Free Press Journal

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi must know and recognise his limits


It is futile to expect any transformation in Indo-Pak relations from a change of political master in Pakistan in the present conditions. It is well and truly the army that holds the remote control in a country where the civilian administration counts for little, especially in regard to ties between the two countries. The court-mandated jettisoning of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had the blessings of the army and his replacement by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi could not but have been possible without the nod from the army chief. With the army being clearly a hawkish entity, any reaching out

With the army being clearly a hawkish entity, any reaching out by India to whoever is the prime minister is of little consequence unless the army is on board with the decision. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu halt in Lahore to parley with Nawaz Sharif in December 2015 had angered the Pakistan army and triggered off the Pathankot terror attack. Abbasi’s rants on relations with India are along familiar lines. He said while interacting with an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York that unless the ‘core issue’ of Kashmir was resolved first there could no progress in ties with India.

Abbasi’s veiled threat that his country has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the “cold start doctrine adopted by the Indian Army” must predictably have been inspired by the army. His remark that “we have a very robust and very secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets, and I think time has proved that it’s a process that is very secure….was an apparent answer to fears that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of terrorist groups. Abbasi strongly contested U.S President Donald Trump’s call for an enhanced Indian role in Afghanistan. “…we don’t foresee any political or military role for India in Afghanistan.

I think it will just complicate the situation and it will not resolve anything…… All that bravado is mere sabre-rattling. The cold reality is that Pakistan is being increasingly looked upon by the world at large as a ‘rogue’ nation that needs to be reined in. Its clandestine collusion in the development of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is by now well known. Relations between Pakistan and the US are at breaking point. Pakistan gets close to $500 million in military and non-military aid from the US, a large chunk of which is coalition support funds. The US has not only threatened to cut off these funds, but also linked them to showing demonstrable evidence of going after groups like Haqqani, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan must wake up from its stupor. The sooner Abassi grounds himself and stops seeing illusions of power and strength the better it would be for him and for his country.