PAKISTAN AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM
Following the events of 9/11, Pakistan joined the US-led international coalition against terrorism. As a result of Pakistan’s sustained support and relentless efforts, the international coalition against terrorism has been able to achieve significant success in the war on terrorism. Pakistan’s contribution in the war against terrorism has been acknowledged across the world. The US leadership termed Pakistan as a ‘crucial ally’ of the US and President Musharraf a ‘courageous leader’, who has undertaken bold anti-terrorism initiatives.1 Though the pressure on Pakistan to ‘do more’ has remained constant throughout the last two years, in its support for anti-terrorism cooperation Pakistan has tried to remain mindful about domestic and regional repercussions. In the pre-9/11 period, Pakistan was suffering from a negative image problem due to various factors, such as: its support to the Taliban since 1994; corruption of the political elites; bad economic conditions; nuclear explosions in 1998; alleged support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle; the Kargil conflict and a military coup against a democratically-elected regime in 1999, and so forth. Pakistan joined the US-led coalition in anticipation that it would help instantly addressing all these problems. The other factor that led Pakistan to join the coalition was the nature of choice given by the US administration while seeking cooperation from countries like Pakistan, either they were with the US or with the terrorists. In his speech of September 19, 2001, President Musharraf, while elaborating on the difficult situation, said that according to Islamic Shariah, if there are two difficulties at a time and a selection has to be made, it is better to opt for the lesser one. Pakistan had to choose between cooperation with the US or defiance to the US demands. Saying ‘NO’ was a sure recipe for self-destruction. Also, it was abundantly clear that joining the US-led coalition would mean, cutting off relations with the Taliban regime, and the possibility of having some implications for the freedom struggle in Kashmir, given that both the US and India have evolving strategic relations – the latter accusing Pakistan for cross-LOC infiltration of Mujahideen into Indian – held Kashmir (IHK) and the former condemning any form of violence for achieving political ends. While Pakistan’s agenda for joining the war against terrorism has been limited to safeguarding its strategic assets, the Kashmir cause and economic recovery, the US and its western allies had wider strategic interests at global and regional levels. Some of their interests in the neighbouring regions will have repercussions for Pakistan as well. As a quid pro quo for its support, Pakistan was able to get the nuclear and democracy-related sanctions removed as well as receive economic and military assistance from the US and other countries such as Japan and EU members, as well as an expanded interaction with the international community. However, there is a sense of dissatisfaction, that the US and its allies did not live up to their promises and pledges made to Pakistan for its support in the war against terrorism. In the short term, Pakistan has played its cards well. Will it be as successful in the long term in safeguarding its interests? This would largely depend on the unfolding nature of the war on terrorism. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has opened a Pandora’s box of very pertinent questions, the most recent factor being that of the credibility and reliability of western intelligence. So far, there is no credible, independently verifiable evidence to prove that the deposed Iraqi regime had possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or had any intention of using them against the US, its allies or their interests. The whole US-led military campaign was built around a cocoon of fabricated intelligence to justify the invasion of a sovereign member of the UN. In...
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