Archive for August, 2007

US war on terror

Friendship develops over a long time and vanishes within moments. Few years ago US declared Pakistan a most favored ally after NATO. In diplomatic terms it meant that US believed that people of Pakistan are true friends that have stood the test of time. But apparently that friendship has not lived up to their expectations. They are now talking about attacking Pakistan regardless how mildly one puts it. The fast change in US position comes at a time when government of Pakistan has done more than their fair share of the efforts to curtail terrorist activity. US citizen are afraid of a future terrorist threat while people of Pakistan live it on a daily basis with a tremendous loss of innocent lives. Action against terrorist is as important for the people of Pakistan as it might be for the people of USA with or without their aid. 

In diplomatic nomenclature, that has developed over 1000s of years, once there is substantial change in the attitude or position of a nation towards another nation it triggers the renegotiation of all agreements. Considering recent change in US foreign policy towards Pakistan it is time for Pakistani nation to rethink their support for US war on terror. Here are some of the major reasons for Pakistani legislators to consider. 

After 911, US enacted many changes to their immigration and domestic policies. One such regulation was requirement of special registration of immigrants. US announced that they will register all immigrants regardless of their origin but once registration of Muslim immigrants was done, including Pakistanis, they abruptly abandoned the program. As most favored nation Pakistani immigrant should have been exempted from this special registration but despite diplomatic efforts US refused to change its position. 

US fully understand the history of fragile relations between India and Pakistan which went to war three times during their 60 years history. US also acknowledge that Kashmir conflict can become a flash point for nuclear confrontation between the two nations. Despite these facts US decided to sign a nuclear treaty with India without enough safeguards in place to ensure it will not be used for development of nuclear armament. This can become an impetus for arms race in the region as well as a direct threat to Pakistan. This is a material breach to the security of a nation awarded a most favored nation status after NATO by US. 

In last two years, US have conducted many missile attacks on Pakistani territory without taking government of Pakistan in confidence. These attacks were supposedly carried out when intelligence pointed presence of some suspected terrorist on these locations. It might be possible that one or two suspects have been killed but the loss of innocent lives is much more than that. Killing of an ally’s citizens is a good enough reason for a dignified nation to walk away from all prior agreements and rethink their relationship. 

US parliament has passed a bill which is signed into law by President Bush to prevent any aid to Pakistan unless they prove their friendship in war against terror. If blood of 700 Pakistani soldiers is not a good enough reason then what else can be shown to earn friendship. Passage of this bill is a significant development in diplomatic relations between these two nations. Passage of this bill makes it mandatory for the policy makers to rethink Pakistani position in the war against terror. 

In relations between nations diplomatic norms are adopted to ensure that sovereignty of a nation is respected by all members of government. In last few weeks US legislator, both republican and democrats have emphasized the position that they would not hesitate in striking inside Pakistani territory if it suits their purpose. For any dignified nation this is declaration of war regardless of the pretext or choice of words. Interestingly Afghan government of Hamid Karzai has not renounced these statements or refused to allow the use of their land for these strikes. This declaration of war of necessity should be reason for Pakistan to rethink their relationship with US. 

The first step government of Pakistan has to take is to understand the context, definition and objective of the war on terror. Terror defined by US may not necessarily be something that relates to Pakistan, its people, territory or geo-political situation. For its own integrity Pakistan has to fight extremist, sectarian and ethnic militancy. It is the fight for survival for all Pakistanis and they would like to handle it on their own without interference from other countries. Pakistan does not need to be a part of US war on terror when it is time for her to save their country. Many countries, like Spain, Italy and Canada, have already changed their position on the US war on terror and pulled out their forces from Iraq.

It is responsibility of a friend to be frank and candid when it comes to advice, help and guidance. US legislators are debating whether war in Iraq and Afghanistan has curtailed terrorist threat or fuelled it even more. Pakistan should act as a true friend and point out to the US that war on terror can not be won through weapons. Throughout recorded history weapons have only produced misery for the mankind. It is time for all nations to sit together and negotiate lasting peace.

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