Apart from the 63,000 people killed during the last one-and-a-half decade, the war on terror has impacted Pakistan’s social, economic, political, cultural and psychological make-up time and again.
The world seems to have forgotten the irreparable loss our nascent democracy bore by the martyrdom of our great leaders Benazir Bhutto, Bashir Bilour and countless others. The consequential political vacuum left behind will take decades to fill and what is more perturbing is the political ideology that will fill this vacuum. Apparently, the world also seems to have turned a blind eye to the tearing apart of our societal paradigm as a result of the war on terror. Increased sectarianism has spewed hatred and drawn deep divides in our society which will take ages to mend.
Has anyone noticed how the war on terror has cost us our global image? The attack on Sri Lankan cricket team is just one among many incidents. This brutal war hasn’t even spared our mosques, churches, imambargahs, institutions, police stations, courtrooms, public offices, minority settlements and shrines.
The war has also led to the displacement of a large number of people from Fata as a result of military operations. We have seen our children suffer and toil hopelessly in refugee camps in their own country; devoid of education, health facilities and a place they used to call home.
On the economic front, this war has adversely impacted Pakistan’s exports, physical infrastructure, FDI, the privatisation process, our industrial output, tax collection efforts and has caused significant expenditure overruns in public welfare projects.
Cumulatively, Pakistan has sustained losses to the tune of $123.13 billion, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2016-17. Technically the US has funded 27.13 percent ($33.4 billion) of this total expenditure. Of this amount, $14.573 billion was for payments made under the Coalition Support Fund which is reimbursement for services provided by Pakistan and not aid. The world needs to take note of the fact that Pakistan’s losses are $89.73 billion higher than the amount the US generously claims to have given to Pakistan. This amount also included a substantial portion for supporting the US mission in Afghanistan.
What led us here? This question continues to haunt every Pakistani to date. As far as I can recall, Pakistan announced its support for the US in the war on terror after the brutal 9/11 attack. Both countries vowed to combat terrorism together and the US Congress in an unprecedented move allowed the then president Bush to waive Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act, allowing military assistance to a non-democratic regime.
Yet the state of Pakistan, its army, people and state institutions have remained resilient and have firmly stood up to every challenge posed by the war – which at the time of its inception wasn’t ours but unfortunately today it is. In this time of agony, the stance of Pakistan’s ally reminds me of Julius Caesar’s “Et tu Brute?”
The stance taken by President Trump and the US administration’s accusation that Pakistan fed Washington ‘nothing but lies and deceit’ is disrespectful to the sentiments of 22 million Pakistanis. It is an absolute mockery of the agony of the mother who lost her child in the APS attack; of the children of Fata who reside in refugee camps, of the widows who lost their husbands in terrorist attacks on mosques; of the minorities who have been targeted and killed as a result of the fire, that is the US led war on terror, that engulfed Pakistan.
It is also unfortunate that the US president went on to accuse previous US administrations of ‘foolishly giving away $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years’. Speaking of this aid, if the $14.573 billion CSF (44percent of the $33.4 billion) were to be excluded, the approved civilian and security-related aid to Pakistan from 2002 to 2016 would stand at $18.8 billion, according to statistics compiled by US authorities.
If all losses were to be made good, the US should pay $104.3 billion more to Pakistan, ignoring the social, ethnical and political losses of the war. I’ll let the conscience of the world decide whether Trump’s tweet reflects well upon Pakistan’s role in the war on terror or the title of this article.
The writer is a chartered accountant.