Pak has managed to convince American politicians that the region’s instability is solely due to the Kashmir dispute.

 

With the attack by Jaish e Mohammed on Indian soil, and the resulting tensions rising between India and Pakistan, the instability of Pakistan is once again in focus. This instability cannot be removed if Pakistan is seen in isolation as the problem. The whole region including Afghanistan and Tajikistan needs to be stabilised.

Many people, including former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, have pointed out that Pakistan promotes a radical Islamic identity for its citizens in order to subsume the various ethnic identities in the country, and prevent the collapse of the nation due to the ethnic groups fighting against each other. Fanning the flames of radical Islam is thus an existential necessity for the Pakistani establishment. This is also the centrepiece of most of Pakistan’s policies and is the primary cause of instability in the region. The creation of Taliban and its takeover of Afghanistan is one such manifestation of instability resulting from Pakistan’s policy.

The reach of Pakistan’s use of religion was illustrated in 2005, when the Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who is now the Prime Minister of the country, made inflammatory remarks and accused the United States of flushing the Quran down a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. Imran Khan’s remarks immediately triggered deadly violence in Afghanistan, where the pro-Pakistani opponents of the America-friendly government viewed his statements as a call to go on a killing spree.

Although the reasons for instability in the region are well known, Pakistan has managed to convince American politicians, with the connivance of the CIA and US State Department bureaucrats, that the region’s instability is solely due to its dispute with India over Kashmir. According to them, there would be peace if only this problem was resolved, presumably in Pakistan’s favour. Over the years, State Department officials ensured that politicians bought into this claim and framed their policies around this argument. Predictably, this has led to keeping the region on the boil and there is no solution in sight.

The covert relationship between the Pakistani establishment and the US State Department officials who want to perpetuate the instability in the region came to the fore when FBI raided the house of Robin Raphel and investigated her for spying for Pakistan. Raphel began her career in the CIA and went on to become the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton administration. During her tenure in the Clinton administration, she was not only a supporter of Pakistan, but also of the Taliban, which had been created by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. The FBI later quietly shut down its investigation, underscoring the power of those who really pull the strings in the corridors of power in America.

American narratives about India, Pakistan and Afghanistan too have been far removed from reality. The reason for this situation is that those in power in the US set up the Area Studies departments in various American universities in the aftermath of the Second World War, with the goal of gathering intelligence and furthering their strategic interests. The generation of literature to fit a certain geopolitical agenda was outsourced to carefully handpicked professors, who used the reputations of their universities and their titles as professors to provide the stamp of authority to reports containing the false narratives sought by their political masters. This dishonesty and gross abuse of their positions by professors continues to this day, and is the reason for the hostile stereotyping of various peoples of the world who are not considered allies.

Additionally, knowledgeable defence officers were completely shut out from helping formulate American policy as they were seen as people whose patriotism for America and experience with reality came in the way of pursuing agendas around the world. The Barack Obama administration even purged the defence forces of a number of high ranking officers, an act that should be interpreted as aligning the defence forces with the agenda of the intelligence agencies and university professors.

It is this setup in America that Pakistan has depended on for its survival, and that is why it has been said that America is one of the three A’s that control Pakistan—the other two being Allah and Army. If India is to make any meaningful progress in its talks with America about Pakistan, it would need to bypass the American system and deal directly with American politicians, who are not prisoners inside the disinformation bubble created by the intelligence agencies. The politicians would have to be convinced of the relationship between badly created international borders and Pakistan using radical Islam to avoid ethnic strife.

It isn’t just Pakistan that suffers from the problem of various ethnic groups struggling for power. In Afghanistan too, the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Pashtuns have been involved in wars for control over the country. Most of the fighting can be stopped and the region can be stabilised if the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan are redrawn after taking into consideration the ethnic makeup of these countries. While Afghanistan, where Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group, should take over the Pashtun dominated region of Pakistan, it will have to cede the Tajik dominated region it now controls to Tajikistan. Balochistan and Sindh should be allowed to govern themselves as independent nations. While such an arrangement would largely solve the problem of ethnic conflict in the region, it would still leave the fate of groups such as the Hazaras and Uzbeks in Afghanistan and the Kalash people in Pakistan in an uncertain state, and measures related to their safety and rights would need to be worked out. India would have to play a role to help Pakistan become a secular country.

India, the US, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan would all have to come to the negotiating table and make this happen. This solution will help not only the region, but the whole world, which has suffered from the effects of terrorism exported by the Pakistani establishment. Although Pakistan can be expected to initially resist such a proposal, saner elements in the country should realise that such a solution will actually help the people of Pakistan, as its government can focus on improving the lives of its people instead of fuelling religious zealotry.