STRATEGIC SHIFT

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Jul 2017 11:26:10

THE concept of global fight against terror is on the verge of witnessing a paradigm shift in strategic arena. For the first time, the United States has officially stated that it sees Pakistan as a nation that has been providing safe haven to terrorist groups. That this endorses the stand India has been taking on the issue for decades, is only a minor point India may feel vindicated about. The more critical point is that the US, under the Donald Trump dispensation, has begun taking the fight against terror to the next level. For, when the US agrees that Pakistan provides safe haven to terrorism, it means it has agreed to take a re-look at its global strategic eco-system and may even be willing to alter its geopolitical maps. This can be seen as a paradigm shift, in the sense it denotes an American willingness to look at the global scene beyond its stated international interests, alliances and treaties such as NATO and CENTO. In other words, this stance of President Mr. Donald Trump may alter the way the global fight against terror has been going on until now.

In the past thirty odd years, the whole international consideration about terror as a common threat was coming to naught the moment the discourse veered to Pakistan. For, with the US treating Pakistan as its critical strategic partner in Asia, particularly as a counter-weight against the emergence of China as a global superpower, the world leaders felt rather stymied in their collective thinking. Despite all the efforts to make the US see sense, no American President had ever dared to step out of the the US framework of diplomatic and geopolitical web of interests. That was why the global fight against terror seemed to be running into a serious roadblock.

Of course, things started changing some years ago when Pakistan started veering towards China as an all-weather ally, even at the cost of its American honeymoon that had lasted for decades. A few months ago, following the successful Indian diplomatic initiative to prove Pakistani complicity in terror, the Democratic Administration under President Mr. Barack Obama started taking cautious steps to warn Islamabad against its dangerous road-map. It was in response to those warnings that Pakistan started following a track two diplomatic approach by asking its intellectuals and former diplomats and bureaucrats to start threatening the US of dire consequences. In simpler words, that meant that Pakistan may reconsider its friendship with US in favour of a tilt towards China.

This response by Islamabad had already started pushing the Americans to reconsider many of the facets of the strategic partnership the US had harboured for decades. The advent of Mr. Donald Trump in the White House only affirmed the notion that Pakistan could be jettisoned from American foreign policy imperative. The current stance of Mr. Trump declaring Pakistan as a nation providing safe haven to terrorists is only a pronounced extension of the thread of thought that Mr. Obama had already started toying with.

In a way, much credit of this shift can be given to India, as well as other nations whose leaders had formed a common opinion on the issue almost beyond compromise. The Americans were realising what kind of a dangerous path they were taking by treating Pakistan as a permanent partner. One of the first hints of a possible change came when the Americans realised that Pakistan had been hosting for years Osama Bin Laden, a sworn US enemy and a declared offender by Washington. Yet, Washington did not favour a clear-cut and stated shift in its foreign policy. Mr. Donald Trump showed that courage -- of conviction and of critical diversion. This move has all the ingredients of a paradigm shift.