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New US strategy will end Pakistan blackmail

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By Ambassador Dr. Zia Nezam, Until recently no reasoning, entreaties, or threats to Pakistan could stop the Pakistan government’s continuing blackmail of its donor nations and neighbor Afghanistan by threatening national take-over by extremists or its security forces once again.

Pakistan has long asserted that fighting terrorism has caused Pakistan the loss of thousands of its security force members, hundreds of civilians, and billions of dollars from the destruction such fighting left. Pakistan has ceaselessly denied that it is a safe haven for various terrorist groups. It asserts that such groups, which directly harm Afghanistan, have been and are actually based in Afghanistan. Therefore, the Pakistan government as a matter of policy has refused to bear the financial burden of anti-terrorist operations.

In spite of Pakistan’s refusal to join the fight against trans-border or external terrorism, it has received many billions of dollars in foreign aid, at least $33 billion from the United States.

The Pakistan government stance is that Pakistan does the best of its ability to maintain internal peace – for the sake of the region and world – so it needs broad-based assistance. Otherwise, the global and its domestic situation, especially, will become very dangerous. Pakistan, a “poor” nation of over 200 million, possesses nuclear arms and de-stabilizing it represents a grave threat to world peace and order. Pakistan’s “democratic” government further declares that its collapse would be catastrophic, leading to radical extremist-led nation-wide chaos. Always invoking the threat of democratic or national collapse has until now been effective to keep foreign aid coming in. This threat, this official posture of pending doom, has been Pakistan’s successful blackmail.

Unassailable intelligence has shown that most terrorist groups have formed and grown strong in safe-haven Pakistan. Its leaders, civilian and military, turn a blind eye to terrorism that does not threaten those in power or take hostile actions against the Pakistan people. In so doing, terrorist organizations, particularly the Taliban and Haqqani networks, train and recruit continually within Pakistan. These networks harming Afghanistan and those menacing that others countries could not survive without Pakistan’s refusal to act, independently or cooperatively, to uproot them. This “hands-off” policy is in effect is vital support for terrorists.

The recently released new US “Afghanistan and South Asia” strategy rejects Pakistan’s groundless threat of national destruction and blackmail. Pakistan’s inaction toward terrorism has long been a major obstacle to bringing an end to hostilities in Afghanistan. If Pakistan seeks further aid from America, it must help destroy safe havens where terrorists rest and refit with little interference, if not impunity. Let us hope the US policy reversal is followed through on, so as to gain direct, concrete counter-terrorism actions by and within Pakistan. Our neighbor must stop the blackmail, drop the charade, and begin to truly help stabilize the region.

By Ambassador Dr. Zia Nezam,

Former Afghan Ambassador to Vienne, Brussels, Rome and Vatican

Zia.nezam@gmail.com