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Pakistan’s Case of Diplomacy and Glacier Conks

By Brig (Retd) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi,


Roedad Khan, quoting him as a metaphor for any Pakistani, has burnt himself out, at
least proverbially. His passion remains stuck with stark disappointments as he yearns to
see our ‘Quaid’s’(founding father) dreams as achieved. Several icons from our civil
society including journalists would soon be hunch-backs under the heap of scandals they
expose about massive corruption, nepotism and state conspiracies, to the verge of proving
the gluttons committing acts of treason. However, our federal top guns remain soaked in
their unholy hobbies on the trajectory of their ill founded domains. Instead of fishing for
clues for recovery from public opinion through the media, their genius is consumed by
the devices to go more lethal and ambitious in wicked pursuits. In the mean time, our
judiciary has been inundated with the burden of their responsibility to often act
unilaterally but brilliantly when state’s institutions’ functional credibility is not
characterized by their service to the people but by self-glorifying their misdeeds. Where
such comparison is within the ‘corrupts’ in competition, the magnitude and tainted
colossus of these monsters become immeasurable. It would be absolutely fair to exclude
Army from this ominous bracket.

Federation functionaries have the tongue in their cheeks to clamor that democracy is
threatened in Pakistan. Wikileaks has thoroughly exposed them as if they are hanging by
a cliff and seeking rescue from the external collaborators. The dramatic irony in the
whole issue is that the ‘cliff’ is their own making to provoke sympathies among our allies
of war on terror. Pakistani coalition government, thoroughly vulnerable to blackmail by
its own constituent allies, has devised a nefarious strategy to gobble up themselves and
extend absolute impunity to their accomplices. They, amidst the volleys of mutual barbs,
cling to each other because they are desperately in the need of a continuing empire to
mop up their sins.

Once this humbug goes on, our foreign policy brains have been lax wittingly and
unobtrusively from the public eyes on several crucial issues of international relations,
which crystallize through the conduct of diplomacy, ‘as a policy instrument possibly in
association with other instruments such as economic or military force to enable an
international actor to achieve its objectives’ (Baylis & Smith). Thanks to globalization,
we are not only an international actor but the geo-strategic location endows us with
tremendous significance. If the diplomacy wizards do recognize our inherent vitality
which is doubtful, one thing is sure that their recognition has not been supplemented with
adequate exterior maneuvers. Our stance is mercurial and not commensurate to the
challenges. We tend to buckle under the weight of national and international issues to
keep ourselves well aligned to the wishes of external factors which push us to the pitfall
of erroneous decisions when our indigenous failings are in no dearth.

Our government attempts to project its weight by ridiculing other pillar(s) of state
despite knowing that our deeds or misdeeds are picked up by international community
faster than we do, being cast in a crystal. When Army asserted that we would defend our
borders employing all means available, certainly it was aimed at India with whom there

have been three wars since independence in 1947. However it was not meant to negate
the spirit of diplomacy and freedom of dialogues option with our eastern rival. Rather it
meant reinforcing the dialogue diplomacy with military support in tandem to lend our
negotiations a position of advantage. None else than our ruling party spokesperson spew
out a firm denial that these were not the government views, at colossal detriment to the
conduct of successful diplomacy.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari calling Kashmiri freedom fighters as terrorists from as
responsible a platform as that of ‘President’ and offering withdrawal from Siachin
Glacier in 2008 and 2010 respectively, made our adversary’s stance more stubborn. Did
he know the extent of damage he inflict to our foreign policy, strategic implications for
India and advantages that accrue to Pakistan when we keep the bull locked by the horns
in Siachin with perhaps much lesser comparative, though considerable, cost in men and
material? His statements were not only antithesis to the basics of the diplomacy dynamics
but also of our valiant men’s and officers’ sacrifices, literally crouching like Dr. Iqbal’s
(Poet of the East) legendary ‘shaheens’ (eagles), gasping for each breath, yet resolutely
perched on the rocks above 20,000 feet. On the contrary, India has not budged an inch
from its reticence beyond fascinating colloquialism occasionally over Kashmir as well as
Sir Creek. Instead it has launched a well orchestrated effort to encircle and isolate
Pakistan from Afghanistan, the West, Japan, Russia, China, and Middle East.
Recognition of India’s role in Afghanistan by U.S., European Union and Russia is a
direct set back to the conduct of our foreign policy. Already India is being accused of
fomenting instability in Pakistan’s south-western province, Baluchistan and funding a
segment of Taliban. Some dissident leaders’ trails by our intelligence agencies are
reported to have confirmed this hypothesis. Thus when India claims it stakes for having a
role in Afghanistan, it is crystal clear what she exactly means.

India played Mumbai card very shrewdly, depicting Pakistan backing and actively
supporting the tragic episode once its voices even feeble, are heard loud and clear for an
obvious advantage of its much trumpeted democratic platform versus Pakistan. Murder
of 93000 Kashmiris so far has not been able to move the world conscience that seems to
be pushed by commercialism more than philosophy of pursuing peace. For the major
powers, India is a prolific trade partner and worth billions dollar arms market as well. On
our side is a dark picture. Pakistan run by a dictator for nine long years from 1999-2008
has been ravaged beyond repairs. Wikileaks disclosure about Israeli leadership’s
continuing concern for President Musharraf’s safety and well being explains the entire
myth of his millions dollar bonanza; he is now reaping under the guise of ‘enlightening’
lectures in the West. During his rule, his meetings with Israeli top functionaries are no
secrets. The only country declared off limits by Pakistani passport, unfortunately, is
Israel. The printed warning it carries ‘this passport is valid for all the countries of the
world except Israel’ had obligated him by implication to refrain from such honey-
mooning but flouting the norms and ethics had been his favorite slushy slippery ground
that he has yet to answer when cold hands of justice would reach him. Not only toppling
but throwing a democratically elected Prime Minister, Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif and the
bonafide Chief of Army Staff, Gen Khwaja Zia-ud-Din into black dungeon are the major
charges against him, among dozens of other allegations of heinous crimes, he is not likely

to wade through clean. How one would have expected such a con man to have stood for
national interests? Unfortunately the successor government is also incapable and bent
upon adding insult to the injury. Amidst lurking disenchantment of the masses, Pakistan
failed to cash upon the vital evidence emanating from Indian sources about setting
‘Samjhauta Express’ ablaze in 2007. The complicity of Indian government officials, in
firebombing Pakistan bound train near Panipat (India), with the Hindu terrorists is
undeniable. Charred bodies of sixty eight Pakistanis were pulled out and fifty two were
injured, most of them critically.

Analysts in India also remembered the moments of the tragedy that preceded it by
five years in 2002 at Godhra railway station in Gujarat (India). No evidence could prove
that fire attack was preplanned by Muslims when fifty Hindus were killed. One thing is
sure that the magnitude of revenge which the majority Hindus unleashed over Muslims
next morning was unprecedented. They burnt them alive and killed about 2500 of them.
The state’s machinery deliberately stood by, watching the human carnage till there were
ashes and stench all around. Mysterious then and later also, the candidate of extremist
Hindu party, BJP, which thrives politically on the heaps of hatred towards Muslims, had
clean sweep in the coming election. Many observers believe that the train massacre was
stage-managed to the logical conclusion, which was consummation of BJP victory. In
India such treachery, when it comes to Muslims, is never surprising. Recent comments by
a senior Indian Congress leader, DigVijay Singh, likening Indian RSS and BJP hatred for
Muslims to that of Nazi’s against Jews, is a stark reality and stigma, BJP carries.

Pakistanis could hope with a sense of loss from our policy wizards that these tragic
events could be brought up as an effective counter-lever to parry off Mumbai scathing
and consequent dent to our image among the comity of nations. While Mumbai massacre
rumbles every now and then, our diplomats perhaps are not even mindful of the butchery
meted out to Muslims in India, including Kashmir. Such are the short memories on our
side. Absence of flurry of publicized diplomacy offensives usually means all quiet on this
front to suggest that our policy pundits are gripped by inertia or inert dreams.
Compromises are not welcome because we would be led to demolishing our crucial geo-
political pivots. On the other hand we are clear about the hypothesis that India needs
peace more than us. It does not need a genius to guess but simple arithmetic that Indian
stakes in peace are much more monumental than Pakistan. Yet the reality predominates
the scene for both the neighbors that peace-making is the only way through. It should be
driving both sides crazy that it has remained elusive for sixty three years until now. While
talking to an eastern TV channel, Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh talked of
responding and readjusting to global trends towards multi-polarity and managing the
regional environments in Asia in a manner which enhances peace, security and overall
development of our societies. He asserted that it is incumbent on all countries of the
region to build cooperative partnerships. It is a paradox that in real dynamics of
international relations, he appears excluding India from ‘incumbent on all countries of the
region’ clause about matters relevant to Pakistan.

India has persisted in achieving threatening posture. She has secured a base in
Tajikistan and is doing thriving business in Kazakhstan in energy sector despite presence

of a very tough and competitive rival, China. Ajay Patnaik rightly boasts, “Two
landmarks signified India’s changing approach. In November 2003 India agreed to
renovate and upgrade the Ayni air base in Tajikistan. In August 2005 Indian state-owned
company ONGC combined with Mittal Industrial Group to form ONGC Mittal Energy
Limited (OMEL) to acquire energy assets in Kazakhstan”. What laurels have we
achieved despite our territorial contiguity with Central Asia? Dr. Azmat Hayat Khan,
Vice Chancellor, University of Peshawar, is rightly bewildered to observe that in Central
Asia, India is every where. While he does not deny their privilege to be there, he
maintains, Pakistan is nowhere.

Potentials of the land mass, Pakistan, as a bridge to satiate Indian energy-thirsty but
booming economy remain precious bargaining chips during negotiations with India.
Transit trade relaxation from Afghanistan to India and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-
Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipe Line agreement are some hasty if not ill-thought moves
that have left us empty handed when we had an alternative to flaunt Gwadar outlet for the
sake of diplomacy. With our hind view about the quality of Indian diplomacy that is
consistent and vibrant, at some point in time, we would again be cornered by her as in
Afghanistan, and now for Siachin Glacier where India has picked up ‘environments
degradation’ card to force our forces pull-out on us. It also shows how India manipulates
universal trends to its advantage. Indian burgeoning defense budget and attempts to ditch
our economy by choking off rivers inflow prove its relentless pursuits to strike at our
survival roots. On the contrary, our foreign office apathy of not launching diplomatic
blitz for effective resolution of mother-of-all disputes (Kashmir) is intriguing. Our moral
ascendancy has been rendered redundant at international level when poor and reluctant
campaigning has resulted in our faltered stance, with emerging impression at times that
we are about to ditch Kashmir issue. President Musharraf’s claim to justify Kargil
misadventure that it brought Kashmir Issue to the world focus, could not have been more
repulsive and loathsome. On the other hand India successfully invaded Junagadh, Goa,
Hyderabad, Kashmir and clipped off our wing to the East in 1971 to become Bangla
Desh. Through effective diplomacy it has not only managed to wipe off its sins of
aggression but has become a standard bearer of the largest democracy in the world.
Having licked off its claws after several territorial hunts, it now purrs, a stance more
lethal to secure Energy Bridge to link with Central Asia in the absence of which it’s
ardently perceived global role would remain a pipe-dream. Playing to Indian tunes, we
are eager to oblige without ever exploring the ramifications that would accrue for

The bottom line of the debate is not that diplomacy doors be shut off but made more
responsive with cutting edge. An edge that is not reactionary but preemptive, far sighted
and to engage our adversary on forward foot. Before the two sides line up nuclear
armaments for a devastating conflict in the wake of deep rooted mutual frenzy, there is a
need to mobilize world opinion to avert another holocaust. UN silence on this issue,
despite the existence of plebiscite-supporting resolutions in its archives, is certainly
lamentable. It is also reality that diplomacy in 21st Century is far more complicated
particularly when convergence of national interests of the major powers is a foregone
conclusion in this region. Yet our foreign policy ‘gurus’ are perhaps not putting the

diplomats stationed in our embassies abroad to the optimum utilization whose
performance had been traditionally dismal, some exceptions notwithstanding. They may
have been led to complacency and lavish lethargy by innate greed but the irony is that no
specific goals are given to them to shoulder-push our national interests to fruition. At the
same time our government has to recognize that diplomacy, though largely concentrates
on international issues, draws succor from state’s internal environments. If the state
remains laced with corruption, nepotism and horrible governance, diplomacy limps
everywhere it tries to project itself being on fragile roots. Successive failures to plug the
yawning gaps would subject us to agonizing arm-twisting by India in sync with other
stake holders to squeeze more and yet more from our clattering skeleton. As the word
‘Conk’ means a blow to the head, one would implore the rulers to save us from such
deadly blows. Conversely ‘conk’ also means fungus growth on decaying wood. One
would pray, Pakistan is not destined to such doom.
The writer is a defense analyst and member of WSN International Advisory Board with doctorate in
International Relations, (

(An abridged version, of this opinion article appeared first in The News International-Pakistan, 22
December 2010)