Delta narrative against Pakistan

Western bias can be called Delta Narrative, is marinated in Indian animosity towards Pakistan

Qazi Khalilullah September 21, 2021
The writer is Executive Director Center for International Strategic Studies Sindh and Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Russia


Owing to the willful negligence of the West, the world has failed to prevent the spread of Delta variant of Covid-19, which originated in India. Consequently, more than 130 countries have been affected by the so-called Delta variant that has caused colossal human and economic losses. There are consequences of keeping doors open to Indian Delta carriers, despite irrefutable evidence that the country is an epicentre of Covid-19.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, West is a victim to sinister Indian narrative scapegoating Pakistan for the American rout. This Western bias can be called Delta Narrative. It is marinated in Indian animosity towards Pakistan to undermine Afghanistan’s prospects of peace, stability and economic development.

Former US national security advisor John Bolton ranks high among Indian apologists and has a history of Delta Narrative. On 23 August 2021, in a piece in WaPo, he ill-advised the US to commit to a policy that would fuel conflict and instability in the region.

One gets astounded at the flight of Bolton’s imagination about the possible impact of Taliban-led Afghanistan on Pakistan’s future and its nuclear weapons. He advocated accelerating the US tilt towards India and punitive measures against Pakistan.

Bolton’s Pakistan-itch is as well-known as his taste for new American conflicts around the world. He is considered as a foreign policy hawk, nationalist, neoconservative and a warmonger. It is believed that President Trump fired him for such inconsistencies in judgement. Although he lacks credibility, the former NSA’s inaccurate statements must not go unchallenged.

Notwithstanding Bolton’s “compelling reasons” to endlessly sustain the US and NATO military presence in Afghanistan, the policy decision of Trump, and of President Biden, to withdraw from Afghanistan and push for a political settlement was right.

A military solution was never a panacea for Afghanistan. Without any evidence, Bolton pinned the blame for failure in Afghanistan on Pakistan. Is it Islamabad’s fault that the 300,000-strong Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, trained by the US, collapsed like a house of cards? Is Pakistan responsible for the wastage of at least $83 billion of the American taxpayers’ money? The former NSA should have looked up various American assessments that expose lack of governance, corruption, desertions and ghost soldiers that led to the failure in Afghanistan.

The so-called war on terror has cost Pakistan dearly in blood and treasure — 80,000+ casualties and at least $150 billion. Islamabad partnered with the US to defeat al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The blowback was enormous: urban centres were bombed, millions of people were displaced, and India used this as an opportunity to wage terrorism in Pakistan through Afghanistan. Regrettably, instead of receiving appreciation, Islamabad has been a target of propaganda from the likes of Bolton.

Pakistan benefits the most from peace and stability in Afghanistan but India and some others do not. In his recent book, Bolton claimed that one of the primary reasons for American presence in Afghanistan was to keep an eye on Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Conversely, Pakistan has been facilitating the efforts for a political settlement in Afghanistan to reap dividends of economic security and regional connectivity.

Bolton also claimed that Pakistan’s nuclear assets will end up in the hands of terrorists. That is an unfounded and politically motivated expression of concern. Although Islamabad does not need any external certificate for its nuclear safety and security credentials, it is worth recalling that IAEA and several American top officials have praised Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security regime. It is obvious that Bolton neither chose to take these into account nor did he have the good sense to point out the recent grave nuclear security lapses in India.

Pakistan’s national nuclear security regime is governed by the National Command Authority, which is a well-defined nuclear command and control structure, chaired by the PM. The regime is based on extensive legislative and regulatory framework governing the security of nuclear materials. Pakistan also has a stringent Personnel Reliability Programme and elaborate intelligence and security setups to deal with issues related to nuclear security.

The system has worked effectively for well over two decades in ensuring security of the country, security of the assets themselves, radiating the necessary deterrence effects and has facilitated the development of strategic weapons as per the policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence, evolving over time to the policy of Full Spectrum Deterrence in 2011.

It is the confidence in the efficacy of the system validated over time including the peak periods of terrorism in the country that allows Pakistani decision-makers to reassure the nation and the international community about the safety and security of the strategic assets.

Being a party to various international instruments that are aimed at strengthening national and global nuclear security architecture, Pakistan has engaged with the international community for years to dispel the myths and ludicrous insinuations that were carried in Bolton’s piece.

There is a need to worry about the nuclear arsenal of India, which at present is in the hands of a Hindu extremist party, where extremism is on the rise, whose propensity for revisionism and conflict is well-known, and whose Prime Minister has openly boasted about India’s nuclear arsenal not being for fireworks. India is the only nuclear-armed state that has committed an act of aggression against another nuclear power.

For geopolitical reasons, the world looks the other way on India’s irresponsible nuclear behaviour. India acted irresponsibly when its fighter aircraft intruded Pakistan airspace on 26 February 2019 and dropped bombs in Balakot. India was given a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and also allowed to operate eight reactors outside the IAEA safeguards. The three cases of nuclear material trafficking that surfaced recently in India have not rung alarm bells because of political reasons. Yet, Bolton advocates an accelerated US “tilt” towards India.

Bolton should understand that scapegoating one’s failures never helps. Unfounded and unwarranted allegations made in his piece against Pakistan must therefore be rejected, with the contempt it deserves.

Pakistan has always been a peace-loving and peacemaking country. Islamabad worked closely with the US, China, Russia and other countries to facilitate dialogue and agreement between the US and Taliban. It also facilitated reconciliation process between Taliban and Ashraf Ghani-led government, but he fled the country. Pakistan is a leader in extending assistance to international community evacuating from Afghanistan.

Islamabad has no favourites in Afghanistan and supports an inclusive government in Kabul. Conversely, Bolton and his likes have always had favourites and continue to pay the price for that.

An Afghanistan which is at peace with itself as well as at peace with others is in the best interest of everyone. Afghanistan needs a healing touch. Pakistan is willing to work with international community to extend all possible assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

To conclude, it is worth recalling that in January 2011, during his visit to Pakistan, the then Vice President Biden said, “… we have learned from the past that only a productive way forward, the only productive way forward is a long-term enduring partnership [with Pakistan].”

Pakistan hopes that President Biden will not cloud his judgement by the birds of Bolton’s feather. He has extensive experience in the region and would not pay heed to the Delta Narrative against Pakistan, spoilers and primary architects of the debacle, who are least qualified to offer suggestions and are unable to draw any lessons from the history.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2021.

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