Strategic Depth of Pakistan

map_afghan_pakBy Maheen Jibran

You may be familiar with a phrase ‘strategic depth’ that we hear so often on the media but very few of us know the meaning of it and why media keeps on using this phrase every now and then. It’s not a simple everyday issue like inflation, load shedding, transportation etc. that concerns the common people have zero knowledge about this subject. This idea was perceived by General Aslam Baig in 1980s, since then newspapers and international media using this word strategic depth and referring it to as a policy by which Pakistan wants to control Afghanistan. It’s a complete misnomer, Pakistan wants friendly and brotherly relations with Afghanistan as equals.

When India has a base in Central Asia where it has deployed two squadrons SU 30s that are nuclear capable to strike Pakistan from there as a second strike option, Pakistan has also to look for its strategic options to meet Indian threats. Media should behave with maturity and understand what national interests are and how they need to be managed. Most of the anchors or reporters have no formal education in relative subjects; from street reporters they have become TV anchors without a clue about national issues and interests. All they are concerned is about ranking and create scenes on the screens to rake money.

Mushrooming of private TV channels further complicated and aggravated the situation. One big media house started to play India and with lot of arrogance. This they claimed to be freedom of speech and expression. When such are the persons who do not know what really a freedom of expression is then what can one expect from such illiterates? Some were known to be working for money and selling the national integrity. Thus these people played this ‘strategic depth’ in a manner that it became a taboo.

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The authorities concerned never cared to educate the people about this sensitive issue of ‘Strategic Depth’ thus the media had its way and played it out as a negative policy and this is what India desired. Many pseudo intellectuals also debated it in a manner that Pakistan wanted to dominate or control Afghanistan where as it was never intended to be that way. This also jittered the people of Afghanistan with the result a trust deficit was created between the two. Although all along during 80s and 90s, during General Musharraf’s and General Kayani’s era Pakistan military establishment and government always worked for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

The legacy of General Aslam Baig may not be in vogue now but its relevance cannot be written off. Media will have to understand its dimensions and play it accordingly and not defame Pakistan’s image or project it as an usurper out to grab territories. Now it’s India that is using Afghan soil at free will to destabilize Pakistan, thanks to our media and pseudo intellectuals.

Today India has built a string of 18 consulates mostly along Pak-Afghan border to launch their terrorists inside of Pakistan. The recovery of arms and ammunition during Zarb-e Azb has lifted the curtain when arms and ammunitions of Indian origin were discovered from Miramsha that were displayed to the media. Also Indian currency in huge amounts was also recovered from the safe houses there.

Currently the policy of strategic depth is known as Pak Afghan Relations which include the return of Afghan Refugees, secure Pak Afghan border and trade. Pakistan has been accommodating Afghan refugees since RussiaAfghan war and has suffered a lot due to that. The number of refugees varied between three to five million at any given time.

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Weapon and drug culture etc. are the gift of this hospitality the price of which Pakistan has paid very heavily. Some of the same refugees who were provided shelter became militants and turned to crime in entire Pakistan. In spite of acting as hosts to so many Afghans still the government of Afghanistan is poised against Pakistan, what a way to pay back to have accommodated them for so long and at a very heavy social and economic cost.

Afghanistan provided safe heavens to Tehreek.e.Talibaan Pakistan with all sort of material and financial help to attack Pakistan. Then Karzai had the cheeks to blame Pakistan for its own security lapses. Pakistan should review its Afghan policy, and deal with firmness. If need be surgical strikes within Afghanistan could be an option.