The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of PTH
by Bilal Qureshi
My heart sank when I read “ISLAMABAD: A wave of suicide bombings, coordinated grenade, bomb and gun assaults, and drive-by shootings blamed on militants has left more than 190 people dead in Pakistan so far this month.“ on Dawn. Is this the same Pakistan that some Western countries accuse of ‘not doing enough’ in the fight against terror? Yes, it is nauseating, but Pakistan has been accused of ‘secretly’ working with the Taliban for reasons still unknown.
Unfortunately, so far, no one has come forward to accept his/her mistake about being wrong about Pakistan’s sincerity in the fight against the Taliban. Worse, the support that is being offered is still measured and cautious with room for later criticism, if necessary.
This is not right and this is not fair.
It is worth repeating, yet again, that Pakistan has paid the ultimate price for a war that Pakistanis neither wanted, nor was it started by Pakistan. Therefore, decency dictates that every nation and every country that is a target for the Taliban come forward to support Pakistan without ifs and but instead of repeating the same old tired line that ‘we are with Pakistan in this fight. In the words of an ordinary Pakistan’ “no, no, we don’t want you with us if you don’t give us the equipment and provide Islamabad with all the resources that are needed in this fight.” Rhetoric , not backed by concrete support is, well, useless to put it mildly.
Given the mood on the street in Pakistan, it is not difficult to understand that this might be the last time that Pakistan’s public would allow the country to become a battlefield for global conflicts. Also, this is pretty much the last chance for not only for Pakistan to survive as a country, but also for the Western democracies to respond properly to a situation that has the potential to get out of hand.
No question this fight in Pakistan is Pakistan’s fight, but it was not always like this. Pakistan sided with Western countries and in the process, it became Pakistan’s war. Now, Pakistan can’t go forward alone and it can’t go back to the time when Moscow decided to invade Afghanistan. Just like Pakistan took a stand at the time of Afghan invasion by the Russians, it is time for the West to take a stand, united stand against the Taliban and in support of Pakistan instead of critiquing Pakistan from the safety and comfort of their distant countries. Everyone has to participate and only than Pakistan will defeat the thugs, once and for all.
But, Pakistan can’t do it alone, and this crucial, but simple factor must not be forgotten.
Equally important is the need to not get dragged in Pakistan’s domestic politics, especially for Washington. For example, Richard Hoolbrooke regularly meets with Nawaz Sharif and after every meeting, Nawaz Sharif and his team claim that Richard Hoolbrooke was reminded that Pakistan is not ready to give up its independence and Washington must respect Islamabad. Similarly, couple of days after Kerry met Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif declared that Kerry was unable to satisfy him. What? If you were not satisfied by Kerry’s explaining of Kerry Lugar or any other matters, why didn’t you tell us this at the time instead of hugs and kisses? Americans have to understand this difficult component of Pakistan’s impossible domestic politics when it comes to fighting the Taliban.
The current government has gambled everything by taking on the Taliban and now, there is no turning back. If Pakistan did not fully succeed in decisively crushing the Taliban, the threat to Pakistan would continue to resurface and it is not easy to launch massive operations like Wazirstan and Swat. World leaders should come forward to do their part in this fight against the Taliban. Remember, God forbid if Pakistan failed to defeat the Taliban, Washington, London, Paris, Tokyo and countless other countries would become the next target for the Taliban. Therefore, it is important to strengthen Pakistan, assist the current government, and not encourage pro Taliban leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan type characters by meeting with them