EDITORIAL: The necessary evil
US drone strikes targeting Militants and Pak-US relations
ISLAMABAD: There are best of the relations, there are worst of the relations and then there is Pakistan and the US. Each day brings the twists of economic policies and developmental correlation between the two countries to a new standstill. There have been times of mutual financial and strategic assistance with images like that of Ayub Khan patting President Johnson on the cheeks.
Then there are times like the PM’s recent visit to the US and a moderate, between the lines expression of Pakistan’s detest over drone strikes. The US does not mind at all as President Obama listens to the request and pats it on the cheek with another drone strike in Miranshah on the PM’s return to Pakistan. The reaction is immense and again non aggressive since not a long while back, Pakistan, though covertly, itself allowed the strikes to continue.
Have the strikes made their mark in the War against terror? Seeing the list of high value targets killed in these strikes, there is no doubt that it has. The recent being the killing of Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a highly controversial drone attack at a highly non-expected time. The increasing number of civilian casualties on the other hand comes back to haunt Pak-US foreign policy and humanitarian programs. Pakistan bore a gigantic $100 billion loss during the last 12 years of US war against terror. Since the war reached Pakistan’s urban terrain in the form of suicide attacks and terrorist activities, most of this loss is non-military in nature. As per data released by USAID, Pakistan has received a civilian assistance of $3.3 billion since 2009. The aid peanuts are not enough to regenerate all the developmental programs and to boost Pakistan’s sluggish economy.
The newly elected government had better plans in mind when they announced a dialogue process to be initiated between the government and TTP. The dialogues were aimed at bringing the extremist elements to the table and to reach common grounds with non-violence. This would have curbed the continuous foreign investment and infrastructure damage by acts of terror and would have provided the economy with a chance to move forward. The dialogue process was almost chalked out as the PM and the Interior Minister issued statements affirming an ongoing progress. Sources revealed that even TTP had agreed to the terms of not carrying out any major attacks in Pakistan till the dialogue process is complete.
The killing of TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike sabotaged the dialogue process in a single strike. With across the board criticism on the US for not playing its part in the peace process, it is still worthy to note that Hakimullah Mehsud had a bounty placed over his head by both Pakistan and the US government. The necessary evil of drones might have destroyed the dialogue process but would it help root out the root cause of a rotting Pakistan economy threatened by terrorism?
The world waits fingers crossed.