The Geopolitical Dimension: The US would like to see a self-serving conducive environment prevail over the South Central Asian Region (SCAR) and APR. It would like to see a stable Afghanistan and a compliant Pakistan at peace with themselves and with their neighbours. It would also like to ensure that Russia and China remain contained and blocked out of the region with no direct access to a marginalised Iran or the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean. It would also like to see India emerge as a major player in Afghanistan at least, if not in the SCAR.
[T]he US will retain its foothold in the APR and SCAR through the establishment of US/Nato bases all around Afghanistan ostensibly to train and support the emerging Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
The Geo-economic Dimension: The US would like to be the sole determinant of the economic destiny of the region, controlling the mining, flow, transportation, refining and marketing of the minerals/fossil fuels of the region. Further, it would like to have absolute control over the emerging (north-south and east-west) trade routes going across the region like the New Silk Road Project (NSRP).
Ideally, it [the US] would like to link Europe to India, including all the regions in between in a seamless trade corridor under its sole oversight and to its sole advantage. The US would also want to encourage the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline while blocking the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, which potentially could have been extended to India and China as well.
The Dilemma/Pakistan Factor: The main US demand from Pakistan would be for it to unconditionally support all US initiatives in the region, even to the peril of its own national interests. Not only would the US want Pakistan to help the US/Nato/Isaf combine egress from the region safely and securely, but also to ensure that the scourge of international terrorism is eliminated once and for all. Furthermore, it would want Pakistan to support it and its proxies’ continued residual presence in the region.
Pakistan would want the mineral riches of the region to be exploited to the benefit of the people of the region and a continuing mutually beneficial relationship with the US and all countries in the region.
Now, will the US want a willing or an unwilling Pakistan for the endgame? Does the US want to succeed hereon? Will the US still use arrogant, coercive diplomacy, the sickening carrot and stick routine, or will it take a genuine reality check of the emerging geostrategic environment of the APR and modify its policy/strategy accordingly?
The writer is a retired brigadier and a former defence attaché to Australia and New Zealand.