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United States Imperatives To Overcome Pakistan Blindspot 2021: Geopolitical Costs – Analysis

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Pakistan which has been United States historical South Asian policy blind spot for decades has once again proved with the installation of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime on August 15 2021 that it can get away with murder like 9/11and undermining of US national security interests in Afghanistan since 2001, without any American retaliation. 

United States has in the past paid a heavy geopolitical price for its myopic policy on Pakistan and United States will incur even higher geopolitical losses as the full magnitude of Pakistan’s intrusive depredations in Afghanistan begin unfolding.

Geopolitically, those in Washington policy establishment who still suffer from the ‘Pakistan –Hangover’ mindset need to recognise that in the third decade of the 21st Century, Pakistan is no longer United States ‘Front Line State’. Pakistan Army with its CPEC involvement with China and with convergent China-Pakistan interests on Afghanistan, Pakistan has morphed into “China’s Front Line State in Greater South West Asia”.

Resultantly, Pakistan and Pakistan Army have in 2021 emerged as “Non- Performing Strategic Assets” for United States. But the United States like a jilted lover fervently hopes that Pakistan would loosen itself from China’s strategic embrace and re-embrace America!! 

Pakistan by collusive strategic coordination with China, both having convergent aims of effecting a US Forces military exit from Afghanistan can be accused of abetting United States ‘Geopolitical Suicide” in abandoning Afghanistan for the second time to the ravages of a Pakistan Army nurtured and financed Afghan Taliban2.0 Regime in Kabul.

The United States has been reflexively condoning Pakistan’s ‘strategic delinquencies’, (term used in my writings since 2001), ranging from then Pak ISI Chief advising Kabul Taliban 1.0 Regime not to hand over Osama bin Laden to United States, ISI giving safe haven in Pak major garrison town of Abbottabad to Osama right till his 2011 liquidation by US Special Forces, complicitly facilitating 9/11 horrific assaults on US Homeland, double-timing and undermining US Military Forces embedment in Afghanistan.

Finally now in August 2021, in complicity with China, the present ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed presents himself in Kabul to install Taliban 2.0 Regime of Pakistan’s choice and engineer Pakistan Army Special Forces assault to capture Panjshir Valley to present a fait accompli to the United States the picture that the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime was in full control of Afghanistan. Further, that Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime was now under “Viceregal control” of Pakistan and that once more helplessly the United States has to appease Pakistan Army GHQ Rawalpindi in dealings with Talibanised Afghanistan.

In the preceding decade of 1990s, US Clinton Administration turned a blind eye on Pakistan’s strategic promiscuity with United States when it ‘embraced’ China to build Pakistan Army’s Nuclear Weapons arsenal and IRBM missiles armoury. Thereafter, Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons was used as ‘blackmail leverage’ against United States preying on American fears of a mythical nuclear war in South Asia over Kashmir and a possible Talibanised Pakistan with nuclear arms.

Regrettably, the United States succumbed to this pattern of Pakistan’s propensity to blackmail the world’s only Superpower. In tandem Pakistan ISI with multi-million dollars budgets hired ‘lobby firms’ within United States to modulate powerful actors on Capitol Hill in favour of Pakistan, including as per then Pakistan media reports of ‘buying out’ some members of US 9/11 Commission to delete all references to Pak ISI complicity in 9/11.

Logically, America should have blasted Pakistan into the Stone Age as then famously asserted by United States in 2001 if Pakistan Army failed to side United States in the Global War on Terrorism.

Far from the above, US Bush Administration in decade of 2000s, despite Pakistan treacheries were labelling Pakistan as ‘America’s Enduring Ally of Long Standing’ and designated Pakistan as ‘Non NATO Ally’.

Inexplicably, the United States exasperated and infuriated Pakistan’s predominant South Asian Power–India, then not in favour with American policy establishment, and now sought as American existential counterweight to China and Pakistan.

Should not the United States have drawn the correct lessons in 2020-21 on Pakistan’s sordid record of perfidy in its relations with United States with particular reference to Afghanistan?

Sadly, the United States seems now to have fallen into the same earlier compulsive reflex pattern on Pakistan as a blind-spot in American policy, when now seemingly United States is seen as wooing Pakistan to prevail over Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime to assure ‘safe evacuations’ of foreigners from Kabul.

Cutting short now to contemporary events in Afghanistan where the machinations of China and Pakistan have been able to install Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime in Kabul in August 2021, the picture of United States policy of Pakistan being a blind spot in its reflexive policy impulses gets doubly reinforced. 

Needless to reiterate with each detail recorded in global media that Pakistan Army ISI supported by China was instrumental in positioning the Afghan Taliban Regime 2.0 in Kabul emboldened specially after 2020 US-Taliban Doha Dialogue when both Pakistan and China concluded that the United States had lost the will to stay militarily embedded in Afghanistan and was seeking an exit.

 Pakistan succeeded in in hastening US military exit from Afghanistan thereafter by orchestrating the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network and ISI other terrorist affiliates to intensify terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Kabul and other major urban centres in Afghanistan. 

In tandem Pakistan Army ISI worked on certain Western media outlets to propagate the futility of United States suffering losses of men and materiel in Afghanistan which they claimed had now become a ‘Non-Performing Asset’ of no strategic value for the United States.

The United States policy establishment in Washington cannot claim that they were ignorant of Pakistan’s duplicity and double-timing of United States by pretending that they now had little influence over the Afghan Taliban and in tandem encouraging the Afghan Taliban and terrorist entities mentioned above in denting United States image of a credible guarantor Of Afghan security.

Seemingly, United States under President Trump reversed his erstwhile tough policies against Pakistan and President Biden on assuming office opted to follow suit by even hastening further the US military exit from Afghanistan.

The overall result of United States such official policies was a ‘Virtual Abandonment’ of Afghanistan resulting in what I termed in a previous analysis as United States ‘Geopolitical Suicide”.

Be as it may, what comes to the fore, for United States Allies and strategic partners like India is that why the United States in 2020-21 miserably failed to discipline or pre-empt Pakistan Army and its ISI from their disruptive activities which endangered US interests? Why has the United States Biden Administration failed in early September 2021 from stopping Pakistan Army ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz  Hameed   from strutting around Kabul like the Pakistani Viceroy of China? Why has the US Biden Administration not generated counter-strategic points against China and Pakistan to date?

By doing none of the above the United States has once again displayed that Pakistan is a policy blind spot for successive US Administrations of different political dispensations. 

Additionally, the United States is opening itself to accusations of ‘Double Standards’ in this region. The United States for similar or even lesser misdemeanours has imposed sanctions against Iran next door to Afghanistan but shirks from applying sanctions against Pakistan, Pakistan Army Generals, ISI and the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime in Kabul.

The United States has abundant evidence on Pakistan ISI Chief engineering a ‘political coup’ that witnessed ousting from power the expected Doha Group of Afghan Taliban interlocutors being summarily replaced by Pakistan ISI Chief with Haqqani Network & Kandahar Taliban so-called leaders, all internationally designated global terrorists but beholden to Pakistan Army ISI.   

Does this not ring bells in Washington as to what this political coup in Kabul by Pakistan Army Chief mean for United States geopolitically?

Evidently, judging from the flurry of Biden Administration dignitaries visiting Islamabad and assertions in Washington, it surfaces that the United States has no intentions to impose sanctions either on Pakistan or Pakistan Army ISI or on Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime in Kabul. 

Should United States policy establishment be forgetting that the Taliban Regime in power today in Kabul is not composed of that Afghan Taliban who negotiated with United States the Doha Peace Accord and the guarantees given to United States there?

The United States policy approaches to Pakistan should now be dictated by imperatives to wipe off the ‘Pakistan Blind-spot” from Washington’s policy radar screens. Then only will the United States can gain credibility in the pursuance of Indo Pacific Security templates like the QUAD or any further moves in that direction.

The US Policy Establishment in its cost analysis of its Pakistan Blind-spot Policy should ponder on negative impact on Indo Pacific Security initiatives. More specifically US policies in South Asia must seriously ponder the irretrievable damage it could incur in its much valued US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

Indian public opinion is highly political conscious and sensitive in 2021 to India’s foreign policy directions. Indian public opinion in 2021 is even more sensitive n 2021 to China-Pakistan Axis Dual Threat to India’s national security. Indian public opinion therefore will not countenance any China-Pakistan appeasement policies of the United States in South Asia wherein United States ardently working towards that India as an Emerged Power should appear on Indo Pacific security firmament as an existential counterweight to a depredatory China should be perceived as cavorting with China-Pakistan Axis.

Concluding, the stark  choice that awaits United States in 2021 is whether America is genuine about its expectations on India as an Emerged Power or once again the United Stes will lapse into ;political expediency’ to appease Pakistan now decidedly as  China’s ‘Front Line State; in South Asia?

United States, please take your pick without any ifs and buts. Strong imperatives exist for United States to obliterate its ‘Pakistan Blind-Spot Stains.’

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Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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