Pakistan: in need of introspection


In a write-up published in Financial Times on July 26, 2016, US Senator John McCain has recalled his trip to Pakistan in the first week of July, and shared his opinion on the relationship between Pakistan and the US. McCain’s article reveals all that is wrong with US-Pakistan relations, and why the US has failed its own mission in the region. Mr McCain has presented two arguments regarding the presence of the US in Afghanistan and the former’s ties with Pakistan. First, he says that the US mission in Afghanistan is the same today as it was in 2001: to disrupt and defeat terrorist networks that seek to attack its interests and homeland, and to deny them a safe haven. That mission remains urgent, and it is unfortunately not over yet. Second, the US mission in Afghanistan is immeasurably more difficult without Pakistan’s cooperation in taking on terrorists that operate across the Afghan-Pakistani border at will. That is why enhanced co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is essential. McCain has stated that the US has always viewed Pakistan through the prism of Afghanistan, and there should be a change in the US policy. He has called upon the US to make clear its commitment to Pakistan’s stability and economic growth. He has lauded the role of Pakistan army in restive areas bordering Afghanistan and narrated his experience of witnessing development in Miran Shah.
He said that the closure of “death factories” in North Waziristan Agency due to the operation of the Pakistan army is a positive development. He has called upon Pakistan to take a decisive action against all terrorist groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, which operate within its borders and attack its neighbours.
The US condemns the infiltration of terrorist groups into India because Washington gives importance to its relations with New Delhi. The US views India favourably, both as a counterweight to the rise of China, as well as because of India’s huge emerging economy as a vast consumer market with untold business opportunities.
Overall, it is a positive development that a US Senator has acknowledged Pakistan’s role and importance in war against terrorism. The US needs the support of Pakistan for bringing normalcy in Afghanistan. On the other hand, a trust deficit has always been the main feature of the transactional relationship, historically, between Pakistan and the US. Hidden and not-so-concealed feelings of betrayal have always been the hallmark of this love-hate relationship over the years. Both states depend on each other in areas related to their national interests. The US is in dire need of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and military help to deal with terror groups posing a serious threat to the region’s stability. It is a good sign that the US is still engaging with Pakistan with an eye to the future. At the same time, it is also the responsibility of Pakistan to get rid of its double standards in dealing with various militant outfits. The idea of “good” and “bad” Taliban has no space in today’s world. Pakistan has already suffered a great deal in terms of financial and human losses. It is time for introspection for Pakistan to revise its policies on how to deal with militancy. Pakistan must question what it has achieved in terms of turning a blind eye to militants who have been used as strategic assets in the past.