ARBITRARY NORMS VERSUS JUSTICE IN NATURE

Something interesting has been happening in Pakistan lately. The leader of the ruling party, PML(N) (and the former Prime Minister of Pakistan), Nawaz Sharif, was sacked by the Supreme Judiciary in 2017 on charges of misconduct while in office. His party remains in power after the ruling. It promptly elected another Prime Minister from among its top leaders. The ousted prime minister held rallies all over Pakistan and complained that he was removed from office without a valid cause.

What followed was rather interesting. Some of the ruling party’s most menacing looking members openly threatened to make Pakistan a living hell for members of the judiciary who gave the ruling against Nawaz Sharif. The premise was that the judges are aloof from political action. They sit in closed chambers and write judgments for a select few. The ousted PM is the creator of ‘political action’ and can mobilize masses in his defense. He has multidimensional power at his disposal as a democratically elected leader.

NS took to the streets with the narrative that the judgment against him is unjust. He claims the trial served as a substitute for yet another ouster of an elected office holder by the military establishment, which prematurely ousted NS twice in the past due to, claims NS, personal vendetta. As NS, assisted by his beautiful and charming daughter Mariam, tried to mobilize masses through holding big rallies all over Pakistan, the CJ, without the accompaniment of the extensive motorcade and security NS moves around with, embarked on a mission to expose the poor quality of services provided to the polity by the PML(N) rulers. He made surprise visits to hospitals, checked the water supply systems of dense cities, the high fees charged by educational institutions versus the low quality of their structures and content, etc., and where ever the CJ went, the media appeared to bring home to all  the sorry state of affairs that prevailed everywhere. The CJ didn’t make speeches, he didn’t hold rallies, he didn’t mobilize the lawyers to come out in his favor. He simply started to personally supervise the quality of governance in the country and after exposing the wrong, issued orders for improvement.

Theoretically, few could challenge CJ’s activism.  A learned member of the PPP, Farhat ullah Babar, took to the podium and tried, in his characteristic style, to raise philosophical objection to such activism, but he was promptly sidelined by Asif Ali Zardari. CJ’s activism was being hailed in society as that of a savior. As “supervisor and auditor of public works,” (Wikipedia’s first line in describing a supreme Qazi), his activism seemed in keeping with his office.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mian Saqib Nisar, instead of getting intimidated by the unveiled threats, chose to come out among the very people the PML(N) leadership tried to make him afraid of. He took on the role of a watchdog. NS’ activism was based on the narrative that he is victim of injustice. CJ’s activism is building the narrative that far from ‘suffering’ injustice, NS was ‘committing’ it at mass level while he ruled.

Whereas the ruling PML(N) cadre was mobilizing itself in solidarity with NS, the CJ mobilized himself to redirect attention to the urgency of thinking about human affairs within a broader perspective because it is the quintessential responsibility of rulers.

The CJ thus depicts himself as the jurist who guards public interest versus the elected representative who ignores it. He inovatively handles his official domain, the public good “justice,” by serving it through unprecedented action on behalf of the ‘polis.’  The PML(N) cadre has now been morally preempted from mobilizing their constituency to help reinstate their ousted leader. The collective political authority they were going to utilize to de legitimize the Supreme Court’s verdict stands informally indicted as being ‘abused.’ CJ’s narrative is being built by visual evidence, not words.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,  Mian Saqib Nisar, has demonstrated that a jurist who is mindful of people’s needs can also command popular respect. For this demonstration, he stepped out of the de jure domain of justice, the court room, and took to the de facto and philosophical domain of justice, the society. The ‘accord of respect to citizens’ that NS tried to symbolize physically in his ‘person’ as elected representative has been countered by the CJ as being embodied in the ‘quality of service’ a ruler renders his subjects. The CJ took to establishing that the real worth of a ruler is not in the quantity of votes he gets to occupy office but in the quality of service he renders while holding office.

NS did not just call the verdict unjust, he called the judiciary unjust. The CJ on the other hand pointed out what a just rule is and called the rulers unjust. In response to NS’s question “why was I ousted?” the CJ posited his question; “why do you have increasing wealth and private property during your rule when those you ruled have decreasing levels of protection from disease, ignorance, law?” NS’s stance against the judiciary is not new. Back in 1997, a similar stance by NS ended up dividing the judiciary into two factions, one pro NS the other anti NS. Today’s apex judiciary stands united in legal action against “self-seeking politicians” of all hue and shape.

The moral power of CJ’s activism has prevailed. An unprecedented wave of fear is running through the bureaucracy at all levels in Pakistan. Those who acted with impunity are now cautious. CJ’s message is “serve people in office rather than serving your selves in office –  Legislate in the common interest as opposed to legislating in the interest of a faction that you belong to.” PML(N) leaders’ activism to help their besieged leader failed to propel itself on higher moral grounds and this failure exposed the quality and substance of PML(N) cadre more than ever. A political tone has been set in Pakistan that leaders of all types will have to cater to in future. Pakistan must be built as a ‘welfare state’ (versus the emphasis hitherto of ‘ gateway state’) and government must derive legitimacy from success in providing basic services to its people.

CJ’s activism ended up making NS’ stance against the CJ devoid of the Socratic tension between political philosophy and authority. The society was instead given the choice between NS’s endorsing of civil disobedience versus CJ’s endorsing of provision of services to the citizens. The PML(N) movement is not taking off because civic unity cannot be attained against those who try to deliver civic goods.

The PML(N)’s narrative about CJ’s ‘busy body’ interference, ‘each part to do its own work’ etc., has generated a debate in Pakistan whose quality can only be ensured if the debate is taken out of the domain of populist jargon into the realm where philosophers, political scientists, jurists and development strategists come together to grapple with the true meaning of justice as a public good. Justice or injustice does not lie in the judgment of judges alone but in the conditions of society. All those who govern are responsible for delivering justice. As such, the CJ’s activism, though unquestionably popular, is at best a half measure, at worst an arbitrary norm. It is adopted in specific circumstances for reasons of expediency.

It may be possible to ‘monitor’ justice as a public good at the top levels of society, but justice cannot be ‘delivered’ at the top in a sustainable manner. Conditions’ of society must change for the better and sustainable justice must endure the change. The rulers must create an enabling environment for changing societal conditions. Nawaz Sharif’s predicament has shown that rulers who fail to create such an enabling environment will be perched on a slippery slope from where any crisis can dislodge them with ease.

CJ versus NS is an unprecedented situation in Pakistan. A lot of political and moral maturity can be gained if civil society leaders approach this debate in a meaningful way.

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MORE DANCE AND MORE PRAYER

The Pakistani masses welcomed 2018 with unprecedented gusto. People’s desire to party was not catered to by the government this year as no fireworks were arranged by the authorities in any of the cities. The civil society took over the government’s traditional role instead, and put together much of the fanfare. Pakistan’s real estate tycoon, Malik Riaz, arranged spectacular fire works in different cities, while all over Pakistan, young ones were seen pouring out on the streets to party like never before. Attribute it to Pakistan’s youth bulge, or the fact that 2017 has given the Pakistani masses the unprecedented show of accountability and rolling of heads among the high and mighty, there was a marked increase in the fervor and jubilation with which Pakistani masses celebrated the New Years Eve. Conversely, there was a noticeable withdrawal of the government from the celebrations this year.

As a crowd stood before the TV set to watch Burj Khalifa’s laser light show live, a voice exclaimed how Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has replaced USA’s Time Square as the most attractive New year’s celebration in the whole world. Another voice said, “may be George Bush resented Muslims their new life style. Thats why he started bombing their cities.”

Side by side with street parties, the mosques lit up their minarets and arranged special mid night prayers with large attendance. Heart felt prayers for prosperity and peace in Pakistan, in the Muslim world and in all humanity (in that order) were televised from the  mosques. Indeed, the fervor in the mosque was also unprecedented.

There were parties at the sufi shrines as well. Mujawars (saint’s dedicated followers), drank, smoked and danced to sufi music all night long in traditional green garbs, with their long hair flying every which way, beads of sweat on their faces shining, and their breath visibly frozen in the chilled winter night as they let out devotional calls every now and then.

There was a terror attack on December 17, 2017, in a church in Quetta, Baluchistan, in which nine Pakistanis were killed while praying and several were injured. Pakistanis attributed the attack to India’s RAW. As a consequence of this perceived act of war, the whole country reached out to its Christain minority on Christmas in an amazing show of solidarity. Santa Clause distributed gifts in a PIA flight, dancing to the tune of ‘jingle bells.’ Santas  in full gear were seen in urban malls, being photographed with Christain and Muslim kids alike. Senior officers of the state hosted get togethers arranged exclusively for the Christain community. In Rawalpindi’s historic church, Chief of the Army Staff General Bajwa showed up in civilian clothes to be a part of the Christmas day ceremony.

An Indian tweeted the photograph of Christmas being celebrated in the PIA flight and asked his PM, Narendra Modi, “When was the last time India celebrated Eid or Christmas in any of its flights? And sir, what on earth are you doing to the traditional religious harmony India was built on?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ENDANGERMENT OF SAUDI ARABIA

Muhammad Bin Salman’s anti corruption arrests are likely to yield negative results for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In a country where media is not free, judiciary is not independent, institutional checks and balances have yet to evolve, and political equilibrium rests on the respect powerful royals accord each other, the incarceration of powerful and immensely wealthy royals by royals who are only slightly more powerful is going to invite a back lash within the ruling family. In due course, it is likely to translate into a full blown conflict in the holiest of lands in the Muslim civilization and a critical economy in the international system.

The near- hundred years old monarchy will be the first casualty of the storm that is brewing in KSA. Because no organized alternative exists in Saudi Arabia, foreign intervention is the likely outcome of such a break down.

Should it happen, there will be no peaceful implosion. MBS may not have invited foreign mercenaries into Saudi Arabia to interrogate the princes he put under arrest just yet,(as claimed in western press) he will have no choice if and when he is faced with organized rebellion backed by break away sections of the Saudi security forces. Given the demonstrated reluctance of powerful militaries in the Muslim world to intervene in Gulf’s affairs, American mercenaries like the Black Water will inevitably fill in the void. They will likely be influenced by their home governments because critical western interests are at stake in Saudi Arabia.

Mercenary military forces do not exist in the Muslim world, despite the terrible label of militancy given to the Muslims by Euro-American press. General Raheel Sharif is the first professional soldier who has been hired to assist a state stuck in a military quagmire. He may be very highly paid, he is but a lone consultant and has not formed an organized outfit that can be operative for a fee.

Global mercenary military organizations are mainly Israeli and American in origin. The same did not surface  after the commencement of the War on Terror, though they found new impetus as some of the most lucrative contracts were bagged since 9/11. Mercenary forces have existed in the USA since the seventies. Some of the retired military commanders from the Viet Nam war established training camps on remote US lands such as Alabama, Montana, where they could operate away from media scrutiny. The mercenaries trained Latin American rebels and because Washington had an interest in supporting Latin American rebels during the Cold War, the camps operated with assistance from the CIA. Socialist, communist and nationalist regimes were an impediment to US business interests in South America. The US corporate media looked the other way as terror training took place on US soil and was tolerated by the US government. ‘India Today’  did a detailed coverage of such camps in the US during the Cold War, with photographic evidence, and called the camps ‘terror training cells in the US.’

The government of George W. Bush gave such mercenaries a new lease on life and showered them with lucrative contracts in the Middle East and Central Asia.  Voracious demand in the Bush government was the catalyst for organizations like the Black Water to acquire an international market. Notoriety did not lead to cancellation of contracts because names were allowed to change and because the US never moved its domestic law against such outfits in any meaningful way. The US asserts that non state military actors are a threat to world peace and at the same time deploys them with handsome rewards. The attitude implies that non state military forces with  profit as primary motive are legitimate, while similar forces motivated by ideology or political affiliation are dangerous. This non sense accepts ‘oppression’ as a legitimate business venture. A state that utilizes such sources to aid its rule perches itself on a very slippery slope morally. Saudi Arabia will be vulnerable to similar fate should it decide to openly deploy western  mercenaries if political conditions in Saudi Arabia begin to deteriorate for the monarchy.

So far, Riyadh’s actions vis-a-vis its perceived and real enemies have not yielded positive results for it because of the uni-dimensional nature of these actions. It started a war in Yemen without caring to establish an accompanying political narrative that would legitimize its action as one worthy of support. Even a superpower like the USA went to great lengths to establish a political narrative to sell its wars each time it waged one against weaker states situated on other continents. For Riyadh Such a narrative was not impossible to muster, given Saudi Arabia’s international and regional significance. The cognitive/diplomatic aspect of the war was ignored completely. I fail to understand why Saudi Foreign Ministry would not pay attention to this matter despite being headed by some one as educated and enlightened as Adel Al Jubair.

Saudi diplomatic offensive against Qatar also back fired.  At a time when Riyadh should have been showing displeasure with the CNN and Fox news for launching organized propaganda against Islam and its myriad followers, it chose to demand the closure of the Aljazeera network. Simultaneously, it condemned Doha as the state sponsor of terrorism. Aljazeera enjoys unrivaled prestige in the Arab world and is considered one of the most credible sources of news internationally. Qatar’s hosting of Aljazeera should not have been condemned by KSA at the same time it pronounced that Qatar sponsored terrorism. Far from being isolated, Qatar was given unprecedented positive coverage in the international press and earned a high level of regional support when countries did not participate in the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by KSA and its Gulf allies.

MBS’ policy of domestic liberalization enjoyed support within Saudi Arabia, where everyone feels the need for reform. It also enjoyed region wide support. Then suddenly came the news of the shocking arrest of Saudis who are among the wealthiest of individuals in the world. Indirectly, Riyadh has stepped on the toes of Twitter, Lyft, CitiCorp and other international corporations, including some big and prestigious financial institutions who will now have an incentive to support the weakening of a regime that threatens their capital. At a time when Saudi Arabia should be conjuring up nationalist appeals to bring in the trillions belonging to wealthy Saudis who have been keeping them in foreign banks, (to diversify sources of investment for Riyadh’s new industrialization policy), the government has chosen a policy that will drive foreign investment away because it disturbs the very political equilibrium that must under lie all reformation in Saudi Arabia.

The Lebanon affair has been another negative projection for Saudi Arabia. The Hariri resignation in Riyadh was a bad idea. While it further strengthened Hizbullah and created renewed unity in Lebanon against external intervention, Riyadh looked guilty of holding a regional statesman captive and forcing his resignation under duress. Tehran lost no diplomatic space  and may have gained some. Hegemony must rest on willful support of the followers. Episodes such as the Hariri resignation are counter-productive in hegemonic designs. It made Riyadh look like a regional bully instead of the hegemon it aspires to be, and indeed can be, given its multi-faceted significance in the region.

Media black out in Saudi Arabia is another hazard under the current circumstances because all news about Saudi Arabia is coming from foreign sources and reflects vested interests.  The western corporate press has launched a campaign to undermine the Saudi state. Social media, with its dubious origins, is doing the same.

The current developments do not bode well for Saudi future. The Saudi leadership will have to act in a more sophisticated manner to survive in a complex world with shifting loyalties and interests. Riyadh needs to maintain itself as a beacon of stability for the larger Islamic world, a tall order under current circumstances.

 

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT OR THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE

Pakistan’s National Assembly voted on an ‘amendment’ today that was floated by the opposition parties. In a bid to prevent Nawaz Sharif from continuing to head the PMLN, The amendment sought to prevent a person from being the head of a political party after he/she is declared unfit to hold public office by a court. The logic of the bill was simple. A man disqualified to run for office cannot wield authority over political leaders, political workers and party office bearers.

More than one hundred and fifty members of the ruling PMLN voted against the bill to defeat it in parliament. The ruling party is jubilant. Nawaz Sharif is happy and the government thinks it has averted a political crisis through  show of unity within PML(N) ranks.

Nothing is furthest from truth. On July 28th, 2017, only one member of PML(N), Nawaz Sharif, was disqualified to hold public office. Today, barring a few dozen PML(N)  members who did not show up to vote  and thus  defied the orders of party leadership,  the rest of PML(N) stands disqualified in the eyes of the public. It stands disqualified because the party has revealed its utter failure at developing a framework for rational decision-making.

Democratic decision making is based on reasoning.  Public interest must underlie all democratic decisions. Democratic decision making is not based on primordial loyalties. The latter is the hallmark of absolute kingship, tribalism, cults, rural clansman-ship and the like.  PML(N) has shown today that it is unable to rise above primordial loyalties.  While adopting a procedure for political decision-making, it is entirely incapable of establishing the rational conditions which must be satisfied while making a decision. In other words, the majority in the PML(N) party does not seem cognizant of the principles that form the basis of democratic procedure. Despite being operative for forty years, and despite winning several elections , the PMLN fails to meet the criteria to be a modern political party.

Nawaz Sharif, during his post disqualification Awami Rabta (mass contact) campaign, has repeatedly asserted that the mandate of the people must be respected.  He claims that the mandate was not respected when the Supreme Court ordered Nawaz Sharif’s removal from premiership at the conclusion of corruption investigation involving Sharif and his family.  The opposite is true. It is Nawaz Sharif who is showing disrespect for the mandate of the people by trying to cling to a position the people of Pakistan and his party members accorded him when they were not aware of the fact that Nawaz Sharif has committed the crime of money laundering.

Electing some body to the highest office in the country is the most sacred public trust reposed in an individual. The office bearer accords his office the highest degree of respect through his conduct. The conduct of the office holder should not be unbecoming. It should also not be unseeming.  If the holder of highest office in the country is accused of a moral crime, he shows his office due respect by stepping aside till he has proven himself innocent. This is called respect for the mandate of the people. There can be no greater disrespect for the mandate of the people than clinging to the elected office or continuing to posit oneself as eligible for it while at the same time being interrogated and/or convicted for moral crimes way beneath the dignity of the office. Democracy allows an individual to wage a hundred year long legal battle if he must, but not one moment of defiance or disrespect of court verdict.

Nawaz Sharif has proven to the nation that he is not cognizant of what democratic politics is all about. And now a majority in the PML(N) has proven that it has no developed notions of what democracy means.

Panama Leaks exposed Nawaz Sharif. The rest of the PML (N) leadership has exposed itself through the November 21 huddle, produced, it seems, out of collective fear of the hangman’s noose. As such, The PML(N) government has officially placed itself in a corner where it is isolated from the rest of Pakistan.  It has let itself become an object of bitterness, surrounded by enemies it is too weak to oppose and too stately to conciliate.  Its leader’s reluctant resignation on July 28 and its current attitude towards the Khadam-e-Rasool sit in are acts that embody this weakness.

On November 21, the road to PML (N) government’s premature fall from office has been paved further by its own members. It is the common fear of accountability that lurks behind the unison with which a rational legislative proposal has been shot down by the PMLN government.  The fear in the Pakistani public has now risen that the longer this government stays in power, the more it will undermine democracy by turning it into a joke that no one will want to take serious.

Will Some One Please Steer the Wheels!

Pakistan is building itself as a regional economic hub and a gateway nation-state. Investment in structures built for the purpose is underway at a regional scale. There is, thus, much increased chance that instability in Pakistan will have a bearing on other countries in the region,  China being the most prominent among them. The West too will be impacted because Pakistan has been described as critical to its” war in Afghanistan.” Instability in Pakistan will invite foreign intervention at a scale hitherto not known in recent international affairs. The US has a self proclaimed security stake in the region where it is busy “exterminating existential threats to itself.” China has invested far too much in Pakistan to watch Pakistan go down while sitting on the fence as mere observer. India is waiting in the wings for its chance to reclaim parts, if not whole, of Pakistani territory for its commercial benefit. Afghanistan’s current leadership would want the Durand Line resettled.  Pashtuns may want to live as one instead of continuing to live as they are now, divided across Pakistan and Afghanistan. The plausible battles that would ensue, should Pakistan lose its structural equilibrium, and the violence that will grip the region should Pakistan relinquish its political sanity, will be unparalleled  in international affairs, way beyond what the world has watched in Lebanon and Yugoslavia in recent history.

And yet, during the last two months, the ruling elite in Pakistan has behaved in a manner that not only defies logic, but also exhibits utter disregard for Pakistan’s current political predicament.  A very serious corruption scandal faced the nation when the Sharifs’ appeared in Panama Leaks.  The judiciary took notice of the matter and ordered a probe which took place but was not telecast for the benefit of the nation. The probe into the assets of the former first family should have been telecast, not only to ensure transparency, but also to ensure stability by preempting nasty retaliation by those who would obviously want to resist receiving the rough end of the shaft. I wrote in my blog on June 4, 2017, (titled “The Evolving Course of Events in Pakistan,”) that such a telecast is desirable. Sure enough, the absence of live telecast of the JIT probe gave Nawaz Sharif the opportunity to (incorrectly) describe his ouster as one (unfairly) being due to him not receiving salary from his son, and for possessing a work/residence  permit in UAE.  There was no countervailing narrative that echoed in the streets of Pakistan during the election campaign for NA 120 because Imran Khan, the de facto leader of the opposition, was not allowed by the Election Commission of Pakistan to campaign. Ever since Nawaz Sharif decided to politically contest his ouster, only his narrative has been publicized because the judiciary cannot issue public rebuttals and the opposition is busy doing God knows what! It seems to have allowed the ruling PML(N) to amend the constitution in late August, to facilitate the come back of Nawaz Sharif in future, by simply not being present in the parliament in enough numbers when the vote took place!

The former first family’s political heir apparent, Mariam Safdar, has displayed political acumen of the level of Marie Antoinette. Oblivious to what is at stake for her country, she has tried to mobilize the masses while campaigning for her mother’s election by attempting to inculcate mass antagonism against the judiciary and the security establishment of Pakistan, i.e., the two fundamental pillars of statehood. The election to fill in Nawaz Sharif’s seat in parliament was held under rules not comprehensible to ordinary Pakistanis at all. Imran Khan, the defacto head of the opposition, was not allowed to campaign for his party’s candidate, while the daughter of the ousted Prime Minister was given a free hand to campaign for her mother, in a province that is ruled by her uncle Shahbaz Sharif,  the powerful Chief Minister of Punjab. The ousted Prime Minister’s wife has won the election with a margin of votes that is far less than what it used to be when Nawaz Sharif contested from the same constituency before Panama Leaks. Nawaz Sharif has decided to contest his ouster but not in the court of law! The new PML(N) appointed Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has won hearts and minds within a short period of time by taking his job serious domestically and by standing up for Pakistan internationally. Yet Pakistanis watch his tenure with anxiety as the ousted PM seems in no mood to allow his party to function under a head other than himself. Nawaz Sharif now re-occupies the seat of the head of the party and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has declared that ‘psychologically,’ he considers Nawaz Sharif as still “his PM.”

The ruling (and no longer ruling) elite is busy cooking a recipe for disaster and is, in the process, showing a breathtaking disregard for the dangers Pakistan is currently facing as a nation-state. God forbid, should a political tragedy occur in South Asia of unprecedented proportions, history will be describing the current political events of Pakistan as its prelude.

Will some-one please steer the wheels while there is time!

America’s Afghan Policy

When Washington declares that its policy in Afghanistan is not working, the key question to ask is “what is the goal?” if the goal is to have peace, (desired equally by the regional players,) the American action towards the goal post is wrong. Battles in Afghanistan are an ‘occupation enabled’ phenomenon, and will continue while the occupation is in process directly or through Afghan proxies. Occupation is anathema to Afghanistan’s political eco system. Its distinct history has earned Afghanistan the title ‘grave yard of empires.’ The British, on whose Empire the sun never set, were content to have Afghanistan as the buffer between the Crown and the Tzar, occupied by neither. Outsiders who sought to occupy Afghanistan did so at their own peril.

Yet another goal, repeatedly declared by the US, is to put an end to ‘terrorism.’  Here too, the action taken for the purpose (war) is the most ‘terrorism enabling’ action. When regular armies wage war against irregular fighters, the latter’s inevitable choice of weaponry is terrorism. This lesson from history will stay relevant till the weak find another weapon.

Arrogance of power aided by technology can instigate the Americans to pulverize Afghanistan. After all, the victim can reach neither the naval fleet anchored in the Arabian Sea, nor the mainland where the US is situated. Afghans have no retaliatory power outside of Afghanistan. This is the most dangerously naïve assumption because of the political ecology of the region. Three of the world’s great economies and four of the world’s most significant countries lie inside the region that surrounds Afghanistan, i.e., India, China, Russia and Pakistan. In one of these countries bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, Muslims include the second largest ethnic group of Pushtuns, almost 28 million. Pushtuns are the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan. The other three countries, China, Russia, and India, harbor Muslim minorities in great numbers. Large tracts of land within these countries are Muslim populated areas. Russia’s south, (Daghestan,Chechnya, Turkestan, comprising nearly seven percent of Russia’s population) China’s west, the Uighours, (twenty million Muslims) and india’s 172 million Muslims living all over India, are greatly significant population segments, with organized institutions that protect community interests. Genocide of the Muslims in Afghanistan will mobilize the Muslim minorities in Russia, China and India against their respective states in an unprecedented manner. China’s Uighur problem and Russia’s Chechyan problem can be exacerbated. The policy could produce a revolution in Pakistan whose anti US sentiment will be reminiscent of the anti US sentiment of the Irani revolution in 1979. Pakistani state may try to pre empt such a revolution by disallowing the US the use of its  territory for military action in Afghanistan. If the US thinks it can turn to Iran as substitute it must know that such a policy on the part of Tehran could create a second revolution in Iran that seeks the over throw of a regime allied with the West – and the anti IRP revolution could be even more anti US than the anti Shah revolution spearheaded by the IRP itself.  Central Asia would not be immune to political shocks of such a policy, if followed by the US. Hence, US’ military approach could destabilize the domestic equilibrium of largest countries in the region and most significant economies in the world. Even the most tightly knit narrative spinned by the US, that they are busy  exterminating terrorism in Afghanistan, will be destroyed by the intrusive power of today’s electronic media.

In a nutshell, the war to end the Afghan population will initiate civil wars within many countries in the region. In such a scenario, terrorism will expand and flourish at humungous levels. The US needs regional territories to carry goods in and out of Afghanistan for trade purpose (their real purpose for being in Afghanistan is lithium). There will be no safe places to do so. Constant battle will make trade unsustainable.

US’ second option is to use the Pakistan military for exterminating the Afghan resistance – and it is currently exercising its leverage with Indian collaboration. For Pakistan, such a policy would mean a potential civil war within its own boundaries that will weaken the Pakistan military vis-à-vis India and undermine Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. Pakistani generals have so far carried out successful targeted operations against militants. They prefer to confine their activities to intelligence enabled operations. That is why when the US accuses Pakistan of harboring terrorists, Pakistan responds by demanding that whereabouts be supplied so it can take them out. The US has no doubt Pakistan will take militants out if they are pin pointed because the threat to Pakistan is just as big. Pakistan is endeavoring to establish itself as a gateway civilization where all foreigners feel welcomed, not threatened. Yet, Washington issues vague pronouncements about Pakistan’s role, not real intelligence about terrorists’ whereabouts.

During the sixteen year long occupation, the US extensively checked the afghan territory for resources. It subsequently qualified Afghanistan as the Saudi Arabia of lithium. The significance of lithium, of which cell phone batteries are made, is doubly enhanced in view of climate change induced natural disasters the west is currently confronted with in rapid succession. If fossil fuel driven cars are inducing global warming, a greater need in the West will be felt to cut down carbon emission. Even rogue Presidents like Trump will come round to signing emission control treaties. This will greatly increase the demand for hybrid cars (rechargeable electronic cars). Lithium will be in much greater demand then. The US is destroying the trade potential of this resource by continuing to wage war in Afghanistan. US’s kinetic activity is making all trade routes out of Afghanistan un safe. Only and only negotiated settlement with Afghan resistance and the regional powers will allow the US to mine and transport lucrative commodities out of the region. US has learned its lessons regarding the power of a combative Asian population during the heyday of its power in the world (Vietnam). Now that the US is in a comparative decline, its stakes are even higher.

It is highly unlikely that Pakistan military will agree to a policy of joining hands with the US for extermination of the Afghan resistance and enabling American occupation of Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. Such a policy is not in the interest of Pakistan’s ally and long term economic partner China. The US could use the Afghan territory to foment trouble in China’s restive Muslim province. It could do the same for Russia’s south. Initially, trump looked like he could be a President free of Cold War era prejudices. He has since knuckled under the US military and intelligence establishment, who seem incapable of shedding the prejudice.  Hence Pakistan is not likely to follow a policy the US, in cahoots with India, is pressurizing Islamabad to follow.

The best way forward for the US is to shed its Cold War era animosities. Extend a cordial hand out to China with a view to becoming its trade partner, not its trade rival. There is much the US can gain economically from such a policy. US also needs to Reset its relations with Russia and utilize the rapidly warming Bering straits for greater trade ties with Eurasia. Sustainable trade ties can not be built upon perpetual petulance and paranoid eavesdropping on friends and perceived foes alike. Neither can these be built on settlements the Europeans could afford to have on foreign lands five centuries ago. The world has changed. Centers of innovation and industry are no longer confined to the west only. Human resource development is more likely to be evenly spread across the globe than ever before as states learn to apply the power of information technology innovatively to human resource development. India’s real relevance to the US is as a trade partner, not as a security partner. When it comes down to brass tacks, It is foolish to think India will wage battle with the regional nuclear powers to protect the US’ military hold in the region. India can be a better trade partner for the US if Indo-Pak enmity is settled through a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Such a settlement has never been more plausible than at present.

Making peace between India and Pakistan through resolution of the outstanding Kashmir issue, negotiating the terms of withdrawal with the Afghan resistance, and instituting a trade regime that involves the regional powers is the best way forward for the US and the only way forward for effective, unhindered trade in and out of region. Waging war to have peace is like trying to stop an earthquake from happening.