National and International Issues

Pakistan: A Misunderstood Country

New evidence also surfaced in the form of “Indian Chronicles” compiled by the EU DisinfoLab, establishing how India has been using fake media outlets and NGOs around the world to promote its mendacious agenda against both Pakistan and China.... It is time the world must acknowledge and commend Pakistan instead of being swayed by India’s well-organized and well-funded propaganda machinery to discredit Pakistan.

International relations are riddled with enormous complexities. And, as our world is getting increasingly globalized and ever new variables are creating hitherto unfamiliar paradoxes, the state as the primary unit of international system is facing inherently contradictory situations. The well-known normative and power-based explanations are under immense strain to prove their continuing congruence. However, in practical terms, states are yet to get to grips with multiple evolving scenarios. There are no easy answers to their growingly cumbersome dilemmas. 
Pakistan is a perfect case in point. Since its emergence on the world map in 1947, it has been struggling to overcome myriad of challenges at all levels and establish itself as a power commensurate with its massive potential. From nurturing mutually beneficial bilateral relations to promoting regional and global peace and building a rules-based international order, Pakistan can rightly take great pride in its assiduous efforts. However, it continues to be one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. Its international image is far removed from reality and represents the perceptional distortions to their ultimate.
Dispassionate discussion of four specific issues, namely, Kashmir, terrorism, Afghanistan and non-proliferation would help put things in correct perspective. Let us take them one by one.
Needless to emphasize that Pakistan-India relations are destined to remain hostile without the settlement of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Whereas Pakistan has always demonstrated unquestionable desire to resolve the dispute, India, during the last seventy three years, has been resorting to insidious procrastination and prevarication. India even refuses to acknowledge the continuing validity of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Kashmir and is hell-bent to keep denying the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 
India’s illegal measures on August 5, 2019 stripping Kashmir of its special status betrayed beyond a shadow of doubt that India was never interested to resolve the dispute through dialogue. By projecting the legitimate Kashmir struggle as terrorism and hiding behind the 1972 Simla Agreement, India had only been trying to bide time and consolidate its illegal occupation through the imposition of draconian laws. No wonder, it is also averse to a third-party mediation, knowing full well how weak its legal position on the dispute is. 
At one stage Pakistan even went out of its way to find a solution beyond the UNSC resolutions. Nevertheless, that too didn’t work in the face of India’s insatiable hubris and intransigence. On the contrary, India has been escalating the situation on the Line of Control and shows no interest in formalizing the 2003 ceasefire understanding into an agreement, as proposed by Pakistan in 2015. India wants to have its cake and eat it too. It does not give two hoots about human rights and international law. In fact, it is now engaged in serious war crimes against Kashmiris, including changing the demography of Kashmir through genocide and settling Indians in the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. 
Pakistan is still willing to settle its bilateral disputes with India through peaceful means. However, Pakistan cannot be expected to give up its principled position, especially on Kashmir, and let India continue wreaking havoc in the occupied territory. It is incumbent upon the international community to rise above its mundane interests with the view to halting India’s savagery and state terrorism in Kashmir.
It is now almost impossible the two countries would ever be able to settle the Kashmir dispute on their own. India’s unconstitutional actions apropos Kashmir have left no room for bilateralism rendering the Simla Agreement irrelevant. The incoming U.S. administration must explore every possibility to mediate behind the scenes to break the bilateral logjam and put the two countries on the track to resolve the most difficult dispute once and for all in accordance with the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 
There is no other country which has suffered the most at the hands of terrorism than Pakistan both in terms of life and treasure. Yet Pakistan is accused of allowing “safe havens” for terrorists on its territory by Afghanistan and of “cross-border terrorism” by India. This is nothing but brazen chicanery. Taking advantage of instability in Afghanistan post-9/11 military action by U.S./NATO against the Taliban government, India systematically supported the terrorist organizations like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to destabilize Pakistan. There are 66 terrorist camps being run by India in Afghanistan for this purpose. Recently, Pakistan in a dossier provided irrefutable evidence to that effect. New evidence has also surfaced in the form of “Indian Chronicles” compiled by the EU DisinfoLab, establishing how India has been using fake media outlets and NGOs around the world to promote its mendacious agenda against both Pakistan and China. There are also factual reports of involvement of 44 Indian banks in money laundering around the world.
The world must give credit to Pakistan for demonstrating indefatigable resolve to fight terrorism despite heavy odds. Not only that, it must also extend a helping hand in rehabilitating thousands of those displaced from their homes in the erstwhile tribal region as well as in rebuilding its economy. The irony is that instead of being helpful some major powers are being swayed by India to undermine Pakistan. Putting the country on the Grey List of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2018 was absolutely uncalled for, to say the least. Now that there is undeniable evidence against India, it remains to be seen if the FATF now moves against India to blacklist it or continues with its unjust policy towards Pakistan. 
Pakistan knows that peace in Afghanistan is a sine qua non for its own stability and progress. Hence, it has been working overtime to promote intra-Afghan reconciliation. Pakistan also played an important role in encouraging the Taliban to engage in talks with the U.S. which finally resulted in the U.S.-Taliban agreement on February 29, 2020. However, irreversible peace in Afghanistan will remain elusive if other regional powers, especially India, continue using the landlocked country for their own narrow interests. 
Pakistan also wants close to 2.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan to return to their homeland with honor and dignity. A peaceful Afghanistan will also open up a host of economic opportunities for Pakistan in the Central Asian region and beyond. Regional connectivity is key to promoting interdependence and integration and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor can contribute enormously to achieving these objectives. 
In short, it is in Pakistan’s core interest to see Afghanistan return to normalcy. Doubtless, challenges abound. All said and done, bringing about peace in Afghanistan is the shared responsibility of all. The ongoing intra-Afghan talks must end successfully. Their failure will be a recipe for an interminable gory civil war with repercussions beyond South Asia. 
Similarly, Pakistan never wanted South Asia to go nuclear. Despite the fact that there has never been a conventional balance between Pakistan and India, the former had put forth several proposals towards declaring South Asia a nuclear free zone. Pakistan had also proposed that the two rival countries also accede to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty simultaneously. After the debacle of East Pakistan and the nuclear test by India in 1974, Pakistan was left with no option but to acquire nuclear weapons capability and develop nuclear deterrence to counter India’s aggressive designs. It was, however, Pakistan, not India, which was sanctioned by the U.S. and other Western countries. 
Even after the nuclear tests first by India and then Pakistan in May 1998, Pakistan came up with a comprehensive Strategic Restraint Regime proposal that India took no time to spurn. Pakistan’s proposal not only sought to stave off the specter of an open-ended arms race in the region but also provided for the two countries to gradually move from conflict management to conflict resolution. The fact that India is now in the process of deploying S-400 and other air defense systems, Pakistan cannot be oblivious to its legitimate defense requirements, maintaining the credibility of its “full-spectrum deterrence” under all circumstances. The two countries are surely getting into an interminable vertical proliferation and their mutual hostility does not augur well for the stability of South Asia. 
Moreover, India’s dangerous Cold Start strategy that is now contained in the Indian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine of 2017, may further contribute to the instability in the region. The Balakot attack by India on February 26, 2019 and then Pakistan’s response the next day could have spiraled the situation out of anyone’s control. Through its aggressive and irresponsible military doctrines and preparations, India is only pushing South Asia to the precipice. The situation between India and Pakistan is far more hazardous than it was between the U.S. and the erstwhile Soviet Union during the Cold War years. 
Pakistan did face some challenges – which every country does while evolving new system – but the country had the courage to acknowledge the loopholes in its systems and procedures and fix them. Since then, Pakistan has come a long way. Today, its multi-layered command and control systems, safety regimes and export controls are foolproof and second to none. There is considerable appreciation around the world including by the International Atomic Energy Agency for Pakistan’s tremendous accomplishments in the nuclear field. There is thus no reason why Pakistan should not be brought on board the Nuclear Suppliers Group as soon as possible. 
Here it may also be pertinent to mention that Pakistan has always been against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is a party to both the Biological and Chemical weapons conventions. Interestingly, much before the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force in April 1997, Pakistan and India had signed an agreement (August 19, 1992), committing themselves against developing, producing and acquiring chemical weapons. Pakistan strictly abided by its bilateral commitment. However, when India ratified the CWC in 1996 it declared possession of chemical weapons that it had produced secretly in total violation of its bilateral agreement with Pakistan. 
Also, in multilateral forums, including the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Pakistan’s role has always been constructive and in conformity with the universally held principle of “equal and indivisible security for all states”. This has always been the guiding principle for Pakistan’s disarmament and arms control policy. It is no coincidence that Pakistan remains one of the largest contributing countries to the UN peacekeeping missions across the world. 
The foregoing establishes beyond doubt Pakistan’s positive policies and contributions towards promoting peace and stability in and outside its own region. It is time the world must acknowledge and commend Pakistan instead of being swayed by India’s well-organized and well-funded propaganda machinery to discredit Pakistan. It also remains a daunting challenge for Pakistan’s diplomacy to expose India’s aggressive designs and how in its pathological animosity toward Pakistan it is hurting every prospect of peace in South Asia. The international community must see Pakistan through the prism of rapidly changing ground realities rather than the Indian lens of deep hostility and mendacious subjectivity. 

The writer is President, Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies and has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany, and High Commissioner for India. He has also served as FO Spokesperson from 2009-2012.
E-mail: [email protected]

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