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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Policy and Strategy: A Wake-up Call

In the US’s National Defence Strategy 2022, which was released in October, both Russia and China figure ominously. In the said strategy, integrated deterrence including increased partnerships with American allies and partners plays a central role in defending against both the grave and strategic threats posed by those two nations. According to US’s deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, strategy, plans and capabilities, China has both the intent and, increasingly, the capability to challenge the United States militarily, economically, technologically and diplomatically. While Russia doesn't pose the same long-term strategic threat, it does pose a more urgent short-term threat. Because of this, and as evidenced by the now yearlong Russian invasion of Ukraine, the department has identified Russia as an "acute threat."

One example of how the U.S. operationalized integrated deterrence as it relates to Russia, included the U.S. response following the Feb. 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. It included a surge of U.S. forces to Europe as the conflict was kicking off from 80,000 to 100,000 troops in Europe, which was possible because of close relationships with so many of those countries and because of prepositioned equipment and commonality of threat. NATO allies stepped up to enhance their presence in Eastern Europe, and as part of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is led by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, some 50 nations have banded together to help meet Ukraine's current and future defense needs. Therefore the NATO allies and other partners remain central to the U.S. Integrated Deterrence effort.

When it comes to China, the U.S. department of defence is investing in a combat credible force and investing in critical capabilities across domains such as cyber and space. This is being manifested through construction of new ships, modernization of the Army and the Marine Corps and the advancement of air power and key investments in various aircrafts. In space, the DoD is investing in the fielding of resilient satellite constellations and in boosting U.S. resilience in cyber. When it comes to partnerships, the U.S. is working with key allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region to build and deepen security cooperation efforts. The new strategic partnership like AUKUS (Australia, the U.K. and the United States) is focused on enhancing regional stability and safeguarding a free and open Indo-Pacific versus China, and it's going to provide Australia with a conventionally armed nuclear powered submarine capability. As part of AUKUS, the three partnered nations develop and exercise joint, advanced military capabilities; besides, accelerating the advancement of a bunch of different capabilities across areas as wide-ranging as artificial intelligence and autonomy and cyber to ensure that our warfighters can retain and expand their competitive edge. In addition, in the Pacific, the U.S. has worked to optimize its force posture there, including a more capable Marine Corps presence in Japan, increased rotational presence in Australia and better access in the Philippines.

As for building new strategic partnerships, besides NATO and AUKUS, the U.S. is working seriously to expand the membership, scope and objectives of QUAD Group. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), commonly known as the Quad, is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States that is maintained by talks between member countries. The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members, calling it "Asian NATO". Nevertheless the Chinese response was evidenced by initiation of “BRI projects” and “Chinese String of Pearls”, which also included Gwadar deep sea port and CPEC flagship project in Pakistan retarded off and on by sabotage, subversion and misplaced strategic priorities by Pakistan. Where does Pakistan stand as for diplomatic, economic and security partnership with three leading countries of the world? In case of any external threat, who will stand shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan? Can we survive in standalone mode? If we are not part of NATO or other alliance mentioned, who and what is keeping us from SCO or CSTO?

While India being arch rival of Pakistan and now of China too, has already taken a leap forward by long term investments since 1990 in the human capital, science and technology, space and cyber world, civil and military industry, food and energy security and above all self-assigned raised status in the diplomatic and security domain through wise and timely exploitation of the shifting geo-political and geo-strategic poles/ alliances. India is on a diplomatic roll. This week, New Delhi hosted the foreign ministers from the G-20, with some staying on for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad) meeting on Saturday, March 4, 2023. On Friday, India convened the Raisina Dialogue, a gathering of global thought leaders. In the last few days, New Delhi also welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. A few weeks ago, India signed a landmark deal to acquire Boeing and Airbus jets, positioning itself to become the world’s most important emerging market for the aerospace sector. Next week, when Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visits New Delhi, Deakin University Melbourne is expected to announce plans to establish a campus in India; it would be the first foreign university to open one there. The world is flocking to India: It is one of the globe’s fastest-growing economies (and a top hub for the services sector) and has become a critical piece in U.S. led efforts to counter China. But it’s hard to ignore how India’s rapid rise on the global stage has coincided with increasing crackdowns on dissent within its borders. But, keen to avoid upsetting a strategic partner, the international community has largely kept quiet.

Most unfortunately, Pakistan on the contrary has remained ‘a day late and a dollar short’ in all the above stated fields, thanks to the termites afflicting every segment of the state. Moody’s credit rating agency issued its worst assessment of Pakistan in three decades last Tuesday, warning that the country’s “increasingly fragile liquidity and external position” have significantly raised the risk of it defaulting on its foreign debt. Pakistan has been racing against time to conclude a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to unlock $1.1 billion in loan funds, which would likely forestall a default. An IMF delegation in Pakistan last month reported progress on talks, but it’s unclear when an agreement will come. The downgrade will darken an already-gloomy mood among Pakistanis about the country’s economic crisis.

In comparison to the U.S. Defence Strategy 2022 and the elevated stature of India in the current global security and economic alliances, Pakistan seems irrelevant, outpaced and struggling for survival due persistent political mayhem, doomed economy, rampant corruption, lawlessness and a multitude of internal and external threats. The poor nation is struggling to make the daily two ends meet while the ruling elite seem to have turned the country into a circus dancing on the tunes of the IMF. The unhealthy schizophrenic political dialogue/ outbursts fed to the people 24/365 has turned the masses desperately delusional while the ship seems rudderless. If Pakistan is to survive as an honourable state, the political and economic stability through a free and fair elections without any more delay, prevalence of law and justice and all institutions made to work within respective domains cannot wait further. Pakistan Zindabad!

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