WASHINGTON: Underscoring the fact that Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism, the U.S. National Security Adviser has urged President‑elect Barack Obama on continuing Washington’s support for its democratic government’s “daunting task” towards curbing the menace.
In an interaction with American and international experts at a Washington think tank, Stephen Hedley explained the U.S. foreign policy pursued under outgoing President George Bush and acknowledged Islamabad’s anti‑terrorism resolve as well as its critical counterterrorism role over the years since September 11, 2001.
Hadley, who spoke on the eve of Vice President‑elect Joseph Biden’s visit to the region as US senator for a first‑hand assessment for the new administration’s Southwest Asian policy, pointed out the importance that Pakistan’s stability holds for the United States in both bilateral and regional perspectives.
“I think that Pakistan is a victim of terror. And one of the things that people have focused on is, well, activities in certain of the border regions of Pakistan make more difficult achieving democratic stability in Afghanistan ‑‑‑ But I think one of the things we’ve also seen is that those—that terrorist presence—Taliban, al Qaeda, and other extremist groups—also are a threat to Pakistan.
“And I think the—this democratic government in Pakistan understands that. If you talk to President (Asif Ali) Zardari, he says, you don’t need to tell me that Pakistanis are victims of terror; the terrorists killed my wife (Benazir Bhutto),”he stated at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In the speech one of the last by top officials of the Bush Administration that transfers power to Obama Administration on January 20 ‑ Hadley said the democratic government has brought with it an opportunity to confront the challenges of violent extremism more effectively. At the same time he recognized the toughness of the problem.
“So what you have is a democratic government in Pakistan, and we think that is a real opportunity, because we think that democratic government has the opportunity to rally the people of Pakistan in—behind what is going to be a very difficult fight.”
Defending Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism in the face of complex situation, he cited Islamabad’s success against al‑Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 events and reminded that last year “Pakistan went into a very difficult political transition from which this new government has emerged.”
“And that’s where we are—a new government that I think is talking clearly that it wants to confront terror ‑‑‑ and has probably as difficult a challenge to deal with the various groups that it has of any nation.
“And that’s why I think it is going to be one of the key challenges, because success in Pakistan, overcoming this challenge, is important for stability in Pakistan, which is important to us in itself.
But stability in Pakistan is also going to be important and success in the war on terror in Pakistan is also going to be important if we’re going to take care of the problem in Afghanistan and if we are going to get Pakistan and Indian relations to continue on a positive footing,” he said in disagreement with an Indian journalist who suggested Pakistan had not done enough despite getting U.S. assistance.
“So there is a lot at stake in Pakistan, and they have as daunting a task as any government today. And it is going to be very important for the new team to support their efforts, and I’m encouraged. I think you’ve seen statements from President‑elect Obama, certainly from Vice President‑elect Biden, that I think they understand the challenge that Pakistan faces, and that means the challenge we face.”
Comment: It is worth mentioning that Pakistan has done more in war against terror than any other country, even more so than United States has, considering the toll on Pakistan’s economy, human death toll, suicide bombings and over 120k soldiers deployed. Moreover, Pakistan is the lifeline to NATO and American forces who are fighting war on terror in Afghanistan. Pakistan paid with blood and has done enough for its “friends.”