The terrorist attacks on the symbols of U.S. financial
and military power, and the consequent tragic destruction of human life,
may well signify a new kind of world war in the twenty first century.
It is different from the earlier two world wars of the twentieth century,
in the sense that it is a conflict not between opposed nation states but
between nation states on the one hand and loose groups of individuals
driven by rage, on the other. It is a rage bred by the peculiar politics
of nation states in the 20th century, where those with a consuming grievance,
and marginalized from the global system of state power, seek to express
their hate in an apocalyptic spectacle of violence. In this article we
will briefly indicate the new geo strategic situation that has emerged
in the aftermath of the apocalypse of September 11th and the danger and
opportunity for Pakistan.
Four defining features of the new geo strategic situation
can be specified:
1. The government and the people of the United States
of America are at war against terrorism worldwide.
2. A global alliance to conduct war against terrorism
is likely to emerge under the leadership of the U.S., consisting of not
only members of NATO but also a number of key developing countries such
as Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. the Palestinian Authority and possibly
3. It is significant that the site where the twin
towers of the World Trade Center once stood is being called Ground Zero.
(This is a term that technically refers to the terrestrial center of a
nuclear explosion). Equally significant is the fact that the passenger
laden airliners that caused such havoc are being equated with the use
of weapons of mass destruction. The prevailing doctrine is that the use
of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. would justify in turn
use of nuclear weapons against the enemy. Now in view of the authorization
by the U.S. congress to use all necessary force against the perpetrators
of the catastrophe in U.S. cities, it is clear that the U.S. government
has not excluded the use of nuclear weapons from the range of response
options that it may be considering.
4. As President Bush has announced, the U.S. government
will make no distinction between terrorists and the countries that harbour
them and give them support. Therefore the intensity of military, and economic
action against such countries is likely to be the same as against the
In the context of this strategic environment, Pakistan
may be particularly vulnerable since it has a nuclear weapons capability
and at the same time the existence of armed militant groups that function
within the geographic domain of the state while remaining outside its
law. There was a clear danger of devastating economic and military action
against us including an attack on our nuclear installations, if Pakistan
had not joined the emerging global alliance against terrorism. That is
why the decision of the government of Pakistan on 15th September to give
"unstinted" and concrete support to the U.S. in the war against
terrorism, was both courageous and wise. Courageous because it was taken
at the risk of an extremist reaction from the Taliban and their sympathizers
within Pakistan. Wise because it was in the highest national interests,
and in accordance with Pakistan's obligations under UN Security Council
resolutions to support international efforts against terrorism.
U.S. military action against Afghanistan with Pakistan's
support is now imminent. It may be useful therefore to examine this action
in the broader context of the global war against terrorism that the U.S.
has undertaken, and the implications for Pakistan.
The global war against terrorism has three distinct
aspects: The short term, medium term and long term respectively. The short
term objective of the U.S. and its allies presumably is to use primarily
military means to capture dead or alive Osama Bin Laden, to destroy his
training bases in Afghanistan and possibly to overthrow the Taliban government
in Afghanistan to replace it with a more amenable regime. Similar action
against Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria is possible though improbable in the
In the medium term, new international institutions
and structures may be established for intelligence gathering and covert
action against terrorist organizations, and enhanced security measures
for airports and airline operations.
Yet destroying a given set of terrorist individuals
and organizations cannot eliminate terrorism per se, since a new set of
individuals and organizations could emerge from the cauldron of hate and
sense of injustice. Therefore in the long term terrorism can credibly
only be overcome by addressing the root causes in its breeding grounds
whether in Palestine, Pakistan or Kashmir. While in the short and medium
terms the war against terrorism is waged by establishing new military
and intelligence structures. In the long term terrorism can be quelled
by initiating now, the establishment of financial and diplomatic structures
that will ensure economic welfare and social justice for the nations that
are currently dispossessed of both. Winning the war against terrorism
in the long run means: (1) Quickly achieving a just solution to the Palestinian
and Kashmir disputes (2) Restructuring the global financial system to
overcome poverty and accelerate economic growth in countries that having
been marginalized by globalization, are suffering from crippling debt
burdens, acute poverty and stagnating economies.
Terrorism will continue to raise its ugly head so long as there are large
numbers of people condemned to economic and political oblivion in the
interstices of a globalized world of affluence and political power.
The discourse of welfare, stability and rationality will continue to be
challenged by the discourse of deprivation, chaos and irrationality. Since
both discourses confront each other on globalized TV, both are expressed
as spectacle. Affluence and power was signified by the spectacular architecture
of the World Trading Centre and the Pentagon respectively. It is a tragedy
of our time, that the discourse of irrationality was expressed equally
spectacularly through the destruction of that architecture: Transmuting
the images of order and well-being into images of disorder and desperation.
In the new geo-strategic situation, a historic opportunity has emerged
for Pakistan to achieve at an accelerated pace its key national objectives
of economic revival and national security. In view of Pakistan's geographic
position, its sophisticated military capability and its political outreach
into Afghanistan, the U.S. in particular and the emerging global alliance
in general, will need continuing support from Pakistan to engage in the
war against terrorism. If Pakistan were to whole-heartedly provide the
requisite support then it could as a quid pro quo make the following demands
on the international community to achieve its legitimate national interests:
1. The U.S. should coordinate international action to provide a debt write
off on Pakistan's outstanding public guaranteed medium and long term foreign
debt (including the Euro bonds and defence) amounting to US $ 27.7 billion.
2. Lift all economic sanctions related with both our nuclear capability
and political system quickly.
3. Coordinate the provision of an annual inflow of US $ 5 billion for
the next three years for private investment and multilateral grants. This
will enable a quick economic revival with a GDP growth rate of about 7%.
The US $ 5 billion annual inflow should be directed to the following sectors
to ensure not just a faster GDP growth but also one that generates more
employment, reduces poverty and stimulates exports:
(i) Infrastructure, especially ports, national high ways, railways and
(ii) Health, education and vocational training.
(iii) Water sector, especially small and medium sized dams (that have
already been identified by the government), canal and water course management
and water drainage projects.
(iv) Export oriented large-scale private sector manufacturing industries
in the high value added sectors such as heavy engineering, heavy chemicals,
electrical and metallurgical industries.
(v) Credit, technical support and capacity building grants for developing
small-scale industries in the following areas:
(a) Information Technology
(b) Milk production and exports
(c) Livestock including meat packaging and exports
(d) Fishery exports
(e) Fruits and vegetables for exports
(f) Exports based light engineering and electronics industries
4. Provide military support to strengthening Pakistan's conventional deterrent
capability as well as to introduce advanced level fail safe mechanisms
for its nuclear deterrent to reduce the risk of an accidental nuclear
5. Provide international support to Pakistan in arriving at a peaceful
settlement of the Kashmir dispute with India in accordance with the wishes
of the Kashmiri people within a specified time frame.
Pakistan as much as the new world war against terrorism is at the cross-roads.
The U.S. and the world community must see that if Pakistan continues to
remain in economic stagnation, poverty and illiteracy it will continue
to remain a breeding ground for terrorism. On the other hand, if its social
and economic conditions improve rapidly it can emerge an enlightened Muslim
country that would strengthen the forces of reason and stability in the
If the U.S. marshals its diplomatic and economic resources to defuse social
and economic tensions in hot spots like Pakistan then terrorism in the
long run can be controlled. Resolving the festering Kashmir dispute and
helping Pakistan achieve economic well-being is therefore as much an imperative
of the new war against terrorism, as an obligation of reciprocity towards
a time tested friend.