Editorial : The way forward - Thursday 5th May 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/05/the-way-forward.html

HAVING failed to capture America’s prime enemy on Pakistani territory while the US launched a unilateral ground and air operation to do so, where do we go from this point? At stake is the future of American and Pakistani cooperation on counter-terrorism. The incident raises several difficult questions about the future of the US-Pakistan relationship as a whole, but it is in this area that the parameters will be most deeply questioned. Will America conduct more unilateral strikes in Pakistan if it has information about high-value targets? Will Pakistan hold back intelligence it might have about targets in the future? Some statements from both sides already indicate that collaboration on counter-terrorism could be threatened. The Foreign Office statement released on Tuesday mentioned “deep concerns and reservations” about the US operation. CIA chief Leon Panetta told the press that Pakistan was kept in the dark about the strike because “they might alert the targets”. The idea that even Bin Laden might have been protected speaks volumes for the level of American mistrust and the negative perception that the Pakistani state has managed to create about its intentions.
In the midst of all this back-and-forth, both sides must remember one thing: we have a common enemy. This was once America’s war, but for several years now it has been waged on Pakistani soil and at the cost of a huge number of Pakistani lives. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and some other militant groups say they attack the Pakistani state — and kill civilians in the process — because it cooperates with America. It was this very ideology that Bin Laden promoted, seeking retaliation for American interference in the Muslim world through attacks against the US and the Muslim governments who work with it. His second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri — who had given calls for jihad against the Pakistani state and the ‘un-Islamic’ politics practised in the country — and other senior members of the group remain at large.
The events of this week cannot be allowed to derail what is a shared goal: to secure both nations from a common threat. The post-Osama world requires a new chapter in counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries. Fortunately, there is plenty of precedent to build on; on several occasions they have shared intelligence or conducted joint operations that have resulted in the arrests of high-profile terrorists in Pakistan, including Umar Patek as recently as March this year. One hopes that the recent operation was an exception resulting from Bin Laden’s status as Al Qaeda’s leader. Going
forward, cooperation is the only way the two countries will be able to fight the terrorist threat.

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