What is rarely recognised or reported is the positive role that Pakistan has played in conflicts around the world, from UN peacekeeping missions that range from Bosnia to Somalia to Democratic Republic of Congo to the most recent acknowledgement of our role in the war in Iraq. The liberation of Mosul, which had been held by the Islamic State (IS) after three years of brutal occupation, was an operation that was supported in no small way by Pakistan. This was acknowledged by the Ambassador of Iraq at a press conference held at the Iraqi Embassy. This has never previously been mentioned either by Pakistan or the Iraqis yet it was significant.
A range of countries were quietly supportive, with Pakistan assisting with intelligence gathering, supplies of arms and ammunition and military medical assistance. Some of the Iraqi pilots that took part in a range of missions had been trained in Pakistan. There is ongoing intelligence cooperation aimed at limiting the spread of IS regionally and limiting its aggressive footprint.
Of particular interest was the ambassadors’ comment on the neutral position maintained by Pakistan in the region generally and the Gulf specifically. Ours is a complex neighbourhood and getting ever more so. It serves us ill to be drawn into any of the many conflicts, and the nation has rightly stood to one side, a position reiterated by parliament on more than one occasion. However, where the fight against IS is clear and very specific it does serve us well to provide logistics and training support for those battling an entity that threatens all around us as well as within. The fight against IS is not going away it is only going to change shape and focus. Whilst Mosul has fallen it has been at terrible cost, and the entire city is ruined. It will take a generation to rebuild. The IS will regroup and change tactics of that we may be sure. Their defeat will not be the work of one but a comity of nations, and we were right to stand with Iraq as we did.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2017.