News / Asia

Post 9/11 War on Terror Strains US-Pakistan Relations

When the masterminds behind the terror attacks on the United States in 2001 were discovered hiding in Afghanistan, the U.S. sent thousands of troops to hunt them down - and asked Pakistan to help. But Pakistan has its own interests in the region and that has meant for a troublesome alliance. 

Abbottabad raid

Few things have exemplified or strained the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan more than what happened earlier this year in Abbottabad - the U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

It raised questions in the U.S. about Pakistan’s friendship, and angered many Pakistanis, upset by America's unilateral action.

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami chant slogans during an anti American rally in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on  May 6, 2011. Osama bin Laden was killed by a helicopter-borne U.S. military force on Monday, in a fortress-like compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad.  (AP Photo)

But Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, told VOA the two nations must remain united against a common enemy.

"The problem we have here is that we are dealing with ruthless people  who are bringing something to Pakistan that Pakistan didn't want, just like America didn't want an attack on 9/11," explained Munter. "Pakistan doesn't want these kinds of terrorists. They're bringing them here and trying to drive us apart. Trying to make this sound as if it is somehow a fight that we shouldn't be in together."

Afghanistan

When the United States launched its military campaign in Afghanistan, it inserted itself into a far larger, far messier regional struggle.

Tensions between India and Pakistan dominate the sub-continent. They have fought four wars and countless skirmishes since their creation more than 60 years ago. Both possess nuclear weapons.

Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan is porous, nearly impossible to control. Ethnic Pastuns live on both sides of a disputed line arbitrarily drawn by a 19th century British statesman.

Maleeha Lodhi, the former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., says Washington didn’t fully understand the ramifications of sending troops to Afghanistan.

"Well, I think the blowback of 10 years of war in Afghanistan has been devastating for Pakistan," Lodhi said. "It led not just to the prolongation of a war that destabilized the region, but it also led to the defeat of America’s own objectives. Because America was unable to distinguish and therefore separate al-Qaida from the Taliban. Pakistan believes that this war and the way it was fought was pushed into Pakistan’s border region."

Insurgents

Taliban, al-Qaida and other insurgents fled into Pakistan when the U.S. led coalition arrived in 2001.

And after Pakistan sided with the U.S,  many of the fighters in those tribal regions decided Pakistan’s military and government were legitimate targets.  

That led Pakistan’s military to pursue some insurgents, but not others -- notably the Haqqani network, allied to both the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The U.S. responded with drone attacks on insurgents inside Pakistan, sparking a wave of anti-Americanism. Many Pakistanis feel the U.S. is violating their nation's sovereignty.

Will relationship last?

But Ambassador Munter says for the last 10 years the two nations have stood together and suffered together. And, he says, with that shared experience they should hold together.

"Both countries have shown resilience. I think it is a good sign for our relationship," noted the ambassador. "Both countries have suffered and we honor the sacricies that people have made. But huge challenges remain and we're going to have to stay together in order to face them."

Parties on both sides of the relationship question that, though. Whether it’s in the American Congress where there’s talk of cutting aid or in Pakistan where there’s anger and talk of breaking with America for now the two remain allies.

At the end of the day, though, on both sides, a common analogy is often used: better a difficult marriage, than an ugly divorce.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid