Pakistan: A candidate for supporting the ‘Deal of the Century’?

Posted originally to Express Tribune Blogs on 27 January 2019.

While difficult to predict how Pakistan would react, the scenario where it is deemed suitable by the makers of the notorious ‘Deal of the Century’ for Palestine to be approached for a stance supportive of the Deal is not unlikely.

The reason for the plausibility of this and for speculation as to Pakistan’s possible embracement of the Deal not being entirely outlandish lies in contemporary Pakistani foreign policy itself.

The Deal of the Century: both haphazard and contemptible

Reports suggest that the substantially already leaked ‘Deal of the Century’ prepared by partisan US-Israeli Zionists for Palestine will be announced within days.

Israeli hegemony over Jerusalem is enshrined in the Deal. Considering Israel’s long history of desecrating the al Aqsa Masjid, third holiest site in Islam, anger over the legitimization of this particular part of the occupation is widespread.

The architect of the plan is Trump’s notorious son-in-law Jared Kushner, a member of a class of extremely wealthy and fanatical Zionist oligarchs in New York. Kushner during Trump’s Presidential election campaign in 2016 also acted as pointman for the fast-tracking of GCC-Israel ties and seeks GCC funding and investment to make the Deal possible and viable.

The Deal, needless to say, was known to be lop-sided the moment it was announced and the leaks by Israeli media only confirmed this. No Palestinian state – which illegal and racially exclusive Jewish-only Israeli settlements rendered physically impossible decades ago – will exist, but rather small fragments of Palestinian ‘autonomous’ entities surrounded by Israel will be created whose interaction with the outside world Israel will control. Egypt, whose Israeli-allied and supported dictator al Sisi has full GCC backing, will host this ‘New Palestine’s’ airport and industrial zone while the Jordan will be connected whatever part of the settlements-ridden West Bank ‘New Palestine’ constitutes.

How exactly it will be literally implemented is anyone’s guess as well, given severely non-conducive circumstances ranging from Israel’s inability to subdue Gazan armed groups and GCC fragility following the failed Yemen War.

Enter Pakistan

Powers seeking to impose such policies as the Deal, which seek to impose a status quo upon large populaces deeply offensive to their religious-ideological values, seek in partner states tasked with upholding that status quo two major characteristics.

The first is leadership without ideology and the second is trademark client state behavior.

Could Pakistan’s Imran Khan be a new addition to the existing Israeli-GCC bloc leaders expected to ‘implement’ the Deal, such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UAE monarch Mohammed bin Zayed and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fatah al Sisi?

Khan has demonstrated since taking office in mid-2018 a subservience to GCC dictate that is hard to deny. In addition to this, Khan’s government has also taken a clearly US-centric approach to its foreign policy, doggedly maintaining an essentially entirely fruitless strategy of jockeying the US for backing on the Kashmir issue. The US, of course, consistently sided with India and pressurized Pakistan via FATF as a boon to its Indian ally.

True to the US-Pakistan dynamic, recent imploring by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for US assistance to get Pakistan cleared off the FATF’s grey list soon received an all-too-expected rebuke. Top US South Asia official Alice Wells, visiting Islamabad days after Qureshi’s US visit, supplemented standard US claims that CPEC – which it opposes as part of its ‘contain China’ strategy with Indian partnership – was a debt trap for Pakistan with claims that ‘blacklisted’ firms had been given CPEC contracts.

In the obvious context of the FATF, the veiled threat to Pakistan and the cornerstone of its ties with China in CPEC was obvious.

Alongside pursuing policies non-beneficial to the self yet tailored to foreign whims, another important aspect of master-client relationships is when the client state willingly foregoes opportunities for finding alternate, equitable allies. The Khan government has visibly enshrined this approach as well with the fateful abandonment of the Kuala Lumpur Summit – a point-event for a large, powerful and visibly coalescing bloc of Muslim powers with demonstrable say in the Muslim world’s affairs – at the Saudi behest and in exchange for a $5 billion loan.

Relations with neighbouring Iran, an enemy of both the US and Saudi, have also been kept at arm’s length and little to no attention was paid to Iran’s influential clergy’s stance on Kashmir following the August annexation by India aligning closely with Pakistan’s own. The GCC, as is well known, tacitly backed India on the matter while the Kuala Lumpur Summit’s organizers in Turkey and Malaysia earned much respect among Pakistanis for their principled stance on Kashmir – which earned them both backlash from India.

These states also, of course, oppose the Deal.

On the ideology front, it is evident that Pakistan’s leadership possesses little of it. This is exemplified by its failure to keep Kashmir at the forefront of its foreign policy, its shunning of states which took principled stances on Kashmir based on flimsy excuses and false notions of its own constraints and lack of interest in maneuvering out of its client state position.

The evident master-client relationship with the US and GCC thus provides a suitable scenario for Pakistan to receive a US (or in practical terms, Israeli) backed, GCC-delivered invitation to support the Deal of the Century.

This, of course, does not at all mean that that is what will happen. Many factors, such as domestic blowback, point toward Pakistan practicing the same non-involvement in the entire ‘Deal of the Century’ situation it applies toward most affairs, whether wisely or not, but one cannot doubt that it has thus far shown itself a ‘worthy’ candidate for the likes of Kushner and his allies.

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