by Shabbir Kazmi 16 September 2018
On Friday, 14th September 2018 I was among the audience who were invited by Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi to a talk led by Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, Asia Centre, United States Institute of Peace. The other two worthy speakers were former Defence Secretary of Pakistan (Rtd) Lt. Gen. Tariq Waseem Ghazi and former Chairman of Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Jamshed Hashmi.
Dr. Yusuf spoke about his latest book ‘Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia’, in which he studied environments where nuclear weapons were present which changed the dynamics of any crisis. He also proposed the theory of ‘brokering of peace,’ and crisis management in the regional nuclear environment of Pakistan and India.
Dr. Moeed said, “My findings suggest that you will always have stronger third parties who want to influence the crisis because they are worried that things may escalate to the nuclear level. These third parties will show up on their own; for instance, the US exaggerates the risk of nuclear escalation because of the lesson it drew from the Cold War which was that nuclear war if it ever happens, will happen not because countries deliberately want it, but despite them not wanting it.”
“It is not that Pakistan and India want the third party,” he elaborated. “However, when the third party shows up to offer mediation and help mitigate the crisis, Pakistan and India recognize they do not have any dependable bilateral ties to bank on. Also, both states then tend to force the third party to deliver concessions rather than directly engage with the opponent. Both Pakistan and India try to use the third party, in this instance, the US, to get concessions.”
Tariq Waseem Ghazi disagreed with this model. According to him, there is a general disregard from India’s side to engage with Pakistan on a bilateral level as well as in the presence of a third party, whether it be the UN, the US or China. “Indians say everybody else is irrelevant and wish to dictate the terms of engagement solely. In the last ten years, we have been trying to do exactly what Moeed has been proposing for crisis resolution and conflict prevention, but no proposal from us has been acceptable to India.”
Jamshed Hashmi was of the opinion that the US tends to do more harm than good when trying to de-escalate crises between Pakistan and India. “The US will continue to ‘broker’ conflicts, and we have to accept that. However, nowhere during this brokerage has the most significant point of contention between Pakistan and India — Kashmir — ever been debated on or the crisis resolved.”
Having listened to the worthy speakers, a question came to my mind, is the US a peacekeeper or a warmonger? Concerning Pakistan, I am witness to many frustrating experiences with the US. Some of these include unwillingness of the strongest superpower to mediate in the resolution of Kashmir issue, which is often termed flash point. The superpower didn’t play any role in stopping East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh. The US first used Pakistan along with Taliban to fight USSR troops in Afghanistan and post 9/11 Pakistan was used against the Taliban. Over the years ‘do more’ mantra continues. Now Afghans have been brainwashed to a level where they consider Pakistan, a foe rather than a friend.
During the cold war era, India was provided military hardware by the US to equip it to fight against China. The US also facilitated India to attain the status of a regional superpower. The program has been further accelerated after the commencement of work on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The relationship between Iran and India are being supported to counter relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A closer look in the neighborhood shows proxy wars going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon for years.
Based on Pakistan experience and ongoing US proxy wars in the region, one is forced to conclude that the US is not a peacekeeper but warmonger. Having said this, I would like to thank Dr. Moeed for providing an opportunity to the newly elected government of Pakistan to understand the paradigm shift in US foreign policy, imposing itself as a peace broker on Pakistan and India. My suggestion to the Indian government is also to engage with Pakistan directly, rather than asking the US to mediate.