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Why America gives Pakistan special treatment?

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Why America gives Pakistan special treatment?

Minhaz Merchant

The war on terror in Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attack dramatically changed the Washington-Islamabad dynamic.

Since 1947, Pakistan has served the US-led West as a geostrategic asset.

Over the decades it has degenerated into a terrorist state. Pakistan's army is an Islamist force that fights in the manner of jihadis.

It ambushes and beheads Indian soldiers instead of fighting them on the battlefield.

The West has suffered enormous casualties as a result of the war on terror by the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan since 2001. Why then does the West still back Pakistan with money, arms and diplomatic cover?

The US imposed harsh sanctions on Iran for daring to even attempt building a nuclear device.

It imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine, both with strong Russian ethnic ties.

It has designated Sudan, Syria and Iran as “state sponsors of terrorism” for crimes a fraction as malignant as Pakistan's.

Indispensable

Why then does Pakistan receive special treatment? The conventional wisdom is that Pakistan's geostrategic location makes it indispensible.

It is the gateway to both Central Asia and West Asia and controls access to landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan, moreover, is a bulwark against Russian expansionism from the Caucasus.

These Cold War arguments still carry weight in Washington and London. But they are wearing thin.

The real reason the West continues to back Pakistan is hidden beneath self-serving clichés.

The US foreign policy has long been driven by the military-industrial complex (MIC). America emerged from its decade-long Great Depression in 1939 following World War II.

American factory production, mired in recession, began humming again.

It is war that has sustained US manufacturing growth ever since – Korea (1950-53), Vietnam (1965-75), Iran-Iraq (1980-88), Kuwait (1990-91), the Balkans (1999), Afghanistan (2001-16), Iraq (2003-16) and Syria (2011-16). America thrives on war.

Its defence budget ($570 billion) is larger than the combined defence budgets of China, Russia, France and Britain (the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council).

This does not mean the US goes to war merely to feed its military-industrial complex. It does so to preserve its global hegemony.

Washington spent more than 40 years in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the then Soviet Union.

The US-led NATO forces and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact powers were locked for decades at flashpoints across Eastern Europe.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago, the Cold War against communism has been replaced in US strategic thinking by a battle against two implacable enemies: Islamist terrorism and the rise of China.

America sees Islamist terrorism as the biggest threat to global security. It is the principal reason it tolerates a terrorist state like Pakistan.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton came within a hair's breadth of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state. Islamabad, which hires the most expensive lobbying firms in Washington, escaped unscathed.

The war on terror in Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attack dramatically changed the US-Pakistan dynamic.

After President George W Bush threatened President Pervez Musharraf to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age” if it didn't cooperate in hunting down the terrorists who had killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the September 11, 2001, terror attack, Islamabad slipped effortlessly into its new role as a “partner in the war on terror” rather than the perpetrator of terror that it clearly was.

Self-serving

The subterfuge has served both Pakistan and the West. Islamabad's single-point agenda is gaining assymetrical parity with through proxy terrorism.

Pakistan's , just a tenth of India's, won't give it parity: the chasm is too wide and growing. Its overstretched military won't give it parity either. Hence, the periodic nuclear bluster by Pakistani policymakers to feign equivalence.

Pakistan's self-created terror infrastructure has forged a failed state. Its army, like ISIS, has a model that uses terror to extract revenue.

ISIS extorts taxes and steals oil in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. The Pakistani army runs benami businesses in real estate, mining, manufacturing and smuggling.

It uses criminals like Dawood Ibrahim to run some of these illegal businesses and protects them in return.

It allows terrorists like Hafiz Saeed to front charities and schools as a cover while he plans terror strikes in India through -based jihadi groups.

Renegade

Despite the fact that the West has lost over 4,000 soldiers in the war on terror in AfPak since 2001 – many to attacks by terrorist groups sponsored by Islamabad – Washington continues to back Pakistan.

Islamabad is the classic example of a renegade gambler holding three aces:

One, Islamist terrorists whom it controls and directs; two, China, whom the West fears will replace it if it antagonises Pakistan; and three, a geostrategic location that keeps a resurgent Russia, Washington's increasingly volatile rival, at bay.

Besides, if Pakistan breaks up into Balochistan, Pashtunistan and Sindh (as it eventually might), leaving the rump of Punjabistan as the new Pakistan with a population of 110 million (half of Uttar Pradesh), Islamist terrorists will be freed from Islamabad's protective embrace.

That, Washington feels, is a cure worse that the disease. Pakistan plays on America's paranoia.

It is confident it can continue chasing with the Haqqani terror hounds and running with the Punjab-based terror hares.

The West though has read the sectarian writing on the walls of Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.

Pakistan is damaged goods but for the present serves the West's limited purpose as a frontline state to quarantine terror.

The West also knows that when you unleash the terror genie, it's impossible to push it back into the bottle. In the end, it consumes you. Pakistan is nearing that moment.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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