In those dramatic moments on twelfth September 2001, President George W Bush addressed the nation and declared Americas War on Terrorism (US declares War on Terror). What followed was a global campaign by American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops against Taliban, who controlled Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda, the master mind behind the nine-elven plot. The military campaign was named Operation Enduring Freedom. The leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was the key target of the United States.
When the Afghan government refused to hand over, USA decided to invade Afghanistan (Channel). On twenty-second September 2006, President Parvez Musharraf confided that United States threatened Pakistan. In an interview, Musharraf said The intelligence director told me that Mr Armitage said, Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age, (Beale). But before US could go on with its claims, Pakistan had accepted to cooperate and provide a channel into Afghanistan.
However, ten years into the war Pakistanis have started to raise serious questions as to whether the war is Pakistans or not. In this regard President Musharraf is often blamed for dragging Pakistan into a war which was not Pakistans. The debate on this issue has been a controversial one. Opposition leader Imran Khan said A friend should tell the other friend what is good for them. A military solution is a disaster for the U. S. , its a disaster for the people of Pakistan. (Solomon). At many instances it has been suggested by opposition leaders that Pakistan should withdraw from the war.
Although Pakistan has benefited by the uplift of sanctions imposed in 1998 and improved foreign relations through its critical role in the war, illustrated by Western assistance during natural disasters, the war on terror has been a disadvantageous feat in terms of receiving highly misallocated foreign aid, fighting terrorism which it structured in the first place, and healing a scarred reputation of being a pro-fundamentalist country. Moreover, Pakistans ill-equipped economy is not suited to sustain a pro-longed war, especially a one which has extended to its own territories.
USAID (United States aid for International development) is the most commonly presented counter argument when Pakistans self-interest in the war is put forth. However, it is to be noted here that survival of Pakistan does not solely depend on USAID, let alone boost economy. Between 2002 and 2008 Pakistan received a total of twenty three and a half billion dollars in USAID (Ibrahim). This aid was intended to stabilize Pakistan and render its capability strong enough to counter terrorism. Although the amount appears large enough to change any country, it has largely been futile for Pakistan.
If the real purpose of USAID was to enhance cooperation between Pakistan and USA and boost Pakistans economy, as it is mostly portrayed, then it should have been more wisely allocated. For instance, a mere ten percent is spent on development projects such as poverty, education and healthcare (Ibrahim). With such meager resources, these programs cannot be extensively carried out to achieve the desirable results. Meanwhile, a stunning seventy five percent of aid was allocated for military purposes (Ibrahim). These included purchasing of advanced weaponry and obtaining counter-terrorism training from the United States.
Analytically, three-fourth of spending would do little to prop Pakistan whatsoever. It is astonishing that so much of the aid is being misused for purposes which would not serve Pakistan at best. To lay down the effects, the usefulness of the aid should be considered. A strong military would do little or perhaps negligibly small to make Pakistan a prosperous state. Assume, if three-fourth of aid was spent on development projects instead. In a decade, Pakistan would have been much better off than its current standing.
The extremism and terrorism could be better countered by education and improved standard of living than by weapons. Looking from one perspective USAID is the price United States paid to purchase the loyalty of Pakistan. Nevertheless, America took back what it gave. An upsetting aspect about USAID is the phenomenon that it returns back to the donor country. In this regard Dr. Murtaza Haider, associate dean at Ryerson University, says The nature of development aid business is such that large sums of donated money in fact return to the donor country in the form of contractual payments to consultants and manufacturers.
I recall listening to the former World Bank president James Wolfensohn in 2004 at the 16th Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics in Washington DC where he offered his candid views about how development aid was misspent by donors. In 2003-04 development aid was estimated at $58 million of which $14 million were pocketed by the consultants alone. (Haider) This fact emphasizes the uselessness of foreign aid to Pakistan. Already being spent so meagerly, a significant proportion of it returns back to USA, which is bound to have a little impact on the countrys wellbeing.
So in fact America eventually takes back what it donated while Pakistan still owes favors to the US. The problem here is that the aid comes with a price. By accepting aid package from the United States, Pakistan has become a participant in the war on terror. In return, Pakistan must return favors to satisfy its allies. For instance take the controversial Kerry-Lugar bill of 2009. It promised Pakistan an aid package of one and a half billion dollars annually for five years. Despite the big digits the bill was a controversy. Instead of promoting good image of United States, it declined it further.
The conditions applying to the aid package were unacceptable for many Pakistanis. Mustafa Qadir, a researcher for Amnesty International writes Controversially, aid may be dependent on US access to Pakistani nationals associated with nuclear proliferation, such as Abdul Qadir Khan. Pakistan must also demonstrate that it is assisting the US in dismantling illicit nuclear supply networks. Pakistan must show a sustained commitment to ¦ combating terrorist groups too. Specific reference is made to Pakistan ceasing to support militancy in Afghanistan and India.
There is even a reference to the Afghan Taliban shura in Quetta and the Lashkar-e-Taiba headquarters in Muridke (Qadri). As it appears Pakistans sovereignty and integrity is often reduced by US actions. Despite being an ally on war on terror, USA has been suspicious of Pakistans nuclear program and objective of its leadership. Conditions accompanying USAID often give the United States the right to interfere in Pakistans internal affairs. These conditions have further extended to include military operations by American army in Pakistans territory.
May it be a covert operation to kill Osama bin Laden or drone strikes, USA takes the liberty to trespass and eliminate multiple targets inside Pakistan. The US has launched drone strikes in Pakistan over 330 times with up to 3,247 casualties including up to 852 civilians (Rogers). The drone attacks have been terrifically condemned by Pakistanis but despite that United States blatantly continues with its strategy. Though a justification for US drone strikes could have been sought if only suspected terrorists were killed but the collateral damage and deaths of non-combatants is simply disappointing.
For Pakistan the most upsetting consequence of war on terror has been the terrorists themselves. For a thorough understanding of fundamental groups, history of their past relations with Pakistan needs to be seen. After Soviet Unions withdrawal from Afghanistan, a power struggle ensued between different groups of Afghanis. The old Mujahideen army was left with no purpose. The Afghan war was over now. From 1994 a civil war initiated in Afghanistan and eventually the Taliban succeeded in establishing their rule in Afghanistan. Till 2001, the Afghan government remained neutral to Pakistan.
This was because of the fact that before 9/11 attacks Pakistan supported the Taliban. Pakistan was involved in assisting terrorist groups, Taliban and Al-Qaeda, in the civil war to form a government in Afghanistan in 1990s (History Channel). However, after 9/11 there came shift in Pakistans policy. Pakistan forged an alliance with the US to help channel the Nato and American troops into Afghanistan. The previously pro-Pakistani terrorist groups turned rogue. Pakistan was instructed by the US to eliminate Al-Qaeda elements and training camps across the border.
This later translated into the Waziristan operation by the Pakistani forces in the North-Western territories of Pakistan. It was predictable that the old partners would initiate a terror reign across Pakistan. The countrys annual death toll from terrorist attacks rose from 164 in 2003 to 3,318 in 2009, a level exceeding the number of Americans killed on September 11. Some 35,000 Pakistanis, including 3,500 members of security forces, have died in terror and counterterror violence. Millions more have been displaced by fighting. (Hamid) The benefit of Pakistan seems little from the figures.
The war initiated by the United States has cost Pakistan a lot both economically and socially. The extremist groups which had previously aligned themselves with Pakistan turned against it in their attempt to oppose USA. As per the Ministry of Finance During the last 10 years the direct and indirect cost of war on terror incurred by Pakistan amounted to $ 67. 93 billion or Rs. 5037 billion. (Ministry of Finance) This amount outweighs the economic assistance Pakistan has received during the past decade which roughly amounts to only one-third of it.
Furthermore, the true impact of terrorism cannot be expressed in monetary terms. For instance, economists cannot place value on the loss of human life, loss of Pakistans image to the world etc. Another unanticipated consequence of the war on terror for Pakistan has been its credibility. During the war the western countries have expressed doubts about Pakistans loyalty. Pakistan has been accused of playing a double-game, whereby Pakistan pretends to assist United States but secretly support terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Although no evidence exists regarding Pakistans double game but United States and NATO have frequently complained of Pakistans secret policy. For example death of Osama bin Laden placed a serious crisis over Pakistan. The international repute and credibility of Pakistan vanished into thin air. President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai hinted that Osama bin Laden had hidden himself in the military bases of Abbottabad. (Boone and Black) While John Brenan, the homeland security advisor to the White House said People are raising a number of questions and understandably so¦
Im sure a number of people have questions about whether there was some kind of support provided by the Pakistani government. (Office of the Press Secretary, White House) What both meant to say was that Pakistan was providing a sanctuary to the Al-Qaeda leader. Thus the event itself was a humiliation for the country. The time of 9/11 can only be commended upon since it coincided at a time when Pakistan desperately required foreign help to drag itself out from the economic turmoil it faced. It will be unfair to say that war on terror has been a complete disaster for Pakistan.
Before September eleven attacks Pakistan was under intense pressure from the international community. In May 1998 after Pakistans first nuclear test, it came under economic sanctions from the world major power¬s. Aid to Pakistan ceased and foreign trade was cut off. The US and other shareholders formed a coalition to stop International Monetary Fund (IMF) funding to Pakistan. The economy which was already running on debt from the IMF plummeted down even deeper. By November 1998 the foreign reserves of Pakistan fell to four hundred and fifty eight million dollars which is a considerably dangerous figure for any economy.
Before the tests the Finance Ministry predicted the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow by six percent for 1998 to 1999 financial year. (Morrow and Carriere) However after the nuclear tests the Economist Intelligence Unit predicted that the Gross Domestic product (GDP) growth rate from 1998 to 1999 was one point six percent. (Morrow and Carriere) In short the Pakistani economy was certain to default. Apart from Chaghi nuclear test, Pakistans brief venture into the Kargil war and military coup by President Musharraf had left the country in diplomatic isolation.
Pakistan was under an estimated foreign debt of forty billion dollars (Mahapatra). But the war on terror altered the whole scenario. Twelve days after the 9/11 attacks all sanctions were lifted by Preside George W Bush after Pakistan complied to ally with the United States. (BBC News) Pakistan was again recognized as an ally by the Western nations and the started pouring in. Thus the war on terror prevented an economic crisis which was bound to engulf Pakistan. War on terror was the stimulus for improving diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the European nations.
Since Pakistan had been an important ally of US and NATO, relations turned good with the European community. Pakistan received aid and technical assistance from the Europe and America during the 2005 earthquake. Pakistan received an estimated total aid of six point seven billion dollars from the International community (Fox News). During the Flood of 2010, Pakistan received one and a half billion dollars in aid for relief efforts (Guardian). This filled the trust deficit that had existed between Pakistan and the West for so long a period.
However, the credit again belongs to the so called war on terror which has had been the architect of good foreign relations for Pakistan. It is true that Pakistans participation in war on terror was a need at one time but adopting a permanent policy would not be a sane thought. Given its capability both economically and militarily it is not feasible for a developing country like Pakistan to afford a war which would last for a decade, especially when its opponent has mastered in guerilla warfare.
War on terror is a bleeding wound that Pakistan needs to heal. It is evident that even after United States withdrawal the war may continue in the region. The dire outcome might be same as the consequences of Soviet Unions Afghan war. A. Rauf Khan Khattak quotes J. Michael McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence who narrates remarks of a Pakistani general In the long run Americans will not have the burden of staying in Afghanistan and when America pull out then India will reign.
Therefore the Pakistanis will have to sustain contracts with the opposition to Afghan government meaning the Taliban, So when America pulls out, it is a friendly government to Pakistan. (Khattak 10) After USs withdrawal Pakistans dilemma would be to contain the insurgency in its territories which will be an insurmountable task to cope with. Seemingly war on terror appears beneficial for Pakistan. In fact the case is otherwise. Inflow of huge cash into Pakistans will improve the countrys balance of payments and foreign currency reserves for a time-being but in the long run, Pakistan is at loss.
The cost paid by Pakistan outweighs the benefits received by a large scale. The true loss can only be estimated. Economically war on terror has been no less than a disaster for Pakistan. Its usefulness lays only in the fact that Pakistan was temporarily stabilized by pro-Western policies, however, mid-war security conditions in the country and costs incurred are too diabolic to accept. The immediate solution would be that Pakistan withdraws from the war and make peace with its neighbor.