A report titled ‘Body count’ showed that after two decades of war on terror nearly 100,000 Pakistanis got martyred in the US wrath war on terror. Some of the resources showed that nearly 1.3 Million lost their lives directly or indirectly in Iraq and around 220,000 Afghans perished in the US war on terror.
Since independence, Pakistan remained a US ‘ally and had a good relation with US. Some ptetty issues and mistakes played a crucial rule in generating misunderstanding between these two friendly countries. Pak-US relations remained ascending and descending which means sometimes close friends were other times, discontented. Pakistan worked hand in glove with US in dealing with militant camps, target killings, suicide bombing on its security forces as well as civilian population. Pakistan is playing a very important role in this war against terrorism and has received massive aid from US. This aid was used to counter terrorism.
FATA become safe sanctuaries for the Al-Qaida and Taliban groups. FATA is about 27,220 square kilometers in size. It has a 600 Km border with Afghanistan which is known as Durand Line. The TTP and other militant groups are involved in terrorist activities in different parts of Pakistan especially in Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar. They also expanded their terrorist activities to the residential areas, in order to put pressure on Pakistan to keep distance from US. They did abnormal activities in different parts of Pakistan to pressurize government to withdraw from the US-led war. These terrorist activities became challenge for the government of Pakistan, security forces and integrity of Pakistan was on stake as Pakistan, because of its unique geopolitical importance, played a crucial role in this war in Afghanistan. The US ,NATO and ISAF troops landed in Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan supply line which runs through Khyber pass.
Key Operations by Pakistan
On 23 March 2002, the Saudi born Zayn-Ul-Abidn Muhammad bin Zubaydah was arrested by Pakistan security forces. He was an important and high ranking in-charge of Al-Qaeda operations and also a responsible of Al-Qaeda militant camp. Another Al-Qaeda member Ramzi bin-al-Shibh was arrested in Pakistan. He lived in Hamburg, Germany and was also an important member of Al-Qaeda group. He was also accused to be another hijacker in 9/11 US attack though he denied having entered the United States.
On 1 March , 2003 another highly important member of Al-Qaeda was arrested in Rawalpindi. He was one of the top ranking members of Al-Qaeda camps and also involved in US 9/11 Attacks in September. He was also involving in killing of wall street journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the USS Cole bombing and the terrorist attack at the El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. He had assumed the role of head of Al-Qaeda military committee.
In 2006, Pakistan was blamed by Afghanistan for aiding and encouraging the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government has, since then, blamed Pakistan government and Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI for providing assistance to the militants including Mullah Dadullah, a senior military commander of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has denied these allegations regarding aiding and encouraging the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Ups and Downs of Pak-US Relationship
When cold war began the US frantically looked for new allies to counter the Soviet Union. The US looked for new allies who were able of thwarting Soviet Union expansionism. The existing allies were not required in the same way anymore because of their geo-political importance was shifted to secondary, hence they were shown the exit door with the same haste with which they were embraced. Pakistan was one of those countries that enjoyed geo-political importance due to the regional balance of power situation and its alignment with the US interest. Pakistan was under diplomatic assault by US for its nuclear weapons program and its commonwealth membership was invalidated.
On September 11, 2001, the entire world was shocked to hear that news when the Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked the US aircraft carrying nearly 300 passengers and collided into the New York’s world trade center and Pentagon Headquarters in Washington DC. This terrorist attack baffled the world because of massive loss of life and property. This scary attack stunned the world as nobody could imagine that such a terrorist attack could take place in US who was the superpower in all over the world. That was a time, when Pakistan had to face US and were caught in the most upsetting and daunting situation because of Pakistan’s unique geographical location.
After 9/11 attack US once again came toward Pakistan with bag full of money as if nothing had happened since US left Pakistan in the difficult times when its economy was in bad shape. Pakistan was also waiting for this opportunity; when US would realize how much Pakistan was important for US. However the US was received with mixed emotions. Furthermore US President George W. Bush announced that the US, as its top policy, would launch a fight against terrorism and asked the world, including Pakistan ,to come forward and extend a hand of cooperation to the US in its endeavour to eliminate terrorism. He also threatened the world powers to stand with the US. After the 9-11 US made a strong coalition against militants across the globe.
This scary attack stunned the world as nobody could imagine that such a terrorist attack could take place in US who was the superpower
The US asked Pakistan to withdraw support of the Taliban government, discard Islamic Jihad, discard ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and join the US-led coalition to eliminate terrorism as well as Al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden who was the main architect of the 9/11 attacks. After 9/11 attack, Pakistan was put in a very difficult situation because of Afghan Taliban and its impact on Pakistan. On Sept 13, Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage gave Pakistan a formal list of the US demands to Pakistan. Pakistan was told in clear terms to accept the US demands or it would have have to face US wrath. Pakistan’s president Musharraf was told by US, “You know what to do!”. The threatening gestures of US put Musharraf in a tough situation who eventually decided to join coalition force by agreeing to provide logistics and intelligence support to US in its war against Terror.
Pakistan’s president Musharraf was told by US, “You know what to do!”
The coalition combated terrorism and is based on eradicating Al-Qaeda group. The 9/11 tragedy proved a boon from heaven for the Bush administration to invade Afghanistan in October 2001. The coalition and US desperately needed Pakistan’s support due to its unique geo-strategic location. Pakistan and US worked closely during the cold car to expel USSR from Afghanistan who had occupied Afghanistan in 1979. Because of that, The US needed Pakistan badly to eliminate terrorists from Afghanistan. The US has since, been attempting to keep Pakistan away from the Taliban and US has feared that Pakistan might be helping Taliban in Afghanistan.
The US war against terrorism has affected the internal or external policies and the future of Pakistan. The partnership with the US helped Pakistan to overcome sanctions, end its isolation and revive economic as well as military assistance. After working with US, Pakistan secured its reputation in the eyes of US and is also succeeded to restore its membership in the commonwealth of 52 nations, which was suspended after the military coup of October 1999. Pakistan also had to revise its traditional Afghan policy and found challenges in diplomacy while supporting the freedom struggle of Kashmir. The US and all major powers of the world are also concerned about the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan and about the safety of its nuclear arsenal. The war on terror shifted Pakistan’s focus to its western frontiers, which posed serious challenges to its national security and domestic stability. While keeping the national interest in mind, Pakistan needs to be more careful in taking decisions under the most compelling security challenges facing the region. It must not allowing any other country to gain tactical advantage of the situation in the region which has developed after the US war on terror.
About The Author
Mohammad Yousif Memon studied Electronic Engineering at Quaid-e-Awam University of Engineering, Science and Technology, Nawabshah. He hails from Sukkur, Sindh.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale 47.