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

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora