By Sajjad Shaukat
Learning no lesson from a prolonged ‘different war’ against terrorism, defeatism in Iraq and Afghanistan, heavy cost of war, debt crisis and acute financial problems inside America, US has started showing its intentions to militarise Asia.
In this regard, 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,” and he would send military aircraft and 2,500 Marines to Australia for a training hub to help allies and to protect US interests across Asia. Obama stressed that any reductions in America’s defense spending will not come at the expense of that goal. He also stated that the US is not afraid of China. In this respect, America has also troops and security relationships with some Gulf countries.
While, 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 designs against Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia.
Meanwhile, US President Obama unveiled a new defence strategy on January 5, 2012, which calls for greater US military presence in Asia, after cutting troops from Europe—the strategy calls for the US military to “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region…even our troops continue to fight in Afghanistan, the tide of war is receding.”
As regards Russia, it opposes US intentions to deploy national missile defence system (NMD) in Europe, while differences already existed between Moscow and Washington over the US-led NATO’s attack on Libya. Russia and China have asked the US to resolve the question of Iran’s nuclear programme peacefully. But America and Israel are acting upon a war-like diplomacy against Iran. Tel Aviv has even threatened to attack Iran, while Iranian rulers have also said that they would retaliate in case of any invasion. Russia, on January 18, 2012 rejected the tough US-led western strategy of sanctions over Iran and Syria, In this regard, on February this year, Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council, calling the Syrian president to step down.
After observing the emerging ground realties, and sinister designs of the US, a shift has already occurred in the foreign policy of Pakistan. In this context, Islamabad which had already having cordial relationship with China—signed a number of agreements with Beijing in various sectors including defence has cultivated its relationship with the Russian Federation. In 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Putin also remarked that Pakistan was very important partner in South Asia and the Muslim world for Russia.
During the trip of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Russia, on February 9, this year, she stated that SCO was an exceptionally important forum within the region to counter regional challenges. Moscow and Russia also agreed to enhance the bilateral relations in diverse fields such as trade, energy, infrastructure development, agriculture, science and technology etc. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan on May, 2011, he discussed with Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—the possibility of expanding defence ties. On November 28, 2011, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, while commenting on the NATO cross-border air attack in Pakistan emphasised that a nation’s sovereignty should always be upheld.
In their summit of August 16, 2007, the leaders of the SCO had displayed strength against the US rising dominance in the region and NATO’s military presence in Afghanistan, near the region of Central Asia.
Taking note of the US new military strategy, Turkey also changed its policy. Now, by supporting the cause of Palestinians, Ankara wants to increase trade with Iran—not to comply with sanctions against Tehran. Keeping new emerging geo-political scenario in the world, Pakistan is also strengthening its ties with Turkey.
Nonetheless, US new defence strategy is part of Indo-US hidden agenda in Afghanistan. US wants to protect the puppet regime of Karzai and Indian influence in Afghanistan under the umbrella of its military presence because it knows that otherwise, Taliban militants will topple the Karzai regime, also forcing India to withdrawal its network from Afghanistan. India which has already invested billion of dollars in Afghanistan, signed a strategic partnership agreement with that country on on october 5, 2011, seeks to further strengthen its grip there to get strategic depth against Islamabad.
No doubt, especially America has been supporting cross-border infiltration in Pakistan with the assistance of American CIA, Indian intelligence agency, RAW and Israeli secret agency, Mossad which have well-established their network in Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. For this purpose highly trained militants, equipped with sophisticated weapons are being sent to Pakistan’s various places, who are continuously conducting suicide attacks, targeted killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in Pakistan.
US and India are particularly supporting Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and another separatist group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers). In the past few years, Jundollah kidnapped and murdered a number of Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. This insurgent group has not only been committing acts of sabotage in Pakistan, but also in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. Particularly, Balochistan’s mineral resources and geo-strategic location with Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia have further annoyed America and India because China has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. However, it is due to multiple strategic designs that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to control Balochistan in containing China and subduing Iran. Balochistan has also shifted the Great Game to Pakistan.
Notably, on February 8, 2012, the hearing of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Dana Rohrabacher discussed target killings and human rights violations in Balochistan. He has also co-authored an article a few days ago, favouring an independent Balochistan. It has exposed US support to the Baloch separatists.
Besides spending huge amounts on military build up and purchases of sophisticated arms from other western country, America which has emerged as a potential military supplier to India, has lifted sanctions on New Delhi to import nuclear technology. US also agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets and other latest equipments. With the backing of US, Israel is helping India in various sectors, especially in defence.
As regards the Afghan reconciliation process with the militants, which are taking place in Qatar, British media report indicated that US-Taliban talks on the release of five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention center have failed. Taliban did not agree to the US demand of ceasefire before the release of prisoners.
However, rapidly changing geo-political scenario shows that the next cold war which is at embryonic stage, will be fought in Asia because in its pursuit to make India a great power of Asia, US is likely to initiate it. Nevertheless new cold war will divide the world between two blocks—Russia-China block and the US-backed Indian block. And Pakistan will be the next arena of the coming cold war because of its ideal strategic location. Main players of the game such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics etc. are likely to align with Russia-China alliance. On the other side, Japan, Georgia, Ukraine, South Korea etc. will join the US-backed Indian block.
Meanwhile, terrorism is likely to add a dangerous element of ‘hot war’ to the future cold war. In this regard, an unending ‘different war’ between the sovereign and non-sovereign entities in Afgahanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc. and other Middle East countries will make the matter worse. All these negative developments are likely create political and economic instability in Asia, enveloping the developed countries such as Japan, South Korea etc. and Europe where general masses already held the America responsible for financial crisis.
The fact of the matter is that the end of the Cold War has given a great glow to the American arms firms and dealers who now seek to sell their weapons in the world. Their strong lobbies are present in America. It is because these lobbies that the Republican law-makers who opposed defence cut in American budget compelled President Obama to act upon a war-mongering policy in Asia.
It is due to the US ill-conceived policy that it will compel Asian nations to follow the bygone days of the Cold War—deadly arms race and increase in the defence expenditures at the cost of development of public sectors in wake of the modern world trends like peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development. So in the present era, US intentions to militarise Asia seems quite illogical.
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