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. 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 ondemning 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 this region, Pakistan has also experienced the consequences of engineered acts of terrorism by Indian intelligence agencies (the attacks of October 1, 2001, in Srinagar, on Jammu and Kashmir’s State Assembly, and December 13, 2001, in Delhi on the Indian Parliament building), to use them as a pretext for a US-style preemptive strike against Pakistan.
These events subsequently led to an unprecedented level of troops deployment on the Indo-Pak border that brought the two countries to the verge of a war. This poses a number of questions. If the war against terrorism is to be used as a tool by the powerful to further their other interests, how far can Pakistan go in supporting this war? And, what will be the implications for Pakistan as a coalition partner in the long term? There is a need for Pakistan to reassess afresh, the compulsions involving national interests; the costs and benefits for continuing and expanding cooperation in the US-led war against terrorism.
An Overview of the War on Terrorism At present, the ‘war against terrorism’ and the issue of WMDs – threatening the US, its ‘allies’ and their ‘interests’ – has over-shadowed all other aspects of global security. The extraordinary developments the world is witnessing today under the banner of ‘war against terrorism’ has been spurred by the events of 9/11, and have dramatically changed international politics, and the accepted norms of conducting international relations. The US response to these events in the form of waging an international war against terrorism has unleashed both challenges and opportunities for all countries across the globe.
Since the suicide hijackers involved in the 9/11 events were Muslims and a large number of armed conflicts around the world have witnessed the involvement of Muslims, through organisations or as individuals, the US response was also focused on what it perceived as Islamic extremism, and as challenges emanating out of the Muslim countries to the US security interests and the western value system. In the post-9/11 period, different countries are trying to adjust to a changed situation according to their own domestic and regional compulsions and national interests.
Some have actively participated in the US-led coalition against terrorism, and some have extended conditional cooperation, while others are cooperating with a degree of reluctance, resisting the changing pattern of international relations, and trying to minimise negative consequences of the changing situation. In the broader scope of war against terrorism, the major powers such as France, Germany and China, which joined the US-led coalition against Afghanistan, starkly opposed the US invasion of Iraq.
However, in the aftermath of the US occupation of Iraq these countries are in the process of repairing the damages the war has caused in their bilateral relations with the US. The declaration of war on terrorism has provided the US with an umbrella opportunity to push forward its other agendas, including the restructuring of the world security order according to its own long-term strategic interests. The most important one among these is to sustain its world dominance as the world’s sole super power, a position, which it acquired after the demise of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
To achieve that objective, the US has to acquire total control over the world’s energy resources in the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia and Southeast Asia and maintain a higher degree of military superiority. In view of the US military might, no country at present has the will or the potential to resist it, leave alone the question of posing a credible military challenge to the US through conventional means. The US can only be threatened or deterred by un-conventional military methods, such as terrorism and the use of WMDs by terrorist groups, individuals or so-called ‘rogue states’.
Terrorism has emerged as the most dangerous and dreadful phenomenon threatening the security of the US, its allies and their interests, throughout the world, or as the Americans label it, threatening the ‘American way of life’. Moreover, at present the ‘war against terrorism’ has become a diplomatic tool in the hands of the powerful countries to achieve their political objectives – as the ‘sanctions’ were used in the pre-9/11 period to pressure countries for compliance to the agendas of the powerful. The very term ‘terrorism’ has undergone significant changes in its meaning in the post-9/11 period.
Currently for all practical purposes ‘terrorism’ is what is perceived by the US. The US has broadly defined terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents’. 2 Though the definition is not comprehensive and is generally applied to non-state actors only, nevertheless it has adversely affected the legitimate and internationally accepted use of violence by the people struggling for their right of self-determination or against an alien occupation – as is the case in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) and Palestine. The UN has acknowledged these rights in various conventions as well. The loose US definition can be misinterpreted to imply that all the peoples’ movements across the world – be they movements for greater autonomy (Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Aceh in Indonesia, Moros in Philippines), or demands for a separate homeland (the Chechens in the Russian Federation) – or the people struggling for their right of self determination (as is the case in the IHK), will have to abandon the use of violence for achieving political ends – otherwise their violent acts will be treated as acts of terrorism and liable to punitive action.
Many of the ruling regimes in conflict areas are getting muted reactions from the international community on the brutal use of force for the subjugation of Muslim minorities. These countries are effectively using the pretext of war against terrorism given out by the US. Specifically so, countries like India and Israel have exploited the 9/11 incidents to advance their own interests against Kashmiri and Palestinian people, through the atrocious use of force in the name of war against terrorism.
Both the countries are strategic allies of the US, and have hardly received any condemnation by the world community. Ironically, the fact of the matter is that Muslims involved in political struggles all around the world are victims of injustices and suppression by the powerful. The present situation of war on terrorism seems to be prolonging the agony of these Muslim communities, without serious endeavors for finding the solution of the root causes of the problems, which are essentially of political nature.
Yet another causality in the conduct of war against terrorism are the basic human rights. For instance, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security has threatened even the civil liberties of the US citizens. Authoritarian regimes, especially in the developing countries, are using the pretext of war against terrorism to suppress political dissent and deny basic human rights. Again, where there has been ‘regime change’ under the banner of war against terrorism, the rights of majority are totally being ignored.
The US has set the example when through military action it brought about ‘regime change’ in Afghanistan, by sidelining the Pushtoon majority and allowing the minority ethnic groups to come into power in the country, and by co-opting them to indirectly rule the country. That is why there is no peace in Afghanistan. Similarly, the US occupation forces in Iraq have shelved the return of democracy for the Iraqi people under the excuse that the conditions were not ripe for elections to take place. It has resulted in rousing more animus for the US forces and there are casualties on both sides almost on a daily basis.
The war against terrorism has overshadowed the concerns for human rights, especially as a quid pro quo by the US for getting the support of the countries with a poor human rights record. Understanding the US Approach on Terrorism Since 9/11, the war on terrorism has become an essential part of the US security doctrine. The US doctrine of ‘war against terrorism’ coupled with its earlier notions of ‘rogue states’ has resulted in a major shift within the strategic dynamics of various regions such as the Middle East, East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.
The ‘war on terrorism’, as interpreted by the US and other major powers, has become instrumental in shaping the new world order to align with their respective national interests. Also, the war on terrorism has a strong economic dimension as well and is being seen as furthering the strategic interests of the US and other major actors involved in this war, rather than solely focusing on the eradication of the menace of terrorism. So far no concrete steps have been taken to address the root causes of terrorism.
The present approach, which uses concocted information and has double standards in its application to eradicate international terrorism, might prove to be counter-productive and rather contributing to increasing terrorism across the world. A year after the 9/11 events, the US made public its strategy for combating terrorism. This strategy is given in detail in Part (iii) of the ‘US National Security Strategy Paper’ (NSSP) issued in September 2002. (See Annexe A).
A critical review of this paper would show how the US plans to combat terrorism, and deal with states that it perceives as harbouring or sponsoring terrorism. The paper refers to the post-9/11 notions gaining acceptance in international relations such as unilateralism, preemption strikes, regime change etc. Some of these concepts surely would undermine not only the usefulness of multilateralism but also the UN as an international institution. According to this strategy paper, the US has kept open-ended the scope of war on terrorism.
The paper revealed strategies for combating terrorism and states, ‘Our priority will be first to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations of global reach and attack their leadership; command, control and communication; material support, and finances … We will continue to encourage our regional partners to take up a coordinated effort that isolates the terrorists … we will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by direct and continuous action using all the elements of national and international power.
Our immediate focus will be those terrorist organizations of global reach and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism, which attempts to gain or use weapons of mass destruction or their precursors; Defending the United States, the American people, and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our boarders. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defence by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from oing harm against our people and our country; and denying further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities. ’ The strategy paper recognises that in many regions of the world, legitimate grievances prevent the emergence of a lasting peace and such grievances deserve to be addressed within a political framework. It further says that ‘no cause justifies terror’.
The concepts put forth by the sole superpower surely have repercussions of different dimensions for various regions and states of the world. While the United States is inclined to use unilateral action and preemptive strategy on the pretext of self defence, it may not allow the same to be exercised by other states. Pakistan and the War on Terrorism In his address to a joint session of Congress and the American people on September 20, 2001, President Bush stated; ‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. ’4 He asked every nation to join the US in its war on terrorism. Pakistan came into the limelight of attention soon after the 9/11 events when on September 13 President George Bush sought Pakistan’s cooperation in hunting down those responsible, believed to be headquartered in Afghanistan. 5 He appreciated the willingness of President General Pervez Musharraf to assist the United States.
Earlier, Secretary Colin Powel had spoken in detail with President Musharraf, seeking Pakistan’s support. On the same day, the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, presented her credentials in Islamabad and had a 40-minute one-on-one meeting with General Musharraf in which details of Pakistan’s cooperation were reportedly discussed at length. 6 The fact of the matter is that for the last two decades or so Pakistan had already been fighting terrorism of various kinds perpetrated against it from various quarters.
First, it was in the context of the Afghan war during the Soviet occupation (KHAD, RAW and KGB-sponsored) of Afghanistan. Its spillover into Pakistan was in the shape of sectarian terrorism (involving Saudi and Iranian sectarian power play in Pakistan). Side by side with these developments, Pakistan faced the ongoing onslaughts of acts of cross-border terrorism from India, due to Pakistan’s principled support to the Kashmir cause. By the early 1990s, the US too had begun grappling with acts of terrorism.
The 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre brought Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network into the forefront of public attention. Later, other US interests were targeted abroad, such as the bombings of the US missions in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the terrorist attack on the US Warship SS-Cole in 2000. In August 1998, in retaliation the Clinton administration had attacked Osama bin Laden’s military base in Afghanistan, with more than 50 Cruise missiles, violating Afghan state sovereignty and Pakistani air space.
Moreover, Taliban had refused to cooperate with the US on the issue of Osama bin Laden, thereby inviting the wrath of sole superpower. The Taliban regime had very limited acceptance and financial support from the outside world due to its adoption of strict Islamic laws, which were criticised by the western world as a violation of basic human rights. It was widely believed that Osama served as a source of outside funding for sustenance of the Taliban regime, especially from the Middle East.
Besides, Osama had fought alongside the Afghans in their struggle against the Soviet occupation. These were some of the factors that contributed to his special-guest status in Afghanistan. In terms of the Taliban’s acceptability in the international community, Pakistan along with Saudi Arabia and UAE were the only three countries that had awarded diplomatic recognition to the Taliban regime and supported them to the extent possible at all international fora.
Prior to 9/11, the US concerns regarding Pakistan had led some of its more articulate pro-India Congressmen to urge upon their government to get Pakistan declared as a ‘rogue state’. Among these concerns were its nuclear weapons programme, deteriorating economic condition, linkages with the Afghan Taliban, growing sectarianism within the country, and in 1999 the military coup against a democratically elected government. Besides, Pakistan was under a double set of sanctions – first following the nuclear explosions of 1998, and later following the military coup in 1999.
When 9/11 took place, it was precisely these linkages with the Taliban regime and its experience in dealing with the Afghan issue, and its geographic setting, that Pakistan became a crucial factor for any US-led military operation against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network in Afghanistan. Equally significant was the manner in which Pakistan responded without sacrificing its core national interests. It is important to recall the manner and nature of Pakistan’s response. Taking the nation into confidence, President Musharraf addressed his countrymen on September 19, 2001, in a very open and candid manner.
He explained in very simple words the gravity of entire situation and asked the nation to trust his judgment and support his decision. He said, ‘The decision we take today can have far-reaching and wide-ranging consequences… This act of terrorism has raised a wave of deep grief, anger and retaliation in the United States. Their first target from day one is Osama bin Laden’s movement Al-Qaeda… The second target is the Taliban and that is because Taliban have given refuge to Osama and his network… The third target is a long war against terrorism at the international level. Pakistan is being asked to support this camping.
What is the support? … There are three important things in which America is asking for our help. First is intelligence and information exchange, second support in the use of our Air space and the third is that they are asking for logistic support from us…we know that whatever are the United States intention they have the support of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly in the form of resolution for war against terrorism and this is a resolution for punishing those people who support terrorism … If we take a wrong decision in this crisis it can lead to the worst consequences.
On the other hand, if we take a right decision, its results will be good. The negative consequences can endanger Pakistan’s integrity and solidarity. Our critical concerns can come under threat. When I say critical concerns, I mean our strategic assets and the cause of Kashmir… On the other hand we can re-emerge politically as a responsible and dignified nation and all our difficulties can be minimised. 7 In his address, President Musharraf pointed out four critical priority areas that needed to be preserved: 1) Security of the country, 2) Economy and its revival, 3) Strategic nuclear and missile assets and 4) the Kashmir cause. In the discourse of his speech, he elaborated on the gravity of the situation, the US resolve to destroy the al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and also the Taliban regime, because the US did not make any distinction between the perpetrators of acts of terror and those who provided shelter to the terrorists.
Both were considered equally responsible for the atrocious acts. He also highlighted that Pakistan’s arch enemy India was trying to take advantage of the situation by offering unconditional support to the US that included the use of its military bases, logistical support and intelligence sharing. The US had asked the same sort of support from Pakistan, which the Indians were willing to extend unconditionally. Therefore, the Indian factor figured prominently in Pakistan’s decision to support the US in its military campaign in Afghanistan.
Since India did not have any direct land-link with Afghanistan, therefore Pakistan’s support had become more crucial for the US in comparison with what India had offered. Besides, Pakistan had over a two decades long experience of dealing with the Afghans, besides having the experience of multifaceted cooperation with the US on Afghanistan, during the former Soviet Union’s occupation of that country. India wanted to seize the opportunity to put more pressure on Pakistan on account of its alleged support to the infiltration across the LOC, what India now refers to as ‘cross-border terrorism’.
Secondly, India wanted to cash in on its traditionally good relations with the non-Pushtun segment of the Afghan society, the Northern Alliance, which has also been supported by Iran, Russia, and some Central Asian states. India was hoping that the fall of Taliban would pave the way for the establishment of a Northern Alliance government in Kabul. 8 It did not suit Pakistan’s strategic interests to have hostile governments on both its Eastern and Western borders. But in the months following 9/11, the Northern Alliance did form an interim government in Kabul that continues to have problems with Pakistan.
Pakistan-US Cooperation Immediately after the events of 9/11, having analysed the pros and cons of the unfolding situation, Pakistan joined the US-led coalition against terrorism and has been an active player in the UN-backed international war against terrorism. The international community has acknowledged that without the active and sincere participation of Pakistan, the desired results in terms of breaking the al-Qaeda network could not have been achieved. Pakistan has helped in apprehending over 500 al-Qaeda and Taliban members required by the US.
If the coalition members claim that they have been able to succeed in destroying the Osama network and captured its senior leadership, it was certainly Pakistan’s unflinching support that made it possible. Informal sources have indicated that Pakistan was asked to: ‘1) close the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and to cut off all activities and transits of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda group members in and around Pakistan; 2) freeze the assets in Pakistan of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers; 3) halt he supply of fuel to the Taliban; 4) provide intelligence information collected by its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on Osama Bin Laden, his al-Qaeda organisation, and the Taliban; 5) allow the use of its air space for offensive military operations against Afghanistan; 6) permit the stationing of U. S. forces in Pakistan, for the capture of Osama Bin Laden; and 7) respond positively to further U. S. requests for assistance. ’9 However, the Fact Sheet of the US State Department of the period gave details of Pakistan’s cooperation as follows.
Pakistan provided basing and overflight permission for all U. S. and coalition forces. Pakistan deployed a large number of troops along the Afghanistan border in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Pakistan spent a large portion of its logistical reserves to support the coalition, which was a very significant contribution, given Pakistan’s economic difficulties and its own requirements for its self-defense. On March 14, 2002, A team of five officials as country representatives from Pakistan was attached with CENTCOM.
The Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) has helped in various phases of operations. 10 Both the countries have kept a low profile on the contents of cooperation, given the sensitivity of Pakistan’s civil society on this issue and growing anti-US sentiments in the country. Both the countries, however, have benefited from this cooperation. Some of the important aspects of this cooperation are as follows: Formation of a Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism and Law Enforcement.
The two governments discussed a broad range of bilateral law enforcement issues, including counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, extradition, money-laundering, trafficking in persons, drug demand reduction and drug abuse control, alternative development and poppy eradication, Police and legal system reforms, and issues related to the repatriation of Pakistani nationals detained in the US, in connection with the infringement of the US immigration rules. The governments agreed to strengthen their mutual cooperation in each of these areas.
Revival of the Defence Cooperation Group (DCG). There had been no meetings of the Defence Cooperation Group (DCG) since 1997. Pakistan held a DCG meeting with its US counterpart in late September 2002. Revival of the Joint US-Pakistan Military Exercises. In October 2002 the first joint US Pakistan military exercises in nearly five years took place, with approximately 120 soldiers from each country participating. Renewal of US Assistance to Pakistan’s Security-related Programmes.
Under this programme in FY 2002, the US extended assistance worth US$396. 5 million to Pakistan, allocated US$56. 5 million for FY 2003, and entertained the request for another US$120 million worth of assistance for FY 2004. According to rough estimates, regional terrorism efforts have caused the Pakistani economy losses in excess of $10 billion since October 2001. Lifting of Sanctions. For Pakistan’s cooperation in the war against terrorism, it was rewarded with the lifting of nuclear and democracy-related sanctions and waiving off of some loans.
However, it must also be added that the reciprocal initiatives promised for Pakistan as envisioned in the earlier pronouncements of the West, did not come through in full. Nor did the Western governments make any significant contributions to address the issues arising out the negative portrayal of Pakistan and Islam’s image in their media. Instead, Pakistan was subjected to extra pressures expecting that it do more on the anti-terrorism front.
The latest aid package of $3 billion over a period of five years, announced by President Bush during President Musharraf’s US visit in June 2003, has become controversial as for the release of that assistance, a US Presidential certification is required by a congressional committee every year, to the effect that Pakistan: has closed all known terrorist training camps operating in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir; has established serious and identifiable measures to prohibit the infiltration of militants across the LOC into India; and has ceased the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, including any associated technologies, to any third country or terrorist organisation. 11 Pakistan has also been denied the sale of F-16 aircraft and access to sophisticated defence-related technology. Impact of War on Terrorism on Pakistan’s Interests As specifically mentioned by President Musharraf in his speech on September 19, 2001, the priority for Pakistan’s policy for cooperation in the war on terrorism was to preserve the core interests related to the security and integrity of the country, and as outlined by him. However, the post 9/11 developments in the region and Pakistan’s support for the war on terrorism has certain implications for its national interests in Kashmir, Afghanistan, he nuclear programme and at the internal domestic/civil society levels. Kashmir The most important and critical task for Pakistan, in the post 9/11 period, was to preserve the legitimacy of the Kashmiri freedom fighters struggle, and not allow it to fall prey to the new definition of terrorism. In the pre-9/11 period, the use of political violence has been an accepted practice under the UN conventions for the people struggling under alien occupation, against racism and for the right of self-determination. The Kashmiri peoples’ struggle for their right of self-determination against the occupation forces of India certainly fall into one of these categories.
Ironically, under the heavy influence of Indian propaganda and the new rules set by the US that ‘no cause justifies violence’ the international community tends to view the militancy of the Kashmiri struggle in the context of terrorism. However, the struggle by the Kashmiri people for the right of self determination itself has not lost its legitimacy and the settlement of the Kashmir dispute is acknowledged by international community as an unresolved political issue between India and Pakistan, to which the people of Kashmir are a party. The Indian-engineered incidents of October 1 and December 13, 2001, which led to India’s unprecedented build up of forces along the Indo-Pak international boundary with a counter-response in kind by Pakistan created tremendous tensions.
It is to be noted that the Indian military build-up took place despite the fact that Pakistan condemned those acts of terror and offered joint investigations. President Musharraf enunciated his government’s policy on the issue of terrorism and on India’s charges of alleged ‘cross-border terrorism’. In his address to the nation on January 12, 2002 he said, ‘These are the three problems, which create confusion in our minds. I want to lay down rules of behaviour concerning all the three. Let us take the Kashmir Cause first. Kashmir runs in our blood. No Pakistani can afford to sever links with Kashmir. The entire Pakistan and the world know this. We will continue to extend our moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.
We will never budge an inch from our principled stand on Kashmir. The Kashmir problem needs to be resolved by dialogue and peaceful means in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people and the United Nations resolutions. We have to find the solution of this dispute. No organisation will be allowed to indulge in terrorism in the name of Kashmir. We condemn the terrorist acts of September 11, October 1 and December 13. Anyone found involved in any terrorist act would be dealt with sternly. Strict action will be taken against any Pakistani individual, group or organisation found involved in terrorism within or outside the country. Our behaviour must always be in accordance with international norms.
I would also like to address the international community, particularly the United States on this occasion. As I said before on a number of occasions, Pakistan rejects and condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for any terrorist activity anywhere in the world. Now you must play an active role in solving the Kashmir dispute for the sake of lasting peace and harmony in the region. ’12 President Musharraf also declared the banning of some religious organisations, as well as ordered the registering of all Madrassahs established ostensibly for religious education, but allegedly with some among them producing religious extremism in students.
President Musharraf banned fund-raising by any organisation for the financing of the so-called Jehadi outfits. The US administration appreciated the steps taken by President Musharraf in order to reduce tensions with India. Eventually, it took India ten months to announce the withdrawal of its troops from the advance positions, undoubtedly it was the US pressure that made the withdrawal of Indian forces to the barracks possible. Following the withdrawal of Indian troops from the international border, in view of Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate terrorism and find a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem through negotiations, the US has shown an inclination to exercise its influence for persuading India to initiate a dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir.
The process of normalisation between India and Pakistan has started, with the return of the High Commissioners to each other’s countries. However the pace is slow and the official environment still remains marred by mistrust, even though people-to-people contacts have taken place of parliamentarians and media persons as well as of organisations promoting friendship. At official levels, India continues to blame Pakistan for allowing ‘cross-LOC infiltration’, while Pakistan denies any patronage to such a cross-border movement. In order to end this blame game, it is Pakistan that has time and again asked India to accept independent international monitoring of the LOC.
But India, fearing that it would be exposed on this account, has never accepted any credible international mechanism for the verification of its claims. Recently, an Indian news agency reported that the ‘US has rejected Indian allegations that Pakistan is not taking steps required for elimination of the cross-border terrorism. White House spokesman, Ari Flescher in a news briefing expressed President Bush’s satisfaction over steps taken by the President Musharraf’s government in Pakistan. ’13 Also, the outgoing Indian Army Chief of held Kashmir, Lt. Gen. VG Patankar said in one of his statements before leaving his position in IHK that, ‘we are able to prevent infiltration far better than before. His statement clearly reflected that Pakistan has been effectively and to the best of its ability, curtailing the crossing over of LOC by Kashmiri fighters. Pakistan has been fulfilling all of its commitments made on the issue of terrorism. The Pakistani public demands that henceforth Pakistan must insist and make it a condition for its cooperation with the US that it should use its influence as a facilitator to help find a just solution of the Kashmir problem, for bringing about sustainable peace in South Asia. The current US policy approach appears to be how to manage the Kashmir issue and not for solving the problem once and for all. Afghanistan
One of the major objectives of Pakistan’s Afghan policy for over two decades (1978-2001) was to ensure that Pakistan had a friendly regime on its western borders. Pakistan’s support to the Afghan Mujahideen groups in their struggle against former Soviet Union, and later on its efforts to create a consensus among different warring Afghan factions, were aimed at achieving a secure frontier on the west. Pakistan tried its best, and did whatever was possible to protect the Taliban regime from destruction. Immediately after the events of 9/11 and the US notice to the Taliban regime, General Musharraf sent the ISI chief with his personal letter to Mullah Umar for the extradition of Osama.
It was an effort that failed to persuade the top hard-core Taliban leadership to consider the consequences for the common Afghan, so that they could be saved from destruction. When Pakistan’s good offices were turned down and on the contrary the Taliban regime threatened to take action against any country that would help the US attack on Afghanistan, including Pakistan as well, that Pakistan severed connections with the Taliban regime and joined the UN-backed international coalition for the war against terrorism. During the US-led military campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which resulted in a fresh influx of Afghan refugees to Pakistan, Pakistan helped the UN set up refugee camps on its side of the border for the fleeing Afghans.
Following the Bonn Conference and the setting up of the Karzai Interim Administration, in the last two years Pakistan has supported it and tried to establish good working relations with that regime, despite the fact that it has predominant elements of Northern Alliance in key positions, and which have been traditionally friendly towards India, have also been anti-Pakistan. In the recent months, certain Afghan elements within and outside the government have started accusing Pakistan for allegedly instigating cross-border infiltration by the Taliban remnants hiding in its tribal belt. Incidentally, the inhospitable tribal belt exists across the Afghan territory as well.
In the face of such accusations, it is high time that Pakistan comes out of its defensive policy posturing and deals with these allegations firmly. Growing Indian influence in Afghanistan is becoming instrumental in destabilising Pakistan’s border regions with Afghanistan. India not only re-opened its embassy in Kabul and consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif but has also started operating new consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Herat. An expert on Afghan affairs, Rahimullah Yousufzai, has commented on the current Pakistan-Afghan relations and the role of Northern Alliance (predominantly Tajiks) and noted how ‘Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul is invariably attacked whenever relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan take a hostile turn.
It again came under attack on July 8, 2003, at a time of heightened border tensions between the two neighbouring Islamic countries. It was the fourth attack on the embassy during the past 15 years. On every occasion, the Tajik faction of the late Ahmad Shah Masood was in power in Kabul, either exclusively or as the dominant coalition partner. The distrust between this faction, now led by Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, and Pakistan continues to haunt the uneasy relations between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan’s strained relations with late Masood’s Tajik-dominated Shura-i-Nazaar are a stumbling block in establishing normal ties with any Afghan government.
In the prevailing circumstances, one would have to arrive at the unfortunate conclusion that only American intervention could effect reconciliation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US, having great influence on both Karzai and Musharraf, could do so by instructing the two governments to put their border disputes on hold, offer security to each other’s diplomats and try to pursue normal relations. The US interests, particularly with regard to its war on terrorism, would be best served if Afghanistan and Pakistan cooperated while hunting down al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. ’15 Beyond the US factor, it is equally important for Pakistan and Afghanistan to have good neighbourly relations with each other.
Afghanistan, being a land-locked country will continue to depend on Pakistan for its Transit and Trade, while Pakistan’s economic linkages with Central Asian states, especially in the energy sector, and the stability of its western regions would largely depend on having good working relations with Afghanistan. However, the post-9/11 developments in the region have brought onto the scene both the global power the US and India as the regional counterpart to exert their respective influence for their own ends, thereby constraining Pakistan’s ability to act. Pakistan’s Strategic Assets By joining the US-led war on terrorism, it is assumed that Pakistan has been able to safeguard its strategic assets.
Indeed Pakistan has come out of that period of crisis without any harm to its strategic assets, but only in the short term. The fact of the matter is that the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction still dominates the US and Western threat perceptions, and it is these threat perceptions that dictate the course of actions they follow. It is to be noted that it was through fabricated intelligence on WMDs of Iraq that the occupation of Iraq was effected. The present focus is on the US-listed ‘axis of evil’ countries, namely: the Iranian nuclear programme and North Korea – another state of concern as it has declared its ability of manufacturing nuclear weapons and its intentions of using them if necessary.
The revelation of facts on engineered intelligence in the case of Iraq, that decided the fate of a sovereign state, reflects emergence of an alarming trend in the conduct of international relations. In recent months, the US officials have alleged that Pakistan helped North Korea develop its nuclear programme. Reportedly, the US has sought assurances from President Musharraf, during his visit to the US in June 2003, of Pakistan’s strict compliance with the objectives of non-proliferation. Media reports in Pakistan continue to express public apprehensions over the possibility that Pakistan has either capped or rolled-back its nuclear programme under the US pressure.
Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has consistently denied reports of a freeze on Pakistan’s nuclear programme and asserted that no compromise would be made on national security. 16 The deterrence of nuclear weapons is Pakistan’s only security guarantee in the prevailing security environment. Domestic Political Dynamics Following the events of 9/11 and the subsequent developments in the region and around the world, there has been an increase in the anti-West and anti-American sentiments at the civil society level in the Muslim World in general and Pakistan in particular. This has happened specifically after having seen the devastation that followed the American bombing of Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilian lives lost as ‘collateral damage’.
Besides, anti-American sentiments are a direct response to the malicious Western media campaign against Islam and the Muslims. There is a general perception that the Western media works in tandem with their respective governments, and these developments have impacted upon the electoral process in the country. One of the significant outcomes of this anti-US resentment is reflected in the success of the six-party alliance of religious political parties Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the October 2002 elections. All major parties in this alliance have been supportive of and traditionally have had links with various Afghan organisations. All parties in MMA were very critical of the US military operation in Afghanistan.
Pakistani public opinion views with concern any possibility of compromising state sovereignty even to a little degree, such as by allowing foreign troops to be stationed on Pakistani soil and foreign intelligence agencies to operate within the country, or the signing of non-transparent agreements for cooperation on the war on terrorism. All these issues have caused discomfort among the people. There is no doubt that the nation backed President Musharraf’s decision for joining the anti-terrorism coalition for safeguarding the national interests. But the conditions and limits of collaboration needs to be defined now, especially in view of the deteriorating security situation on Pak-Afghan border, where clashes between US and Pakistani and Afghan and Pakistani troops are being reported more frequently.
In the post-9/11 period, Pakistan has become a crucial member of the international coalition against terrorism and would remain relevant to US interests as long as the remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban elements are not neutralised; peace and stability returns in Afghanistan; and credible assurances are obtained by the US from Pakistan on non-proliferation of nuclear materials and technology. Beyond that there are few common interests that would engage Pakistan in the US-led war on terrorism. The evolving Indo-US strategic partnership that enabled India to acquire sophisticated weapon systems from the US and Israel would remain a source of concern for Pakistan, especially in the context of strategic and conventional balance of power in South Asia.
The war on terrorism, in the short term appears to be succeeding well, but its long-term outlook seems disturbing and uncertain due to the pursuit of other agendas by the countries leading this war. The emerging situation in Iraq, where the resistance to occupation is gradually gaining momentum, and continued turmoil in Afghanistan, where besides the Taliban, Pushtoon nationalist forces are reemerging against the presence of foreign troops, will have a profound impact on the notion and future course of ‘war on terrorism’. Pakistan needs to make periodic assessments of the developments, which are taking place in this region and around the world and adjust its responses accordingly in order to preserve its long-term national interests. on terror