The military needs full political support on any national plans to root out terrorism. Challenges that Pakistan faces could be effectively confronted for the achievement of goals only if there is the will to act politically. Lukewarm support does not facilitate meeting the ends of policy. All options must be used, including the much-needed large-scale reforms and urgent measures to improve governance. Though the constitution was amended to provide for the creation of military courts to try hardened criminals and terrorists, there was much to be desired and required to be done on the political and diplomatic front, especially in the context of focus required in counter–intelligence and counter–terrorism policies. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership had fled to Afghanistan before the commencement of operation Zarb-e-Azb. TTP is an asset for Afghanistan.

It is no secret that TTP’s Afghan bases are used to target civil and military institutions in Pakistan as well as civilians in market places and public parks and playgrounds. The attackers easily come and go because of the porous Afghan border which is not so easy to manage except for a few checkposts. Because of these uncontrollable serious problems Pakistan has asked the United States to bomb TTP’s Afghan bases.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif told the United States team visiting Islamabad that Pakistan won’t let hostile states ferment terrorism. The General said, while Zarb-e-Azb was launched against terrorists of all shades and during the course dismantled sanctuaries of terrorists without discrimination, all stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges with regards to the nature of unmanageable Afghan border, inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of more than three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The Army Chief stressed the need for continuing coordinated and harmonised efforts against terrorists and effective and efficient border management as a way forward to regional peace and stability. Pakistan was committed to work for a long–term peace process for Afghanistan under the framework of QCG (Quadrilateral Cooperation Group).

The growing US–India ties were worrisome as the same were creating strategic instability. Washington’s support for Indian membership for the 48–nation NSG was discriminatory. There are differences over the nuclear programme of Pakistan which is key to credible minimum deterrence. The tension between Pakistan and the United States heightened after the US drone strike violated Pakistani soil and space in Balochistan and the United States’ overt display of ‘love’ for India, especially a blanket support for India’s candidacy in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). A section of political circle in the United States does not favour President Obama over this.

Reviving peace talks between Afghan government and Afghan Taliban was vital and well understood by the United States and other members of QCG. The drone attack that killed the Taliban chief was a set-back to the Afghan peace process. How could the United States, leading and coordinating the QCG deliberations itself, ignore responsibility to promote lasting peace in Afghanistan? Pakistan has told Washington of its concern clearly, stating that peace process and drone strikes cannot go side by side. President Obama’s approach at this stage of his presidency should have been more for peace than confrontation. Pakistan stands for peace and will continue to work in that direction. Pakistan will continue war against terror and will not let the world forget the sacrifices Pakistan has offered for the sake of peace. Pakistan is not against any country. It is against militants and agencies that work against peace efforts.

I appreciate former President Asif Ali Zardari’s published statement in an article emphasising that the US–Pakistan drift needs to end to defeat terrorism. Mr. Zardari has challenged the United States lawmakers who intentionally try to devalue Pakistan’s role in war against terrorism. Doubters should know that war against terrorism has not only cost Pakistan human lives (military and civilians) in many thousands but has also taken the country towards an economic crisis. Three decades of war has meant slower economic growth and foreign direct investment.

Think of the hidden opportunity costs of our commitment to fighting terrorism, wrote Zardari. The former President stated, history made it clear that the United States and Pakistan were stronger as allies, and that the world has greatly benefitted from this partnership. United States should play its role along with Pakistan in combating terrorism and also fulfilling its promise of F-16 sale, essential for continuing offensives against terrorist networks.

Who among the United States leaders would show courage to tell Indian Premier Narendra Modi to be honest and fair as he falsified facts during his Washington visit and tried to paint a negative picture of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorists. Despite Modi’s recent hostile remarks against Pakistan, the United States has said that New Delhi and Islamabad need to pursue closer relations with each other on the security front.

The ‘make or break’ Pak-US relationship is nothing new. This pattern has been there in the past and will continue in the future. Every country has its own national interests. It is for us to create an enabling culture that could help promote our own national interests. Might is right and therefore we need to learn from our mistakes to seek a path that gives us strength and self-esteem. We need to demonstrate that we can defend our sovereignty. Our decision-makers have to determine and define what is good for Pakistan. We have to put our own house in order. Pakistan is an important country with potential for growth and development. We should not be shy of admitting that we have one of the world’s best armies and most highly organised civil-services. We also need to know what is lacking. We should re-think in terms of maximising opportunities for a way forward.

In a democracy, the major responsibility of taking the nation forward in the desired direction is that of politicians. They need vision to lead the nation. Politicians certainly need self–discipline and extraordinary ability and courage in policy determination and decision-making. Personal interests should not overshadow national interests. Perceptions and thus opinions have to be knowledge-based.

I agree with Mr Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, that no policy could be considered ‘decisively successful or otherwise’. The complexity of situations and multiple factors is involved in making analysis difficult. But one thing is obvious, that the American tilt towards India is linked with Pak-China relationship and CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) and China’s growing Naval Power. Pakistan was aware of the attempts and threats to sabotage the CPEC Projects. Pakistan would counter the opponents of the projects effective with all its resources.

The United States will keep coming and going away. The real threat is from India at the back of terrorists from Afghanistan. India is a spoiler in our relations with the world community, especially, China.

We should remember that Afghanistan is the country that opposed our entry into the United Nations at the time of Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Border clashes and offensives against Pakistan suggest an alternative narrative and strategy to handle PAK-Afghan ties. Border-fencing is essential to stop terrorists’ attacking Pakistan from across the border in Afghanistan.

Along with tensions in Pak-US relations , is the deteriorating situation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are issues that need rethinking in the context of the current worrisome scenario. We need “Friends not masters” wrote Field Marshal Ayub Khan.