by Sajjad Shaukat
Although apparently leaders of all the concerned countries expressed cooperation among themselves, emphasising stability in Afghanistan in various conferences held in the recent years, yet all are preparing for the new cold war which US intends to initiate against China and Russia.
In this regard, during his Asia visit, on June 2, this year, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed in Singapore, “The United States will shift a majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020” as part of a new US military strategy in Asia. Panetta’s Asia visit came at a time of renewed tension over claims on the South China Sea between China and Philippines, a major ally. Besides, US backs other claimants Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia. Otherwise, China has legitimate claims over the sea.
During his trip to Australia, on November 17, 2011, President Barrack Obama, while sending an unmistakable message to Beijing said, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.”
America has also troops and security relationships with New Zealand and with some Gulf countries. Disagreements also exist between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan issue. American strategic thinkers take China’s military modernisation as a great threat to its military bases in the continent.
Some new developments have also revived the old animosity between Russia and the USA. As regards Russia, it opposes US intentions to deploy national missile defence system (NMD) in Europe, and expansion of NATO towards Eastern Europe. In that backdrop, the then Russian President Putin had openly stated that his country was returning to its Soviet era practice of Cold War.
Russia, on January 18, 2012 rejected the tough US-led western strategy of sanctions over Iran and Syria. In February, this year, Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council resolution, calling the Syrian president to step down. Both Moscow and Beijing had also opposed the US-led NATO attack on Libya, while they have asked the US to resolve the question of Iran’s nuclear programme peacefully. But America and Israel are still acting upon a war-like diplomacy against Tehran.
Notably, old NATO ally Turkey also changed its policy. Now, by supporting the cause of Palestinians, Ankara is increasing trade with Iran—not to comply with sanctions against Tehran. Pakistan is also strengthening its ties with Turkey. It also rejected American duress in relation to IP gas pipeline project with Iran.
Recently, Pakistan reopened the NATO supply route across the country to Afghanistan after accepting the US apology regarding the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011 by American air strike on Slalala check posts. But after a few days of signing the agreement, a US drone attack killed 21 people in North Waziristan.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman said on July 9 that Pakistan had not given any go-ahead to the US drone strikes on its territory in exchange for Washington’s apology over the Salala attacks. Earlier, Sherry Rehman stated that Pakistan and the US are set to resume broader talks on other issues in the wake of an agreement to reopen NATO supply routes. She added, “I certainly think, it opened the door to many other issues…both sides can use this opportunity to build a path to durable ties.”
In reply to the criticism of the opposition parties, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has repeatedly stated that Pakistan had not engaged in any ‘secret deal’ with the US for reopening the NATO supply routes. She openly pointed out that Pakistan will continue talks with the US over drone attacks and other issues.
Even at that sensitive moment, when Pak-US diplomats were negotiating a complex issue of restoring the NATO supply routes, US accelerated CIA-operated predator’s strikes. After a two-month pause in the aftermath of the Salala incident, these strikes by the unmanned aircraft continued, killing more than 60 people in North Waziristan.
During his recent visit to India, New Delhi, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta repeatedly pointed out that drone attacks would continue on safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan. Even President Barack Obama has defended these strikes on FATA under the pretext of so-called counterinsurgency programme.
Now a positive a shift has occurred in Pak-US ties, if strikes by the spy planes keep on going, the Pakistani government will be compelled to leave the US war against terrorism due to public backlash as displayed through the protests, rallies, processions and long marches by the political and religious parties. US flawed policy of drone attacks will certainly culminate in more unity among the elected government, security forces and the general masses, consequently massive hostility towards America.
Before the recent reconciliation, strained relations existed between Pakistan and the US as Ameriacan high officials and media continued faslse allegations against Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban, pressurising Islamabad for elemination of safe havens of militants in Pak tribal area, and by emphasising to take action against Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.
Taking note of US scheme, besides China, Pakistan has also cultivated its relationship with the Russian Federation. Moscow and Islamabad agreed to enhance bilateral relations in diverse fields. In 2010, the then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari participated in the 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization recently held in Beijing. While addressing the summit, hinting towards US secret designs, Chinese president Hu Jintao said, “The international situation has been complex, thus bringing many uncertainties to the regional situation. He explained, only when SCO member states remain united can they effectively cope with emerging challenges.” President Putin said, “SCO should enhance security cooperation.
After the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014, US has decided to establish six military bases in that country having eyes on the energy resources of Central Asia, with multiple strategic aims against Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia. Leon Panetta who is now appreciating Pakistan for resumption of NATO supply lines had encouraged India to take a more active role in Afghanistan in training the Afghan forces. In the recent past, US signed an agreement of strategic partnership with Afghanistan, while India which has already invested billion of dollars in Afghanistan, signed a wide-ranging strategic agreement with that country on October 5, 2011.
In fact, it is due to the Pakistan’s province of Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world irritates US and India. America which signed a nuclear deal with India has been providing New Delhi with sophisticated defence-related arms to make it a great Asian power to counterbalance China, control Balochistan and subdue Iran. For these purposes, American CIA Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have been supporting subversive acts in various places of Pakistan and separatism in Balochistan besides backing similar acts in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan including Tibetan regions of China.
Nevertheless, the impending new cold war would divide the world between two blocks—Russia-China block and the US block. Main players of the game such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics are likely to align with Russia-China alliance. On the other side, Japan, Georgia, Ukraine, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Afghanistan and India would join American block. Some Middle East countries may join US-led alliance and some of them Sino-Russian alliance.
Similarly, some European countries may join American block. But Majority of European countries including NATO members could remain neutral as they are already facing financial crisis and are cutting their defence budgets. In future they would be reluctant to fund American military adventure.
Because of its ideal geo-strategic location, Pakistan is likely to play a key role in the coming cold war. It has become the immediate target in the future struggle for spheres of influence. Since Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, hence US, India and Israel are determined to de-nuclearise it. Hence, Foreign-backed infiltration of militants from Afghanistan and unrest continues unabated in our country so as to destabilise Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations