For over fifty years, Foreign Policy magazine was a credible trusted source of academic analysis about international environment. Despite a pro-west bias, it gave a good insight into the Cold War and bubble economies of South America. Some research papers on subjects like political economy, drugs and the operations by intelligence agencies were of very high quality.

The magazine declares its commitment to continue innovations through partnerships that utilise new technologies, new media and creative new approaches to understand and address the most urgent and important issues of our times. However, after 9/11 the magazine has lost its academic and objective edge. It is fast becoming a source of malicious and destabilising propaganda against Pakistan. It publishes articles loaded with half-truths and sugar coatings to demean Pakistan’s military. Its editorial team is biased and non-academic. No wonder that one of its latest articles, ‘Why Is Pakistan such a Mess? Blame India’ by Nasid Hajari, is punctuated with poison and honey that does not stand testability. Is Foreign Policy being swept by the latest surge of neo-realism? The opening paragraph reproduced below speaks for itself.

“Most Indians believe Pakistan’s generals have little interest in peace, and they’re not entirely wrong. For decades now, hyping the threat from across the border has won the army disproportionate resources and influence in Pakistan. It’s also fueled the military’s most dangerous and destabilizing policies — from its covert support of the Taliban and anti-India militants such as LT, to the rapid buildup of its nuclear arsenal. One can understand why Modi might see no point in engaging until presented with a less intractable interlocutor across the border.”

The writer’s hypothesis is based on false myths that shall be busted point by point.

“Pakistan’s generals have little interest in peace, and they’re not entirely wrong”

From 1947 to 60s, India and not Pakistan was on the offensive. Occupation of Kashmir was an illegal act under the international law of paramountcy as also declared by 14 UNSC resolutions. India attempted to prevent development of Chittagong, and nearly started a war by stopping waters of Pakistan’s rivers. To the contrary, it was Field Marshal Ayub Khan who offered India a Joint Defence Pact in 1959 when Indian army was clashing with Chinese in Laddakh. Ayub kept his pledge when he did not intervene against India in 1962 during the Sino Indian War. Critics still believe it was an opportunity missed. Subject to resolution of the Kashmir issue, Ayub Khan again offered India a no-war pact in 1966. It is also reported in the Indian media and memoirs of India’s former external affairs secretary Maharaja Krishna Rasgotra that back in 1984, President Zia Ul Haq was seriously considering a treaty of peace and no war with India. The idea was dropped under US influence during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. President Musharraf’s multiple track diplomacy also worked for similar ends.

“For decades now, hyping the threat from across the border has won the army disproportionate resources and influence in Pakistan.”

Any strategist knows that building a military force structure is a complex algorithm to neutralize the threatening military force structure of the enemy. The force structure of India is Pakistan centric. Its huge offensive armoured formations, mechanized divisions, RAPIDS, railway lines, location of airfields and communication networks are designed to cut across Punjab and Sindh. Indian war games and military training manifest so. This structure due to its inherent limitations cannot be used against China, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. This ‘threat in being’ (structural threat) forces Pakistan to take minimum defensive measures as strategic dissuasion. Pakistan’s defensive force structure is barely 20% of India. Hence it is not Pakistan’s army accruing disproportionate resources but the fact that it is being imposed by Indians. Further as against the common myth, Pakistan’s defence spending has never crossed the national outlay beyond 18%. Since 2000, it has dropped from 4.6 % of GDP to 2.6. This statistic alone busts many myths.

The writer does contradict himself. Since 1947 India despite efforts has failed to tie Pakistan in a two front conflict. It has used the Afghan soil to threaten Pakistan. The Pashtunistan drama created by Afghanistan from 50s to 70 was on behest of India. Exploiting the unstable environments in Pakistan, India with assistance of foreign and local actors is also sponsoring an internal conflict within Pakistan. The arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving Indian navy spymaster in Pakistan and his confessions is a case in point. Modi’s recent speech on 15 August tantamount to admitting complicity in Pakistan’s internal affairs is as clear as it could get. It is beyond comprehension why Nasid Hajari justifies that “why Modi might see no point in engaging until presented with a less intractable interlocutor across the border.” What is Nasid hinting at? Does it imply a suggestion for a defanged Pakistan? If this be the case, the scenario is amateurish.

“Military’s dangerous and destabilising policy of Taliban.”

The stages through which Afghan resistance morphed were never sponsored by military. Following Afghan interference (with active assistance of USSR and India) in Balochistan and NWFP, the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1973, launched a covert operation to win over Afghan student leaders. Men like Ahmad Shah Masood, Gulbadin Hikmatyar, Rabbani, Younis Khalis, Dostum and Haqqanis were trained and armed by Pakistan to fight the forces of President Daud. This was Bhutto’s initiative to avoid a two front conflict what many term as strategic depth. These young leaders brought Sardar daud to his knees. After Zia’s coup, the draft of agreement on Durand Line was shelved and the resistance abandoned by the military regime. After Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, CIA was quick to pick up these men and form the nucleus of Afghan Mock Jihad. CIA pumped this movement with Arab militants who later became Al Qaeda. After the Soviet withdrawal, these resistant groups split into warlords and civil war. Afghan Taliban movement was counter revolutionary in nature. In 1996, on initiative of Benazir Bhutto, Afghan Taliban and all warring factions in Afghanistan agreed to a broad based government. But then three events took place. Osama flew into Afghanistan on invitation of Rabbani. Ahmad Shah Masood was assassinated. Benazir Bhutto was ousted and Al Qaeda was born. After 9/11, on Benazir Bhutto’s persuasion, Taliban agreed to hand over OBL to Turkey. USA refused. After US led occupation of Afghanistan and increasing Indian influence, Pakistan is once again seized with a two front threat through asymmetrical warfare.

The TTP grew out of the anti-Shia militant outfits supported by USA, KSA, Kuwait and Pakistan to counter the Iranian revolution. They had more in common with Arab Outfits than Afghans. Because of their external linkages, these organisations have been mostly stamped out by military led Zarb-e-Azb. However they continue operating from their bases in Afghanistan and some hideouts in Pakistan due to non-implementation of NAP.

On a geo-political chessboard Pakistan has the right to safeguard its interests through its policies. Defence against a threatening Indian force structure and avoidance of a two front conflict remain Pakistan’s priorities. If India and international community meddle in Pakistan’s internal affairs through kinetic and non-kinetic measures, Pakistan has the right to take appropriate measures. Pakistan as an immediate neighbour, ethnic commonality and home to millions of Afghans has far more interests in Afghanistan than the India’s mandala mantra of converting an enemy’s neighbour to a friend.

There is always a method to madness. Some segments of Pakistani media are willing collaborators. Unfortunately, many Pakistani writers in bid to make big or be fashionable are joining the bandwagon without research. Nasid Hajari and his ilk comprise a rootless, lost generation.