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Rumblings in Pakistan

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Sauro Dasgupta
The new Pakistan government of PM Shahbaz Sharif has taken a break from the past by appointing a young leader, BilawalZardari as Foreign Minister sndHina Rabbani Khar as his Deputy. Till date, it was focusing more on social spending.
Till now, most Foreign Ministers of Pakistan have been quite aged and aggressive. In fact, it was Zardari’s grandfather ZA Bhutto who threatened to snatch off a piece of India after the humiliating loss of Pakistan in 1971 war.
Incidentally, Khar was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan during the Abbotabad operation of US, resulting in the end of Osama Bin Laden. Abbotabad, where he was hiding, is just a short distance away from GHQ, Rawalpindi.
Though Khar denied any US operation and Pakistan claimed that it had no idea that Laden was hiding there, the world understood the Pakistani duplicity and they were condemned globally.
Pakistan has become a Frankenstein’s Monster for US. It was the US which made Pakistan as an ally in 1950s by inducing it in CEATO, CENTO and other groups. Pakistan was supplied arms and ammunition by the West. Pakistan acted as an interlocutor between China and US. In fact, Kissinger’s visit to China to meet Chairman Mao was facilitated by Pakistan.
Pakistan was US Frontline state during the First Afghan Jihad against Soviets. Again, it gave much needed support to US in the War on Terror.
Pakistan Foreign Policy has always been guided by the political- military complex. The powerful Army Chief and ISI dictated all terms to Pakistani political leadership and those who refused to toe their line were ousted.
The current dispensation in Pakistan is notoriously corrupt. Unlike the Imran Khan government, this government consists of very pro-US liberals, Muslim clergy, industrialists, etc.
This government will have to pass the litmus test of the Army. If PM Sharif has the misfortune of being on the wrong side of General Bajwa, just like former PMs Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, his government will fall.
Talking of an independent Foreign policy as articulated by Imran Khan , as exemplified by his long- pending visit to Russia amidst the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and his anti-US stance cost him heavily. PM Sharif should be careful not to commit such errors. For that, he must not attempt to disturb the status quo of the civilian government vis-a- vis the Army. The Foreign policy dominated by the Army has benefited it for long. It must not change.The duo of Zardari and Khar must also herald a peaceful relation with India. They must not be brash like the previous government and must take decisions carefully.This must be a new beginning in Pakistan Foreign Policy.
(The author is a PG 1, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University)

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