Pakistan is on the right track. Infrastructure is improving due to the development and energy ventures under the aegis of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Terrorism is on the decline, the military is rapidly fencing the porous and perilous border called Durand line. FATA reforms are on the cards of political and military leadership. Institutions are stronger than before. Furthermore, Pakistan is actively pursuing the Kashmir policy on the external front and India is struggling in maintaining the law and order in occupied Kashmir. More and more Baluch insurgents are laying down the arms and accepting the writ of the state. So far the Indian designs to sabotage the vital CPEC have failed, and early harvest projects are developing in full swing.
Moreover, Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, briefed the Senate standing committee on armed forces about the security situation of the country. The General’s briefing was first of its kind in the history of Pakistan. Political commentators believed that the visit will bolster the democratic setup in the country. Security forces have initiated the de-ammunition campaign in major cities across the country. In addition to that, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies have restored peace and tranquility in Karachi, the major industrial and economic and industrial hub of the country.
Recently, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the Hazara Motorway, which is an important part of CPEC and will link northern Pakistan with southwestern China. According to observers, many projects under CPEC are near completion and the country economy will improve in 2018 and if the growth trend continues then Pakistan will join the club of world major economies. Moreover, 2018 will witness the completion of major infrastructure and energy projects.
Afghanistan will remain a major challenge for Pakistan in 2018, as the incumbent Afghan government has lost its credibility and Afghan forces have lost half of their territory to non-state actors. Furthermore, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is gaining ground in Afghanistan and there are reports that ISIL was involved in the recent attacks in Quetta.
American pressure will increase in the coming months. Afghanistan resulted in another Vietnam for American troops. Trump administration has significantly curtailed aid to Pakistan but that pressure has been balanced by Chinese assistance.
Pakistan was traditionally dependent on United States for two reasons: one, weapons to match India conventionally and maintain the balance of power in the South Asia; second, aid in the form of coalition support fund (CSF). The United States of America imposed sanctions on Pakistan after it conducted nuclear tests.
Pakistan which was heavily dependent on West for its military supplies turned its eyes towards China and the modern-day fighter jets like JF 17 and main battle tanks like Al Khalid are the fruits of Pak-China military cooperation. So Washington is not in a position to pressurize Pakistan like it did in the 90s. In the most extreme case, America can impose sanctions on Pakistan, but that too can be balanced by an economic partnership with China.
The two pillars of American state legislature and executive have divergence in the policy towards Pakistan. But now both the executive and legislature are on the same page on their relations with Islamabad.
Before Trump’s administration, the American executive was lenient, while the legislature was hard on Pakistan. American executive has always seen Pakistan in the context of Cold War, while the legislature sees Islamabad in the context of India-US natural alliance and in addition to that the Indian lobby has considerable influence in Congress, which includes Senate and House of Representatives.
Despite enormous challenges, Pakistan is on the rise. What we need is unity in our ranks and strong willpower.For, Pakistan possesses every element required for becoming a regional power.
Its population is approximately 200 million and it has one of the largest youth populations in the world – all our youth need is the right direction.
Rome was not built in a day, neither was the Great Wall of China. A great show of persistence, perseverance, and commitment is required on the part of both the leadership and civilians of Pakistan.