LOS ANGELES: Osama bin Laden’s death has opened hell’s gates on Pakistan. One would be hard pressed to find an American commentator who has missed the Bash Pakistan Bandwagon. Their most prevailing argument revolves around, we give Pakistan billions every year and look how they repaid us. They cheated on us by sheltering the world’s most wanted terrorist.
To begin with, President Obama said, “it’s important to note that our counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.” Did President lie or do the Pakistan bashers suffer from selective amnesia?
Yes, its true Pakistan is an American foreign aid recipient, its true Osama was caught hiding in Pakistan, but would it be prudent to ignore the larger picture of how much Pakistanis have helped America? Absolutely not. Well it’s high time to place things in the right perspective.
According to the US Census Department, during 2001-08, Pakistan received an average of $.768 billion, or a total of $3.841 billion in Economic and Military Aid from the US. Pakistan claims, the war on terror has cost it $35 billion, or about $4 billion per year. It might be worth noting that during the same time US gave India $.988 billion, Egypt $8.530 billion, Israel $13.030 billion and Afghanistan $20.801 billion in Economic and Military Aid. Can the same critics point the last time any of above allies delivered anything worth mentioning to the US for the billions upon billions they received?
Let’s rewind couple of decades back when the Free-World lead by American-Pakistani coalition drove the last nail in Soviet Union’s coffin, resulting in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Was it the Israel (the largest US Military Aid recipient) that pushed Soviets over the cliff? No, it was the Pakistan.
During the First Gulf-War who sent its troops against Saddam? Was it India? No. It was the Pakistan. Who was the part of Peace Keeping Force in Bosnia? Was it India or Israel? None. But it was Pakistan. Who pulled the American troops out of raging battle in Somalia? Was it the Afghans or Egyptians? Try again. It was the Pakistani Army. Who saved the American allies in the deep jungles of Africa? Yes Pakistanis did. Who trained American Special Forces in high altitude warfare? Afghans, Indians or Israelis? Only Pakistanis did.
Let’s take a gander over of what Pakistan had been doing since the 9/11. Since the day one Pakistan literally handed over Navy and Air Force (like Omara, Pasni, Shamsi and Jacobabad) bases to the US, exclusive air corridors and land transit right to the coalition, ISAF.
It wasn’t the Afghans, British, Egyptians, Indians, Israelis or the Saudis who had consistently captured and handed over some of most wanted terrorists. It is the Pakistanis who had come through time and again. To name the few Pakistan handed over: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abu Faraj al-Libi.
Between 9/11 and 2009, Pakistan lost 78 military officers and 2,273 soldiers to the war on terror, while it killed or captured 17,742 militants. During the same time ISAF lost about 1,500 personnel. By any measurement Pakistani military has lost more men in the war than rest of coalition together.
Between 2004-11, at least 2,290 Pakistanis died from the 234 drone strikes. According to Brookings Institution for every militant killed through drone strikes “10 or so civilians” are killed. Can the critics name a single other sovereign nation with a proven capability to shoot down drones who has allowed such attacks?
Some of the (modern) Joseph McCarthy don’t want to miss the Pakistan bashing train, because they simply don’t want to miss the hip thing to do; while others like the Congressman Peter King have deeper political agenda to expand their fear-cult following. Regardless of their motivation, all of them unanimously chant to punish Pakistan and make the foreign aid to Pakistan contingent to the American dictates. Neither would it be the first, nor the last time Pakistan would be heavily sanctioned. Last time Pakistan was marginalized, it became a nuclear power and diverted the extremists to Kashmir. This time, Pakistan would simply replace China with the US.
Everyone, including Pakistanis are jubilant over bin Laden’s killing; however, they feel cornered and insulted over the world reaction to its embarrassing security lapse. They ask, was CIA or FBI in collusion with al-Qaeda or were they incompetent when the jetliners flew into World Trade towers on the 9/11? If not, then why there is a mob bent on publicly lynching Pakistan?
Prudence requires a well-balanced criticism of Pakistan’s intelligence failure, without unduly antagonizing one of most reliable and time tested American ally.
The writer is a political analyst and freelancer based in Los Angeles