Husain Haqqani and other South west Asian notables refer to Pakistan as ‘The Citadel’, because fiscally, the entire nation state devotes its monies to the maintenance of a security establishment whose interests cannot align to any meaningful geopolitical relation. Historically, Pakistan has enjoyed favorable status with the Americans beginning with the Kennedy administration. The nadir of our bi-laterial relation occurred during the second Bush administration when General David Petraeus and other C.O.I.N. specialists began recognizing that Pakistani civil-military relations prevented the American’s from achieving its war aims. Fast forward to today and Pakistan is dangerously enveloped and in desperate need of friends.
Yesterday, just outside Peshawar, the Taliban completed another massacre at a college. This is immediately after the Indian Prime Minister was graciously welcomed in Lahore to begin the long awaited peace process. A few days later, Pakistani tribal Taliban launched terror attacks north of New Delhi to disrupt any favorable bi-lateral relation emerging that would displace Talibani interests. This comes after December 2014’s massacre of 120 children at a school in Peshawar. How did Pakistan come to this impasse.
The removal of hoards of cash from the American’s was the beginning, but then came Pakistan’s refusal to heed Riyadh’s call for ground troops in Yemen. Remember, the Saudi’s were forced to employ Islamabad’s army when Mecca was besieged by terrorists; humiliated, the Saudi’s had to import help abroad. It was Riyadh that hosted Nawaz Sharif’s exile and still, Pakistan had to turn down its favorable patron, the Saudi’s. The House of Saud has underwritten Islamabad’s monetary policy for decades, its been told ‘no’ twice by Islamabad.
The Iranians have decided to subjugate Islamabad’s indigenous Shia to propaganda that the Pakistani’s are finding difficult to pacify. They share a very fluid border with Pakistan, both states are nuclear and ideologically constituted.
New Delhi’s position is not to overtly encircle Pakistan, but to drive influence throughout Kabul, a region that Islamabad has historically thought of as its own.
The Pakistani Taliban are working in an environment that has traditionally been their own. Not anymore. The fracturing of the Jihadi movement into numerous camps, some aligned to overt Sunni nation states, some not, threatens Pakistan’s proxies.
Today Pakistan remains a nation on its knees. Its fiscal health continues to be underwritten by Riyadh, the I.M.F. and the World Bank together. The American’s are gone. But the jihadi business is in full swing, and Islamabad no longer runs its proxies, we should remember the archaic, ideologically fertile mind of the jihadi has sought easy targets: civilian children from the Pakistani government. This will not end well for either side.
The massacre of innocents in Pakistan on this scale is a direct threat to Islamabad. If anything, civilian supremacy must be the tract the citadel chooses if it wants to gauge its near/abroad friends as well as envelop its domestic enemy. Pakistan now needs friends. And money. It needs an economy, and it needs what Beijing insisted; normalized relations with New Delhi or no pipe line. The citadel isn’t stupid, it knows that IT cannot command the intellectual resources to run the Pakistani political economy.
Here’s where it gets dangerous. News reports throughout Pakistan refuse to shape their story lines from credible intelligence sources from New Delhi and Washington, that substantiate that Pakistani Taliban militants, using cell phones within Afghanistan controlled their terror proxies on both sides of the Durand Line. The military spokesman Lt. General Asim Bajwa confirmed this statement of fact. Even Pakistan’s esteemed Army Chief Raheel Sharif confirmed such intelligence sources.
Still, ‘The Citadel’ peddles lies that India and the U.S. are the source of Pakistan instability.
Here’s why: the archaic mindset that animates Pakistani polity serves the Army’s interests. Just ask Riyadh.
Pakistan’s best hope is civilian supremacy in Islamabad.