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Pakistan Should Have Postponed The Third Round Of US Talks
Posted By Shireen M. Mazari On October 22, 2010 @ 5:30 pm In Afghanistan, Columnists, Foreign Meddling, Foreign Policy, India, Military, Pak-US Dialogue, Politicians, Shireen M. Mazari, Terrorism, United States, War To Cripple Pakistan, War on Terror | 6 Comments
BY SHIREEN M. MAZARI | Saturday, 23 October 2010.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The Pak-US Strategic Dialogue was upgraded to the Ministerial level this year apparently to allow our extremely US-friendly Foreign Minister to ‘lead’ the discussions.
Of course, we have had previous bilateral dialogue processes with the US too. The most memorable for non-achievement being the Strobe Talbott-Shamshad Khan (Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary at the time) talks after the 1998 nuclear tests.
What is common to all these dialogues is that they are more of unilateral demands than a true exchange of views and priorities.
The Talbott-Shamshad [so-called] talks were simply an effort by the US to compel us into accepting their ideas of how to frame our overt nuclear capability in terms of strategic doctrine. That is when they floated all manner of absurd ‘minimum deterrence’ proposals like non-weaponized deterrence – where you keep your delivery systems and warheads separate – but the Pakistanis ignored these and instead put forward their “nuclear restraint” regime concept which they still cling to today, although in effect have moved far beyond that in terms of developing capabilities. Which is what it should be since India refused to accept our idea of a zero-missile regime for South Asia – and that was one of the integral proposals of Pakistan’s Nuclear Restraint Doctrine. At least on some counts we have kept our national interests focused and unhampered by extraneous compulsions.
Coming back to the present “Strategic Dialogue”, it is once again more of a US monologue of demands which we keep fulfilling, while our whispered requests continue to be ignored and yet we continue down the path of kowtowing before the Americans.
Frankly, at this point in time, it would have made far more sense to postpone participation in the so-called third round of this bilateral farce and assess what we have achieved from the two earlier rounds. Then we would have been in a better position to see if we needed this Dialogue at all – and if we did then should we not have first formulated our requirements or demands from the US to be put on the table. After all, it needs to be recognized outright that presently the US cannot do without Pakistan’s support for its misguided war in Afghanistan. There is simply no debate on this ground reality. But those who speak on Pakistan’s behalf are not prepared to digest this reality and, therefore, are unwilling or unable to put our case forward forcefully.
WHY THIRD-ROUND SHOULD
HAVE BEEN POSTPONED?
So, why the suggestion that the Dialogue should have been postponed?
Beyond this, for Pakistan the Dialogue should only be pursued if the US is prepared to accept the following demands from our side, which are critical for our long-term security and stability. After all, at this point in time we have a small window of opportunity to press the US since it does need Pakistan and its military. What are the crucial issues on which we want to see the US act positively and which should be our agenda for the Dialogue?
WHAT PAKISTAN NEEDS?
Unless the US is prepared to concede ground to Pakistan on these issues, what is the point of this so-called “Strategic Dialogue”? All it does is to give a chance for many Pakistani state functionaries to get a free trip to Washington and to allow the US to dictate policies to us and chide us for disobeying them.
An additional fear this time around is that the US may force a commitment from the Pakistani military to commence a full-scale operation in North Waziristan Agency and that this operation would commence soon after the Chief of Army Staff returns from the Dialogue. This would be disastrous for Pakistan – not only in terms of its own security and stability, but also in terms of its future interests in Afghanistan. What the US is desperately wanting is to isolate the Afghan Taliban from any Pakistani links so that they can dialogue with them and not only isolate Pakistan but also subject it to more militancy and terrorism – for that is what will happen, if there is a full-blown operation in NWA. This is not in Pakistan’s interest at all, but given our past track record, we succumb to strange and damaging commitments when in Washington. So far, the Strategic Dialogue has been more of a strategic submission and the Pakistani nation has nothing left to submit anymore.
This op-ed is extracted from a slightly longer column originally published by The Nation under a different title. Reach Dr. Maazari at
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