Pakistan as a Frontline State in War against Terrorism: Cost & Benefit Analysis

By Sunawar, Lubna | Journal of Political Studies, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Pakistan as a Frontline State in War against Terrorism: Cost & Benefit Analysis


Sunawar, Lubna, Journal of Political Studies


From the beginning of the 1980s through September 2001, Islamabad has been supporting numerous Pashtun militant groups which were considered to be friendly and a potential asset for Pakistan against other regional players particularly India to safeguard its strategic interests in Afghanistan. In this regard, the most aligned group had been the Afghan Taliban. After 9/11, Pakistan was left with no choice but to side itself with the U.S. in their effort to defeat the Taliban government and to eliminate Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan. Pakistan in the pre 9/11 period continued to provide sanctuary to Al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leadership who enjoyed asylum in the Pashtun territories of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)(Barnett & Abubakar, Oct 2006)and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) adjacent to Afghanistan. As time passed on, these Afghan refugees have developed strong influence within Pakistani society and they managed to occupy jobs in major cities with great ease. (Katz, 2009)

During the past sixty six years of Pak-U.S. relationship, both countries have had a history of sharing strategic objectives in the region. For example, in the Cold War period, both unequal partners jointly fought against Communism as a threat. The post Cold War period witnessed a drastic shift, Communism was no longer a threat for the U.S. National Security after the disintegration of USSR but to fight against terrorism became the top most priority for the U.S. administrations.

On September 11, 2001 the people of the U.S. and the world had undergone a dreadful act of terrorism. The Bush Administration within a matter of hours conceived this execution as an act of war. This action had been taken as an international crime against humanity and it was quite obvious that the retaliation would come along with severe consequences in a long run. President Bush announced a war to eliminate terrorists' network which eventually led to a War on Terror. President Bush declared:

"The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out against the U.S. were more than acts of terror."

http://www.whitehouse.gov

Just War Theory in all accepted forms prohibits and condemns terrorism or wars of terror. The intended killing of noncombatants in the battle field is a War Crime which needs accountability. Such a military strategy which projects the brutal use of force against weaker opponent is an act of terror which in no case is justified. It violates the primary rights of innocents on a massive scale without determining any clear jurisdiction in order to accomplish military and political objectives which do not warrant the ideology of terrorism for whatever purpose it is carried out. In the given context, where terrorism can be used as immoral and illegal tactic to apply from the perspective of the Just War practice, it can be argued, for that reason, keeping in view the level of force which is being used in self-defense against terrorism is justifiable and morally an acceptable norm in International Law. This response and interpretation may be closer under the established custom of "preemptive" act to some extent. (Snauwaert, 2004)

In a global context, the Bush Doctrine has a close association with its agenda of strategic dominance under the banner of War against Terrorism. The intention of the Bush Administration to carry out pre-emption doctrine in a unipolar world is clearly difficult and complicated. The new U.S. global approach is power-driven and is more based on power projection; some would call it imperialistic tendency of the super power to rule the world. The vital questions which need to be addressed are:

i. Is the War against Terrorism is interlinked to a foreign policy of the super power; when its own national security is at stake?

ii. Does it obtain all the rights for expansion and projection of power by all means at hand?

If the expansion of power is the driving intention, then one can come to the conclusion that the doctrine of pre-emption is unjustified; it is being driven by a wrong intention for the sake of ruling the world in hegemonic manner. …

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