Where Does Pakistan Stand Amid The Regional Crises?
Seven months of PTI govermnment in Pakistan are marked with tactical blunders in political, economic and at places even in administrative and management domains. Growing critism focused at ability of the party to run a government coupled with media onslaught had also whirled the slogan of accountability where arch political rivals joined hands making mockery of the democracy in the Parliament in last six months. PM Imran Khan was battling with his team to tackle economic reality of Pakistan and on Feburary 14th, the Pulwama episode took place. Events in the aftermath of this incident have so far directly and indirectly favoured Imran Khan and Pakistan. Being on the same page with military establishment, response of the government in political, diplomatic and importantly kinetic domain stands appreciated at domestic, regional and international levels. Pakistan armed forces image is at its highest domestically since 1971 with a visible positive surge at regional and international levels while Imran Khan has further raised his stature domestically, in India and the world not as a crickter but as a statesman and a leader.
In reality, where do we stand today? Persisting threat of war till Indian elections in April and May 2019 is an undeniable reality reinforced by DG ISPR on 5th March. Diplomatic front is also unusually active in Pakistan while armed forces on both sides remain on highest state of alertness. Government has covertly as part of ‘private diplomacy’ assured to act visibly and has openly assured in the parliament to implement National Action Plan (NAP) in letter and spirit. DG ISPR has even publically assured India and international community of punishment to defaulters if proofs of any involnvement are found. In last 72 hours, over 450 places to include madaris, hospitals, dispensaries, mosques and offices have been put under government control and future administration in all four provinces. Arrest toll now stands at over 200. Irrespective of the target or deadline set in this regard by FTAF for May 2019 or the deadline of september 2019 which shall take Pakistan from grey to black list, prevailing regional environment dictate that these arrests are likely to increase upto atleast 500 while number of madaris alone likely to be brought under government control may stand around over 800. Corps commander’s conference on 7 March has assured international community and India that right for use of force is with the state only, still both civil and military establishments in last 48 hours had to say that nothing is being done under pressure which quantifies the degree of pressure itself.
In simple words, in addition to economy and corruption, PM Imran Khan needs to concurrently focus on banned organizations, ‘non state actors’ and their activities to prevent such situation again where both nuclear armed nations come at the brink of a conventional war. India by virtue of its size and potential might have become a nuclear power for global ambitions but our nuclear explosions in 1998 were India specific and Pakistan had closed the window of a conventional war with India to focus on its poor masses since then. Stakes are very high for PM Modi which increases the degree of risk. If Modi wins, it will be taken as a mandate to punish Pakistan and vice versa. No doubt that Pakistan armed forces are capable of responding to any kinetic threat but they cannot stop application of force. Imran Khan has to take certain steps domestically and has already given certain gurantees diplomatically in order to prevent danger of any aggression. If successful, it shall give him a strong position once it comes to dialogue especially if election results oust Modi from power in India. More importantly, civil and military leadership will not be able to justify to the nation and future generations if a conventional war takes place. Is it time to act like never before? Realistically, this is where we stand today?
The writer is a PhD scholar with diverse experience and international exposure. He possesses conscious knowledge about phenomenon of terrorism and extremism coupled with realistic understanding of geo political, social and security environment