US-Pakistan: a client cannot defy but conforms
Of all failing states in today’s world, none of them put blames so daringly to others – of their own dysfunctional conditions – than Pakistan. It claims that the ills which engulfed its borders and the plague that is eating away its core, all are rooted in foreign countries. Thus, the United States has become the usual suspect where Islamabad can dump all its miseries and shortcomings, particularly its phony war against al Qaeda.
But the simple fact is that the monsters Punjab had nurtured over the course of quarter of century and used them as proxies to bully its neighbours – did not actually descend from sky at the whim of a divine force but were fostered in training camps of Punjab and in rugged valleys of Pushtoon lands. And yet, its military chief falsely proclaims for victimhood status and whenever his tanks roll into Pushtoon villages, he demands hefty price from the United States. Someone ought to tell him that you do not give the man who sets fire to your house a medal just because he phones for the fire brigade.
So long as jihadists continue their fight across the borders, there is apparently no problem whatsoever in Punjab’s GHQ but instead, a sense of relief prevails among the top brass, because those Islamists waging insurgency against westerners in Afghanistan are actually advancing Punjab’s strategic interests by a cheap means.
The crumbling security situation particularly in Pushtoon lands – an organized chaos – has become just a side show, crafted by shoddy intelligence services in order to prove to the west that they are not alone in it but Pakistan too has fallen prey to this menace thereby becoming first hand “victim” of terrorism. This is nothing but a petty display of victimhood, designed to reap more money from the west. Interestingly, such low level of tactic is evident in the streets of Pakistani cities, where notorious street beggars pretend to be severely injured by displaying their blood-soaked wound dressings to the passersby so they would be able to attract their sympathy and money.
A country with a huge population, has utterly failed to create wealth and prosperity instead, relies on foreign hand-outs to run its daily business. And when the foreign powers attach strings with subsidies they provide, Islamabad complains and tries to reassert its “sovereignty,” forgetting the fact that when foreign aid knocks at the door, sovereignty flies out the window.
Already, cracks are getting wider and deeper between military and its civilian puppets on the one hand and the client-state and its international patron on the other. History does not necessarily repeat itself but in this client -patron relationship, one can easily draw Roman lesson:
How did the Romans manage the security of the largest empire, ever built in the history of mankind, stretching from Britain to Armenia? The answer lies in the imperial security policy, i.e. the management of an extremely complex but very efficient client-state system. Under Augustus and later his successor Tiberius, Rome developed this comprehensive strategy, aimed at protecting the far flung frontiers of the empire; and the client-state system was in the heart of its grand strategy.
Given, the nature of the threats, often emanating from barbaric tribes, principalities – and even from bigger powers like Parthian empire – the legionary forces were not sufficient to counter such challenges, particularly in the eastern flank of the empire. Such invisible frontier of client relationships established beyond the Rhine and Danube in the north, across the Black Sea including the Balkans and the Caucuses to the east and of course, Mediterranean peninsula in the south.
To control these dependent and sometimes hostile clients, Roman diplomatic techniques ranged from subsidies to punitive warfare. There were rewards for good behavior – offered in forms of cash and Roman citizenship to the ruling class – and indeed, sever punishment in the case of noncompliance.
The most important function of the client states in the system of imperial security was to absorb the security burden of Roman forces thereby providing security against border infiltration and other low intensity threats. In fact, as a hegemonic empire, Rome was in full control of not only security affairs but also the domestic affairs of its clients, thereby leaving no area of authority to the client rulers’ prerogative.