Is Pakistan's fresh resolve against militants a new draft of the old narrative?
This is neither a new narrative nor is it specific to Pakistan. Rather, these are the foundational principles of the Westphalian state system. In order to be a member of the international community, a state must establish exclusive rights over all its territories, entities and people. It is not a choice; it is a prerequisite of being a state. Why is it necessary for Pakistan to make the twin principles as the cornerstone of its national security narrative?
Despite reassurances from Pakistan, the international community continues to raise troubling questions about its capacity and its will to act against militant outfits.
What the world community thinks about Pakistan matters a lot, as its image as a responsible nuclear power and a state committed to the principles of the United Nations Charter has suffered a lot.
Pakistan suffers from a serious image problem to the extent that even when its takes decisive measures against terrorist outfits, its actions are not deemed as credible. The country has lost more than 70,000 civilians and nearly 15,000 security personnel in its fight against domestic terrorism in the past 12 years.
Yet, not too many outsiders believe that Pakistan is serious in its dealings to eliminate terrorist outfits, particularly those that have allegedly been operating against its neighboring country. There is not much empathy for Pakistan either, considering the fact that it was the Cold War that brought militant organizations, their fighters and Islamist leaders from all over the world to its border with Afghanistan.
It is no coincidence that the border regions became the hotbed of international terrorist organizations that came to Pakistan's assistance, which was then the ‘frontline’ state to get Afghanistan liberated from the Soviet occupation.
Pakistani leaders find it very frustrating that after all these years of fighting to the point of exhaustion, their country is still being labeled as a ‘supporter’ of terrorist groups in order to pursue certain security and foreign policy objectives.
Rasul Bakhsh Rais
With the end of the Cold War and the ideological conflict giving way to pragmatism and primacy of national interests, the great powers left the scene to attend to more urgent national and international issues. The conflicting Afghan groups and Pakistan became stuck with old politics and wars, not realizing that the world had changed.
Pakistan in particular refused to change as its leaders and security planners failed to understand the new dynamics of national power—stability, order and rapid economic growth. Pakistan’s willingness to participate in the fourth Afghan war — the American-led invasion in 2002 — proved to be equally disastrous.
Private militant groups which it once employed as allies of the Afghan Mujahedeen turned their guns against the state. While supporting the US, Pakistan has been fighting many wars within.
Pakistani leaders find it very frustrating that after all these years of fighting to the point of exhaustion and despite paying a big human and material price, it is still being labeled as a ‘supporter’ of terrorist groups in order to pursue certain security and foreign policy objectives.
We cannot dismiss the current state of tensions with India, over the Pulwama attack, as a motivating factor for action against the banned organizations. India has accused the Jaish-e-Mohammad of carrying out that attack, as the JeM, an outlawed outfit, had accepted responsibility for the attack. Following the incident, India and Pakistan have come close to the brink of a war. Currently, tensions are high, even as the world community urges restraint and to work toward de-escalation.