Since independence Pakistan has remained the focus of global and regional powers. The country is termed a natural corridor for trade ‑ including energy products ‑ gateway to Central Asia and landlocked Afghanistan. There is a perception that often regimes are installed and toppled in Pakistan by the super powers to achieve their vested interest. This is evident from cold war era to occupation of Afghanistan and from love and hate relationship with India to creation of Taliban (phantom now having many offspring).
At present Pakistan is facing extremely volatile situation, which has become a threat for its own existence. Fighting a proxy war for United States in Afghanistan for nearly four decade has completely destroyed the economic and social fabric of the country.
Pakistan is suffering from the influx of foreign militant groups getting funds and arms from different global operators.
Analysts say over the years Pakistan has been towing foreign and military policy of the United States, which has often offended USSR, China, India and Iran. Therefore, one needs to analyze Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan, India and Iran, enjoying common borders with the country. It may not be wrong to say that at present Pakistan doesn’t enjoy cordial relation with none of these countries.
Pakistan helped Afghans in averting USSR attack. After the pullout of USSR forces Afghanistan plunged into civil war. It was often alleged that Pushtoons were supported by Pakistan and Northern Alliance was highly annoyed. After 9/11 Pakistan was made to fight Taliban under the US dictate. As the time for withdrawal of Nato forces is getting closer Pakistan once again faces a precarious position.
When British Raj left the subcontinent in 1947 it left a thorn, Kashmir. Since independence India and Pakistan have been living in constant state of war, spending billions of dollars annually on the purchase of conventional as well as non-conventional arms and have also attained the status of atomic powers. However, both the countries suffer from extreme poverty. There seems no probability of reconciliation between the two countries because of presence of hawks on both the sides. Even the trade relations could not be normalized due to Kashmir dispute as Hindus are not ready for another division of Hindustan on the basis of religion.
Pakistan and Iran have enjoyed the best time till toppling of Shah’s rule as both the countries were under the US influence. Iran has been persistently enduring economic sanctions for more than three decades after the Islamic revolution. Pakistan is suffering from severe energy crisis but not allowed to construct Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline or even buy Iranian crude oil under food for oil program. Iran has often complaint that certain outfits, most notorious being Jundullah, having its base in Balochistan province of Pakistan, are involved in cross border terrorism.
Pakistan also faces a difficult situation when Saudi Arabia, under the US pressure asks it to do or not to do certain things. One such example is Saudi Arabia promising to meet Pakistan’s oil requirement if it opts not to buy Iranian oil. There are also allegations and counter allegations that Saudi Arabia and Iran are supporting Sunni and Shia factions in Pakistan. This point is being highlighted by referring to sectarian killings. However, Pakistanis have no doubt that killing is being done by those who are neither Sunni nor Shia. This point got credence when it was discovered that Taliban involved in attack on Peshawar airbase had tattoos on their bodies.
Till today, Pakistan offers the shortest and cost effective route to landlocked Afghanistan, leading to Central Asian countries. Gwadar deep seaport has been constructed in Balochistan province with the financial and technical assistance of China. India often raises its concerns on Chinese presence along Pakistan’s coastal belt. However, India is not only constructing Chabahar port in Iran but also road and rail links up to Central Asia via Afghanistan.
Pakistanis completely fail to understand the duality of US policy. India was asked to withdraw itself from Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and also rewarded nuclear technology in return. On top of that it has not been stopped from building port and supporting infrastructure in Iran. Some experts say all this is being done to construct an alternate route once the objective of creation of greater Balochistan is achieved. This new country will be created taking one slice each from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The level of US pressure on Pakistan can also be gauged from the fact that President, Asif Ali Zardari, on the eleventh hour, cancelled his visit to Tehran and went straight to UK. The new date of his visit to Iran has not been announced as yet. This reminds Pakistani’s of a similar cancelled visit of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to USSR and he instead went to United States.
It is also on record that Chinese experts working in Pakistan have often come under attack to make them leave Pakistan. Chinese experts working on Gwadar and Thar coal projects have been repeatedly attacked. At one stage it was feared that Chinese will completely withdraw their support for Thar coal mining and power plant.
China has also complaints that some extremist Muslim groups are trying to create disturbance in one of its province bordering with Pakistan. It seems these attempts are made to disrupt trade being done through this land route.