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Pakistan’s changing geopolitics

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The geopolitics of Pakistan is still stuck with the thinking prevalent in the previous century. Pakistan’s geopolitical strategy is marred by its obsession with India and Kashmir, resulting in a disproportionate stress on religious identity that has spawn a plethora of problems for its governments, people, and the state itself.

Pakistan’s perpetual inability to establish good relations with three of its major neighbours i.e. Afghanistan, India, and Iran; and even with Bangladesh, shows a prolonged paranoia that has consumed not only precious resources but has also turned Pakistan into a country still unable to give its citizens a decent education, basic health services, and even safe drinking water. The recent annexation of Kashmir by the BJP government in India has exposed not only the Modi government as a violator of human rights and the UN resolutions, but has also put Pakistan in a difficult situation in which its narrative of Kashmir being the jugular vein is being questioned by people.

Pakistan’s geopolitical strategy has had a reciprocal relation with its domestic policies of denying people their democratic and human rights. An Ethiopia-like overhaul is needed in its geopolitical strategy, if Pakistan is to prosper and survive as a democratic country that commands respect from the world community.

Geopolitical analysis

Geopolitical analysis is not a tool to predict when certain events would take place in national and international politics. In the 1980s, nobody would have anticipated that the Soviet Union as a country would disappear from the map of the world in 1991. In early 2019, who could have foreseen in Pakistan that the Indian occupied Kashmir would be annexed into India, and Pakistan would not be able to do much about it apart from delivering speeches at international fora, making phone calls to world leaders, and trying to use electronic, print, and social media to keep a semblance of battle readiness.

What use is there of any geopolitical analysis if it cannot tell you when something is going to happen? Well, not being able to tell the time does not mean that a geopolitical analysis is unable to forewarn you about an impending outcome of a series of events. In the case of the USSR, the timing was not known but the unfolding events did predict an ultimate collapse if certain measures were not taken. Similarly, in the case of Kashmir, again timing was less important than the events preceding it.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had time and gain promised his electorate that a second victory in elections for the BJP would enable him to annex Kashmir. So, the use of a geopolitical analysis is that it ‘focuses the attention of policy makers on conditions that are likely to bring about geopolitical change’ (Cohen, 2015). Geopolitical analyses also forewarn us about any changes in the balance within the international system. For example, the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003 did anticipate a prolonged war in this region.

A geopolitical analysis of Iran-Saudi conflict and the Turkish incursion into Syria foretells of an impending doom in this region which may plunge the territories from Istanbul to Islamabad and from the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea into turmoil. According to Saul B. Cohen, an expert in geopolitics, a nation’s claim to power rests on four pillars: Military strength and the willingness to use it; Surplus economic energy to enable it to provide aid and invest in other states; Ideological leadership that serves as a model for other nations; And a cohesive system of governance. Let’s have a brief overview of how Pakistan has fared in geopolitical terms in the 20th century.

Geopolitical strategy of Pakistan in the 20th century

Right from its inception in 1947,........

© The News on Sunday