Pak-US Relations: We Are Friends Not Foes – OpEd
Relations between the United States and Pakistan are at a make or break stage. This situation was severely strained at the beginning of the May month when US Special Forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. Pakistan was embarrassed and angered when the US claimed sole responsibility for the operation in defiance of an agreement between the countries. Now the question is being asked is Pakistan an ally or an adversary of the West? It remains clear that Pakistan and the United States need each other. But it is also obvious that the terms of their relations need to change in light of US drone strikes and unilateral operations against the high value targets in Pakistani.
After the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan is awash in blood today. Since 2003, Islamist militants of various stripes have killed more than 3,500 soldiers and policemen, and nearly 35,000 civilians. With addition of Charsadda training academy attack assassinated 90 policemen and PNS Mehran Base killed 10 with a huge embarrassment. The cities have spawn heavily armed police at checkpoints, metal detectors in hotels and the gnawing uncertainty that comes with not knowing when the next suicide bomber will strike.
In this situation rather we should be appreciated, but the US Congressional Republicans and Democrats warned Pakistan that billions of dollars in American aid are at stake if Islamabad does not step up its efforts against terrorists, with the accusation for the double game. If American aid to Pakistan is harder and harder to sell to a skeptical Congress, than Pakistan has an option to use her all weather friend China. Both Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders travel often to Beijing to ensure close cooperation.
Pakistani fury over US drone strikes, with about 1.7 million Afghan refugees and a sense that the U.S. has not shown sufficient gratitude for Islamabad’s help in nabbing hundreds of al Qaeda leaders. But asking questions about the presence of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad and accusing our prime intelligence agencies. They must recognize that we are the world’s greatest victim of terrorism.
The US has provided $20.7 billion to Pakistan since 2002. With the addition of the coalition support fund at $8.9 billion. On the second step US has provide $4.8 billion under the economic support fund program. If the US provides aid to Pakistan, in turn it gets vital logistical and military support to fight the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan. US blame that Pakistan is diverting money to defend India. If it is true, then it should be recognized that India is our enemy and we can not compromise on our security threats and all the issues should be solves between the two adversaries. Likewise US can not compromise on their national security. As President Barack Obama has said that he would be prepare to order another covert operation inside Pakistan without respecting the sovereignty Pakistan, against high level al-Qaeda targets. It is our strongest view that that US and West should not give the leverage to compel India to do much of anything vis-à-vis Pakistan.
Pakistan has paid its dues in the ongoing offensive. We have been sacrificing our civilians and soldiers, and losing the billions in our faltering economy. If this is not appropriate undertaking then what is it? We must be respected or treated as an equal partner in this war.
Now Bin Laden is dead, and there are strong indications that his killing will lead to a shift in American strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. US should recognize the Pakistan’s sovereignty before it begins to eliminate targets by land, or by air, with impunity. The intelligence sharing is also vital in order to build a beneficial alliance. Trust must be the cornerstone of any friendship and while Washington has extracted every ounce of vital information from its counterparts, it chooses to renege on the deal to suit its convenience.
Pakistan’s sincerity in the war against terrorism should not be questioned as the country has borne and continues to bear the brunt of international terrorism. In addition to the huge cost in human lives, direct and indirect Pakistani losses engendered from the fight against terrorism over the past 10 years have reached $100 billion. There is need of trust otherwise our sacrifices elucidate that we are friends not foes!