Pakistan's Role in the War on Terror
Paper presented at conference on AFPAK: Ten Years since Operation Enduring Freedom, organised by Asia-Pacific Foundation and George C Marshal Centre for European Security, London, 5 October 2011.
This paper attempts to critically review Pakistan’s role as a frontline state in the US-led War on Terror in Afghanistan and the region since 9/11, including its domestic implications, regional manifestations and international underpinnings. In the last ten years, Pakistan has made enormous contributions to this war and suffered irreparable losses in the process. However, since the Musharraf regime, its priorities in combating terrorism have been different from those of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan—a lingering issue that has eventually brought US-Pakistan relations to the brink of a conflict. The paper mentions the complexities and motivations underlying Pakistan’s controversial counter-terrorism approach, and the dilemmas they create for domestic security and Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, India and the United States. It analyzes whether the United States may have also contributed to causing current strains in its relations with Pakistan, and how significant the recent thaw in Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan and India is. The paper ends by emphasizing the Afghan reconciliation process as one recent trend that, despite facing some reversals, has the scope of creating compatibility among Afghan, Pakistani and Indian interests, especially as US and NATO troops start to gradually leave Afghanistan. Its conclusive argument is that Pakistan’s domestic security and regional standing will continue to be in serious jeopardy unless the conflict in Afghanistan is politically resolved in a way that Afghanistan’s internal power contenders and external stake-holders agree to a grand compromise. Full Text