time for a new Bandung conference
The United States and its allies continue to blame Pakistan for its role in their defeat in Afghanistan. Pakistan would always have played a double game: claiming to contribute to the war on terror while providing refuge for the Taliban, training and supporting frontline fighters, and even intervening directly in the Panjsheer Valley, the last redoubt. anti-Taliban forces.
Whatever the truth in all of this, it cannot hide the fact that the United States went into a war it was unable to win; supported a mock election of a mock president who showed up at the first sign of trouble; built a fake army that vanished overnight with equipment and ammunition worth hundreds of millions of dollars; and spent taxpayers’ money worth trillions of dollars, most of which ended up in the pockets of military suppliers and contractors, and the foreign bank accounts of corrupt Afghan officials.
Blaming the Pakistanis conveniently overlooks how much the country suffered during the war in Afghanistan. During his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan quantified some of these impacts: 80,000 Pakistanis killed, 3.5 million refugees and $ 150 billion in economic losses. Moreover, Pakistan has not been thanked for its continued efforts to reach a negotiated solution that would bring peace and development to a country which has known only war and chaos for forty years.
But of course, experts from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, CIA, and Washington think tanks know this. So why the blame game?
There are two reasons. The first is domestic. All defeats and setbacks need a scapegoat, and it’s so much better if it’s a foreign scapegoat, little the American public knows about, and who can be easily demonized. Pakistan fits the bill perfectly. Few Americans would be able to point to Pakistan on a map or name its neighboring countries. What they do know, however, is that this is a Muslim country, a country where Osama bin Laden hid for years next to a major military base, and where the Afghan Taliban passed by. the winter months. This is enough to give him the role of the villain. Needless to say, it doesn’t help that Pakistan has a prime minister who often leads with his chin – for example with his “breaking the chains of slavery” speech.
But it is the second reason which is more important. A war with China is looming on the horizon. In this war, the United States needs allies, and India, with its long-standing disputes with China, is a natural partner. But an alliance with India requires the United States to distance itself from Pakistan.
If this analysis is correct, there is not much that Pakistan can do to change the position of the United States. The United States will certainly not be prepared to establish an “extended relationship” with Pakistan and will likely attempt to make Pakistan a pariah state. They will also do their best to push their allies in Europe, the Middle East and Australasia to distance themselves from Pakistan as well.
Fortunately for Pakistan, we no longer live in a unipolar world where the United States is the sole source of strategic support, financial aid, and military equipment. Pakistan already has a relationship with China. But putting all your eggs in one basket can be unwise.
As a first step, Pakistan should expand its strategic alliances with countries like Iran, Russia, Turkey and Qatar which are important players in the region. But Pakistan needs to go further and forge ties with other countries unhappy with the US and China’s obsession with each other. Countries like France which feels stabbed in the back by the recent agreement on nuclear submarines, and the many small countries in Asia and Africa which are fed up with American bullying but also wary of a Emerging China.
Maybe it’s time to talk about a new Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – a movement of countries that are not completely willing to side with China or the United States. Perhaps a good place to start such a movement would be Bandung (Indonesia) where, in 1955, no less than 29 countries gathered to talk about their role in the Cold War and their decision not to side with it. of neither of the two superpowers of the time – the USA and the USSR.
Pakistan was one of the countries that helped organize the Bandung Conference of 1955. Perhaps it should take the lead again.
Posted in The Express Tribune, October 19e, 2021.
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