End the delusion on Pakistan
A State, a nuclear-armed State, first, as a matter of conscious policy, indoctrinates society with religious extremism. Then, it begins creating, funding, arming and legitimising groups which are committed to the politics of violence and terror. This State, once again as a matter of conscious policy, exports this terror to both the east and west of its borders. When international pressure builds up to crack down on such groups, the State pretends to do so — while covertly, and not so covertly, continuing to back its proxies. Eventually, to its west, the proxy wins. The world is exasperated, but then this State projects itself as the only player with the leverage to tame the violent impulses of its own proxies, which it helped put in power in the first place.
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This has been the story of Pakistan’s geopolitical strategy for the last 30 years. And it is remarkable that despite substantial evidence that the return of a medieval, barbaric, potentially terror-sponsoring regime in Afghanistan is primarily a function of Pakistan’s support, any serious player would still give Islamabad and Rawalpindi the benefit of doubt. Of course, such a cynical strategy not just inflicts costs on the world, but causes enormous destruction internally — as Pakistan’s slide indicates. But that is for Pakistan to worry about.
What the world must do is have a clear-eyed recognition of the threat a State poses. And that is why United States (US) secretary of state, Antony Blinken’s remarks on Friday, where he indicated that the US is aware of Pakistan’s duplicitousness and is reviewing ties, is important. For 20 years, Islamabad sold a story of indispensability to Washington. The outcome was a humiliating US exit from Afghanistan. It is time for the American establishment to end its delusion on Pakistan.