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Pakistan is now no longer a competitor to India; it is Afghanistan

It is not possible to turn the wheel of time backward, and Pakistan has no other option now. Western think tanks were drawing maps of the new world order in 2005 and 2006. Two countries were the most important on this map: one was China, and the other was India. In 2007, there was a briefing by a think tank in the German capital Berlin; I was a student and also participated in the event, senior journalist, Editor DW Urdu Services, Imtiaz Ahmed reported in his recent column.

During the briefing, it was stated that India’s population and size are its strengths. India is now attractive not only because of yoga and spirituality but also in economic terms. Due to opposition to communism, western countries have a natural inclination towards India but they will also have to engage with China under compulsion because China’s market is developing very fast.

Until about 2000, the policy of Western countries was to treat Pakistan and India equally in the region. Both were independent together, rivals to each other and faced similar problems. Countries like Germany gave almost the same relief packages to both countries in the 1950s and 1960s. Care was always taken that whatever agreement was made with India, Pakistan should not be angered, or Pakistan was included to some extent in the process of signing the agreement.

But when it came to China, western think tanks argued that if China has to be confronted, then Pakistan has to be ignored, and relations with India have to be increased. Pakistan was and is also a friend of China, while the Afghan war and the narrative of terrorism were at their peak at that time. These two issues paved the way for the Western narrative that India should be seen separately from Pakistan, but the stamp on all these things was the US-India nuclear deal.

Pakistan was America’s leading ally against terrorism, but distrust was at its peak. When the Obama administration was asked how it could make this important strategic agreement with India while ignoring Pakistan, it was replied that you yourself used to say that do not keep Pakistan in the same policy with India. It was a ridiculous statement. Pakistan had said that concessions should be given to it, its interests in Afghanistan should be protected, not Indian interests.

Despite this, Pakistan was kept away by signing the agreement with India. After this, western countries adopted the same policy. India might have been far ahead of where it stands today, but the Narendra Modi government came, and its politics were based on opposition to Pakistan. So Pakistan still remained a part of this ‘game’ in some way or the other.

But now there has been an amazing change. A few weeks ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the United States that there is no competition with Pakistan anymore, leave it to its present conditions, it will die on its own. There was a strong protest in Pakistan over this statement, but this statement is a reflection of the changing Indian policy. After Western countries, there is a feeling in India that the competition is with China. You will see that this awareness will increase over time.

International investment is coming to India, the world’s big technology companies are stepping up there, India is sending its mission to the moon, and people sitting in Pakistan are also congratulating India on this. That is, there has been a public acceptance that India has overtaken. India’s GDP was about $ 470 billion in 2000; the same GDP has increased to $ 3.74 trillion in 2023. Talking about five years ago, the statements of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the army were often anti-India, while there was also a response from India.

But now the situation has changed. The statements of the Pakistani army and foreign ministry are now against Afghanistan, and the answers also come from there. You should also see that for a long time, India’s anti-Pakistan statements have been gradually decreasing. This means that Pakistan will now be ‘engaged’ with Afghanistan and not with India. This is the policy change that has taken place in the last ten years and which Pakistani policymakers have not even realized. While congratulating India for going to the moon, the Pakistani Prime Minister congratulated the nation that a loan of three billion dollars has been approved. It wasn’t a greeting; it was a tragedy.

General Mirza Aslam Beg had once addressed India and warned that when the Afghan Mujahideen get a win, where will they go? Somewhere they will have to find engagement. Now the situation has changed, secret issues regarding Kashmir with India have been settled to a great extent. India’s ‘linking Pakistan to terrorism’ narrative has frightened Pakistan, and Pakistan has also changed its policy in this regard. But the problem is, as General Mirza Aslam Baig said, where will the Taliban go again?

When Russia was to be confronted, Brzezinski, the security adviser to US President Jimmy Carter, looked at the Iranian revolution and said that religion is a power, and the same power can be used against the Soviet Union. His theory of the ‘Arc of Crisis’ was also based on the premise that the United States could support political Islam and confront the Soviet Union and Arab nationalist movements. The main purpose of this theory and policy was to promote radical Islam and anti-communist forces. So, the power of extremism and religion still exists in the northwest of Pakistan, and it can be used by anyone.

Afghan Taliban, the current rulers of Afghanistan recently told Pakistan that Kabul will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against another country. Taliban’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met Special Representative for Afghanistan Asif Durrani, who arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to discuss the latest security situation in the region.

“Afghans will never harm anyone; we will allow none to use our soil against another country; & our efforts will always be directed at working for regional security & stability.” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the interim foreign ministry, said in a tweet.

However, there are chances that the issue of the Pakistani Taliban may ‘engage’ Islamabad in the future as well. In response, Pakistan’s anti-Afghanistan rhetoric will increase, and the situation can become tense. There is hatred against Pakistan in Afghanistan and anti-Pakistan Taliban, and weapons are also present in the border areas. It will take several years for Pakistan to get rid of this problem, and by then India will have started many more development programs.

Pakistan could have competed positively with India in the last 10 years, but priorities and circumstances did not allow it to do so. Now is the time to bear the brunt of this, deal with these old problems as soon as possible, wrap them up, bring political stability in the country, and then see how far behind Pakistan has lagged behind India.

Nasir Taimoori

Nasir Taimoori is a freelance journalist working for different digital publications. He writes on various social, national and international issues. He also has an interest in translation. If you want to contribute or share anything, feel free to contact us:

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