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Pakistan’s Dual Policy on Terrorism Continues

Raj Kumar Sharma writes: However, the bad terrorists were earlier part of good terrorist network and they were born out of the state sponsored terror infrastructure prevalent in Pakistan.

Former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari has written a commentary titled ‘To defeat terrorism, stop the U.S.-Pakistan drift’ in the Chicago Tribune on June 9, 2016.[1] The commentary has shed light on Cold War era relations between the two countries saying ‘Since the Cold War, Pakistan has been a staunch American ally, playing a critical role in driving Russia out of Afghanistan and serving as a democratic bulwark against communism and religious extremism.’ It also says that Pakistan is suffering casualty attacks by the Taliban and al Qaeda but there is consensus in Pakistan across political lines to dismantle terrorist networks. He cites Pakistan’s ‘commitment’ to target terrorists as the reason why the US should not stall the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Lastly, he says that new players like China and Russia are making inroads in Pakistan which could be at the expense of US interests in Pakistan.

There are a number of loopholes in Zardari’s commentary which should be pointed out. The first is that Pakistan’s so called fight against terrorism has been selective. It distinguishes between good terrorists (Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba) and bad terrorists (Pakistan Taliban). However, the bad terrorists were earlier part of good terrorist network and they were born out of the state sponsored terror infrastructure prevalent in Pakistan. Hence, Pakistan is not cutting the root of the problem but it is only targeting one of its outcomes. The good militants are still seen as an asset which can be used to keep India and Afghanistan off-balance in the region. In 2009, Zardari himself had accepted that Pakistan had created terrorist groups to achieve foreign policy goals.[2] It is an open secret that Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansoor have been killed by the Americans on Pakistan’s soil. Pakistan joined America’s ‘War on Terrorism’ operations in Afghanistan but it played a double game by sheltering the Taliban leadership on its soil. The US seems to have grown frustrated by this duplicity reflected in recent killing of former Taliban chief by a US drone in Baluchistan. Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad has said that Pakistan needs to be designated as state sponsor of terrorism by the US State Dept. which currently calls Pakistan as a ‘major non-NATO ally’. He has also suggested that US should impose financial and travel restrictions on Pakistani officials who support terrorism.[3]

By keeping terrorists close to its chest, Pakistan is also vulnerable to threat of nuclear terrorism. However, its nuclear program continues unabated and it is developing tactical nuclear weapons which can be easily stolen. India’s efforts to cooperate with Pakistan on terrorism remained unsuccessful as Pakistan sent its investigation team to Pathankot but has not allowed Indian probe team to go to Pakistan and question Jaish chief, Masood Azhar, the mastermind of the terror attack. With so many loopholes in anti-terror operations, giving F-16 to Pakistan would look a case of ‘rewarding bad behavior’ and further encourage states to use terrorism as a state policy.


[1] To defeat terrorism, stop the U.S.-Pakistan drift,

[2] Pakistani president Asif Zardari admits creating terrorist groups,

[3] Breaking the Pakistan-Taliban Alliance,

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