The Abbotabad Commission report termed the US raid on May 2, 2011 to kill Osama bin Laden an act of war by the US against Pakistan. Despite this, Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with US has continued on a normal track with Pakistan continuing to be the front line state in the US war on terror and is helping US secure permanent military bases in Afghanistan through a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. It is ironic that Pakistan’s Foreign Office has proudly claimed to have played a major role in helping the US sponsored peace process in Afghanistan move forward which will guarantee US military bases in Afghanistan, the very bases from which the US staged the Abbotabad raid.

The question one must ask is whether such a raid by another country, like India for example, would have resulted in ‘business as usual’ response or would it have been taken as an act of war in the real sense? The reality is that Pakistan’s response to the OBL raid is rooted in some deeply held convictions by Pakistan’s ruling elite about the working of the international order and Pakistan’s place in that order. Pakistan’s ruling elite believes that a superpower has the right to carry out such acts at will because of its military, economic and political hegemony over the globe and Pakistan should not and must not respond to such acts because it cannot afford a confrontation with the US.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 such a conviction led the ruling elite to scare the people of Pakistan in joining the US ‘War on Terror’ by threats of being bombed backed to Stone Age. As the subsequent years and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars exposed the fallacy of such flawed strategic estimates the current argument is that of economic meltdown of Pakistan’s economy without foreign support and international isolation if a heads down approach is not followed in response to US aggression.

So the working concept towards international relations and foreign policy is to associate you with the superpower and its interests and look for opportunities to wrest something out of it in return. Such an approach in itself admits the colonial nature of the Western dominated international order with its different multilateral institutions although the proponents of such a “Pacifist” and “Pro-Status Quo” foreign policy would never admit it.

The masses of course don’t subscribe to such flawed conceptions towards foreign affairs which are a legacy of European colonialism of these lands. The Muslims of the region challenged the British Raj at a huge cost of blood and treasure in the hope of wrestling back control of their lands from Western colonialism. It is after several generations that the descendants of those valiant fighters against colonialism find themselves fighting the American Raj in Pakistan in the hope of taking back the control of Pakistan and the wider region in order to use the potential of these lands solely for securing the interests of the Muslims of the region. Such an approach requires breaking free from the conception of aligning with a super power and pursuing an aggressive and expansionist foreign policy.


Islamabad, July 15.