In 1979 one World-Power came calling our name to support them in the containment of another World-Power’s advancements. It was the United States of America who sought our help in thwarting Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. The USSR’s pursuit to get access to warm waters of Arabian Sea was the main cause of the invasion. Pakistan would have been the next target of USSR after conquering Afghanistan. Our political and military leaders decided to become a front-line ally of US in Afghan proxy war. Afghan mujahideen were supplied arms and weapons to prevent communist expansion further south. Afghan jihadis were used to move freely across the porous Pak-Afghan border, getting trained in Pakistan and fighting for their homeland against foreigners who invaded their country.
The Soviets backed out in 1989 and left a power vacuum in Afghanistan resulting in civil war. The alliance we had made with Afghan Jihadis (renamed as Taliban) helped them to gain power in 1996. Pakistan quickly recognized the Taliban government and provided the much needed diplomatic support.After 9/11 we found the US again knocking our door and this time demand was to sever ties with Taliban government. Under the growing US pressure, Pakistan acquiesced and joined America’s War on Terror. The American led coalition forces attacked Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban government. A lot of Taliban leaders crossed the Af-Pak border and settled in FATA.
The elements of jihad, our military brewed in the 80s and 90s for Afghan proxy war had their after effects. Those elements imbued perfectly with the ideology inculcated in the country under the garb of Islamization. A number of Sectarian organizations were formed in that era. Those organizations glorified jihad and spread the teachings of hatred and intolerance among Pakistani youth. Pakistan used the same model of proxy war for Kashmir and tried to fuel further the indigenous struggle for freedom.
Unfortunately, these policies of fighting proxies developed a culture of Kalashinkov and religious extremism in our country. The non-state-actors created for these proxy wars have organized themselves and are still active on their own. These NSAs are a cause of utter embarrassment for Pakistan internationally. Pakistan is being blamed for exporting terrorism in the region and harboring terrorists in its territory. Pakistanis are being humiliated in the world. Recently a Pakistani film artist, Saba Qamar, broked into tears while sharing her humiliating experience at the Tbilisi, Georgia airport for being a Pakistani and a green passport holder. On February 22nd, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organization which develops policies to combat terror financing in the world, put Pakistan in greylist for its inaction against terrorist organizations which are allowed to raise funds freely in the country. Even Pakistan’s all weather friend China and time-tested ally Saudi Arabia voted in favor to greylist former.
Pakistan is being isolated internationally. Pakistan cannot afford international isolation. It has to reshape its foreign policy to start friendly relations with its neighbors especially India. Pakistanis have suffered a lot from the terrorism and law & order situation in the country. Millions of Pakistanis are living below the poverty line, they lack basic health and education facilities. The country has not seen reasonable economic growth for over a decade.We cannot resolve all these problems without establishing long-term peace sought goals.
To ensure a prosperous future of the country these policies have to be redesigned for the betterment of the people of Pakistan. We have to learn from the history of Europe where enemies (Germany and France) who fought against each other in past are now living in harmony and their policies of co-operation resulted in the economic development of the region which in turn elevated the standards of living.