India's Chabahar deal will isolate a bull-headed Pakistan

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When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sealed the Chabahar Port deal during his two-day visit to Iran earlier this week and earned applause from the diplomatic circles, Pakistan underwent an entire opposite experience.

Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in an American drone attack on its soil, leaving the Pakistani establishment livid but it failed to get any redressal. Instead, US President Barack Obama called it an "important milestone".

Chabahar deal will isolate Pakistan

Pakistan getting isolated among its neighbours; the US is also increasing the gap with Islamabad

The twin developments suggest that Pakistan is now facing a new challenge of getting increasingly isolated among its neighbours as well as from the US---its traditional ally.

For a country which has followed anti-Indianism as the foundation of its foreign policy, the latest development is bound to give rise to a new reality where just rivalry might not bring it the desired results in external affairs.

The scene where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seated between his Afghan counterpart and PM Modi, addressed on television that the signing of a transit accord would convey a "crucial message" for Iran, Afghanistan and India and "the path to progress for the regional countries goes through joint cooperation and utilising regional opportunities" is a caution for Islamabad.

Pakistan needs to be a party to the India-Afghanistan-Iran network or else it will lose out

The India-Afghanistan-Iran network on its West could seriously limit Pakistan's prospects in South Asia and the only way by which Islamabad can hope to tackle this challenge is by making itself a party to the cooperation. That means it has to mark a departure from its perpetual policy of anti-Indianism and allow itself to come out of China's influence.

But for using the Chabahar diplomacy to its own advantage, Pakistan needs to change the foundation of its foreign policy

If Pakistan succeeds in participating in the new network and open trade and transit links with India, Iran and Afghanistan and also makes efforts to connect Chabahar with Gwadar Port in its own territory which is run by the Chinese and set up road links connecting Iran-Afghanistan and itself, then it can create opportunities for itself.

Given Pakistan's key location in South Asia, a cooperative stance can help it make substantial gains in terms of energy and trade. But for that, Pakistan's multi power-centres have to arrive at a consensus to alter the very foundation of its foreign policy which is suspicion.

Can Pakistan change itself for its own sake?

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