US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has just stated that the US is considering revoking Pakistan’s status as a non-NATO ally.
Pakistan joined a club of US partner which are given non-NATO ally status in 2004. Being classed as a non-NATO ally gives nations outside of Europe and Europe’s often controversial near-abroad, similar rankings and ostensibly privileges as formal members of the US led alliance. Other members of the non-NATO ally group include Israel, Japan, South Korea, Egypt and Jordan.
Mattis has stated that the US may kick Pakistan out of the group because of Pakistan’s alleged support of the Afghan Taliban.
Donald Trump and his cabinet colleagues have worked hard to push a narrative that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism and that in particular, Pakistan aids armed factions in neighbouring Afghanistan. The allegations which have thus far not been backed up by any evidence, are similar to the kinds of things said by Indian mass media and Hindutva politicians.
However, Pakistan’s growing schism with the United States is, in reality, over a host of issues, all of which are related to Pakistan’s pivot away from the US and its related pivot towards China and Russia.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor build on the border between the two countries is arguably the most important part of One Belt–One Road. It is certainly the most involved and potentially rewarding part of One Belt–One Road which has been or is being built to-date.
In line with One Belt–One Road, Pakistan has been intensifying economic and political cooperation with China.
At the same time, Pakistan’s relations with Russia have reached an all time high. Pakistan’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was attained this year (along with India) shows that Pakistan is now a full member of the geo-political security group whose most prominent founder members are China and Russia. By contrast, Pakistan’s effective junior membership of what amounts to ‘NATO Lite’ has been one fraught with bearing the burden of a failed US policy in Afghanistan, a policy that many Pakistanis have come to increasingly resent and for good reason, it has objectively failed to bring peace to Afghanistan and security to Pakistan.
China and Russia’s firm defence of Pakistan which came shortly after Donald Trump’s speech announcing a troop surge in Afghanistan, sent a clear message that China and Russia value their Pakistani ally and will diplomatically defend Islamabad against what amounts to baseless allegations from Washington.|
“Russia learned from experience what the US has failed to learn after nearly 16 years in Afghanistan: no peaceful solution can take place without the Pashtun majority having their interests accounted for. The strongest group around which many Pashtuns now rally is the Taliban and has been so for decades.
Russia who in the 1980s fought against the people who would come to support the Taliban in the 1990s, has realised that there is a time for war and a time for dialogue.
It was this approach that allowed Russia to accept Akhmad Kadyrov as a loyal subject to Russia even though he had been a supreme enemy of the state just years prior to this reconciliation. Likewise, in Afghanistan, Russia realises that the Taliban, the moderate rebels of modern Afghanistan, cannot be disregarded and nor can they be bombed into coming to the peace table, not least because many Taliban leaders have already made comparatively generous peace offers that Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Pakistan could easily work with.
Russia has let the ideological wars of the past slip into memory and Russia’s modern leaders have learned the lessons necessary to formulate a new Afghan policy. This new Russian policy of dialogue with the Taliban is in line with that of Pakistan which seeks a stable country free from American or Indian influence on its western border and it is also what China seeks as China requires a stable Pakistan and a comparatively placid Afghanistan in order to complete a crucial section of One Belt–One Road infrastructure in the region. Iran too has come to this realisation in more ways than one.