I have written before about the failures of the bilateralism in the Pak-India relationship, particularly in the context of Indian brutalities in Kashmir and Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. Indian aggression, firing on our civilians from across the Line of Control clearly indicates its intentions. It is time to remind the world community and the objectively thinking saner elements that the only way to affect a bullish state is to bring in other power players, specially the US and other common friends or allies.

Obsession with Pakistan’s military seems to be a continuation of the cold-war era ‘mindset’ that preferred propaganda and falsification of facts over objective evaluation based on research findings. I remember my learned American Professors who always stressed the importance of “the rule of the situation” in decision-making. I wish Fareed Zakaria, a writer seemingly specializing in “Obama’s foreign-policy success in Pakistan”, had conducted some research or at least had found time to review the latest research findings to know facts about ‘war on terror’ and Pakistan’s role in ‘counter-terrorism’ operations aimed at regional and world peace. No country can match the sacrifices offered by Pakistani military in the war against terror. Pakistan stands in defence of Afghanistan and Afghanistan stands in defence of Pakistan. History and heritage and circumstances of the two countries explain their common interests and needs.

The United States administration coined and used the term “AfPak” to ensure better coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan to effectively handle problems cropping up because of counter-terrorism strategy and ‘the war on terror’. This step before draw-down of troops from Afghanistan raised the stature and importance of American government and that of President Obama. How could anyone ignore the importance of the US efforts in Afghanistan.

Zakaria labels Pakistan ‘a complicated country’. I would like to question who had created the problem and made Pakistan complicated? There were no signs of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan in 1960’s. The regressive forces, though present, found little space during that time to charter their agenda. Due to change in foreign policy, in the 1980’s and subsequent years, space was provided to regressive forces which changed the whole direction of the country. Extremism, militancy and terrorism came to grip the economy and society. This could also be attributed to the weakening of the writ of the state, leading to institutional decline and increasing incapacities. External factors and pressures had negatively impacted Pakistan’s internal political, social and economic environments.

In Pakistan however, all is not as poor in governance as depicted by media and perceived by the people. The hope lies in the electoral process and smooth transition of power from one civilian government to the other and in recapturing policy space for a better and inclusive direction.

Pakistan desires good relations with all neighbouring countries and the United States in particular, so as to be able to effectively meet internal and external challenges and destabilizing forces. Every country has its own national interests and specific internal and external environments, including political, social, economic and legal institutional net-works. There should be no clash of interests if positive attitudes and behaviours are in place.

Fareed Zakaria was unnecessarily reacting on the issue of Pakistani military to deliver on commitments to fight the militants. It is the concern of the US leadership. They monitor progress. Whatever is provided in assistance is matched with expected performance. Delegations from the United States visit Pakistan and are aware that assistance received is nothing compared with Pakistan’s tremendous material and non-material losses. And rapidly increasing threats to Pakistan’s national security are a reaction to Pakistan’s support for the war on terror. The consequences of this war have a cost that every Pakistani is paying. Only peace could improve socio-economic conditions and raise the level of living of the people.

In the military operation Zarb-e-Azab and Khyber-1, the military has been able to rectify some of the mistakes made earlier. It is encouraging that the two estranged states are getting back into stronger diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Pakistan is optimistic to find solutions to problems that confront the region and people around the globe. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s momentous initiative and ongoing Pakistan – US military dialogue brings new hopes for peace and stability.

The war on terror continues. Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif in his meeting with US Chairman Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey and other high ranking officials focused on situation in Afghanistan and on the military operation Pakistan launched earlier this year to destroy militant hide-outs in its tribal belt. Major focus of meetings was security and military-to-military relations.

General Raheel Sharif told US officials that Pakistan’s operation against terrorists in the country’s tribal region was affected by Indian troops’ continuous violation of ceasefire at the Line of control (LOC) and Working Boundary (WB). Indian leaders’ attitude and statements issued were affecting Pakistan’s campaign in fighting against extremism. Pakistan deployed 150,000 troops on its western borders after getting assurances that there would be peace with India on its Eastern borders which did not happen. As an ally of both Pakistan and India, the United States has a role to play for the sake of regional and world peace. US continued interests in the region, especially after the draw down from Afghanistan is vital for the future of the United States itself.

The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert and an author. He can be contacted at iftahmad786@hotmail.com