KARACHI: This is with reference to the news that Pakistan is seeking US help in stopping terrorist groups from launching cross-border attacks inside Pakistani territory from bases in Afghanistan. This is a strange request that Pakistan is making and I say that for two reasons. One, we have been receiving exactly the same kind of requests (accompanied with threats) from the US itself for as long as we can remember yet, we were unable to help them (read ‘do more’) while the Pakistan-based Taliban continue to cross the Afghan border at will to engage targets/inflict casualties on the Afghan National Army and collation forces. If we were not able or willing to help the US in the past why do we expect them to help us now?
Two, it is difficult to believe that the US does not have this information already. It may not be in contact with the runaway militants who have currently sought refuge in Afghanistan but surely it cannot be expected to be ignorant about the bases they have established inside that country. Haven’t the US drones in Fata clearly demonstrated America’s ability to track, locate and eliminate threats?
If it has effectively done that on the Pakistan side of the border then why can’t it do the same on the Afghan side? Why are terrorist groups that have found safe havens on the Afghan side of the border not meriting American attention? Is it because they pose no threat to the US and the coalition forces interests in Afghanistan? I doubt Pakistan will be able to achieve the help it seeks from the US. And the reason for that is that America’s priority now is a safe retreat and honourable withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The solution lies in not planning to eliminate the threat from where it originates (as our request to the US may indicate) but engaging and destroying it before it reaches and threatens our interests inside our borders. When one-third of the Pakistan army and its resources are deployed across the western front then it is but the army itself that needs to take up the challenge of securing our western borders. Insecurity lies not only in the border being breached but in the inability of our army to withstand the attacks launched on its border posts or combat soldiers patrolling the border areas.
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.
More in LettersDealing with the FC