Critical Issues in Pakistan’s foreign policy
13th October 2012
Has the impact of 9/11 been baneful or beneficial to Pakistan’s security environment? Analyze. The second year of the new millennium was witness to an event which might have perhaps altered the geo-political structure of the world and gave birth to a whole new phenomenon, one, which has been directing foreign policy affairs of the world for almost a decade now. This event comprised the four terrorist attacks on United States soil, on September the eleventh, 2001, in which hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the world trade centre, the Pentagon and one fell short of its target in Shanksfield Pennsylvania. These events gave birth to the “war on terror”, which has not only affected the United States but a lot of other countries as well, especially Pakistan, who had a prominent geo strategic location in the vicinity of the battle grounds for this war. This war has had both positive and negative effects on the security and general stability of Pakistan. This essay will try to discern these effects and establish whether in the long run, the impact of 9/11 has been baneful or beneficial to Pakistan’s security environment. Firstly, the positive impacts of the war on terror will be considered. Since the perpetrators of the attacks were considered to be hiding in Afghanistan, all the surrounding countries in the region became important strategic partners of the United States and its allies. Pakistan, perhaps the most influential since it had a long history of dealing with the Taliban and had in depth knowledge of the terrain and surrounding area. Chairperson, Department of Political Science, the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Professor Razia Musarrat claims that “Pakistan’s geographical location, its nearness with Afghanistan, its close relations with the Taliban regime, its deep knowledge of the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, and its history of Cold War alliance made Pakistan obviously the most important strategic asset for the United States.” Pakistan offered its support to the United States including airbases and military intelligence to help eradicate the terrorist elements present in Afghanistan. As a result over the years Pakistan has received military assistance and aid from the United States, helping in brining military and technological advancements to the country. It is important to note that at the time of these attacks, Pakistan was in isolation at the world stage due to sanctions imposed on it, after it carried out nuclear tests in 1998. India too was facing the same sanctions, but having a stronger economy meant that it managed to survive this dry spell comparatively more easily than Pakistan. Pakistan on the other hand was suffering from the consequences of these sanctions and the war on terror surprisingly came as a relief. Pakistan has been given economic assistance of almost ten billion dollars over a period of ten years as its ties with the waste slowly improved. This aid rescued its stagnant economy and ensured that Pakistan’s economic woes were overcome, a change, very welcome for the Musharraf regime. Thirdly, post 9/11, South Asia became the centre of the World’s attention. A senior political analyst notes, that “with the presence of two nuclear power friends, and an Al-Qaeda-strewn Afghanistan, South Asia assumed a strategic status in American eyes. The rebirth of South Asia prominence was not limited to America, rather for whole the world. There was a long chain of Heads of States, and highest officials visiting the region every alternative day were evidence of long term strategic interests of the US in the region.” This new found attention allowed internationally isolated Pakistan and India back into the main stream of world politics and bolstered the image of the country in the eyes of the world, as a nation that was against terrorism. A somewhat debateable positive outcome, but one that could be true...