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Pakistan And The New World War
Dr.Akmal Hussain
Newspaper: The Daily NEWS
Dated: Lahore, 22nd September 2001

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 even China.

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 terrorists themselves.

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 short term.

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 communications.

(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 war.

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 world.

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.

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