WASHINGTON: Pakistan can play an important security and development role in South Asia as a US partner, even as it maintains separate relationships with its immediate neighbors, particularly China, argues a new book, “The Battle for Pakistan: The bitter US Friendship.”
The book, by eminent scholar Shuja Nawaz, will be launched in Pakistan this week. The book maps the evolution of the Pakistan Army from the one trained only to fight conventional battles to a force that has won Pakistan’s long-drawn war against terrorism and outlines the country’s threat perception from both its eastern and western flanks.
Arguing that Pakistan cannot and should not be ignored, the book urges US policy makers not to dismiss Islamabad’s India-centric approach as mere paranoia.
The book also underlines the need for Pakistan and China to undo the impression that most of China’s investments in Pakistan are loans. It also urges the two neighbors to be more open about CPEC projects to discourage conspiracy theories.
But the author also advises Islamabad “not to present China as an alternative to the US and the West” and reshape its regional and global alliances in accordance with its needs to “help stabilise its own economy and polity.”
The book urges US policy makers not to set up India as “the regional hegemon and local power broker.” And instead use its influence to accelerate economic development in the entire region.
The book also advises Islamabad to understand that in the long run, only economic development and social and political progress will strengthen its security.
The book argues that “understanding the dynamic behind Pakistan’s security fears and its defence strategy is critical for US policy-making in South Asia.”
The author reminds US policy makers that Pakistan remains a powerful regional player, which sees itself often as “a counterpoint to the US interest in developing stronger ties with India.”
The book notes that in dealing with Pakistan, the US sometimes “appears to push to the background the doctrinal and existential issues that Pakistan faces.” Such issues continue to shape Islamabad’s thinking and actions and the United States “needs to better understand Pakistan’s fears and capabilities.”
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019