On 9 August 2012, Pakistan formally joined the group of countries rejecting prospects of foreign intervention in Syria in favour of the Syrian government. The decision came in the international consultative meeting hosted by Iran and attended by representatives from Russia, China, Belarus, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Benin, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Oman, Venezuela, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine.
Whether the decision came as a result of Pakistan’s recently increased cooperation with Iran in order to enhance regional control over foreign relations and energy resources, or as a result of China’s blunt veto on the draft resolutions presented against the Syrian government in the United Nations, Pakistan’s stance is now crystal clear. It is sure to irk the American led Western lobby against Bashar-al-Assad of Syria. Previously Pakistan had only abstained from voting on an anti-Syria resolution in the United Nationas Security Council. Now, however, Pakistan has dared to clearly ally with the anti-US and anti-Western league of countries on the issue of Syria.
Pakistan sided with Iran, China and Russia in opposing foreign intervention in Syria on the principle that the international community must respect the sovereignty of Syrian borders and help negotiate a peaceful outcome instead of starting another war. The policy results from Pakistan’s own suffering at the hands of American drone strikes along its Western borders that has provoked strong resentment among the people in Pakistan. Drones, combines with US strikes in the OBL raid in May 2011 and the Salala check-post attack in November 2011, damaged the nation’s self-esteem by violating the sovereignty of Pakistani borders.
The decision to support the Syrian government against foreign intervention is significant in that it underscores Pakistan’s shift in international policies from being the strongest non-NATO ally of the US in almost all policy matters to tilting towards the China-Pakistan-Iran regional trio as the power centre radically opposite to the US stance. It may also give substance to increasing multi-polarity in the world with China being the economic giant threatening America, not with war but with global markets.
Some six months ago American analysts on CNN (Fareed Zakaria and colleagues) had predicted the alliance of Iran, Syria, shia-governed-Iraq, Libya, Mohamed Morsi’s Egypt and China supported by armed attacks on Israel by the Iranian backed Hezbollah, in case of an Israeli strike on Iran. The picture these analysts sketched, however, appears to be evolving in support of the Syrian government. With the addition of Pakistan in this equation, and US preparations for an end game in Afghanistan, the situation could not get more troubling for US foreign policy think tanks.
Having said that, as welcomes as the decision for regional cooperation and defiance against foreign interventions is for Pakistan, it would also be to the long-term benefit of India to fall out of the blatantly pro-US foreign policy paradigm and instead back regional cooperation led by China, Pakistan and Iran. India must come out of its shell of old grudges against Pakistan and China and follow the policy of non-alignment that its great leader Jawaharlal Nehru had advocated for over half a century ago.