NEWS & VIEWS
THERE are some areas where the United States and Pakistan have been able to effectively cooperate to counter terrorism and fight extremism, and that has served the interest of both countries. Yet it is an extraordinarily complicated relationship between the two countries. Despite the fact that Pakistan has suffered from terrorism more than any other country in the world, and at the same time, Pakistan is the country that has successfully dismantled the terrorist infrastructure and network, the US wants Pakistan to do more. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in India – the last stop of his South Asia tour: “There are too many terrorist organizations that find a safe place in Pakistan from which to conduct their operations and attacks against other countries.” He reiterated his call to do more to address a growing problem of terrorism within its borders that, he said, threatened to destabilize Pakistan itself.
After prolonged period of mistrust, there was a feeling of euphoria that relations between Pakistan and the US could be on positive trajectory after the ISI and military officials rescued a US-Canadian couple including their three children who were Taliban’s hostages. Operation was conducted by the ISI and army after receiving actionable intelligence from the US, which was confirmed by the US. It was a high risk operation, which could have resulted in many casualties; nevertheless one Pakistani soldier embraced shahadat and two were seriously injured. The rescue began with a tip off from US intelligence that suggested Caitlan Coleman, 31, Joshua Boyle, 34, and their three young children were being moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Kurram Agency. Reportedly, the abductors had demanded $15 million and release of 10 Taliban prisoners for their release. Anyhow, in the operation three abductors were killed and two arrested.
President Donald Trump had thanked Pakistan for its role in recovering the hostages. But again efforts were made to malign Pakistan, as international media quoted some American officials having stated that the hostages were kept in Pakistan’s tribal areas for five years, and operation was conducted when the US was considering a unilateral action. Having that said, the US has made some specific requests including demand for action against Haqqani network. Briefing the Senate about the visit of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and meetings with Pakistani leadership, Foreign Minister said: “Pakistan has stated in categorical terms that Pakistan is no longer taking orders or accepting the US pressure.” He added that Afghanistan’s role as a facilitator for India is not acceptable to Pakistan; and Pakistan has reminded Americans that nearly 45 per cent of Afghanistan is under the Taliban’s control; therefore they would not need Pakistan for their hideouts.
Through these columns, we have been asking the hierarchs in Islamabad that they must expose the nexus between US, India and Afghanistan, which is behind vile acts of the terrorists. It is widely acknowledged that Pakistan has given tremendous sacrifices since it became conduit during Afghan jihad, and also joined the war on terror after 9/11 events. Instead of appreciating Pakistan’s role, the US has been asking Pakistan to do more. In the past, Pakistan tried to resist American pressure, but more often than not genuflected before the super power. Of course, Pakistan had rejected foreign pressure on the bilateral cooperation with Iran including energy sector, and the then Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had said Pakistan being a sovereign state would do whatever was in its own interest. “We are a sovereign country and we will do whatever is in the interest of Pakistan,” Gilani had said.
During PPP government, the Americans have been grumbling that Pakistan refuses to take dictation on the matters that run counter to Pakistan’s national interest. They were angry on throwing spanner in their work by stopping some of their diplomats and contractor’s personnel who had been running in cars with fake number plates, carrying weapons and making video films of sensitive installations and cantonments. They were growling for Pakistan’s refusal to conduct military operation in North Waziristan, and they felt offended for not obeying their orders regarding Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. The-then US secretary of State Hillary Clinton had threatened of grave consequences if Pakistan did not pull out of the joint gas pipeline venture with Iran. In their mad frenzy to discipline a defiant Iran, the US movers and shakers slapped all sort of sanctions and exerted pressure on the other countries to kowtow their line on Iran’s nuclear stance.
No doubt Pakistan has had excellent relations with the US for over six decades, interjected by certain hiccups. However, it was due to ineptness of our leaders that Pakistan had to depend on the US for economic and military needs, as they did not take measures to make Pakistan self-reliant. Having that said, people of Pakistan do not feel ingratiated to American lords, because America has benefited a lot more; and it is due to Pakistan’s cooperation that America is a sole super power today. Pakistan had to bear the brunt of millions of Afghan refugees, Kalashnikov culture and drug menace by joining Afghan jihad in 1980s. Pakistan was coerced into joining the War on Terror and suffered death and destruction due to terrorists’ attacks. The question is that despite all sacrifices and imperiling our security for their sake, what Pakistan got in return except betrayals, sanctions and insinuations from the ally?
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
NEWS & VIEWS