Pak-US relations in light of the transactional-transformational debate

By comparing the Transaction-Transformation move, the latter force is getting hype in the coming years. In the future, the ambiguousness between civil-military elites towards counterterrorism will remain if the current political structure based on status quo flourishes.

The arrival of new Republican president Donald Trump in Oval Office White House presented a shift in Pak-US relations. That shift is not abrupt but already the strong geopolitical forces compelled the United States to do what suits its grand strategy. Panama Papers and the rising religio-political forces,Tehreek-e-Lubaik Pakistan(TLP) and Milli Muslim League (MML), in the political sphere posed a new scene.

Transactional school of thought has dominated over history for a long period of time. Pakistan’s defence needs and its access to global financial activities made it a true ally of the United States.  In 2017, both countries diverged on some aspects: war on terror, and the Indian influence in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs critical defence support but the United States is unwilling to do so even for now. And the rising Russo-Chines alliance provided Pakistan what it needs from the US.

The changing geopolitical considerations and the Trump’s hatred in its speech in Fort Myer military academy in August, 2017 against Pakistan unleashed that US could not serve Pakistan’s long-term interests. Trump’s main goals are to enhance its forces in the region, active Indian role in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s serious action against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

Transformation group has forced Pakistan to look to the Russo-Chines alliance to fulfil its strategic and economic needs. The March 2017 visits of military chief Asim Saleem Bajwa and Nawaz Sharif the ex-Prime Minister was the manifestation what Pakistan grappled to acquire as an American alternative: China.

The Russians and Chinese both want the Afghan Taliban to be strong militarily and politically so that they would be able to serve their long-term interests; to culminate the American forces, and defuse amassing the power of Islamic States in Afghanistan. For that China officially hosted Afghan Taliban elites in mid-2017 to raise their political clout in the region. While the Russians backed the Afghan Taliban militarily even in 2017 with light and heavy weaponry.

By and large, Pakistan’s full-fledged membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 9, 2017, was the manifestation behind the Russo-Chines close patch-up with Pakistan ingrowing their common interests in the region. The SCO can pave the way for a political solution in Afghanistan in the near future after the participation of Pakistan. The Russians have augmented their cooperation with Pakistan especially in counterterrorism program, the Special Services Group exchange program: DRUZBA was enhanced even in 2017.

The Chahbahar port in Iran constructed by India in late 2017 posed a threat to Gwadar port under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The United States’ strange quiet on Indian cooperation with Iran the long US rival and its hatred over CPEC convinced Pakistan and China that US has decided to give India a regional hegemon status especially to counter China.

Both visits of US Secretary of State and vice-president in late 2017 in Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively exacerbated the existing Pak-US trust deficit over Afghan issue. They again accused Pakistan harbouring terrorism in the region. That existing Pak-US trust-deficit escalated the transformation forces to mould the pro-Russo-Chines approach of Pakistan.

The hallmark vote ratio of TLP and MML in both by-elections NA-120 and PK-4 presented them a rising religio-political force. The manifesto of both parties is based on Anti-American and anti-Indian. Both hate a secular way of life in the country. They expanded the idea of releasing Afia Siddiqui from an American prison.

TLP already showed a harden approach in FaizabadDharna (sit-in) even in the harsh winter and the massive police crackdown in late 2017. The Police-led crackdown in Faizabad encompassed the entire country with strikes and mobs against the ruling party and its existing government. It presented the ineffectiveness of the civil authorities and then the military had to intervene at the behest of Prime Minister to defuse the crisis.

The victory of the religious-led mob and its cause legitimized their agenda and then being able to project power in the country. It might be possible that they could win in some constituencies in the coming elections or even can give tough time to ruling Nawaz League and other secular parties.

By comparing the Transaction-Transformation move, the later force is getting hype in the coming years.

In the future, the ambiguousness between Civil-Military elites towards counterterrorism will remain if the current political structure based on status-quo flourishes.

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