US new National Security Strategy announced by President Donald Trump on December 18, 2017 has raised several questions regarding its implication for global and regional geo-politics. The strategy is criticised by various countries as it is contrary to the ground realities and mostly based on US geo-political interests rather than rationality and cooperative order. Many described it confrontational and contradictory and expressive of outdated Cold War mindset. The key message of this strategy is to maintain US dominance through unilateral and anarchic actions to contain the influence of other powers such as China and Russia. Whereas regarding India, the strategy notes that the US would welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner. It will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia and India. Contrary to the ground realities, Trump’s new national security strategy blames Pakistan for allowing militants to operate from within Pakistan and insisted that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil.
Like many other countries the US Strategy also raised concerns in Pakistan. First the US strategy instead of recognizing Pakistan’s efforts for fighting terrorism and its unmatched sacrifices to promote peace and stability in the region has demanded to do more against terrorism. There is no doubt that Pakistan remains committed to continuing its fight against the sympathizers, financers and abettors of terrorism to ensure that its soil is not used for committing violence anywhere. Asking Pakistan to do things which it already has been doing reflects US unthankful attitude towards Pakistan’s colossal loss of valuable lives of more than sixty thousands Pakistanis including sacrifices of thousands of Pakistan’s Armed Forces soldiers and officers. The economic losses to Pakistan economy incurred in the war on terror have been massive as compared to the payments made by the US. No country in the world can pay the value of blood offered by Pakistanis in the war on terrorism.
Secondly the US Strategy warned of a potential Indian-Pakistan military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange and urged Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets. Here the US document instead of asking India to ensure strategic stability and resume dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully, has urged Pakistan to ensure security of its nuclear assets. Although the fact is that Pakistan as a responsible nuclear state, has put in place, a highly efficient, robust and centralized command and control mechanism to secure its nuclear assets. The safety and security standards of its nuclear arsenal are of international standards.
Balance of power in South Asia revolves around nuclear and conventional arms build-up between India and Pakistan on one hand and the power politics being played by United States, China and Russia in the region on the other hand. The strategic stability is disturbed both by internal and external factors. The internal factors include: unresolved political disputes between India and Pakistan including the Jammu and Kashmir, increased border tension on the LoC and absence of arms control regime. The US strategic tilt towards India reflected in Indo-US nuclear deal and the discriminatory waiver granted to India by the NSG is the major external factor disturbing strategic stability in South Asia.
Thirdly from Pakistani perspective, the US is giving undue importance to India in the region. South Asia’s strategic stability is being undermined by India’s unchecked brutalization of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and incessant ceasefire violations targeting innocent civilians According to Pakistan’s Foreign Office, destabilizing policies and actions by some countries to maintain their hegemony in pursuit of absolute power are responsible for instability in several parts of the world, including South Asia. Pakistan has been emphasizing time and again that threat to peace and security is the result of complex interplay of geopolitics, unresolved political disputes, and pursuit of hegemonic policies. Non-resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the primary obstacle to peace and stability in the region.
Pakistan is committed to work with the international community towards the common objective of defeating the forces of terrorism and bringing peace in the region. Pakistan has rightly been pointing out that despite substantial US presence; the Afghan soil is constantly being used by elements hostile to Pakistan’s stability. In order to prevent cross border movement of militants and return of Afghan refugees Pakistan is making sincere efforts for effective border management that would require cooperation from the US and Afghanistan.
The US narrative that Pakistan has safe havens for terrorists is totally misleading and contrary to the ground realities. Today Pakistan has emerged as a success story of a state that was able to defeat the menace of terrorism. Definitely now it is the hardest place for terrorists to operate. Those who are raising concerns on the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should know that its strategic assets are protected by a multilayered system of security. It is true that Pakistan does not have any safe haven for the terrorists but yes it has many safe havens constructed to ensure safety and security of its nuclear arsenal.
To conclude, the US National Security Strategy has raised concerns world-wide. The strategy if not abandoned would not only be harmful to several countries but would also harm US itself as well. Pakistan considers this document discriminatory as it does not recognise Pakistan’s sacrifices in counter terrorism and raises undue concerns on the safety and security of its nuclear assets. Further, the way USA is pampering India would destabilize the strategic balance in South Asia. It is an imperative for the US to review this document to make it more balanced otherwise it will not serve the US interests and isolate it further as already it has been reflected in the voting in United Nations Security Council on December 18, 2017 and the United Nations General Assembly on December 21, 2017 against the US on its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Article originally published in Pakistan Observer on December 24, 2017.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.