When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto entrusted Major General Naseerullah Babar to create a student dominated resistance in Afghanistan, he ignored a very important lesson of power politics. Hans Joachim Morgenthau in his book, Politics Amongst Nations, had observed: “The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers.” Was this ignorance or deliberate? Determined to create a new Pakistan, Bhutto was riding a wave of diplomatic successes. It seems he decided to taste the forbidden fruit.
Negotiations with India had been successful. The OIC Summit at Lahore ended Pakistan’s international isolation. The Arab oil embargo upset the Western cash flows. Foundations of the nuclear programme were laid and Pakistan was ready to pay any price (also eat grass) for its independence and development. Next, in his calculus of an overbearing India, it was important to eliminate the spectre of a two-front war by resolving the Durand issue. He decided to exploit the fault lines of Parcham and Khalq and force Sardar Daud to a negotiated settlement. The narrative though India specific, insipidly looked beyond; to a Muslim power bloc. It challenged the bipolar international equilibrium.
Afghan youngsters like Ahmad Shah Masood, Hekmatyar, Khalis and Rabbani played their role and Daud did come to the negotiating table. He even initialled the Pakistan-Afghan Joint communiqué for formalisation of Durand Line. Both Bhutto and Daud were waiting for an opportune moment; but then the gods, unhappy with Pakistan’s strategic forays, struck.
Bhutto paid dearly for challenging the dictum of Morgenthau in more than one way. He was removed in a military coup led by his handpicked and most humble general. In subsequent years, Zia despite overtures by Daud, showed no inclination to settle the boundary issue. Daud was killed in a coup