Mahmood HussainWednesday, May 12, 2010 - Reports from Washington and European capitals speak of growing understanding about problems faced by Pakistan because of its strategic and crucial role in the war against extremism and terrorism. The problem that confront Islamabad include economic as well as defensive in nature. In doing so, senior US officials had recognized Pakistanís concerns about India and conceded that Washingtonís growing ties with New Delhi were a cause of concern for Islamabad. But Pakistan would be more than satisfied in case the United States of America adopts a realistic policy and use its ties with New Delhi for the promotion of peace in South Asia and conflict resolution in he region. In this connection the latest observations of the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is satisfying when he said that India restarted talks with Pakistan because of the pressure exerted by United States and European Union.
But statement of the foreign minister assuring the US and also India that civil and military aid including unarmed drones when supplied to Pakistan would not be used against India. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the military equipment that we are getting from the United States should not worry India, because it is meant for counter-terrorism and to enhance our capacity to fight terrorist networks. But what would happen in case the terrorism came through India as it had been taking place in case of Balochistan? However the positive realizations that are pouring in from the west is because of the restoration of democracy in the country and sincerity of the democratic government in carrying forward economic activity speedily and fight out extremism and terrorism.
It is also because of the repeated calls by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to the international community to do more for peace and development of the people of Pakistan severely affected by militancy and terror. The latest positive gestures had come from the US Under Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy and the American Ambassador in Islamabad Anne W Patterson. Addressing a meeting in Washington Michele Flournoy said that continued funding both in military and civilian fields is essential for Pakistan to counter insurgency operation. She said the United States had assured full support to meet energy and water requirements of Pakistan.
She said Obama administration is working on a plan to provide helicopters to Pak army. It had already refurbished Russian made MI-17 helicopters being used by the security forces in Pakistan. Under Secretary Flournoy and other US officials who spoke recently to the House Armed Services Committee urged lawmakers to provide funding for billions of dollars of planned US military and civilian aid to Pakistan during the next five years.
Addressing a dinner in Lahore Ambassador Anne W. Patterson said approval from the Congress is being sought for the reconstruction opportunity zones in Pakistan. She said the American Business Forum is working actively to promote trade, commerce and business between Pakistan and the United States of America. The ambassador said US is also striving to ensure access of the Pakistani products in the markets of its friendly countries. These assertions and indications are encouraging but claims and promises have to be transformed into reality and there has to be sustainability in the policies. The people of Pakistan were justified in being suspicious over the years with regard to US and other western countries policies with regard to Pakistan. The country had to be reassured that as it combats the terrorist threat, it is not exposing itself to increased risk along its eastern border. The US is also expected to strengthen Islamabadís conventional defense systems as well.
Although extremist attacks have led to the repositioning of substantial Pakistani forces, Pakistanís strategic concerns about India remain pre-eminent. One stands satisfied over the recent US supply of latest surveillance aircraft to Pakistan and sale of F-16 aircraft later this year would be a sign of this burgeoning relationship between the two countries. By September 2011, Pakistan is sure to receive a total of 18 of these planes. According to a Washington Post report these planes, will for the first time allow Pakistan to conduct nighttime air operations. There are confirmed reports that Pakistan would soon get drone planes from Turkey. Obviously it is taking place after taking Washington into confidence fulfilling Islamabadís long-term demand that drones are given to Pakistan so that it can take action against the militants hiding in the rugged tribal areas and US actions directly against them are violation of territorial integrity that only deserves condemnation.
Besides providing military equipment, the US has to accept and declare in clear terms that Pakistan had genuine interests in Afghanistan and those interests need to be protected. Pakistan also needs support and encouragement by the international community to fight extremism and terrorism. The European Union, which is part of Nato forces fighting out militancy in Afghanistan, has to review their policy towards Pakistan. The preferential treatment and concessions should be given importance for Pakistan to help boost its economy. Pakistan had been trying to convince the international community that whatever problem it was faced with was not because of its own wrongdoings. On the contrary it was because of the ongoing war against terrorism initiated by the US and its allies in which the civilized world was interested. It was therefore obligatory on the part of the international community to extend a helping hand towards Pakistan that had offered unmatched sacrifices in eliminating the scourge of terror and extremism. The US and the West should also play their part towards resolution of the Kashmir, water and other disputes between Pakistan and India. New Delhi has to be told by its western friends to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of Pakistan and do away with the policy to de-stabilise Pakistan by supporting the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan.
The West has to convince India to look beyond Mumbai carnage. Thatís not the only issue faced by the people of South Asia. If despite Pakistanís insistence India backs out from dialogue, that will prove the inference that New Delhi had never been interested in resolving the contentious issues and was just resorting to delaying practices. Pakistan had entered into a new era of democracy, rule of law and human rights. It had suffered greatly from terrorism and religious extremism. It is therefore justified to urge the international community to reinforce their support for Pakistan.
It is hoped that in the due course of time the world at large shall start appreciating the policies being followed by Pakistan. They have to realize that itís a democratic government and the Pakistani nation stands behind the elected administration. They must take it for granted that no power can win the war on terror in this part of the world unless Pakistan is associated in the fight and the countryís losses in the prolonged fight against terrorism is compensated.