News

Progressive Labor Party Organizes Solidarity March With Harvard Yard Encampment

News

Encampment Protesters Briefly Raise 3 Palestinian Flags Over Harvard Yard

News

Mayor Wu Cancels Harvard Event After Affinity Groups Withdraw Over Emerson Encampment Police Response

News

Harvard Yard To Remain Indefinitely Closed Amid Encampment

News

HUPD Chief Says Harvard Yard Encampment is Peaceful, Defends Students’ Right to Protest

Op Eds

Pakistan: The Story Less Told

By Ibrahim Khan, Contributing Writer

At the start of this year, I was asked by a fellow freshman whether Pakistan bordered Indiana. When I replied in the negative, he wondered what state Pakistan was next to. Given the events of the last few weeks, I am sure this individual now knows where Pakistan is located on a map. He probably knows a lot of other things about Pakistan too. Unfortunately, what he now knows about Pakistan is not fully representative of the country. There are two sides to every story and I wish to divulge the story less told.

Pakistan is a complex country. It is one with tremendous natural beauty, enviable natural wealth, a thriving population and enormous potential. Instead of garnering global recognition for its economic and societal potential, Pakistan has recently attracted scorn from the rest of the world. A new low was reached on May 2, when Osama bin Laden, was discovered and killed in the garrison city of Abbotabad, a few dozen miles from the country’s capital and a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s Military Academy. Many questions remain unanswered. Was Pakistan incompetent enough to overlook bin Laden’s hideout? If not, was there a degree of complicity amongst the ranks of the country’s military? While many in the United States government believe Pakistan played both sides, conclusive evidence of such actions has not yet surfaced. Given the complex relationship between Pakistan and the West and currently heightened tensions, I suspect these questions will remain largely unanswered.

I can say this though: Pakistan’s resolve against terror is steadfast. We have lost 35,000 men, women and children in this War on Terror. Our armed forces have suffered upwards of 9,000 casualties. Our infrastructure has been damaged, our markets have been bombed and our schools attacked. We have suffered more from this war than any other nation. On May 13, close to a hundred new graduates of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force patrolling the tumultuous northwest of Pakistan, were brutally massacred by two suicide bombers while boarding busses to take them home for their first vacation as recruits. Despite such suffering, we march on. Our army is engaged in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a region that straddles the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; before army intervention, FATA had become a militant stronghold. On television, reporters who interview those on the street invariably come across children who want to join the military and fight those spreading terror in Pakistan. In late 2009, according to a Gallup Pakistan poll, only 13% opposed military action in FATA. We are a brave nation: military personnel, policemen and women and journalists (not to mention civilians) leave home every morning, not completely certain about their return. And yet, our commitment is unwavering. We know that our potential will never come to fruition unless we rid ourselves of this cancerous terror.

Given the current state of our relationship with the United States, our fight has become harder, not easier. Pakistan has stubbornly supported the United States in the War on Terror. As President Obama has acknowledged, more militants have been caught or killed on Pakistan’s soil than anywhere else in the world. We are honoring our friendship, although history impels us to remain wary.

The United States has a record of turning its back on Pakistan. Going back to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, when Pakistan lost half its country to what became Bangladesh, the United States remained neutral despite Pakistan playing an influential role in Cold War events. Moving forward, with help from the United States, Pakistan orchestrated the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan, bringing the end to an empire aggressive towards the United States. The consequences and aftermath of war are never pleasant for a region. Making matters worse, the entire leadership of Pakistan died in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988, weeks before the Soviets withdrew their last troops from Afghanistan. Tragically, instead of aiding Pakistan through the aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan War, the United States pulled out of the region and forced Pakistan to recover from its massive losses on its own. Elements of that ineffective recovery, and the United States’ mistake are part of today’s dilemma.

Pakistan is at a critical juncture on its road to progress. Breaking from its historical trend, the United States needs to play a positive role in Pakistan’s future. We may need aid in the short-term, but we want trade in the long-term. We may need a hand in the short-term, but we want to stand on our own in the long-term. Our relationship should be based on regional stability and economic progress, not duplicity and economic reliance. The United States has to protect its national interest, but so does Pakistan. Pakistan wants to help itself and the world; in order to do that, several mistakes need to be corrected. But the United States needs to stand by us, on equal footing, as an ally should.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags
Op Eds