Pakistan and PfP of NATO

Daily: Pakistan Observer
Date: 04.03.04

“The Western defence allies have agreed to include India and Pakistan in the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation’s Partnership for Peace (PfP), after concerted persuasion by the US.
The US diplomats and NATO leaders would soon initiate structured discussions with New
Delhi and Islamabad on the prospects of Pakistan and India’s inclusion in the NATO’s PfP”—
news from Brussels (NATO’s headquarter), write various newspapers of Pakistan few days
ago.

The pretext on which “an effective NATO-Pakistan nexus” will be established “in any form”,
is because of  “Islamabad’s excellent performance is several international peace
operations” under the UN. As NATO has plans to take hold of several international military
operations under UN mandate, Pakistan is seen as ‘a major potential contributor’ to such
future operations.

The PfP is a major initiative introduced by NATO on 10-11 January 1994 in Ministerial
meeting at Brussels of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), which comprised both North
America and its European allies. The programme has two pronged aims: First, ‘increasing
the interoperability of the Partner country’s military forces with those of NATO for
enhancement of respective peace keeping abilities and capabilities through joint planning,
training and exercises’, and secondly ‘facilitating transparency in national defence planning
and budgeting processes and in the democratic control of defence forces’.

Looking at the history, it was April 4, 1949 when twelve nations from Western Europe and
North America signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, D.C. A central feature of the
treaty is Article 5, in which the signatory members agreed “an armed attack against one or
more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”.
Hence, the creation of an organisation (NATO) and the resultant NATO’s integrated military
command structure for Europe.

The period of 1989 to 1991 has seen significant rapid changes in history of the world
generally and of the Europe specifically like demolition of the Berlin Wall and reunification
of Germany; ending of Warsaw Pact and disintegration of Soviet Union; and emergence of
pro-market-economy and pro-democracy receptiveness, are to name a few. In the wake of
the same events, in spite of making NATO, a defunct organisation, it was considered to
enhance the presence of NATO ever than before. The Gulf War of 1991, Balkan crisis, and
the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were seen through the glasses of a
hypothesis of Samuel P. Huntington ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, rather than as ‘relics of the
Cold War’. Resultantly, the benefactors of the post-Cold War era called for a “Peace
Dividend” especially in shape of extension of NATO in the Eastern European countries. The
peace dividend was got in form of the PfP, which is also ‘a primary link’ of a country to
NATO whether or not to join the latter. As a result, today there are 27 partner countries in
the PfP. Seven of these are the Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), which are poised now to join NATO by the time
of its next Summit in May 2004, after having met the required prerequisites for obtaining its
full-fledge membership to seek security under Article 5.

In this backdrop, the NATO’s PfP for Pakistan is a bi-faceted gateway for access: First, an
offer of ‘a preparatory phase’, if she wants to join in future; and secondly, an offer of
provision of ‘a primary link’, even if she does not want to join in future. These offers are
offered in lieu of Pakistan’s past track record for peace-keeping under the UN mandate.

Acceptance of the NATO’s PfP will have far-reaching implications for the world and the
region generally as well as Pakistan especially.  

In the international context, NATO is not a military arm of the UN but a Euro-centric
institution—a regional organisation for a specific objective. With a shift in its objective from
‘Transatlantic’ to ‘Transcontinental’ dimension, it is becoming more powerful than the UN.
For that matter it has adopted ‘expansion first and UN mandate later’ approach as a
justification of the shift in its objective. Various Islamic countries like Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait,
Egypt and Tunisia have encouraged such a shift by conveying their intentions to join
NATO. After having played its role in Afghanistan, NATO plans to go into Iraq this summer.
These are, in fact, the wrong messages being aired to the world that NATO is more
powerful and effective than the UN. The same will undermine the very reason of existence
of the UN, as an international body. Secondly, NATO portrays an image of a US-arm, who is
its major economic donor. In other words, democracy gets lesser role in its decision making
than the US-pressure. Where the Europeans cannot have their say materialized, not to
think of Pakistan’s standing in any future decision making at the platform of NATO.

In the regional context, China remained a ‘time-tested’ friend of Pakistan; the Chinese will
see joining of Pakistan in the PfP of NATO as a promotion of ‘isolation of China policy’. To
leave ‘a proven and reachable friend’ while to rely on ‘a new and far friend’ will not be a
plausible formula, as history predicts. Secondly, by including both India and Pakistan in the
PfP, if NATO and the USA want to avert another military stand-off or even war in future
between the two nuclear rivals, it is better to help resolve the reason, that is, contentious
issue of Kashmir.

In the national context, sovereignty of Pakistan is a fundamental concern vis-à-vis the aims
of the PfP. Within the context of the aims is introduction of reforms in the defence institution
and enabling the country to withstand the social and material implications of such reforms.
Pakistan is not a country like one of the Eastern European countries that remain
subjugated under the Communist rule and now finds it hard to cope with the calls of the new
realities. Secondly, Pakistan is not Turkey that is aspiring to join European Union (EU) and
consequently is ready to compromise at all levels. Thirdly, Pakistan is not a Middle-Eastern
country with an underdeveloped defence infrastructure and which rely on other countries
for its defence, as witnessed in the Gulf War of 1991. To that reference Machiavelli (1467-
1527) wrote in ‘The Prince’ that whoever contributed towards advancement of another
power ruined his own.

Pakistan considers the UN an international body to get solved the issues; China a friend in
adversity; Kashmir a major dispute with India; and internal and external sovereignty a vital
matter. Hence, Pakistan may join the PfP of NATO, along with other countries of the world,
after the latter becomes a recognised arm of the UN. In a nutshell, ‘acquisition of the UN’s
mandate first and Pakistan’s inclusion later’ would be a plausible answer of Pakistan on the
question of joining the PfP of NATO in future.

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