NEWS & VIEWS
IT is not in good taste to remind friends of any help or cooperation, but the US recounts $14 billion given to Pakistan from 2001 to 2014 time and again. It does not realise that Pakistan has suffered directly and indirectly in the war on terror to the extent of $70 billion. Last week, Reuters and Foreign Policy Magazine stated: “The Pentagon will not pay Pakistan $300 million in military reimbursements after US Secretary of Defence John Mattis decided not to confirm to Congress that Pakistan was taking adequate action against the Haqqani network.” US officials and military commanders often accused Pakistan of unwillingness to act against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. In the same breath they admit that they cannot win the war in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help. But such statements are meant to give a soothing effect so that Pakistan continues to toe American line.
Pakistan has always rejected harbouring militants but says there are limits to how much it can do as it is already fighting multiple militant groups. “Pakistan does not draw any distinction between any terrorists and we have taken up the fight against terrorism and the terrorist elements within Pakistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad. There has been growing resistance in the U.S. Congress to make payments under CSF to Pakistan. Many lawmakers have expressed concern about its nuclear program, commitment to fighting terrorist organizations and cooperation in the Afghanistan peace process. Pakistan had always wished to maintain long-term, multi faceted and durable strategic ties with the US for the realization of shared objectives. However, Pakistan had taken the position that mutual respect and co-operation at military, intelligence and diplomatic levels should be the hallmark of relations between the two countries.
Pakistan has been betrayed by the US many a time in the past. In fact, CIA had picked Balochistan as its area of particular action after it descended in strength to direct and conduct the US-led invasion in Afghanistan. Immediately, it got into hyperactive clandestine mission to soften up Balochistan for the perpetuation of the US geopolitical objective in the region. In Afghanistan, American and NATO forces despite being the best fighting machine in the world along with 150000 Afghan National Army they had raised could not win the war. Even today, Taliban control around 40 per cent of the land mass in Afghanistan. Yet they blame Pakistan for not doing enough. Just imagine; had Pakistan not conducted operations like Zarb-i-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad in addition to taking border management measures, Afghanistan would have been in a much worse situation. But both the US and Afghanistan are ungrateful.
Members of US Administration and Generals have been pushing Pakistan to do more, despite the fact that more than 50000 Pakistani civilians and more than five thousand security personnel have lost their lives after Pakistan joined the war on terror. Yet, they often said that Pakistan must be sensitive to the US security interests. The question is what Pakistan has been doing since the US invasion of Afghanistan, if not this, even to the detriment of its own national interests? In fact, since 1950s, Pakistan has been looking after American interests after it joined military pacts with the West and bilateral agreement with the US? When US spy plane U-2 took off from Badaber near Peshawar and was shot down by Soviet Union in 1960, whose interest Pakistan had served if not the US? Yet the US did not help Pakistan during 1965 war with India.
Pakistan once again became the frontline state after Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in late 1970s, which was indeed done to serve interest of the US and the West. It was Pakistan that was making all the sacrifices yet drawing flak for their failures and foibles in Afghanistan. And ironically, all the favours were bestowed on India. We have been reminding through these columns that at least for once, the movers and shakers of the United States should be honest; should confess their blunders and failures in Afghanistan and acknowledge Pakistan’s tremendous sacrifices squarely. In January 2014, Pakistan and the United States had reaffirmed their commitment to further advance bilateral partnership through the Strategic Dialogue. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz reviewed progress in the Strategic Dialogue’s five working groups. They stressed that a peaceful, stable, independent, and united Afghanistan was in the interest of the region.
Pakistan and the US have had many rounds of strategic dialogue in 2009 and 2010, but no progress could be made. Later, relations between the US and Pakistan became strained after Navy Seals operation at Abbottabad compound and attack on Salala check posts. After withdrawal of major part of US and NATO forces and leaving only 10000 personnel, US leadership has been trying to keep Pakistan engaged. Earlier, Pakistan had helped Afghanistan in having smooth elections by sealing the borders, and handed over prisoners as asked by Afghan government. In order to ensure a lasting peace in Afghanistan, the US, its allies and the Afghan government would have to take the majority Pashtuns on board. Finally, the US must realise that Pakistan is important for the peace in the region, and that it is because of American policies that Pakistan is in a soup. Having that said, Pakistan will have to take measures to stabilize its economy, otherwise it will always remain under pressure.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
NEWS & VIEWS