US remains hostile towards Pakistan
NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that Pakistan as an ally of the US in the war against terror sacrificed nearly 80000 lives and sustained a loss of $ 150 billion to its economy; played a facilitating role in signing a peace deal between, the US and Taliban as well as nudging the commencement of intra-Afghan dialogue which unfortunately remained inconclusive due to turn of events in Afghanistan spurred by un-imagined pull-out of the US and NATO forces, the US has been and continues to blame Pakistan of duplicitous behaviour.
From the vibes emanating from the US in the aftermath of Taliban take-over of Afghanistan it is abundantly evident that attempts are being made to hold Pakistan responsible for US failure in that country.
A Bill has been moved in the US Senate by some Republican Senators seeking assessment and imposition of sanctions on Taliban, the state and non-state actors, including the government of Pakistan, which during 2001-2020 provided sanctuaries to the former, extended financial support, intelligence support, logistic and medical support, training, equipment and tactical support, operational or strategic directions as well as facilitating 2021 offensive of Taliban that toppled Afghan government and the Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley in September 2021.
The tone and tenor of the draft explicitly suggests that the movers of the Bill entertain the belief that the US defeat in Afghanistan was a consequence of the aforementioned support extended to the Taliban during the twenty years war and its humiliating exit from that country and therefore it was imperative to clamp sanctions on them, including Pakistan, for the alleged role that they played in orchestrating US failure in Afghanistan.
It undoubtedly reflects the ways of an imperialist power and an unfriendly ally. Though the Bill has not yet become a law it has surely triggered a debate on the same lines.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejecting the reference to Pakistan in the proposed Bill rightly pointed out “The legislation includes references to Pakistan which are completely unwarranted and inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-US cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001, including facilitation of the Afghan peace process and during the recent evacuation of American and other nationals from Afghanistan.
Pakistan has consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Similarly, a coercive approach will not work and the only way to achieve long term sustainable peace in Afghanistan is through engagement and dialogue.
Moreover, sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States would remain critical in dealing with any future terrorist threat in the region. Such proposed legislative measures are, therefore, uncalled for and counterproductive.”
The outcome of 20-year war in Afghanistan has vindicated Pakistan’s viewpoint that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict and dialogue was the only way forward.
Pakistan is also right in saying that even in the aftermath of Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan the US and world community need to engage with and support them in fulfilling the promises that they have made.
In regards to preventing threats from the terrorist entities in the future, as contended by the spokesman of the Foreign Office, US and Pakistan will need to maintain sustained security cooperation. USA came to Afghanistan with the explicit objective of eliminating the scourge of terrorism.
Now that an opportunity has emerged to complete that task which can be accomplished with the cooperation of Taliban and Pakistan, thinking in terms of punishing them with sanctions would destroy all hopes of peace and stability in the region and create a congenial atmosphere for the terrorist entities to re-emerge and regroup.
The Americans are surely running a great risk by employing coercive methods, a ploy which stems from their bruised ego from the military defeat in Afghanistan. They must act prudently and rationally though the history suggests otherwise.
As far as relations between USA and Pakistan are concerned they never reflected the bonds that exist between allies.
Although Pakistan joined SEATO and CENTO in the early fifties but the USA did not help its ally when it was attacked by India in 1965 and instead stopped supply of military hardware to her. It imperilled Pakistan’s security through U2 incident.
It helped India start its nuclear programme but tried everything within its power to stop Pakistan from going nuclear to address its security concerns vis-a-vis India.
After the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, it pulled out immediately leaving Pakistan to face the consequences.
It signed Civil Nuclear Agreement with India in contravention of NPT rules and protocols of NSG paying no heed to Pakistan’s security concerns.
It is also leading a campaign to make India permanent member of the UN Security Council which can have far reaching consequences for the South Asian region, particularly in undermining Pakistan’s security interests and jeopardizing settlement of the Kashmir issue in conformity with UN resolutions.
It is also trying to sabotage CPEC in collaboration with India; a project of tremendous transformational dimension in economic terms for Pakistan and the region.
And now after enjoying unqualified support from Pakistan in the war against terror and its facilitating role in the peace deal, it is trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat for its failures in Afghanistan.
The dilemma is that Pakistan cannot afford a rupture in relations with a superpower like the US. In the conduct of foreign relations, engagement is the name of the game.
Pakistan, however, needs to recalibrate her relations with US keeping in view its long-term strategic, economic and geo-political interests.
The guiding principle in this regard should be that we belong to this region and our strategic, economic and security interests are inextricably linked to it.
— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.