Pakistan-US Cooperation In Anti-Terrorism Efforts – OpEd
After the US invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 attack and the fall of the Taliban government in Kabul, Pakistan provided a valuable assistance in the US-led war on terror to the US, including air access and ground routes for NATO supplies, and worked as a Non-NATO ally. While in exchange, the US has helped Pakistan with economic and military support during the war on terror. However, the alliance between the two countries remained intricate and relations strained owing to the US call for ‘do more’.
Despite strained relations over the years, the recent US State Department briefing about the US-Pak counter-terrorism dialogue has been a step in the right direction. The United States has shown their willingness to work with Pakistan on counter-terrorism and violent extremism to combat the threats to regional security and ensure terrorism-free South Asia and Central Asia. Moreover, it emphasized that the success of the dialogue largely depends on the strength of the US-Pak relationship. It is a well-known fact that instability in the region is not only vulnerable to Afghanistan but also has consequences across the borders.
Since the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban, terrorist activities have escalated in Pakistan. A recent Police line mosque bombing in Peshawar is one of the deadliest attacks that has killed more than hundred police officials. After the attack, a high-level Pakistani delegation visited Kabul and conveyed serious concerns about Tehrik-i-Taliban to the interim Taliban government in Kabul. However, the Taliban government in Kabul claimed that it does not allow it’s soil for terror activities across the borders. Meanwhile, the US stated that the dialogue on counter-terrorism efforts is a piece of evidence that the US and Pakistan are in coordination in working out a strategy and are on the same page to counter all terrorist groups including TTP. The US is expanding it’s partnership to ensure regional and global stability. It was also advised to other regional and extra-regional countries to formulate their strategy in order to counter the current security situation in the region.
Pakistan is currently passing through political and economic turmoil. While on the other hand, the mounting political and economic instability has catalytic effects on terror activities by banned outfits such as the TTP. The recent wave of terrorism has become a major concern for both political and military leadership in Pakistan. To deal with the present perturbed conditions, Pakistan is working to secure funds from International Financial Institutions such as IMF and World Bank. Pakistan is working hard to implement the IMF program for the revival of the economy. In these trying times, the US is looking forward to support Pakistan in securing bail out packages. The US has been the biggest export market for Pakistan. Meanwhile, The United States is working to put Pakistan on a road of sustainable economic growth. In addition, the US is also playing its due role in defusing the political atmosphere in the country. This support to Pakistan is more significant, especially when Pakistan is facing an acute economic crisis along with security challenges.
After the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, the country is facing a major threat from ISIS. Kabul airport was attacked on the eve when the US forces were ready to leave. Pakistan embassy was attacked in which a Pakistani SSG commando was injured. Likewise, bombing took place at a hotel in Kabul where Chinese residents were residing. In addition to this, the banned outfit ,TTP, has formed it’s sanctuaries in the border areas of Pakistan which has become an imminent threat to Pakistan. These groups have also carried out various terrorist activities beyond the border to Pakistan, using Afghanistan’s soil. The government of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan is aiming to eliminate and dismantle such threats by launching different operations against these groups including the killing of a TTP leader in one of the targeted IED attacks. The Afghan government is taking encouraging steps to take down these groups; however, the current economic crisis of Afghanistan may impact the ongoing efforts. According to IMF, the central bank of Afghanistan has a total of only $ 9.4 Billion in assets. The US has frozen around $7 Billion reverses of Afghanistan in US federal Bank after the Taliban takeover making the Afghanistan Banking system collapsed and worsen the economic crisis even further. Such conditions will create space for re-emergence of terrorist groups. They will not only be a threat to regional security but also to the global security.
Whereas, US and Pakistan are enhancing their relations and improving cooperation to fight terrorism, violent extremism, and terror financing in the region. Both countries are working jointly and introducing such programs that assist Pakistan’s determination to counter all forms of extremism and terrorism. Meanwhile, Pakistan has left no stone unturned in fighting the menace of terrorism. Pakistan has been fighting the monster since two decades. It need supports from the US and other powerful countries in order to keep the world safe and secure for our future generations
Jehangir Khan Mehsud, a graduate of economics and political science from Forman Christian College University, Lahore