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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2709

Cost of war on terror for Pakistan

FarzanaBy Farzana Shah

Peace may cost as much as war, but it is a better buy.

Indeed peace is a better buy as it just demands few humanitarian traits from top leadership like understanding of outstanding issues, wisdom to overcome all such problem, strategy of mitigating them and then a plan to eradicating them from society.

The world leadership failed to show any of these traits in war on terror and after 8 years of this war now it is evident that this war has become a black hole not only for Pakistani interests but for the whole Pakistani society. Implications and effects of this war will remain there for a long period of time in future.

But the real dilemma is that no signs of an end to this war in near future are visible meanwhile this war which already has shaken Pakistan from all vertexes will keep on hurting the society.

Pakistan has payed a heavy price for becoming a front line ally in this war.

Just few days back on July 20th the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the war against terror has cost Pakistan more than 35 billion dollars while the cost in human lives is immeasurable.

Social Cost:

  • A lot of IDPs as a result of operations in FATA.

During 1980’s almost 3.5 million Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan. This migration added many existing administrative and social problems. We still have not recovered from the destruction of our social fabric due to refugees’ influx and now we are facing our own internally displaced people as a result of ongoing militancy and counter operations to stop it in our tribal areas.

Almost half million people have been reported internally displaced from FATA. These IDPs have fled their habitats in NWFP adding to problems and challenges to the already troubled NWFP government.

* CIA drone attacks are turning angry youth from FATA into terrorists and provoking them to take revenge from US frontline ally Pakistan for their losses of both houses and their loved ones.

As a results of these drone attacks –some 700 Pakistanis have been killed so far whereas only 9 Al-Qaeda operatives are ‘allegedly ’ killed—this is obvious that agenda behind these continuous drone attacks is not what US is telling the world or to Pakistan. Drone attacks carried out on basis of information of locals, which they provide to CIA operatives for money, cannot achieve its target.

Many locals provide false information just for money because of non-availability of necessary opportunities to earn their bread and butter, so outcome of these attacks usually is death of locals and innocent people along with few militants.

This provides an opportunity to anti-Pakistan forces (Like TTP) to cash their preaching abhorrence against US and its front line ally, Pakistan.

Angry youth is prime target of TTP’s propaganda and affected by this propaganda the same youth come to agree fighting against Pakistan. The militants have used Lal Masjid like incidents for luring youth into joining them. Since operation in July 2007 more than 200 suicide blasts have taken place in Pakistan killing thousands of innocent people along with security personnel. All suicide bombing after Lal Masjid Operation was directly influenced by revenge against US and its ally Pakistan.

Over all tolerance level in the society has decreased like anything due to constant media coverage of bloodbath in Afghanistan, Iraq and in FATA and suicide bombing.

Effects of ‘War on Terror’ are not limited to Afghanistan and FATA, but its consequences are so severe that these will keep hunting Pakistani society for a long period of time to come. Worst effect of this war is a clear division of masses into two extremes. On the one hand we have people who think religious parties and institutes (even like International Islamic University) are just producing extremists and militants who are a direct threat to existence of Pakistan. The other faction of masses believe that WoT is a US war and it was waged against Islam and Pakistan by taking US side has also become a part of this war against Islam. This division is breaking social fabric of Pakistani society once made up of traits like tolerance, hospitality and fair treatment.

Now all these traits are fading and society is on its way to disintegration.

* All ethnic groups are losing national unity among them and each of them blame the others for the erosion in the unity.

WoT has provided an excuse to all sub-nationalists and ethnic thugs to misguide people under their influence to accomplish their own agenda. Recent incidents in Baluchistan have revealed another level of foreign penetration into local sub-nationalist elements.

Unrest in Karachi and gang war between different ethic groups in economical hub of country is extremely alarming as sophisticated weapons are being used in these gang wars. Sub-nationalist political parties are supporting their own ethnic group against others.

Political Cost:

  • Pakistan is also paying a heavy political price in shape of weaken federation as a result of prolonged militancy and non- availability of basic needs in FATA.

Pakistan, after 9/11, was forced to own this war. The dilemma is that there is no definition of terrorism exists till this date so it is not clear against whom Pakistan is fighting.

Provinces have been left at their own to handle law and order situation despite the fact that situation in every province is a direct outcome of Islamabad’s decision to join WoT.

There is no unified policy both at federal and provincial level to counter threat of terrorism.

Despite these murky facts Islamabad is still pursuing its old policies towards WoT while federation is showing symptoms of dismemberment which is actual agenda of enemies of Pakistan.

Our decision to join US war on terror have created a gap between Military and People which is also dangerous for overall moral of the nation against its enemies.

A strong bond between nation and security establishment is crucial for success in wars against enemies like Israel and India.

Pakistan army traditionally enjoyed very warm relations with masses not only in Pakistan but also in countries where it served under UNO command. WoT, however, has shaken faith of Pakistani masses in their forces as Army is under immense media trial by people at both extremes.

According to pro-Taliban section of people, Pakistan army is fighting a war of US and according to pro-US section, Pakistan Army is the biggest hurdle in way of eliminating terrorism and supporting militants in Afghanistan.

The fact is that more than 1600 security personnel have been killed largely due to critical nature of operations in FATA and Swat where army is pursuing a policy of restraint until provoked by militants to open fire.

* Government is unable to focus on other issues like social uplift of people not only in FATA but else where as well.

WoT has become the main focus of the government and many issues like water and power crisis has gone in the background. These issues will hit Pakistan if ignored for too long. Power crisis is already turning into a nightmare for government and water crisis will be more severe if not taken seriously. Pakistan with its limited resources is forced not to handle these issues proactively and the leadership is busy in clearing doubts about Islamabad is falling to Taliban and safety of its nuclear weapons.

Socio-political Cost:

* The worsening social and political issues due to War on terror are paving way for a civil war as the country is facing a severe media campaign against its own strategy of dealing with menace of militancy and terrorism.

* The country is visibly divided into two factions one is with demand of change (Taliban) second one sticking to current system and gulf between both is increasing and eventually government is turning weak and all this is bringing a threat of civil war closer and closer. (Example: On March 16 PML-N broke state order straightaway and initiate march towards Islamabad. A bloodbath was inevitable if Army chief had not twisted arm of Zardari for restoration of CJ)

Geopolitical Cost:

Rise in militancy as a result of WoT has provided an opportunity to the US, India and west to declare Pakistan a militant state.

* Pakistan has been declared as militant society and government as backer of militants by the west and their hawkish media.

The recent statements by Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullan, and Pentagon backed by their media clearly show a collaborative attempt to disarm Pakistan. All this is a plot of a bigger game against Pakistan. By declaring Pakistan a militant state US will be able to twist Pakistani arm more and finally build a case in UNO against its ability to protect its weapons from militants hence seeking approval from the world to take control of Pakistani nukes.

*Pakistan has been pushed into corner in favour of Indian interests by US and treated as tool not as partner.

* Pakistan has been forced to surrender its stance on Kashmir.

Biggest geo political punch in this WoT hit Pakistan when it was forced to change its principled stance towards Kashmir struggle. Kashmir is extremely important for Pakistan not only from political aspect but also from geological aspect.

Unilaterally accepting Kashmiris fighting for freedom as terrorists has allowed UN/US to put pressure on Pakistan to allow India to fence LoC and turn it into a ‘permanent’ border.

India got leverage by building dams in Held Kashmir depriving Pakistan of its water and turning it into a barren land.

This move is damaging Pakistani agriculture and affecting our economy. (This is indeed a scary situation for any Pakistani to imagine).

For the first time in the history of Pakistan our Eastern border has become unsafe giving India an upper hand to indulge in any eventuality. Pakistan has been forced to withdraw troops from eastern border to mane western border to supplement this war on terror.

Geo Strategic Cost

* Relations with China affected due to over whelming presence of US operatives in Pakistan for WoT.

Throughout our history we had been having excellent relations with China and can foster our progress with Chinese help as China has become a competitor of US and global economic dominion is now swiftly shifting to Asia from America. China has been more than willing to help Pakistan through its investment due to commonality of interests of both nations. Gawader port was built to bolster economic ties between China and Pakistan but WoT has changed landscape of Pakistan’s international relations. Islamabad is pursuing Washington’s agenda ignoring the fact that our all time trusted ally China is premium.

The recent release of BLA terrorists (who kidnapped and killed Chinese nationals working in Pakistan) has affected relations among the two countries.

TTP another terrorist group which was formed after Pakistan joined WoT is also involved in attacks against Chinese working in Pakistan. Security of these Chinese is responsibility of Islamabad, however the recent unrest created by vested elements in Balochistan is making it difficult to safeguard Chinese interests.

Gwadar port will not able to deliver until law and order in Balochistan is restored. Gwadar is not only an economic opportunity for Pakistan but it also has far reaching strategic implications when incarnated militarily.

* First time in the history of Pakistan, India has got an upper hand in Afghanistan over Pakistan due to this war on terror. US is using India to carry on its agenda in the region at the cost of Pakistan. Indian activities for fomenting terror in Pakistan have been ignored by US under who’s nose Indian consulates in Afghanistan are imparting training to terrorists against Pakistan.

* An insurgency in Baluchistan was made possible by resurrecting a dead body known as BLA (Baluchistan Liberation Army) only after India established its intelligence bases in Afghanistan again due to WoT. Afghanistan now is hosting and protecting terrorists who wage war against Pakistani state. Pakistan is not able to take direct action there. Afghanistan is being used as training ground for BLA terrorists and anarchists to carry out their evil deeds against Pakistan.

*We have lost our assets in Afghanistan and now we stand isolated in this geo-political game whereas every other anti-Pakistan intelligence agency is present in Afghanistan. This is an alarming situation for Pakistan’s integrity.

Its time Pakistan should have a clear policy viz a viz Afghanistan, War on terror and Kashmir.

The parliament should be tasked to bring all these issues to assembly and to carry out its responsibilities. It is time to have a consensus over all the important issues pertaining to the national security.

-Asian Tribune -

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