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پیر، 18 جولائی، 2011

Pakistan proposes 'currency swap' to Iran

 At the onset of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the latest visit of President Zardari to Iran takes on added significance. The regional countries are vying for influence in Afghanistan to fill the vacum that will be creadted with the US withdrawal Pakistan and Iran are among the major stakeholders in this scenario and their cooperation in different spheres holds immense economic and strategic significance of the region.

Were the president’s two visits to Iran in just less than a month out of some compulsion or expediency? Or, did they mark a new direction in Pakistan’s foreign policy? One wouldn’t know when the incumbent ruling leadership has in fact put in place no definitive foreign policy worth the name. Nevertheless, if it does representation some change of a sort, that really means something. For, this government’s conduct of foreign affairs has so far stayed tied down to its relationship with America primarily, in effect determining and influencing its ties with other countries as well, in cases even to the detriment of this country’s own national interests. Indeed, all through our successive leaderships have failed to grasp that in no event can the interests of America and Pakistan converge. That is a big fallacy that their leaderships have throughout trotted out when found expedient or convenient by both. But that convergence is inherently impossible. Pakistan may be crucially located strategically. It may now be a nuclear state as well. But it is no world power. Its interests at best could only be regional. But America is a global power. And hence its interests are intrinsically global. That in itself reduces any compatibility of their national interests to a sheer fantasy. In fact, it is for this that not even the status of “the most allied ally in Asia” that the Americans had accorded us in the 1950s through the mid-1960s got us the security. While for aligning ourselves closely with the American camp during the Cold War we earned antagonism and enmity of many a state, our American friends blinked not even an eyelid to ditch us when the 1965 war broke out between India and Pakistan. They instantly clamped down an arms embargo on us, crippling badly the fighting capability of our armed forces, equipped predominantly with the American weaponry.Likewise, their endowment of the titles of “frontline state” and “a strategic partner” on us during their proxy war against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan ended up for us on a more horrific note. While that war bequeathed us with strident religiosity, illegal weapons proliferation and ravaging drugs addiction, they strangulated us additionally with their every nuclear-related sanction and embargo. And presently their catapulting us to the pedestal of their “non-NATO ally” has turned us into a hotbed of bloodying terrorism, extremism and militancy. Yet they are not contrite.

  1. In the current uneasy state of Pak-US relations, the present visit manifests a shift in policy from reliance on the US to mutual cooperation with regional powers. It is time that Pakistan followed the policy of "back to the region and the regional countries" to sustain itself in the post post-US pullout from Afghanistan.

While others, as has our time-tested friend China again just recently, commiserate with us for our travails, they have no tears for the unbearable losses in lives, limbs and blood that we have suffered on account of their spurious war on terror. They are only on a demanding spree, asking for shedding more of our blood. And one knows not what a terrible predicament we would be in, once they give the finishing touches to their abortive Afghanistan adventurism. Even as their foray has failed irreversibly, they harbour the overriding ambition of establishing a permanent military presence as well as bases in Afghanistan. That is sure to turn Afghanistan into a cockpit of rivalries of competing world powers. Russia has already expressed its aversion to any such American move. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in its recent summit conclave has called for a “neutral Afghanistan”. And in one of its earlier summits, it had affirmed to keep the region free from the interference of outside powers. Clearly, any US military presence after the withdrawal of the coalition forces is bound to embroil Afghanistan in a big powers rivalry, in which Pakistan would get sucked too merely for being part of the US-led war on terror. That would be a terrible thing to occur, as it could afford no such involvement, getting bloodied as it is already so horrendously on account of this false war. It must chart out its own independent course right now, suiting its own national interests and its imperative needs and wants. Keeping tethered to the American hoof would predictably bring it more gloom, catastrophe and pain. But working on natural interdependencies and complementarities with its neighbours to explore avenues and opportunities for the revival and reinvigoration of its economy, its Achilles heel for the present, would serve it well. Even joint efforts with regional states, including Afghanistan itself, could possibly bring peace to that beleaguered land. And with no big boss breathing down its neck, it may possibly tackle the menace of terrorism and extremism on its own land more effectively. The president’s visits to Iran were thus augur well for our nation.

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