Now that the US is officially and formally talking with the Taliban, including initiating swap arrangements for some of the most notorious prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay, the power matrix is poised for a shift in the coming months. Pakistan is geared towards taking a key position and could act as the driving force in ensuring a lasting peace process after the US departs from Afghanistan.
Consequently, the unending tirade against Pakistan and its premier agencies, which consists of accusations of providing safe sanctuaries to the same Taliban, would amount to a nullity now that the Taliban are engaging in talks with the mightiest superpower of the world. Thus, Pakistan would now emerge cleansed of the blame of colluding with the Taliban, despite the country being the most battered but also the most resilient victim in this most indeterminate of wars.
These historic talks will herald a watershed moment for the powers that have stuck to their ideological positions like a rock, for well over a decade. In the process, thousands of innocent lives were lost in Pakistan, unfairly bearing the brunt of this borderless war. Pakistan’s battered economy suffered a loss of about $70 billion, not to mention the human and psychological cost that its people have had to pay. The government sacrificed countless leaders; the Pakistan Peoples Party lost its brightest shining light, Benazir Bhutto, rendering the president of Pakistan as the biggest political victim of terrorism.
As the stakeholders tread cautiously towards the delicate process of engagement, the community of nations has to recognise, that for any peace process to be sustainable and lasting and for it to bring meaningful prosperity in the lives of the people living across the border, Pakistan has to be given the driving seat. Sans Pakistan, the reality would dawn painfully upon the world that no peace process would deliver the desired results.
Talking in geopolitical terms, the way famed English geographer Halford Mackinder saw the world, as presented to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, seems surreal today as distances over land are no longer an impediment, and ruling the Euro-Asian-African heartland of yore is not more than a pipe dream for many powers of the world in today’s day and age. But yet another heartland may have emerged, not as vast as the one suggested by Mackinder, but just as critical to the world of geopolitics.
Mackinder’s land theory may have been laid to rest for now, but if regional powers in Asia are able to play it wisely they might find themselves the heartland of a very important nature. Pakistan may be at the centre of this most volatile, yet crucial heartland that ensures the security of the region and the world at large. This new heartland is the centre stage of world politics. How the curtain will rise and fall here, will ensure the political futures of the many of the world’s most important personalities. Its geographically insurmountable barriers and the lofty Hindu Kush contain the seeds for the most important power games of the world.
Pakistan finds itself as the nucleus of this power-driven, intricate war theatre and may write history as the most resilient phoenix to have risen from the ashes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.
More in OpinionWhat’s in a name?