October 5, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 4: The End of Appeasement

Upon its admission into the United Nations, Pakistan was received by all countries except one: Afghanistan.

Afghanistan declined Pakistan’s entry into the U.N. because it laid claim to Pashtun lands in northwestern Pakistan. 

Afghan leaders brought up the matter of an independent Pashtunistan at international forums like the U.N., and encouraged Pashtun resistance movements inside Pakistan with arms.

An excerpt from, "The Forgotten History of Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations" By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Tara Vassefi, Yale Journal of International Affairs, February 22, 2012:

Afghanistan has never accepted the legitimacy of the Durand Line, named after its architect, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand. However, the country had little recourse when faced with a global superpower like Britain. This changed with the creation of Pakistan. Afghanistan had long been recognized as an independent state by the time Pakistan was created in 1947, and there was no particular reason to think that Pakistan was built to last. Pakistan’s lack of cohesion is signaled even by its name, as it is an acronym for the areas encompassed within the state: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan. Additionally, Pakistan was born of a bloody partition with India—something that produced not only the two states, but also an arch-rivalry that persists to this day. Just as many Indian leaders thought the new state of Pakistan might not survive, so too did Afghan politicians.

Immediately after Pakistan emerged, Afghanistan put forward a demand for the creation of an independent “Pashtunistan,” meaning “land of the Pashtuns.” The idea was that Pakistan should allow the Pashtuns in the northwestern part of their country to—if they so chose—secede and become an independent state. Though the size of the envisioned Pashtunistan differed over time, Afghanistan’s proposals frequently encompassed about half of West Pakistan, including areas dominated by Baluch majorities.

Afghanistan's belligerence towards Pakistan from 1947 to 1979 has to be remembered because Pakistan’s military leaders certainly do. They have always been afraid of an Afghanistan aligned with India. 

If the British cared about Pakistan and its neighbours they would have ensured long-term security by consulting with Afghanistan's leadership before bestowing a new country on their sensitive borders.

Conflict over border demarcations between Pakistan and Afghanistan was totally predictable. The new Pakistan could just have easily been created without the territories that Afghanistan had desired for centuries. 

Over the decades since its creation Pakistan has not invested resources in this frontier area. It became the new "owners" of this land without having any previous cultural or political ties to it.

Pakistan’s control over native Pashtun lands, and other indigenous regions such as Baluchistan, has always been contested. With the absence of natural legitimacy, Pakistan relied on brute force to maintain its rule. Angry locals were massacred and entire families of political leaders were exterminated at once.

Such acts have always been met with global silence. 

So Pakistan continues to pursue a militaristic approach to solve its problems. And when it finds itself in really bad times it gets bailed out. 

At every crisis point in Pakistan’s history the West came to its aid. The financial help Pakistan receives annually is enormous.

An excerpt from, "Committee to scrutinise UK aid programme in Pakistan" UK Parliament, February 11, 2021:

Pakistan has been DFID’s largest country programme for the last five years, and was expected to amount to £302 million in 2019/20, spanning across areas including human development, climate and the environment, and humanitarian aid.

An excerpt from, "Why Trump cut millions in military aid to Pakistan" by Alex Ward, Vox, September 4, 2018:

But since 2002, the US has given Pakistan over $14 billion in aid to combat terrorism and insurgents in the region. That money is meant to reimburse Pakistan for its ongoing efforts to defeat militant groups, and it forms part of the $33 billion in total help that the US has given Pakistan over the same time period.

Western allies like Iran during the Cold War and Japan in the War on Terror have also supported Pakistan with cash and arms. 

The Shah of Iran was the first foreign leader to visit Pakistan in 1950. Iran and Pakistan worked together to suppress uprisings in Baluchistan and oppose Communism in the region.

An excerpt from, "Iran and Pakistan’s intertwined history" By Muhammad Amir Rana, Dawn, July 24, 2016:

The Shah period was the most important phase in which the two countries, despite ups and downs, remained important partners in global and regional politics. The US factor was significant which glued both countries to Seato and Cento. The author aptly explains how geography, geopolitics and the US influence brought Tehran and Islamabad closer. During the Cold War era, one of the major factors which kept Pakistan in the US bloc was the influence of the Shah of Iran. Pakistan’s foreign policy constant has been India and this factor decided the country’s relations with the outer world. The Shah knew it.

At the same time, Tehran was a key conduit to the West for Pakistan, and the Shah’s obsession with communism further nurtured their friendship as Vatanka elaborates: “For the Shah, Pakistan over the years morphed into a critical buffer zone, a line of defence against not only the Soviets but also the then Soviet-leaning India.” In the totality of Pakistan-Iran relations over the course of history, most of the credit goes to the Shah of Iran.

Since the beginning, Pakistan has been viewed as a military tool by global and regional superpowers as opposed to a sovereign country.

Its viability as a state was questioned by officials in the Truman administration. American leaders wanted an undivided India after the British exit.

An excerpt from, "India and Pakistan in American strategic planning, 1947–54: The commonwealth as collaborator" By H. W. Brands, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 1986: 

American officials had been disappointed that the pre-independence unity of India had not been preserved, for in unity, they believed, lay resistance to communism. Two states on the subcontinent were more unstable than one, but if India and Pakistan could settle their problems peacefully, security could still be achieved. A full-scale war, however, besides destabilizing the present moderate governments of the two countries, threatened to unleash the fissiparous tendencies latent in the sub-continent, leading, if not checked, to what American officials unoriginally called the 'Balkanization' of South Asia. Ultimately, in an effort to head off such an outcome, the Americans would feel obliged to intervene in the Kashmir dispute, but for the time being they preferred to leave this Commonwealth problem to the Commonwealth. The American Under-secretary of State, Robert Lovett, told Noel-Baker that American mediation would be undesirable on two counts. First, it would distract the American Congress from the more important task of defending and rebuilding Europe. Second, it might draw 'undesirable Russian attention', thus compounding the difficulties of the subcontinent with the competition of the cold war. 

The wise policy of non-intervention towards Pakistan and India was replaced with foolish interference in 1971 during the Nixon administration, when the U.S. came to Pakistan's aid to crush an uprising in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

Since that time, and especially after 1979, Washington and Islamabad became closer out of desperation more than anything else. Due to its policy to turn Afghanistan into Russia's Vietnam, Washington helped transform Pakistan from a somewhat functioning country into the complete mess it is today. 

It looked away when it acquired nukes in the 1980s. It looked away when it supported international terrorism in Afghanistan in the 1990s after the Soviets departed. And it looked away this year when it put the Taliban in power after two decades of meaningless fighting.

A change in policy is desperately needed. 

An excerpt from, "Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe" By Frédéric Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 10, 2007, Page 48:

Sanctions on Pakistan have also been inhibited by a lack of consistency in policy. U.S. governments have always been concerned about nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and democracy (and more recently narcotics), but their relative importance has varied over time. The Pakistani leadership has always been aware of shifting U.S. priorities and has played them to its advantage.

Pakistan became a pariah state after the overthrow and execution of the elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed the hierarchy of U.S. priorities and brought Pakistan back into favor. Supporting the mujahideen and, consequently, Zia ul-Haq’s military regime, became the number one concern to which all other objectives were subordinated, including the prevention of nuclear proliferation. Democracy has never, in practice, figured very highly in U.S. priorities. In Pakistan it has been merely important.The United States has always lacked a coherent strategy toward Pakistan. Beyond a series of stated general objectives, it has pursued a series of ad hoc policies dictated by circumstances. For a long time, the Cold War obscured this. But when this geostrategic framework disappeared, what remained was an absence of real U.S. concern for Pakistan. U.S. policies appeared to be incoherent, contradictory, and unfair, which allowed the Pakistani leadership to manipulate public opinion against the United States while it manipulated the United States through agitation of the masses. U.S. policy proved ultimately counterproductive.

Washington’s outlook on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Asia has been cynical. It lost in Afghanistan because it didn't have its heart in it. It was not willing to go to war with Pakistan to save Afghanistan. And that's fair. A country's core national interests should always come first.

But the policy of appeasing Pakistan has to end.