Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) organised a workshop titled “The Global Strategic Environment and Pakistan” on April 25, 2017. The purpose of the workshop was to provide the audience with an insight on important issues related to the evolving global strategic environment. The participants included students from various universities including NUML, Quaid-e-Azam University, National Defence University (NDU) and Bahria University.
Speaking on the occasion, DG Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) Dr Shireen M. Mazari gave a brief overview of the world order in the post-Cold War era. She argued that after the disintegration of Soviet Union, NATO’s role became irrelevant in the global politics. To give a rationale to its existence, NATO started out-of-area operations e.g. in Afghanistan. While discussing the prevailing international system, she also referred to Ralph Peter’s article titled: “Blood Borders” that was published in the June 2006 issue of the US Armed Forces Journal where he predicted that powerful Muslim states would be weakened and ultimately broken up which is exactly what is happening in contemporary Middle East. In the post-9/11 era, came the Greater Middle East Initiative GMEI, or Broader Middle East Initiative BMEI which claimed to promote liberal democracy and freedom of speech in these Muslim states, and resulted in the Arab Spring. There is still instability in the region which resulted in weakened Arab states. This instability created a power vacuum which further strengthened non-state actors, and is reflected most clearly in the rise of the militant group Daesh.
Dr Mazari emphasised that currently the principle of “Coalitions of the Willing” is being applied with the direct intervention by certain states in Yemen and Syria bypassing the UNSC. She argued that there is another parallel system led by the US, which is the system of “Core States”. This system allows the US to pursue its strategic interests through its strategic alliances. She argued that the leading core states are the UK, Poland, India, Japan and Australia. Parallel to these developments, there is also enormous global economic interdependence and the creation of institutions like International Criminal Court ICC, which serve as a counter to the US system of core states. She further stressed that the concept of Coalitions of the Willing may be intensified with President Trump in the White House.
Dr Mazari also provided an overview of nuclear arms control & disarmament & Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy during the workshop. She said that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is an example of the formal mechanisms of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Some informal mechanisms also remain significant e.g. the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that has also become an important feature of the global non-proliferation regime. India expanded its fissile material stockpiles after the Indo-US nuclear deal. Dr Mazari highlighted how the Indo-US nuclear deal and the NSG waiver for India has undermined the global non-proliferation regime. She said that the contemporary non-proliferation debate was focused exclusively on the nuclear programmes of certain countries including Iran and Pakistan. On the issue of Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), she argued that Pakistan should continue its opposition to FMCT and ask for an FMT else the country will be at a permanent disadvantage.
While talking about terrorism, Dr. Mazari said that Pakistan paid a heavy price in fighting terrorism as it was a front-line state in Global War on Terror. To cope with the menace of terrorism, she suggested an all-encompassing strategy which is required to deal with the multi-level terrorist threat. She also criticised the government for non-implementation of the National Action Plan. There is a need to focus on the root causes of terrorism, not simply the symptoms. In this, political dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts become essential tools with which to fight terrorism.
In her concluding remarks, Dr Mazari indicated that Pakistan currently lacks a strong foreign policy in this changing global strategic environment. She also pointed out that Pakistan lacks a viable Kashmir policy, which is the first and foremost step Pakistan should take for the resolution of the conflict.
Dr Mazari also informed the audience that Pakistan has now successfully tested Babur 3 Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLBM) and has attained second strike capability. Moreover, after the development of Ababeel, surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSM) Pakistan has successfully countered India’s Ballistic Missile Defence System.