07
July

The Middle Eastern Imbroglio

Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

Since the beginning of twenty-first century the Middle Eastern nations have been encountering various subverting challenges. Militancy, domestic turmoil, struggles for regional hegemony, politics of intervention, sectarian animosity and Great Powers' interference have immensely destabilized the entire region. The oil and gas resources improved the living style of the people and provided the ruling elite to invest in state building instead of nation building. Consequently, almost every Middle Eastern state is victim of political instability. They are suffering from indigenous political movements to insurgencies of varying level. The tribal mindset and subjective-cum-parochial political culture are obstructing the nation building and self-governing processes in these nations. Instead of concentrating on nation building, improving the governance system and regional prosperity, the Gulf Cooperation Council has spent over $1 trillion on mostly high-end Western military equipment since the turn of the millennium. The gigantic investment in the arms procurement not only deepens the security dilemma and increases arms race, but also causes war between/among neighbors.

 

themiddleeastern.jpgThe current Middle Eastern crisis mirrors exactly the regional realpolitik disaster. Hypothetically speaking, the client state struggle to act as a regional power displeased the status quo favored nations. The status quo nations aligned against the revisionist states. The struggle for dominance has literally turned much of the region into the battlefield. Indeed, it’s neither sectarian conflict nor ideological competition. It’s simply realpolitik or quest for supremacy. The following discussion is an attempt to answer three interlinked questions, i.e., What are the causes of current Middle East imbroglio? Is it reshaping the Middle Eastern strategic environment? How should Pakistan respond to the Arab states conflict?


Qatar’s outsized and independent role in the regional politics frustrated its Arab neighbors. On June 5, 2017 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic relations and attempted to impose an economic boycott of Qatar – a tiny-yet-wealthy peninsular Middle Eastern state. Three Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE – cut air, sea, and land links and ordered Qatari diplomats and citizens to leave their countries within two weeks. Egypt, however, refrained from calling back its nearly 250,000 nationals working in Qatar. In addition, Yemen, Maldives and the pro-UAE faction that controls the east of Libya quickly followed suit.


The Saudi-led coalition’s collective decision to siege Qatar was officially justified as part of these nations’ 'apparently' fight against terrorism. They accused Qatar for supporting terrorist groups including Daesh (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar formerly declared the allegations baseless. The UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated: “This is a foreign policy that has gone wild. We need to put everything in check.” Many analysts opined that Saudi Arabia-led coalition was disturbed due to Doha’s closeness to Tehran, Islamist movements and supporting political Islam. Raymond Barrett, author of Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling, opined: “Qatar has been ostracized by its “brotherly” neighbors, as the language of regional diplomacy has it, for not kowtowing to the collective vision for the Middle East now largely shared by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel.” Nevertheless, the punitive diplomatic measures were attempted to germinate political, societal and economic crisis for Qatar.


The feud between Riyadh and Doha has been simmering for years. The critical review of Qatar’s foreign policy reveals that since mid-1980s, Doha has been endeavoring to break away from Riyadh ascendancy to chalk out an independent foreign policy. It had established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, a Saudi adversary, in 1988. Saudi and Qatari soldiers clashed at the border in 1992. In the 1994 Yemen civil war, Qatar and Saudi Arabia backed opposing sides. From late 1990s, Doha has increased its struggle to get itself on the map as an independent state instead of a vassal state of Saudi Arabia. The 2011 Arab Spring furthered mistrust among Arab nations. Doha’s activist foreign policy irritated its neighboring states. For instance, Riyadh and Doha supported opposing political parties in Tunisia. Consequently, Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors were withdrawn from Doha in 2014. Below are a few factors, which collectively culminated in the current Middle East crisis.


First, the Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis and Egyptians are immensely against Islamist political parties. The political Islam is neither acceptable to Kings/Sheikhs nor dictators because it questions their legitimacy to rule their people. It’s an open secret that Qatar’s ruling elite supports political Islam or Islamist political parties such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, has been living in Qatar since 1960s. Qatar’s television station Al Jazeera programs during and after the Arab Spring in 2011 (Arab Spring which resulted in the forceful exit of a few dictators and rulers from the Arab states) alarmed these states. Egypt and Saudi Arabia pressurized Doha to freeze all bank accounts and expel Brotherhood and Hamas leaders residing in Qatar. Doha, however, adopted denial approach.


Second, these countries are equally disturbed by Doha’s increasing influence far and wide due to its vast coffers. Its regional as well as international clout has improved in the recent years. It was rightly pointed out: “If foreign governments had to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian group Hamas, Chechen separatists or even the Taliban, they often went through Qatar.” In reality, Qatar ceased to act as a vassal state of Saudi Arabia in the regional politics. It took independent decisions on various occasions, especially cultivating close bilateral relations with Iran and sponsoring grassroot Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood branches across the Arab world. Doha supports these movements for spreading its influence and extending its geopolitical leverage in the Middle East.


Third, Abu Dhabi is very much concerned about the increasing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the region. The Muslim Brotherhood-led grassroot movements have the potential to challenge the status quo in the UAE’s poorer Emirates. Importantly, the local Muslim Brotherhood branches have maintained a support base in these Emirates for decades. Hence, naturally, Qatar’s political and financial support to Muslim Brotherhood is against the national security of United Arab Emirates. Moreover, both Abu Dhabi and Doha are entangled in proxy war in Libya since the demise of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The former opposes latter’s present backing to Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition (“Libya Dawn”) government in Tripoli against internationally recognized Tobruk-based Libyan government. Emirates is determined to counter Qatar’s influence in war-torn state particularly to quash Muslim Brotherhood’s sanctuaries in Libya.


Fourth, the Saudis did not appreciate Qatar’s decision to pay $1bn ransom to al-Qaeda affiliates and Iran-backed militiamen in Iraq for the release of 26 members of a Qatari falcon-hunting party, including nine members of Al Thani ruling family. The falcon-hunting party was captured in southern Iraq in December 2015. The Iranian-backed Shia militia held the party hostage for 16 months. According to Financial Times report: “Qatar paid $700 million to Iran and Shiite militias supported by the regime. An additional sum of between $200 million and $300 million was paid to Syria, most of it to al-Qaeda-affiliated group Tahrir al-Sham.” Thus, Qatari officials paid $1 billion in ransom for the release of falconry party. The bulk of the funds allegedly made their way to the Iranian officials and affiliated Shiite militias. Perhaps, a billion-dollar ransom would be enough to buy a lot of explosives to boost proxy wars in the region. In a joint statement Saudi Arabia and its allies also announced the placing of 59 individuals and 12 organizations on a “terror list”. The terror list includes Qatari and Qatar-based businessmen, government officials, members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family, exiled Egyptian cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, etc.


Fifth, Saudis distrust Qatar's support to Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi. The former accused the latter for secretly helping to fight the Iranian-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen. Doha’s support to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and is a rival of the Palestinian Authority, is also not acceptable to Riyadh and its Arab allies. Moreover, Qatar’s sponsored ‘Four Towns’ agreement in Syria on March 29, 2017, negotiated with Iran and Hezbollah was criticized as forced displacements by Saudi-led coalition.


Sixth, Bahrain's ruling elite is convinced that Qatar finances groups associated with Iran to subvert and spread chaos in Bahrain. On June 16, 2017, Bahraini authorities revealed recordings of phone conversations between Hamad bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, the special adviser to the former Emir Qatar, and Bahraini opposition cleric Hassan Ali Mohammed Jumaa Sultan (key leaders of al-Wefaq Party), where both conspired to provoke chaos in Bahrain in 2011.


Seventh, the increasing cooperation between Iran and Qatar is not acceptable to Saudi Arabia. Whereas, Qatar seems determined in sustaining its economic relations with Iran because both share exploration rights of world’s largest gas field – 9,700 sq-km expanse that holds at least 43 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves deep in the Gulf waters. The tension between Riyadh and Tehran has increased in the recent months. Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview in May 2017, with Middle East Broadcasting Corp, stated that the battle with the Islamic republic would be fought “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”. Iranian Defence Minister General Hossein Dehghan responded that in “such stupidity” nothing would be “left in Saudi Arabia except Mecca and Medina.” Nevertheless, the Saudi Arab and UAE isolating moves would draw Qatar closer to Iran. Tehran certainly seizes the opportunity and assists Doha.


Eighth, the Saudis and their allies were agitated by the incendiary comments by Qatar’s Emir Tamim at a military graduation ceremony on May 23, 2017. They claimed that Emir Tamim “expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel – while suggesting that U.S. President Donald Trump may not last in power.” He also described Hamas as “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” and called Iran “a big power in the stabilization of the region.” Doha officially denied authenticity of Emir Tamim speech and claimed that the Qatar News Agency website had been hacked and false statements were posted on it.


Ninth, the autocratic Arab ruling elite desires to tame journalistic independence or close down Qatar’s television station Al Jazeera. They accused it of promoting terrorist groups in Yemen and sparking divisions in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian authorities accused it of being the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.


The general perception was that Saudi Arab might repeat its Yemeni strategy (2015 Operation Decisive Storm; the Saudi and UAE-led intervention in Yemen) after isolating Qatar diplomatically and economically. The trends indicate that the probability of Saudi Arab military adventurism is remote. Turkey’s decision to send 3000 soldiers, Iran’s announcement of support and above all the U.S. military air base in Al Udeid, Qatar (employed for U.S.-led strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq) would deter Saudi military action against Qatar. Kuwait and Oman would also discourage Saudis from any such military action. In April 2017, Oman and Iran conducted joint naval exercise (search and rescue) in the territorial waters of the Sea of Oman. On June 19, 2017 the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, Anwar Gargash stated: “We bet on time, we do not want to escalate the situation, we want to isolate it.” Hence, military offensive is not on the agenda of the Saudi-led coalition of five Arab countries.


Although the UAE severed its ties with Qatar, yet the emirate of Dubai seems uncomfortable due to tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates investment in Dubai and latter’s port Jebel Ali merchandise with Qatar, which is one of the largest containers shipping line in the Middle East. To check the dissenting voice in the UAE, the government has banned people from publishing expressions of sympathy towards Qatar. The UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi said to the Gulf News: “Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form.” The violator could be imprisoned for 15 years and pay a minimum fine of at least 500,000 dirhams (£105,446 or $136,115).


Turkey and Kuwait had endeavored to lower the temperature. They offered their good offices to facilitate peace talks. Importantly, Ankara’s immediate offer for mediation among the Arab states lacks acceptability because it had already declared Qatar its ally in the region. In 2014, it set up its first Middle Eastern military base in Qatar with some 150 troops. On June 7, 2017 Turkish parliament approved an agreement to increase the contingent of Turkish forces deployed at the Turkish base in Qatar. Secondly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Saudi-UAE effort to isolate Qatar. Third, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani showed strong support for the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during and after July 2016 failed military coup attempt in Turkey. Fourth, since the overthrow of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013, the relations between Ankara and Cairo have been distressing. It is because Turkey like Qatar had “provided support for the Egyptian revolution and condemned the military coup that brought the country's current leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, into power.”


The preceding discussion reveals that three sub-regional blocs in the Middle East are in the process of formulation. Iran, Yemen, Syria and Iraq constitute one bloc. The non-state organizations associated with this bloc are Shia militias in Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah and the Houthis. Saudi Arabia steward the second bloc, which included Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The third bloc contains Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and the forces instrumental in the Arab Spring. The first and third bloc policies converge. Tehran was quick, therefore, to let Doha know it was ready to help in any way it could. “Iran kept its airspace and ports open to Qatar, and half a dozen of Iranian cargo planes have delivered supplies to the blockaded Qataris.” Whereas; the second bloc is determined to contain the influence of both Shia Islam as well as political Islam in the Middle East.


In reality, the tussle among the Middle Eastern states is in the advantage of transnational terrorist organizations and the Great Powers. The current crisis further destabilizes a region already grappling with three civil wars and jihadist insurgencies on several fronts. It emboldens Islamic State (Daesh), al-Qaeda etc. to attack on the law enforcement agencies and secure their sanctuaries in the region. On June 7, 2017 Islamic State attacked on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. It killed 12 and 46 were wounded. The terrorist attacks are likely to further aggravate tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.


The Great Powers’ interference systematically increases in the regional politics. These not only sell their obsolete weapons to the Arab nations but also exploit their differences for curbing their sovereign decision making in the global affairs. Americans and Russians Middle Eastern policies have been contributing in widening the regional fault lines. Moscow maintains strategic relations with Tehran, whereas Washington backs Riyadh against Iran.


Remarkably, Trump Administration failed to articulate a coordinated Washington position on the current Middle Eastern crisis. Is it a deliberate approach? President Donald Trump in his speech in Riyadh on May 20, 2017 explicitly encouraged Saudi Arabia and its likeminded states against Iran. He categorically alleged Iran as the world’s sponsor of terrorism: “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.” On June 6, 2017 he also praised Saudi-led alliance actions against terrorist groups and their sympathizers. He tweeted: “During my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Precisely, President Trump endorsed the siege of Qatar and professed it the beginning of the end of terrorism.


Importantly, the American establishment cannot ignore Qatar entirely because it is home to some 10,000 American troops at the Al Udeid Air Base. At the same time, increasing cooperation between Doha and Tehran is intolerable for Washington. The punitive measures against Qatar are not viewed in the interest of United States. Therefore, senior Trump Administration members acted cautiously. They called for dialogue to end the crisis. Consequently, President Trump caved into the establishment approach and offered to host a meeting in White House to resolve Arab states crisis. U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson called on Qatar “to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors.” He added: “We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar.” In addition, on June 14, 2017 the U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement for a $12-billion sale of U.S.-manufactured F-15 fighters. Pentagon statement pointed out: “The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar.” Precisely, Washington is profiting from selling lethal arms to both Riyadh and Doha.


Qatar seems under siege from its neighbors. They cut transport links, making it difficult to import and export goods including water and perishable food items. Turkey and Iran’s political, diplomatic, economic and military assistance prevent Qatar from complete regional isolation. The support of these countries, however, cannot ensure the continuity of economic growth of the tiny Arab state. The neighbors’ siege has serious socio-economic repercussions and thereby the panic is noticeable in several sectors including shipping, food, airlines, banking, stocks, etc. According to CAPA Center for Aviation report: “Losing Saudi, Bahrain, and UAE airspace would effectively ground Qatar Airways.” Similarly, losing Dubai port Jebel Ali not only delays shipments but also increases the cost of container transportation. The Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain banks are delaying letters of credit and other deals with Qatari banks. This could instigate investors to pull out from Qatari banks. Precisely, Qatar’s economy is suffering from tangible detrimental shocks of diplomatic crisis. Notwithstanding, Doha is encountering immense economic difficulties, but seem determined to continue defying neighboring Arab states interference in its foreign policy. On June 13, 2017, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani categorically stated: “Whatever relates to our foreign affairs ... no one has the right to discuss.” Precisely, Doha despite economic and diplomatic pressure seems determined to maintain its independent foreign policy in the Middle East.


Pakistan announced to continue its diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar. Simultaneously, “The Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of the people and the government of Pakistan to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Kingdom, and the safety of Harmain al Sharifain.” Actually, Islamabad needs to maintain cordial bilateral relations with all the Middle Eastern nations. Indeed, it’s difficult. The problematic probability is that Saudi Arab-led coalition may adopt a ‘you are with us or you are against us’ approach. In 2015, Pakistan’s parliament recommendation to adopt neutrality in Yemen conflict annoyed Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria reiterated the spirit of Parliament’s recommendation again on June 13, 2017: “Pakistan believes in unity among Muslim countries. We have made consistent efforts for its promotion.” Is neutrality in the interest of Pakistan?


The warlike situation in the Middle East obviously undercuts the prospects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in particular and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative in general. Therefore, Islamabad needs to be proactive in resolving the prevalent Arab crisis. The National Assembly (Pakistan) called upon “all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue. This house also calls upon the government to take concrete steps towards forging unity amongst the Muslim Ummah in the region.” On June 12, 2017 while responding to the demand of the House, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accompanied by senior ministers and Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Riyadh for a quick resolution of the crisis. Instead of using multilateral approach i.e., using the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for bringing about peace and stability in the Middle East, Pakistani leadership adopted bilateral approach to mediate between the conflicting parties. Nevertheless, the latter’s approach for finding a diplomatic solution to the Qatar crisis has not achieved any breakthrough so far.


To conclude, from Riyadh to Doha and from Cairo to Tehran, Islamabad has genuinely friendly and stable ties with all sides. Sustaining cordial relations with the Saudi-led coalition of five Arab countries is imperative. Simultaneously, the continuity of friendly relations with Qatar, Iran, Turkey is in the national interest of Pakistan. Therefore, siding with any one party would be counterproductive. Hence, Islamabad can only act as a neutral interlocutor in rescuing the region from current imbroglio, instead of getting embroiled in the Middle Eastern conflict. Hence, it is in Pakistan’s interest to convince the conflicting parties to climb down from their maximalist demands and reach a broadly acceptable compromise for the sake of peace in the Middle East.

 

The writer is Associate Professor at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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10
July

خلیج تعاون کونسل کا بحران اور خطے پر اثرات

Published in Hilal Urdu July 2017

تحریر: ڈاکٹر رشید احمدخان

جون کے پہلے ہفتے میں چھ عرب ممالک جن میں سے تین یعنی سعودی عرب، متحدہ عرب امارات اور بحرین کا تعلق خلیج تعاون کونسل سے ہے، نے قطر کے ساتھ سفارتی تعلقات ختم کر کے اس کے ساتھ تمام زمینی اور فضائی روابط منقطع کرنے کا اعلان کر دیا۔ اس اقدام کا ساتھ دینے والے باقی تین عرب ممالک مصر، لیبیا اور یمن ہیں۔ بعد میں تین اور ممالک یعنی جبوتی، نائیجیریا اور مالدیپ بھی اس میں شامل ہو گئے۔ اس اقدام کی وجہ قطر کی طرف سے دہشت گرد، انتہاپسند اور جہادی تنظیموں کی مالی معاونت کا الزام ہے۔ سعودی عرب کا دعویٰ ہے کہ ان میں سے بعض گروپوں کو ایران کی حمایت بھی حاصل ہے۔صورت حال کی سنگینی کا اندازہ اس امر سے لگایا جا سکتا ہے کہ بائیکاٹ کے اعلان کے بعد سعودی عرب نے قطر کو دس شرائط پوری کرنے کا الٹی میٹم بھی دیا ہے جن میں اخوان المسلمین ، حماس ، حزب اﷲ اور شام میں صدر اسد کی حکومت کے ساتھ تعلقات ختم کرنا، بین الاقوامی سطح پر خصوصاً عرب ملکوں میں مقبول ٹیلی ویژن نیٹ ورک ’’الجزیرہ‘‘ کی نشریات پر پابندی اور اس کے عملے کو قطر سے نکل جانے کا حکم بھی شامل ہے۔ سعودی عرب کی حکومت نے واضح کہا ہے کہ جب تک قطر کی طرف سے ان شرائط کو پورا نہیں کیا جاتا، نہ صرف اس کا بائیکاٹ جاری رہے گا بلکہ قطر کے خلاف سخت اقدامات بھی کئے جا سکتے ہیں۔ دوسری طرف قطر نے ان اقدامات کو جارحیت قرار دیتے ہوئے واضح کر دیا ہے کہ وہ کسی دباؤ میں نہیں آئے گا اور نہ ہی ملک کی آزادی اور خودمختاری پر سمجھوتہ کیا جائے گا۔ قطر سے موصول ہونے والی اطلاعات کے مطابق قطر میں جس کی 28لاکھ آبادی میں سے 80فیصد غیرملکیوں پر مشتمل ہے، عوامی سطح پر تشویش پائی جاتی ہے لیکن حکومت کا ساتھ دینے اور ہر قسم کے حالات کا سامنا کرنے کے عزم کا بھی اظہار کیا جا رہا ہے۔

 

خلیج فارس کے اس بحران کا تعلق اگرچہ بنیادی طور پر دو برادر عرب ممالک یعنی قطر اور سعودی عرب سے ہے، لیکن اپنے جغرافیائی محل وقوع اور تیل اور گیس جیسے قیمتی ذخائر کا مالک ہونے کی وجہ سے خلیج فارس کا یہ بحران نہ صرف اس میں براہ راست ملوث ہے، بلکہ علاقے میں واقع دیگر ممالک اور بین الاقوامی سطح پر بھی دوررس مضمرات کا حامل ہے۔

خلیج فارس کے اس بحران کا تعلق اگرچہ بنیادی طور پر دو برادر عرب ممالک یعنی قطر اور سعودی عرب سے ہے، لیکن اپنے جغرافیائی محل وقوع اور تیل اور گیس جیسے قیمتی ذخائر کا مالک ہونے کی وجہ سے خلیج فارس کا یہ بحران نہ صرف اس میں براہ راست ملوث ہے، بلکہ علاقے میں واقع دیگر ممالک اور بین الاقوامی سطح پر بھی دوررس مضمرات کا حامل ہے۔ جہاں تک پاکستان کا تعلق ہے، قطر کا موجودہ بحران تین وجوہات کی بنا پر اس کے لئے خصوصی توجہ کا متقاضی ہے ایک یہ کہ پاکستان خلیج فارس کے دہانے پر واقع ہے۔ اس بحران میں شدت کے باعث اگر کسی تصادم کی نوبت آتی ہے تو پاکستان فوری طور پر اس کی لپیٹ میں آئے گا۔ خلیج تعاون کونسل کے ممالک کے ساتھ پاکستان کے اقتصادی ، تجارتی اور دفاعی تعلقات کے ساتھ ساتھ لاکھوں پاکستانی وہاں محنت مزدوری اور دیگر قسم کے روزگار کے لئے مقیم ہیں۔ ان کی وطن کو بھیجے جانے والی زرمبادلہ کی رقوم پاکستانی معیشت میں ریڑھ کی ہڈی کی حیثیت کی حامل ہیں اس لئے پاکستان آخری ملک ہو گا جو خلیج فارس اور خاص طور پر اس خطے میں واقع ممالک کے درمیان کسی قسم کے تصادم کا خواہشمند ہو گا۔ دوسرے پاکستان کے سعودی عرب اور قطر دونوں کے ساتھ اہم اور قریبی تعلقات ہیں۔ دونوں ممالک خصوصاً سعودی عرب میں پاکستانیوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد اوورسیز ورکرز کی حیثیت سے کام کر رہی ہے۔ قطر اور سعودی عرب دونوں کے ساتھ پاکستان کے دفاعی تعلقات قائم ہیں اور ان ممالک کی دفاعی افواج کو تربیت دینے کے لئے پاکستان کے فوجی دستے ان ممالک میں تعینات ہیں۔ پاکستان نے مشرق وسطیٰ اور خلیجی ممالک کے ساتھ دو طرفہ بنیادوں پر ہمیشہ قریبی تعلقات کے قیام کی کوشش کی ہے لیکن ان کے باہمی جھگڑوں سے دور رہنے کی کوشش کی ہے۔ اسی روائتی پالیسی کے تحت پاکستان نے دو سال قبل اپنی فوج کو یمن بھجنے سے انکار رکر دیا تھا۔ تاہم اس وقت پاکستان کو قدرے پیچیدہ صورت حال کا سامنا ہے۔ کیونکہ سعودی عرب کی قیادت میں قائم 34اسلامی ملکوں کے اتحاد میں پاکستان بھی بحیثیت ایک رکن کے شامل ہے، بلکہ ہمارے ایک سابق چیف آف آرمی سٹاف جنرل(ر) راحیل شریف اسی اتحاد کے تحت قائم ہونے والی فوج کے کمانڈر بھی ہیں۔ اس سے یہ تاثر ملتا ہے کہ اس بحران میں پاکستان کا جھکاؤ سعودی عرب کی طرف زیادہ ہے۔ حالانکہ حقیقت میں ایسا نہیں ہے۔ اگر ایسا ہوتا تو قطر کی طرف سے پاکستان کو اس بحران میں ثالثی کا کردار ادا کرنے کی اپیل نہ کی جاتی اور اس مقصد کے لئے قطر کا سرکاری وفد پاکستان کا دورہ نہ کرتا۔ خود وزیراعظم محمدنوازشریف نے 12جون کو چیف آف آرمی سٹاف جنرل قمر جاوید باجوہ اور مشیر امور خارجہ سرتاج عزیز کے ہمراہ سعودی عرب کا دورہ کیا تھا۔ اس دورے کے دوران وزیراعظم اور ان کے وفد نے سعودی فرمانروا شاہ سلمان سے ملاقات کے علاوہ سابق ولی عہد شہزادہ نائف اور نائب ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد جو ملک کے وزیردفاع بھی ہیں، سے ملاقات کی تھی اور سعودی عرب کی اپنی آزادی خودمختاری اور علاقائی سالمیت کے دفاع کی یقین دہانی کرانے کے علاوہ اس بحران کو بات چیت کے ذریعے حل کروانے میں اپنی خدمات کی پیش کش بھی کی تھی۔

 

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پاکستان کی موجودہ حکومت بڑی دانشمندی اور احتیاط کے ساتھ ایک درست مؤقف اختیار کئے ہوئے ہے۔ اس مؤقف کا مقصد اس بحران کو مزید شدید ہونے سے روکنا اور سعودی عرب اور قطر کے درمیان اختلافات کو بات چیت کے ذریعے دور کرنا ہے۔ اس خطے میں پاکستان کو جو اہم مقام حاصل ہے اس کی بنا پر پاکستان اس کردار کے ادا کرنے کا پوری طرح اہل ہے۔ دیگر اسلامی ممالک مثلاً کویت اور ترکی بھی اس بحران کا جلد از جلد خاتمہ چاہتے ہیں اور اس بات کا قوی امکان ہے کہ یہ تینوں ممالک اگر مل کر مصالحت کی کوششوں کا آغاز کریں تو یہ کوششیں بارآور ثابت ہوں گی۔ کیونکہ قطر نے بات چیت پر آمادگی کا اظہار کر دیا ہے۔ اگر سعودی عرب اور اس کا ساتھ دینے والے ممالک لچک کا مظاہرہ کریں تو بات چیت کا آغاز ہو سکتا ہے جوکہ موجودہ کشیدگی کو کم کرنے میں ممدومعاون ثابت ہو سکتا ہے۔ پاکستان کے لئے تیسرا چیلنج یہ ہے کہ اس میں ایران کو بھی ملوث کیا گیا ہے۔ بلکہ بعض تجزیہ نگاروں کی رائے میں اس بحران کی اصل وجہ یہ ہے کہ انسداددہشت گردی کی آڑ میں سعودی عرب کی قیادت اور اس کی برملا حمایت سے جو اسلامی فوجی اتحاد ایران کے خلاف قائم کیا گیا ہے، قطر نے اس کا ہم نوا بننے سے انکار کر دیا ہے۔ سعودی عرب کے دارالحکومت ریاض میں اس اتحاد کی سربراہی کانفرنس میں امریکہ کے صدر ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ نے ایران کو سخت تنقید کا نشانہ بنایا تھا اور اسے الگ تھلگ کرنے کی اپیل کی تھی۔ قطر نے اس اپیل پر عمل درآمد کرنے سے انکار کر دیا تھا۔ قطر سے پرخاش کی ایک اور وجہ یہ ہے کہ قطر شام کے صدر بشار الاسد کی حکومت اور روس کے تعلقات میں بہتری لا رہا ہے۔ قطر کی علاقائی پالیسی میں ان تبدیلیوں کی وجہ یہ ہے کہ خلیج فارس میں پانی کے نیچے قطر کی گیس کے سب سے بڑے ذخیرے کا ایک حصہ ایران کی سمندری حدود کے اندر واقع ہے۔ اس سے استفادہ کرنے کے لئے قطر کو ایران کے تعاون کی ضرورت ہے۔ جہاں تک امریکہ اور سعودی عرب کی مرضی کے برعکس قطر کی جانب سے شام اور روس کے ساتھ بہتر تعلقات قائم کرنے کی کوشش کا تعلق ہے، تو اس کی وجہ بھی قطر کی گیس ہے۔ جسے قطر روس کی مدد سے پیداوار میں اضافہ کر کے شام اور ترکی کے راستے یورپ کو بیچنا چاہتا ہے۔ یورپ کے ممالک اس منصوبے میں خصوصی دلچسپی لے رہے ہیں۔ کیونکہ اس کی تکمیل سے ان کا روس کی گیس پر انحصار کم ہو جائے گا۔ چونکہ پاکستان اور ایران کے تعلقات ہمیشہ سے خوشگوار رہے ہیں اس لئے پاکستان کے لئے کسی ایسے اقدام کی حمایت کرنا بہت مشکل ہو گا، جس کا مقصد ایران کو نقصان پہنچانا ہو۔ پاکستان نے قطر کے ساتھ مائع قدرتی گیس خریدنے کا معاہدہ کر رکھا ہے۔ پاکستان کبھی نہیں چاہے گا کہ یہ معاہدہ کسی خطرے سے دوچار ہو۔


مستقبل میں یہ بحران کیا شکل اختیار کرے گا؟اس سلسلے میں ایک بات یقینی طور پر کہی جا سکتی ہے کہ قطر اور سعودی عرب میں تصادم یا خلیج کے خطے میں کسی بڑی جنگ کا کوئی امکان نہیں۔ اس کی بھی تین وجوہات ہیں۔ اول سعودی عرب اور دیگر ممالک کی طرف سے مکمل ناکہ بندی کے باوجود قطر نے گھٹنے ٹیکنے سے انکار کر دیا ہے۔ قطر کے وزیر خارجہ نے ایک دفعہ پھر کہا ہے کہ اس کا ملک کسی دباؤ میں نہیں آئے گا۔ دوئم تمام دنیا کے خلیج فارس کے ساتھ اس قدر اہم مفادات وابستہ ہیں کہ وہ نہیں چاہیں گے کہ اس خطے میں کنوؤں سے تیل اور گیس کی بجائے آگ کے شعلے بلند ہوں۔ خلیج فارس میں تصادم سے عالمی معاشی نظام عدم استحکام کا شکار ہو سکتا ہے۔ سوئم قطر میں امریکہ کا اس علاقے میں سب سے بڑا فوجی اڈہ ہے جہاں سے افغانستان اور شام میں امریکہ کے فضائی حملے کئے جا سکتے ہیں، کسی بڑے تصادم کی صورت میں امریکہ کے لئے اس اڈے کو استعمال کرنا ناممکن ہو جائے گا۔ امریکی فوج کی طرف سے موجودہ کشیدہ صورت حال پر پہلے ہی تشویش کا اظہار کیا جا رہا ہے۔ پھر حالات کیا رخ اختیار کریں گے؟


اگرچہ کویت، ترکی اور پاکستان کی جانب سے بات چیت کے ذریعے اس مسئلے کا حل ڈھونڈنے کی کوشش کی جا رہی ہے۔ تاہم فوری طور پر بات چیت کے آغاز کا کوئی امکان نہیں اور یہ بحران موجودہ شکل میں طویل عرصے تک قائم رہ سکتا ہے۔ یہ صورت حال قطر برداشت کر سکتا ہے کیونکہ عالمی منڈی میں اس کی گیس کی مانگ میں اضافہ ہو رہا ہے۔ سعودی عرب اور دیگر ممالک کی طرف سے قطر کے بائیکاٹ میں گیس کی ترسیل پر پابندی شامل نہیں۔ اس کی وجہ یہ ہے کہ سعودی عرب اور دیگر خلیجی ممالک خود قطر کی گیس استعمال کرتے ہیں۔ مثلاً متحدہ عرب امارات (یو۔ اے۔ ای) اپنی گیس کی ضروریات کا 40فیصد حصہ قطر سے درآمد کرتا ہے۔ یہی وجہ ہے کہ زمین اور فضا سے قطر کے ساتھ رابطے تو بند کر دیئے گئے ہیں لیکن پائپ لائنوں میں قطر کی سپلائی جاری ہے۔ اور اسی کی بنیاد پر قطر اس بحرانی کیفیت سے ایک طویل عرصہ تک عہدہ برا ہونے کی صلاحیت رکھتا ہے۔

پروفیسر ڈاکٹر رشید احمد خان معروف ماہر تعلیم اور کالم نویس ہیں۔

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07
July

Waziristan at Peace (Part II)

Written By: Jennifer McKay

With the majority of the community having returned to the Tochi Valley, life is moving to the new normal that is obvious across all of North Waziristan. The transition from a terrorist-infested area, to a peaceful community that has returned from displacement is not without challenges. But so much has been done already to rehabilitate this area and the prospects for the future are looking good. Not so long ago, when the soldiers moved through this area, the children made the ‘hand across the throat’ sign, wishing death to the soldiers. Now they wave happily and often salute the soldiers. Sometimes, they even pause from their game of cricket to run to the roadside to wave. This is reflection of love for Pakistan Army among tribal children and elders.

The Tochi Valley has had a long and colourful history. This beautiful valley, running from Bannu through Mir Ali and Miranshah, out to Degan, Boya and beyond, has seen many conflicts over the centuries. Today, it is at peace.


In the days of the British, it was the scene of many skirmishes between the tribesmen and the British Indian Army. The history books are full of interesting tales of the British attempting to subjugate the tribes, usually unsuccessfully. It is worth reading some of the books and articles on the history of North Waziristan and bordering areas of Afghanistan to get a better understanding of the fierce and independent tribesmen and their battles with the British. Most accounts were written by British officers and are imperialistic in their tone but they do provide a background to the many conflicts in the past century or two.


The British have long gone but since 2001 when the U.S. and foreign forces invaded Afghanistan, trouble in the Tribal Agencies started to escalate. Despite many attempts at building peace between militant factions and the state, trouble intensified to a point where military operations were needed to defeat the growing threat. It is not easy, nor desirable, for any army to have to fight its own people and Pakistan wanted to avoid the scenario of many innocent people in the region being caught up in what would ultimately become a necessary conflict. Terrorists, including Uzbeks, Chechens and others, along with local groups, had infiltrated and taken over communities, basically holding them as a collective human shield. In all instances across the seven Tribal Agencies, the Army moved the population out to protect innocent families. This was a massive effort and a huge cost to the state and more so, to the people many of whom lost everything. However, with talks bringing no resolution, and attacks growing in the area and the cities, the only solution was to launch the operations.

 

wazirstanatpeaceasd.jpgOperation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in June 2014, finally brought to an end the reign of terror of the militant groups that had moved into North Waziristan from Afghanistan and beyond to join forces with local militants. The alliances of these groups including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jundallah and the Haqqani network were a threat to the country and the region. Tribal elders and thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers have died at the hands of these groups. The success of the military operations has led to a significant reduction of terror attacks in the country.

 

Following the operations, the government and Army could then start the process of bringing home the displaced population and rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. These were already underway in the other six Agencies that had previously been cleared. The efforts have been massive and will continue for some time. The terrain and location of villages in North Waziristan makes the task more challenging but the leap forward from what was to what is and what will be, is impressive.


For this series of articles, I travelled to different parts of North Waziristan to get a better understanding of the difference in areas and what is happening. The areas are quite distinctive in nature and the Tochi Valley with its beauty and history is one area that is showing great potential.


New roads are making travel in North Waziristan so much easier. A new road from Miranshah to Boya is under construction and will soon be surfaced making it an even more pleasant journey out through the valley following the Tochi River. When I visited Boya – located a little over 20 kilometres from Miranshah – the valley was looking its most beautiful. Sun shining on the rugged ranges and the mud and brick houses and compounds in villages along the river, trees with bright green foliage, healthy crops in the fields, and children playing cricket, it seemed a vision of serenity. It was hard to imagine that so recently this had been the scene of so much misery.


Fighting in the area to defeat some of the most ruthless terrorists including Uzbeks and others involved in the attack on the Karachi Airport, was intense. Large caches of weapons and explosives were found in the clearing operations, a reminder of the firepower capability that terrorists can muster.


With the majority of the community having returned to the Tochi Valley, life is moving to the new normal that is obvious across all of North Waziristan. The transition from a terrorist-infested area, to a peaceful community that has returned from displacement is not without challenges. But so much has been done already to rehabilitate this area and the prospects for the future are looking good.


Not so long ago, when the soldiers moved through this area, the children made the ‘hand across the throat’ sign, wishing death to the soldiers. Now they wave happily and often salute the soldiers. Sometimes, they even pause from their game of cricket to run to the roadside to wave. This is reflection of love for Pakistan Army among tribal children and elders.


What a spectacular tourist drive this could be one day, now that peace has been restored. When more facilities are built, and the area opens up more to visitors, this will be a ‘must visit’ area. Let us hope that will be soon as tourism brings a lot of money to any area and the local people would prosper.


The people of the Boya and Degan area are already seeing new opportunities for prosperity at their doorstep with the discovery of copper and the opening of a mine and processing facilities. This is significant. Industry is needed across all of FATA and this once ‘no-go’ area of North Waziristan can certainly benefit from such ventures.


The abundance of minerals including copper, chromite, oil, and gas in FATA has been known for some years. However, the instability and threat of terrorism was too high for investors to take a chance on mining. That has changed. In 2016, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FATA Development Authority (FDA) to open a copper mine at Degan. FWO, through its subsidiary MEDO then partnered with Yantai Xinhai Mining Machinery to build a copper benefication plant that will have a capacity of 1,500 tons per day.


What is impressive about the agreement is that it will give 18 percent of the revenue to the local community, 10 percent to the FATA Development Authority, and 22 percent to corporate social responsibility initiatives to be spent on local projects.


In addition, this will bring jobs, not only at the mine and processing plant but also in the provision of support services from businesses in the community. Investment in industry can help communities make the leap from subsistence living to prosperity. The investment in this copper mine is a major step in encouraging other investors to look at opportunities in mining and other industries.


The Tochi Valley is very close to the Afghanistan Border. Although the situation with Afghanistan is often fractious, the benefits for both countries in building trade are obvious. As North Waziristan opens up, and with the excellent roads linking it with the cities in Pakistan and to the border, new opportunities will arise for trade in minerals, fruit and vegetables, and other goods. Enhanced trade and effective joint border management will increase the chances for long-term peace on both sides of the border.


What is concerning though is that the situation in Afghanistan appears to be worsening. With the Afghan Taliban controlling large swathes of the country and a growing presence of Daesh, it is hard to say what will happen. The Trump Administration has recently announced that more U.S. troops will be sent to Afghanistan but the situation remains unclear whether this will make a difference when billions of dollars and fifteen years of a huge presence of U.S. and ISAF forces on the ground with a large Afghan Army could not bring peace. Foreign analysts do not seem positive that this latest increase will help due to the growing power of Afghan Taliban and Daesh across the country. For Pakistan, which has done so much to defeat terrorism, and lost so many lives to bring peace within its own borders, peace in Afghanistan is critical.


In a previous article, “Waziristan at Peace” I wrote about the improvements that have already been made in these villages around Boya and Degan. One of the most important of these is the small hospital, which is currently staffed by Army medical officers, lady health workers, and local medical assistants. The area has significant health problems that have not previously been addressed including general health care, cardiology, and women’s health. Healthcare is a vital component for the wellbeing of this area to progress and prosperity. One of the major health problems highlighted by the Army doctors, and which should be prioritized and addressed in community health is that of malaria and leishmaniasis, both of which are common in this area.


These two maladies, delivered by mosquitos and sandflies respectively, are extremely dangerous and can cause long-term illnesses and even death. While many are more familiar with malaria, less is understood about leishmaniasis which is a dangerous and painful disease. The World Health Organisation suggests that leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest people on earth, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources. The disease is linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, building of dams, irrigation schemes, and urbanization.

 

Tochi Valley has the potential to become a symbol of what can be achieved in the process of bringing long-term peace and stability and to become a prosperous area of the country. The components are all there and the current situation is looking very promising indeed. With support and encouragement, the education of children and youth, improved health and wellbeing for all, plus economic prosperity through investment, small business and agriculture, the future looks bright in the Tochi Valley.

According to health advisories, “affected regions are often remote and unstable, with limited resources for treating this disease.” Doctors Without Borders calls leishmaniasis “one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases.” It can be transmitted from one human to another in certain circumstances. The Organization also states that this disease is second only to malaria in parasitic causes of death. It can cause skin lesions, mainly ulcers, on exposed parts of the body, leaving life-long scars and serious disability.


Treating the illness is one thing though no vaccines are available, but more important is to take preventative measures, and to get to the cause of the problem. The World Health Organisation provides advice on how communities can reduce the risk. Raising awareness of the risks of these two diseases carried by tiny flying monsters is clearly an activity that would be helpful to the communities. Government health officials and possibly the World Health Organisation or other humanitarian agencies could support the work that the Army is already doing enough on this, including research into the local environmental conditions in which these insects thrive to eliminate the breeding grounds. It would be of great benefit to the local people and their future wellbeing.


The growing number of good schools in the area also provide opportunities not only for good education and vocational training for boys and girls, but also to inculcate awareness of hygiene, health, and also about the local environment. Children are wise and like to share what they learn with their parents. This will further raise awareness of important community health issues. The same applies to the Women’s Vocational Centers. Sharing the benefits of health issues and how best to address these, is extremely helpful in spreading the word. This is already happening at the Centers.


The local people are not just leaving it up to the Army to do the work; they too are taking the initiative. Although the Army has built excellent local markets, it is a positive sign to see so many small ‘tuckshops’, scrap metal and building materials depots, tyre repairers, and other small businesses along the roadside. Farming families are adapting new techniques they have learned from the Army to get better crop yields. Another sign of positive change is the visible pride the Khasardars have in their duties. There is no shortage of candidates to join up.


Tochi Valley has the potential to become a symbol of what can be achieved in the process of bringing long-term peace and stability and to become a prosperous area of the country. The components are all there and the current situation is looking very promising indeed. With support and encouragement, the education of children and youth, improved health and wellbeing for all, plus economic prosperity through investment, small business and agriculture, the future looks bright in the Tochi Valley.

(To be Continued...)

 

The writer is Australian Disaster Management and Civil-Military Relations Consultant, based in Islamabad where she consults for Government and UN agencies. She has also worked with ERRA and NDMA.

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10
July

ایس سی او۔ پاکستان کی رکنیت اور علاقائی اہمیت

Published in Hilal Urdu July 2017

تحریر: فرخ سہیل گوئندی

شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن نے سرد جنگ کے خاتمے کے بعد خطے میں بدلتی صورتِ حال کے نتیجے میں ایک نئے علاقائی اتحاد کے طور پر جنم لیا۔ سرد جنگ کے زمانے میں، سابق سوویت یونین اور ریاست ہائے متحدہ امریکہ کے مابین مقابلے کے نتیجے میں دونوں طاقتوں نے اپنے ہاں اسلحے کے انبار لگانا شروع کردئیے۔ جب سرد جنگ کا خاتمہ ہوا تو دنیا کے مختلف ممالک علاقائی اقتصادی اتحادوں میں جڑنے لگے۔انہی میں سے ایک اتحاد شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن ہے۔ چین ایک عالمی اقتصادی طاقت کے طور پر تیزرفتار‘ زور پکڑتا ہوا ملک جانا جانے لگا اور روسی فیڈریشن، اقتصادی اور نئے عسکری اتحادوں میں اہم کردار ادا کرنے لگی۔ چین کو علاقائی اور عالمی منڈیوں تک رسائی کے لئے نئے راستے درکار تھے۔ آج ہم آسانی سے دیکھ سکتے ہیں کہ چین اپنے ان اہداف میں کامیابی سے آگے بڑھ رہا ہے۔ شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن کا قیام اِن اہداف کے لئے ہی تھا جس میں روسی فیڈریشن علاقائی توازن میں اپنا برابر حصہ ڈال رہی ہے۔


سرد جنگ کے خاتمے کے بعد دہشت گردی ایک عالمی مسئلہ بن کر سامنے آیا، لیکن اہم بات یہ ہے کہ اس عالمی دہشت گردی کا مرکز، مشرقِ وسطیٰ بن کر ابھرا۔ عراق، شام اور لیبیا جیسی اہم ریاستوں کو جیسے کھوکھلا کیا گیا، اگر اس کو غور سے دیکھا جائے تو معاملہ سمجھ میں آتا ہے کہ دہشت گردی کو ان ممالک میں کیوں کر اور کن طاقتوں نے پلنے ‘بڑھنے اور پنپنے کے مواقع فراہم کئے۔ پاکستان بھی اُن ممالک میں شامل ہے جس کو دہشت گردی کے ذریعے کھوکھلا کرنے کی عالمی سازش کارفرما تھی، جسے پاکستان کی مسلح افواج نے بھرپور طریقے سے ناکام بنانے میں فیصلہ کن کردار ادا کیا۔ پاکستان اس تناظر میں ایک اہم ترین ملک ہے، جو مشرقِ وسطیٰ، وسطی ایشیا اور جنوبی ایشیا کے سنگم پر واقع ہے اور نئی عالمی اقتصادی طاقت عوامی جمہوریہ چین کا دیرینہ دوست اور اتحادی ہے۔ حال ہی میں چین کو راہداری دینے کے منصوبے نے پاکستان کی علاقائی طاقت کو مضبوط تر کردیا ہے۔ پاکستان سرد جنگ کے خاتمے کے بعد ایک نیا کردار بنانے میں کوشاں ہے۔ شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن میں 2005ء سے ایک آبزرور کی حیثیت سے اس کی شمولیت اسی پالیسی کا حصہ ہے۔ اور اب جون 2017ء میں قازقستان کے دارالحکومت آستانہ میں شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن کی سربراہ کانفرنس میں پاکستان اور بھارت کو مکمل رکنیت دے دی گئی ہے۔ یہ پاکستان کا خطے میں ایک اہم ملک ہونے کا بڑا ثبوت ہے اور یہ کہ پاکستان کے بغیر علاقائی اتحاد نامکمل سمجھے جارہے ہیں۔ پاکستان نہ صرف ایک ایٹمی طاقت ہونے کے ناتے اہم ملک ہے بلکہ اس کی جیو سٹریٹجک اہمیت کو بھی کوئی علاقائی اور عالمی طاقت نظرانداز نہیں کرسکتی۔

scoorgoniz.jpg
آستانہ میں ہونے والی اس سربراہ کانفرنس میں وزیراعظم پاکستان نوازشریف نے شرکت کی اور کانفرنس میں شامل رہنماؤں سے ملاقاتیں بھی کیں۔ کانفرنس میں ایک اہم توجہ دینے والی بات روسی صدر ولادی میر پوٹن نے کی انہوں نے خطاب میں کہا کہ دہشت گردی ایک اہم مسئلہ ہے جس سے شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن کے رکن ممالک کو نمٹنا ہوگا۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ عراق اور شام میں پُراسرار طریقے سے جنم لینے والی دہشت گرد تنظیم
ISIS
مشرقِ وسطیٰ کے بعد وسطی ایشیا اور جنوبی روس میں دہشت گردی پھیلا کر اِن خطوں کے ممالک کو
Destabilize
کرنے کا منصوبہ رکھتی ہے۔ یقیناًیہ ایک اہم مسئلہ ہے اور سوال یہ ہے کہ
ISIS
اُن ہی ممالک کو کیوں اپنے نشانے پر رکھ رہی ہے جو کسی حوالے سے عالمی سرمایہ داری کے سرخیل امریکہ کے زیادہ کہنے میں نہیں۔ شنگھائی کوآپریشن میں شامل روس اور چین کے علاوہ قازقستان، کرغستان، تاجکستان اور ازبکستان رکن ممالک ہیں۔ اگر روسی صدرپیوٹن کے اس بیان کو اس تناظر میں دیکھا جائے تو وہ گمبھیر صورتِ حال سمجھ میں آتی ہے جس کی طرف انہوں نے آستانہ کانفرنس میں اشارہ کیا ہے۔ پاکستان جہاں ایک طرف ایسی ہی دہشت گردی کا شکار ملک ہے، وہیں پاکستان علاقے میں اقتصادی راہداریوں کے ذریعے اپنی حیثیت بھی منوا رہا ہے۔ چند ماہ قبل پاکستان میں روسی سفیر نے باقاعدہ پریس کانفرنس میں اس خواہش کا اظہار کیا تھا کہ پاکستان چین اقتصادی راہداری سے روسی فیڈریشن مستفید ہونے کی خواہش رکھتی ہے۔ بھارت اس صورتِ حال میں پیچیدگی کا شکار ہے۔ لیکن ان بدلتے ہوئے حالات میں وہ جہاں پاکستان کو تنہا کرنے میں ناکام رہا، وہاں وہ پاکستان چین راہداری منصوبے میں، جس میں روس بھی دلچسپی رکھتا ہے، اب روڑے اٹکانے کے بجائے فوائد حاصل کرنے کا خواہاں بھی ہے۔ لیکن بھارتی حکومت اس حقیقت کو حلق سے نگلنے میں بڑی تکلیف محسوس کررہی ہے۔


بہرطور شنگھائی کوآپریشن آرگنائزیشن میں بھارت اور پاکستان کی مکمل رکنیت کے بعد یہ تنظیم عالمی سطح پر ایک نئی اہمیت اختیار کرگئی ہے۔ جہاں اس میں چین اور روس جیسی اقتصادی اور عسکری طاقتیں شامل ہیں، وہیں پاکستان اور بھارت کی رکنیت نے اس تنظیم میں دنیا کی آدھی آبادی کو شامل کردیا ہے۔ اس تنظیم میں دنیا کی چار ایٹمی طاقتیں، چین، روس، پاکستان اور بھارت شامل ہیں۔ ایسے میں یہ ایک اقتصادی اور عالمی طاقت میں توازن میں فیصلہ کن کردار ادا کرنے والا علاقائی اتحاد بنتا چلا جا رہا ہے۔ شنگھائی کوآپریشن سرد جنگ کے خاتمے کے بعد جنم لینے والے اتحادوں میں ایک اتحاد ثابت ہونے جا رہا ہے۔ اس کی سب سے بڑی طاقت خطے کے دو اہم ممالک روس اور چین ہیں اور اس کے بعد پاکستان اور بھارت دوسرے اہم ممالک ہیں۔ اس اتحاد میں پاکستان کی مکمل رکنیت پاکستان کی ایک
Powerful State
ہونے کا ثبوت ہے۔ پاکستان دھیرے دھیرے جس طرح امریکی چنگل سے باہر آرہا ہے، اس نے پاکستان کی اہمیت کو مزید مضبوط کردیا ہے۔ اگر سفارتی حوالے سے دیکھا جائے تو پاکستان اس اتحاد کے اندر بھی ایک طاقت ور ملک کی حیثیت رکھتا ہے۔ چین کے ساتھ دوستی اور لاتعداد منصوبوں میں شمولیت اور خصوصاً اب پاک چین اقتصادی راہداری ، پاکستان کے‘ اس تنظیم کے اندر‘ ایک انتہائی اہم ملک ہونے کی دلیل ہے۔ روس، پاکستان کی اس اہمیت سے جس قدر آگاہ ہے، اس کا اندازہ گزشتہ چند برسوں میں دونوں ممالک کے مابین مضبوط ہوتے سفارتی تعلقات سے لگایا جا سکتا ہے۔

مضمون نگار معروف صحافی ‘ کالم نگار اور متعدد کتابوں کے مصنف ہیں۔

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