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Pakistan’s Role in Global War on Terrorism: and Areas of Clash with United States

Masood khan


New Recruit

Jun 30, 2009

Pakistan’s geographical location played a vital role in the Global War on Terror (GWoT). Its proximity with the Afghanistan brought Pakistan on the limelight. Unites States had chosen Pakistan for logistics, intelligence support, bases for operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan provided its all out support to the coalition forces against the Taliban regime. Pakistan proved to be pivotal for the United States in war against terrorism. In theory “Pivotal States are those countries which have potential influence significant or harmful effects on their regions.” Pakistan has all the ingredients to influence its regional neighbors. It shares long borders with major players like India, Afghanistan, Iran and China. Its nuclear capability had brought Pakistan into attention and post 9/11 era again increased the importance of Pakistan. Ex-president Musharraf called upon a meeting after the 9/11 attacks, with his Generals and key civilian leaders in which he said “US will react like a wounded bear and it will attack Afghanistan”. Musharraf had predicted the looming threat to the existence of Taliban regime and he decided to support United States of America without any hesitation. After the attacks US made several Demands to Pakistan, these were…​
“over flight rights, access to Pakistani air , naval, and lands bases, crush the domestic elements who are in support of terrorism against Americans and its allies, end every logistic and diplomatic support to Taliban.”

Pakistan accepted all these above demands without any vacillation. President George Bush howls then that “it looks like you got it all.” Pakistan’s support was crucial for the United States in every manner. Pakistan provided logistics and its air bases to support the attack against Afghanistan. Despite local resentment ex-president Musharraf pursued his policy on American terms and conditions, which later proven to be disastrous for the Pakistan’s own security. Today US is suffering huge losses in Afghanistan. It is unable to counter insurgency in Afghanistan which has been spilled over to Pakistani tribal areas and now it has threatened the core existence of Pakistan. Today its 2009 and there is no end to this war. Terrorism, extremism, violence and instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan have touched the record levels. United States and its allies have been miserably failed in the Afghanistan; they have suffered huge economic and military setbacks in this war. More than 500 US soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and on the other hand US has also spent billions of dollars in Afghan War. But still they are unable to achieve any considerable success in Afghanistan. Use of force in Afghanistan and in Pakistani Tribal Areas has caused thousands of civilian casualties. Situation in most parts of Afghanistan is out of the US control. New Obama Administration should work with Pakistan government for the peaceful settlement of these issues, dialogue and reconciliation efforts can only bring peace and stability in the region. In coming paragraphs Pakistan’s role in War on Terror will be discussed briefly.​

Targeting and Capturing Al-Qaeda Insurgents

Pakistan has played a crucial role in the War against Terrorism. It has been a key ally in this war. It is a hard fact that US cannot win this war without the support of Pakistan. Pakistan’s geographical proximity with Afghanistan made it more important for the United States. Pakistan shares long border with Afghanistan which is mostly consists of rugged mountainous terrain, and it is difficult for surveillance. After the US attack, flux compelled people from Afghanistan to get refuge in Pakistan; they have centuries old linkages Pakistani tribal areas and moved freely. In this backdrop Taliban and some Al-Qaeda remnants also found refuge in these areas. After intense pressure from United States in 2002 Musharraf ordered the Military Operation in the Tribal Areas. This was the starting point of dark ages for Pakistan. After this operation we have seen hundreds of civilian and security forces casualties. Moreover In 2003 Pakistan achieved significant gains in tribal areas; it had captured more than 400 Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects and killed many. Moreover In 2004 Pakistan under pressure from United States started its operation in North Waziristan in which Pakistan security forces had killed more than 300 foreign fighters and Al Qaeda suspects. These operations played havoc with the safety and security of Pakistan and brought great resentment from the masses of Pakistan. Local tribesmen stood against the government operation and Pakistan forces faced huge losses in terms of man and material. Eventually in 2005 Pakistan army declared that out of 6000 foreign militants it has captured 600 and 150 have been killed. The loss of Pakistan army was around 200 men. This shows the continuous efforts of Pakistan against this war on terror. No other American ally has done this much labor so far, but despite all these efforts Americans are still not satisfied with the Pakistani pains in GWOT. Time an again they allege that Pakistan is supporting covertly anti American groups in tribal areas and Afghanistan. In reality weakness is on the other side of the border, where US led alliance with meager force is unable to curb the insurgency from Afghanistan. United States of America should acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts in the GWOT and come up with all out support to help Pakistan in combating miscreants in the tribal areas. United States should trust Pakistan Army and its Intelligence Agencies. Only then we can move to the amicable solution of the problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s turbulent tribal areas.​

Logistic Support for Coalition Forces:

United States of America was successful to gather the support of the world community. On October 2001 US announced that twenty seven countries had granted over flight and landing rights to US forces. Despite getting the support from many other countries Pakistan was a key player for the US policy makers. Pakistan provided United States all out support in this war. In coming paragraphs study will focus on the Pakistan’s support to the United States.​

Air bases given to United States

Pakistan had offered its air bases at Pasni and Jacobabad to US operations in the Afghanistan. Other air base which is being used by Americans is at Dalbandin. All these three air fields are used for the logistics and support to the coalition forces in Afghanistan. Dalbandin used as a forward refueling base for US Special Operations helicopters operating in Afghanistan. These bases have been very crucial for the Americans because of their proximity to Afghanistan. It is alleged by some dissents that CIA drone attacks fly from Pakistan to target Taliban or militants in Pakistani tribal areas, although at government level these accusations have been rejected by the several government officials. The reasons behind not accepting these allegations are may be to avoid severe resentment from the Pakistani masses. Daily times a Pakistani English news paper quotes Rand Corporation a US think tank’s report of 2004 that

“Pakistan provided the US access to numerous military bases and helped establish facilities including Intermediate Staging Bases at Jacobabad, Pasni, Dalbandin and Shamsi; Predator basing at Jacobabad and Shamsi, and access to other bases used by over 50 aircraft and 2,000 coalition military personnel at these locales.”

Pakistan government should pass a resolution in the parliament with the consent of the all the political parties to close any cooperation with Americans which undermines the sovereignty of Pakistan. No country in the world has the right to trespass other country’s boundary. America has crossed all the limits and now they are challenging the sovereignty of Pakistan, now this is the responsibility of our democratically elected government that they should take some stern action against these malpractices​

Supply of logistics by Road:

Pakistan has also signed an agreement with the United States after 9/11 in which Pakistan have pledged to give America all out support in logistics. More than 75% US and NATO supplies pass through Pakistan which includes gas, food, military equipment etc. Pakistan has been key player in logistic support. But growing uncertainties in Pakistani tribal areas and in Afghanistan these supply lines have been severely damaged by the miscreants. Billions of dollars worth of machinery and food items were torched in the recent past, which compelled US to change its supply routes, possibly from Russia or Central Asian States.

Deployment of troop on Pak-Afghan Border:

Pakistan shares 2400 km border with Afghanistan which is mostly rocky and precipitous terrain. Despite such conditions Pakistan have deployed more than 90,000 of its army at border with Afghanistan to put hold on the insurgency. Furthermore it has also established more than 1000 check posts and it has conducted more than 100 operations in FATA in which more than 2,000 Al Qaeda and Taliban militants were killed. But despite all such efforts it has been blamed for supporting insurgency which is really illogical. If we compare Pakistan’s efforts with allied forces in Afghanistan then it would be easy to understand that Pakistan is doing more than enough. There are not more than 200 check posts across the border. Total force under the ISAF/NATO is not more than 70,000. So it would be imperative for United States and its allies in Afghanistan that they should do more now instead of pressurizing Pakistan and its intelligence agencies. United States should acknowledge that Pakistan’s efforts in this war are undeniable.

Intelligence Support:

Pakistan has provided United States with proficient intelligence for their operations against the Taliban, although Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation was not on limelight but with their support US would have been unable to target the Al-Qaeda and Taliban members. US National security Advisor J. Hadley in an interview with CNN refused to comment on ISI-CIA relationship. He said “the relationship we have very sensitive, they are a matter of domestic politics to these countries and it would not help our effort against terror to be talking publicly about these relationships” This highlights that covert support Pakistan has been given to the United States for its operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda. In addition in 2002 Pakistani intelligence agencies arrested Khalid Al –Attash a Yemeni wanted for the bombing of USS Cole. Other important achievement was the arrest of Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, who was allegedly involved in 9/11 attacks. Major suspect of 9/11 Khalid sheikh had been arrested by the Inter Services Intelligence agents in 2003. In 2002 bush administration declared that more than 2700 militants allegedly linked to Al Qaeda were arrested in 60 countries, Pakistan have arrested 500 Al Qaeda linked militants more than any other country. Amjad Hussein Farooqi who was involved in the assassination attempt of Ex-President Musharraf and he had also close links with the Mullah Umer and Osama bin Laden was gunned down by the Pakistan police in 2004. Pakistan handed over 369 of the 689 captured militants to the United States. Regardless of Pakistan’s endless efforts Pakistani intelligence agency ISI is still being scrutinized by the US. It would have been difficult for United States to carry out operations against militants without intelligence support of the Pakistan. It is responsibility of the United States now to admire the role of ISI instead of maligning it. Pakistan government should also take some firm action diplomatically against such allegations on ISI and it must defend its national intelligence agency, only then we can succeed in the war against terrorism.

Efforts for Peace by Pakistan:

Use of force can never be the only option to bring peace and stability, reconciliation, dialogue; peace efforts are also important in this regard. Pakistan government did its best to resolve the problems and issues in tribal areas in an amicable way and bring some long term solution to the lingering issues. Few important peace agreements which Pakistan government have signed in the past with tribal elders are discussed briefly in the following:

Shakai agreement- 2004:

First accord in 2004 was signed with Nek Muhammad at Shakai with Waziri fighter. He reneged and was killed by American missile strike. It shows Pakistan’s genuine efforts for peace but Americans were susceptible for agreement with any Taliban leaders. It was unfortunate that peace agreement with Nek Muhammad could not materialize. Pakistan realizing the fact that use of force can never bring peace gone such agreement, but unfortunately it was sabotaged by the US air strike, there must have been constant dialogue with Nek Mohammad but in the end we have seen start of another gloomy era after this. There have been constant attacks on military convoys and installation. Next agreement was Baitullah Mehsud.

Peace Agreement with Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha- 2005:

Pakistan army after fierce clashes with Tribes in Waziristan came to conclusion that military operations would never resolve the issue, it would further exacerbate the situation, high number of civilian and armed force casualties compelled the government to bring these warring groups to peaceful negotiations. Second such peace agreement after 2004 held at Sararogha in February 2005. Major purpose of the agreement was to settle the issue without any further bloodshed. The agreement included the pledge by the Baitullah Mehsud and his tribe that they will not attack government installations and army check points; furthermore they will also not give shelter to the foreign militants. Despite all these efforts by the government peace was hard to achieve in the tribal areas. Peace deal with Baitullah Mehsud was also jeopardized after its violation by the Mehsud tribe. In short this agreement with Baitullah Mehsud turned out be a disaster for the peace in the tribal areas, today they are in constant clash with Pakistan army and Frontier Core. There is need of a comprehensive strategy which aims at the long term solution of the problem. Pakistan government should work for the peaceful settlement through engaging these tribes through Jirga/ negotiations, because use of force alone can never be the long term solution, we also need political backing in this process only then we can bring long term peace and stability in these areas.

Miramshah Agreement-2006:

Governments in 2006 signed an agreement with the North Waziristan tribal elders and members of Taliban to bring peace in this region. As part of the agreement government withdrew troops from that area and also released 165 miscreants, furthermore it was pledged that Tribal who suffered in the military operations will be compensated economically by the government. Moreover they were allowed to carry small weapons; in return tribal elders pledged that they will not allow any insurgent to infiltrate into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan. But in 2007 malefactor elements relinquish the peace agreement and cross border activities again had taken place more frequently. The failure of the government in this agreement was obvious because of many reasons, first government’s pledge to withdraw from the area had given them chance to regroup and organize themselves, secondly many miscreants were released by the government without any charge, and it had given confidence to these people against the government. This was the reason that after gaining economic compensation they regrouped and became more organized against the government.

Bajaur accord – 2007:

In 2007 Pakistan government tried to bring peace in the volatile tribal region, in that process Bajaur accord was singed with local elders of Mohmand tribe and the government, but due to the judicial crisis after the sacking of Chief Justice of Pakistan the focus of government trend from this peace accord. Eventually this peace agreement also met the same fate as other accords and peace agreements faced in the past. Government of Pakistan should take some concrete steps and bring peace, harmony and solidity to these areas, military force should be selectively used with accurate information and human intelligence. But peace efforts should also be carried out with military operations only then we can bring long term peace and stability in these areas.

Several issues Affecting Pakistan’s efforts in GWoT:

There are few issues which are impinging the Pakistan’s efforts to fight Extremism and Terrorism. That include:

Lack of Resources/Funds/Aid:

First and foremost requirement is the resource capacity or adequate funds to fight terrorism and extremism, which Pakistan lacks, due to global economic crunch, high oil prices all over the world, high food prices, and burden of foreign debt have seriously hampered Pakistan’s efforts to fight against terrorism and extremism. Now the need of hour is that our allies including America, China, and other developed countries should come up with huge Non-Conditional aid. Only then Pakistan can effectively fight menace of terrorism and extremism.

Lack of Training to fight Guerilla Warfare:

Pakistan Army is trained to fight the conventional war, they are not trained in Guerilla warfare tactics, this is the reason that they are suffering huge casualties in fighting militancy in FATA, secondly our FC and police is also not trained enough to eliminate the nuisance of terrorism and extremism. We need to train our armed force, FC and police in counter asymmetric warfare. Only then they can be more effective against these miscreants. It is really very difficult to fight guerrilla warfare in a mountainous terrain, which provide lot of help in this kind of asymmetric warfare and give edge to the militants. To avoid further loss of men and equipment we have to train our security forces, in this regard we can take help from developed countries.

Trust deficit with US:

United States and Western world should acknowledge this fact that Pakistan Army and ISI have done a lot in this war. Now putting allegations on these two institutions will seriously jeopardize the overall counter terrorism and counter insurgency efforts. So the fact of the matter is that trust deficit should be filled up and blame game should end. Americans know very well that situation in Pakistan is seriously getting worse day by day, United States should support Pakistan diplomatically, and it should not pressurize Pakistan with old dictum of “do more”. Now we need collective effort against terrorism. Pakistan has already lost more soldiers and paramilitary troops than Americans or NATO forces, which shows its sincerity in this war. So it is imperative for the US to fill this gap of trust deficit and come up with more extensive support to Pakistan at every level, only then we can achieve our common objectives to win against terrorism and extremism.

Drone attacks/Civilian casualties/resentment:

Drone attacks by the Americans are seriously hampering the war against terrorism, because these attacks have killed more civilians than the real target, civilian casualties will fuel more insurgency and militancy. Now with changing tactics by Al Qaeda and Taliban they are using civilians as shield, they are dispersed in the tribal areas and mixed in the population, in case of any drone attack probability of the collateral damage has increased. In response what we are getting is more extremism, terrorism and more suicide attacks on our security forces, police and FC. This is the time for Americans to think wisely about these attacks, they are just fueling more militancy and terrorism and situation is getting worse with the passage of time. They should adopt another approach in which effective human intelligence is involved and which has less threat of civilian or innocent casualties, there must be selected use of force to save the precious innocent lives.

Lack of Latest Technologies/Weapons/Equipment:

Pakistan lacks latest weapons and equipments to fight guerilla warfare in rugged and mountainous terrain, what we need is more helicopters to carry out air assault on militants, it would give us an edge and also it would save lives of our soldiers, furthermore Night Vision Devices, Night Goggles, more Bullet Proof Jackets, Bullet Proof Vehicles, Jammers, latest surveillance Radars and equipments, and long range latest Snipers etc would definitely enhance the capacity and credibility of our security forces to carry out more accurate and decisive operation against militants and miscreants. Pakistan seriously lack in these latest technologies instated of criticism Pakistan should be given these latest weapons and equipments.

Lack of Human Intelligence in FATA:

"Knowledge of the spirit world is to be obtained by divination; information in natural science may be sought by inductive reasoning; the laws of the universe can be verified by mathematical calculation: but the dispositions of an enemy are ascertainable through spies and spies alone."

Sun Tzu
(Art of War)

One of the major reasons of the failures in the Global War on Terrorism is the human intelligence failure in the Afghanistan and Pakistan. Without credible information we cannot win this war. Lack of intelligence has proven to be a major hurdle in the tribal areas of Pakistan where Pakistan army is engage in bringing peace and stability. Keeping in mind the importance of human intelligence we have to formulate our further policies to accomplish our long term aims and objectives. Today we are facing an enemy with better human intelligence in tribal areas, if anyone found spying for Pakistan army or the US is being mercilessly executed in public which deter the new recruitment for the human intelligence. Despite technological advancement there are few things which cannot be measured or analyzed without active presence of ground spies. So it is imperative for our Intelligence agencies and Armed forces to improve their presence of human intelligence in these areas.


Pakistan a country of 170 million population and seventh largest army in the world is the frontline state in the war against terrorism. It has suffered huge setbacks in this war but despite all such setbacks and tribulations it has faced menace of terrorism and extremism with full vigor and zeal. Its armed forces, intelligence agencies, Frontier Core all have done mammoth work with less resources and training in such an asymmetric warfare. After 8 year of war still Pakistan is in the quagmire of terrorism and extremism. Major hurdle in fighting such guerrilla warfare is the lack of adequate resources and training to Pakistan army, FC, and Police. Guerrilla warfare is totally different war as compare to regular war. To win such war we need to train our security forces with modern weapons and equipments for example long range surveillance equipment, night vision war fighting capabilities, and other latest equipments and technologies, which can be utilized in such warfare. At this moment due to economic crunch Pakistan is unable to get these latest weapons and equipments to fight these people. This is the responsibility of the US and its allies that they should provide us all these latest weaponry equipment and technologies so we can fight these militants more effectively. But US instead of supporting Pakistan and its intelligence agency is busy in criticizing its efforts. They want to put their failures on us. US have to stop blame game against Pakistan army and its intelligence agencies if it is really sincere in bringing peace in Afghanistan and volatile tribal areas of Pakistan. US should let the Pakistan tackle militancy in its own way, Pakistan army and intelligence agencies are quite efficient in tackling such situation, but what they need is adequate financial aid and diplomatic support from other countries. America should acknowledge the efforts and sacrifices made by the Pakistan. Americans should trust Pakistan’s labors and they should also try to build the gap in trust deficit. it would not only disturb the relations between both countries but also it would sabotage the efforts in the war against terrorism. Currently Pakistan is engage in tribal areas and on Afghan border. It is fighting against terrorists, extremists and foreign insurgents who are trying to destabilize Pakistan. Furthermore US unilateral strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in which many civilians have also lost their lives has provoked more militancy and terrorism and it has also fueled the anti American sentiments in the Pakistan. Attacks on the NATO/US supplies have been on peak in the recent times, which compelled US to look for alternative routes to meet its logistics demand. Pakistan is trying hard to safeguard US/NATO supplies but rising resentment against the Americans prompted the local population to support the militants in these types of malpractices. In short it can be argued that US have to change its policy in dealing with Pakistan, it must respect and honor the sovereignty and independent stature of Pakistan. Allegations on Pakistan’s intelligence agency and Army should end because it won’t help in the war against terrorism. America should trust Pakistan’s efforts and provide Pakistan with unconditional aid to combat terrorism and extremism in a more effective, constructive and a proficient way. :pakistan::tup:

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