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بدھ، 11 مئی، 2011

Pakistan's sacrifices in war on terror deserve respect

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush`s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden`s, and he is not a "suspect" but uncontroversiaaly the "decider" who gave the orders to commit the "supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole"( quoting the Numemberg Tribunal ) for which Nazi criminals were hanged the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.

By Fu Xiaoqiang

The killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces in the garrison town Abbottabad, close to the capital of Islamabad, sparked global discussion over Pakistan's role in the action.

The US has started to revaluate its relations with Pakistan after the death of Bin Laden. The US Congress launched hearings on Pakistan and Afghanistan on May 5. The Pakistani military also held a special conference to assess the impact of the US mission.

The doubts the US harbors against Pakistan focus on two points: Whether Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was hiding and covered for him while he eluded capture for all these years, and whether to keep on cooperating with Pakistan in anti-terrorism.

The unilateral and successful mission to eliminate Bin Laden by the US demonstrated to some that the US could achieve its targets without help from Pakistan.

Leon Panetta, the CIA director, recently claimed that Pakistan could not be informed about the mission for fear that they might leak the information.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari argued in an article in the Washington Post that the US reproaches of Pakistan's initiative in anti-terrorism were groundless.

The US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group said in a joint statement that the anti-terrorism operation aimed at Bin Laden indicated the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation.

The split opinions of the US and Pakistan reflected the ingrained distrust and severe disagreement on anti-terrorism strategies between them.

The unilateral action of the US in killing the terrorist mastermind has already placed Pakistan in a dilemma.

The Pakistani government was suspicious of sitting by while the US invaded their territory, air space and sovereignty, and feared that Pakistan might suffer from a round of reprisals from Al Qaeda if they admitted aiding the US.

But if they played no role, or if the mission truly had to be kept from them for fears of security leaks, the strategic conflicts between the two nations are utterly exposed.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of Pakistan's army, said in his statement after the special evaluation meeting that any further actions violating Pakistan's sovereignty will lead the government to re-evaluate its possible military and information cooperation with the US.

The US needs to assess objectively and fairly Pakistan's contributions and sacrifice in anti-terrorism.

During the decade-long anti-terrorism campaign, Pakistan has killed and arrested more than 400 Al Qaeda affiliates, including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, suspected of being the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, and has lost more than 3,000 police to terrorists.

According to statistics released by the Pakistani government, the direct and indirect economic losses in the recent 10 years from anti-terrorism total $100 billion, far more than the $20 billion economic aid given by the US during the same period.

Pakistan has paid a heavy social and political price for its involvement in the war on terrorism.

Society is in disorder, the security situation is deteriorating and many people have lost their homes.

Take the use of US drones in 2004 in Pakistan. More than 1,000 terrorists were killed in the bombing but an overwhelming number of Pakistan civilians were also slain. 

After the death of Bin Laden, US political and academic circles initiated public discussions on Pakistan's role in anti-terrorism and started to consider adjusting strategies toward the nation. Unilateral operations and targeted eliminations against terrorism seem to be popular in the US.

However, this could result in inconceivable consequences if the US keeps resorting to such methods in anti-terrorism operations while ignoring international principles of other nations' sovereignty.

This July, the US will begin to gradually reduce its army in Afghanistan. The death of Bin Laden and the current strategic successes will accelerate the US retrenchment strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, Pakistan is still able to play a vital part in regional security and global anti-terrorism.

The US should assist Pakistan in stabilizing its society and reviving its economy while respecting the nation's sovereignty.

Utterly uprooting terrorists and extremists in the region is the duty of a global power.

The author is director of the Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
Source: Global Times
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