Finally, it seems that the world is running out of patience with Pakistan-based terror groups that jeopardize regional and global security. The recent declaration of the BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) also showed this by declaring:
We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS…Al Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohammad, TTP and Hizbut Tahrir.
Though Pakistan wasn’t named in the declaration, this was an indirect message to its government, as a majority of these terrorist outfits are based or have operations in Pakistan. However, Pakistan has rejected the declaration, noting that there is no ‘safe haven’ for terrorists in Pakistan.
The BRICS declaration was acknowledgement of the success, in particular, of the Afghan government’s stance and policy that has repeatedly sought to remind the world that the Afghan state is, in fact, a primary victim of a terrorism that is nurtured across the border Pakistan.
The declaration is another stark reminder to Pakistani policymakers that the country is completely isolated both on the regional and global front. Even Pakistan’s all-weather friend China has signaled concerns over terrorist activities that emanate from Pakistan.
When a country fails to convey and sell narrative to the world it indicates that its foreign policy is failing and puts the country on a trajectory of diplomatic isolation. Though Pakistan’s foreign policy has been in the hands of its military establishment, it is nevertheless the civilian leadership that has to defend Pakistan’s policy at various international forums. Regardless, they fail to defend this policy that employs violent non-state elements as strategic assets.
Though experts in Pakistan accuse Afghanistan, India, and the entire West for crippling its foreign policy, they do not recognize that Pakistan’s foreign policy and national interests are still seen through the lens of a Cold War paradigm. There is no country including, Afghanistan or India, that can isolate Pakistan on regional and global fronts, but Pakistan’s own actions can definitely. Even Pakistan’s chief of army staff stated that the country wants to be trusted and treated with respect by the world, including the United States. However, it is Pakistan’s policy towards its neighbors and the region that determines whether it shall be treated with respect or deserve regional and global isolation given its covert and overt support for non-state actors that threatens peace in Afghanistan and entire region.
Pakistan can take steps to fix this problem. It can play a significant role in the fight against terror as well as in regional peace and development. It can regain its glory and trust of its neighbors, as well as the regional and global community, if it divorces with its past and stops harboring terrorist organizations that threaten global peace and stability.
Pakistan’s foreign minister even recently confessed that the past four decades of its policies supporting religious extremist groups have radicalized its society. It is true to a larger extent that extremism is now embedded in almost all segment of Pakistan’s society and is putting the country’s future on the trajectory of destruction. Extremism has now brought university campuses under its canopy as well; that a local politician in Karachi Pakistan survived an audacious assassination attempt last week at the hands of a young man who was student of Applied Physics at the University of Karachi is a reminder of this troubling reality.
China has been always at the forefront in defending Pakistan on many occasions, but the BRICS declaration is alarming for Islamabad. Even China, now, is presumably growing fed up with its policies. China fathoms that this region can’t bear the burden of instability and for the success of its Belt and Road Initiative. To this end, peace and stability in Afghanistan is vital. Now the ball remains in Pakistan’s court. Either its leaders decide that they want to become a respected member of the international community by going after all terrorist outfits or they continue to live in denial at the cost of global isolation and disrespect.
Aziz Amin Ahmadzai writes on political and security issues in South Asia and Middle East. He is a Chevening Scholar and a former Afghan government official. He tweets @azizamin786.