Pakistan’s role in “the War on Terror” is appreciated by the US at numerous occasions. Although, the interest of Pakistan collided with the US, yet Islamabad supported Washington on the global issue of terrorism. The US declared Pakistan as its key ally and “major non-NATO ally. Very recently, the US and Taliban have concluded a peace deal because of direct intervention of Pakistan.
For better understanding, the role of Pakistan has been divided into the following categories:
Making alliance with the US after 9/11:
After the incident of 9/11, the US decided to invade Afghanistan and termed the war as “The War on Terror.” Pakistan was asked to join the coalition keeping in view the importance of its geo-strategic position. It was hard decision for Pakistan since the government of Taliban was in its wider national interest. However, Musharraf extended its support to the US because failure to do would have begotten even serious problems for it: firstly, Pakistan would have been isolated and declared as a sate sponsors of terrorism because almost all the countries were on the same page and favored the invasion of Afghanistan. Secondly, Pakistan feared that failure to do so would give India an opportunity to put more pressure on Pakistan’s Eastern and Western border with the assistance of the US. Finally, Pakistan would have lost its support for Kashmir cause permanently.
Musharraf said, after the joining American bloc against Taliban and Al-Qaeda, that his decision was to preserve the most important assets of Pakistan-Kashmir and Nuclear Weapons. Afterward, Islamabad provided important military bases to the NATO forces and allowed access to its supplies through the transit route without which, it would have been nearly impossible for the coalition forces to launch its operations effectively against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Thus, Pakistan sacrificed its national interest in Afghanistan and joined the US against the global war on terror.
Banning Militant groups:
Musharraf, in his speech of 12th January 2002, banned militant organisations including Lasker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM). Their activities like collecting finds and operating avowedly in different regions of the country were restricted completely. The decision brought him in direct conflict with these groups. As a result, the militants of Jaish-e-Muhammad attacked him in 2003. However, he survived. It is irony of fate that he received intelligence report form India that an attack has been planned against him.
Combine operations against Al-Qaeda militants:
After the US invasion of Afghanistan, thousands of Al-Qaeda militants penetrated into Pakistan with the help of local tribesmen because they considered them to be engaged in lawful battle with the US. Musharraf failed to stop them, as he deployed his army along the Indian border after the threat of war following the 13th December 2001 attack on Indian parliament by JEM. Pakistani militant groups like LeT and JEM provided members of Al-Qaeda safe havens and logistical support because their ideology matched with them. Consequently, Al-Qaeda militants spread across Pakistan and started to target American citizen.
Pakistan set up a new Counter Terrorism Cell within ISI to hunt these militants. CIA helped Pakistan with intelligence to track them and Pakistan army conducted raids in different cities to arrest them. As many as 400 Al-Qaeda and Taliban members were captured and killed during the raids.
On 28th March 2002, Abu Zubaida was arrested from the house of LeT member. Abu Zubaida was from Palestine and appointed chief of operation by Bin Ladin. Ramzi bin al Shibi was arrested from under construction building of Karachi. He was the head of military wing of al-Qaeda. Besides, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was arrested from the house of women wing of Jamaat-e-Islmai (JI) in 2003. These all arrests and raids describe the key role of Pakistan in “The War on Terror”
Operation against Al-Qaeda in 2004 in FATA:
In 2004, Musharraf carried out operation against Al-Qaeda members in FATA who were given shelter by the local people. The operation provoked intense anger among the local tribesmen because they had rented their houses to the militants and were getting good money. Besides, they decided to protect the guests. Pakistan army was shocked by the resistance of the local people and was forced to sign a truce with them. Around 50 soldiers were killed and several other were held hostage. The military signed the peace agreement with Nek Muhammad and left the area. This operation proves that Pakistan contributed greatly to “The War on Terror.”
Arranging talks between the US and Taliban in 2015:
In 2014 general elections of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani was elected as a new president. He was keen to solve the issue of Afghanistan through negotiation because like Taliban, he was also Pashtun. Pakistan came forward and decided to exploit an opportunity to bring peace in Afghanistan and arranged talks of Taliban with the US. However, the talks failed after Taliban launched series of attacks in Kabul. Pakistan continued its efforts for the dialogue.
Negotiation with the US and Taliban from 2017 to date:
Pakistan has been doing its best to arrange talks between the US and Taliban. It brought Taliban on the negotiation table again in 2017, but they failed to reach an agreement. Pakistan continued its efforts and arranged the talks again in 2019. However, Trump refused to agree on the strict conditions of Taliban. Very recently, they both have signed a Doha agreement to bring peace in Afghanistan. Taliban have softened their conditions. Before they refused to talk with the Afghan government and called it as puppet and asked the US for complete withdrawal at once. Now they have not only agreed to negotiate with the existing Afghan’s government but also allowed the US with withdraw in phases. Thus, if peace is established in Afghanistan, it would be due to Pakistan’s sincere participation in the global war on terror.
Apart from these measures, Pakistan also took steps aimed at addressing the local threat of terrorism that directly and indirectly contributed to the global war on terror.
NAFTA in 2009:
Pakistan formed National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) in 2019 to fight the threat of terrorism and extremism. Under NAFTA, the working of all the law enforcement agencies including police, military, intelligence among others is combined under a single umbrella so that they can share information with one another. It is headed by Prime minister of Pakistan and is, thus, a civilian institution.
Operation Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat in 2009:
Operation Rah-e-Rast was launched in Swat and proved effective in defeating the militants. The army was successful in regaining the control of the area by completely dismantling their structure. In the same year, operation Rah-e-Nijat was also launched in South Waziristan and resulted in the victory for the government. These two operations became success stories of Pakistan against the global and local terrorism.
Pakistan Protection Act (PPA) 2014:
Pakistan enacted Pakistan Protection Act (PPA) in 2014. Under this act, a police officer above grade-15 was given a permission to shot the suspected terrorist. During this period, the slogans like half-fry and full-fry made national headings. These were the codes adopted by the police to either kill the suspects or injure them.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb 2014:
General Raheel Sharif launched operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 15, 2014 in North Waziristan. This operation added a new feather in the efforts of the military to defeat terrorism. The operation dismantled the entire structure of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda and declined the terrorism in Pakistan to a larger extent. The operation carried a great impact on the global terrorism as well by destroying the save havens of global terrorists from Pakistan.
National Action Plan (NAP) 2015:
The government of Pakistan established National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 after the attack of the terrorists on the Army Public School in December 2014. This act contained initially 20 points on which the law enforcement agencies were required to work to eliminate the evil of terrorism completely. The agenda included reforms in madrasahs, choking financial funds of militant outfits, execution of terrorists, operation in Karachi, banning militant groups, formation of military courts and so on. NAP remained successful to a larger extent.
Thus, Pakistan played a crucial role in helping the US to defeat global terrorism by proving important bases and access through its transit route. Without the active support of Pakistan, the US would have not been even able to bring the Taliban on the negotiation table.