On June 9, 2014 Wall Street Journal published an editorial titled “The Invasion of Pakistan.” The editorial accuses that Pakistani authorities harboured terrorists in the country to use them against India and protect its interests in Afghanistan but with the passage of time the terrorists turned their guns towards Islamabad. Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI is also blamed for providing safe heavens to the terrorists and protecting them from Pakistan Army’s aerial raids. The bottom line is “the country created the Taliban that now aims to destroy it.”
Interestingly some ground facts have been completely ignored in the editorial. There was never a problem of terrorism in Pakistan before 9/11. To comprehend the phenomenon of terrorism in Pakistan on must revisit the developments which took place during and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The rivalry between former Soviet Union and the US had resulted in a great devastation around the world. Many people had died in proxy wars between the two super powers. After shameful defeat in Vietnam, the US chose Afghanistan as the ground for revenge from the former Soviet Union. And that was the time when the seed for terrorism in the region was planted by the US.
Since Pakistan was a US ally, the Pakistani territory was used to launch the US trained and funded “Mujahedeen” against the former Soviet Union. Initially the fight was between the locals and the Soviet forces. The US introduced the hardliners; the former CIA apprentice Osama bin Laden and his radical organization Al-Qaeda into the region. Al-Qaeda’s entry into Afghan theater started to shape the whole battle ground into a religious war. The war in Afghanistan was a war of liberation but Al-Qaeda changed that perception.
After the collapse of Soviet Union, the US abandoned Afghanistan in the hands of Al-Qaeda. Militants were not properly rehabilitated and nothing was done for the management of conflict in Afghanistan by the US and international community. It’s quite ironic that the American institutions are blaming Pakistan for the monster which was created by their government. Overnight the mujahedeen and fighters who fought for a decade for America were abandoned. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” The people of Pakistan are not hurt by the terrorists who are killing them, but people are hurt by the attitude of the US who claims to be a friend of Pakistan. Pakistan neither created the terrorists not armed them; it was America who created them, funded them, armed them and sent them to battle ground. If Pakistan had created the militants, as is accused in the Wall Street editorial, the Pakistani forces would not be busy right now in killing them. Pakistan has suffered a lot because of the problem of terrorism and is trying to get rid of it from day one. However the US, who is actually responsible for letting the genie of terrorism out of the bottle; is shying away and blaming others for the problem.
The involvement of foreign hand in carrying out terrorist acts in Pakistan cannot be ruled out because the militants who carried out attack on Karachi airport were all Uzbek nationals. A similar attack was carried out on an Air Force base in Quetta on August 14, 2014 in which another eleven Uzbek militants were killed. Therefore the perception of Pakistani analysts that these foreign terrorists are armed and funded by some hostile agencies is not entirely wrong.
The editorial mentions that Pakistan supported terrorists to gain leverage in Afghanistan. Pakistan has gained nothing from Afghanistan; rather Pakistan is suffering because of that country. The war in Afghanistan flooded Pakistan with refugees, afghan drugs, small arms and problems of militancy.
A sane solution calls for a cooperative approach to solve the problem of terrorism and militancy in the region. The US should play its role in supporting regional countries in their counter terrorism efforts. The problem of terrorism cannot be solved through holding a single country responsible for creating the mess and expecting it to clean it. Joint efforts are needed to understand, contain and take appropriate measure to eliminate the menace. Therefore, if the US is sincere in countering the threat of terrorism, it needs to assist Pakistan in the major operation Zarb-e-Azb launched by the authorities in Islamabad. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has already started to pay off. Accusations only deteriorate bilateral ties; most of the international community acknowledges the sacrifices of Pakistani people, and its armed forces which they have made in their fight against terrorism.
Source: Pakistan Observer, September 9, 2014
Disclaimer: Views are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect policy of IPRI.