Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) hosted a roundtable discussion on “Global Strategic Environment and Pakistan” on February 22, 2018. The objective of the discussion was to provide the audience with an insight on important issues related to the evolving global strategic environment. The participants included students from different universities.
Speaking on the occasion, DG Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) Dr Shireen M. Mazari gave a brief overview of the world order in the post-Cold War era. She argued that after the disintegration of Soviet Union, NATO’s role became irrelevant in the global politics. To give a rationale to its existence, NATO started out-of-area operations e.g. in Afghanistan. While discussing the prevailing international system, she also referred to Ralph Peter’s article titled: “Blood Borders” that was published in the June 2006 issue of the US Armed Forces Journal where he predicted that powerful Muslim states would be weakened and ultimately broken up which is exactly what is happening in contemporary Middle East. In the post-9/11 era, came the Greater Middle East Initiative GMEI, or Broader Middle East Initiative BMEI which claimed to promote liberal democracy and freedom of speech in these Muslim states, and resulted in the Arab Spring. There is still instability in the region which resulted in weakened Arab states. This instability created a power vacuum which further strengthened non-state actors, and is reflected most clearly in the rise of the militant group Daesh.
Dr Mazari emphasised that currently the principle of “Coalitions of the Willing” is being applied with the direct intervention by certain states in Yemen and Syria bypassing the UNSC. She argued that there is another parallel system led by the US, which is the system of “Core States”. This system allows the US to pursue its strategic interests through its strategic alliances. She said that the leading core states are the UK, Poland, India, Japan and Australia.
While discussing the non-proliferation issues, Dr. Mazari indicated that after 9/11 the global focus has been shifted from non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to nuclear programmes of certain countries like Iran and Pakistan. Iran was criticised and Pakistan was effectively de-linked from India after the Indo-US nuclear agreement. With this agreement, the US has tried to give some sort of legitimacy to the Indian nuclear weapons.
Dr. Mazari also discussed the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and said “because the decision making has to be based on consensus, it is the only reason the US has not been able to get India the membership of the NSG. However, she cautioned that if India gets the membership, it would become much problematic for Pakistan.
Dr. Mazari further emphasised that after India enunciated its Cold Start Doctrine, Pakistan responded by developing Nasr (Hatf IX), a short-range solid fuel missile. She stressed that the rationale behind the development of Nasr was that if India operationalises its Cold Start Doctrine, which aims to rapidly mobilise its forces to launch swift attack into Pakistani territory, Pakistan will target Indian forces on their territory with its short-range missiles equipped with a low-yield warhead. According to her, with the development of Nasr, Pakistan “Plugged a loophole in its nuclear doctrine that was being exploited by India.”
On Pak-US relations, Dr. Mazari said that Pakistan should revise its overall US policy and redefine its relations with the country. She said that the US’ aims and objectives in the region are different than those of Pakistan. “US wants to contain China, isolate Iran and make India a regional hegemon” she said.
In her closing remarks, Dr Mazari pointed out that Pakistan should rationalise its Afghan policy by improving its relations with Kabul and shifting to multilateral approach by engaging with China, Russia and Iran.