed for the organisation acknowledging the changing realities that irked Pakistan whose leaders at the very first meet in 1969 had pleaded and engineered the exclusion of India from the OIC. And as Pakistan’s deep state has brought about greater misery to its people the puppeteers keep spinning dreams against India and themselves and the country sinks to greater economic depths.

India’s relations with West Asia continue to grow from strength to strength. Most of the Gulf countries look at India as a benign democracy with the second largest Muslim population which is doing extremely well. They have also realised that supporting a volatile and extremists driven dispensation will only yield negative outcomes for themselves. As the Arab world goes through its own churn due to economic recessions, Covid-19 impact, changing global dynamic and overall uncertainty India with its intrinsic strengths and unlimited opportunities provides a reliable, strategic and mutually beneficial partnership.

India will have to be mindful of the emerging nexus of CPN (China, Pakistan Nepal) in its neighbourhood and a loose arrangement in CRIPTQ (China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Qatar) and a rapprochement between several Arab states and Israel in its extended neighbourhood in the Middle East. India will have to play its rooks adroitly.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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