Pakistan is called the “Front line State” in the War against Terror. There are number of occasions, which have raised the issue of Pakistan sincere role in the war.
Before commenting on the sincerity of Pakistan it will be better to understand the role of Pakistan in the War against Terror. Pakistan is sharing the largest border with Afghanistan. Traditionally both the countries never enjoyed good relations. The role of Pakistan in Afghanistan is very old and important. Pakistan has always tried to have good relations with Afghanistan in order to fully concentrate on its border with India. This role was further increased in 1970’s when former Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan on the request of then Afghan Communist Government. It was at that time that USA along with the Western allies and Middle Eastern partners came to Pakistan. They came in different forms. Some gave money, some gave equipments, some provided manpower and some just supported politically.
The situation in Afghanistan forced former Soviet Union to pull out. It was sweet revenge of Vietnam for the US. At that point Pakistan expected continued support but everyone showed their back and Pakistan was left alone with burning Afghanistan.
Since Pakistan’s national interests demanded its stay in Afghanistan therefore it supported nearly every regime at Kabul. When Taliban came on the scene it was only Pakistan, which continued its consulate and ambassador at Kabul. Further it also allowed Taliban ambassador in Islamabad. The whole world was trying to change the stance of Pakistan but no one was successful. Pakistan even spoiled its relations with Iran.
After 9/11 all of a sudden the whole world started praising Pakistan. It became front line state and the world was expecting Pakistan to act as they wished. What the whole world community forgot was that for more than a decade Pakistan was helping Afghanistan. The world community forgot both the countries and then all of a sudden they remembered that Pakistan is important in this war.
Pakistan is important for the US and NATO because it provides the shortest supply route via sea to Afghanistan. Trade via sea is only possible through Pakistan. USA cannot opt for Iran as the relations are worst between the two and secondly the route via Iran is long.
Pakistan has infrastructure and military set up to support USA and NATO. Its army is trained and can fight in the terrain, which for most of NATO personal is alien. Additionally Pakistan has links with Taliban leadership. All these factors combine and make Pakistan an important partner in the war against terror.
Now coming to the issue of sincerity of Pakistan. It is an obvious fact that every state has its own national interest. Pakistan wants an active role for those who have soft corner for Pakistan. USA denied this by installing a puppet government which is hostile to Pakistan. This forced Pakistan policy makers to change their policy. They cannot afford to see current hostile elements against Pakistan as victors. Naturally Pakistan will go for other options and will not do as USA wants.
Pakistan is always wary of the Indian role in Afghanistan. In order to please India USA and particularly its Western allies are encouraging India to have active role in Afghanistan. Officially Pakistan has protested on several occasions but it was not taken seriously. This attitude of West forced Pakistan to play the game according to its own set of rules and not according to the wishes of others.
Pakistan has evidences of other countries involvement in the terror incidents inside Pakistan. Many states are supporting terrorists to fight against Pakistan. Officially or unofficially Pakistan had to send signals to these states but things are none the less same. The states involved have their own agendas and their own axe to grind. This also forced Pakistan to revise it strategy in the current war on terror.
If someone is blaming Pakistan for not doing enough the person must be very simple or ignoring the national interests of Pakistan. Every country in the world is promoting its own national interests. It is true for all and if Pakistan is doing so no person or state can stop Pakistan from doing so.
It will be better for the US to listen carefully to the concerns of Pakistan. This will help in building confidence and trust. Pakistan has very little to lose it is for the US to act in rational and prudent manner in order to get maximum out of this situation. Instead of blaming Pakistan the policy makers at the Washington should look at the ways in which the national interests of the US and Pakistan do not collide otherwise the question of sincerity will remain.
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