No more carrots?

In yet another strike by NATO helicopters inside Pakistani territory, at least five people were killed and nine others injured in the Matta Sangar area of Kurram Agency. After Pakistan protested at the previous NATO strike in North Waziristan, which killed 50 insurgents, we saw a diplomatic reversal of the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF’s) earlier strongly worded statement. Despite this diplomatic ‘victory’, Pakistan should reconsider its policy on terrorism. With the passage of time, the US-led NATO forces are fast losing patience with Pakistan’s dual policy vis-à-vis the Taliban and its ‘strategic depth’ doctrine. The Afghan war is getting unpopular with every passing day in the US and other western countries. They have spent billions of dollars on a war that has not borne much fruit, and they see the main reason for this ‘failure’ as Pakistan’s covert support to the Afghan Taliban. That Pakistan considers the Afghan Taliban a strategic asset is no secret.

Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars, has created quite a stir worldwide. President Obama has minced no words in giving a strong message to Pakistan that the US will not be able to stop the consequences if an attack originating from Pakistan takes place on American soil. “One man, one bomb, in Times Square, on a subway...which could still have, obviously, an extraordinarily traumatising effect on the homeland. And that makes our job tougher,” is what Mr Obama told Mr Woodward. More drone strikes took place this month since the Americans started these strikes inside Pakistan and with these NATO air strikes inside our territory, the message is all but clear. Pakistan must stop providing safe havens to the Afghan Taliban. This policy has run its course and sooner or later the ‘carrot and stick’ policy will give way to a big stick only. We cannot afford to alienate the US and its western allies at a time when our economy is in tatters, the floods have proved to be one of the biggest natural disasters in our living memory, and we are fighting a war against the terrorists on our soil.

If stability is not allowed in Afghanistan, we will be destabilised. It is time to let go of our regional aims and just stick to protecting the interests of our country.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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