Pakistan: A Difficult Ally in the the Fight Against Terrorism

Posted on May 29, 2012 in GlobeScope

By Leons Thomas:

Ever wondered why Pakistan is so marred by an international and national credibility predicament? Well, confusion, they say, is the mother of all credibility issues. When we go down in history, this is exactly how the Pakistani government shall be remembered — a confused ensemble. So much so, that on a scale of 1 to 100, the Pakistani government is pretty capable of scoring a 101; an additional mark for pulling off a ‘face-palm’ right after we get to know new facets of this country even before we wink at our toes. No list can ever be exhaustive if an explanation by an example is drawn, but the following can give a fairly good idea as to their deceitful blemishes and confused position.

In the whole world, especially in the West, the killing of Osama Bin Laden was considered as a triumph. But in Pakistan, where the Al-Qaeda leader lived his last years, attitudes are very different. A Pakistani Doctor accused of helping the CIA find Osama Bin Laden has been jailed for 33 years for treason by the Pakistani Government. The Doctor named Shakeel Afridi, who was accused of running a fake vaccination camp, is believed to have helped the American Intelligence agency in tracking down the most wanted terrorist in Pakistani town of Abbottabad. In January, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Afridi had worked for U.S. intelligence by collecting DNA to verify bin Laden’s presence and expressed concern about Pakistan’s treatment of him. “He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan,” Panetta told CBS Television’s show 60 Minutes. “For them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part.

Each story like this brings fresh evidence that Pakistan, a nominal Western ally in the war on terrorism, actually is doing more to enable the jihadists than fight them. With the Americans, Canadians and others having announced their exit date in Afghanistan, Pakistan has less incentive to co-operate in the war on terrorism than at any time since 9/11. In the coming years, the better way to deal with Pakistan would be to acknowledge the reality that the country is nothing less than a full-blown state sponsor of terrorism.

But all said and done, we always need to have a balanced view of the situation, and accordingly, Pakistanis can’t be blamed alone for this confusion. The Pakistani government has been an ally in the war on terror and has lost more than 35000 civilians & 7000 army personnel. 
In the 1980s, Pakistan sided with the US in the war against Russian invasion in Afghanistan and helped in creating the same people that it is fighting now, the Al Qaeda which now poses similar problems to the 1980s’ Mujahideen. Due to Pakistan’s 80s policy of supporting Jihadists with Asheerbad from the US, a section of the society was brainwashed. Many Pakistanis think Osama wasn’t there in Abbottabad and all of this has only been a conspiracy theory, and they still feel betrayed by Dr. Afridi for giving the country a bad name as a result of which they think that the way Dr. Afridi was dealt with was only fitting. But nevertheless, the Pakistani Judiciary’s verdict was unfair, considering the fact that Dr. Afridi’s help was instrumental in nailing the world’s most dreaded terrorist, something that was clearly in Pakistan’s interest as well as of that of the world. Even after the United States’ repeated requests to set the accused doctor free, Pakistan refused to comply, and this undoubtedly has irked the US. Hence, the US Senate panel has voted to impose a penalizing cut of at least $1 million each year (total $33 million cut) for the 33 years of Dr. Shakil Afridi’s 33-year jail term. It also has added to added to US frustrations with Pakistan over what Washington sees as its reluctance to help combat Islamist militants fighting the Afghan government and the closure of supply routes to NATO troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been one of the leading recipients of US foreign aid in the recent years, and now they are paying a heavy price for their own foolishness.

Anyway, without much to say, this punishment represents the confusion/hypocrisy in the society. But having departed from Afghanistan, the United States and its allies at least will be able to deal with Pakistan, the greater threat, for what it is: a country that is a haven for terrorists; and which punishes men, such as Dr. Shakil Afridi, who fight them. In the whole saga of terrorism in Pakistan, the sad reality is that while most of its government makes such mistakes in international cooperation, the main casualty has been of ordinary Pakistanis because they are the ones who share border with Afghanistan, not the US or the rest of the West.