Pakistan’s Defense and Foreign Policy Community Offers a limited Worldview: Ayesha Siddiqa
By: Qaisar Abbas
Washington: Known defense analyst and scholar on South Asia, Ayesha Siddiqa has said the defense and foreign policy community in Pakistan lacks independent thinking and diversity of viewpoints.
“With this methodology, only a limited perspective can be promoted in developing defense and foreign policy, which ultimately reflects the ideologies of the dominant security establishment in Pakistan. Some institutions are busy preaching to the choir by communicating dominant perspectives of the establishment back to them through various means,” she said.
Ayesha Siddiqa was speaking as part of the Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture 2020, organized by South Asia Democracy Watch (SDW) in collaboration with Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC.
Michael Kugelman of Wilson Center moderated this virtual presentation last week. Introducing the speaker, Executive Director of South Asia Democracy Watch Dr. Qaisar Abbas said Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa did her doctorate from the King’s University, London, in war studies. Her book “Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy” is considered an authority on this subject.
“As a result of this process,” she continued, “We keep changing alliances from one world power to the other for limited financial benefits. It is difficult, thus, to achieve long-term and positive results.”
She said, because of the powerful security establishment which refuses to allow a free exchange of ideas on social and political issues, democratic norms are systematically wearing in Pakistan.
For her, the nature of US-Pakistan relations will be drastically changing. Even though it has played a vital role in the US-Taliban negotiations, no one expects the continuation of American financial assistance to Pakistan.
She also announced that in the wake of the fast-changing world dynamics, as the existing coalition among the United States, India, and Saudi Arabia is gaining strength, Pakistan is becoming part of an emerging alliance with Russia, China, and Iran.
Answering a question, she remarked that “America is serious in withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, but we don’t know what happens next. It is possible the days of civil war, anarchy, and infighting among the warlords will be back in Afghanistan, which will ultimately pave the way to militancy.”
Dr. Qaisar Abbas also thanked SDW president Amir Makhani for sponsoring the program and recognized the Board of Directors including Syed Fyyazul Hasan, Aftab Siddiqi, Raja Zahid Khanzada, Ambreen Khan, Tausif Kamal, Aroob Iqbal, and Raja Muzaffar.