Pakistan as front line state on war against terror, A Cost Benefit Analysis

The events of 9/11 have changed the foreign policy outlook of Pakistan.  The crisis situation at the eve of terrorist attacks on twin tower was so sudden that it left the Islamic state of Pakistan with a few policy choices. Already lacking the strategic and diplomatic depth in the region the government at that time sorted out to side with the west powers and NATO. The decision of the government at the time of Afghan invasion has been contested at times and again. However, it is argued by some analyst that joining the western camp was the only rational option available for Pakistan and the decision was at the best national interest of Pakistan. The United States led coalition forces bombing against the Afghan militants destroyed the military machinery of the militants. But the removal of the Taliban from the government created a power vacuum in Afghanistan and raised several question regarding the future of Afghanistan. 

In the complex scenario in war against terror Pakistan initially was able to pull out economic and diplomatic support from the west.  Aid packages and armaments were provided to Pakistan. With start of war against terror Pakistan was able to reintegrate itself in the international community where previously it was being isolated because of the nuclear program and its support for the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Along with providing the country with diverse economic and diplomatic opportunities, the war against terror also instigated certain violent conflicts in the country.  After the invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s participation in it the country faced dire security situation. Sectarian and ethnic conflicts further aggravated the security settings. The civil war in Afghanistan escalated to Pakistan and its spillover effect could be seen inform of Suicide bombings, attacks on religious places, massacre of minorities, and abductions which became a part of the country’s security fabric.

Moreover, the removal of Taliban regime from power and the incitation of Northern alliance put Pakistan in a struggling position regarding strategic maneuvers because it lost its strategic depth in Afghanistan.  Northern alliance is India friendly political entity and it formulates policies which are influenced by Indian manipulation. Since the fall of Taliban government India has ensured an active presence in Afghanistan, through its diplomatic assertiveness and economic investment in Afghanistan India has molded public as well as government in its favor.  Thus, it would not be presumptuous to say that India and Afghanistan are involved in clear misadventures to create more troubles for Pakistan.

When the question arises that what actually went wrong with our Afghan policy it is mostly argued that Pakistan lacked any long term designs related to the crisis and instability. There has been continuous policy negligence and the issue has been put on the back of the burner every now and then. Lack of political unanimity and national narrative concerning important decisions vital to our national interest and security is a dilemma we have grown used to. However it is time to apprehend the gravity of the situation and decide what we rationally achieved from the participation at the cost of or national harmony and security. Pakistan is an unfortunate country because of geopolitical liability which pushes it in to great game designs. Sadly the cost- benefit analysis of the Pakistan role as a front line state in war against terror gives a negative  results for time being.   However given the fluidity of the ground situation, it is premature to draw any conclusion on the long-term consequences of the current developments. But the fact remains that while Pakistan had made some economic and diplomatic gains, it’s political and security interests have been adversely affected.

Author: Zara Zamir

Zara Zamir is Studying Defense and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi.

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