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DIPLOMATIC BUBBLES: Strategic Depth: a Pakistani or US doctrine?
US, Pakistan, UK to draft a new future for Afghanistan
Saeed Minhas (sam67)   
By Saeed Minhas

ISLAMABAD: Wow, what a week that was. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a bag-full of demand-notes and directional charts, followed by an international Afghan Conference in Kabul where Russians, Chinese and Indians all but differed with the US strategy in a war-torn, mineral-rich country known as the 쁢nergy corridor of the world and last but not the least the extension saga in Pakistan.

Grappling with all this, many a diplomat in the city were of the view that at the end of the week, Hillary successfully persuaded Pakistanis on many of her demand-drafts, including Gen Ashfaq Kayani, but minus North Waziristan. Though many say that just like the Japanese Guam Islanders, she just informed Islamabad about the decisions taken in Washington DC to help the Pakistani people from getting into another abyss over the issue of an extension of tenure to the army chief or policy with regards to India, but officially and in diplomatic language, she just held consultative dialogue with all stakeholders in Pakistan to assess the latest socio-economic demand-supply mechanism. Her usual staged PR exercises with carefully chosen members of the media just proved how caring she is while talking about the interests of the people of Pakistan.

Anyway, returning to our diplomatic friends, they were of the view that as far as Afghanistan and the region is concerned, 쐄rom now on, it셲 all between Pakistan, the US and partially the UK, adding that they contended that 쏫ayani-Pasha with the American trio of Hillary-Holbrooke-Petraeus ? occasionally, Mullen and a comparatively novice Cameron-Hague teams will be drafting a new future for Afghanistan and the region.

How far they will able to satisfy the grumbling Russians, the cautious Chinese and the fearful Indians remains an open and unsaid secret, they agreed.

After a careful reading of the situation and surfing through various kinds of state-blogs and think-tanks, many in the diplomatic community believe that Americans, known for various kinds of addictions, ranging from fast-food to adventures, would stick to their Pentagon-ist plans. A syndrome, for which Pakistan and specially the ISI has received all sorts of bantering from internal and external actors, seem to have slowly poisoned the US administration so dearly that its entire foreign policy focus has fallen on this single phrase, ie strategic depth.

In the wake of all the recent developments, it is transpiring that for America, all future roads pass through Afghanistan. Perhaps, recognising that Holbrooke had to utter this week in London that the relationship with Pakistan was very complicated, 쐀ut it is an indispensable one for Great Britain and the United States, and very much at the top of the US-UK agenda is how to work together with Pakistan to make Pakistan part of the solution to the problems of the region. Because without Pakistan셲 participation, this war could go on indefinitely.

Coaxing and cajoling the Indians, the Russians, the Chinese and managing its fragmented and economically fragile political scene is all hinging on the advancement of the Americans on Afghanistan.

The Pakistan Army, rather its policy-making groups, should take a heart from this new American addiction, because it has finally vindicated their point of view, but being an inferior partner in this game, they should expect more taxing demands to fly in their face. The prime one being the question of the Haqqani network, or in other words North Waziristan, and as our diplomatic friends kept asking many of the Pakistani journalists, will this latest extension, some more to follow next year, pave the way for an offensive against the back-bone of Pakistani Strategic Depth? Well many still believe that Kayani-Pasha might be looking for some more clarity on the Indian question before venturing into such an adventure which might open a new Pandora셲 Box for an already over-stretched army.

For Pakistan, some military strategists suggest, by quoting Japanese General Yamamoto ? attributed to him during his Pearl Harbor raids ? that the best generals design wars to avoid one from actually happening, because actual wars bring nothing but destruction and un-ending retaliations. But they believe that Americans certainly disagree with that for obvious reasons and objectives, which may not necessarily be in the interest of Pakistan, especially when it comes to China and India.

Others believe that there are other problems as we read further into this new American addiction. Americans, whether they are confused or trying to play smart, have lately and vigorously started dispelling the impression that July 2011 is sort of their last day in the region. Instead, they are saying that it is just a starting point for a gradual draw-down and then as per NATO/ISAF situational reports and US congressional and senate committee reviews ? certainly after the outcome of upcoming mid-term elections in the US ? they would decide that how long and deep rooted their commitment will be.

They also draw attention towards the stark differences between the Strategic Depth of Pakistan and that of the US, because both have opposing, often conflicting paradigms, attached to their respective doctrines. Pakistan wants to keep its strategic location intact, thus not allowing the biggest threat to its existence (read India) impose any war on it which it neither can afford nor sustain due to its meagre political-economic realities. At the same time Pakistan wants to not lose the charm for emerging economic giants like China and regional power pack of Russia or even Iran.

Whereas the US doctrine is not based on any fears of existence, rather, it is based on maintaining the supremacy it enjoys over the world affairs, and the beauty of it is that no matter who authored it, the military minds of Pentagon or the neo-cons, it has and always been adopted as a legit child by the successive elected administrations. With over 900 bases in 46 countries and territories the world over, excluding the one in Iraq, Afghanistan, many other covert ones operational in Israel, Kuwait, Philippines, while hired or co-operated ones like in Pakistan, the Balkans, Caucuses, etc; and one recently inaugurated in Afghanistan near Mazar-i-Sharif, its no rocket science to understand the American strategic depth doctrine is expansionist in all its existence.

How interesting it might sound that of these 46 countries, where US forces/bases are stationed, 38 have developing (read fragile) democracies. As to the legitimacy of these figures, you may turn to the official data-banks of the US and you will find them all there. We will see in the next episode as to why the US is spending $100 million for a base in Afghanistan and what Russian, Chinese and even Iranian worries are, and where does Pakistan stand.

To be continued
With refernce to US-Pak relations and its impact on region and international politics

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