One must read the account of Professor Ijaz Khan Khattak “Pakistan’s Strategic Culture and Foreign Policy Making” for understanding Pakistan’s strategic culture. The book has thoroughly explained the strategic culture and its impact on the regional politics especially the thesis put lights on Pakistan’s post 9/11 Afghan foreign policy. In the introduction of the account, he raised a very relevant question that “Whether Pakistan is an ally or foe in the ‘War against terrorism’. In the first chapter of the book, the writer starts his argument in a very theoretical framework in order to adjust and concise the complex nature of the topic.
To be honest, those want to understand Pakistan’s role in ‘War against Terrorism’ should read this book. It elucidates Pakistan’s foreign policy with the help of studying its Strategic Culture; the historical development of its security observations and why it considers religious extremists vital to achieve its foreign policy and its security goals. How much it has transformed, and how much it has not and why it is incapable to change. It also a possible track to an essential change that will help it becomes at peace with itself and its surroundings. To really understand Pakistan’s self-view and the world view based on it, this book offers an alternative non-centrist, democratic and Pashtun liberal perspective.
He put on the “culturist approach” to understand the deep entrenched historically military dominant role in the Pakistan foreign policy decision-making process. As he argued, in the first chapter of the book that “Rationality is relevant and what appears a rational choice in one culture may seem totally irrational in another. So, it is vital for the understanding of the behavior of particular state to understand its ‘Strategic Culture’.
The respected Professor Ijaz Khan Khattak very accurately analyzes the background of the strategic culture of the Pakistani state as he said in the preceding chapter of the book that “The Pakistani state has its own peculiar strategic culture developed and shaped by its history, religion, socio-economic conditions, geography, demographic composition and its international alignment with the West during cold war, giving Pakistani foreign policy a specific orientation and thus creating a response system’’. These are the different internal and external elements which contributed logically to form the present Garrison or Security state. Generally, in more concise theoretical terms, memory, domestic systemic inputs, and international inputs are the core elements to influence the foreign policy.
The theoretical framework is stirred by Karl Deutsch model on decision making where Ijaz Khan Khattak studies Memory of Historical Inputs, Inputs from the International System and Domestic System Inputs with reference to Pakistan. Much of the explanation on Pakistan’s policy response to certain grave issues (Afghanistan, Kashmir and Nuclear Programme) is explained in the first part. The Second part, which covers the third and fourth chapter, describes Pakistan’s Afghan policy shift and the influence of this shift at the regional level. While the author in this part traces the basis for Pakistan’s policy shift, which, according to him, was an artifact of interaction between internal and external elements, he also claims that the policy shift allowed Pakistan to achieve a certain amount of diplomatic leverage at the regional level.
In a recent Pakistan’s confession when Sartaj Aziz’s remarks to a Washington policy audience where he accepted that the Taliban leadership and their families live in Pakistan and receive medical treatment. Clearly, Aziz announced and accepted that Pakistan has a leverage to bring Taliban to the negotiation table. The outburst of this leverage is not surprising for many Afghans. Because on the one hand, Pakistan as the “Fortress of Islam” and on the other side Pakistan has built a strong strategic culture for their so-called national security paradigm. This present eruption of the ‘Leverage on Taliban’ which Pakistan officially admitted is nothing but the advantage of “Pakistan Strategic Culture”.
As the writer of “Pakistan-The Garrison State”, Ishtiaq Ahmed also explain the strategic culture of the Pakistani state in relation to the ‘Afghan Jihad’. While explaining the reactionary role of this strategic culture, he said that “Pakistan’s national security paradigm had always been premised on the perceived threat from India; relations with Afghanistan-about the disputed Durand Line had also been a cause for worry all along.
He further quoted in the same paragraph; In June 1975, the Jamiat-E-Islami (the present day Hizb-e-Islami) attempted an overthrow of the government which was crushed by Daud government but resulted in many militants taking refuge in Pakistan. At that time, Z.A.Butto was in power in Pakistan. He ordered support for the insurgents. Already at that stage, the American CIA and Pakistan ISI had begun to connect in order to bolster a resistance to Daud regime. Thus, for the legendary Colonel Imam ( Sultan Amir Tarar) was sent to the United States in 1973 for training in insurgency warfare”. These are the facts which construct the narrative discourse of the ‘Strategic Culture’ of the Pakistani state. Afghan officials must deal with Islamabad while understanding its strategic culture formation in a broader prism of history, culture and international inputs.
The concluding chapters of Ijaz Khan Khattak thesis forwarded a number of solutions and recommendations to change the strategic culture. He identifies three sources of inputs where change and reforms desirable and needed. He also explained that change scenario which will create a new welfare democratic culture within state and surroundings. To reverse the strategic culture, reforms in decision-making process, new look to the memory and ideology are required. He further goes on for reforms in education, empowering parliaments, due roles of the political parties and involving broader civil society in the decision-making process are the vital steps to be taken for the change in the strategic culture qualitatively. Pakistan is possible only when it accept its plural existence, identity and change the undemocratic strategic culture of the state where the question of ‘Leverage on Taliban’ will not take place.
The writer is a master degree holder in English literature, currently working as a sub-editor in the Afghan Tribune an analytical online English website.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Afghan Tribune | Sher Jan Takal | Published: March 15, 2016, 03:28 PM