Pak-US re­la­tions in per­spec­tive

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Ir­shad Ul­lah-Khan

AS the US com­pletes its with­drawal from Afghanistan after spend­ing an es­ti­mated tril­lion US dol­lars, we have to give them credit for their com­mit­ment in a cause they be­lieved in. The im­pact of this with­drawal will have a last­ing over­ture on our re­la­tions with the US. The time to con­cen­trate on a unity of pur­pose with our old friends is now. The griev­ances on both sides must give way to a mu­tual trust in each other in a new era of the sub­con­ti­nent which has emerged now after a pro­tracted war in Afghanistan.

Our griev­ances can be summed up be­low. They need to be ex­am­ined by the US with hon­esty.

The me­dia in Pak­istan had re­cently taken strong ob­jec­tion to a state­ment pub­lished that the US De­fense Depart­ment held that "we were us­ing mil­i­tant groups as prox­ies against neigh­bor­ing In­dia and Afghanistan".

The Kash­miris have the right to seek in­de­pen­dence. We are cer­tainly not sup­port­ing the home grown move­ments in In­dia, and they have a num­ber of them. In fact it is the In­di­ans and oth­ers who are sup­port­ing the Baluchis­tan Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment, and other di­verse ter­ror­ist el­e­ments in Pak­istan. In the 1965 war, we would have taken Kashmir back from the In­di­ans, and solved the prob­lem once and for all if the US had stood by us as we were bet­ter armed and equipped. In­stead, the US pressed for a cease fire, and did not support its ally, Pak­istan. Per­haps they wanted us to avoid a long and de­bil­i­tat­ing war.

Pak­istan is an old ally of the US. We were mem­bers of SEATO and sup­ported CENTO. We were re­spon­si­ble for the de­feat of the for­mer Soviet Union with Amer­i­can help that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union. We should not for­get when Khrushchev took off his shoe and banged it on the ros­trum of the United Na­tions Assem­bly and said that he will re­move Pe­shawar from the face of the earth after they shot down in 1960, the US's U-2 spy air­craft over the Soviet Union. Pe­shawar was the base for th­ese flights. We must not for­get that we have suf­fered enor­mous fi­nan­cial losses, and more than that, the lives of our valiant of­fi­cers and sol­diers who are now fight­ing in Pak­istan, in the fall out of the US led war on ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan. We must not for­get that it is the US that cre­ated the Mu­ja­hedeen to fight the Soviet Union and sup­ported Osama Bin Laden, and then for­got them after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan. Th­ese are the present day ter­ror­ists who are the off­spring of the Mu­ja­hedeen. We must also not for­get that be­cause of our friend­ship with the US, Pak­istan re­fused ac­cess to the warm wa­ters of the Per­sian Gulf to the Soviet Union who had promised us mas­sive support; and for this rea­son they turned against us. The US is now cud­dling close to In­dia which was never its ally.

The US had bud­geted forty bil­lion dol­lars a month in Afghanistan to support their forces, their in­fra­struc­ture, and their equip­ment. Pak­istan gets three bil­lion dol­lars a year and some of that does not even come to us. If our De­fense Forces had re­ceived the same kind of money that the US has been putting into Afghanistan there would have been no ter­ror­ists left in Pak­istan and in Afghanistan. Our valiant Armed Forces have lost more than 5000 Of­fi­cers and Jawans, and we have lost over 50,000 of our civil­ians and the toll rises ev­ery day. We are fight­ing a war that we were net­ted into. The hor­ren­dous mur­der of our chil­dren, teach­ers, Prin­ci­pal, and se­cu­rity per­son­nel at the Army Pub­lic School and Col­lege Warsak Road Pe­shawar is a tragic reprisal to our moral un­der­stand­ing to cleanse and se­cure Pak­istan.

We presently have 1.6 mil­lion Afghan refugees mostly from Afghanistan ac­cord­ing to the UNHCR. This is the left­over of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union where we stood by the US to lib­er­ate Afghanistan. Has the cost of th­ese refugees to Pak­istan been cal­cu­lated by any­one?

Hav­ing taken the above into ac­count, the re­cent visit of Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif to the US presages a turn­about in the tide of events. It re­minds one of the visit Pres­i­dent Field Mar­shal Muham­mad Ayub Khan made to the States when Pres­i­dent Kennedy and Jac­que­line Kennedy re­ceived our Pres­i­dent at the Air­port and he was given a rous­ing re­cep­tion. It re­minds one of the days when Jac­que­line Kennedy vis­ited Pak­istan. Those were the times when our two coun­tries marched shoul­der to shoul­der. We sup­ported each other as good friends and bil­lions of dol­lars have come our way since then, gifted by the US to aid our econ­omy and strengthen our coun­try.

Pak­istan is the most strate­gic coun­try in the world to­day. Our bor­ders and our neigh­bours de­fine our im­mense im­por­tance. As we en­gage in Zarb-e-Azb and our Army de­mol­ishes the en­emy, the time has come once again in the his­tory of our two na­tions to com­bine our ef­forts to make our great na­tion Pak­istan free of ter­ror and the whole world a safer place to live in.

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