News & Views
PAKISTAN and the US are allies since 1950s; however there have been brief periods marred with misunderstanding and lack of warmth due to difference in perceptions over regional issues. Nevertheless, America has always been generous in granting economic and military aid, and also grants whenever Pakistan faced a natural calamity. Pak-US relations span over 68 years, and even today the United States engages in extensive economic, social, and scientific assistance in addition to vital military relations with Pakistan. While Pakistan continues to occupy a strategic position in the United States’ interests in Central and South Asia, the United States is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to Pakistan after China, and is one of Pakistan’s largest donors of foreign assistance. Unfortunately the Afghan Media is engaged in stirring up negative sentiments against Pakistan by highlighting baseless hype to create hatred and enmity between Pakistan and the US.
Afghan media on behest of India is even misleading foreign journalists. The false reporting about US General Joseph Francis Dunford Jr, 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remarks concerning 6th threat to the US under prevailing environment is a case in point. While talking to the forum in the Brookings Institute on February 23, 2017, he had identified Solvency as the sixth major threat to US. However, Afghan based Tolo news Channel misquoted the general’s remarks by deceitfully reporting that General identified Pakistan as sixth threat to US. The Brookings institute must express its dismay to the Tolo news Channel for incorrectly reporting the general’s point of view with the primary purpose of creating misunderstanding between US and Pakistan. The problem is that Indian RAW and NDS of Afghanistan have joined hands to denigrate Pakistan and its institutions.
In fact, the US, NATO and Afghan army have not been successful in stemming the tide of the Taliban fighters. It is pertinent to mention Afghanistan has been in the throes of chaos, turmoil, internecine conflicts and backwardness. The Indian factor is not the only factor that has emerged as a major fault line in defining Afghanistan-Pakistan relations in the post-soviet withdrawal. The seeds of mutual discontent between Pakistan and Afghanistan lie in long porous border between two countries. The geographical border in itself is not underlying core issue, rather cultural and racial overlapping of Pakhtun identity is always at centre of tense border relations. Cross border terrorism in the current scenario has assumed the configuration of biased mutual blame game between both the countries. They need to settle their bilateral issues which emanate from mutual distrust and traditional blame game to move forward.
Of course, US cooperation with Pakistan had been hampered due to events in 2011 that led to steadily deteriorating relations with the United States. The downward slide began in January 2011 when a CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore who he said were trying to rob him. This was followed by the secret US raid at Abbottabad compound in May 2011 that killed Osama bin Laden; an operation that was seen as a gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Relations had hit their lowest level after US attack on two Afghan border posts in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The US claimed it was an accident, but the Pakistani army has said it was deliberate. US had expressed its regret for the incident, but stopped short of offering apology demanded by Pakistan, yet it was a turning point in relations.
Since joining the war on terror, Pakistan has lost more than fifty thousand people including martyrdom of 6000 military personnel. It is estimated that Pakistan suffered economic losses of more than $70 billion, whereas the US gave $16 billion only during 14 years, which is about 25 per cent of losses sustained by Pakistan. In fact, a handful of anti-Pakistan lawmakers do not wish to see a stronger Pakistan. Within two years after Pakistan’s joining the war on terror, American policymakers and their advisers had started accusing it of double-dealing. During the last fifteen years a host of policy reviews, study group reports, congressional hearings had come to the fore expressing doubts about Pakistan’s intentions. As regards allegations of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban militants in Pakistan, it is an undeniable fact that US and NATO forces had attacked Afghanistan without putting enough boots on ground after 9/11 events.
They bombarded Afghanistan and millions of people including the Taliban militants and Al-Qaeda elements sneaked into Pakistan territory because of its porous border. Instead of fortifying defences along eastern Afghanistan border, American and Afghan propagandists intensified their propaganda against Pakistan, creating doubts in minds of general public that Pakistan’s military operation was selective in nature, and it did not include Haqqani network. Such allegations are baseless. In fact, Pakistan needs more intelligence-sharing and blocking of militants fleeing into Afghan territory but Afghan government under influence of India would not cooperate. However, Pakistan has made it clear umpteenth times that no militant group will have immunity from military operation and all militant groups are being targeted without any discrimination. Pakistan is also committed that it would not allow any militant group to use Pakistan’s soil against Afghanistan.
America has indeed a great past, and has earned goodwill by helping other countries. During Second World War, European countries suffered death and destruction unparalleled in the history. The entire infrastructure and their industries were destroyed; and European countries had nothing to rebuild their infrastructure and economies. From 1948 to 1951, US-sponsored program under the nomenclature of Marshall Plan was drawn to provide economic aid to European countries after World War II. It provided almost $13 billion in grants and loans to 17 countries and was a key factor in reviving their economies and stabilizing their political structures. If America can help in resolving Palestine and Kashmir issues, it will remain on the top as world leader. America had traditions dating back to American founding fathers that earned them laurels for being pioneers of democracy, democratic traditions, freedoms and human values.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.