THIS is not the way of engaging a country like Pakistan as suggested in an article, appeared in the Lawfareblog on April 11,2016, titled ‘A New Way of Engaging Pakistan’ by C. Christine Fair, a US scholar known for writing series of anti-Pakistan articles on behest of her masters somewhere else. She used a well-structured narrative portraying one side as good and the other as evil. She presented a distorted picture of Pakistan’s role in countering terrorism in which some of the facts are misreported while others are totally ignored. Actually she has presented a one sided story of war on terror in Afghanistan.
While mentioning that since 9/11, the United States has furnished Pakistan with some 33 billion dollars under the coalition support funds (CSF) program and also provided it an access to U.S. strategic weapons systems, such as F-16 fighter aircraft, Ms Fair ignored to mention the substantive contributions made by Pakistan in the US Global war on terrorism. As a Non-NATO ally of the US, Pakistan’s contribution has been more than any other coalition partner of the US in this ongoing War against Terrorism including sacrifices of more than 65,000 lives, including 6,000 security personnel and the loss of US $107 billion in the last ten years with 1 million IDPs.
One may amuse and laugh at Dr. Fair’s outlandish views such as ‘punish Pakistan for continuing to use Islamist terrorism as a tool of foreign policy…India is, in fact, a victim of Pakistani terrorism’. These views show her biased attitude towards Pakistan. She deliberately did not mention arrest of RAW’s agent Kulbhushan Yadav in March 2016 in Balochistan that proved beyond doubt Indian involvement in destabilizing Pakistan. I also assume that Ms. Fair may not have read the revealing statements made by former US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal about Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan by using Afghan soil.
Ms. Christine Fair is totally wrong in her assertion that in response to US financial support, Pakistan failed to deliver in the war on terror. Her arguments that ‘the US policy has failed in advancing US’ interests in the region and has encouraged the worst behaviour from Pakistan’ do not commensurate with the ground realities. Pakistan permitted NATO’s logistical support to pass uninterrupted through its soil on its existing communication infrastructure, intelligence sharing for the conduct of NATO operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan dealt a crippling blow to domestic elements that supported terrorism. The US policies in Afghanistan could not have been easily accomplished without the cooperation of Pakistan. The US leadership praised Pakistan for its contribution to the Global War on Terror. Commander of the US Central Command, Gen. Abizaid, said, in January 2004, that Pakistan had done more for the US in its fight against al Qaeda than any other country. While recognizing its cooperation in war on terror, the US declared it as a major non-NATO ally in June 2004.
Ms. Fair sounds very unfair when she says that Pakistan’s counter terrorism actions are far from adequate and that Pakistan started operation Zarb-e-Azb under the US pressure. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan Armed Forces have undertaken series of military operation against the terrorists which includes: Operation Al-Mizan, Operation Rah e Haq, Operation Zalzala, Operation Black Thunderstorm, Operation Raah-e-Raast, Operation Sher Dil, Operation Rah-e-Nijat, Operation Koh-e-Safaid and Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
It would be a wrong assumption to think that with money the US can win over the Pakistani hearts and minds. The only way the US can win over Pakistani hearts and minds is by respecting Pakistan’s dignity and sovereignty and acknowledging the sacrifices that the nation has made in war against terrorism. No one should have any doubt about Pakistan’s commitment to counter terrorism which is manifested in its actions in the form of operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’, implantation of ‘National Action Plan (NAP)’, strengthening of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and formulation of first ever National Internal Security Policy-NISP (2014-2018).
The reason of anti-Americanism in Pakistan is not because Pakistani people are against the US or its policies against terrorism. No, it is not the case. Pakistan has been the worst victim of terrorism and the whole nation is standing behind the Government and the Armed Forces of Pakistan in this war. The people of Pakistan have shown a high level of resilience against terrorism and zero tolerance for militancy. One reasons of anti-Americanism in Pakistan is the US tilt towards India and the mistrust it shows towards Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism by violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. For instance the US drone strike in Balochistan on May 21, 2016 is a recent example. Further, there were some other developments that have also contributed towards anti-American feelings in Pakistan that include: the bad memories about the Pressler amendment in 1990, the Raymond Davis incident; Salala incident; and the controversial drone strikes in Pakistan.
In her article Ms. Fair has very irresponsibly discussed two very sensitive issues: the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s nuclear programme. On the issue of Kashmir it seems her knowledge is very poor and she has presented a distorted picture of the issue. She must know that India’s forcible occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 is the main cause of the Kashmir dispute. United Nations (UN) recognizes Kashmir as a disputed territory. UN Resolution passed in 1957, stated that elections in Kashmir are not an alternate to plebiscite. Kashmir is the ‘unfinished agenda of Partition’ which the Indian government has been successfully and covertly manipulating by creating strong pro-India lobbies, especially in Washington. Today Kashmir is not just a territorial dispute but it is an issue of human rights violation. By blocking Kashmiris’ right to self-determination enunciated by UN Security Council resolutions, the Indian government is violating the UN resolutions.
The biggest challenge Kashmiris faced in the Post 9/11 was that their legitimate internationally recognized freedom movement was equated with terrorism. Since 2003 the nature of Kashmiri freedom struggle has been peaceful but there has been no change in the attitude of Indian Security Forces which not only have continued their atrocities but their discrimination has further expanded against the people of Kashmir. The freedom struggle in Kashmir has nothing to do with terrorism. In spite of brutal use of force by the security forces, Kashmiri youths have not opted for armed struggle. Actually it is the Indian propaganda to malign the genuine peaceful uprising of the Kashmiri people by linking it with terrorism and to continue to carry out with its inhuman treatment of the innocent Kashmiris.
Ms. Fair’s analysis on Pakistan’s nuclear programme is very immature and is far from the ground realities. She has very dangerously tried to link Pakistan’s nuclear programme with terrorism. Pakistan has a highly secure and highly protected nuclear programme which has been acknowledged by various US forums from time to time. Pakistan would not compromise on its prime national interests relating to its security and sovereignty. Pakistan would not compromise on the peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions. Pakistan maintains a peaceful nuclear programme with the sole purpose of maintaining a workable deterrence.
The latest data on international arms transfers released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that India remains world’s largest arms importer. Its launch of a nuclear submarine is a clear manifestation of nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and fascinates smaller neighbours to increase their defence spending. At the end one can conclude that the way of engaging Pakistan as suggested by Ms. Christein Fair is neither based on facts nor workable and it is just a product of her biased ideas and baseless allegations against Pakistan to please Pakistan’s enemies.
— The writer is Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), a think-tank based in Islamabad.