Pakistan owns one of the largest Muslim populations. From the geographical point of view, it is strategically placed. The history of Pakistan is both sterling and startling since it was created in the year 1947. Democratic elections were held, Prime Ministers were toppled, one of them was hanged and Military Generals had a field day and one died in an air-crash under mysterious circumstances. Whether Pakistan supports the international terrorism or not, is a highly debatable question. Its leadership asserts that it does not, but India and America strongly believe that it does!
The developments in Iraq, the 9/11 terrorist attacks that rattled America in the year 2001,and the subsequent rise in global terrorism, whose base is in Afghanistan and the border districts of Pakistan, has brought the country to the international scene. Due to America’s close alliance with it for strategic reasons, this country is always in the limelight for one reason for the other.
The relations between Pakistan and USA are like the cat and mouse game:
As per policy declarations, USA avers that Pakistan is a vital ally in the international anti-terrorism coalition. USA is fully aware of the shortcomings and limitations of functioning of the Pakistan’s political leadership, where religious fanaticism rules the roost. USA wishes to lend a helping hand in strengthening the political institutions in Pakistan that ultimately go to strengthen the roots of democracy. USA is supporting Pakistan’s efforts to revert to democratic rule and the President of USA has waived military coup-related sanctions on Pakistan through FY2006.
The massive terrorist attacks on USA in September 2001, took the situation to the advantage of Pakistan. Pakistan withdrew support for the Afghan Taliban regime, and this brought it even closer to USA. USA is aware that Islam, as it is practiced in Pakistan, is linked to fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism. So, the original problems of Pakistan remain the original problems, till today, whether the democratic government is in power or the military generals take care of the nation!
Human Rights and Pakistan
The human rights groups in USA have constantly criticized the government for extending support to Pakistan. The government remained the silent spectator on honor killings of women, and failed to bring strong legislation to curb this menace. Women were stopped from participating in sports activities and brutal measures were applied by the extremist groups to humiliate the women participants in national level races. The common Pakistani citizen believes that USA is out to destabilize Pakistan and some of the leaders go to the extent of dubbing Americans as criminals and Taliban as innocent. The anti-American rhetoric has reached the level of calling for “jihad” against the country.
Pakistan and Nuclear Weapons
On May 28, 1998 Pakistan successfully conducted five nuclear tests. The issue that has raised serious apprehension is USA, India, Israel etc is the possibility of nuclear arsenal falling in to hands of the terrorist groups. After the 9/11 attack, the concerns became serious and the Pakistani military relocated the nuclear arsenal in six new secret locations.
The latest worry for Pakistan’s National Security Establishment
Two events have shaken the politicians and strategists in Pakistan. The first one is President Obama’s latest Afghan strategy under which USA will send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. At the same time, Obama declared the irreversible role of his country’s partnership with Pakistan to fight terrorism. With all the friendly overtures at the economic and political levels, USA is still convinced that the borders of Pakistan/Afghanistan are the safe heavens for extremist groups like Al-Qaida. He also gives clear signals to Pakistan that if his Afghan policy fails, Pakistan will be held responsible for it and will have to face consequences.
USA means business to eliminate extremist forces. CIA is authorized to expand its operations in Pakistan, which means USA is not trusting Pakistan fully and would like to keep a close watch whether Pakistan will take strong steps to eliminate terrorism and nip in the bud the possibility of loose nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. “Top leadership of USA, including Secretary Hillary Clinton has asserted that what Pakistan is doing to curb terrorism is far from adequate. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also warned Pakistan, the clandestine intentions of Al Qaida to provoke a war between India and Pakistan, with the ultimate objective of weakening Pakistan to eventually take over the reins of power.”*
*Article: Some worrying developments, DAWN.com – Tariq Fatemi – 17 Dec, 2009