Chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, while attending the 13th session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) in Tehran, must have felt the strain of contradictions in laying out a “narrative” for the Islamic world. He said the emerging nexus between the United States, Israel and India was a major threat to the “ummah.” No doubt, the Iranian hosts must have silently taken India out of the “enemy” equation, even as the Arabs must have silently added reservations about the demonization of the United States.
For Iran, the United States is the biggest bugbear—present ominously in the Gulf in the shape of its Fifth Fleet—offering “security” to Iran’s scared neighbors. Now that Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria causes alarm among the much smaller Arab nations, the “threat from Israel” is not as palpable as it used to be. On the other hand, our chairman of the Senate must have felt an inner twinge when mentioning India as the common enemy of the Islamic world. The fact is that Iran, as a recipient of Indian investment and a strategic ally in the development of an alternative strategic Chabahar-Kabul trade route, has lessened Pakistan’s position as a transit state. Pakistan’s secret “security” treaty with the Gulf Cooperation Council is not forgotten in Tehran either.
The new strategic map as presented by Rabbani is too stark and contrasts with the fluid situation presented by the Islamic world. Pakistan has hurt itself by an absolutist strategic definition of India and Israel; it may now suffer more substantially by similarly defining America. Pursuit of clarity is misplaced wisdom; strategic clarity becomes stark only before going to war. In a globalized world of today, seeking clarity as an instrument of defiance is a process of “heroic isolation” that is not sustainable without economic damage.