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The word “great game” has become more of a myth, but deep in the policy books it still holds its place. In the past we have also seen this theory working in the shape of early 20th century Russian- Britain clash, and more recently regarding the Russian- American drive for the Central Asian energy resources.

            But presently, a new game has overshadowed nearly all the other long term adventures, and unfortunately Pakistan has found itself in the middle of this, or rather I should go a step further by saying that Pakistan has become the shooting gallery in this episode. The thing that is most horrifying regarding this episode is the number of participants or stake holders. As Henry Kissinger claimed

“ In International politics there are no permenant friends, only the interests are permenant”

 

Keeping this in mind, the allies have also changed hands, keeping in view the dynamic situation of the ground zero i.e Pakistan. On 9/11, nothing hit my mind more than General® Hamid Gul’s theory in this regard. To wrap up in one sentence, it goes like this

“ 9/11 the excuse, Afghanistan to use, and Pakistan to remove”

What exactly he said was in urdu,

“9/11 bahana, Afghanistan Thikana aur Pakistan Nishana”

Very well said, I must say. Now that is 2001, when the great game is set into motion. The day Mr Bush used the phrase “ Axis of Evil”, namely Iran, North Korea and Iraq, he forgot to inform that on the other hand, he had initiated another axis, the “Axis of Devil”, consisting of America, Israel and India ofcourse.

            Now how does the focal point of this axis converge on Pakistan, is worth mentioning. With America, we have a political clash, as American truly go for there national interests, and an ally of China so strong in Asia, is hard to digest. With Israel, its entirely Ideological, owing to the strong Arab sentiments, found in Pakistan. The way Pakistan joined Arabs and Muslims for Afghan jehad( 1979) made it clear for Israel that this potential is only present in Pakistan, and that design was further reaffirmed by Pakistan going nuclear. With India, its an open diary, the clash is based on historical, cultural and religious. Three wars have not done enough for both sides, and the ever looming danger is still there.

            This combined with 9/11, gave the three devils what we call

“the perfect place, the perfect time”.

Out of this axis, there was another power, or sleeping giant, which wanted to flex its muscles. It was none other than Russia, which under the charismatic leadership of Vladmir Putin and toxicated with newly found petro dollars, found the perfect playing field. I will add to this the dimension of Pakistan. They never forgot our entry to SEATO & CENTO, neither the incident of U2 flight by Gary Power. But above all, the Russians always felt that it was Pakistan rather than any other state, which during Afghan invasion(1979-88) lead to their collapse. A former KGB officer once said after the defeat of Soviets in Afghanistan

“ We will doom the real power(US) for this defeat, at the exact place which paved the way for this defeat( Pakistan)”

So much stake holders, with only one objectives, Pakistan, seems horrifying. From words we come to theory, and it is well known that practical is entirely different from the paper work. All went well initially, till the Iraqi episode went wrong. I say this because of the fact that the allied never got stiff resistance in Afghanistan, and soon it became clear that Americans have conquered what the Soviets couldn’t. Ok. One phrase that always appeal to me is

“ Love and war are usually the product of misperception”

And the same stands for the US. There entry into Iraq was planned to be a brief one, in term of war. The way Iran exploited Shiite sentiments later was never dreamed by the Americans, and they found Iraq unmanigable. Now fighting at two fronts with that number of armed forces was not calculated, I mean around 45,000 in Afghanistan and around 1.5 lacs in Iraq. From there starts what we call “ Strategic Overextension” in terms for the United States. By this it is simply means that your resources are exhausted by your expenditures/ commitments. President Bush was flying high in 2004 when he announced aboard a US naval ship that the main theatre of war has ended in Iraq, only to prove himself wrong in the coming months. Whether it was WMD or any other information, America has been proved wrong on every step. But for US, the burden of misfortunes kept on piling. Any desire that the so called “ Neo Cons” had regarding this devil axis were swept away, under the global recession. The way US economy collapsed and its budget deficit increased, sealed the fate of this great game, as far as US in concerned. Does it seem over enthusiastic? You may refer to it that way. But why did Obama fever swept America, how did they in a hurry obliged to elect a black Afro American which they never did since 1776? The “change” he promised was infact the rollback, as America couldn’t any longer afford to be a part of it. Now as far as they are concerned, they want a graceful departure from Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq, they have somewhat achieved it. It is clear that US has been given the grace period by the Iranis, after they agreed to sign the declaration, which ends the Iraqi episode in 2011, but infact they will be out of Iraq much sooner than that.

            Coming back to Pakistan, it’s a bit different. Currently, the two original devils, namely Israel and India are bent on destroying Pakistan, till the end. For them, the nuclear Pakistan matters, its unity matters and in reality its existence matters. The same is with Russia, but with some divergence. Americans, in any way possible, want to end the honey moon in this region. The way they ditched Musharaff and played positively in CJ Iftikhar issue provides some insight. I am not at all saying that US has suddenly started loving Pakistan, but somehow I want to suggest that in US a feeling has developed, or its policy makers have realized, that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in not a threat to US, and logically it cant be at all. So the Tribal war game that we see is totally sponsored by Israel, India and Russia. US wants a peace, for sure not for long term, but to such extent that they can ring the bells, claim there success in Afghanistan and  board the Hercules plane back home.

            Now for Pakistan, the puzzle has become more complex. The logical support for us would have come from China, but due to perfect execution by the devils, the public sentiments in China were turned upside down, whether it was the killing of Chinese citizen or the so called separatist movement, taking place from the Tribal areas. But still, China cant afford to let go Pakistan, and will still come to our aid, when we will move in that direction. With the enemies spotted, our policy makers have to clearly take the challenges head on, and on individual basis. In case we keep on thinking that all the world is bent on destroying us, that’s rubbish. Utilize what is on your side, and neutralize as much as you can, which is not on your side. Face the rest with all the resolute will, because to counter a great game, the key lies within that game.

Hamid Majid Abbasi

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