No ‘cajoling’ needed?

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday on the sidelines of the Asian security conference in Bali. After her meeting, Ms Khar said that the US and Pakistan “have the same strategic objective. Pakistan is the first one to suffer because of terrorism and militancy. Pakistan is doing it for itself. You do not need cajoling on that; that is in our national interest.” Ms Khar is right about the logic of needing no cajoling but then like many other things, the real decision makers in Pakistan do not think along the same lines. Not only do they need cajoling, they need to be reminded again and again of their commitment as the US’s frontline ally in the war on terror.

It is no secret that Pakistan’s foreign policy is dictated by the military establishment as is the case with our security policy. The US has tried its carrot and stick policy many times. In the Musharraf era, we were offered more carrots but now the US and its allies are losing patience with Pakistan’s double game. In come the sticks; the suspension of $ 800 million in military aid is just one way the US is showing its annoyance with the Pakistani military establishment. Unlike Ms Khar and our democratically elected government, the khakis have yet to see that it is in our own interest to stop protecting terrorists operating from our soil. There is no such thing as ‘good Taliban’ or ‘bad Taliban’ on the premise that the former are our strategic assets. All terrorists are equally bad. Even after losing 35,000 Pakistanis in terrorist attacks, our military establishment still keeps nurturing jihadists. What the military has failed to understand is that in the end, Pakistan will be the main loser in this dangerous game. From sectarian outfits to Kashmiri jihadi groups, from the Afghan Taliban to the local Taliban, all terrorist networks have wreaked havoc in this region. Their nefarious activities have not benefited anyone but caused enormous bloodshed and loss of innocent lives. It is hoped that better sense prevails in GHQ before it is too late.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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